It was exactly what one might expect from this year’s Oilers: Frustrating, mostly pointless, and featuring some absolute filth from the Anaheim Ducks. This team isn’t going to be together that much longer, but this could be a painful march to the end of the season, even for Oilers fans. As we have discussed previously, these games don’t matter for the playoff chase (Edmonton is doomed) but sure as hell matter to Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan. This could get ugly in a quick hurry.
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- New Lowetide: Now is the time to play Khaira and Puljujarvi
- New Eric Duhatschek: Oilers most critical need
- New: The Athletic trade tracker.
- New Minnia Feng: Broken hearted Oilers fan Survival Guide.
- New Jonathan Willis: Maroon’s re-signing examined
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: Oilers and the WHL.
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers burning a year of development time in Bakersfield.
- Lowetide: What would Sam Pollock do?
- Lowetide: Oilers Keeper List
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: Oilers and the WHL.
- Lowetide: Oilers draft history and the OHL
- Lowetide: Oilers draft and college returns
- Lowetide: Central Scouting and where the Oilers shop for talent
DEADMAN’S CURVE, YEAR OVER YEAR
- February 2016: 2-2-0, goal differential -2 (4 points)
- February 2017: 1-3-0, goal differential -7 (2 points)
- February 2018: 1-2-1, goal differential -1 (3 points)
- February 9, 2016: New Jersey 2, Edmonton 1 (Source)
- February 14, 2017: Edmonton 5, Arizona 2 (Source)
Compared to the last two seasons, this is about normal. I still say Peter Chiarelli is probably not comfortable with these losses, reaching 82 points makes his exit meeting with Bob Nicholson and Daryl Katz at least a little easier. I think there are signs (back checking, mostly) this team is giving up, acknowledgement of another failed season.
AFTER 53, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers 15-16: 21-27-5, goal differential -25 (47 points)
- Oilers 16-17: 28-17-8, goal differential +16 (64 points)
- Oilers 17-18: 23-26-4, goal differential -24 (50 points)
- February 7, 2016: NYI 8, Edmonton 1 (Source)
- February 3, 2017: Carolina 2, Edmonton 1 (Source)
I can’t remember the moment when the 2015-16 season began marching in lock step with this season (or vice versa) but man it has stuck like glue. What a mess. There are 29 games left by my count, 10 wins in those games means massive changes in my opinion. If the team can get to 15 wins, and 82 points? Story to tell, although it is also true that may not be enough.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM FEBRUARY
- At home to: Colorado, Tampa Bay (Expected 0-1-1) (Actual 1-0-1)
- On the road to: Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose (Expected 1-1-1) (Actual 0-2-0)
- At home to: Florida (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- On the road to: Vegas, Arizona, Colorado (Expected 2-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: Boston, Colorado (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- On the road to: Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose (Expected 0-2-1) (Actual 0-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 5-6-3, 13 points in 14 games
- Current results: 1-2-1, three points in four games
Nuge and Larsson are out but it’s pretty clear the current Oilers don’t have the horsepower. I thought Anton Slepyshev had some jump last night, there’s still time for him to emerge as a useful player. This is a good time for auditions, far better than the first nine games of the year.
LOWETIDE TOP 30, 2009
It was a weird draft in 2009 and the rankings versus actual tell us true. I was strong on Hedman (he’s the only defenseman to rank No. 1 on one of my lists, although that probably changes this year), still believe he’s top drawer. Magnus was the Oilers pick, I had him top 10.
-  D Victor Hedman: Franchise. Top end talent.
-  C John Tavares: Tremendous goal-scorer.
-  C Evander Kane: Strong, skilled and gifted.
-  C Matt DuChene: Elite level speed and skill.
-  C Braydon Schenn: Skill set transfers perfectly.
-  C Jordan Schroeder: Math loves him. Terrific skill.
-  R Scott Glennie: Wide range of skills with good results.
-  L Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson: Speed kills.
-  D Dmitrti Kulikov: Fine resume, wide range of skills.
-  D Ryan Ellis: There’s just too much.
-  D Oliver Ekman-Larson: Strong resume, math is meh.
-  D Jared Cowen: Big, strong D with huge wingspan.
-  D Calvin De Haan: Complete resume.
-  R Zack Kassian: PF with an edge.
-  D Stefan Elliott: Nice range of skills.
-  C Jordan Caron: Why isn’t there more fuss?
-  D John Moore: Smooth skater with skill from the blue.
-  G Mikko Koskinen: .931SP is good in any league.
-  D David Rundblad: Smart player, good shot.
-  D Tim Erixon: Has brains, skill and pedigree.
-  C Nazem Kadri: A somewhat risky pick (London calling).
-  C Louis LeBlanc: Expert puck handler.
-  D Simon Despres: An actual defenseman.
-  G Matt Hackett: SP says he’s a player.
-  C Chris Kreider: Late buzz, high schoolers tough to project.
-  R Carter Ashton: Big PF prospect.
-  R Jeremy Morin: He can score goals, could be a steal.
-  C Ryan O’Reilly: An impressive list of skills.
-  D Charles-Olivier Roussel: Smart player with some skill.
-  C Jacob Josefson: Two-way center with playmaking skills.
The market was correct (or more correct than me) about Jordan Schroeder, I thought he was terrific value where he was chosen. I faded Kadri way too much, but did get Ryan O’Reilly inside the first round.
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Klefbom-Russell went 15-8 together in 11:22, 1-0 GF. I honestly had no idea they were out there at the same time that much, but did notice Klefbom-Benning (10-2 in 5:48). I like that duo despite the chaos. Russell had an eventful night good and bad, too high event for a defensive defender. I think Klefbom is getting back to where he can be, making these blasted trade rumors truly noxious.
- Nurse-Davidson went 14-12 together in 11:33, I like both players and am pleased Davidson is getting an extended time to impress. He battled a filthy group of forwards despite not being a giant. Nurse had an easier time, he is approaching giant status (strong, strong man), but did go walkabout for no reason a couple of times.
- Benning-Klefbom went 10-2 together in 5:48. Mobile and they can pass, even on a night (on a road trip) that isn’t going to rhyme. Oilers should be hiring more of these player types. Benning isn’t going to win over all fans, but for me he brings exactly what this team needs badly (speed, passing, some offense) from the blue.
- Cam Talbot stopped 31 of 34, .912. I thought he played well.
- NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com.
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- Pakarinen-Letestu-Slepyshev went 12-5 together, 1-0 GF. The goal was all Slepyshev, who remains a solid option for exactly what this team needs. You hope this is the spark that inspires the coach to try him in a more prominent role, but we also know the odds don’t favor this outcome. The other two men played well enough to stay in the lineup.
- Maroon-McDavid-Puljujarvi went 16-15 together, 1-2 GF. I love the idea of putting the Finn with 97, but the youngster struggled last night. Stay the course, Mr. McLellan. Maroon had a good game compared to his recent past, benefiting from McDavid’s presence on his line. Went 12-12 and 1-2GF against the Kesler line. Kesler was all over 97 and 98, absolute criminal. All three men had defensive miscues and the backchecking wasn’t on full blast to my eye.
- Lucic-Draisaitl-Caggiula went 12-8 (Lucic) and 7-4 (Caggiula). Leon’s good chance came on the 5×4 (he hammered that shot) but the 5×5 work was not successful. Went 12-10, 0-1 against the Getzlaf line. Leon is good enough to grab a game by the throat, wish he did it more often. Not complaining mind you, love the player.
- Khaira-Strome-Kassian went 6-13 together, there were some promising sorties but the trio kept turning the puck over. Strome seems to be more involved these days, won some physical battles and came out with the puck. Went 8-8 with the Henrique line. Kassian was a giveaway machine.
HEY! THAT’S GREAT!
Always good when smart NHL teams are scouting your best defenseman, I would recommend the owner stepping in at this point. Look, Oscar Klefbom isn’t Bobby Orr but he’s a tremendous young talent with a ridiculous contract. Trading Klefbom continues a costly trend by this organization. Sending away your best silver and gold, the cream of the good young talent, is a bad idea. That’s why teams rarely do it.
Here’s some home truth. Even with the Reinhart trade, the Hall trade, the Eberle deal, there’s enough pure talent for the Edmonton Oilers to compete for the Stanley Cup with just a few astute moves. There are overpays to come, players who will need to be offloaded with a sweetener due to a bad contract. Trading Klefbom for what will likely be a lesser return or futures (who are they dangling? Sergachev? Point?) makes no sense. This is where this blog’s author tells you “I’m inclined to believe the Oilers will keep their powder dry” but in my opinion there may be some pressure on management to improve now. Oilers are in a dangerous spot. Who is going to tell the owner he needs to stop the bleeding? Gretzky? Does that moment in time mark the exact point when the FOG regime begins?
As a hockey team, the Edmonton Oilers are a frustrating bunch who treat young talent as an endlessly renewable resource. As a soap opera, they’re the best game in town. Fans would like to see competence and progress. I could quote you chapter and verse about rainy winter days in Los Angeles when things looked dire for this organization, but this one might be the worst.
Daryl Katz has his answer to this question: What would happen if the Oilers win the McDavid lottery and hire veteran management and coaching? Now he must figure out what to do when the answer is “not much in the standings.” I think we’re two months from FOG. Pretty sure.