I can’t imagine the absolute slog running out the string on an NHL season must be like. Sure, the money is very good, but you’re flying to a new town every night, knowing the other team has playoff hockey ahead while your side is on the outside looking in. That said, the team has to show up and put out some effort and that brings us to last night. There were some injuries on the back end and it took a toll, but the power play offered no help and there were passengers up front. We’re seeing some of these men for the last time in an NHL uniform. Pretty sure.
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- New Lowetide: What if the 17-18 Oilers season was a blessing in disguise?
- Lowetide: Can the Oilers find a partner in a Milan Lucic trade?
- Black Dog Pat: What’s the use of continuity when the results don’t inspire confidence?
- Jonathan Willis: Aberg and Rattie audition for jobs as value contracts in major roles.
- Lowetide: Condors Curios: Interesting things bubbling under in Bakersfield.
- Lowetide: What are the Oilers getting in Cooper Marody?
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and the Republic of Finland
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and Sweden.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and the QMJHL.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: Oilers and the WHL.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: Oilers draft history and the OHL
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and the NCAA.
MAKE IT STOP, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers in April 2016: 0-1-0, goal differential -5
- Oilers in April 2017: 1-0-0, goal differential +1
- Oilers in April 2018: 0-1-0, goal differential -3
I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s incredible how closely this season mirrors the 2015-16 campaign. If you’ll recall, the back half of that season marked a slow run by Taylor Hall (17 points in his final 32 games) that may have contributed to his being traded that summer. Beware of making big decisions based on small sample sizes.
AFTER 80, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers 15-16: 30-43-7, goal differential -53 (67 points)
- Oilers 16-17: 45-26-9, goal differential +40 (99 points)
- Oilers 17-18: 34-40-6, goal differential -34 (74 points)
The goal differential in these three seasons makes you dizzy, like riding Magic Mountain at Disneyland. My article in The Athletic today suggests ownership take some drastic measures this summer in order to make certain the organization isn’t compromised for years to come. This is a very strange three-season photo.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM APRIL
- On the road to: Minnesota (Expected 0-1-0) (Actual 0-1-0)
- At home to: Vegas, Vancouver (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- Overall expected results: 1-2-0, two points in three games
- Overall actual results: 0-1-0, zero points in one game
— The WHL (@TheWHL) April 3, 2018
The Oilers loss last night gets them to the No. 7 slot based on this morning’s standings. That’s a big damned deal. If the draft goes along a predictable line (Dahlen, Svechnikov, Zadina, Tkachuk, Boqvist, Hughes), a player like Oliver Wahlstrom could fall to the Oilers at that number. I’ve used Bob McKenzie’s list from two months ago, so there could be a late spike (Evan Bouchard?) in there.
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Sekera-Russell went 12-6 in 12:04, 0-1 GF and 5-4 SF. I like this pairing more again, Sekera’s passing really helps the duo. His injury is inconvenient but there are only two games left. Sekera showed well in the last few outings, perhaps he’ll return to full Rej in the fall.
- Russell-Bear were 6-18 in 9:49, 0-0 GF and 3-12 SF. Nurse-Bear went 5-1 in 5:45, I didn’t think of that as a pairing but Bear is an excellent passer and Nurse is more of a shutdown player.
- Nurse-Larsson were 7-18 in 13:43, 0-1 GF and 5-13 SF. The goal against was a bit of bad luck, Larsson couldn’t find the puck in his feet and had about one second to make a decision. The pairing chased all night and I still think Klefbom is a better match for Larsson.
- Cam Talbot stopped 37 of 39, .949. I don’t blame him for the breakaway goal but could be in the minority.
- NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com.
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- Lucic-Strome-Puljujarvi were 14-12 in 13:25. It would be a very expensive No. 3 line next season and who knows if they’ll have chem in the fall. I don’t think JP scores 20 with this trio and no power-play time. 7-10 shots, 5-8 scoring chances, 2-4 in high dangers.
- Slepyshev-Cammalleri-Kassian were 5-6 in 9:45. Were 2-3 in shots, 3-2 in scoring chances, 1-1 in high dangers. How many from this line return? What are the odds all three men are in new cities by October?
- Caggiula-Khaira-Aberg went 5-10 in 8:31, were 3-6 in shots, 2-7 in scoring chances and 1-4 in high dangers. There’s a good chance all three of these men will be back, not certain that’s the right play.
- Draisaitl-McDavid-Rattie were 10-20 in 15:07. They were good to great with the puck but didn’t have it much. Nuge, come back! Went 0-2 in GF, 5-13 in shots, 7-12 in scoring chances, 3-8 in high dangers. You’d have to look hard to find those kinds of numbers for a McDavid line during his young career. This stretch run has been a tough run.
When the Oilers brought over Jari Kurri from Finland, Glen Sather made a move to sign Matti Hagman (formerly of the Bruins and playing in Helsinki). Kurri was 20 and benefited greatly from having a veteran Finn with NHL experience on the roster. At the time of Hagman’s passing, Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal wrote a piece with some quotes from Kurri about Hagman.
I’d love to see Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl take on the mentor role with Puljujarvi. It might be a lot of hard work, but the payoff would come in the form of another drive. I believe the young man has it in him but skill needs skill to flourish.
- Will the Oilers take a forward? If the team wins the lottery, it’s Dahlen. If any of Svechnikov, Zadina, Tkachuk or Wahlstrom is available when the Oilers pick, my suspicion is the team will grab a forward.
- Who are the top three defensemen? Bob McKenzie has it Dahlen, Boqvist and Hughes. I like Ty Smith enough to have him No. 4 in my rankings (a new ranking out tomorrow).
- How many of these men are plug-and-play for next year? I’d say five. Dahlin, Svechnikov, Zadina, Quinn Hughes and Brady Tkachuk seem to be either physically ready or carry one dominant skill that could project them into the world’s best league.
- What are the chances Edmonton trades its first-round pick? It’s a possibility. I have Oscar Klefbom, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jesse Puljujarvi and the 2018 top-10 pick as possible assets out. All are a bad idea, by the way.
- How many skill forwards should Edmonton draft? As many as possible. You can make the argument that the team’s devotion to defense in the 2015/2016 draft (eight of 15 players in those two drafts were blue) allows them some breathing room there. Also, the Oilers spent a high pick on a two-way option (Tyler Benson). Need to skill bigly. The 2017 draft featured skill forwards Kailer Yamamoto, Ostap Safin and Kirill Maksimov, the team needs to duplicate the performance.
- How quickly can the Oilers recover if they draft skill in 2018? By 2020 the organization could be flush with skill and hopefully men like Puljujarvi and Yamamoto will be successful alongside Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. There aren’t a lot of options, and there is real urgency. Another season of auditions isn’t acceptable but we are heading in that direction.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy and fun morning, seems all the sports are happening. Beginning at 10, TSN1260, scheduled to appear:
- Jonathan Willis, The Athletic. Last night’s game, the need for skill, will the Oilers chase speed?
- Eric Koreen, The Athletic. We’ll get our weekly Raptors update and talk Villanova.
- Scott Cullen, TSN. Historically bad trades that change franchise course and how quickly can a team recover?
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!