There are a whole group of words and phrases I don’t want to bring out of the tickle trunk. Nadir, Donner party, gales of November (although I’ve already used that one), the draft, trade deadline selloffs and the like. I want to talk about the playoffs, Calder Trophy candidates emerging, wins by five or more goals. November, man. It sucks. Every year.
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- New Lowetide: Oilers No. 2 Prospect winter 2018: Kailer Yamamoto.
- Jonathan Willis: A list of which Oilers are likely to be traded.
- Tyler Dellow: Ryan Strome for Ryan Spooner looks like a change for change sake
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 1 Prospect winter 2018: Evan Bouchard.
- Jonathan Willis: Tobias Rieder will miss a critical month, creating problems for Edmonton but opportunities for its players.
- Tyler Dellow: If nothing changes, Oilers should buy out Milan Lucic next summer.
- Lowetide: The past, present and future of the Andrej Sekera contract.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Elmer Benning on his 47 years as a scout (excellent article).
- Jonathan Willis: After several failed attempts to fix their issues on the wings, it’s time for the Oilers to explore the trade market.
- Lowetide: Connor McDavid, a 50-goal season and chasing Phil Esposito’s magical 1970-71.
OILERS AFTER 21
- Oilers in October 2015: 7-13-1, 15 points; goal differential -9
- Oilers in October 2016: 12-8-1, 25 points; goal differential +10
- Oilers in October 2017: 7-12-2, 16 points; goal differential -18
- Oilers in October 2018: 9-10-1, 19 points; goal differential -9
The 2018 Oilers could do themselves an enormous favor with a win tonight. Separation from the 2015 and 2017 teams is important, as these trajectories seem to have some kind of value as predictors for the full 82. By that I mean this: The current team is the second best McLellan team, which isn’t the same thing as saying they’ll make the playoffs, but there’s a light up above and maybe 20 men scramble from a would-be grave. It has to happen now, and honestly it’s a rare thing for a team to grab a winning streak right on time.
OILERS IN NOVEMBER
- Oilers in November 2015: 3-6-1, seven points; goal differential -5
- Oilers in November 2016: 3-6-1, seven points; goal differential -8
- Oilers in November 2017: 4-5-1, nine points; goal differential 0
- Oilers in November 2018: 3-6-0, six points; goal differential -7
It’s four snails heading to the finish line, good grief living through this has been kind of a drag. You could say (as I did above) a win tonight makes things better, but the Oilers have put themselves in a difficult position by losing so many in November. It seems a bit much to bitch about such a small sample size, but losing contact with the top of the Pacific this early spells doom.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM NOVEMBER
- At home to: Chicago (Expected 1-0-0) Actual (1-0-0)
- On the road to: Detroit, Washington, Tampa Bay, Florida (Expected 2-2-0) (Actual 1-3-0)
- At home to: Colorado, Montreal (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 1-1-0)
- On the road to: Calgary (Expected 0-1-0) (Actual 0-1-0)
- At home to: Vegas (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-1-0)
- On the road to: San Jose, Anaheim, Los Angeles (Expected 2-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: Dallas, Los Angeles (Expected 1-0-1) (Actual 0-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 8-5-1, 17 points in 14 games
- Current results: 3-6-0, 6 points in 9 games
There are five games left, Edmonton needs to win three of them in my opinion. If the club arrives on November 30th with a 6-8-0 record in November it’ll be a body blow but not close to fatal. The team would be 12-12-0, 24 points in 24 games and on pace for just 82 points. The Pacific Division is a blessing so far this year, but two or three teams are going to get hot and two of them (San Jose and Calgary) may have already announced themselves. Arizona is also a team to watch.
THE HEAT IS ON!
We’ve heard various versions of this story since the team came back from Europe, depending on the recent won-loss record of the team. Still, Elliotte Friedman’s hit on Sportsnet 960 radio in Calgary yesterday seemed to give us a more current lay of the land.
- Friedman: “I don’t think it’s just coach watch, I think everybody in that organization is on pins and needles right now. And I’ve said this before. Right from the start of this year, it was on edge in Edmonton. I just think that it has gone away at certain times. They lost their first two games – it was crazy intense for two games into the season. They kind of righted the ship. They’ve been very streaky, and every time they go on one of the bad streaks, people tell me the intensity of the heat just ramps up again.I don’t know too many people that feel that safe there right now.”
What should Daryl Katz do? I’m absolutely certain he isn’t going to call me on cell today, so there’s no reason to save my opinion. Here goes. I look at this organization as a train that decoupled many miles ago.
The train engine (NHL team) keeps stopping and starting despite fantastic riches, mostly because the depth is just awful after the top group (McDavid ON, McDavid OFF). The boxcars needed to fill in around in complementary roles are miles away, matriculating on the farm and working their way to Edmonton.
Getting those two things to couple is the goal. I am of the belief that the amateur scouting side is doing a fine job, and the team seems to have found a coach in Bakersfield more than willing to play the kids. That portion of the pipeline appears to be fixed at this time.
That brings us to the big club. My main concern with Todd McLellan is the transitioning of the kids, from Jesse Puljujarvi to Kailer Yamamoto and Ethan Bear on it goes. If he can capably incorporate these young players to the NHL in productive roles, then firing him is (in my opinion) short sighted. All of the players who I thought would push and win NHL jobs are in the minors. That’s a tell.
My main concern with Peter Chiarelli is his next big trade. I don’t think anyone can reasonably argue his major tweaks represent a net gain, and I’m fully aware of Adam Larsson’s value. Some big pieces have been sent away for nothing and you can’t have that in today’s NHL. The McDavid contract has a lot of track left, but there’s a chance another major deal could put this team in the same holding pattern we’re seeing now. I would recommend firing the general manager, replacing him with a capable hand (might be Keith Gretzky). If you can’t trust your GM to make a big trade, he isn’t your general manager any more.
I would bring in a new man who could/would make the decision on the coach. As unhappy as many of you would be with that outcome, it would, in my opinion, be the fairest route from here. I would hope the new general manager would find a way to convince the coach to play Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto, bring up Ethan Bear and Caleb Jones for looks, and perhaps a cup of coffee for Tyler Benson at some point in time.
Note: I wrote about Yamamoto this morning at The Athletic, including reasons why I think he’ll be back with the Oilers in the next two weeks.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy morning, TSN1260. We have much to discuss, including the Oilers and the Grey Cup. Scheduled to appear:
- Jonathan Willis, The Athletic. Oilers at the quarter pole, and names that might he headed out of town.
- Dan Rusanowsky, Play-by-play voice of the San Jose Sharks on KFOX 98.5 FM and the San Jose Sharks Radio Network. Sharks once again at the top of the division, the most consistent team in the Pacific.
- Scott Cullen, The Athletic. Grey Cup, Oilers troubles, explaining Alex Chiasson.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide twitter. Talk soon.