Hold That Tiger

After a blazing run that began the moment Ken Hitchcock arrived as Oilers coach, the team finally arrives at what can be described as a leisurely week. A game Tuesday against the addled St. Louis Blues, then a pre-Christmas Saturday challenge against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Oilers surely would have preferred a win on the coast last night, but are 9-3-2 under Hitch and that’s outstanding. 

THE ATHLETIC

The Athletic Edmonton is going to bring it all season long. Proud to be part of a lineup that is ready to cover the coming year. Outstanding coverage from a large group, including Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis, Lowetide, Minnia Feng and Pat McLean. If you haven’t subscribed yet, now’s your chance. Outstanding offer is here.

  • New Lowetide: With Oscar Klefbom’s injury, will the Oilers look in unusual places for a solution?
  • New Black Dog Pat: A bittersweet year (must read) 
  • Jonathan WillisTakeaways from Ken Hitchcock’s lineup decisions for the Oilers against the Flyers. 
  • Lowetide: No. 7 prospect Winter 2018: Caleb Jones
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: How the Oilers Alex Chiasson is able to maintain his scoring touch. 
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: How Connor McDavid became the world’s fastest skater. 
  • Lowetide: Jesse Puljujarvi as an offensive player and what that tells us about his future with the Oilers. 
  • Lowetide: Oilers No. 6 Prospect winter 2018: Cooper Marody
  • Lowetide: Oilers No. 5 Prospect winter 2018: Ethan Bear.
  • Lowetide: Oilers No. 4 Prospect winter 2018: Ryan McLeod.
  • Lowetide: Oilers No. 3 Prospect winter 2018: Tyler Benson.
  • Lowetide: Oilers No. 2 Prospect winter 2018: Kailer Yamamoto.
  • Lowetide: Oilers No. 1 Prospect winter 2018: Evan Bouchard.

OILERS AFTER 34

  • Oilers in 2015: 14-18-2, 30 points; goal differential -17
  • Oilers in 2016: 17-12-5, 39 points; goal differential +5
  • Oilers in 2017: 15-17-2, 32 points; goal differential -8
  • Oilers in 2018: 18-13-3, 39 points; goal differential +3

Opportunity missed by Edmonton and the Canucks seem to have this team’s number, at least on the coast (three Van wins in Van since fall 2017). You know, sometimes good things can come from a loss like this one, suspect the team thinks they left some points on the table last night in Gastown. 

OILERS IN DECEMBER

  • Oilers in December 2015: 6-3-0, 12 points; goal differential -3
  • Oilers in December 2016: 4-2-3, 11 points; goal differential 0
  • Oilers in December 2017: 6-3-0, 12 points; goal differential +8
  • Oilers in December 2018: 6-2-1, 13 points; goal differential +8

The December swoon never came, this is just Edmonton’s second regulation loss in what has been a magical month. Whatever frustration you feel about last night’s game, this month has been very generous to the Oilers. There are five games left, and one of them is at home against Vancouver. I’ll bet McDavid sets his jaw around breakfast of game day for that one. 

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM DECEMBER

  • At home to: Vegas (Expected 0-1-0) Actual (1-0-0)
  • On the road to: Dallas, St. Louis (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 1-1-0)
  • At home to: Minnesota, Calgary (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 2-0-0)
  • On the road to: Colorado,Winnipeg(Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 1-0-1)
  • At home to: Philadelphia (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
  • On the road to: Vancouver (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • At home to: St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Vancouver, San Jose, Winnipeg (Expected 2-2-1) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • Overall expected result: 7-6-1, 15 points in 14 games
  • Current results: 6-2-1, 13 points in eight games

You’d have to think the Blues game Tuesday will find the Oilers as the overwhelming favourite, and then vice versa on Saturday against the Lightning. Projecting the current record over 82 games, Edmonton is on track to finish 43-31-8, 94 points. I had this team 90-94 points, so the current pace represents expectation. I did not anticipate a coaching change or Mikko Koskinen, let alone Alex Chiasson. 

DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT

  • Gravel-Jones skated in ideal weather with no static at all, just those two and the breeze. Holy hell what a possession evening. Pairing went 20-1 in 12:54, 9-0 shots and 3-0 HDSC. Went 10-0 in 5:45 against Motte-Beagle-Virtanen. Jones impressed the hell out of me, transporting the puck, getting back quickly on plays and jumping into the play (he a nice look late but fanned on it). I think we might see more minutes from this duo as time goes by, and Jones might want to rent week to week as opposed to day to day. Impressive. 
  • Nurse-Larsson were 13-14 in 18:39, 6-9 shots, 2-0 goals and 2-2 HDSC. I thought they were solid 5-on-5, perhaps lacking creativity in the period when Edmonton was chasing and needed tape to tape on the fly outlet passes. Pairing was 0-2 shorthanded, I think the goalie gave back a little of what he’d taken from the league in that discipline. Went 1-5 in 8:52 against Leivo-Pettersson-Boeser, 2-0 goals. Larsson made a heart attack pass back to Koskinen that was dangerous and then his puck over glass early in the third killed any momentum. A fine player, not a fine game last night. 
  • Garrison-Benning were the weak link among pairings, but didn’t give up any 5-on-5 goals. Pairing went 8-15 in 10:19, 3-9 shots and 1-0 goals. Benning did his usual MacGyver scrambling, Garrison is a slow train coming and going. Went 5-10 in 6:07 against Eriksson-Horvat-Roussel. 
  • Mikko Koskinen stopped 26 of 29, .897. He has been so outstanding on the penalty kill, but that did not happen last night. Best to get it all out in one game. Koskien wasn’t sharp. He would need to do this many times before losing his grip on next season’s starting job in my opinion.
  • NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com

FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT

  • Lucic-Brodziak-Kassian went 15-6 in 10:18, a rocking chair evening on the coast. Went 8-4 shots, no goals, one HDSC as a line. Were 12-2 against the Beagle line, 10-4 against Hutton-Gudbranson. Lucic was in scoring situations and that’s progress, Kassian had a breakaway and was hauled down, no penalty. Weird. Brodziak played double the minutes (overall) Spooner did, that’s an area Peter Chiarelli needs to address. 
  • Chiasson-McDavid-Draisaitl went 15-15 in 18:03, Chiasson played 11:13 and Puljujarvi played 4:57 with the captain. I talked about this on the weekend over at The Athletic, I think that’s the long game (getting JP onto the No. 1 line). Hitchcock’s comments after the game about McDavid were on point, and I’m glad the coach made them. The game was played under old west outlaw rules. Went 14-15 against Edler-Tanev, 11-16 against Horvat. Chiasson has 15 goals, is on pace for 40+, and is one of four Oilers who should be under consideration for the All-Star game (97, 29, Koskinen, Chiasson). 
  • Khaira-Nuge-Puljujarvi had a helluva night, such a fun line.  Went 6-3 in 9:54, that’s low event and low minutes for the line. Were 3-1 shots and 1-0 goals, would have liked to see them more 5-on-5. Went 5-2 against Hutton-Gudbranson. Khaira’s touch passing is a key to this unit’s success, Nuge’s release is about 1.5 heartbeats quicker this season, and Puljujarvi was a ramrod all night long. This line, should they stick together, could be a large mittful come playoff time. Puljujarvi didn’t get a point, but he looks like a different player under Hitch: Aggressive on the forecheck, aggressive in front of the net, aggressive along the wall, aggressive during the anthem. Music! 
  • Caggiula-Spooner-Rieder went 5-5 in 5:24, 5-4 shots and 1-0 HDSC. Went 5-1 against Pouliot-Stecher. I think these three have to get together and figure out a way to get more accomplished offensively. There is talent on this line but they are going to have to earn extra playing time. Not seeing enough from the unit. 

THE STANDINGS

That impressive run under Hitch (9-3-2 in 14) has Edmonton in a playoff spot despite last night’s loss. One thing I believe to be important, and something we need to monitor, is the possession, shot and goal share under Hitchcock. You obviously want to be over 50 percent in all categories, here’s what has been happening since November 20 (and in brackets McLellan’s numbers through November 19):

  • Corsi for 5-on-5: 49.15 (50.17)
  • Shots for 5-on-5: 49.24 (50.92)
  • Goals for 5-on-5: 60.42 (45.83)
  • Shooting % 5-on-5: 8.9 (6.6)
  • Save % 5-on-5: .9435 (.9191)
  • PDO: 103 (98.5)

Some will argue regression, others will argue Hitchcock, I’ll suggest both have been factors in this impressive recent run. Regression is no ordinary word, and I do think the Hitchcockian totals may see a dip in goal differential based on possession numbers. No doubt in my mind Hitch has this team playing better, but a game like last night, where the fourth line and third pairings spring a leak, suggests there is much work to do. 

HOLD THAT TIGER

I think Ken Hitchcock did the wise thing with his words last night, more shaming the league than specifically targeting the referees. The benefits of doing it include letting McDavid know you’ve got his back, calling out the blood thirsty hockey men (anyone over 112 years old, that’s about 70 percent of the governors) and perhaps reminding the refs to watch about the neutral zone and the ‘give and hold’ on those plays. 

Does it go any good? No idea. I do know that Connor McDavid got some support last night and the fans like the coach sticking up for his guy after a generation of turning the other cheek. How could the calls get any worse?

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

  • Andy McNamara, TSN4Downs. Browns win in prime time, Eagles win over Rams, Steelers beat Patriots and a big game between the Saints and Panthers tonight. 
  • Jason Gregor, TSN1260. Oilers lose on the coast, are in a playoff spot, and Caleb Jones NHL debut impressive. 
  • Jason Rogers, Japers Rink and NBC Washington. Alexander Ovechkin and all of his goals. 

10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio! 

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231 Responses to "Hold That Tiger"

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  1. jp says:

    godot10: Like I said.That was basically the cost of McDavid, considering McLellan wasted his entry level contract.

    It would change things considerably if the compensation were “basically” 4 first rounders. 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd. I imagine we’d see a lot more offer sheets in that world.

  2. Ryan says:

    jp: I’m not sure Dustin Penner is a fair example.

    1)Would you not want to add Maroon to the Oilers for a late round pick?

    2) Sure all 31 teams weren’t desperate to sign him, but don’t you think it’s a strange coincidence that the team he was heavily rumored to want to play for, in his hometown where his son lives, was the only one that offered him a contract?

    I dunno, I think he did pick where he wanted to play, but who knows.

    Yes, I agree. He did pick where he wants to play. He’s in St Louis with his son. That was last summer.

    Don’t look now, but he’s on an expiring contract playing for a team that will not make the playoffs.

    He’s a 30-years-old with slow boots playing on what I believe to be the third line on a bad team.

    He’s got one goal and 8 points in 25 games. That prorates to 3 goals per 82.

    As I said, he’s no longer good enough of a hockey player to choose where he plays.

    Good chance St Louis asks him to waive his NTC clause if they can get anything at all in return.

    Next summer, well the future is promised to no one, but there’s a chance the market for his services is next to zilch. Best case scenario, he won’t have ten teams to choose from.

  3. JimmyV1965 says:

    Gret99zky: It would cost them 4 draft picks and $12M per season.

    IMO the Leafs match at $12 mill. In fect, I don’t think they blink until an offer sheet exceeds $14 mill. He’s gonna get paid.

  4. JimmyV1965 says:

    Bos8: Who do you replace?Honest question

    Probably JJ right now and maybe JP depending on his progress.

  5. jp says:

    godot10: The Oilers left side is Draisaitl, Khaira, Rieder, Lucic.Khaira has past Maroon offensively.He and Rieder both kill penalties.

    There is no place for him.Adding him would only reek havoc in the dressing room because he competes for Lucic’s spot.

    Khaira’s offense has passed Maroon’s for about the last 6 games.

    Maroon is better than Lucic.

    Chaisson is on a streak for the ages, but he’s basically the same player as Maroon with less track record.

    Puljujarvi is still stuck at 3 points.

    Kassian has the same, plus he’s not too smart.

    And Caggiula is no more than a top 6 AHLer IIRC.

    I think there’s room. Bring on the havoc reeking.

  6. JimmyV1965 says:

    godot10: After Maroon, and now Chiasson, the Oilers are the destination of choice for non-elite UFA wingers.The OIlers will have the pick of the crop every summer.

    I would never advocate signing a high priced UFA ever. We need to make a hockey trade for a player with term.

  7. godot10 says:

    jp: It would change things considerably if the compensation were “basically” 4 first rounders. 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd. I imagine we’d see a lot more offer sheets in that world.

    The two 2nds were early seconds. If Arizona sign Matthews, the 1sts would be late firsts.

    My point is that the hiring of the coach and GM plus the Reinhart and Hall trades bled effectively 4 1st rounders worth of talent.

  8. godot10 says:

    JimmyV1965: I would never advocate signing a high priced UFA ever. We need to make a hockey trade for a player with term.

    non-elite UFA wingers means cheap. Last year Chiarelli snagged Rieder and Chiasson looking to extend their careers.

    Finding the forwards will be easy now.

    What assets we have should be focused on getting the top 4 right D.

  9. jp says:

    Ryan: Yes, I agree. He did pick where he wants to play. He’s in St Louis with his son. That was last summer.

    Don’t look now, but he’s on an expiring contract playing for a team that will not make the playoffs.

    He’s a 30-years-old with slow boots playing on what I believe to be the third line on a bad team.

    He’s got one goal and 8 points in 25 games. That prorates to 3 goals per 82.

    As I said, he’s no longer good enough of a hockey player to choose where he plays.

    Good chance St Louis asks him to waive his NTC clause if they can get anything at all in return.

    Next summer, well the future is promised to no one, but there’s a chance the market for his services is next to zilch. Best case scenario, he won’t have ten teams to choose from.

    This may all be true. But 10 months ago he was a pretty decent player for the Oilers.

    He was an adequate winger for McDavid and had surprisingly solid results without.

    I’m not suggesting the Oilers sign him for 5 yrs. But for a late round pick and whatever remains of 1.75M he’d very likely be an upgrade on someone on the Oilers roster.

  10. Gerta Rauss says:

    godot10: What assets we have should be focused on getting the top 4 right D

    On this, we can agree

  11. Side says:

    jp: I don’t guess you have a link for that? Was it from that podcast he did?

    It just makes no sense no one would offer him at least a couple of yrs at 2M. He produced fine in NJ even.

    In any case, I’d be more than happy to have him back if he were willing and the cost was low.

    I was mistaken a bit:

    “Maroon never wanted to leave Edmonton. He loved it there. But the team floundered last season, and at the trade deadline, Maroon was shipped to New Jersey. Maroon was looking forward to free agency this past summer.

    “I was in shape the last three years. I was taking care of myself,” he says. “I had made it far in the playoffs with really good numbers [27 points in 47 games], and so I was ready. I was ready to get that three-year, $3 million deal.”

    But five days passed in free agency, and then six. Maroon did not receive an offer. Maroon thought he’d at least have meetings with teams. He had only one, with Blues GM Doug Armstrong. Maroon had surgery in May to repair a herniated disc in his back and also had a knee injury. But they were both minor, and he was training by July 1.

    Maroon was a wreck. He was supposed to go to former Oilers teammate Zack Kassian’s wedding in Italy. “But I was freaking out, so I didn’t go,” Maroon says.

    Maroon ended up switching agents. Maroon’s new agent drummed up more interest, especially from the Devils. In his short stint in New Jersey, Maroon fell for Ray Shero, a GM he says “was like a father to me.” Shero also embraced Maroon’s family. (After Maroon’s back surgery, Shero sent Vangel a long text message followed by a meme. For an hour, Maroon’s fiancée and the GM texted memes back and forth to each other.) Meanwhile Maroon took another meeting with Armstrong and considered what it might be like to play at home.

    “New Jersey offered me more money,” Maroon says. “I love Ray Shero. I hope one day I can work for him. He’s one of the best men in hockey. So all of that considered, it would take a lot for me not to go there.”

    But Maroon also took time to consider the winding road that led him here and how he finally found confidence. He knew he deserved more — more than the one-year, $1.75 million deal St. Louis could offer. But by taking it, he was telling himself he wouldn’t regress, that he was on the right path.”

    http://www.espn.com/nhl/story/_/id/24931004/nhl-patrick-maroon-decision-sign-st-louis-blues-betting-familial-ties

    Still interesting to see how little offers he received.

  12. Jaxon says:

    JimmyV1965: I was on the 2RD train all last year and all summer, but now I think our greatest need is a legit top 6 winger. Our dmen depth in the minors is much more significant than our forwards and closer to making the NHL.

    I think 2RD is still the biggest need. Who on the team is a lock to become a legit 2RD? Nobody. Who even has an above average chance? Maybe Bouchard.

    D drafted #10 since 2004:
    04 – Boris Valabik – 80GP
    05 – Luc Bourdon – 36GP
    07 – Keaton Ellerby – 212GP
    10 – Dylan McIlrath – 43GP
    11 – Jonas Brodin – 404GP
    12 – Slater Koekkoek – 76GP

    Not sure we should be counting on any of Persson, Bear, Berglund, or Bouchard to be 2nd pair D just yet. The pipeline looks promising, for sure, but none of them are sure things, not even Bouchard.

  13. Bos8 says:

    Jaxon: I think 2RD is still the biggest need. Who on the team is a lock to become a legit 2RD? Nobody. Who even has an above average chance? Maybe Bouchard.

    D drafted #10 since 2004:
    04 – Boris Valabik – 80GP
    05 – Luc Bourdon – 36GP
    07 – Keaton Ellerby – 212GP
    10 – Dylan McIlrath – 43GP
    11 – Jonas Brodin – 404GP
    12 – Slater Koekkoek – 76GP

    Not sure we should be counting on any of Persson, Bear, Berglund, or Bouchard to be 2nd pair D just yet. The pipeline looks promising, for sure, but none of them are sure things, not even Bouchard.

    Of course bypassing Klefbom, just on the Oilers. Right side, Parayko St Louis, Carlo in Boston Rh shots

  14. Jaxon says:

    Jaxon,
    It’s a bit better if you believe Bouchard should have been drafted higher. But also remember that his skating speed was a factor in him not going higher. Even including #7-#10 picks, I see 8 or 9 out of 19 picks as solid top 4 D.

    Drafted#7 since 2004:
    12 – Matt Dumba
    13 – Darnell Nurse
    14 – Hayden Fleury
    15 – Ivan Provorov

    Drafted#8 since 2004:
    12 – Derrick Pouliot
    13 – Rasmus Ristolainen
    15 – Zach Werenski

    Drafted#9 since 2004:
    04 – Ladislav Smid
    05 – Brian Lee
    09 – Jared Cowen
    11 – Dougie Hamilton
    12 – Jacob Trouba
    16 – Mikhail Sergachev

  15. GMB3 says:

    Is Bouchard even as strong of a skater as Ryan Pulock?

  16. Jaxon says:

    JimmyV1965: I was on the 2RD train all last year and all summer, but now I think our greatest need is a legit top 6 winger. Our dmen depth in the minors is much more significant than our forwards and closer to making the NHL.

    Also, if we’re counting young Oiler and prospect depth at D, why not at wing. 23 and under:
    Draisaitl
    Zykov
    Puljujarvi
    Khaira
    Yamamoto
    Benson
    MacLeod
    Marody
    Hebig
    Safin
    Maksimov

    That’s quite the pipeline.

    Vets: Nugent-Hopkins, Chiasson, Spooner (prior to this season he scored well), Rattie (had scoring success with McDavid last season.

  17. Jaxon says:

    GMB3:
    Is Bouchard even as strong of a skater as Ryan Pulock?

    Yup. That’s what worries me about our optimism regarding Bouchard. I’m not sure how his skating compares to Pulock’s, but I know it’s not one of Pulock’s strengths, or Bouchard’s.

  18. Bulging Twine says:

    Khaira’s possible emergence as a 2nd line player would be a big deal for the organization.
    7 points in 9 games in December.
    He’s showing good awareness and hockey sense making good decisions with the puck.
    His ability to hold onto the puck combined with his vision and passing have been a strength.

    His 7 even strength points are 3rd amongst FW’s

    6/7 are primary points

  19. OriginalPouzar says:

    Genjutsu: I may be talking out of my ass but I believe they finish before the NHL does and since he was signed before the season started the Oilers could bring him over after his season is done there without risking waivers.

    Yes, this is true.

    At the same time, as our host likes to say, we should probably “calm our tits” – this isn’t a Radulov situation where we know with certainty that the player can come to the NHL and make an impact – we don’t even know if Joel Persson will ever play an NHL game. Great arrows right now but we are talking about a 24 year old prospect – we don’t know how he will perform when he comes to North America.

    I am hopeful mind you.

  20. jp says:

    Side,

    Thanks for digging that up. And yeah it definitely is surprising how few offers he got.

    Really weird that he switched agents during early free agency, maybe that guy dropped the ball a bit?

  21. ArmchairGM says:

    OriginalPouzar: Given how dominant the Knights are, i think its unlikely we see Bouchard as they are most likely headed for the Memorial Cup.

    I certainly hope so.

  22. jp says:

    Jaxon: I think 2RD is still the biggest need. Who on the team is a lock to become a legit 2RD? Nobody. Who even has an above average chance? Maybe Bouchard.

    D drafted #10 since 2004:
    04 – Boris Valabik – 80GP
    05 – Luc Bourdon – 36GP
    07 – Keaton Ellerby – 212GP
    10 – Dylan McIlrath – 43GP
    11 – Jonas Brodin – 404GP
    12 – Slater Koekkoek – 76GP

    Not sure we should be counting on any of Persson, Bear, Berglund, or Bouchard to be 2nd pair D just yet. The pipeline looks promising, for sure, but none of them are sure things, not even Bouchard.

    Terrifying list. That slot looks like it’s cursed.

    The 11/12 spots seem better than the 7-10 even.

    2004-12-AJ Thelen (who?)
    2005-12-Marc Staal
    2007-12-Ryan McDonagh
    2008-12-Tyler Myers
    2009-11-Ryan Ellis
    2009-12-Calvin de Haan
    2010-12-Cam Fowler
    2011-11-Duncan Siemens
    2012-12-Ryan Murphy
    2013-11-Samuel Morin
    2015-12-Denis Gurianov

    6 of 11 I think would be top 4, though it falls apart since 2010. Your point is well taken though, don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.

  23. Jaxon says:

    OriginalPouzar: Yes, this is true.

    At the same time, as our host likes to say, we should probably “calm our tits” – this isn’t a Radulov situation where we know with certainty that the player can come to the NHL and make an impact – we don’t even know if Joel Persson will ever play an NHL game. Great arrows right now but we are talking about a 24 year old prospect – we don’t know how he will perform when he comes to North America.

    I am hopeful mind you.

    Absolutely. Remember Paigin and Belov had big offensive years in a better League than Persson is in (KHL vs SHL) and they had real trouble adjusting and went back within the year.

  24. who says:

    Woodguy v2.0:
    who,

    .My comments are more about me pushing back at this whole narrative that, because his Corsi is good then he must be good..

    JP was referencing his goal share, not corsi.

    Do you think goal share isn’t relevant to a player’s ability?

    Honest question.

    I don’t put a lot of weight on it. Isn’t it similar to plus minus?
    It’s a stat that is heavily dependent on quality of competitiion, quality of goaltending and quality of teammates on the ice with you.
    Bottom line is that there are 11 other players on the ice with you that will affect that number.

  25. Woodguy v2.0 says:

    who: I don’t put a lot of weight on it. Isn’t it similar to plus minus?
    It’s a stat that is heavily dependent on quality of competitiion, quality of goaltending and quality of teammates on the ice with you.
    Bottom line is that there are 11 other players on the ice with you that will affect that number.

    So how exactly to do you evaluate players?

  26. Woodguy v2.0 says:

    who,

    don’t put a lot of weight on it. Isn’t it similar to plus minus?

    Plus/Minus would be useful if they removed shorties and Empty Net goals.

    I wrote about it here: http://becauseoilers.blogspot.com/2018/11/nhl-including-empty-net-goals-in.html

    Shorties hurt the value of +/- a bit, but including Empty Net goals makes its results useless.

  27. who says:

    Woodguy v2.0: So how exactly to do you evaluate players?

    Eye test, basically.
    I look for what players can and can’t do skillwise. I also watch how they read and react, what kind of poise and vision they display when they have the puck.
    For instance, Leon Draisaitl looked overmatched in his first few games with the Oilers, but once or twice a game he would make some kind of no look pass, over 3 sticks, and right on the tape. A lot of times he caught the pass recipient off guard. I compared him to a young Joe Thornton a few years ago and was basically ridiculed. Now the comparison is made numerous times on this blog.
    When I look at Benning I see a smallish dman, who is an awkward skater, and who struggles to handle the puck. The poise and vision he displayed that first year seem to have dissapeared. Loss of confidence probably has a lot to do with it, but I just think his skill set doesn’t allow him to win many puck battles and it makes it hard for him to recover when he loses one.

  28. Woodguy v2.0 says:

    who,

    Thanks for answering honestly.

  29. Lowetide says:

    For The Athletic: Ken Hitchcock and the Oilers fan base that is intoxicated by the words of the great communicator

    https://theathletic.com/719714/2018/12/18/lowetide-ken-hitchcock-and-the-oilers-fan-base-that-is-intoxicated-by-the-words-of-the-great-communicator/

  30. JimmyV1965 says:

    Jaxon: I think 2RD is still the biggest need. Who on the team is a lock to become a legit 2RD? Nobody. Who even has an above average chance? Maybe Bouchard.

    D drafted #10 since 2004:
    04 – Boris Valabik – 80GP
    05 – Luc Bourdon – 36GP
    07 – Keaton Ellerby – 212GP
    10 – Dylan McIlrath – 43GP
    11 – Jonas Brodin – 404GP
    12 – Slater Koekkoek – 76GP

    Not sure we should be counting on any of Persson, Bear, Berglund, or Bouchard to be 2nd pair D just yet. The pipeline looks promising, for sure, but none of them are sure things, not even Bouchard.

    I think we have a better chance developing a 2RD than a top 6 forward.

  31. Jaxon says:

    JimmyV1965: I think we have a better chance developing a 2RD than a top 6 forward.

    Let’s see… we have McDavid, Draisaitl, Nugent-Hopkins as pure bonafide top 6 forwards. We have Chiasson scoring at a 40 goal pace. We have Khaira with 7 points in his last 9 games. Yamamoto and Puljujarvi have shown that they have good effects in top 6 roles but they’re still young with lots of room for improvement. Hitchcock is really big on Puljujarvi right now so I think we may have our top 6 already decided. Spooner has been a top 6 player for most of his career but is on a serious slump. Marody, Benson and Hebig are playing well in Bakersfield and I’d trust a scoring forward in the AHL to make the jump more than a D. MacLeod, Safin and Maksimov maturing in junior and probably jumping to the AHL next season and maybe even challenging for an NHL role. And, there are a few guys hoping for a chance to prove themselves fit for top 6 in Rattie, Zykov, Rieder, and Lucic. I’m not sure it’s a bigger need than D or if the players under control are more likely to step into a top 6 F or top 4 D role.

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