If you tuned out on Boxing Day and are just now picking up on news from the good ship Oilers, hold on to your hat. And your ass. In the space of five days, Alex Chiasson was placed on IR, Jujhar Khaira came back from suspension, Valentin Zykov was waived (and lost), Kailer Yamamoto recalled, Drake Caggiula and Jason Garrison got traded, as did a third-round pick, Chris Wideman got traded. The Oilers acquired Alex Petrovic, Brandon Manning and an SHL defenseman named Robin Norell. Oh! And Joe Gambardella got the call to the show. Ladies and gentlemen, your Edmonton Oilers! Either Peter Chiarelli was doing an impersonation of the climactic scene in The Godfather (Drake Caggiula as Moe Green), or Ken Hitchcock submitted his naughty list and the general manager executed it with extreme prejudice. No matter, you’ll need to buy a program tonight.
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- New Lowetide: Oilers acquire Brandon Manning in a Sunday shocker, and this ought to be interesting.
- New Lowetide: Oilers acquire Alexander Petrovic from Panthers, flushing Chris Wideman and a 2019 third-round pick in the trade.
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Struggling Oilers counting on Kris Russell to revitalize depleted defence.
- New Minnia Feng: The head-scratching scenarios, cringe-worthy lines and questionable graphics in commercials featuring NHL players.
- Lowetide: In a ‘Hail Mary’ roster shuffle, Oilers recall Kailer Yamamoto, waive Valentin Zykov and place Alex Chiasson on IR.
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 8 prospect Winter 2018: Kirill Maksimov.
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 7 prospect Winter 2018: Caleb Jones.
- 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 39
- Oilers in 2015: 15-21-3, 33 points; goal differential -22
- Oilers in 2016: 19-13-7, 45 points; goal differential +4
- Oilers in 2017: 17-19-3, 37 points; goal differential -12
- Oilers in 2018: 18-17-3, 39 points; goal differential -6
The current Oilers are still clear of the non-playoff teams in goal differential, but the point total year over year is basically the same. For those who wonder how important tonight’s game is to the club, a win would put Edmonton on a trajectory for 82, 40-36-6, 86 points. Note: My numbers exclude empty net goals. Also, if you are reading this Monday night, a reminder this post is published at 8:30 am Edmonton time. You have to log in to get it right away.
OILERS IN DECEMBER
- Oilers in December 2015: 6-6-2, 14 points; goal differential -11
- Oilers in December 2016: 7-2-5, 19 points; goal differential +2
- Oilers in December 2017: 7-5-1, 15 points; goal differential +3
- Oilers in December 2018: 6-6-1, 13 points; goal differential -1
A win tonight and the club will basically tie all seasons but the playoff McDavids. It has been a disappointing two weeks, but a win tonight gets the losing streak behind them. I had a feeling the team would lose Saturday, not as certain about tonight. Sometimes a major shock like yesterday’s turnover wakes everyone up.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 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 0-1-0)
- At home to: St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Vancouver, San Jose, Winnipeg (Expected 2-2-1) (Actual 0-4-0)
- Overall expected result: 7-6-1, 15 points in 14 games
- Current results: 6-6-1, 13 points in 13 games
Incredibly, this mish mash of good, bad and ugly would represent a direct hit for my predictions if the Oilers can only do the impossible this evening. Ken Hitchcock’s current Oilers record is 9-7-2, and he’ll be closer to being a doppelganger for Todd McLellan’s 9-10-1 with a loss tonight.
INTRODUCING THE TEAM
- Forwards numbers are 5-on-5 per 60, defensemen are Shots for percentage 5-on-5.
- So, the new hires are Joe Gambardella, Brandon Manning and Alex Petrovic.
- Gone are Drake Caggiula, Jason Garrison and Chris Wideman are way on down the line.
- I was tempted to call today’s post “wait ’til your father gets home” because the moves this weekend feel like Chiarelli grabbing players Hitchcock might find more useful than the group sent away.
- I think Kris Russell comes back tonight and wonder about Chiasson’s status in the coming days. We know the timeline for Andrej Sekera has been moved back, can’t say I’m surprised. The Oilers don’t tell us much about injuries but the Sekera situation seemed especially vague.
There are players you cheer for more than the others, for one reason or another. Gambardella’ scouting report on the day the Oilers signed him was intriguing. He scored a lot off the rush, forechecked effectively and had good speed. He also worked hard on his game.
- Gambardella: “Trying to work on a quicker release for my shot and different types of skating techniques. You can always improve in any aspect of the game and for me right now, I’m just trying to get a quicker release off and my skating can always get better.”
It’s one thing to get a pro contract but quite another to keep pushing and trying to find your way to the next level. Eric Rodgers has gifted us with his latest stats, and Gambardella shows well.
Puljujarvi scored well in a short stint early in the season, while youngsters Marody and Yamamoto have delivered and been rewarded with recalls. That means next up is Gambardella, with Benson on deck but you’d like him to get major playing time. The Condors roster took a major hit on the weekend, coach Jay Woodcroft watched Yamamoto and Gambardella fly north.
IT MOVED, BUT NOT MUCH
I wrote extensively yesterday at The Athletic about the two trades Peter Chiarelli made yesterday, so won’t bother going into great detail here. Suffice to say that acquiring two third-pairing defensemen on a team with so many major issues is akin to fiddling while Rome burns.
Every year on January 1, I write a story here at Lowetide.ca that serves as a ‘state of the union’ address. Not that I am the president of anything more than this sofa the dog and I are sharing at the edge of the universe, but it’s a collection of thoughts and stories about the way forward.
I call it Standing on the Shoreline and they aren’t all melancholy. I had decided to call tomorrow’s Standing in Peaceful Waters but the losing streak makes it impossible. Tomorrow’s post is going to include some draft things and will also include thoughts on Peter Chiarelli’s path forward from here. I’m not able to see the future, and have much to learn about the game of hockey and life as well. I see some of the reasoning behind making moves yesterday (Drake Caggiula had issues without the puck, Garrison and Wideman didn’t earn the coach’s trust) but am honestly nonplussed by the actual transactions.
Ken Hitchcock surely had input into these trades. Andrej Sekera’s time line changed. Maybe there’s more here than meets the eye. I am unable to see the vision from here. I expect another move.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260, we have a one-off show kicking off New Year’s and we’re going to do it right! Scheduled to appear:
- Murat Ates, The Athletic Winnipeg. One of the bright lights of modern hockey writing and analysis, we’ll check in with Murat on tonight’s opponent.
- John Kryk, Postmedia and Toronto Sun. Massive NFL weekend and coaching opportunities opening up every hour on the hour.
- Jason Gregor, TSN1260. The trades and the future for Peter Chiarelli.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!