Hello friends and welcome back to the show that never ends. The Edmonton Oilers remain in the playoff race but cannot stop the current free fall. The team is bleeding out on main street, Peter Chiarelli trying to fix the holes with a mountain of silicone sealants and a glue gun, while Ken Hitchcock is trying to get his three dressed up to look like nine. We talk of better days shining through, but the defense got flattened by injuries and the team had no answer. Six losses in a row, five losses in a row at home during renewal season. The call is coming from inside the house.
Crazies like me keep saying stay the course, you’re on the right track in building up the system and giving your scouts a draft pick in every round, but crazies like me are lost in the flood at this time.
Ken Hitchcock’s current Oilers record is 9-8-2, a close match for Todd McLellan’s 9-10-1. We are here. Again.
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: Oilers No. 9 prospect Winter 2018: Joel Persson.
- 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: 18-18-3, 39 points; goal differential -7
There’s little difference between last year’s Oilers and this year’s team. The goal differential is a little encouraging but the wins stayed away leading up to Christmas and now the new year.
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: 6-7-1, 13 points; goal differential -12
The six game losing streak sewered an excellent start and the Oilers enter January as likely to be sellers as buyers at the deadline. The addition of two veteran defensemen may come in handy should management sell off, although that was clearly not the intent of Sunday’s trades.
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 0-5-0)
- Overall expected result: 7-6-1, 15 points in 14 games
- Current results: 6-7-1, 13 points in 14 games
We’re through December, this is the closest I’ve come to predicting the club in the season’s three months. I think we’ll look back on this month over the offseason and credit these 14 games with what will no doubt be a massive roster turnover. How many forwards are going to lose their NHL careers because of this season? Six?
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Jones-Larsson were 23-15 in 17:46, 13-8 shots, 2-1 goals and 7-0 HDSC. Pairing was far more successful than Nurse-Larsson, and were helped by 5:36 (2-0 goals) and 11-4 Corsi events with McDavid 5-on-5 (15-13 without the captain). Went 7-3 in 6:51 against Connor-Little-Laine, 9-6 (1-1 goals) in 5:16 against Ehlers-Scheifele-Wheeler. An errant backpass by Jones found the tape of Wheeler for the third Jets goal but the young blue has been so good no complaints from this corner of the world.
- Manning-Benning went 14-17 in 11:31, 6-9 shots, 0-2 goals and 1-3 HDSC. Benning had a rough night, I think he might be odd man out when the other defensemen get healthy. Manning blocked five shots and hit three people. Went 10-7 in 7:06 against Perreault-Lowry-Tanev, Benning’s blind and poor shot to get the puck out in the seconds before the Tanev goal was costly.
- Nurse-Petrovic were 6-21 in 17:58, 1-13 shots, 0-1 goals and 2-7 HDSC. Even more concerning, the pairing dragged down McDavid (4-11 in 11:22) during the heart of his evening. Nurse is struggling badly, Petrovic didn’t help. The Nurse Puck IQ numbers were good a year ago, I’m not suggesting anything rash with the big defenseman, but it would be wise to back him off in minutes until Nurse finds his game. Went 3-9 in 10:28 against Ehlers-Scheifele-Wheeler. Petrovic’s poor play before the first Lemieux goal directly contributed to the tally.
- Mikko Koskinen stopped 32 of 36, .889. He made some big stops but that last goal was a killer, seemed to lose position.
- Natural Stat Trick and NHL.com.
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- Khaira-McDavid-Rattie went 9-10 in 10:25, 5-5 shots, 1-1 goals and 3-0 HDSC. McDavid also contributed to a goal while playing with Nuge and Leon. Went 12-10 in 13:39 against Morrissey-Trouba, 6-6 shots, 2-1 goals and 3-1 HDSC. The captain was 14-5 Corsi, 8-4 shots and 2-1 goals away from Nurse. Went 3-2 (1-0 goals) in 2:34 with Nuge and Leon, Hitchcock wanted this win badly.
- Lucic-Nuge-Puljujarvi were 11-11 in 9:40, 4-4 shots, no goals and 1-2 HDSC. Went 8-4 against Chariot-Myers. Line did little together, Nuge impressive when playing up the lineup. Lucic had one of his better games this season, had a takeaway and skated well. His ability to take a pass is almost completely gone, don’t know what anyone can do about it.
- Rieder-Draisaitl-Spooner went 11-13, 6-7 shots, 0-1 goals and 4-5 HDSC. I didn’t mind the trio, they were dynamic, but Leon’s goals came while playing up the lineup. Went 8-13 against Morrissey-Trouba. Spooner had five shot attempts, Rieder three.
- Gambardella-Brodziak-Kassian were 2-7 in 4:58 (Gambardella) and 8-14 in 8:40 (Kassian, 0-2 in goals) in a poor outing for the line. Went 0-7 in 3:55 against Morrow-Kulikov.
If Peter Chiarelli was willing to trade for two defensemen, suspect the idea of adding a winger who can score goals is also being contemplated. Connor Brown had 20 goals two years ago and 14 last season, but has fallen on hard times with an overall shooting percentage of just 6.7 this year. He might be available and could help.
His most common linemates this season are Par Lindholm, Nazem Kadri and Andreas Johansson, so he is neither a feature winger or a buried one. He is absolutely more ready to help an NHL team than at least two of Edmonton’s current regulars at the position, and might give Ken Hitchcock another wrinkle on the skill lines.
OILERS 2019 DRAFT PICKS
- No. 10 overall
- No. 41 overall
- No. 81 overall
- No. 103 overall
- No. 165 overall
- No. 196 overall
LOWETIDE 2019 TOP 20 FOR THE DRAFT
- LC Jack Hughes, U.S. National Development Team (USHL). A brilliant offensive player, cerebral, quick and highly skilled.
- R Kaapo Kakko, Turkku (Sm-Liiga). A big power forward with tons of talent who is emerging in real time.
- R Dylan Cozens, Lethbridge (WHL). Size, skill and he can skate. Range of skills, accurate shooter.
- RC Kirby Dach, Saskatoon (WHL).A dynamic player with size and tremendous skill, has speed, wingspan and an excellent release.
- R Vasili Podkolzin, St. Petersburg (MHL). Smart player with tons of offensive ability, but also possesses good two-way instinct.
- L Arthur Kaliyev, Hamilton (OHL). He’s a fantastic scoring prospect. Good not great skater.
- LC Trevor Zegras, U.S. National Development Team (USHL). Undersized and highly skilled, elusive and aggressive with very good speed.
- L Jakob Pelletier, Moncton (QMJHL). Undersized skill winger with two-way ability.
- LC Peyton Krebs, Kootenay (WHL).Skill forward who can score, he has quick feet and good hands.
- LC Ryan Suzuki, Barrie (OHL). Great vision, skill, tremendous passer. If he were faster, he’d be top five.
- R Cole Caufield, U.S. National Development Team (USHL). He’s small, fast and a ridiculous scorer. Quick release, accurate.
- LD Bowen Byram, Vancouver (WHL). Explosive speed is his top attribute but he’s also excellent with the puck and owns a heavy shot.
- LC Alex Turcotte, U.S. National Development Team (USHL). A strong two-way reputation, he is skilled and an excellent skater. Injuries a worry.
- LD Cam York, U.S. National Development Team (USHL). The latest impact puck mover out of the USHL, great speed, passing and creativity.
- L Matthew Boldy, U.S. National Development Team (USHL). Bigger winger with skill, he’s strong on the puck and can score goals.
- RC Raphael Lavoie, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL). Big center with a long reach, and a plus shot.
- LD Thomas Harley, Mississauga (OHL). Good size, speed and he’s posting impressive numbers. Spiking as we speak.
- LC Alex Newhook, Victoria (BCHL).Terrific scorer with playmaking skilled and dogged determination on the backcheck. High end potential.
- LD Matthew Robertson, Edmonton (WHL). Big two-way defenseman with good speed and some offense.
- LD Philip Broberg, AIK (Allsvenskan). He’s big and can skate, while also displaying puck moving ability.
I have Arthur Kaliyev higher than he’ll go, but don’t believe he would fall to No. 10 overall. I also like Cole Caufield for the Oilers at No. 10. Don’t pay too much attention to current lists, we’ll get a big shuffle after WJ’s and scouting services will begin to drill down on the Euros in the coming days.
I have decided to begin 2019 draft coverage in January, you’ll probably get a list on Sundays of current rankings and some idea about trends. I’ll also track the Oilers games of course, and should they find a way to stay in the race (Edmonton is in the race now, but fading with each passing day) I’ll devote less time to the draft.
Happy New Year!