The Oilers enter today with a chance to match No. 8 Minnesota and Anaheim in points (Minnesota will hold the spot no matter if Edmonton wins, due to games in hand), meaning the claw back from the losing streak will have gained real traction. Easier said than done, the San Jose Sharks are on a roll and Erik Karlsson has found the range.
The Oilers are determined to make the postseason, meaning another transaction flurry on the horizon.
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- New Lowetide: Oilers midseason report card, brought to you by the letter ‘F’
- New Jonathan Willis: Unlikely scorer Jujhar Khaira has forced his way up the Oilers’ lineup on merit.
- New Black Dog Pat: There’s no in-season balancing for the Oilers
- New Lowetide: Oilers No. 10 prospect Winter 2018: Dylan Wells.
- New Jonathan Willis: The Oilers have a shoddy roster and when they’re bad, they’re really bad.
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: From 2 to 98, Oilers share the stories behind their jersey numbers.
- New Jonathan Willis: Edmonton’s collection of prospect defencemen gives the team options now, in the future and in trade talks
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 9 prospect Winter 2018: Joel Persson.
- 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 43
- Oilers in 2015: 17-23-3, 37 points; goal differential -23
- Oilers in 2016: 21-15-7, 49 points; goal differential +3
- Oilers in 2017: 18-22-3, 39 points; goal differential -24
- Oilers in 2018: 20-19-3, 43 points; goal differential -6
This edition of the Oilers is well clear of the non-playoff teams in goal differential (remember, EN goals have been removed) but the point total is in the neigbourhood of last year’s team. A win tonight would both put clearance between this year and last, and elevate the 2018-19 team into the general airspace of the playoff club from 2016-17.
OILERS IN JANUARY
- Oilers in January 2016: 2-2-0, four points; goal differential -1
- Oilers in January 2017: 2-2-0, four points; goal differential -1
- Oilers in January 2018: 1-3-0, two points; goal differential -11
- Oilers in January 2019: 2-1-0, two points; goal differential +1
A win tonight gives the team a nice road trip to start the year and a little traction compared to other McDavid January clubs. The Oilers need some more wins against the Pacific (currently 6-7-1) and tonight is a great opportunity. A win tonight places the Oilers on a trajectory to finish 82, 38-34-10, 86 points.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN JANUARY
- On the road to: Arizona, Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose (Expected 2-2-0) (Actual 2-1-0)
- At home to: Florida, Arizona, Buffalo (Expected 1-1-1) (Actual 0-0-0)
- On the road to: Vancouver (Expected 0-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: Calgary, Carolina, Detroit (Expected 1-1-1) (Actual 0-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 4-5-2, 10 points in 11 games
- Current results: 2-1-0, four points in two games
I’ll tell you this team has a chance while also telling you it’s an extremely difficult road. They’re going to add some talent via trade in the coming days, and that brings us to this morning’s discussion.
POSSIBLE ASSETS OUT
- 2019 first-round pick. This has the highest value, likely to land somewhere between 10 and 15 overall (at best, Edmonton could make the playoffs). High value, one would have to think the pick moves for a skill forward with term.
- Jesse Puljujarvi. One of the things I mention in the Oilers report card article published this morning is the progress made offensively under Ken Hitchcock. It isn’t earth shattering, but he is posting crooked numbers more often. That could either make him a keeper or give him more trade value.
- Jujhar Khaira. Listed because he has value and the Oilers could grab a short-term upgrade by dealing him. It would be something close to madness—Khaira is a rare forward who developed in the system and is a somewhat unique skill set—but if the Oilers are as desperate as it appears, this is possible.
- Matt Benning. Ken Hitchcock has been Edmonton’s coach for 21 games, Matt Benning has played in 19. His even strength (12:55) and PK (1:23) and PP (0:40) time with Hitchcock are similar to the McLellan usage earlier in the year (12:21, 1:29, 0:29). I think the Oilers are sold on Caleb Jones and that means there’s no room for Kevin Gravel and one other player. I think it’s Benning. I’m a fan.
- Zack Kassian. Oilers have a large number of big forwards who play a gritty game, and badly need some offense. We might see Peter Chiarelli deal Kassian for a player who can score more goals.
WHAT ARE THEY LOOKING FOR?
The goaltending is just slightly below average (.907, hockey-reference says average is .909) and surely the defense has been addressed. I’ll list a scoring winger who can play inside the top 6F, and a RH center who allows Khaira to play over on LW for the remainder of the campaign. Maybe a fourth line player with a little more pop than Kassian. Three trades? I expect it’s possible.
One of the things I pay close attention to in the second half of every season is how many young players are emerging in new, important roles.
Among rookies, Caleb Jones is the big story. He’s 10, 1-3-4 and averaging 19 minutes a game. A major positive arrow from the department of youth. Kailer Yamamoto’s actual injury is unclear (I heard he jammed his wrist but one hears a lot of things in this town about the Oilers) and his return is an absolute mystery. He is 1-1-2 in 13 games.
Evan Bouchard showed he had terrific talent and things to work on, we’ll see him late next summer and then in training camp. Cooper Marody, Joe Gambardella and Patrick Russell made their NHL debut in the first half, jury out on their futures in the big league.
One player who may be quietly finding traction under new coach Ken Hitchcock: Jesse Puljujarvi. At 5-on-5 since Hitch took over, he is 2-3-5 in 237 minutes (5-on-5 per 60 scoring: 1.26) and his goal differential under the new coach (9-13 40.9 percent) is slightly up from the McLellan era (2-6 33.3 percent). It isn’t much but it’s a pulse, and the big Finn is getting 12 minutes a night consistently. This is a massive win in the making.