I’m asked from time to time how much of this blog’s tone and views are mine and how much is framing the issue to fit the daily mood. I can’t really answer that question, beyond stating the goal is taking all of the emotion out of the conversation and trying to find what is true. I’m as prone as anyone to all of the emotions one feels when discussing something (or someone) you care about personally, but that’s the goal.
Since we’ve got some time today, it might be a fine idea for me to let you know my thoughts on the way forward. Below are my thoughts on personnel and what the team might do between now and October. I hope you enjoy it.
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- New Lowetide: If the Oilers are sellers at the deadline, expect a Condo of Condors heading north.
- Lowetide: Jay Woodcroft’s usage of Tyler Benson and other young forwards in Bakersfield is both welcome and encouraging for Edmonton Oilers fans.
- Tyler Dellow: After 47 games, the Oilers’ 5-on-5 scoring woes stand out.
- Lowetide: The Oilers’ way forward and the smartest route to finding an impact winger this summer.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Goalless Tobias Rieder hopes to follow Zack Kassian and Milan Lucic and end his offensive funk.
- Jonathan Willis: Why the Oilers should make a decision on Peter Chiarelli this week.
- Lowetide: Complete Oilers top 20 prospects, Winter 2018
MY MIND TO YOUR MIND
- If you missed the 1980’s, Connor McDavid is the best hockey player you’ll ever see playing for the Oilers, and I’m not sure he won’t end up being the best full stop. Now that’s a big wallop and I’d never put that kind of pressure on anyone age 22, but this man is so special, so unbelievable, I don’t think we can yet put limits on him. He shines like the world’s most valuable diamond, and in a way he’s exactly that, plus a little more. A giant walks among us.
- Leon Draisaitl. I’m a big fan and hope to see all of his NHL games (he’s going to play until 2040 or so). I know many are disappointed in parts of his game, but I can’t see past the 75+ points and those cherry backhands. He’s a stunning player.
- Oscar Klefbom. I think his injuries along the way have obscured just how much he can help a team. Ironically, his injury this winter is a tell about his value.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is a tremendous player, cerebral and efficient. I think this season has been good for him, someone (Hitchcock?) has him shooting more and being selfish with the puck.
- Adam Larsson is a fine shutdown defenseman. I know he’s struggled recently (his interview last night is piercing), I know the price paid, but that doesn’t have one damn thing to do with what he brings consistently. Some are calling for him to be traded, I’m going opposite and am prepared to double down.
- Darnell Nurse, Jesse Puljujarvi, Jujhar Khaira and Evan Bouchard are building toward something and in my opinion the organization should see how things play out before making any kind of move.
- I secretly believe Zack Kassian has a 100 goals in him after he turns 30. He’s exactly the kind of player who finds his way to Boston in his late 20’s. Then he proceeds to play the heart of his career with the Bruins as a rugged winger with speed, skill and enough experience to go where the goals are.
That’s what, nine players? Edmonton needs to add to that group, grab a goalie, a puck mover, some scoring on the wings. I believe a team needs seven great forwards (two lines and a 3C), four great defensemen and a fabulous goaltender. That’s 12. Edmonton has three forwards, two defensemen and we’ll see about the rest. Let’s call it halfway home. That’s my opinion.
OILERS AFTER 49
- Oilers in 2015: 19-25-5, 43 points; goal differential -24
- Oilers in 2016: 26-15-8, 60 points; goal differential +10
- Oilers in 2017: 22-24-3, 47 points; goal differential -29
- Oilers in 2018: 23-23-3, 49 points; goal differential -13
OILERS IN JANUARY
- Oilers in January 2016: 4-4-2, 10 points; goal differential -2
- Oilers in January 2017: 6-3-1, 13 points; goal differential +1
- Oilers in January 2018: 5-5-0, 10 points; goal differential -13
- Oilers in January 2019: 5-5-0, 10 points; goal differential -6
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM JANUARY
- On the road to: Arizona, Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose (Expected 2-2-0) (Actual 2-2-0)
- At home to: Florida, Arizona, Buffalo (Expected 1-1-1) (Actual 2-1-0)
- On the road to: Vancouver (Expected 0-1-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- 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: 5-5-0, 10 points in 10 games
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- It was a mixed bag last night, so it’s impossible to identify who was skating against whom. Here are the pairing numbers.
- Manning-Benning were 4-5 in 7:09, no goals and 2-1 shot; Jones-Benning were 7-6 in 6:04, 2-4 shots, 1-0 goals.
- Manning-Larsson were 9-4 in 6:45, 2-3 shots, 1-1 goals. Jones-Larsson were 3-6 in 4:07, 2-5 shots, 0-1 goals. Nurse-Larsson were 2-10 in 2:51, 2-8 shots and 0-2 goals.
- Nurse-Russell were 5-13 in 14:27, 1-8 shots and 0-1 goals. Nurse-Benning were 3-3 in 2:31, 2-1 shots and 1-0 goals.
- Cam Talbot stopped 12 of 15, .800. Mikko Koskinen stopped 15 of 18, .833. It was a bad weekend for the goalies.
- NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com.
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- Rieder-Brodziak-Kassian went 8-7 in 7:16, 3-3 shots, no goals and 1-0 HDSC. It’s too expensive for a fourth line but has been on a nice little run of late.
- Lucic-Cave-Yamamoto went 5-1 in 7:00 (Lucic), 3-0 in 5:55 (Puljujarvi) and 3-6 in 4:03 (Yamamoto). I like Cave’s game, suspect he might stick around awhile. Yamamoto needs to have more touches to be effective.
- Nuge-McDavid-Puljujarvi went 10-21 in 12:28 and 1-3 goals (Nuge), 5-9 in 4:57 and 1-2 goals (Puljujarvi) and 4-8 in 6:07 (Yamamoto). McDavid was 5-12 in 8:46 against Brett Pesce and 3-11 in 6:24 against Justin Faulk.
- Khaira-Draisaitl-Chiasson were 7-10 in 11:10 and 2-0 goals (Khaira, who has chem with some interesting players), 4-13 in 9:06 (Chiasson) and 4-1 in 4:37 (Kassian).
MY THOUGHTS TO YOUR THOUGHTS
Adam Larsson is beating himself up about recent performances but the truth of the matter is he doesn’t have the horses. I mentioned this in the Todd McLellan days, and mention it now. You can bring in Scotty Bowman himself and this roster is going to end up inspiring sad country songs.
They. Don’t. Have. The. Horses. Adam Larsson with Oscar Klefbom is 52.75 Corsi 5-on-5 in 510 minutes. Adam Larsson with Caleb Jones is 43.39 in 133 minutes. What does that tell you?
I’m not blaming Caleb Jones, he’s a real find and I suspect the Oilers will plan the future with him inside the top 6D as soon as this fall.
I’m a Larsson fan. He’s an excellent shutdown defenseman and that has real value. If he’s going to play the best opponent, he requires an excellent puck mover like Klefbom. It isn’t a one-way street, either. Larsson is quality in the scoring zone and that (historically) has been an area of weakness for Oscar.
If you plan to spend today ripping Adam Larsson, you’re going to get some pushback from me. His season reminds me of the Shawn Horcoff years after the Stanley run, where he spent his nights pushing a giant boulder straight up a steep hill. Step off on Larsson.
THE NEXT STEP
I would approach this deadline as a seller. The past is past, the picks traded in 2015 cannot be retrieved, there is only the future. Alex Chiasson should have some trade value, some of those defensemen (I would not trade Matt Benning) should, too.
I’m coming around on trading the first-round draft pick, but only in summer and only if a true offensive option (Nikolaj Ehlers, Tyler Johnson) can be procured.
I would bring back Ken Hitchcock. I’d add speed. I would begin the summer with this template:
- (??) Koskinen (??)
The keys to summer would be scoring LW (Ehlers, might cost you Nurse), a No. 3 center who can impact the checking game, a second pairing defenseman (Jones might end up being the second pair) and a co-starter in net. You can buyout Spooner and trade Russell, suspect Sekera is heading to LTIR.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy morning, lots to discuss and some open line time if you’re interested. TSN1260, beginning at 10, scheduled to appear:
- Michael Hurley, CBS Boston. NFL weekend was amazing and the Patriots have another chance to win the Super Bowl.
- Jason Gregor, TSN1260. We know about games that are coach killers, did we see two ‘GM killer’ games on the weekend?
- Connor James, FC Edmonton goalkeeper. We’re not far from the CPL season (well, we’re closer) and the Eddies continue to sign quality talent. We’ll chat with the latest addition.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!