The Edmonton Oilers have a chance to reach the point-per-game plateau this afternoon, a small victory while also being rare air for the franchise. Since Craig MacTavish left as coach, Edmonton’s top seasons are 103 points (2016-17), 78 points (2017-18) and this one if the team wins today. You may feel this is the same as 2009-10 (62) or 2014-15 (62) but this edition of the Edmonton Oilers is among the best of the post-MacT coaching era. Incredible.
The Athletic Edmonton features a fabulous cluster of stories (some linked below, some on the site). Great perspective from a ridiculous group of writers and analysts. Proud to be part of the group. INSANE NEW OFFER IS HERE!
- New Eric Duhatschek: Sorting through the organizational problems in Ottawa and Edmonton.
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: After a year of despair, Oilers prospect Cameron Hebig grateful for latest chapter with the Condors
- Jonathan Willis: Bob Nicholson’s misguided Tobias Rieder comments reveal deeper problems within Oilers management
- Jonathan Willis: Ken Hitchcock knows why Edmonton has trouble exiting its zone, but lacks the players to fix it.
- Lowetide: Trimming cap fat and adding speed and skill will shape Oilers’ offseason.
- Jonathan Willis: Former Canucks architects Mike Gillis and Laurence Gilman should be considered for any vacant NHL GM job
- Jonathan Willis: The Oilers need to drastically revamp their forward group.
- Lowetide: Identifying the risk and the right price if the Oilers were to trade Adam Larsson (to Toronto?)
- Lowetide: Oilers’ prospect Tyler Benson’s rookie AHL season a revelation.
- Lowetide: The Edmonton Oilers draft early, the WHL is loaded and there’s a lot of history.
- Jonathan Willis: Analyzing how much the Oilers should be willing to spend on pending free agent Alex Chiasson.
- Jonathan Willis: Keith Gretzky is a legitimate Oilers GM candidate, but would be a hard sell in Edmonton
- Lowetide: How the Oilers can build a contender during Connor McDavid’s prime.
- Jonathan Willis: The Oilers aren’t good, but this group has more potential than teams from the decade of darkness
- Lowetide: Bob Nicholson’s search continues for the Oilers new tomorrow, but at a leisurely pace.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: How Leon Draisaitl has found ‘another level’ by matching offensive wizardry with sound positioning.
- Lowetide: The Edmonton Oilers and the OHL.
OILERS AFTER 75
- Oilers in 2015: 29-39-7, 65 points; goal differential -35
- Oilers in 2016: 41-25-9, 91 points; goal differential +28
- Oilers in 2017: 34-36-5, 73 points; goal differential -29
- Oilers in 2018: 33-34-7, 73 points; goal differential -26
One of the main reasons to pay attention now through the end of the season is the goal differential. If Edmonton can run that total below -20, that would represent a sliver of year over year progress.
OILERS IN MARCH
- Oilers in March 2016: 6-5-0, 12 points; goal differential -2
- Oilers in March 2017: 7-3-1, 15 points; goal differential +15
- Oilers in March 2018: 6-4-1, 13 points; goal differential +8
- Oilers in March 2019: 6-4-0, 12 points; goal differential -1
WHAT TO EXPECT IN MARCH
- On the road to: Columbus, Buffalo (Expected 0-1-1) (Actual 2-0-0)
- At home to: Vancouver, Toronto, NY Rangers, NJD (Expected 2-1-1) (Actual 2-2-0)
- On the road to: Arizona, Vegas, St. Louis (Expected: 0-2-1) (Actual 1-2-0)
- At home to: Columbus,Ottawa, Los Angeles, Dallas, Anaheim (Expected: 3-1-1) (Actual 1-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 5-5-4, 14 points in 14 games
- Current results: 6-4-0, 12 points in ten games
Evan Bouchard had the puck on a string last night in the OHL playoffs. I think it would have been better for his development to spend the season in Bakersfield, but he’s fun to watch at this level. He scored twice, and had four points on the evening. Including playoffs and regular season, Bouchard is 46, 18-39-57 (1.24 points-per-game) compared to 71, 26-66-92 (1.30) one year ago. He’s ready to turn pro.
Benson went 1-1-2 last night in an overtime loss, now sits at 59, 14-43-57. He’s quickly approaching the point-per-game level and I do think Benson will push for NHL employment in the fall.
The 2016 entry draft is now at the halfway point of my ‘5-year rule’ and hasn’t turned out as hoped. Jesse Puljujarvi’s situation is best reflected in an old Jimmy Cliff song, the three third-round picks remain without contracts, and there doesn’t appear (at this time) to be a late-round gem.
The entire draft surrounds Puljujarvi, my guess is he won’t fetch a gigantic amount via trade but that’s where we are headed.
It’s Benson. That’s the big hope for the 2016 draft as we approach April Fools. On draft night, I wrote about the group chosen by Edmonton, who had heavily populated my own rankings:
- No. 3—R Jesse Puljujarvi, Karpat (Sm-Liiga): Big, fast, rambunctious.
- No. 34—L Tyler Benson, Vancouver Giants (WHL). Physical two-way forward. Injured a lot.
- No. 61—RD Filip Berglund, Skelleftea AIK (SEL). Intriguing offense, may take awhile.
- No. 108—LD Markus Niemelainen, Saginaw Spirit (OHL). Giant defender, mobile, some offense.
- No. 112—C Aapeli Rasanen, Tappara U20 (Jr. SML). A fine prospect, good size and skill.
- No. 145—LD Matthew Cairns, Georgetown Raiders (OJHL). Smart defender with good size, mobility.
We’re 2.5 years into the piece, and Edmonton has signed only three men (Puljujarvi, Benson, Dylan Wells) from the 2016 draft. That’s low. The third-round pick I like ran in place a little, and the Oilers are now drunk with RHD prospects (Evan Bouchard, Ethan Bear, Joel Persson).
Now, to the reason for writing this today. Folks, they’re orphans. I have been staring at drafts for a long time, and can say with some authority that Peter Chiarelli’s plans for this group no longer apply. Was he planning on signing Vincent Desharnais and Filip Berglund? That priority list is gone.
This happens time and again in the life of an organization. The 2017 and 2018 drafts have Keith Gretzky as an inside champion. The 2016 draft? Orphans, save Benson and Wells. I expect Jesse Puljujarvi to be dealt this summer, with a meager return.
Here’s the thing: I still think they made the right call in choosing Puljujarvi. I don’t know how you pass on that player based on what happened in the previous six months.
As for the fall, I think the big name rookies will be Tyler Benson, Cooper Marody and Caleb Jones. Just a guess.