The Edmonton Oilers are a team in the National Hockey League. They have many players from several different countries. The Oilers play in a giant building that resembles a box of chocolates: You never know what you’re going to get.
Before the season began, I predicted 88 points this season for the Oilers. We’re at exactly the halfway point (41 games) and the team has 44 points, exactly half. There are several ways one could write that story in a positive way, but the Oilers play in December makes it impossible. It is truly a one man show and general manager Ken Holland is going to need to get to work immediately if he wants to be a buyer at the deadline. Edmonton’s NHL team looks spent.
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 Athletic, less than two coffees a month offer here.
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘We didn’t come with the mindset to play a hard game’: Poor preparation leaves Oilers coach steaming
- New Lowetide: Edmonton Oilers’ goaltending depth chart in need of talent injection
- New Lowetide: Oilers’ fleet centre prospect Ryan McLeod finding the range with the Bakersfield Condors
- Jonathan Willis: Leon Draisaitl is struggling badly, even as the Oilers’ depth forwards seem to be coming around
- Lowetide: Should the Oilers pursue Lias Andersson in trade?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Broken toes, holiday-time hospital visits and memories of home: A week in the life of Oscar Klefbom, the Oilers’ do-everything defenceman
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Grasping Mike Smith, Leon Draisaitl and the Oilers’ recent plight by reading between the lines
- Lowetide: As Oilers’ auditions of fringe forwards nears conclusion, it’s time for Condors’ top prospects to force the issue
- Lowetide: The key missing element to the Oilers’ brilliant top line
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘We called him ‘The Crane”: Teammates and coaches reveal their best Connor McDavid stories
- Jonathan Willis: Should the Oilers have outbid the Coyotes for Taylor Hall?
- Lowetide: Connor McDavid’s frustration and the impact it could have on the Edmonton Oilers
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Oilers need to figure out five-on-five woes quickly, starting with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl
- Lowetide: Who should be the next man up from the Bakersfield Condors?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Q&A: 10 subscriber questions for Oilers rookie defenceman Ethan Bear
- Lowetide: Five loud noises Ken Holland could make to help the Oilers immediately
- Lowetide: Complete Oilers top 20 prospects list, winter 2019
- Lowetide: Oilers’ No. 5 prospect, Winter 2019 — Raphael Lavoie
- Lowetide: Oilers’ No. 4 prospect winter 2019: Tyler Benson
- Lowetide: Oilers No. 3 prospect winter 2019: Ethan Bear
- Lowetide: Oilers’ No. 2 prospect winter 2019: Philip Broberg
- Lowetide: Oilers’ No. 1 prospect winter 2019: Evan Bouchard
The most interesting hockey subject I came across yesterday was the comments section in the GDT. A discussion around Ken Holland and Philip Broberg got my mind wandering and I’d like to linger for a time and discuss it.
I wanted to go back to last spring, when we were discussing the Oilers at the draft. I don’t recall Philip Broberg’s name being in the conversation until Ken Holland arrived, and once he mentioned the name, I don’t recall any other names being mentioned. On the draft show, Louie DeBrusk mentioned Broberg pre-game, pre-pick and post-pick. Edmonton telegraphed it, just like MacT did with Darnell Nurse. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that, but Holland was working off two lists: Detroit’s and Edmonton’s. I think it’s fair to at least make the point that Holland might have been working off the list he was most familiar with, that of the Red Wings.
Holland hired Tyler Wright as Edmonton’s scouting director after the draft, he’s familiar with him from Detroit. Now Holland is an old scout himself, so I think we might be in for quite a ride with Holland-Wright at the draft controls.
I would describe Broberg as a ‘saw him good’ draft pick. He is fast, had a great Hlinka tournament and WJ’s, owned an 8.5 NHLE from his Allsvenskan boxcars and a shining scouting report that implied he was a complete prospect. That’s an attractive player.
This blog likes the math of the draft and I do think that players who are impact juniors in draft seasons (and not overage) have a far better chance to succeed as NHL players down the line. Here, let me show you the NHLE’s for Edmonton’s first-round draft picks since 2010. See if you can pick out the pure ‘saw him good’ selections:
- Taylor Hall 2010: 49.25
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 2011: 38.04
- Oscar Klefbom 2011: 4.24
- Nail Yakupov 2012: 43.51
- Darnell Nurse 2013: 15.97
- Leon Draisaitl 2014: 40.63
- Connor McDavid 2015: 67.62
- Jesse Puljujarvi 2016: 20.76
- Kailer Yamamoto 2017: 37.73
- Evan Bouchard 2018: 34.39
- Philip Broberg 2019: 8.5
There. Now, it’s easy to spot the ‘saw him good’ group, but these years later no reasonable person can argue Oscar Klefbom was a poor choice. Vladislav Namestnikov (NHLE: 23.29) was probably the best forward available at that time who was in the range. The Darnell Nurse choice had some more controversy, Max Domi (NHLE: 36) had a handsome set of boxcars but Edmonton passed. Broberg was chosen over Trevor Zegras (NHLE: 32.8), probably closer to the Domi pass.
None of that will matter if Broberg develops into a quality player like Oscar Klefbom, unless Zegras develops into a big-time offensive player. We wait. And we should expect a draft next summer like last summer. Saw him good. Tyler Kleven of the USNDTP is a current example of a non-math option who is getting first-round love. This is us. Or could be.
THE 2020 DRAFT
This is a strong draft at the top, I can’t tell you yet how deep it is because it’s not completely baked. Below are the kids who are tearing up the blacktop offensively. Here are the three best players in the draft. Despite last night, Edmonton won’t get to choose any of them.
1 L Alexis Lafreniere, QMJHL. He’s a wizard passer with the puck and can score goals with equal aplomb. Size, speed, skill, he has it all. Only downside? He’s an October 2001, so has less development time than some others. Whoever wins the lottery, this will be their choice.
2 LC Quinton Byfield, OHL. He’s an August 2002 and a big man (6.04, 215) already. He skates well, can pass, take a pass and has a dynamic ability to him. He might be the best player in the draft, partly because he’s several months younger than Lafreniere.
3 LC Cole Perfetti, OHL. Intelligent center with a terrific release, Perfetti is a January 2002. His wrist shot is already a great weapon in the OHL and he’s not fully grown (5.10, 177). Once he adds strength, he should be a formidable player. Has some range.
OILERS AFTER 41
- Oilers in 2015: 17-22-3, 37 points; goal differential -22
- Oilers in 2016: 21-14-7, 49 points; goal differential +5
- Oilers in 2017: 18-21-3, 39 points; goal differential -21
- Oilers in 2018: 19-19-3, 41 points; goal differential -10
- Oilers in 2019: 20-17-4, 44 points; goal differential -8
I’ve grown weary of this part of the Oilers schedule. There’s something about this team around Christmas, the club just can’t wake up in time. Do you remember that crazy rant I did a couple of years ago? It was after a 5-0 loss to Buffalo iirc, early January, after two similar games around Christmas. Same basic game. Not ready, other team mows them over, everyone says the right thing and we all go home. I don’t know the cure for that. I don’t know what a coach can do, and I sure as hell know that trading a bunch of future for right now doesn’t work. There’s something about this team, and the worry is growing.
What the hell happened with Jesse Puljujarvi? Do winning teams lose their top prospects that way? And another thing: Why aren’t guys drafted in 2011 and 2013, who should be the leaders by now, ready for last night’s game? What do the Oilers do at the Christmas break that the Calgary Flames don’t, and vice versa? Why is Andrew Mangiapane better than any Oilers forward not named Connor McDavid? Where have all the Leon Draisaitl gone?
OILERS IN DECEMBER
- Oilers in December 2015: 6-5-2, 14 points; goal differential -10
- Oilers in December 2016: 7-2-4, 18 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
- Oilers in December 2019: 4-8-1, 9 points; goal differential -14
This isn’t really about talent, although that’s part of it. Teams that are outclassed by their opposition can outwork those clubs, the Los Angeles Kings did it last night. Edmonton can work hard, we’ve seen it. Ponderous. This team is ponderous. Most exciting player on the planet and they can’t piss a drop. Incredible.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN DECEMBER
- On the road to: VAN (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- At home to: OTT, LAK, BUF, CAR (Expected 2-1-1) (Actual 1-2-1)
- On the road to: MIN (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-1-0)
- At home to: TOR (Expected 0-1-0) (Actual 0-1-0)
- On the road to: DAL, STL (Expected 0-2-0) (Actual 1-1-0)
- At home to: PIT, MTL (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 1-1-0)
- On the road to: VAN (Expected 0-0-1) (Actual 0-1-0)
- At home to: CAL, NYR (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-1-0)
- Overall expected result: 6-6-2, 14 points in 14 games
- Current results: 4-8-1, 9 points in 13 games
The coach killer Oilers are back in town. Ken Holland’s plan this year appears to be waiting to see how things turn out. I don’t think these recent performances will allow him to be ponderous. His team has allowed inertia to take hold.
December was a disaster. They can’t possibly be this bad. Can they? We are here….again.