I’m not sure there is much to be gained in going back over the mess that was HNIC’s second game from the Saddledome last night. Game, set, match. As the game wandered along, I was struck by just how many young players are on the roster, here and pushing to be part of the Oilers through the end of the decade.
Caleb Jones and Ethan Bear struggled, Jesse Puljujarvi was 0-3 in on-ice goal differential at five on five, Kailer Yamamoto took a penalty and the Flames cashed on the power play. Evan Bouchard and William Lagesson weren’t in the lineup.
You know, some of these men aren’t destined to the Edmonton Oilers. Some could be gone this summer. Or sooner.
I’m proud to be writing for The Athletic, and pleased to be part of a great team with Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis. Here is our recent work.
- New Lowetide: What would the Oilers sacrifice if they traded their 2021 first-round pick?
- DNB: A year without Colby Cave
- DNB: To play them together or not? 97 and 29
- Lowetide: Are the 2020-21 Oilers better than the 2016-17 team?
- DNB: Q&A: Oilers GM Ken Holland on trade deadline needs
- Lowetide: Evan Bouchard’s season of inactivity — what is the risk for the Oilers?
- Lowetide: Oilers futures watch — how new arrivals are making an impact at AHL Bakersfield
- New DNB: What I’m hearing about the Oilers ahead of the trade deadline
- Lowetide: The Oilers’ big decision on defence — Caleb Jones or William Lagesson?
- Jonathan Willis: Finding the ideal centre for the Oilers at the trade deadline
- Lowetide: Oilers March report card
- Jonathan Willis: Who says no? NHL execs evaluate your Oilers trade proposals
- Lowetide: How the Oilers could benefit at the trade deadline from relaxed quarantine rules
- Lowetide: Every major transaction Ken Holland has made as Oilers GM
- Jonathan Willis: Five questions the Oilers need to answer by the NHL trade deadline
- Lowetide: Where does Zack Kassian fit on the Oilers, now and in the future?
- Lowetide: Oilers’ midseason depth chart informs their needs for trade deadline and beyond
- Jonathan Willis: A position-by-position look at the Oilers after 30 games
- Lowetide: How will Oilers GM Ken Holland make room in the lineup for Evan Bouchard?
- Lowetide: Are the Oilers and Elvis Merzlikins a trade match?
- Lowetide: Why Oilers GM Ken Holland shouldn’t wait for the deadline to make a trade
- Lowetide: Oilers’ top 20 prospects, trade deadline edition
- Lowetide: Why are some Oilers fans hesitant to give Darnell Nurse his due?
- Lowetide: Top trade targets for the Oilers at the 2021 deadline
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers 2021 trade value rankings
- Lowetide: Is this peak Connor McDavid?
OILERS AFTER 42 GAMES
- Oilers in 2015-16: 17-22-3, 37 points; goal differential -24
- Oilers in 2016-17: 21-14-7, 49 points; goal differential +5
- Oilers in 2017-18: 18-21-3, 39 points; goal differential -21
- Oilers in 2018-19: 20-19-3, 43 points; goal differential -6
- Oilers in 2019-20: 21-17-4, 46 points; goal differential -7
- Oilers in 2020-21: 25-15-2, 52 points; goal differential +10
Oilers are 15 points up on Calgary with 14 to play (Flames have 15 left). If the Oilers going 6-6-2 (14 points), the Flames would need to go 15-0-0 to beat Edmonton into the postseason. It’s over. Despite last night.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN APRIL
- At home to: Calgary (Expected: 1-0-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- On the road to: Montreal, Ottawa, Ottawa, Calgary (Expected: 3-1-0) (Actual 2-1-1)
- On the road to: Vancouver, Winnipeg (Expected 1-1-0) Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: Montreal, Montreal (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- On the road to: Winnipeg, Winnipeg (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: Calgary (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: Vancouver (make up game) (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- Expected April record: 9-4-0, 18 points in 13 games
- Actual April record: 3-1-1, 7 points in 5 games
Edmonton is off until Friday and then it’s non-stop action dusk to dawn every night (or close). If the Oilers finish as I predicted from here, the record for the season will be 30-18-2, 62 points. Placed over 82 games, that’s 102 points and a playoff team.
Rumours last night had the Oilers interested in some rental defensemen (Patrik Nemeth, who we had discussed) and Michael Del Zotto was suggested by Chris Johnston of SN as a player who might help.
That’s bad news for Jones, or Lagesson, or both. A rental like Nemeth would mean the young set are sitting, or part of the trade. Here’s a quick look at each man, all numbers five on five:
- Caleb Jones: 12:42 per game; 50.11 Corsi; 52.59 Shots; 38.89 Goals; 53.06 Expected Goals
- William Lagesson: 12:50 per game; 39.82 Corsi; 36.02 Shots; 52.94 Goals; 41.70 Expected Goals
- Patrik Nemeth: 15:43 per game; 47.53 Corsi; 48.02 Shots; 50.00 Goals; 47.04 Expected Goals
- Dal Zotto: 14:39 per game; 46.80 Corsi; 49.50 Shots; 57.69 Goals; 45.95 Expected Goals
I wrote about Nemeth (here) not long ago and he was the best of a group I thought Edmonton might be able to afford. Now that he’s been dealt, the play here is to keep Jones. If you line up Nurse-Bear, Jones-Larsson and Russell-Barrie I think that’s probably the best possible result. Barrie has been bleeding with Nurse lately, I think part of it is an injury to Barrie/Barrie exhaustion but haven’t seen anything on it.
The Oilers are in a dangerous spot here with Jones, and maybe Bear too for all I know. When a general manager is looking at a possible 10-year solution (I think both men could have long careers) it’s important not to send that kind of talent away for less than 100 cents on the dollar. Jones has his value suppressed currently, it’s on the downbeat. I wonder if the coaching staff believes he isn’t progressing as a coverage player. That’s the only thing I can think of as it pertains to keeping him in the lineup and moving him up the depth chart. He has so much talent. I wonder if there’s a crossroads for this player. I sincerely believe the Oilers will regret sending him away as a young man (if they do in fact trade him or lose him to expansion).
Left wing is another area Holland is looking at this weekend and in my opinion the skill LW job needs to be filled. Here are the primary Oilers with some trade candidates (all numbers five on five):
- Rickard Rakell: 14:57 per game; 1.73 pts-60; 47.97 Shots; 47.91 Expected Goals
- Taylor Hall: 14:33 per game; 1.34 pts-60; 49.26 Shots; 52.76 Expected goals
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: 13:56 per game; 1.18 pts-60; 51.63 Shots; 56.97 Expected Goals
- Mike Hoffman: 12:16 per game; 1.19 pts-60; 46.38 Shots; 42.67 Expected Goals
- Dominik Kahun: 12:25 per game; 1.28 pts-60; 46.06 Shots; 44.52 Expected Goals
- Tyler Ennis: 11:46 per game; 1.64 pts-60; 45.85 Shots; 48.22 Expected Goals
Any of the three possible acquisitions would be fantastic, price is of course the worry. I don’t believe Holland can afford to trade the first-round pick on a rental, even if it’s Hall or Hoffman. Rakell has one year left and would cost more because of it. Honestly? I’ll be shocked if Holland can reel in any of these men.
I know some of you might be curious about my take on Connor McDavid’s comments last night after the game. Commentary is unnecessary. There’s nothing to comment on. Listening is all that is required.