Welcome to the TENTH edition of the BLH Sunday Night Pint! This evening we have Zach Laing (@loweded), Rob Cooke (@Just Oil78), and Corey Mitchel (@corn_cwm) with us to talk about what is now old news, specifically what was the 3-headed monster in net. We’re also going to touch on how the boys would make the team “heavier” in the words of Peter Chiarelli and our final thoughts as the preseason closes out. So let’s get started shall we?
1. What Will Come of This Three-Headed Monster In Net?
ZL: Yikes. This is a extremely tough call. All three of the goaltenders have played very well up until this point in the preseason. Jeff Marek of Sportsnet has been saying for sometime now that he feels Ben Scrivens will end up being the starting goaltender for Edmonton. Marek is uncertain of Talbot, and thinks Scrivens has enough fight to earn that starter spot. Given that Anders Nilsson doesn’t need to clear waivers in order to be sent down, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him get sent down. Talbot and Scrivens will be able to push each other moving forward, and Nilsson could be called up if an injury occurs.
CM: Oh, the three headed goalie monster. Remember the classic Conklin-Morrison-Markannen conflict? We don’t need another one of those. Looking at things, my guess is that it’s going to be between Scrivens and Nilsson in regards to a goalie move. Looking at what Chiarelli was willing to give up for Talbot, he didn’t make that move just to put Talbot on waivers. Talbot will be on the team to start the season. There’s a very real chance that, as ideal as it may not be, the Oilers start the year with three goalies. Hopefully that isn’t the case. If you aren’t starting the year with a bonafide starter, then you start the year with two guys capable of battling it out for the job. I expect that at some point before the season starts, we see one of Scrivens or Nilsson on waivers. If it’s me, I move away from Scrivens, simply because he was here prior to Chiarelli, who added two guys for his net.
RC: Obviously the choice comes down to Nilsson or Scrivens. No chance that Peter Chiarelli brought in Talbot to only send him to the minors. He is the starter and won’t be going anywhere this season. This should be an open and shut case of which netminder has performed better to this point in the season. If that is the case, then Anders Nilsson is our back-up goalie and we can say good-bye to the Professor now.
Unfortunately play this fall isn’t the only thing to consider when McLellan and Chiarelli are deciding between the two. There are a couple things that bear consideration before a decision is reached. Experience in the NHL will definitely be a factor. Between Talbot and Nilsson the Oilers would have 80 games of NHL experience. Scrivens has over 100 games by himself. Another item to note is the waiver requirements for the two. Scrivens will require to clear waivers before he could be reassigned and Nilsson would not. Not that I see any team claiming Ben even if he is waived but you get the point. If I have to guess, which is the point of the question it would appear, I would say that Chiarelli is trying to move out Scrivens and his 2.3 million dollar cap but barring a trade I think we see Scrivens as the back-up in hopes that his play rebounds and teams come calling.
BLH: Well I have the distinct advantage of answering this question after the news came out about Ben Scrivens’ demotion. But had you asked me before hand I would’ve said the would keep Scrivens because it would’ve cost to much to move him AND Nikitin to the minors but that’s exactly what they’ve done. What will they do with all that cash tied up in Bakersfield? It’s definitely Chia’s and McLellan’s team now and the die has been cast. It’s their way or the highway.
2. How Would You Make the Oilers a “Heavier” Team?
ZL: In order for the Oilers to become “heavier”, the team needs to play a tougher style of game. When I think of heavy teams to play against, I think of teams like the LA Kings when they recently won their Stanley Cups. They play a game driven by strong fore-checking and lots of physical play which forces other teams off of the puck, allowing them to get good scoring chances. The Oilers need to play a game that is driven by the strong fore-check in order to create better scoring opportunities. I think at this point in the preseason, we have seen under McLellan’s system a much stronger fore-check and thus the Oilers have had greater scoring opportunities.
CM: As many people have talked about, it looks like the “enforcer” role is all but done with. So how does this team get heavier? Well, you aren’t about to go out and add a guy to your roster that’s going to play 4-6 minutes a game, and really have little effect on things. The Oilers have Luke Gazdic still, although he may not get too many games this year. The addition of Eric Gryba address things a bit as well, although he could see limited time, much like Gazdic. That being said, you don’t need to be “heavy” to play “heavy”. At this point, it’s going to take another slight culture change. This team has gone from blue collar, hard working, to high skill and speed. Now they need to add that heavy aspect as well. In short, what I’m trying to say is, the players the Oilers have need to learn to play heavy, even if that means taking a bad penalty here or there to establish that the Oilers aren’t going to get pushed around this season.
RC: This is a little bit of a misleading question. You would have had to watched the MacKenzie interview to understand what Peter really means by heaviness. He doesn’t mean heavier players necessarily. What he means is that he wants the team to play a more physical style. He wants his team to be dogged in their pursuit of the puck and to be willing to go into the dirty areas and come out with the puck. I for one do not see the Oilers as being able to play that style of game. The bottom six may be able to and with Pouliot and potentially Slepyshev on the top two lines it would give some of what Chiarelli is asking for. The skilled guys in the top six have never played that style and I don’t know that they ever will be really effective at it. Adding some grit and toughness to the top six is the only route I can see the team going at this stage.
BLH: Well personally I think Chiarelli will take a shot at either Milan Lucic or Kyle Okposo over the course of the season. They would add an element that the Oilers do not have. A guy who can score, hit, and open up the ice for the skillers. I read that Jordan Staal has been linked to the Oilers too. Not sure how reliable that is though. Surely the Canes would like to hold on to the younger Staal, what about the older one though?
With that said, the Oilers have been planning on this for some time. The additions of Anton Slepyshev and Leon Draisaitl, Lauri Korpikoski, and Mark Letestu show us the kind of forward the Oilers are looking to gravitate to. Griffin Reinhart and Eric Gryba on defence are also some big boys who can play a mean game but the sacrifice being how bad they’re going to get caught out on the road when the other team has last change.
3. Your Thoughts on the Oilers 2015/16 Preseason.
ZL: So far, I’m impressed. Our training camp has been much improved under McLellan and granted this is just preseason, the players seem to be responding well to his coaching. I mean, we are 6-1 in the 7 games we have played leading up to the season opener on Thursday. All of the comments have been very positive from the players and from McLellan himself. It will be interesting to see how the team performs through the first 20 games, and then the last 60. Everyone remembers how last season started, so let’s hope this year is much different.
CM: I think the Oilers are exactly what I thought they would be after the offseason. High skill on the front, big questions on the back. McDavid has been an absolute joy, and I can’t wait to watch him as the season starts. Draisaitl has been a very pleasant surprise for me personally., I had him pegged to start the year in the AHL, but he has totally earned the right to start the year on that top line with Hall and McDavid. Reinhart has also been a nice story, and I hope the preseason helped to show everyone who thought the Oilers paid too much for him, that they were mistaken. But the preseason is what it is, and means zero in the grand scheme of things. Let’s drop the puck on this season, and go from there.
RC: I like what I have seen from most of the players so far this season with some very obvious exceptions. McDavid appears as advertised, his speed off the wing is truly amazing to behold. Leon is showing that he is ready for full-time NHL action this season. Slepyshev has been a very nice surprise this fall. We knew he had some offensive ability but I don’t think anyone could have predicted just how good this young man was going to be coming from the bigger ice of the KHL. Anders Nilsson has been perfect so far in 120 minutes of game action and appears poised for a decent NHL career. Justin Schultz has been far superior to his previous seasons and on most nights has been the best defenseman on the team. Andrej Sekera seems to come as advertised. Aside from a couple defensive lapses against the Canucks on Thursday he has played fairly well in a very small sample size. Those are some of the positives.
The negatives are just as obvious as the positives. Andrew Ference has shown that he does not have enough left in the tank to compete with the younger faster players in the NHL. Captain or not, it is time for Andy to hang up the skates in my opinion. The other player that has proven to be a really bad choice for the opening night roster is Nikita Nikitin. Last season he was apparently injured for the majority of the year and that supposedly affected his performance greatly. Well then the guy must still be injured because I have seen no improvement what so ever from last year. He is too slow, can’t seem to make a pass exiting the defensive zone and more often than not his bomb from the point is finding the end boards instead of the net.
BLH: I’ll tell you what. Every year I am stoked because there’s a new crop of players and a new season is upon us but as we can all tell this isn’t just any season coming up. The new players have come to play this year and there’s no doubt in any of them. But the story of the preseason for me is what looks like the re-emergence of Nail Yakupov and, from my eye at least, the failing experiment that is Taylor Hall and Connor McDavid.
Yakupov looks to have his swagger back. He’s working hard, he’s shooting again, and it just looks like he’s loving hockey like he used to. As for Hall, he’s my whipping boy, so anything he does wrong gets magnified and anything he does right goes unnoticed because that’s what should be happening. But he looks way behind McDavid in terms of on-ice thought processes. Draisaitl looked better on 97’s wing to be honest. So we’ll have to keep an eye on this one.
BONUS: Who’s Your Favorite Captain of All-Time?
ZL: I am a big fan of Mark Messier. After Wayne Gretzky left, Moose stepped in and took the team to a Stanley Cup Championship. He helped prove to everyone that the Oilers could do it without Wayne, and they did just that. Considering he has an NHL award named after him – the Mark Messier Leadership Award – as well as the fact that he is the only player to Captain two teams to a Stanley Cup Champion.
CM: Do I get crucified if I don’t say Messier? Because I’m going totally bias here, and I’m saying Mario Lemieux. The sexy picks might be a Mark Messier or a Jonathan Toews, but the question is “favorite captain”. I can’t help it if my all time favorite player was a captain. Also, second best player of all time, and lead the Pens to back to back Cups. Just saying.
RC: How anyone could say anyone other than Mark Messier is beyond me. I mean come on the guy has an award named after him! The Mark Messier leadership award is named that way because of the respect that anyone that has ever played against or watched the man play the game. He led the right way. He was a fierce competitor and demanded the same from all his teammates. If you gave less than your all then you had Moose to deal with in the locker room! There hasn’t been many players in the league that were as widely respected and feared as Mess. He earned and deserves the award that bears his name and there should be no question as to who is the greatest NHL captain of all-time!
BLH: My Favorite captain of all-time (which is basically code for the time I’ve been alive) would be Wendel Clark. About the time I started following hockey more closely was when the Leafs were having those runs in the 90s. He played that old brand of Canadian hockey. Tough and fearless and a wrist shot that hasn’t been matched by many. And how could you not respect the handlebar mustache? Mario Lemieux was my favorite player but I’m not sure he was my favorite captain. Maybe in the 2002 Olympics is when he really shone as a captain. I think Steve Yzerman could be nominated too for how he went from highly skilled 100pt per season player to elite defensive center after numerous knee surgeries.
Thanks for reading and feel free to comment below with your thoughts on this week’s SNP topics!
Oh and don’t forget to catch up with is on the Socials!