Putting Out An Oilers Tire Fire


The season is young, and the sample size is small but it is apparent that the tire fire known as the Edmonton Oilers defence needs to get put out. Before we go any further, let’s take a look at some numbers surrounding the Oilers defence, and how it compares to the rest of the league this season:

  • High Danger Scoring Chances Against in all situations – 144 – 27th in the NHL
  • High Danger Scoring Chances +/- in all situations – -38 – 28th in the NHL
  • Scoring Chances Against per 60- 27.3 – 21st in the NHL
  • On-Ice sv% – 89.3% – 25th in the NHL
  • Goals Against – 46 – 28th in the NHL
  • Goals Against per 60 – 3.2 – 27th in the NHL

What these numbers show is that in our defensive zone we are allowing teams to score on shots that are taken from the slot, and the low slot. Often, these are due to defensive zone breakdowns. Not only that, none of these are numbers that are suddenly shockers to Oilers fans. Our glaring defensive mistakes have cost this team for years.

We saw it happen again last week against the Habs where defencemen kept getting caught out of position on goals:

Goal one: Rookie Darnell Nurse and “basically still a rookie” Oscar Klefbom both leave the man in front of the net and Gallagher has an easy opportunity to put the Habs up 1-0. PK Subban’s shot from the point is also able to make it’s way through two defencemen.

oops 1

Goal two is a special one. Gryba is in the corner laying the body on Markov as he made a easy pass across the ice for Galchenyuk to redirect in. Ference is caught just standing around the faceoff dot looking lazy, and Lander fails to look over his back shoulder before the pass is made.
oops 2

Unfortunatley, this is just from one game. These glaring mistakes are happening game in and game out and I’m not sure how much longer the team can continue to carry a mediocre defence.

Aah yes, again we come back to the Oilers having this tendency to trade away defencemen who are still developing for scraps. Only two defencemen developed since 1984? That’s just plain bad.


BLH writer Lindsay Ryall wrote an excellent piece looking at trading for Taylor Hall’s old OHL teammate and current Nashville Predator Ryan Ellis. At the beginning of the summer I explored the possibility of trading for Seth Jones, a move I still would love to see the Oilers make.

The discussion is rampant, and it no longer can be refuted that the Oilers need help. This season will soon be found wasted like years past if we are unable to defend and help out Cam Talbot and Anders Nilsson. The thing that we keep coming back to is “well, what’s out there?” and that’s the problem that is being run into. Even last year, we saw the Islanders make deals for Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy at the beginning of the season so it isn’t out of the realm of possibility to see it happen again.

In the offseason, there were rumours about Brent Seabrook being a trade target for the Oilers but that didn’t quite work out after he received an eight year, $55-million contract extension.

The truth is that I don’t really know if I can sit through another whole season of poor defensive play, especially considering the fact that this Edmonton Oilers offense has been more potent than we have seen in the past few years.

Connor McDavid got named NHL’s Rookie of the Month for October after scoring five goals and seven assists through twelve games, which was well deserved. Taylor Hall was named third star of the week after scoring two goals and five assists in last week’s three games.

I have a feeling that it won’t be the first of hearing about Hall and McDavid having strong seasons.

Sadly, I don’t know what can be done to fix this defence. Is there a Leddy or Boychuk deal that could be made? Because that is what this team really needs.


Zach Laing Written by:
  • Byfuglin. The Jets have a lot of Cap space, but enough to give raises / resign Lowery, Ladd, Schieflie, Truoba, Pardy, Huttichson, and Byfuglin next year? Not too sure about that. So, it comes down to have they had talks and does it look like he will stay? If not, then you take a risk trading for a pending UFA, but one that paid off for the Islanders in the Boychuck deal. Question there is, what the hell do you give up for one year of Byfuglin and the right to resign him to a seven mill deal?

    • Will, thanks for reading!

      I am a big buffy fan and I think he would be a great fit in Edmonton. Finding the right price for him will certainly be a challenge. Maybe moving picks like NYI did for Leddy and Boychuk would be the way to go.

  • Rick

    As Todd M said this morning defence id a 6 man game and the high flying forwards are still learning the 200 foot game ,When they get better at it then you will see our defence looking much better because they are a) getting back support and b) giving the defence a outlet target.

    • Thanks for the reply, Rick.

      I hope to see the progression from our defence too, but is the quality of players there really going to even be able to improve? Some of these guys have been around for years and I don’t see us changing the way they play anytime soon. (ie. Fayne, Sekera, Gryba, Ference)