I don’t want to say that the season is over quite yet. Especially with so many games left (20-ish) versus the Pacific Division where they have the 3rd best record behind Anaheim and San Jose since Chiarelli, McLellan and McDavid came on board.
The Oilers have two games left before their bye week and they’re back-to-back Friday and Saturday. Luckily neither are afternoon games, amirite?
Listen, everybody is going to think that the Oilers will walk all over the Coyotes and that the Golden Knights are going to walk all over the Oilers but we know better, it’s going to be the opposite isn’t it?
Actually, I have tons of faith in the boys that they’ll come out with 3 or more points this weekend and those games could very well be the catalyst that sparks a serious 10 (or more) game streak of positive results.
Of course, I’m less a realist and more an optimist, so naturally, I’ll take that route of thinking. I just find that reading any sponsored Oilers blog (Oilersnation, Oil on Whyte, The Oilers Rig, Copper and Blue, etc) or their Twitter personalities to be a real pain in the ass. WAY too negative. I mean good god people. Let’s take a step back and realize that we’re getting upset at something that’s way out of our control. But I suppose it’s a bit easier for me not being in Edmonton or Alberta or Canada for that matter as I can go out in public with my Oilers swag on and nobody gives a flying fart.
Anyways, I’m not writing today to bitch and moan about other sites. I want to get into my thoughts on the team looking back and going forward into this summer. Talk about some roster speculation and what not.
IS THE TEAM A WRITE-OFF FOR 2017/18?
I don’t believe it is because anything can happen but it’s harder and harder to tow that line every week as the divide between the Oilers and the rest of the Pacific grows. That said, if Edmonton can outright win most of their remaining games vs. their division rivals, that’d go a long way to getting into a playoff position. Securing it is another story. Gotta have a good rest of January though.
WHAT HAVE YOU TAKEN AWAY FROM THIS SEASON?
The parity is real. Take what the media says with a grain of salt at the beginning of the season. Never get too high on your team but never get too low on them either.
The failures of this team are on the players and the coaching staff. I refuse to blame Chiarelli for this even though he made a poor trade dealing Eberle for Strome (Even though Strome has more goals than Eberle in the last month… hehe). Even with that deal and the apparent lack of depth on the wing, the Oilers have shown the ability to keep up with the major NHL clubs.
You could say that the Oilers failed to replace Sekera but when people say this they never offer a solution. Sekera is a $5M player, right? So were the Oilers supposed to find another $5M dman? I thought Auvitu was supposed to be the critic’s choice anyhow?
Did Chiarelli fail to shore up the goaltending behind Talbot? Go take a look at Brossoit’s numbers last year and tell me you would’ve replaced him this year because you still felt nervous…
What Chiarelli did wrong, in my opinion, was that he put his faith in the Caggiulas, Bennings, Slepyshevs, and Yamamotos. I really feel that in today’s NHL you MUST have great veterans on your team when you have the likes of McDavid, Draisaitl, Nugent-Hopkins, and Nurse on your team. I love what Toronto did in signing Marleau and I loved what Calgary did in signing Jagr even though that’s not working out. But back to Toronto for a second, they’ve got a great group of older players insulating Matthews, Nylander, and Marner and I simply think that’s how you do it. If you go the route that Edmonton has, you risk having the highest of highs and the lowest of lows more often.
When you build a team you build from the spine out. That means centre depth, D depth, and goaltending depth. Then after that, you sort out the wings. This is the first time in probably a decade where the Oilers have had this kind of depth down the spine but that’s not good enough for the “diehards”.
Special teams, bad starts, injuries, and basically all the things that went right for the Oilers last season have gone wrong for them this year but I do believe that things happen for a reason and this year will be a great learning experience for the players, coaches, management, and ownership.
With those supposed failures are some successes as well.
Jesse Puljujarvi is going to be one of the best 21-and-under players in the NHL very soon. Darnell Nurse has turned a corner in his development. Kailer Yamamoto will most likely be in the NHL next season (possibly on McDavid’s line), Tyler Benson has found a way to stay healthy (knock on wood), Kirill Maksimov is ripping up the OHL, and in the minors, Caleb Jones and Ethan Bear are coming along very nicely!
One more thing on Puljujarvi, he’s looking like he’ll score most of his goals from in tight until he learns to be more creative with his shot and that’ll come with experience and more confidence. He’s already one of the team’s best defensive players due to that long stick/reach and quick forechecking. He’s an untouchable for me on this team.
The Oilers have a top-5 PK on the road… With the same players… The same coaches… The Same GM… Same puck, sticks, ice, and skates. Top 5 people. Let that sink in before calling for someone’s head. Or at least offer a tangible solution
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT CHIARELLI’S LATEST AVAILS?
I feel like he told us a lot without telling us anything. He’s a trained lawyer so he knows what he’s doing there. He pissed off a lot of people telling them he was going to stick with the grander plan and pissed off, even more, explaining the Eberle trade.
So, here’s the thing with him saying what he did about that trade. If what he said angered you that’s probably because you feel as if you deserve some sort of transparency on his part but you don’t. You’re a fan, why should Peter Chiarelli or any other GM give two shits about your feelings regarding a trade, how it got done, how long it took, or how many permutations of the deal there was before the final one was decided on.
Oh you’re a fan and you pay your money, well if it means that much to you, stop! Stop paying for things Oilers related. Stop buying products from companies that sponsor the Oilers (good luck with that) because your money doesn’t pay for access to the GM’s conversations and justifications for what he feels is the right move for the club.
Now, every year the Oilers hold an event where you have access to the brass and you can voice your concerns right to their faces and even use a buzz word like, “fireable offence” in their presence but only if you’re season ticket holder 🙂
Peter Chiarelli said he had a 5-yr plan when he got hired, we’re halfway into that plan. He said he was going to build a team that would compete in the Pacific and as I mentioned above, the Oilers are the 3rd best team vs. the Pacific since he took over. He said he wanted to get bigger, improve the defence, and upgrade the goaltending too. All three accomplished.
What he didn’t say was that he was going to keep the smaller skilled players around that weren’t helping them make the playoffs anyhow.
This really depends on where they are but let’s say nothing has changed and the Oilers are well out of the playoff picture. In that case, it’s time to get out the auction bell. Typically Chiarelli likes to get his business done early as most teams are doing now (because deadline day is about as anti-climatic as something can get nowadays) but I wonder if we’ll see him wait it out this year and try for the best deal possible.
Pat Maroon is as good as gone, I’d say the same for Letestu and Mike Cammalleri. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some of their RFAs get moved and other RFAs come in though.
My question is, do the Oilers move out Slepyshev, Caggiula or Benning or give them another year? Another thing on my mind is the future of Oscar Klefbom. His inconsistent health/performance must be giving the brass fits and the Oilers are in dire need of a RH’d PP dman.
We do have an idea that the salary cap will go up, but how far and will it go high enough to keep Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the team or is HE the guy that will bring back that RH’d PP dman?
Back to the priorities at the deadline.
- Acquiring draft picks in 2018
- Moving out pricey/unneeded contracts
- Take advantage of Cup contenders
- Skill for the farm
I’m a huge proponent of adding picks in rounds 1-3 every year. It’s where the majority if NHLers are selected after all. If Pat Maroon can get you a 2nd and a 3rd in 2018, RAD! If you have to add a pick to upgrade that to a 1st, AWESOME! If Letestu can net the Oilers a 3rd rounder in 2018, that would be outstanding!
The Oilers have quite a few contracts in the minors and part of the black aces that could use new homes. Eric Gryba and Ryan Stanton, Mark Fayne and Ty Rattie come to mind. If the Oilers aren’t going to do anything with Joey Laleggia, let him have an opportunity somewhere else. I think I’d add Laurent Brossoit to that list too now that Al Montoya is an Oiler and signed for another year.
The Stanley Cup contenders like Nashville, Tampa, Columbus, Los Angeles, Winnipeg, or Vegas might be willing to give up on some tasty draft picks and/or prospects to solidify their playoff rosters and I’d like to see that opportunity used to stock up the farm.
Speaking of the farm, I do have a list of AHL/NHL fringe players that tickle my fancy a bit too.
- Ivan Barbashev/Dmitri Jaskin (STL)
- Hudson Fasching (BUF)
- Ville Saarijarvi (DET)
- Jared McCann (FLA)
- Daniel Carr (MTL)
- Josh Ho-Sang (NYI)
- Josh Leivo/Nikita Soshnikov (TOR)
- Jonny Brodzinski/Paul Ladue (LA)
- Frederick Gaudreau (NSH)
- Jeremy Roy (SJ)
I reckon that the big names in the trade market will get scooped up because the Oilers don’t have those kinds of assets. If I were to predict what we’ll really see at the deadline, I imagine it’ll be a few lateral moves and trades to set something up for this summer.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SEE UNTIL THE END OF THE YEAR?
I want to see this team compete night in and night out like they’re playing in game 7 of the Stanley Cup final with 2 minutes to go and a goal down. Balls to the wall compete. I want to see the coaches stop f*cking around (if they keep their jobs) and start making some changes. I want more ice time to the younger players who’ve been taking it in the chin since game 1. What better time to give them the experience they need?
I simply want to see a team that cares and plays with intensity. Score some goals along with that and I’ll be a happy fan 🙂
Fack! This is a long one mate! I’ll sign off here but before that, take a gander at the new December 2018 Top Ten NHL Draft Rankings from our Youtube channel!