Welcome to 2018, a year where a Civil War is probably going to break out on Oilers Twitter as this team sinks from the playoff race faster than the Titanic. The Oilers have been arguably the NHL’s biggest disappointment this season, as they have taken a major step back after advancing to the second round of the playoffs last May.
Now, the Oilers are a long shot to make the dance as the special teams are pitiful, the defense struggles and the team plays defenders on the wing due to a lack of NHL players at the position. It’s gotten ugly, quite unnecessarily too might I add, in Oil Country. It shouldn’t have been this way, it wasn’t supposed to be this way.
Certain Twitter trolls would gladly tweet at you all summer saying “YOU CAN’T DO BETTER, WHAT DO YOU KNOW, I’LL LEAVE IT TO THE PROFESSIONALS!!!!” when the idea was brought up the Oilers were wasting what was an extremely important summer. Fast-forward almost a half-season, and us ‘haters’ seem to sadly be right. Trust me, none of us wanted it to be this way, but here we are.
Predictably, Edmonton’s lack of quality right-shot defenders and quality NHL wingers has played a huge role in sinking this season. The general manager weakened the team and avoided holes that were obvious to many in June. Now, as we welcome a New Year, those holes are finally coming to the forefront in Edmonton.
From Oilers insider Bob Stauffer yesterday morning…
I think Bob is 1000% correct here. Edmonton badly needs a scoring left-winger. Patrick Maroon and Milan Lucic simply aren’t those players and that is quite obvious. Both are NHL’ers, but there isn’t room for both of them in a top-six. I suspect Maroon is moved out in a deadline deal, with a scoring winger for McDavid being top priority this summer for whoever the GM is.
I also agree that the Oilers need a top-four right-shot defender that can play on the powerplay. Contrary to what certain people will tell you, many bloggers and fans were screaming for that addition the second the Oil fell to the Ducks last spring. Edmonton’s inept powerplay and lack of puck movement from the back end is an issue in large part to a problem on the right-side of the depth chart.
Adding a third line center was another thing we discussed in the spring that Chiarelli completely ignored, and now we are here. Edmonton wants a right-shot center who is strong in the dot, and I also agree with Bob here. It’s a need and something the club must address between now and opening night in October.
We’ve Talked About This Before:
Back in May, I posted my annual shopping list for the Oilers in the off-season. Some of the items on the list were obvious and were filled. A number of them, however, were not. Two of them were listed in Bob’s tweet from yesterday morning. Don’t believe me? Here ya go.
3.) Address second-pairing RHD – Kris Russell filled this role admirably this season, but I don’t think he will be returning. The Oilers like him, but he’s likely priced himself out of Edmonton’s range and will be leaving town. The Oilers will need another right-shot to compliment Andrej Sekera, Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson in the top-four.
I think Travis Hamonic of the Islanders would be a perfect fit for the club via trade, while Justin Faulk and Tyson Barrie represent other possible trade options. Cody Franson, Russell and Michael Stone all could be fits as free agents. Would an Eberle-for-Hamonic swap make any sense at this stage?
Apparently an Eberle-for-Hamonic deal didn’t make sense, as the Oilers surrendered Eberle for Ryan Strome. That deal, apparently according to the Oilers themselves, is one the club regrets.
Instead of addressing this, the Oilers handed Russell a baffling four-year deal worth $4 million per season. This contract essentially prevents the club from making a move to add a top-four defender and Russell has already been seen in a third-pairing role this year. He had a nice ten game run with Darnell Nurse, but that’s in the rear-view mirror now.
4.) Add a 3rd line center or top six RW – So this is a little tricky because it totally depends on what the Oilers do with Leon Draisaitl. The big German can be a fit with McDavid on the right wing, but if that is the case it creates a hole at center. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has to shift to the second line, while Mark Letestu holds down the fort on the third line.
If Edmonton plans on using Draisaitl on right wing, they’ll need to add a third line center. We know they liked both Brian Boyle and Martin Hanzal at the deadline, and both of them are UFA’s. David Krejci could be available from Boston, but he has a big contract that would be tough to fit in.
Edmonton tried Ryan Strome here and, well, you know the rest. Draisaitl has played some at center as of late as the club has shifted things around, but Leon has had a poor season outside of a twelve game stretch on the third line. That contract looks pretty bad almost half a season in, especially when you look at the David Pastrnak deal in Boston.
So, regardless of what a certain blogger who shall not be named wants to tell you, people mentioned these issues in the summer. I used my own example, but there are plenty of smarter people than I who were all on this train as well, including Lowetide, Ryan Batty, Alan Hull and many more.
Issues that were clear as day in May and June but were ignored are a major reason why this Edmonton club is going to miss the playoffs this spring. That is on the GM, who approached the off-season with a stunning amount of carelessness and who made his team clearly worse in the process.
It’s good that these issues are coming to the forefront now, but it is far too late in the process to save this season. The hope? These are the issues at the forefront for Edmonton this off-season, and should be their top priorities come June, July and August.