Bill Parcells is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame for a reason. The man was a legendary coach and won multiple Super Bowl titles with the New York Giants before rescuing the New England Patriots, New York Jets and eventually Dallas Cowboys. One thing he was famous for? Terrific quotes.
“You are what your record says you are” is one of his most famous and it rings true to this day. You can talk about bounces and “If only this happened!” or “If we only did this!” but at the end of the day, you are what you are.
That quote applies perfectly to the Edmonton Oilers, who are 10-11-2 and now sitting three points out of a Pacific Division playoff spot and four points out of a wild card spot. An 8-2-1 stretch has given way to a 2-7-1 stretch that got the coach fired and saw the club fall off a cliff and out of a playoff spot.
The Oilers have gone 1-1-1 with their new coach, just about right when you consider the overall record and what they have done this season. They are what they are, and that is a painfully average team bound to miss the playoffs once again with the best player in hockey on their roster. In a phrase: They are simply not good enough.
A True Failure:
Connor McDavid is going to score 100 points for the third season in a row and at worst will be in the race for the Art Ross Trophy come season’s end. When you have a player like that to build around, offensive success should be a given. For the Oilers, it simply hasn’t been.
Leon Draisaitl is a great complementary piece and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins a fine second liner, but Edmonton has absolutely nothing behind them on the depth chart. The failings of this group are squarely on a management team that has botched the McDavid era so badly that they shouldn’t be able to get jobs once this club mercifully puts an end to their reign of terror.
The Edmonton Oilers are a team in the National Hockey League that does not have a single top-six winger on their roster. Gone, for pennies on the dollar, are Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Benoit Pouliot and Patrick Maroon. Replacing them? Well, there’s Milan Lucic who at best is a third line forward now and that’s about all. Amazing, huh?
Edmonton’s top-line will always be one of the best in hockey, especially with McDavid and Draisaitl running together. That said, the team’s second line is in shambles. Nugent-Hopkins is a good player, but asking him to carry two bottom-six forwards is a very unfair ask. Alex Chiasson is a great story, but his shooting percentage is not sustainable at all and eventually the goals will dry up. Drake Caggiula? He looks lost on the ice most nights and is one of the bigger possession anchors in the league.
Edmonton’s inability to create any kind of offense outside of the top trio is truly amazing considering the stable of forwards on this roster as recently as the spring of 2017. Management’s decision making has stripped this group down from borderline elite to borderline expansion level in a span of two and a half years. That is extremely alarming.
The real tragedy? The forward group was sacrificed to improve the defensive side of things. If that plan actually worked out then no one would be complaining, but the man who made the moves publicly stated that his group of blue-liners weren’t good at moving the puck two weeks ago. Come again?
Yes, the man who paid a heavy price to assemble this group of defenders admitted they can’t move the puck well and, in a way, admitted they just aren’t good enough. You know what? He’s right.
Outside of Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson, the Oilers don’t have any top-four defenders on this roster. Darnell Nurse has taken steps back this season, while Kris Russell is a solid number five. Ditto Matt Benning when he is on his game. Chris Wideman, Jason Garrison and Kevin Gravel? A dime a dozen in this league.
Final Thoughts and a Step Back:
Bottom line is, this Oiler team isn’t good enough around McDavid. The Oilers have taken the fastest and most skilled player in hockey and built a slow, grinding team around him. It’s a laughable gaffe from Chiarelli and company that is going to have serious consequences. It’s going to have wasted at least five seasons of McDavid’s career, and millions of Daryl Katz’s dollars.
The Oilers are a painfully average hockey team thanks to 97 carrying an otherwise expansion level group. In year four of the McDavid era it simply is not good enough and shouldn’t be acceptable to anyone. For the betterment of this club, it’s time for sweeping changes in management. It needs to start with Chiarelli, but by no means should it end with him.
From a hockey operations standpoint, the Oilers are a poorly run team and botching their best chance to win since the Gretzky years. It’s a frustrating reality that has made watching this team a chore most nights for some in the fanbase.
It’s not fun for anyone in Edmonton, and it doesn’t look like that is going to change anytime soon. This team is what their record says they are: A non-playoff team that will hover around .500 for most of the season. Not. Good. Enough. Not even close.