COULD BE A RED OCTOBER

Jason Gregor
September 26 2013 12:01PM

The Oilers final roster hasn't been made official, but with Ryan Jones clearing waivers and Denis Grebeshkov, Corey Potter, Sam Gagner and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins all injured it is obvious who will be on the team. The only change could come in the form of a waiver wire pickup over the weekend when teams make their final cuts.

If a viable centre is available, general manager Craig MacTavish will need to decide if this player is better than Marc Arcobello or Will Acton.

Even if they claim a centre on the waiver wire, the Oilers will start the season with some key injuries and a very difficult schedule. They could find themselves in the "red" very early.

In their first 19 games, only 6 of them are at home, and 14 of their first 19 are against the eastern conference. The East has most of the true heavyweights, so I'm expecting we'll see Steve MacIntyre more often early in the year than later, but he isn't the main storyline for the Oilers.

If the Oilers are going to end their seven-year playoff drought, they will need to be better on the ice, than they currently look on paper. Their defence is much better than last year, but the right now the forward group isn't; on paper anyways.

The Oilers start the season with only one proven NHL centre. Taylor Hall gets an asterisk beside his name, because he's a elite player, but moving to centre will be a challenge, especially when he has to face regular NHL teams.

Can Jesse Joensuu, Acton and Arcobello be productive NHL forwards? We'll find out quickly

The only preseason game they played where the opposition had more than 70% of an NHL roster was against the Jets in Winnipeg. Their previous four games against the Canucks (2), Rangers and Jets were against lineups with half a roster of AHL players. I'm not sure how much we can take away from those games.

The Oilers blueline should be much better than last season, and Devan Dubnyk looked sharp in preseason.

WHO WILL LEAD?

Hall will need to be just as dominant as he was last season for the Oilers to be in the race at the end of October. In the last 20 years, 77% of teams that were in a playoff spot at the end of October made the playoffs in April.

I'm not sure if the new schedule, playing every team at least twice, will impact that % or not, but even if it doesn't, it is clear the Oilers will need to be close, or in a playoff spots, after 14 games.

Hall averaged 18:37 of icetime/game last season, and head coach Dallas Eakins has already stated Hall is going to play more this season. I'm guessing he'll play close to 21-22 minutes a night, but even with more minutes it will be extremely difficult for him to produce more than he did last season.

Hall had 50 points in 45 games; he averaged 1.1 points-per-game. Only six players, Crosby, St.Louis, Stamkos, Kane, Lupul and Ovechkin had a better PPG average. (Lupul only played 16 games, so I'd say five.) Just having Hall on the ice more should help the Oilers cause, but he'll need some teammates to step up if the Oilers are going to be competitve.

Ryan Smyth and Ales Hemsky need to be much better than they were last year. Smyth is back playing wing, where he belongs, and that will help him. If Hemsky can find the game he had between 2005-2011, he'll be a huge benefit to Hall. Hemsky is completely healthy, and there is no reason he shouldn't be able to produce playing with Hall.

Jordan Eberle and David Perron have shown good chemistry early on. Eberle will also get more icetime, and he needs to play like he did in 2011/2012, while Perron should produce more than Magnus Paajarvi. The Smyth/Hall/Hemsky trio will likely face the top defencemen most nights, so Eberle and Perron must produce against the 2nd and 3rd D-pairs.

I believe the key to the Oilers treading water lies at the hands of Boyd Gordon, and specifically Nail Yakupov. Gordon isn't a point producer. He's never scored more than 8 goals or 29 points, so it's unrealistic to expect he'll produce much more over the entire season, but players get on hot streaks, and he'll need one early.

I see Yakupov as the key to success early on. Most opposing coaches will put their 3rd pair defencemen against his line, because he's the only proven NHL threat on that line, so Yakupov will need to feast on "softer" matchups. I don't like the term soft/easy, because every NHL player is damn good, but there is a drop off from the 1st pairing down to the 3rd and Yakupov has to score at even strength against those players. I expect he'll produce on the PP, but the Oilers will need to producing 5-on-5.

TEAM DEFENCE

With RNH and Gagner injured, the Oilers must lower their GAA. It is unlikely, but not impossible, that they will score more with their current lineup, so Dubnyk and the re-vamped D core must step up.

Justin Schultz should be better. Andrew Ference and Anton Belov (I expect he'll start opening night) are upgrades over Ryan Whitney and Corey Potter/Mark Fistric, and Nick Schultz will be more effective as a 3rd pairing defender instead of being in the top-pair last year.

Jeff Petry and Ladislav Smid are similar to Smyth and Hemsky; they must have bounce back seasons. Petry and Smid underperformed last year, and both of them need to be more consistent to lower the Oilers' GAA.

WRAP UP...

  • At the end of last season Craig MacTavish said, "We had a lot of guys that the best they were going to be in any given game was a non-factor." He was referring to his bottom six forwards. Fast forward ahead to today and the bottom six only looks better because Yakupov is in it.

    Boyd Gordon will be a factor. I think Oilers fans will appreciate him, because he's competitive. He isn't going to produce many points, but he's solid defensively and at least he plays hard. However, after those two there are many question marks.

    Can Joensuu emerge as a regular, productive NHL player? He looked good in the preseason, but the quality of the opponents wasn't NHL caliber.

    I'd like to believe Will Acton can make more of an impact than Eric Belanger. Hell, if Acton plays with a pulse, he'll be an improvement, but being better than Belanger won't be enough. He'll need to much better.

    The 4th line wingers will be a mix of MacIntyre, Ben Eager, Mike Brown and Ryan Hamilton. A fighter, two bangers and a minor leaguer. Maybe Eakins will be able to get more out of them, or use them better than Tom Renney or Ralph Krueger did, but that is a big IF at this point.

    MacTavish said he wanted guys who could be factors, yet 66% of his bottom six forwards aren't proven, consistent NHL players. It is a major risk, and he's put a lot of faith that Eakins can get the most out of these guys. If he does, then Eakins will prove to be a better coach than Renney or Krueger.
     
  • Of the 14 October games, 10 of them are against teams who made the playoffs last year. If the Oilers can win 6 games and get an OT point or two, they should be ecstatic. They have a very tough schedule.
     
  • Ryan Jones cleared waivers, not a surprise, and he should get a lot of icetime in OKC. If he plays well early, I could see him being recalled. I don't see anyone 4th line wingers who are a lock to dress every night, so if he produces and plays well in OKC, he could be back in Edmonton very soon.
     
  • I like the hybrid icing and I hope the NHLPA votes it in. There are so few races for the puck that actually impact the game positively; I don't see any reason why they wouldn't implement it this season.
     
  • I don't want to sound like a broken record, or be a Debby Downer, but when you look at the Oilers early schedule combined with their injuries, it is going to be extremely tough to overcome both of them and make the playoffs. I see them making a strong push at the end of the season, but coming up short.

    For the sake of all you loyal Oilers fans, I hope I'm wrong.

STREAKCRED

Wanye is so worked up about his precious Streakcred I have to make sure to add in a plug to play this season. The early bird special is on right now for only $15 a team. I am playing too as it is for charity and I have to admit it is a pretty fun game. The prizes are good too and it is in support of the ICCP. 

You should sign up here.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR  

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#1 David S
September 26 2013, 12:07PM
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Oh man. It's entirely concievable we could be out of the playoffs by the beginning of November.

Just let that soak in for a minute.

*Weeps softly*

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#2 madjam
September 26 2013, 01:21PM
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Hall deserves Player of the Year if he can somehow turn that line into a scoring line once season starts . Perron the tough guy roll with Eberle and Archebello . Two pin balls that are going to get run exceedingly . Fear for Eberle . What a waste having Yak on third line duties with Gordon and an unproven player in season games such as Joensuu . Weak 4th line will do little . Time for MacT. to get back to dealing .

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#3 Walter Sobchak
September 26 2013, 04:00PM
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I see the Oilers being a lottery team. MacTavish needed centers before the injuries.

To many unknowns.

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#4 dawgbone
September 26 2013, 12:13PM
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Acton wasn't even very good in an AHL role last year, I have little faith he'll be even as good as Belanger.

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#5 The Ghost of Jari Kurri
September 26 2013, 12:28PM
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Jonesy gets recalled by mid-October. Bottom six have no experience and will get swallowed up by the Oilers tough schedule Don't get too comfy down south Jonesy!

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#6 Freewheeling Freddy
September 26 2013, 12:40PM
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I am really pulling for Dallas Eakins. However I think he will be over his head. Not enough talent in the bottom 6 .Down the middle looks frightening to start the season. Somebody will have to walk on water for this team to make the playoffs.

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#7 J Daly
September 26 2013, 02:22PM
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I still think Kyle wellwood is a great 4th line option. he is a legit centre that can score some points. i take him over acton any day. I have to say Acton is only on the team since day is a coach and head coach is a good friend of the family.

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#8 pkam
September 26 2013, 12:47PM
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I don't want to be a naysayer, but there is quite a way before Hall can be a reliable centre. I watch the NYR game live and several times I saw Hall came back after the puck and both Smyth and Hemsky were in our own zone.

And that 4th line of Acton, Hamilton and Eager were trapped in our own zone all night long. And iced the puck many times just to get a breath. It is scary to imagine how it will look like if we replace Eager or Hamilton with big McIntyre.

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#9 pkam
September 26 2013, 02:06PM
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eastcoastoil wrote:

still a good line up though?

To a earlier comment, let Yak and Hall tear up the PP. This line up is for 5v5.

Acrobello-Perron-Eberle, so far looks good in preseason. The two wings are good enough in any top 2 line, but Acrobello is the question mark. How well can he play when the regular season starts.

Hall-Smyth-Hemsky, so far so good in the preseason. Hall still has to learn to be a 2-way center and how long can Smyth continue to play 18 min per game effectively.

Gordon-Yak-Joensuu, if Gordon and Joensuu can play as good as in the preseason, I think it is one of the best 3rd line.

Our 4th line, probably the worst of all teams.

No doubt our defense is much better than last year but that didn't say much if it is better than one of the worse. I think our defense will be about average.

I like Dubnyk but he still has to prove he is a solid no. 1. And Labarbera looks a bit shaky to me.

So overall, I will rate ourselves average at best with RNH and Gagner out.

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#10 Racki
September 26 2013, 12:14PM
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Credit to fifthcartel on Lowetide for the name...

Jim O'Briens on waivers. Good size. His NHL points aren't high yet but they look around Acton's AHL points (he's also only 24 so there is potential for improvement ) . Had one pretty good year in AHL with 56 puts in 74 games, with 24 of those goals. Comes cheap at 637.5k. Would this not be a good opportunity to replace Acton? Looks like Obrien needs face off work though.. Mid to high 40s

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#11 Manfly
September 26 2013, 12:43PM
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The Ghost of Jari Kurri wrote:

Jonesy gets recalled by mid-October. Bottom six have no experience and will get swallowed up by the Oilers tough schedule Don't get too comfy down south Jonesy!

i highly doubt it! if they thought that much of him, they never would have sent him down to begin with.

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#12 Manfly
September 26 2013, 12:07PM
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^yup, Belanger gave up the ghost and retired apparently?

i was mildly surprised that Jones didn't get claimed though. he could be too expensive for some teams or they might be seeing what the Oiler brass are seeing....a guy having a hard time recovering from an eye injury that perhaps had made him a little timid?

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#13 bazmagoo
September 26 2013, 12:09PM
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If Nuge comes back healthy and scores 60ish points the Oilers are a playoff team. I agree, lots of "ifs" this year yet again but I think the Oil will squeek into the playoffs in the 7th or 8th spot in the conference.

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#14 David S
September 26 2013, 12:57PM
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SnuggleDuck wrote:

I sincerely believe you are underestimating the scoring ability of the Oilers; their transition game has shown to be VASTLY improved. The three tip-in goals last game could have beat any goalie in the league. And the bottom 6 forwards improving from 0.33/gpg is not an insurmountable feat. Yakupov could get that by himself this year.

I also think coaching will show the 4th line will only be playing 4-5 min per night. Mitigating the fear that the blogging community has shown recently.

Success will then depend on the health of Hall/Ebs/Gordon/Perron/Dubnyk - particularly if Hall/Ebs are playing PK time too.

I would wager they go 0.500 W/L in October, barring no missed time to the above 5.

I want the Oilers to hang in there at .500 too, but if you take an objective look at our bottom six and our home/away games mix there's no way you can reasonably come to that conclusion.

Then you're assuming none of our remaining players get so much as a stubbed toe for the first two months. ON TOP OF WHICH both Gagner and RNH will take at least a month to recover their game strength after they get back.

Playing "OK" against scrub lineups in pre-season isn't in any way, shape or form an indicator of regular season success.*

*OK. Well maybe in NHL14.

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#15 eastcoastoil
September 26 2013, 01:28PM
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Ok, I understand that this article is pointing to the beginning of the season but I have one what if.

What if hall turns out to be the second coming down the middle?

Hall-Smyth-Hemsky

What If that line works and works well?

Then

RNH-Perron-Eberle

Gordon-(Gagner)- Yak

That is three very good lines for november

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#16 OilCanFan
September 26 2013, 01:34PM
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Benny Botts wrote:

I was at the Ranger game also, that line of eager-acton-hamilton got peppered in their own end and it was against a NY teams that was missing 5 of their top 6 forwards.

I believe the Oil make a strong push for the playoffs this year and wish to baby jeebus that they make it but they are going to have to rely heavily on their top 6, the new and improved D core and Dubby.

I don't know what Hamilton did to deserve a spot on the big club other than knowing the coach

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#17 pkam
September 26 2013, 01:44PM
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eastcoastoil wrote:

Ok, I understand that this article is pointing to the beginning of the season but I have one what if.

What if hall turns out to be the second coming down the middle?

Hall-Smyth-Hemsky

What If that line works and works well?

Then

RNH-Perron-Eberle

Gordon-(Gagner)- Yak

That is three very good lines for november

Gagner is projected to be out for 2 months so he won't be back until end of November. RNH is projected, not guaranteed to be back in November.

Your line-up will most likely be for December.

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#18 Captain Marko Ramius
September 26 2013, 12:48PM
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"Careful Ryan, mosht thingsh in there don't react well to bulletsh..."

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#19 Spydyr
September 26 2013, 01:19PM
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Eight years outside the playoffs. That means grade 3 kids were not born when the team last made the playoffs and junior high kids can't remember an Oiler playoff game.

TOO _______ LONG

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#20 brian_d
September 26 2013, 01:27PM
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I think we can realistically hope to maintain .500 pace until Gags or Nuge returns. It's what happens after that matters. There's a lot of hockey to be played this year. In any case, I don't think that even with a poor start we'll be out of any playoff conversation as early as November.

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#21 OilCanFan
September 26 2013, 01:32PM
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eastcoastoil wrote:

Ok, I understand that this article is pointing to the beginning of the season but I have one what if.

What if hall turns out to be the second coming down the middle?

Hall-Smyth-Hemsky

What If that line works and works well?

Then

RNH-Perron-Eberle

Gordon-(Gagner)- Yak

That is three very good lines for november

I'd prefer Smyth with Gordon and Yakupov with Hall

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#22 oilerjed
September 26 2013, 02:01PM
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Its not even October and the Oilers are out of the playoffs??!! Pathetic mindset. I expect this sort of talk from Cantnuck fans but this is ridiculous. Look around many teams fans are feeling down about their teams, very few feel they have a cup contender. Ill wait for them to play the games before I write them off. Only when they are mathmatically proven out is it time to write them off.

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#23 The 'Real' Ron Burgundy
September 26 2013, 12:05PM
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Heard Eric Belanger left the KHL!!

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#24 Coop
September 26 2013, 12:12PM
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Where are the Oilers from a number of contracts standpoint? Must be close to the max.

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#25 Racki
September 26 2013, 12:15PM
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@Coop

Apparently they are at 48

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#26 SnuggleDuck
September 26 2013, 12:23PM
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I sincerely believe you are underestimating the scoring ability of the Oilers; their transition game has shown to be VASTLY improved. The three tip-in goals last game could have beat any goalie in the league. And the bottom 6 forwards improving from 0.33/gpg is not an insurmountable feat. Yakupov could get that by himself this year.

I also think coaching will show the 4th line will only be playing 4-5 min per night. Mitigating the fear that the blogging community has shown recently.

Success will then depend on the health of Hall/Ebs/Gordon/Perron/Dubnyk - particularly if Hall/Ebs are playing PK time too.

I would wager they go 0.500 W/L in October, barring no missed time to the above 5.

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#27 Dan 1919
September 26 2013, 12:41PM
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I agree the Oilers are unproven, and at this point cannot be given the benefit of the doubt until they start to win.

But as an Oilers fan, here's why this is the first offseason in a long time that I am optimistic. The Oilers lost 9/10 games near the end of last season with a very weak bottom six. If they had gone even .500 in those games they would have battled for the 8th spot.

Not only do I think think this year's bottom six is better than last year's, I do not think this team will drop 9/10 under Eakins. Also our defence looks to be considerably better than last years. Even if the current guys succumb to injury or start to flounder, there will be Larson and Fedun right behind them who looked plenty good enough for a 5/6 role in my opinion.

We just need to weather the RNH, Gagner injuries then I think this is the year! I really hope so anyway.

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#28 Wigswag
September 26 2013, 12:44PM
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Most of the travel in October is an eastern swing which is suppose to be easier travel...?

Here's hoping.

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#29 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
September 26 2013, 12:45PM
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The Ghost of Jari Kurri wrote:

Jonesy gets recalled by mid-October. Bottom six have no experience and will get swallowed up by the Oilers tough schedule Don't get too comfy down south Jonesy!

Also just heard Howsen say that Ryan Jones has not been assigned to OKC....he has cleared waivers...but no decision has been made yet as to where he will be playing.

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#30 Mikey
September 26 2013, 12:47PM
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Dan 1919 wrote:

I agree the Oilers are unproven, and at this point cannot be given the benefit of the doubt until they start to win.

But as an Oilers fan, here's why this is the first offseason in a long time that I am optimistic. The Oilers lost 9/10 games near the end of last season with a very weak bottom six. If they had gone even .500 in those games they would have battled for the 8th spot.

Not only do I think think this year's bottom six is better than last year's, I do not think this team will drop 9/10 under Eakins. Also our defence looks to be considerably better than last years. Even if the current guys succumb to injury or start to flounder, there will be Larson and Fedun right behind them who looked plenty good enough for a 5/6 role in my opinion.

We just need to weather the RNH, Gagner injuries then I think this is the year! I really hope so anyway.

That losing skid last year was horrendous. I think its reasonable to suspect/hope the oilers should/can fight for a playoff spot going down the stretch.

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#31 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
September 26 2013, 12:48PM
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Racki wrote:

Apparently they are at 48

Howsen says they are at 48 and that is where they want to be to allow the proper amount of flexibility to make moves throughout the season.

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#32 Pucker
September 26 2013, 01:08PM
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SnuggleDuck wrote:

I sincerely believe you are underestimating the scoring ability of the Oilers; their transition game has shown to be VASTLY improved. The three tip-in goals last game could have beat any goalie in the league. And the bottom 6 forwards improving from 0.33/gpg is not an insurmountable feat. Yakupov could get that by himself this year.

I also think coaching will show the 4th line will only be playing 4-5 min per night. Mitigating the fear that the blogging community has shown recently.

Success will then depend on the health of Hall/Ebs/Gordon/Perron/Dubnyk - particularly if Hall/Ebs are playing PK time too.

I would wager they go 0.500 W/L in October, barring no missed time to the above 5.

I like this optimism.

I think many of last year loses can be attributed to playing Ryan Whitney. That addition by subtraction thing. Also: +(-Belanger) + (-Jones)= ++

Not only did these guys not contribute, they were liabilities when on the ice.

It seems to me Eakins has McT's backing and won't feel obligated to give high priced rusty gates ice-time.

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#33 Dan 1919
September 26 2013, 01:10PM
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Mikey wrote:

That losing skid last year was horrendous. I think its reasonable to suspect/hope the oilers should/can fight for a playoff spot going down the stretch.

I hope so, and I think we've seen enough of MacT's work already to know that if the Oilers appear to be heading for dire straights again, he will make moves and shake things up, rather than wait for the off season and sign a few bottom six free agents and repeat... Like we've seen in the past :/

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#34 #ThereGoesTheOilers
September 26 2013, 01:18PM
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The rational brain agrees, we might be screwed already, no playoffs this year.

Good thing the irrational optimism of September hasn't worn off yet. We just have to survive till Prince Nuge gets back!

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#35 pkam
September 26 2013, 01:41PM
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Benny Botts wrote:

I was at the Ranger game also, that line of eager-acton-hamilton got peppered in their own end and it was against a NY teams that was missing 5 of their top 6 forwards.

I believe the Oil make a strong push for the playoffs this year and wish to baby jeebus that they make it but they are going to have to rely heavily on their top 6, the new and improved D core and Dubby.

The Acrobello, Perron, Eberle line looked really good. they break out their zone very efficiently and Perron was very good in our own zone. The question is can they play as good when the regular season starts.

i think Hall still has to learn his defensive side of a center but Smyth and Hemsky had done a great job covering for him. Have to give credit to Eakins. The question is how long can Smyth keeping playing 18 min per game.

Assume Gordon plays the 3rd center with Yak and Joensuu, it would be a pretty good 3rd line if Joensuu can play as well as he was in the preseason.

Defense looks much better than last year.

My biggest concern is our 4th line. It was ugly in the NYR game. And like I said before, it is scarey to imagine that line with McIntyre replacing one of the winger.

Will we make the playoff? I like to believe we are fighting for 7th/8th if we can stay healthy. Now it is already questionable. If one more top 6 goes down, that will be the end. Our depth in offense is still very thin.

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#36 DT
September 26 2013, 03:10PM
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@Mikey

No GM will trade an asset for a player they could've gotten off the waiver wire for free. - Jay Feaster

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#37 CaptainLander
September 26 2013, 03:52PM
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Being the perpetual Oiler optimist I will look at it this way. There is way to much stock put into the bottom 6, especially the bottom 3. The goal for them is to hit some bodies and not get scored on.

The skill level of Hall, Ebs, Yak, Perron, and Hemmer should be able to carry this team offensively. Also hoping for more offense from the defense this year. I like what I have seen from Belov offensively and hope he can compliment Schultz.

So if we can except that Dubs will have a similar save pct as last year we should be ok in net.

So that leaves the D. Is this D lineup better then last year? Can they reduce the shot totals? Can they get the puck to the above mentioned players more effectively? Again, as an optimist I believe they can and will. I think Eakins aggressive puck challenging strategy will work well for this team.

So in conclusion, will this lineup able to score? I see no reason why not. Will they be better defensively then last season? I think so. Will the Eakins system work? Man I hope so.

Go Oil

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#38 paul le coffee
September 26 2013, 03:54PM
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Frankly, I'm a little skeptical of Will Acton. He'll have to prove himself to me. Father is the assistant coach and Eakins seems to want to give him a buy in. He'll have to play really well and prove that that isn't the case. This isn't minor league. The coach's son doesn't get to play just because.

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#39 Ari Gold
September 26 2013, 04:53PM
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A whole lot of 'ifs' and 'needs' in this article. From my most recent experience with this team, any time we 'need' something or we can win 'if' something happens, we lose.

How do I drink the Cool-Aid that y'all are chugging?

I'm curious to see how our bruisers will be plugged into the lineup. Will they have a super-goon-line of Brown-MacIntyre-Eager???

That'd be the end of the world me thinks.

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#40 bdiddy18
September 26 2013, 12:11PM
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question once you clear waivers Omark and Jones...if you get called up at any point in the season for injury reasons...then get sent back down - do you still have to clear waivers again?

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#41 Racki
September 26 2013, 12:16PM
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bdiddy18 wrote:

question once you clear waivers Omark and Jones...if you get called up at any point in the season for injury reasons...then get sent back down - do you still have to clear waivers again?

Don't quote me on this, but I think the rule is if you cleared waivers in the last 30 days (possibly also less than 10 nhl gp in that time??) you don't have to clear again.

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#42 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
September 26 2013, 12:25PM
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dawgbone wrote:

Acton wasn't even very good in an AHL role last year, I have little faith he'll be even as good as Belanger.

The one thing Acton has going for him is that Eakins is familiar with him, Eakins knows his strengths and weaknesses, so any success Acton has will be a direct result of Eakins using him in the right situations. In no way am I sold on Acton, but time will tell.

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#43 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
September 26 2013, 12:34PM
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SnuggleDuck wrote:

I sincerely believe you are underestimating the scoring ability of the Oilers; their transition game has shown to be VASTLY improved. The three tip-in goals last game could have beat any goalie in the league. And the bottom 6 forwards improving from 0.33/gpg is not an insurmountable feat. Yakupov could get that by himself this year.

I also think coaching will show the 4th line will only be playing 4-5 min per night. Mitigating the fear that the blogging community has shown recently.

Success will then depend on the health of Hall/Ebs/Gordon/Perron/Dubnyk - particularly if Hall/Ebs are playing PK time too.

I would wager they go 0.500 W/L in October, barring no missed time to the above 5.

A lot of stuff can happen as a result of unplanned circumstances......

For example, Taylor Hall may turn out to be an All Star calibre Center.....which would never have happened if both Nuge and Gags were healthy to start the season.

Another example is Arcobello....he may turn out to be a regular NHL roster player given the opportunity to play regularly for 20 games...he finally gets a legitimate shot to see for himself if he's got what it takes....a true testing ground for him that wouldn't have happened otherwise....either way, at least we'll finally know and not have to wonder...

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#44 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
September 26 2013, 12:42PM
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bdiddy18 wrote:

question once you clear waivers Omark and Jones...if you get called up at any point in the season for injury reasons...then get sent back down - do you still have to clear waivers again?

Just heard, they only have to clear waivers once, then they are free and clear to move up and down without having to clear waivers.

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#45 Ducey
September 26 2013, 01:01PM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

Also just heard Howsen say that Ryan Jones has not been assigned to OKC....he has cleared waivers...but no decision has been made yet as to where he will be playing.

Hmm, maybe they have worked out a trade for him?

A team may have wanted him but needed the Oilers to take a player back for salary reasons.

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#46 Mikey
September 26 2013, 01:05PM
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Ducey wrote:

Hmm, maybe they have worked out a trade for him?

A team may have wanted him but needed the Oilers to take a player back for salary reasons.

Which would make sense as to why his twitter account is gone.

Quick someone look at every NHL roster, find the teams that have a number 28 on them already. One of those teams must have traded for him.....

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#47 Benny Botts
September 26 2013, 01:09PM
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pkam wrote:

I don't want to be a naysayer, but there is quite a way before Hall can be a reliable centre. I watch the NYR game live and several times I saw Hall came back after the puck and both Smyth and Hemsky were in our own zone.

And that 4th line of Acton, Hamilton and Eager were trapped in our own zone all night long. And iced the puck many times just to get a breath. It is scary to imagine how it will look like if we replace Eager or Hamilton with big McIntyre.

I was at the Ranger game also, that line of eager-acton-hamilton got peppered in their own end and it was against a NY teams that was missing 5 of their top 6 forwards.

I believe the Oil make a strong push for the playoffs this year and wish to baby jeebus that they make it but they are going to have to rely heavily on their top 6, the new and improved D core and Dubby.

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#48 Lochenzo
September 26 2013, 01:41PM
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I think that collectively, the team will bear down. Being on the road means that they just keep things simple and play that perfect road game. The PP already looks pretty smooth so I don't think the lack of practice time will hurt special teams. So they may survive October.

I actually worry about when Gagner and RNH get back. They'll need some time to get back into the swing of things, especially RNH who won't have played a game in half a year by the time he gets back. There might be a let down once they're back in. I think it'll take till December to be firing on all cyllinders.

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#49 eastcoastoil
September 26 2013, 01:51PM
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@pkam

still a good line up though?

To a earlier comment, let Yak and Hall tear up the PP. This line up is for 5v5.

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#50 Tim in Kelowna
September 26 2013, 02:00PM
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I feel like the Oilers will be a respectable NHL team for the first time in 6 years or so. But, if Dubnyk takes another step and becomes a top 15 starting goalie, I think the Oilers could make the post season. If not, then I don't see us winning more than 30-35 games. As is so often the case, so much rides on goaltending.

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