GDB 67.0: What Is Left To Play For?

Jonathan Willis
March 13 2014 12:17PM

57-Perron-9

It’s pretty easy to dismiss Thursday’s Oilers/Blues game as a meaningless affair, but the truth is that there’s still some point to the games being played – if not at the team level, than at least at the individual one.

Expected Lines

  • Taylor Hall – Sam Gagner – David Perron
  • Nail Yakupov – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
  • Matt Hendricks – Boyd Gordon – Jesse Joensuu
  • Luke Gazdic – Ryan Smyth – Ryan Jones
  • Martin Marincin – Jeff Petry
  • Mark Fraser – Justin Schultz
  • Oscar Klefbom – Andrew Ference
  • Ben Scrivens

Why It Should Matter

89-Gagner-5

The top line has at least two players for whom this game is important. For Sam Gagner, he’s at a crossroads in his career. He’s likely to be dealt in the off-season, and he can both increase his appeal to a contender and increase Edmonton’s likely trade return if he finishes the year strongly. He has seven points in his last five games and doubtless would like his recent run of effectiveness to continue. At right wing, there’s no question that David Perron would like to show well against his old team.

Joensuu, Jesse 2

A good game or a bad game isn’t likely to impact a bunch of the players in the middle of the lineup, but at the outer edges there are a few players who need to play well down the stretch. Jesse Joensuu is under contract for another season, but should certainly be seen as playing for a spot on next year’s team, as his contract is small enough to bury. Ryans Jones and Smyth are pending unrestricted free agents, and either could find himself outside the NHL next season.

5-Fraser-2

Defence is where things really matter. Three different players continue to fight for a spot next season. Mark Fraser is a pending unrestricted free agent and a fringe NHL’er; he has a shot at a depth job in Edmonton next year and needs to play well. Martin Marincin and Oscar Klefbom, meanwhile, need to show quickly that they belong; both guys have a bit of time but the fact is that players like Darnell Nurse and perhaps Aaron Ekblad are on the way – there are only so many jobs available for young guys and getting a leg up on the competition is massively important for both players.

30-Scrivens-3

Finally, Ben Scrivens looks likely to get first run at Edmonton’s starting job next year, but he’s hardly immoveable in that position. Every strong game is another data point in his favour, another reason for Dallas Eakins to stick with him long-term.

Predictions

GAME DAY PREDICTION: 3-0 St. Louis. These teams are at different ends of the NHL spectrum. 

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Perron plays well, yet again, but he's one of the few Oilers with jump against arguably the NHL's best team. 

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Fraser continues to show fairly well on a pairing with Schultz.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Ed in Edmonton
March 13 2014, 12:57PM
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bazmagoo wrote:

What the heck is wrong with Yak this season? Man, he looks like a lost child out there on most nights.

A 19 year old playing in the NHL.

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#2 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
March 13 2014, 12:25PM
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Of all the teams that run our show, there are two that are especially hard to watch the Oilers play against.

St. Louis is one of them. The other one, we played recently.

Like taking candy from a baby... an overpaid, skilled baby with a generous size sense of entitlement.

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#3 Oiler Al
March 13 2014, 12:38PM
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A few weeks back there were a couple write ups about .. What is wrong with Taylor Hall ... other than a few bad passes, I would say nothing. JUst making Gagner look better, and turned Perrons game around.

The question should be .. whats wrong with RHN and Eberle. Seems their game has gone in the sheeter since not playing with Hall.

PS.. the way Nuge has played of late, he should not be on the first line. This lad better down some wheaties and get his game going, and stop watching Eberle.

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#4 bazmagoo
March 13 2014, 12:48PM
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What the heck is wrong with Yak this season? Man, he looks like a lost child out there on most nights.

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#5 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
March 13 2014, 03:01PM
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sizedoesmatter wrote:

That's what I'm hoping for easy to pick on the team when they struggle Go oil

Fity Fist

Boys! That's the one and only beautiful thing about being an Oilers fan this year......you don't have to be conflicted.....you can cheer loudly for them in good conscience knowing that they're going to get their as**s handed to them on a platter. It's a win win.

Unless?...................the Blues get SCRIVENATED!

GDP: Oilers get outshot 61-12 and Win a 1-0 SHUTOUT! (Scrivens gets credited with an assist on the game winning goal)

BEN! BEN! BEN!

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#6 2015Playoffs?Nope!
March 13 2014, 12:30PM
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Id say, this year, all 29 other teams are hard to watch against the Oilers....

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#7 Randaman
March 13 2014, 03:04PM
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bazmagoo wrote:

What the heck is wrong with Yak this season? Man, he looks like a lost child out there on most nights.

One word; Eakins, Buchberger & Acton. Ok, three words.

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#8 dougtheslug
March 13 2014, 09:26PM
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bazmagoo wrote:

God I hate our power play, two straight 2 on 1's on the PK for the Blues. Pathetic.

37 goals this season on the PP, 11 short handed goals against. Sad.

I remember when the Oilers scored 36 SHORTHANDED goals in the 83-84 season. Good thing Eakins removed any trace of those teams from the dressing room. Wouldn't want the Oilers to be reminded of what a real hockey team looked like

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#9 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
March 13 2014, 03:08PM
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Oiltown3000 wrote:

RNH and Ebs are not be playing well right now. It seem like they don't want to play anymore and I wouldn't either because there is no use of playing if we're not playing in the playoffs.

Coach Eakins called....said you can't be a fan anymore....cause you're a quitter......please turn in you're Oilers hat and jersey and change your login name to something without the word oil. That is all.

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#10 J.R.
March 13 2014, 01:07PM
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Ed in Edmonton wrote:

A 19 year old playing in the NHL.

That and Eakins' WTF-style systems play can't be helping.

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#11 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
March 13 2014, 03:10PM
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vetinari wrote:

Okay sheep, smear this bar-b-q- sauce all over your bodies and just step right through that gate into the lions' den... it'll only hurt for 60 minutes...

I don't know....sounds like an improvement over the food in the Rexall Place concessions.

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#12 BingBong
March 13 2014, 12:46PM
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Oiler Al wrote:

A few weeks back there were a couple write ups about .. What is wrong with Taylor Hall ... other than a few bad passes, I would say nothing. JUst making Gagner look better, and turned Perrons game around.

The question should be .. whats wrong with RHN and Eberle. Seems their game has gone in the sheeter since not playing with Hall.

PS.. the way Nuge has played of late, he should not be on the first line. This lad better down some wheaties and get his game going, and stop watching Eberle.

Good post. Hall seems to be the one guy we have who can make things happen himself, who forces the play, and who makes the other players on his line better. He's basically the one guy - along with Perron I suppose - who isn't a perimeter player. Even when the puck isn't bouncing his way, he just works that much harder and still picks up his points.

Eberle, and especially RNH lately, just don't seem to have much will to make things happen. It's like they're waiting for the play to come to them.

I don't think there's any doubt as to whom the offensive leader is on this team.

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#13 hockey fan 1976
March 13 2014, 09:52PM
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if you want to have a good laugh and see again another reason why this team sucks so bad..watch Eakins post game interview..what a clown!! "we were right with them, we could have gotten at least 1 point and thought maybe even two..we can compete with these guys"

Are you serious? you high Dickens? St. Louis simply woke up and said enough is enough and played the heavy-game they play night in and night out...just thank your lucky stars they only played this style for 20 minutes or the score might have been 10-2. IDIOT!!!

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#14 Craig1981
March 13 2014, 06:14PM
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Harry wrote:

I totally agree. Drafting Yakupov was a huge mistake. Guys like him, Ovechkin, Kovalchuk ect....theyre all the same. Lazy and dont give a flying F66k

Are you using sarcasm here or are you really one of those ignorant Alberta people that are embarrass me when I get painted with the same brush as them? I would take Ovechkin, Kovalchuk on my team any day. Malkin, Datsyuk, or Markov for that matter.

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#15 Rob...
March 13 2014, 02:02PM
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bazmagoo wrote:

What the heck is wrong with Yak this season? Man, he looks like a lost child out there on most nights.

Eakins has turned him into the opposite of a Cherry Picker. Yak stays in the center of the ice, with a panicked look on his face as he tries to identify what lane he should be blocking in case the puck is turned over. He also makes sure his pass to shoot ratio never gets lower than 4 to 1. The poor kid doesn't even look at his teammates anymore when on the bench. He just sits there, drained of emotion, trying to emulate his idol, coach Eakins.

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#16 vetinari
March 13 2014, 03:07PM
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Okay sheep, smear this bar-b-q- sauce all over your bodies and just step right through that gate into the lions' den... it'll only hurt for 60 minutes...

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#17 ubermiguel
March 13 2014, 01:49PM
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What's left to play for? Pride, creating a winning culture, and beating Calgary in the standings.

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#18 Al Low
March 13 2014, 03:50PM
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Craig1981 wrote:

So you should fire the coach since one of your 20 year old players has had trouble adopting to it?

What exactly is the Eakins system anyways? He seems more intent on getting Ryan Smyth that powerplay record than helping the number one overall pick from 2 years ago become a better player. If there's one thing that shouldn't be wrong with this offensively talented group, it's the Power Play but Eakins has managed to make a complete mess of that, as well. Say what you want about Ralph Krueger but he, at least, had that part of the team clicking.

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#19 Spydyr
March 13 2014, 12:40PM
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Are we there yet? Draft day A.K.A. the Oilers Stanley Cup.

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#20 Zarny
March 13 2014, 03:41PM
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Jobs.

Personal pride.

To not be the laughing stock of the NHL.

It's easy to think of reasons to play for.

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#21 2004Z06
March 13 2014, 08:38PM
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Taylor Hall vs 3 Blues....great team toughness.

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#22 Stamsky Hemkos
March 13 2014, 03:44PM
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After watching Gagner's poor defensive play over and over again, I was hoping he would sit this game out and give Lander a shot.

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#23 bazmagoo
March 13 2014, 08:43PM
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God I hate our power play, two straight 2 on 1's on the PK for the Blues. Pathetic.

37 goals this season on the PP, 11 short handed goals against. Sad.

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#24 kale
March 13 2014, 08:45PM
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Evey single game we give up at least 2 two on ones while on the power play, Eakins seriously?

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#25 dougtheslug
March 13 2014, 09:04PM
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How do the Oiler apologists spin a game like this?

"Wow, played the best team in the NHL even for 2 periods, just ran out of gas in the third - we're making steady progress, rebuild right on schedule, wait 'til we take that next step....."

How do Oiler realists see an debacle like this?

"Five (or four or six, whatever) years into the "rebuild", and the gap between this team and the NHL elite is bigger, wider and deeper than at anytime in Oiler history. What an embarrassment. And how about that 1-3-1 power play. The greatest invention since the 8-track."

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#26 dougtheslug
March 13 2014, 09:37PM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

Boy that was a great time, the NHL canned the 4on4 because the Oil were plus 50 on it.

And today, the NHL changes the rules about lottery picks, because the Oilers are 3 for 4. Nice to know the Oil are still having an impact on the rulebook. Sigh.

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#27 SmythsMullet
March 13 2014, 12:42PM
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It'd be nice to see one of either Hall or Perron notch 30 goals this season.

*or any player but thinking realistically

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#28 Ed in Edmonton
March 13 2014, 12:50PM
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Oiler Al wrote:

A few weeks back there were a couple write ups about .. What is wrong with Taylor Hall ... other than a few bad passes, I would say nothing. JUst making Gagner look better, and turned Perrons game around.

The question should be .. whats wrong with RHN and Eberle. Seems their game has gone in the sheeter since not playing with Hall.

PS.. the way Nuge has played of late, he should not be on the first line. This lad better down some wheaties and get his game going, and stop watching Eberle.

The positive spin on that thought is that Hall has progressed to an elite level such that he makes the players around him better. I think there is still plenty of room for improvement in Hall's game, but there is no doubt he helped RHN and Eberle and in now making Gagner look better. Perron has looked pretty good all year.

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#29 toprightcorner
March 13 2014, 01:52PM
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bazmagoo wrote:

What the heck is wrong with Yak this season? Man, he looks like a lost child out there on most nights.

First time in his life he has ever been asked to be defensively responsible, thats a huge change to deal with if you have grown up thinking 100% offence your entire life. Seems like he is putting in effort to learn the defensicve part of the game.

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#30 loweblows
March 13 2014, 02:20PM
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Cody anderson wrote:

No Yak will not get that contract right now....and shouldn't.

He has struggled mightily under Eakins system and is probably the biggest reason I think Eakins needs to go.

Eakins has a system?

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#31 jr_christ
March 13 2014, 03:34PM
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jr_christ wrote:

The think that's really improved in gagner's game is that he doesn't just fall down randomly when near an opponent all the time.

Wait... I'm a tier 2 fan. Am I allowed to comment?

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#32 Zarny
March 13 2014, 03:43PM
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Randaman wrote:

One word; Eakins, Buchberger & Acton. Ok, three words.

I'll give you one word: Yakupov.

That's what's wrong with Yakupov this year.

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#33 Al Low
March 13 2014, 03:44PM
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Why does Eakins have Yak on the left wing now? It's almost like he's doing everything he can to get the kid to fail under his watch.

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#34 NsxZero
March 13 2014, 08:40PM
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TSN are hyping this as if a line brawl is going to erupt. Lets be honest the Oilers wouldn't do jack all.

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#35 Stack Pad Save
March 13 2014, 12:35PM
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So Gagner is not injured and is a go tonight? I thought they called up Lander to take his spot.

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#36 Anton
March 13 2014, 08:40PM
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I hope Hall will retire as Oilers into the future. Look all the bruises on his face, he is one of the very few on roster that still willing to battle.

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#37 dougtheslug
March 13 2014, 09:43PM
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On a side note, I read in the paper today where Eskimo QB Mike Reilly added 25 pounds (twenty-five!!) of muscle over the off season. Either he is rockin' some pretty serious PEDs, or RNH, Marincin, and few others better get the name of that trainer and nutritionist, pronto.

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#38 #ThereGoesTheOilers
March 13 2014, 12:44PM
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It's too bad we're in the position where we have to play Gagner even with a sore ankle.

Meanwhile, with contracts running out, Lander and Arcobello are itemized lower on the priority list for these final 15 games. I wish it weren't so.

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#39 Spydyr
March 13 2014, 07:00PM
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Speaking of wondering in the desert where was Klefbom on the 1-1 goal?

If Nurse, Marincin and Klefbom are on part of next years defence the playoff will not be happening for the 9th year.You just can't have half your defence as rookies and expect to compete in the NHL.

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#40 Dave
March 13 2014, 08:26PM
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How is that Gagner experiment going tonight?

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#41 rectal place
March 13 2014, 08:33PM
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Taylor halls lips are going to be swollen, oh dear.

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#42 G-Unit
March 13 2014, 09:54PM
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I love the blame the fans mentality that this cities media fuels and so many idiots on this site believe in. The fans demanded that we make the playoffs for years, so management complied by chasing b-level stars to make the playoffs. BS. I am an oiler fan since 79 and have never traded a player, signed a free-agent or ran anyone out of town. Time to own this mess Klowe and let someone else kick this can for a while. It is embarrassing to be an oiler fan. Hopefully the day will come where the team name deserves a capital letter again

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#43 Oilbaron
March 13 2014, 12:27PM
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oilers win 3-2 regulation

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#44 **
March 13 2014, 01:35PM
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I personally want to see Perron and Gordon get career highs in points and goals, respectively. I also want to see Eberle and Perron reach 60 points and Hall reach 80. Every year thre's going to be a desirable prospect and an esxcuse to tank it. I am sick of it, just win as much as you can!

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#45 bazmagoo
March 13 2014, 02:05PM
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@Rob...

I love Yak, but if the Oilers are planning on keeping Eakins they should probably look at moving him.

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#46 Cody anderson
March 13 2014, 02:08PM
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@bazmagoo

No Yak will not get that contract right now....and shouldn't.

He has struggled mightily under Eakins system and is probably the biggest reason I think Eakins needs to go.

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#47 Anton (still waiting for playoffs)
March 13 2014, 06:08PM
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On the bright side, Chris Stewart is not Blues anymore.

When Omark finally decided to come to North America that he was already 23 years old and Yakupov was actually only 15 when he decided that he wants to play the best hockey. Also whoever has problem with how Yakupov playing needs a reality check, this is only his second year and who else from that year's draft that you can possibly argue is better right now? Majority of them are still playing in minors. Maybe you can argue in the short run of Hertl was better, then anyone that play next to Joe Thronton will be good (remember Cheechoo?) What Oilers should do is by letting Yakupov playing in AHL instead of sat him at press box or bury him at 4th line which in both are just wasting his development. His defensive play? Does Eberle has any? You figure that Eberle is a bit older and more experienced would know how to commit to defense better but apparently he is not really much more committed then a sophomore.

Once if Eakins ever dare to put Eberle on 4th line then tell me how he plays his defense compare to Yakupov. You know what, I do hope that Yakupov can get traded so he will actually be a better player than stay in Edmonton getting wasted by incompetent managements, clueless coaches, and unrealistic fans. As long as the fans can never have any realistic expectations that Oilers will be forever know as a place either killing careers or a gateway to other real hockey teams.

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#48 TeddyTurnbuckle
March 13 2014, 08:09PM
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Nuge looks lost out there. Looks like he is maturing nicely into a 15 goal 45 point player that can't win a draw. Another wasted 1st overall - 3 tonight again.

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#49 Kr55
March 13 2014, 12:31PM
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Play to up Gagner's trade value. That is all.

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#50 jr_christ
March 13 2014, 03:33PM
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The think that's really improved in gagner's game is that he doesn't just fall down randomly when near an opponent all the time.

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