Oilers at the Midway Point

Zach Laing
January 09 2017 12:00PM

Back in November, I took a look at some things around this Oilers team that jumped out at me analytically. Now that we've played over half the games of this year's regular season I thought it would be good to highlight a few more things surrounding this team.

All stats via http://stats.hockeyanalysis.com/

Right off the top, something that jumped out to me was Patrick Maroon. The big-bodied winger has found his game playing alongside Connor McDavid, and has scored 15 5v5 goals this season. That puts him second in the NHL in 5v5 goals, behind Sidney Crosby, Michael Grabner and Auston Matthews, who each have 16.

In 5v5 goals per hour in players >200 mins, Maroon ranks seventh while Tyler Pitick sits ahead of him in the sixth slot. It's a true shame that Pitlick went down with a torn ACL on Dec. 19. He was having a really solid season production wise, finally showing he could play in the NHL. I was curious to see if he would've been a player elevated more in the lineup down the stretch. 

By eye, I have thought that Eric Gryba has had a solid season. He looks to be making smarter plays with the puck on his stick and has shown an ability to make passes like we haven't from him. While his slow foot speed still gets him in trouble he has been a solid option for the Oilers this season. The numbers support him as through his 22 GP, he holds a 55 CF% and a PDO of 97.7.

As I wrote about in November, Matthew Benning has been a darling for the Oilers this season. 

At five-on-five, there were a number of things that jumped out. First off, through his first seven NHL games and first 100 minutes of 5v5TOI, Matthew Benning is a 55.7 CF% player and also leads in CF%Rel. He is third on the team. The case of Benning is a curious one, as some couldn't quite figure out why he was still up in Edmonton when he had the opportunity to get significant ice time in Bakersfield.

I'll start off by giving a stick tap to Peter Chiarelli, as this was quite a nice find from the NCAA. Benning has stepped in and reminded me of Brandon Davidson in the sense of a rookie defenceman who has the ability to already play in the NHL  Benning's numbers have sustained, as now through 30 games he is posting a 5v5 55.2 CF%. 

Benning also ranks third on the Oilers in points per hour, at a 0.79 pace. Beyond this, he has shown an ability to not be shy in the NHL. Jumping up in the rush, laying body check and dropping the mitts are all in this young man's repertoire and he is doing it all with confidence. It's going to be fun to continue to watch him develop. 

Oilers at 5v5, 2016-2017, 2029:08 TOI:

  • CF% - 51.6 - 9th in the NHL 
  • GF% - 51.7- 11th in the NHL
  • SF% - 51.5 - 8th in the NHL
  • PDO - 100.1 - 11th in the NHL

The numbers below is from my "A fifth of the way there" article with the stats pulled Nov. 15. Link at the top of the article. 

Oilers at 5v5, 2016-2017, 775:34 TOI:

  • CF% - 50.4 - 12th in the NHL 
  • GF% - 50.0 - 14th in the NHL
  • SF% - 51.0 - 10th in the NHL
  • PDO - 99.7 - 14th in the NHL

Oilers at 5v5, 2015-2016, 3912:44 TOI:

  • CF% - 48.8 - 19th in the NHL
  • GF% - 44.3 - 29th in the NHL
  • SF% - 48.5 - 23rd in the NHL
  • PDO - 98.7 - 28th in the NHL

At the end of the day, one thing is clear. The Oilers are legit this year. The numbers show it, and the Oilers currently sitting third in the Pacific Division and 10th in the league show it. 

Let's see what happens the rest of the way, but as Robin Brownlee put it yesterday, No longer done in 41. Buckle up, if you remember how. It’s going to be fun.

The latest from Laing:

544817d2570f5e5da8ead9e3167d2018
Zach started blogging from his Mom's basement years after falling in love with the ‘06 Oilers. Now he's a journalist writing for the Nation Network and still living in his Mom’s basement. He is also 1/2 of the AJHL's Canmore Eagles play-by-play broadcast. .
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#1 ubermiguel
January 09 2017, 12:15PM
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In May if someone had asked "would you be happy with the Oilers being 3rd in their division and 10th in the league in early January?" reasonable fans would have said "absolutely, that's a massive improvement!" Anyone that's not enjoying this season so far has a tenuous claim to the title "fan".

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#2 Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"
January 09 2017, 12:30PM
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The aspect of the growth that blows my mind is the fact that it is still so easy to see needed areas of growth. As those clear up we will indeed be a force to be reckoned with.

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#3 Oilers-Entourage
January 09 2017, 12:32PM
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ubermiguel wrote:

In May if someone had asked "would you be happy with the Oilers being 3rd in their division and 10th in the league in early January?" reasonable fans would have said "absolutely, that's a massive improvement!" Anyone that's not enjoying this season so far has a tenuous claim to the title "fan".

I said at the start of the year before preseaon, if the Oilers are in a Playoff push and in games most of the nights, thats a big improvement. Now that we seen them go 7-1-0 to start the season we expected more. We are doing pretty good, lets not become Vancover fans ahah.

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#4 Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"
January 09 2017, 12:32PM
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During the pregame interview on Hall it was interesting to see that he still is bitter about the Trade. (I would be too) but it seemed clear to me that he would come back in a heartbeat. (Not saying he should or should not come back, Just an observation)

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#5 Will
January 09 2017, 12:33PM
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It's nice to see the numbers back it up. And while they could be doing even better if they didn't lose so many against teams like Buffalo, Toronto, Arizona, and recently the Sens, the teams they have won outweighs the negatives of losing to bottom feeders.

I'd rather see their points come from beating contenders and divisional rivals than feasting on crap teams. So far I think the only div rival they haven't beaten this year is San Jose. That is a huge turn around from last year.

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#6 Will
January 09 2017, 12:35PM
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Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!" wrote:

During the pregame interview on Hall it was interesting to see that he still is bitter about the Trade. (I would be too) but it seemed clear to me that he would come back in a heartbeat. (Not saying he should or should not come back, Just an observation)

Of course he's still bitter about the trade. He spent five years playing for a brutal team. They finally look to be headed out of the darkness, and he gets traded to another crap team with miles to go before getting anywhere. Hall is basically spending the fist half of his career playing for brutal teams. He'll need to wait until he hits free agency before even getting the chance to play a playoff game. That is bonkers.

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#7 kiaora
January 09 2017, 12:42PM
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Will wrote:

Of course he's still bitter about the trade. He spent five years playing for a brutal team. They finally look to be headed out of the darkness, and he gets traded to another crap team with miles to go before getting anywhere. Hall is basically spending the fist half of his career playing for brutal teams. He'll need to wait until he hits free agency before even getting the chance to play a playoff game. That is bonkers.

I don't think that's the right attitude. If you are a first overall pick, it shouldn't matter what team you end up on. You need to prove you are worthy of that pick, that you can make the team a contender. CMD is doing that. I'd like to see Hall do it in NJ. He needs to improve some aspects of his game though. Its hard to call people out and encourage them to play hard when you keep giving away games at key times, no matter how much scoring you put up. I hope the changes come, I'd love to see him do well.

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#8 Spydyr
January 09 2017, 12:58PM
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I would have been happy for meaningful games in the New Year. Now they are in a race for the division. Freaking awesome.

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#9 Oilers-Entourage
January 09 2017, 01:06PM
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Hall still making 6 mill a year, suck it up and play till gm makes a better team.

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#10 @Hallsy4
January 09 2017, 01:14PM
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As others said, this season is going awesome and there's still areas to be addressed. Makes me thankful it's not any of the past 10 years where basically every single area needed to be addressed. Buckle Up Pete looking forward to your moves between now and the deadline. Is Benning protected automatically in expansion? Maroon needs to be protected. Is ebs going to be exposed?

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#11 Mangiant
January 09 2017, 01:24PM
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Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!" wrote:

During the pregame interview on Hall it was interesting to see that he still is bitter about the Trade. (I would be too) but it seemed clear to me that he would come back in a heartbeat. (Not saying he should or should not come back, Just an observation)

Hall is still as negative as ever. He looks like a sad puppy. Even his TV interview/segment thing about the "Memories" he has from his early years was some negative story about how his teammates duped him and he was pissed off about it. I actually laughed out loud when I saw it.

A true leader does 2 things, IMO: 1- Leads by example, and comes up big when it's needed. 2- In the absence of #1 (everyone has slumps), supports and rallies his teammates.

Hall does neither of those things. It's why he was never named captain here, why he doesn't make Olympic/etc teams, etc.

Everyone on the ice (including his own ex-teammates - see Scrivens & Klef) sees it, but for some reason a large portion of the public refuses to recognize the irrefutable evidence placed right in front of their faces.

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#12 Spoils
January 09 2017, 02:02PM
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loving this season so far.

but i heard an argument that Stanley Cup winning teams have all of the following -

1) a solid g 2) 2 elite fw 3) 1 elite d

let's define elite as top ten for their position in the NHL.

clearly we do NOT have the elite D.

can d by committee get it done? will any of our players graduate to elite status? a draft pick is too far away (elite d usually >23 yr old); could we trade or FA for this position?

does this concern anyone?

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#13 Señor Frijoles
January 09 2017, 02:10PM
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Sorry to be pedantic, but if you've got 15 goals, and 3 other guys have 16 - you are 4th, not 2nd.

Regardless, Maroon is a beauty - impossible not to cheer for this guy.

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#14 Dirty Oil
January 09 2017, 02:38PM
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It's no time to go crazy. Don't let the highs get too high and the lows get too low.

The boys have played well to this point and they need to keep it going. One bad stretch and this could look real bad but on the other hand one good stretch and they could be top 3 in the league.

I'm buckled up cause its going to be a crazy ride. Tears, hugs, high fives, thoughts of jumping off... Well you know, Oiler hockey!!

Skate hard and finish your checks boys!!!

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#15 Natejax97
January 09 2017, 03:01PM
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Justin Schultz is leading the NHL in plus/minus, has 25 points in 39 games, and is looking like Norris potential.

I would rather have Benning on my team any day of the week.

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#16 Arminius
January 09 2017, 03:04PM
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@Natejax97

Trust me Justin Schultz would also rather the Oilers have Benning than Schultz! Look at him blossom finally away from that black hole that is Deadmonton . Dubnyk nods his head in agreement

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#17 Natejax97
January 09 2017, 03:07PM
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Spoils wrote:

loving this season so far.

but i heard an argument that Stanley Cup winning teams have all of the following -

1) a solid g 2) 2 elite fw 3) 1 elite d

let's define elite as top ten for their position in the NHL.

clearly we do NOT have the elite D.

can d by committee get it done? will any of our players graduate to elite status? a draft pick is too far away (elite d usually >23 yr old); could we trade or FA for this position?

does this concern anyone?

D with Elite Potential on the Oilers:

Nurse Klefbom Larrson Benning

All trending up.

Depth on D

Sekera Davidson Russel Gryba

By committee is possible with the depth we have, allowing Nurse and Klefbom to develop properly. Additionally, Musil, Jones and Bear are all coming along.

Elite "D" very rarely reach free agency, and cannot be traded for unless you want to trade McDavid (laughs...), Elite D are almost always drafted and developed. so Chia is doing the best job possible upgrading his D, while maintaining his scoring. There is not much else we can do except remain patient and hope Nurse and Klefbom (or even Davidson or Benning) turn into that stud defender. We need to use our first round pick this year on a dman.

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#18 Natejax97
January 09 2017, 03:18PM
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Arminius wrote:

Trust me Justin Schultz would also rather the Oilers have Benning than Schultz! Look at him blossom finally away from that black hole that is Deadmonton . Dubnyk nods his head in agreement

If you don't like the Oilers, then why in the world do you use your time reading Oilersnation boards...surely the website name gave away what the site was about.

I am happy for Justin Schultz, and Devan Dubnyk, they were good pros when they were here, didn't work out. Good for them now, I'd rather have Benning because he impacts my team in a positive way.

Your comment is ignorant and hostile, and should be removed, because it has no bearing on any conversation here. But I should say thanks, it is nice to know we are getting good enough to get under the skin of other teams fans. Makes me proud of my team! Go oilers!!

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#19 bazmagoo
January 09 2017, 03:20PM
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Love how pissed Wideman looks in that picture after taking some right hands from the rookie Benning.

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#20 singlemalt
January 09 2017, 03:32PM
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Arminius wrote:

Trust me Justin Schultz would also rather the Oilers have Benning than Schultz! Look at him blossom finally away from that black hole that is Deadmonton . Dubnyk nods his head in agreement

Ani is an interesting psychological specimen. Usually one gets past the stage he is at, at about 7 years of age. And I cannot recall a single Flamer traded by Calgary and who went on to much greater accomplishments elsewhere. May be Ani can help with that too? Come on Ani, come back and show us again just how puerile you are. Go Oil Go!!!

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#21 Natejax97
January 09 2017, 03:45PM
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singlemalt wrote:

Ani is an interesting psychological specimen. Usually one gets past the stage he is at, at about 7 years of age. And I cannot recall a single Flamer traded by Calgary and who went on to much greater accomplishments elsewhere. May be Ani can help with that too? Come on Ani, come back and show us again just how puerile you are. Go Oil Go!!!

Ya, gee...I remember watching games in my garage with my flames buddies and them yelling at the TV "WHY DID WE TRADE THAT GUY!!" But for the life of me, all the names slip my mind.

Hail...Holl...Hull maybe?! bamgarter, boumster...Boumeester?? Maybe?? I am so bad with names. lol.

Help us Ani.

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#22 VK63
January 09 2017, 03:45PM
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singlemalt wrote:

Ani is an interesting psychological specimen. Usually one gets past the stage he is at, at about 7 years of age. And I cannot recall a single Flamer traded by Calgary and who went on to much greater accomplishments elsewhere. May be Ani can help with that too? Come on Ani, come back and show us again just how puerile you are. Go Oil Go!!!

puerile is a large word for a troll to digest.

derp specialists usually stick to derp.....

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#23 tileguy
January 09 2017, 03:46PM
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And a stick tap to you for mentioning the fine season Gryba is having. Love how he picks his spots to jump into the offensive action, drops his mitts to defend teammates and can break up a cycle. Agreed his footspeed gets him into trouble once in a while but for a #7 Dman, a solid signing. Hope he sticks around for the glory years as I beleive he is also a fine teammate.

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#24 Hemmercules
January 09 2017, 03:47PM
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Natejax97 wrote:

If you don't like the Oilers, then why in the world do you use your time reading Oilersnation boards...surely the website name gave away what the site was about.

I am happy for Justin Schultz, and Devan Dubnyk, they were good pros when they were here, didn't work out. Good for them now, I'd rather have Benning because he impacts my team in a positive way.

Your comment is ignorant and hostile, and should be removed, because it has no bearing on any conversation here. But I should say thanks, it is nice to know we are getting good enough to get under the skin of other teams fans. Makes me proud of my team! Go oilers!!

Let him stay. He's a classic reminder of how bandwagony Shames fans can be. Oilers win and Flames lose, nowhere to be found. Flames win and Oilers lose, Trolly trolly troll troll.

The best part is, He's always calling the Oilers crap, yet they are ahead of the Flames. I guess that makes Calgary less than sh*t in his eyes??

I almost can't blame him for coming here. Flamesnation averages like 10 comments per article. Must get boring over there.

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#25 justDOit
January 09 2017, 04:11PM
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Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!" wrote:

The aspect of the growth that blows my mind is the fact that it is still so easy to see needed areas of growth. As those clear up we will indeed be a force to be reckoned with.

It really highlights just how Tambi/Lowe/MacT really screwed this team up over the past 10 years (and Sather too, if you include the draft record through the 90s).

From '88 until 2009 (year before the Taylor Hall draft - aka Rebuild V1.0), the defenders drafted by the Oilers who went on to good careers are Poti, Greene, and Petry (honorable mention to Leroux).

http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/draft/teams/dr00005632.html

And really, the prospect ranks aren't exactly stocked yet, but at least there's been improvement.

Gladly, gone are the days when we'd be shown video of Tambi smiling proudly as he introduced additions like Smithson.

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#26 justDOit
January 09 2017, 04:16PM
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@Hemmercules

Agreed - let them stay. It should be a reminder to us that they have no good fLame blogs to occupy themselves with.

The problem is people responding to them. Just downvote, and move on. Trolls aren't trolls without the gratification of seeing they've pissed off someone.

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#27 Marshall Law
January 09 2017, 04:21PM
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@Mangiant

I think you're confusing irrefutable evidence with your own personal opinion.

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#28 GK1980
January 09 2017, 04:49PM
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Dirty Oil wrote:

It's no time to go crazy. Don't let the highs get too high and the lows get too low.

The boys have played well to this point and they need to keep it going. One bad stretch and this could look real bad but on the other hand one good stretch and they could be top 3 in the league.

I'm buckled up cause its going to be a crazy ride. Tears, hugs, high fives, thoughts of jumping off... Well you know, Oiler hockey!!

Skate hard and finish your checks boys!!!

If they played like they played Ottawa yesterday for the rest of the year then I would be ecstatic. Aside from the non- goaltending from last night of course.

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#29 OilCan2
January 09 2017, 05:46PM
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I love SURFING the top of the Pacific. The fish fry is going to be awesome tomorrow when the sharks hit the grill.

Maybe we can get some blow hard flamer to light the charcoals.

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#30 Dwayne Roloson 35
January 09 2017, 06:04PM
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justDOit wrote:

Agreed - let them stay. It should be a reminder to us that they have no good fLame blogs to occupy themselves with.

The problem is people responding to them. Just downvote, and move on. Trolls aren't trolls without the gratification of seeing they've pissed off someone.

Don't even trash them. Just ignore. Trolls thrive on trashes and comments. Just gotta ignore and let the troll die.

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#31 nrXic
January 09 2017, 08:43PM
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Benning is getting the treatment that Schultz should have got. And I'm glad.

This demonstrates that as a team, the Oilers management has become more and more competent.

Puljujaarvi would have been a contradiction to that statement, but the fact the he's finally sent down at this halfway mark removes that criticism.

Gustavsson put on waivers does as well. I'm glad that a GM can own up to mistakes.

By the way, would everyone here agree that Maroon proved himself as McDavid's wingman late last year? I'm going at this point they're a tandem going on out.

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#32 Edmontonman
January 09 2017, 09:50PM
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@Will

True...But he didn't have to sign the 6 million dollar contract

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#33 Harry2
January 09 2017, 11:39PM
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Natejax97 wrote:

If you don't like the Oilers, then why in the world do you use your time reading Oilersnation boards...surely the website name gave away what the site was about.

I am happy for Justin Schultz, and Devan Dubnyk, they were good pros when they were here, didn't work out. Good for them now, I'd rather have Benning because he impacts my team in a positive way.

Your comment is ignorant and hostile, and should be removed, because it has no bearing on any conversation here. But I should say thanks, it is nice to know we are getting good enough to get under the skin of other teams fans. Makes me proud of my team! Go oilers!!

I agree let him stay. The Janitor makes one assinine comment then gets roasted and made to look like a fool at the expense of his laughable hockey knowledge.

My favourite is how he thinks losing in regulation is better than losing in OT.

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