TUESDAY TIDBITS….

The Edmonton Oilers traded Mike Brown to the San Jose Sharks for a 4th round pick in 2014 last night.

The biggest benefit of this move is that it gets the Oilers back to 48 contracts.

Brown averaged only 5:49 of TOI in eight games. He had no points, one shot on goal and 25 hits. Brown is physical, but outside of that he didn’t do much with the puck. I won’t be surprised to see him do well in San Jose. Good teams make role players look better.

Just ask Colin Fraser. He didn’t look good in Edmonton, but he has a defined 4th line role in LA and he’s done okay.

QUICK HITS

  • Craig MacTavish stated last season he wants a 4th line that can contribute, but thus far that hasn’t happened. Moving Brown gets the Oilers back to 48 contracts, and I’m curious if it means we will see guys like Ryan Jones and Tyler Pitlick on 4th line instead of recalling Ben Eager.
     
  • Brown was expendable, because he and Ben Eager are essentially the same player. Neither is going to bring a lot of offence, but Eager is bigger and a better skater. The issue is neither has been able to contribute to a consistent cycle in the offensive zone.
     
  • As of right now the Oilers have 13 forwards, but only 11 are for sure healthy. Ryan Smyth is back in Edmonton, while Jordan Eberle is day-to-day. The Oilers also have eight D-men on their roster. The Oilers quietly recalled Taylor Fedun last night. He is listed as active on the team’s website, but now it looks like Ben Eager will be coming up. It is interesting to note that Fedun was on their website last night and this morning, and Hall was listed on the IR, but this morning Brown is still on the team’s page. Odd.
     
  • A source tells me Craig MacTavish has made a few calls and is looking to make a move. Not a major deal, but more of a depth move. Also, don’t rule out Ilya Brzygalov coming to Edmonton. The Oilers will give the goalies a few weeks to try and turn things around, and if it doesn’t happen Bryzgalov will be seriously looked at. It would only be a one-year deal if they agree to it.
     
  • Taylor Hall has been put on the IR, which means he’ll miss at least three games. No word yet on the results of his MRI, but as many of us said on Saturday, the best case scenario is he’ll be out for a few weeks.
     
  • Brown getting traded was also cap-related. The Oilers, despite being a non-playoff team for seven seasons, are in a cap crunch due to all their injuries. If my calculations are correct the Oilers needed to either move a player to LTIR or move a contract. They elected the latter.
     
  • After the Oilers announced Ryan Smyth was heading back to Edmonton to get an injury looked at and Eberle was listed as day-to-day, I received a fair amount of emails from people starting to thing "space clearing" might be a good option. You never know.
     
  • I did receive a few texts, two from players and one from management, none of which were in the Oilers organization, and all three said they’ve used a form of positive energy therapy. They said it would be hard to convince the entire team to do it, but felt a few players would be open to it.

    They told me that their experiences with sports psychology focused on positive thinking, visualization and being open to change. They felt that would be similar to "space clearing." I still don’t believe the Oilers as a team would consider it, but I won’t be surprised if some players do it individually and quietly.
     

  • The Oilers are starting to show cracks in their 5×5 play again. Despite winning in Ottawa the Oilers were outshot 22-13 at ES and their Corsi was 47-18 in favour of the Senators. Against the Islanders they were outshot 28-16 at even strength and their Corsi was equally horrible at 43-30.
     
  • Until the Oilers learn to play better defensively, and smarter without the puck I don’t see how they can improve. The players have to start buying into the defensive scheme, because you can’t keep blaming the coach. The players play the game, and if they can’t match the work ethic or competitive level of their opponents they won’t be a playoff team, regardless of who is coaching.
     
  • The Oilers have no net presence on the powerplay. I stated before that Shawn Horcoff was vital to the PP because he did the dirty work in front of the net. When Boyd Gordon isn’t on the first unit, no one stands in front of the net. Eakins talked about the Oilers simplifying things and said they  need to, "just start bombing some shots on net," but if no one is standing in front, or willing to go after rebounds it won’t matter.
     
  • You can’t put five perimeter guys on the PP and expect to have success. Of course it helps having elite skilled players on the powerplay, but if they don’t outwork the opponents and go to the tough areas their chances of scoring diminish significantly.
     
  • Most of the free agent talk has centred around the Sedins, Dion Phaneuf, Henrik Lundqvist and Joe Thornton, but people should be talking about Alexander Steen (he prefers Alexander to Alex). Steen is the best two-way forward on the Blues. He is sound defensively and he’s starting to emerge offensively. He has 11 points in 7 games thus far, and I won’t be surprised to see him around the 75-85 point mark at the end of the year.

    Ken Hitchcock loves Steen, and I’m sure he’s telling Blues management they need to re-sign him right away, but the Blues aren’t historically a cap team. They have less than a million in cap space this year and they already have $42 million committed to 13 players next season. If Steen tests the free agent market, he could get $6 million+/year.
     

  • For the past three seasons, the only award Oilers fans felt was realistic was the Calder trophy. No Oilers has ever won the Calder, but keep in mind Marc Arcobello is eligible. A player has to be less than 26 years of age by September 15th of the year he is eligible. Arcobello is currently 3rd in rookie scoring with eight points. Tomas Hertl has 10, Sean Monahan has 9 and Nathan MacKinnon has 7. After watching Hall, RNH and Yakupov miss out on the hardware, Arcobello could be come the least likely winner in Oilers history.
     
  • Arcobello is currently 5th in the NHL in FO%. He’s 77-53 in the dot and sitting at 59.2%. With injuries to Hall and Smyth I suspect we will see Sam Gagner playing the wing when he returns. I don’t see how Eakins can move Arcobello to the wing or down the lineup based on his play.
     
  • Boyd Gordon is 2nd in the NHL at 60.8% going 113-73 in the circle. Winning faceoffs helps, but it hasn’t cured the Oilers 5-on-5 woes. As a team, the Oilers are 6th in the NHL at 54.5%, but they are only 2-6-1. Winning faceoffs helps, but I’ve always felt the stat can be somewhat misleading if you believe it plays a significant role in overall puck possession.
     
  • In their last two games the Oilers were 57-56 in the dot, but they were outshot 76-50.
     
  • With Hall on the IR, and Jordan Eberle nursing an injury, it is time Nail Yakupov elevates his game. The Oilers desperately need him to get going offensively. He needs to become a difference maker in the next few games. I suspect we will see his icetime increase.  

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

  • Benny Botts

    Unfortunately, everyone tries to get a piece of the kids to slow them down. Hall was going to blow by Gyrba and Gyrba got a piece of him, didn’t he. Ebs been beating guys to the puck and been getting drilled for good measure. Kassian missed Sam Gagner with a check so he recklessly swings his stick around and nails him in the face.

    Players do stupid things when they know they’re going to get beat. I remember Cooke slicing Karlsson’s achilles quite vividly. Cooke was going to get beat off the wall by a slick skating, skilled player and picked his leg up to try and coral him. that’s when Cooke’s skate cut into Karlsson’s leg.

    Guys are scared to get beat. I don’t know how Datsyuk has been so good at staying healthy given how often he beats guys one on one. No errant knees, cross checks to the back or slashes to the wrists have stopped him. Something to be learned there?

    • Zamboni Driver

      Well, that Datsuyk is like, the third best hockey player in the world.

      Hall/Eberle/N-H and CERTAINLY Gagner are nowhere near that?

      Blasphemy, I know.

      • bwar

        I’m not comparing skill. Datsyuk is world class and we hope some of the Oiler kids get there one day. I think that you have to play a skilled game while protecting yourself. I think Datsyuk is a good example of that.

  • Dan the Man

    A fourth line of Brown-Acton-Gazdic is a bad fourth line. Getting rid of Brown gives us a chance to improve it. Brown knows his role and is more than willing to take on bigger guys but 5’11” 205 lb enforcers don’t intimidate anyone.

  • Zamboni Driver

    I can’t believe how you think this is not a coaching issue.

    Last year, with a very similar team, we were far better. What change, an aging centre that was not productive offensively??? GM that change, probably a net neutral affect to the team long term??? Some “role players” have changed but not the fundamental core…..

    Oh wait…… snap…. I got it, WE GOT A NEW COACH.

    “Until the Oilers learn to play better defensively, and smarter without the puck I don’t see how they can improve. The players have to start buying into the defensive scheme, because you can’t keep blaming the coach. The players play the game, and if they can’t match the work ethic or competitive level of their opponents they won’t be a playoff team, regardless of who is coaching”

    What defensive system are we playing….. huh…. I wonder if Eberle and Nug picked our system…. “Hey Hallsy, what do you think if we start running this defense and not worry about a forecheck?”

    Players play the game and our work ethic and competitiveness is not being matched, unfortunately, when the entire team is that way, one needs to ask about the coach. Last time I checked, if an associate was not putting in an effort he/she would get fired, if the entire organization was not meeting their goals in a company, the company gets a new Manager.

    AGAIN, NOT TO HAVE A CONVERSATION ABOUT COACHING IS THE EQUIVALENT OF PUTTING ONES HEAD BELOW SAND.

    • WILDTHING

      I agree that we have a better team. However it’s hard to blame the coach when goaltending was uncharastically a problem the first 6 games. To say a coach is to blame under 10 games in would hardly be fair. There were plenty of stretches last year where there record for 10 games was worse than it is now. It just gets magnified since it’s at the beginning of the season and not in the middle.

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      Glad to hear a contrarian voice to the issue of coaching. I too believe you cannot have a conversation regarding the system play without calling the coach into the equation.

      I’m not for replacing him but would like to see a different approach to system play especially in the defensive and neutral zones. Eakins has stated he has multiple systems that can adapt to a variety of playing styles……..OK let’s see them.

      Right now our PP and PK resemble organized chaos. The point of Eakis system according to the man himself is continual puck support in all three zones. Sorry Dallas have not seen this yet…….it’s time to stop blaming all the players all the time and time to adapt and change.

      Look at the Flames, they do not have the talent as we do but their team game is very strong.

      It’s time to start asking Dallas some tough questions!!!

    • Jason Gregor

      Jeff did coaching give them a 8.39 SV for the first six games? Unlikely.

      They are learning a new system. Their defensive system was awful last year. Do you not remember them getting out shot 35 times out of 48?

      Their PP is brutal, and Eakins can take some of that blame, but the players refuse to go to the net. Do you believe the coach says, “please avoid the net guys. I want us to have zero net presence.”

      Doubtful.

      You honestly believe Eakins says don’t forecheck? He talks about it every day. The Oilers don’t have a team built to do it. So they play puck possession, but they aren’t great at that yet either…

      You can keep blaming the coach…but eventually you will realize the players need to play harder. Work harder. Battle harder.

  • Dan the Man

    Joanne Ireland of the Journal is saying that Hall’s injury is the ACL and not the MCL as many have speculated. I’m not a Doctor but I think the ACL is the worse of the two to injure. I’m really hoping that the 4 weeks is like the 8 weeks they said for Gagner and it turns out to be less.

  • Ducey

    •Brown getting traded was also cap-related. The Oilers, despite being a non-playoff team for seven seasons, are in a cap crunch due to all their injuries. If my calculations are correct the Oilers needed to either move a player to LTIR or move a contract. They elected the latter.

    I don’t see this. Capgeek has them at 25th in the NHL in terms of salary – with $5.6 million in cap room. Thats with Brown gone but without Pitlick.

    Perhaps you can explain your “calculations”.

      • vetinari

        At this time of the year, unless you are willing to overpay for those types of players, you might as well be looking for the Tooth Fairy to play fourth line minutes.

        And worst of all, no sexy lady picture to accompany the article? Did ScarJo stop having her picture taken? Or Mila?

  • Benny Botts

    Ok MacT that’s enough time spent on the 4th line, now it’s time to start working on our defense and top 6 size.

    Be bold in your pursuit, and let no mold grow in your suit.

  • Rob...

    The faceoff comments/stats are interesting. By eye, it appears that the Oilers win more defensive/ neutral zone faceoffs therefore it doesn’t seem to give an advantage in terms of shots. They also seem to bear down on offensive faceoffs when on the power play but, as discussed previously, are guilty of not taking PP shots in general. That said, the first few games of the season the Oilers really did play well and did win the Corsi – some of which could likely be attributed to won faceoffs. The last two haven’t been very good in that respect.

  • Rob...

    I think it flies in the face of the philosophy that Edmonton loves it’s hard working grinders. No, we love the hard working grinders who are effective. Brown gave it his all while he was on the ice, but except for a handful of games during his time as an Oiler, he didn’t have the impact we were hoping for.

  • Pinoy-ler

    Detroit trying to unload $1.9M Tootoo . Toronto trying to do same with Liles , eating part of his salary . Not sure either fits us , however , but Tootoo seems like an upgrade on Brown .

    • Dan the Man

      Tootoo would be a great Oiler! Tootoo, Gazdic, Eager sprinkled with BIG MAC sauce from time to time with give the Oil the functional and dysfunctional toughness they need up front. Throw in Engelland as your 6-7 D and one of the Oil’s problems is solved – TOUGHNESS- then they can move on to a #1 D,#1 goalie and more size and grit on forward lines 1-2. Miss MIKE BROWN, more valuable than he was given credit for-some of the comments here are MEAN, TASTELESS and just plain RUDE!!!!!

  • pkam

    So we have 5 coaches in 6 years and it is still a coaching problem?

    And we know the coach is the problem after just 9 games?

    How about 44 man games lost to IR and the terrible goaltending in our 1st 6 games?

  • Zamboni Driver

    Four coaches in five years (or whatever) is not the problem.

    Four coaches in five years (or whatever) is not the problem.

    Four coaches in five years (or whatever) is not the problem.

    Four coaches in five years (or whatever) is not the problem.

    Four coaches in five years (or whatever) is not the problem.