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.
- 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.