RANDOM THOUGHTS: YAK SNUBBED? AND HALL BENCHED?

Despite the Oilers being out of the playoffs for the 7th straight season, there is still numerous intriguing hockey stories unfolding around the NHL. Did the Vancouver Canucks window for a championship just slam shut? It didn’t take long for Ottawa and Montreal to build a legitimate rivalry. The WHL final is very competitive, and today the first finalists for an NHL award were announced.

The NHL announced the three finalists for the Calder trophy (Rookie of the year). Brandon Saad, Brendan Gallagher and Jonathon Huberdeau made the cut while Nail Yakupov and Minnesota Wild D-man Jonas Brodin didn’t.

I actually think Brodin got a worse snub than Yakupov. He played over 23 minutes a night at a much harder position. I understand why Oiler fans feel Yakupov got ripped off. I went back 50 years and couldn’t find one year where the rookie leading scorer wasn’t at least a finalist.

Of course, Yakupov never led rookie scoring until the final game of the season, and I wonder if six goals (35% of his season total) in the final three meaningless games played a role in the voter’s decision? That is just a guess, but seems the only rationale explanation. Up until that weekend I don’t think Yakupov was a legitimate candidate.

I would have voted for Brodin to win, but since he isn’t in I’d vote for Gallagher. He had a solid season and did more than just put up points.

You shouldn’t play the "He is Russian" card as why Yakupov got left off the ballot, because we’ve seen six Russians win the Calder since 1990: Sergei Makarov, Pavel Bure, Sergei Samsonov, Evgeni Nabokov, Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin.

It sucks for Yakupov not to be named a finalist, but it likely saves him a trip to Vegas where he wasn’t going to win. This way he can stay home and train, and maybe use this snub as motivation to show the writers they made a mistake.

It would be great if the organization played with as much passion as the fans have over topics like this. Fans were fired up, and next season the Oilers better bring that same emotion onto the ice.

QUICK HITS

  • Mike Gillis’ job has to be on the line in Vancouver. He agreed to let his goalie become a captain, then signed him to a ridiculous 12-year deal, then couldn’t trade him and now his team is near the cap and the core of his team is aging. I’m very curious to see if Gillis stays in Vancouver, or if head coach Alain Vigneault becomes the sacrificial lamb.
     
  • Love the rivalry that has emerged from the Habs/Sens series. It wasn’t just the 3rd period line brawl, although that reminded me of the great Oilers/Flames playoff games in the 1980s, but there is a lot of animosity and passion in this series. It is the must-watch series right now.
     
  • One of the best stats I’ve ever seen. The first star in all three games of the Habs/Sens series has lost a tooth during the game, including both goalies and D-man Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
     
  • If the Rangers get knocked out for the 2nd straight season by the Washington Capitals you have to think John Tortorella gets fired.
     
  • With potential job openings in New York and Vancouver I bet Lindy Ruff will be on the short-list for both.
     
  • I don’t see much wrong with the state of the NHL, but I get fired up when people suggest the NHL is losing control of the game because of Gryba’s hit on Lars Eller. Those hits are rare, so let’s stop pretending the league is on downward spiral to "No-respectville." Read more here.
     
  • I’ve spoke with numerous scouts the past week and four of the five I spoke with feel Sean Monahan would be an excellent choice for the Oilers. All four of them feel he’s a real pro. He is extremely mature and plays a solid two-way game. He isn’t flashy offensively, but the Oilers don’t need more flash. They need more substance. The other scout felt Darnell Nurse would be the perfect fit for the Oilers. He said Nurse is an incredible athlete and will emerge in three or four years as a top-pairing D-man.
     
  • Taylor Hall only played 8:33 in yesterday’s 3-2 loss to Switzerland. He only played 1:43 in the 3rd and didn’t get a shift in OT. I saw Hall turn the puck over twice at the offensive blueline and I’d bet that is the reason Lindy Ruff stapled him to the bench. Having Ruff as his coach at the World Championships could turn out to be a blessing for Hall. The Oilers young kids need to learn to protect the puck better, and I’m guessing Hall responds with a much better game tomorrow.
     

GET READY FOR A PARTY….

We have our 12 finalists set for what will be an epic party next Friday night, May 17th, at On The Rocks. Tickets are $25/each with 100% of the proceeds going to charity. And with your $25 ticket you get $50 in gift certificates from On The Rocks and Oodle Noodle. So you make money by supporting the cause. You can buy your tickets here. They will be sold out by next week.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR

  • Reg Dunlop

    Who cares how many minutes players get,coaches have all kinds of reasons to adjust a players minutes,some systemic and some otherwise.

    Taylor is loveing the experience and maybe he needs to enjoy the moment more and not feel so much pressure,just play his transition game like the coaches ask accurately and let things happen off of that exact presentation.

    When things get tough the best thing to do is reroute energy to your accuracy of execution your coach asks you for,focus sharply and adjust fast for him.You cant decide what is more and what is less untill you learn what is just right,and that is always coach decided.

    If I were Taylor I would do this and as an added bonus i would light it up with tighter execution and take the decision out of his coaches hands,ha ha ha.

    Hall and Nail and all the Oilers need a more accurate team self-valuation and an entirely new and heightened sense of self respect.They need to wake the hell up and understand that there are targets on all of their chests,everyone want them to be vain and conceited,so they are black-balling them right off the bat,now the Oilers need to spit in their eyes and learn to kick it up a notch when they are challenged this way,to TAKE IT OUT ON EVERY TEAM next year,every single one of them need to pay for disrespecting the Oilers.

  • The deadline for PHWA voting on awards was April 30, so if voters sent ballots in early (and missed any games which could impact voting) it was on their own accord.

    For the record, it’s mind boggling to me Yakupov wasn’t one of the three finalists.

  • TeddyTurnbuckle

    Good for Ruff to bench Hall. He tries that stupid toe drag move all the time and it never works. Here in Edmonton we can’t bench him because he is our best player. On team Canada he is average.

  • 15w40

    I guess Lowe saved some bonus money for the Oilers when Yak failed to nail the Calder vote.

    Hall has to learn that is his “head down” solo runs are ok in Windsor, but not so much in the NHL or International level of hockey.Why Krueger has not corrected this is, beyond me!Puck turn over is the name of the game in Edmonton, but not elsewhere.

    Watching games like St Louis/LA, and evern Habs and Senators, makes me gringe, to think how Oilers would fair in those roller derbys?

  • 15w40

    So Hall actually did play , but was benched for poor play . Happens to the best of them – an off day /game . He’ll be the better for it no doubt .

    Would DesKeyser (Detroit ) have won the Calder if it were a full season -I believe he might have .

  • 15w40

    Its amazing the different opinions on the same subject.

    On one hand you have the independent side (Gregor) with the Hall scenario benefiting him in the long run, learning to be responsible and all that.

    And on the other hand you have the Oilers’ side with their spokesperson (Stauffer) ready to burn Lindy Ruff at the stake over his handling of Hall.

    Its interesting how different the approaches are when you are coaching a short event with the sole purpose of winning and not having to worry about players quitting on you or “tuning you out”

    I haven’t saw more than 5 minutes of any of the WHC so I can’t comment on what Hall has or hasn’t done but maybe these 2 weeks will be the education he has needed to round out his game.

    In Edmonton there is no plan B. When he isn’t out there they aren’t scoring for the most part so no matter what he does they have to just keep sending him over the boards.

    Ruff has the luxury to say “Do it the right way or watch those who do it the right way”

  • 106 and 106

    Jason, I have no problem with Hall getting benched, but playing only 8 mins is freaking ridiculous, sit him for a couple of shifts. Taylor tries that dangle move all the time and it very rarely works, he needs to get that play out of his game, simply dump it in and go get it he has the speed. Yak getting snubbed is suprising to me, I personally thought Brendan Gallagher, Nail, and Brodin should have been the 3 finalist with Gallagher winning the calder. I love how he plays the game this little dude gets it.

  • Truth

    Regarding mr. common sense vs. everyone else; I think the point is the Oilers need to get tougher to play against and I couldn’t agree more. To get that lineup in the off-season would be a miracle. One thing you would say for certain in that lineup is that the Oilers would not be easy to play against anymore.

    Regarding Hall being benched; I don’t necessarily disagree with Ruff sitting Hall in order to enforce playing of the team’s system. I do disagree with Ruff not playing Hall late in the third and especially OT. Hall is one of the most dangerous forwards in the game when it comes to making a play single-handedly. Play him 4 vs. 4 on the open ice and lookout.

    Edit: open ice = big ice

    • Giroux made a mistake costing Canada a goal but wasn’t bench. There’s proof right there that Ruff hats the Oilers and will bench them. Won’t be surprised if Ruff sits Hall in next game and he doesn’t even dress.

      • Reg Dunlop

        I could see Ruff sitting Hall next game but sitting him AND not even dressing him? That’s like Eberle shooting the puck over the crowd and into the spectators.

        Where’s my sandwich… and get me another beer.

      • Wax Man Riley

        I would love the idiot Ruff to beat up KLowe in a barn and then take over the GM position and then bench Taylor Hall for 5.5 games and then send him to the minors and then call up Glen Sather on the phone and sell him RNH for 2 bux and a cab ride through the big apple and a portrait from Pocklington’s storage locker in Switzerland.

        All this because Lindy Ruff HATS us!!

        There’s proof right there!

  • Rob...

    1) The Swiss were stick-checking gods on the ice yesterday.

    2) Maybe I wasn’t watching closely enough, but I saw the play die on the end of Eberle’s stick more often than Halls. *forgive me Wanye.

  • Mantastic

    i don’t know what i want more in the SJ/Van series… whether they get swept and we can say that they won as many playoff games as the mighty Oil this season or them winning the next game but getting their teeth get kicked in at a half-empty Rogers arena… tough tough decision.

  • Playoff hockey is so good. Watching the nucks Sanjose series, it’s hard to think the Oilers are ready for the playoffs. I am also enjoying the Islanders not give up at al against the Pens, though that is clearly the worst team ever assembled to take a penalty against.

    Good to hear about Monahan, but if he’s as good as they say, why would he still be on the board at seven? Unless Nurse, and Nichushkin are taken before us, there is no way Monahan is on the board.

    It will have to be Jones, Mckinnon, Drouin, Barkov, Nichushkin, Nurse, for Mohnahan to be there. Even worse, however, is it could go Jones, Mckinnon, Drouin, Barkov, Monahan, Nurse. That leaves us with the smaller centre Nurse, or the wild card Russian Nichushkin. In that scenario, I hope they either take Nichushkin, or trade down and grab Gautier.

      • Rocket

        I stil think back to that St. Louis game this year when the whole team pushed back physically and handily beat the blues like 3 nothing. If they played like that, I think they could at least compete, but that was the only game I can remember all year when they played like that.

        Our road to the cup would have to be something like Phoenix, Colorado, Minny, Columbus for out current iteration to have a shot. Here’s hoping like Toronto and Montreal last year, we can make some moves and upgrade on size, grit, and defence, and be a competitor.

      • Rocket

        Yes I do, that was a typo, I meant small centre Lindholm. Though I am fine with them picking Nurse, we need to get bigger and deeper at centre. Our prospect pool needs to begin getting stocked with big gritty forwards, not D as their is already a log jam there.

        If we’re going to get a player that isn’t going to be ready for a few years anyway, why not trade down and take Gautier, so at least by then when we’re still whining that our team needs size at centre, there will be a prospect in our system ready to take that role.

  • I hope there is talk about bringing in Vigneault, when/if he gets fired. I don’t mind Krueger, but if Vigneault is available you make the more. Kinda like the Hawks firing Savard and brought in Quinnville.

  • Rocket

    Yeah that tooth losing stat is super awesome. That series & the LA/STL series are must watch hockey right now.

    Also, Hall should not have been benched. He made a couple mistakes but they were not super costly so he should have had the opportunity to turn his game around.

    He is too much of a difference maker in a game to sit in the third.

      • Wax Man Riley

        Ruff hates the Oilers! The fans hate the Oilers. The NHL hates the Oilers. Bash hates the Oilers. This is so unfair!

        Jasmine, take the Oilers-coloured glasses off.

        That is like saying “Edmonton hates Chicago because they had the #1 PP when it was 8-1.”

        Gagner hates Chicago because he scored 8 points that game.

  • Mr common sense, why doesn’t your line up also have Crosby on the top line with Shea Weber on Defense, and Henrik Lundqvist in net?

    I mean come on.. slight oversight on your part here..

  • My thoughts on Hall being benched.. in Edmonton, we’re a developing team where the coach is expected to be patient as the kids learn. On Team Canada, you better bring your A game.. you should already know what you’re doing at this point. There’s no room for experimenting and solo plays (or at least the ones that don’t work).

    Giroux could have been benched too for a similar play in which he dipsee-doodled through the neutral zone, was stripped of the puck, and the Swiss scored (unlike on Hall’s errors). He wasn’t though. In that case, it was Ruff going with what he knows… you know plays like that will be few and far between for Giroux. With Hall, yah, he’s more unknown to Ruff, so I’m sure that was part of his reasoning for benching Hall. But also, Hall made 3 gaffes that game, two of which were on the same shift, with one of those being right in front of the Team Canada bench.

    Hall will earn Ruff’s trust back I’m sure though.

    As for Yak, I’m fine with the snub.. didn’t think he was the best option. But for sure Jonas Brodin should have been on the list over Brandon Saad. Also I recall hearing someone say that several PHWA votes were in before the final games. Not sure who it was and what truth to that though, but I think it was someone ON the PHWA.

  • Eddie Edmonton

    This is a winning lineup (and you dont need a Queens MBA to figure it out)

    1) Clarkson-Nuge-Eberle, 2) Hall-Dubinsky-Yak, 3)Clowe-Ott-Pajaarv, 4) Brown-Faceoff specialist-Clutterbuck, Extras: Tootoo, Smythe

    Delete: Whorecough (buy-out), Alice, Gagner, Petrol, Jones, Belanger

    D; 1) Streit-Boychuk, 2) J. Schultz-Nutcase (think Kasparitus), 3) Smid-Petry, Extras: N. Schultz, Matt Green type, Fistric

    Delete: Peckham, Potter, Whitney

    Goalies: 1) Dubnyk, 1A) Tim Thomas

    • Reg Dunlop

      I totally agree. We should sign Faceoff specialist and Nutcase the minute they become free agents.

      However I think my lineup would win much more than yours:

      1) Power Forward-Two Way Number One Center-Sniper, 2) Speedy-Playmaker-Powerforward #2, 3)Speedy #2-Selke Winner-Pest, 4) Utility Guy-Faceoff specialist-Hitter, Extras: Goon, Extra

      Delete: everyone with a real name

      D; 1) Number 1 D man-Puck Moving defencman, 2) Big Puck moving defenseman-Slick skater, 3) Stay at home defensman – Kind puck moving defensmen, Extras: Guy 1, Guy 2

      Delete: defenseman with names

      Goalies: 1) Vezina goaltender, 1A) Best back up in game

      Beat that lineup… oh wait, you can’t. The best thing is, the salaries are all attainable and feasible.

    • If they buy out Horcoff, I hope Oilers finish in 30 to prove the worth fans didn’t see in Horcoff. Fans are reason players don’t sign in Edmonton as they constantly want to run players out of town.

      • Wax Man Riley

        I’ll feed her this time.

        Horcoff wouldn’t be bought out because he is a terrible player he would be bought out because he is overpaid.

        5.5 for a #3-4 C that can occasionally move up??

        Sounds like a buyout to me. It has nothing to do with hating Horcoff. It’s business.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Oh, so this is going to be one of those kind of topics…

      Hall/RNH/Eberle

      Morrow/Weiss/Yakupov

      Penner/Barkov/Clarkson

      Smyth/Ott/Brown—-Torres/Wellwood/Orr

      Streit/J.Shultz

      Gudbranson/Smid

      Klefbom/Petry—-N.Schultz/Redden

      Dubnyk/Nabokov or Khabibulin