THE RETURN OF THE JETS AND GREBESHKOV?

**This footage of game 6 vs. the Jets in 1990. Oiler fans might want to fast forward to the 9:30 mark.***

The Winnipeg Jets haven’t played in Edmonton since March 29th, 1996 when Miroslav Satan had a pair of goals in a 3-2 Oilers victory while Nikolai Khabibulin was in goal for the Jets, and Ryan Smyth was in his rookie season.

However, according to my source, that 17-year drought will end October 1st  when the Jets return to Rexall Place for opening night against the Edmonton Oilers.

The Oilers schedule won’t be released until the NHL can finalize specifics on their participation in the Sochi Olympics, but whenever it comes out it will be the best schedule Oilers fans have seen in years.

You will see all 16 eastern teams live at Rexall this year, and you will be able to watch the Oilers play Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos and the other East stars each once on the road.

The Oilers will play in the Pacific division and they will play the Ducks, Kings, Coyotes, Sharks, Canucks and Flames a total of 29 times. They will play five teams five times and one of them four times.

They will play 21 games, three each, vs. the Central division, Blues, Blackhawks, Wild, Jets, Avalance, Stars and Predators, and the remaining 32 games will be against eastern division opponents.

NEED A GOOD START

Every year teams talk about how you can’t make the playoffs in October, but you can miss them, and to an extent that is true. This past year, the Oilers went 4-3-3 and were in 7th place in the west before finishing in 12th.

I read a study (couldn’t find the damn link today) that said 77% of teams that are in the playoffs at the end of October stay there. Of course, the Oilers were one of the 23% that didn’t in 2011, but a good start usually can propel you to a strong season.

In 2013, six of the eight western teams that were in the playoffs after ten games made the playoffs. Chicago, Anaheim, San Jose, Vancouver, Detroit and St.Louis made them, while Nashville and the Oilers dropped out.

In the east, five of eight made it; Boston, Pittsburgh, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, while New Jersey, Carolina and Tampa Bay all missed. So 69% of the teams that were in a playoff spot after 10 games remained there.

Here is a a quick glance back at the previous seven full seasons, since the 2004/2005 lockout.

  • At the end of October 2011, eleven of the 16 teams, 69%, (6 east and 5 west) who were in a playoff spot remained in a playoff spot at the end of the year. The Oilers were tied for first, but plummeted down the standings and missed the playoffs.
     
  • At the end of October 2010, 12 of the 16 teams, 75%, (7 east and 5 west) finished in a playoff spot. The Oilers were 15th at both times.
     
  • On October 31st, 2009, 12 of the 16 teams, 75%,( 6 east, 6 west) finished in the playoffs. The Oilers were tied for 7th with the Flames, but the Oilers finished 15th while Calgary ended up 10th.
     
  • On October 31st, 2008, 13 of the 16 teams, 81%, (7 east, 6 west) finished in the playoffs. The Oilers were 12th, and finished the season in 11th place.
     
  • At the end of October 2007, eleven of the 16 teams, 69%, (5 east and 6 west) rade the playoffs. The Oilers were 13th, and ended up 9th missing the playoffs by three points.
     
  • At the end of October 2006, eleven of the 16 teams, 69%, (4 east and 7 west) remained in a playoff spot. The Oilers were 7th, but they finished 12th and missed the playoffs by a whopping 25 points.
     
  • On October 31st, 2005, 12 of the 16 teams, 75%, (7 east, 5 west) remained in the playoffs. The Oilers were 9th, but they made the playoffs finishing 8th.

In the seven full seasons since the lockout, 73.3% of teams in the top eight at the end of October made the playoffs, but it will be interesting to see if the new playoff format alters those stats.

Under the new format the top three teams in each of the four divisions make the playoffs, while the remaining two wildcard spots in each conference go to he teams with the most points. Basically it is possible to have five teams from one of the western divisions and three from the other division, and the same in the east.

For the past eight seasons the Oilers haven’t been able to build off of good starts. They’ve been first once and 7th three times, but each year they ended up missing the playoffs.

I decided to look at the halfway point of each season, and see how much, if any, it improved a team’s odds of finishing in the playoffs. I chose the date in January where 50% of league games have been played. I looked at winning % to ensure it was the top-8 teams in case a team had played two or three fewer games.

  • On January 9th, 2012, 14 of the 16 teams, 87%, (7 east and 7 west) who were in a playoff spot remained in a playoff spot. The Oilers were in 13th place an finished 14th. No one really tanked in the 2nd half, but Phoenix went 22-10-8 in their final 40 games to go from 11th to 3rd.
     
  • On January 7th, 2011, 12 of the 16 teams, 75%, (7 east and 5 west) remained in a playoff spot. The Oilers were 15th at both times. The Avs were in 6th with 47 points in 41 games, but they went 9-29-3 (21 measly points) in their final 41 games and finished 14th.
     
  • On January 2nd, 2010, 15 of the 16 teams, 93%,( 8 east, 7 west) remained in the playoffs. The Oilers were 15th and finished 15th. Calgary was the only team unable to keep their playoff spot. They were 24-12-5 and in 3rd place, but they went 16-24-5 in the 2nd half and finished 10th.
     
  • On January 9th, 2009, 13 of the 16 teams, 81%, (7 east, 6 west) remained in the playoffs. The Oilers were 11th, and finished the season in 11th place. The Coyotes were in 7th with 45 points, but they managed only 34 points in the 2nd half and finished 13th.
     
  • On January 5th, 2008, 13 of the 16 teams, 81%, (7 east and 6 west) remained in a playoff spot. The Oilers were 14th, with only 40 points in 43 games, but they picked up 48 points in their final 38 games to finish 9th and miss the playoffs by three points. The Canucks had 50 points at the halfway points, but they had a major 2nd half collapse with only 38 points in their final 41 games and finished 11th.
     
  • On January 5th, 2007, 13 of the 16 teams, 81%, (5 east and 8 west) remained in a playoff spot. The Oilers were 10th, but they finished 12th. The biggest 2nd half choke came from the Habs. They had 51 points, 3rd in the east, but finished 10th with only 31 points in the 2nd half.
     
  • On January 5th, 2006, 13 of the 16 teams, 81%, (7 east, 6 west) remained in the playoffs. The Oilers were 6th, and they made the playoffs finishing 8th. The LA Kings had 54 points (2nd in west) at mid-season, but they only accumulated 35 in the 2nd half and missed the playoffs.

Every year, except 2010/2011, the odds of remaining in a playoff spot increased significantly and the average rose to 82.7%.

The Oilers remained in relatively the same spot from the mid-way point to the end of the season, expect in 2007/2008 when they improved significantly. The Oilers haven’t been a good 2nd half team for the majority of the past 8 seasons, even in 2006, when they made the playoffs, they limped in.

When the NHL finally releases the schedule, I get why many will look at the first month and talk about needing a good start. A good first month won’t hurt, but unless the Oilers can maintain their start or improve as the season progresses it is hard to envision them making the playoffs.

QUICK HITS…

  • The Grebeshkov signing means the Oilers have eight D-men on one-way deals, while Justin Schultz and Oscar Klefbom have two-way deals. We can all agree J.Schultz isn’t going to the AHL, so the Oilers will have to expose one of their D-men to waivers when the make their final cuts, unless they trade one of them.
     
  • Some are wondering if this signing means a trade is coming. Which D-men do you think have trade value, other than Ladislav Smid, J.Schultz, Jeff Petry and Andrew Ference? Teams would take Nick Schultz, but I doubt he’d fetch the big, aggressive third line winger the Oilers are looking for. The rest of them wouldn’t get much of a return, other than draft picks. I believe this signing was made to enhance the competition within their 3rd pairing and not much more. 
     
  • LA Kings forward Dustin Brown didn’t use an agent when negotiating his new 8-year, $47 million deal. Agent fees vary, but 3% seems to be the normal rate. If my math is correct, that means Brown saved $1,410,000 in agent fees. Some will wonder why more players don’t do their own deals, but there is a lot of paperwork involved and most negotiations aren’t that easy. I suspect Brown had some sort of advisor/lawyer, family member or family friend helping him in some fashion.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

 

  • bazmagoo

    @ Tim in Kelowna

    Although I like an Oiler defenceman keeping the opposition honest in front of our net as much as the next person, clearing the crease was not our problem the last few years. It was clearing our own end.

    With Petry you have a good (hopefully with a bounce back to his above average form from 2 seasons ago) defenceman on a good contract.

    The Oilers cannot be moving cheap 2 to 4’s to replace them with a big 6/7.

  • bazmagoo

    Personally I think it would be great if MacT could unload Schultz and either get a top 4 guy in return or unload that salary and create the conditions for competition in that spot.

    Imagine if MacT unloaded N Schultz for Clifford? If he pulled something like that off, that would be epic.

    • Bucknuck

      I am referring to over 200 nhl games. Did I say it was Epic? It’s a depth move, and it doesn’t cost them anything except pocket change. It adds depth, the oil have needed depth on D since 2007.

      An earlier poster compared it to the Cam Barker signing. I think that is a fair comparison. If Barker had worked out it would have been a coup. It didn’t. This might not either, but the risk is pretty darn low, so why not.

      Now he just has to move Hemsky and get assets back, Sign (or trade) Gagner, and solve the lack of depth at centre. It’s a smaller list than it was in the spring.

  • bazmagoo

    Here’s my guess: the Oilers are not going to line up a big-time player on the blueline via free agency or trade. They’re going to have to develop their own. And we’ve known this since the re-build started. You have some pretty solid prospects in the pipeline; you just have to wait. So while we wait, they bring in some short-term depth signings. Makes sense to me.

  • BorjeSalming-IanTurnbull

    Nick Shultz buy out?
    Potter will be buried in the AHL.
    Klefbom wins the Eddie Shore award in the AHL.
    Justin Shultz plays with Belov and puts up 60 points. 25 on the PP.
    Ryan Smyth sits in the press box for 30 or so games.
    Hall pots 40.
    Yak pots 20 on the PP.
    Eager comes in to camp and takes his job back. 15 fights 10 goals.
    Jason LaBarbera gets more starts than Dubbie. PS Calgary says they’re putting Theo Fleury’s 14 in the rafters

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    “The Grebeshkov signing means the Oilers have eight D-men on one-way deals, while Justin Schultz and Oscar Klefbom have two-way deals. We can all agree J.Schultz isn’t going to the AHL, so the Oilers will have to expose one of their D-men to waivers when the make their final cuts, unless they trade one of them.”

    The way this paragraph functions would appear to suggest “one-way/two-deals” have some bearing on waiver eligibility.

    Unless I’m mistaken, being on a one-way deal simply means that you get paid the same regardless of the league (NHL or AHL), whereas a two-way deal means that you salary varies depending on the league you play in.

    All of which is independent of whether one has — through a variety of triggers — joined the group of players who must clear waivers to be sent down.

    At any rate, i think that’s how it works.

    • bazmagoo

      “Unless I’m mistaken, being on a one-way deal simply means that you get paid the same regardless of the league (NHL or AHL), whereas a two-way deal means that you salary varies depending on the league you play in.”

      Guys on their first deals in the AHL make around $80,000 a year, they move up to three quarters of a million plus when they make the big leagues.

      A lot of cash, a lot of motivation to spread around. Hopefully MacT has all these Russian guys on two way (split to the KFC) if they don’t make the big leagues.

  • BorjeSalming-IanTurnbull

    MacT rolling the dice on the Russians is very interesting to me. Is he doing it to surround Yakapov with fellow droogs or is it advanced scouting in Europe that is whispering in MacT’s ear? In my opinion I hope that Eakins puts either Belov or Grebs with J. Shultz. The puck movement will be quick crisp and very entertaining for the fan base. The past half a dozen years the puck movement from the back end was the worst in the league but now I see the fast young stars catching a pass a full speed heading into the O Zone.

    Wonder what Tambi is feeling about all this…I wish I was a fly on the wall

  • Bucknuck

    So MacTavish adds a player, a true NHL player, and he doesn’t lose any assets. Sounds like a good move. And he might just be able to make a trade and maintain depth on defense… sounds pretty hopeful.

    • 2004Z06

      A true NHL player? I hope your not referring to Grebeshkov. He was decent offensively when he was here but he was horrible at turning the puck over and playing defense. Combine that with the fact that he has seemed to regress is a softer league in the KHL, I don’t see how you could state that he is a true NHL defenseman. Not saying he won’t be, but certainly can’t make a black and white statement like that when it refers to Grebeshkov.

    • bazmagoo

      Dear god man, how is Grebeshkov a true NHL’er? Have you seen his stats on one of the BEST teams in the KHL league?

      I’m guessing Belov and Grebeshkov are gay lovers and MacT experimented with Grebeshkov back in the day.

      Obviously some GM is jerking him around saying they’ll take Nick Schultz’s contract, lol.

  • Mark-LW

    I would trade Petry. He’ll have a solid NHL career, but I’d rather give his spot on the roster to a steady, physical, defensive dman. Puckmovers are valuable, but this team need to keep the puck out of their net. For a team that is softer than butter, he would be my choice to move out for a decent shutdown guy (not suggesting it would be a 1 for 1 deal).

    Gregor, what do you think?

    • Jason Gregor

      If Petry can play like he did in 2nd half of 2011/2012 then he’s valuable. If he continues to play like he did last season, then I’d ship him out of town.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      No.

      The best way to keep the puck out of the net is with mobile, puck movers.

      And, without Petry our RD depth goes: J. Schultz, Larsen, Potter, Fedun.

      a nightmare.

      • DSF

        Dubnyk will perform a whole lot better next year if we have another Smid-type player abusing opposing players in front of the net and getting the puck out. Petry doesn’t do that, doesn’t matter if he’s RD.

        MacT can’t bank on our d-corps making a stretch pass out of the zone every time. You need hardnosed guys that consistently get the puck out. Petry could potentially get us one of those.

      • DSF

        Jack Johnson says hi.

        A D comprised entirely of pick movers who are below average in their own zone will get killed.

        Petty is below average in his own zone and only average as a puck mover.

        P.S.

        Both Ference and Schultz senior can play the right side.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Its to bad MacT doesn’t want to resign Fistric, I thought he played a decent enough game and lowered the boom for a spot at the bottom pairing.

    Is Grebishkov really that much better than Fistric.

    • 2004Z06

      I don’t understand why it is so hard for people to answer the question of why Fistric wasn’t resigned. MacT was crystal clear that he wanted strong puck moving D men. While Fistric can hit, he has never shown the ability to move the puck up quickly and accurately. If he was such a commodity, wouldn’t someone have signed him by now?

      Not one UFA that the Oilers elected not to resign has been picked up yet. Doesn’t that tell you something?

      • wiseguy

        Khabi -signed for $2 million per year, more than LaBarbera got.
        I agree with your point though, just nitpicking with you. We’ve spent too many year overvaluing our players, even being afraid of exposing them to waivers for fear of them being claimed. If a player can’t make the everyday lineup of a 30th place team, they aren’t “prospects”.
        I like that the Oil have cut bait with players that have very little upside this year. Clearly things aren’t working so what do you have to lose by trying something (someone) else?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Tambellini could’ve overseen bringing in of Nurse and Ference as the most significant off season transactions. What has MacTavish done this off season that any other lame GM couldn’t have made? After watching this ship show so far this summer, what did firing Steve accomplish again? To triple Gordons salary, and now this Grebeshkov move…same sideways SHIP, different summer under 6 rings Kevin Lowes watch.

    • Old School G

      If Tambellini could have composed a balanced roster in the way that MacTavish is building a balanced roster Tambellini would still be the GM of the Oilers. I appreciate that you’re presenting a case for Tambelliini but it needs to carry more weight. MacTavish has already made more quality moves this offseason than Tambellini did in his entire tenure. Think about the players that Tambellini brought in, now think about this offseason under MacT’s guidance. There really isn’t much of a case for Tambellini.

      • Reg Dunlop

        I think you are comparing the results of Tam’s transactions with the potential of Mac’s moves. Things may work out but Grebs is a reclamation on par with Barker. Belanger seemed like a good signing coming off 6 straight 35+ point seasons just like Gordon seems to be a good fit. Who didn’t like Eager before he came here? Sutton seemed like a good signing and I think he did work out. Will Larsen work out? Will Belov figure out the dynamics of the smaller ice and cope with language/culture shock? Lots of questions to be answered before we know how much of an upgrade Mac is.

        I don’t want to speak for Mr.Quicksilver but I think he was less making a case for Tambo than he was being critical of the lack of bold improvement promised by Mact.

        • bazmagoo

          “I don’t want to speak for Mr.Quicksilver but I think he was less making a case for Tambo than he was being critical of the lack of bold improvement promised by Mact.”

          Absolutely nothing has been “bold” as of yet, all safe moves.

    • Bucknuck

      Can we start our own WALL of SHAME. My first three nominees our ….. Drum roll please

      1 DSF

      2 Madjam

      3 Qiucksilver ballet

      Maybe we could have a separate thread made just for these three, and their amazingly accurate and insightful comments~

      • 2004Z06

        Why do so many people hate on DSF? He is very confident in his opinion and from what I can tell, does not ever admit he’s wrong or could be wrong but to say he is the worst on this site is silly.

        I actually enjoy DSF’s contribution to this site even though he has a somewhat biased viewpoint. Some of his arguments at least have merit, which can’t really be said of madjam.

        He wouldn’t be an issue if half the people didn’t respond to him. Why blame him when others do not have any self control?

  • Citizen David

    Would smid and petry get us Bouwmeester? St. Louis has Petrangelo and Shattenkirk. We have lots of defensive depth but need a horse that can log huge minutes and is an actual number one. This is the deal I would push.

      • bazmagoo

        Smid or Petry would likely get you Bouwmeester plus a 1st round pick. His contract is too much and it’s what is putting the Pietrangelo negotiations on hold.

        St Louis is likely desperate to unload that #1 defenceman contract for a #3 defenceman. Would imagine they’ve been shopping him all summer.

      • DSF

        Oh good grief.

        St Louis would make that trade in a moment, and everyone knows it. This is a ridiculous thing to argue about.

        Can’t we get back to making fun of Paaja…crap. Nevermind.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        “Would smid and petry get us Bouwmeester?”

        NO… LOL..!

        Armstrong would have Jay~Bo on a plane so fast that he wouldn’t have time to pull up his pants.

        The only part of of “NO” in that deal is that the Oilers would say “NO” if that was the offer.

        MacT might not even say “NO”, he just may hang up on Army before he finished his sentence.

        NO… LOL..!

        x6

  • Bucknuck

    Grebeshkov is an excellent depth and motivation signing….for himself and for the other competition not named J. Schultz, J. Petry, B. Ference,or L. Smid and N. Schultz. This now 29 yr old guy, (when he is on), can skate/pass/and shoot hard.

    Bring on Training Camp Wars!!!

    I was inquiring a couple weeks ago if it was Grebs who the russian D-man was that MacT was talking to…and he was.

    I love Smid for his work ethics and shot blocking, defence shutdown skills…but..there will be a trade of either him or the elder Schultz comin up…unfortunately. Smid is younger and he is signed longer term.

    This will be for either a 3rd line winger or centre….unless MacT signs Steckel. Hemsky is either here for trade dealine deals in the spring or he is gone in two weeks, IMO. Gagner either signs a good team oriented deal in the next 3 days (prior to the 22nd July) or he is gone this summer too…also IMO.

  • YFC Prez

    I like competition for roster spots. That’s all I think that this signing brings. And that’s good. Far to many oilers coasted in their roster spots for way to long

  • Old School G

    Great article Jason, she’s been a long dry stretch for the Oiler faithful you outline that point very accurately. This team needs to turn it around and compete this season. I think MacTavish and Eakins are going to see to it that the compete level will be there, looking forward to it!

    • Reg Dunlop

      Do you mean that the oil won’t EVER make the playoffs or that the oil AGAIN won’t make the playoffs?

      I don’t know why but I like old Denis. Maybe re-unite him with Gilbert.

  • Citizen David

    Jets will be the game of the year. Grebby is a what he is. An all or nothing player. Risk and reward are his trademarks. If the Oilers don’t find a way to trade one of these guys come September the OKC’s Barons are going to have an expensive blueline. Potter at 750k. Or Larsen at 1 million or Grebby whatever he signed for.Enough of the depth dmen and go get a 3rd line winger who bangs and bruises.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Hope this isn’t the same Grebeshkov, Dmitry Chesnokov laughed about on Stauffers show just a few days ago. Bob mentioned a Grebeshkov, and Chesnokov started laughing, in reference to him not even being a top 25 dman in the KHL. Chesnokov had no idea who he was. No goals and only 16 helpers since 2011.

    • bazmagoo

      I really don’t think they are setting the team up for success. In my opinion, the owner is skeptical the fab 5 can take the Oilers to the playoffs and is trying to hedge his bets. A lot of money on the line now the Eberle and Hall are into their post RFA deals.

      I do think the strategy of grasping at Russian straws will work out for the Oil, hopefully all these guys they are signing have put it (in writing) that they will go down to the AHL or bolt to the KHL if they don’t work out in training camp or beyond.

      MacT’s second lesson – your coaching instinct’s and your managerial insticts SHOULD NOT be the same.