We awoke to a dense fog hovering over Edmonton this morning, which is fitting for Oilers’ fans this time of the year. It sucks not being in an NHL playoff city. Watching the excitement on TV is fine, but it pales in comparison to feeling the energy and enthusiasm first hand.
At least the Oil Kings are still alive, and I’d recommend getting down to Rexall tomorrow or Wednesday to watch the WHL final. It is great hockey. Despite on NHL playoffs, there are still numerous story lines that impact Oilers fans.
- David Perron had to pull out of the World Championships due to a hip injury. He played with the injury during the season, but he felt better at the end of the year. He aggravated it working out and wisely decided to take some time off. The Oilers need to be as healthy as possible next year, and they need to get some rest before working out.
I thought it was very smart of Hall, Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins to decline a roster spot, and despite the odd fan questioning their motives, I assume most fans agree it was the right move. Rest, working out and getting stronger is much more important than playing a few games at the World Championships.
- Rumours are out that Scott Hartnell might be on the block. I like Hartnell a lot as a player, but at 32 years of age and five more years on his contract, I’d be leery of acquiring him. I think he could still be a top-six forward for three more years, and maybe that is good enough and you worry about the final two years in 2017. The Flyers don’t need forwards, they need defencemen.
If a deal happens it likely means moving Martin Marincin or maybe even Jeff Petry. I know Petry is a whipping boy for many — I’m not a huge fan of his consistency — but it would be a major gamble for the Oilers to trade him when they have so few right shot D-men on the roster. They have no one ready to replace him and I would only deal him if I’m getting a proven defender in return. The Oilers have many left shot D, so they can afford to give up Marincin, but that is a risk for a 32-year old. Unless the Oilers can make it a package of other pieces, I’m not sure they do it.
- A source tells me that MacTavish was close to landing Brayden Coburn for multiple draft picks last year, and none were a first rounder. That would explain why Holmgren changed his mind at the final moments, but could MacTavish land Hartnell for a combination of picks and/or prospects? Hmmm
- Further to Willis’ story on Kyle Brodziak. I remember that trade vividly. I was sitting in media row in Montreal at the 2009 draft when it was announced. I couldn’t believe they chose Marc Pouliot over Brodziak. That was the main reason they made the trade. They felt they didn’t have room for both. It was even more perplexing that they chose Pouliot, considering they’d traded Jarret Stoll the previous year. Brodziak was a right hand shot centre, who would kill penalties and was decent in the faceoff dot. They also wanted him to be more consistently gritty, which he has become in Minnesota, but the ridiculous part is that Pouliot wasn’t great in the dot, wasn’t considered a defensive checker and wasn’t gritty. It made no sense to keep him ahead of Brodziak. Tambellini and the Oilers analysis of the two players was incredibly inaccurate.
Pouliot played 51 NHL games after Brodziak was traded. Brodziak has missed only 3 games since the trade and has tallied 63 goals and 149 points. He currently has 6 points in 8 playoff games for the Wild.
I found out later that summer that the Oilers felt Brodziak had too many disruptions off the ice. He had many friends who would come to the games from Vegreville and the organization wondered if he was focused enough. This reasoning was asinine. Brodziak was exactly what the Oilers have very little of right now. A guy who lives year round in Edmonton, is a part of the community and is a solid two-way player.
- I’ve been told P.K Subban and his agent are looking for $9 million/year contract. He won’t get that, but I suspect he ends up between $7.8 and $8.5 million/year. He will be 25 next week and an 8 year contract, the max the Habs can over, will expire when he is 32. He is just entering his prime and I don’t see any reason the Habs won’t sign him. They will negotiate and after watching how mature, rational and calm he was when he spoke about the racist tweets he received after game one, his stock within the Montreal fan base only increased. He’s a great player to have as one of the faces of your franchise.
- Speaking of playoffs, the Edmonton Rush will host their first NLL playoff game next Friday vs. the Calgary Roughnecks. The Rush have never lost to Calgary in the playoffs, 2-0, but this is the first year they come in as the favourite. It should be a great series.
- Will Donald Sterling’s suspension have any impact in sports? Sadly, I highly doubt it.
- I spoke with Leon Draisaitl last week. What a great kid. I will have the entire interview up later this week. What I like most about Draisaitl is his long term potential. He grew up in Germany and didn’t face quality competition like Canadian kids get to. You can improve more when you play against better players. He never played against high level competition until he came to the WHL. In his first year as a 17 year old (turned 17 in October) he tallied 21-37-58 in 64 games. This season he improved by almost 50 points scoring 38-67-105 in 64 games.I feel he has a lot of room to improve because he’s only been playing against elite competition in his age group for two years. The suggestions he is lazy or uninspired are grossly inflated. Every young player struggles with consistency, but the more I research Draisaitl the more I like what I uncover. If teams are patient with him, I think he will emerge as a very good NHL player. I’d give him another year in junior before I’d put play him in the NHL.
I feel he has a lot of room to improve because he’s only been playing against elite competition in his age group for two years. The suggestions he is lazy or uninspired are grossly inflated. Every young player struggles with consistency, but the more I research Draisaitl the more I like what I uncover. If teams are patient with him, I think he will emerge as a very good NHL player. I’d give him another year in junior before I’d put play him in the NHL.
- Sidney Crosby doesn’t have a goal in eight playoff games his year, combine that with going goalless in his final five playoff games last year and he’s at 13 games without a playoff goal. Suddenly he isn’t the best player in the world, some are suggesting. I’ve noticed many say Jonathan Toews should be considered. Okay, but last year Toews didn’t have a goal in his first 9 playoff games and he had only 1 in his first 20. Crosby is the best because he’s been more dominant than any other player for extended periods of time. A 13-game goal scoring slump doesn’t change that. Because he’s usually so dominant offensively no one mentions his overall game. He isn’t just a scorer. It is fun to have debate, but if you want to rip Crosby’s title away due to 13 bad games, then it seems odd to give it to a guy who struggled just as much offensively last year.
- The more I think about it, I don’t see how the Oilers make the playoffs next year. I don’t see LA, San Jose or Anaheim taking a major step back, so that leaves one open spot in the Pacific division. I bring this up because as much as it sucks not to be in the playoffs, I believe making a desperate move will hurt them. As hard as it will be, MacTavish needs to remain patient when it comes to developing young prospects.
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This year’s winner receives $1,000 and a trophy (best part).
If you want to come watch, pick up your tickets here. They are over 60% sold out already. It will be a great time and we will have a few special celebrity Karoakiers as well.
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