Even the best students can have a down period and that is most certainly the case for several Edmonton Oilers in 2014-15. The season isn’t over, there is plenty that can be salvaged. It is All-Star weekend and that means a review of everything, from chemistry to, apparently Latin.
YOU GET AN A!
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: The modern Dave Keon mimics the original so well the power-play points have dried up, but we’re sure that’ll come back soon. The Nuge is emerging as an equal-or-better talent than Taylor Hall in many circles. I’m always hesitant to pass the crown too quickly but if the young center can continue at this level for another year we may have a new King.
- Boyd Gordon: Man what a hockey player. He starts most shifts under the ice in his own zone and still manages to survive. Honestly it’s kind of crazy how good he’s been for Edmonton since arriving here and a damn shame so few notice.
- Matt Hendricks: Along with Gordon one of the craziest set of numbers you can find. Punishing zone starts, varying degrees of opponents (with difficulty increasing) and he’s posting decent 5×5/60 numbers (0.86) as a scorer. Maybe they can have him skate around balancing plates too, he’s been able to accomplish everything else.
Jeff Petry: Harsh zone starts and a possession number over 50%
tells me this defender is clearly the best in the group and is playing
well this year. Injury in pre-season made the start wobbly but this is a
guy Edmonton badly needs every night.
Benoit Pouliot: Lordy he’s a fun player to have on the
Oilers. Has some real offensive ability and a physical edge, A real pleasure to have on the Oilers.
YOU GET A B!
- Oscar Klefbom: Easily the best rookie on the team and considering his status as a freshman he’s earned this grade. He might get an A if they play Klef with Petry for the rest of the season.
- Keith Aulie: Wildly better than he looked in training camp, Aulie is easily forgotten and hasn’t played a lot but there’s no doubt in my mind he had a good first half of the season.
YOU GET A C!
- Taylor Hall: His 5×5/60 is off by a full point and that’s a big damn deal. After that, the numbers suggest he’s still among the team’s best players (1.80/60 5×5 according to HockeyAnalysis) and there’s every chance the fancy stats more closely match the boxcars by season’s end. Factoring injury and recovery, I’m content with a C for Hall.
- Jordan Eberle: Marches is lock step with Hall, as Eberle had some injury issues that made it (apparently) impossible for him to lift the puck. He’s been cashing for more lately and the goals are starting to come. I think many fans underestimate his ability, probably a reflection of playing so long with two No. 1 overall selections.
- Mark Fayne: A bit of a tough grade to make, he’s either here or a D. Consider this a C- because he should be better but then again there’s every chance he’s never seen this kind of chaos. I liked the signing, and still do, but he needs to be better.
- Andrew Ference: Tough zone starts and some time against very good opponents, his possession stats aren’t terrible considering his opposition/situation. Far better this season.
- Teddy Purcell: I love having veterans on the Oilers, wish they had more. Purcell has done well this season and has become a solid PK player (not a lot of history but he’s been good to my eye). I didn’t nick him for the foot speed—he is what he is—but a 1.26/60 at 5×5 is a little shy of the mark offensively. Still, no real complaints.
- Steve Pinizzotto: Career minor leaguer who played well enough to earn this number. Chipped in a little on defense, had some tougher zone starts and played offensively better than expected.
IT’S A D FOR YOU!
- Leon Draisaitl: Unfair to fail him and you can’t give him acceptable standard either, so D it is. He showed enough for us to get excited about his future but is absolutely in the right spot for his career in Kelowna.
- Tyler Pitlick: May seem harsh and I do like him but Pitlick got some real nice looks on the top line and can’t piss a drop offensively. I’d like to see him for 40 healthy games but that appears unlikely.
- Luke Gazdic: Tough to mark because of injury but he’s obviously a solid enforcer. The rest of his game needs to develop, even just a little. It hasn’t happened yet.
GIVE ME AN F!
Niki Nikitin: F&*!—!
- Justin Schultz: His combination of lack of defensive awareness combined with extremely low panic threshold made the first half stunning in its epicness. There are no words.
- Ben Scrivens: He had a terrible start and by the time he showed signs of recovery the season was over. I think he’s a good goalie but there’s no way to give any other grade.
- Viktor Fasth: As with Scrivens, I think Fasth is a capable NHL goalie but he hit the skids and could not pull out of the dive. What a terrible set of starts for four goalies the last two seasons in our town.
- Nail Yakupov: Rich zone starts but he doesn’t score and his possession numbers are bad. I know he’s a No. 1 overall and I’m cheering like hell but this is the correct grade.
- Jesse Joensuu: They should have told him it was opening night every night. Backs are a bitch when they go south and that’s the story with JJ.
- Derek Roy: He’s looked good offensively (1.98/60 at 5×5) but isn’t pushing the river despite a solid zone start. Let’s see him awhile longer.
- Anton Lander: His possession number is fine based on zone start and he’s delivering offense for the first time. I’d like to see another 30 games but Nelson’s timing may be perfect for Lander’s career.
- Rob Klinkhammer: Yes! Lordy he’s perfect for that fourth line, can’t wait for the Oilers to sign him to a reasonable deal. Probably spells the end of the line for Pitlick, though.
- Martin Marincin: He was inconsistent at the beginning of the year and can’t make it back to the NHL, implying he’s been struggling there too. Bad teams have this happen, where prospects stop developing. It’s a damn shame — they could use another good defenseman.
Matt Fraser: He has 4 points in 10 Oilers games. That’s a
decent level of production for his spot in the batting order. I worry
about his speed but there’s an interesting player here.
- Brad Hunt: Say what you will, he helps the power play. Hunt is an odd duck in that he doesn’t skate well enough to play in the NHL but you can see why the Oilers like him. Suspect it won’t end well.
- Iiro Pakarinen: No idea why he didn’t get called up again. Liked him.
- Brandon Davidson: Pleased he got to see NHL action, and he looked good doing it.
- Will Acton: We didn’t see enough of him to know if he was any good.
- Darnell Nurse: A nice look-see, can’t wait until he’s a regular. Look out Flambes!
- Bogdan Yakimov: Big, wide body with some skill. Interesting player.
- David Perron: I miss him terribly but am glad he’s in Pittsburgh playing with a good team. Good return on the deal.
- Mark Arcobello: He absolutely got everything possible out of his ability and I hope he hangs around for years. Do NOT bet against him.