Countdown to the draft…

http://2.cdn.nhle.com/nhl/images/upload/2014/06/Connor-McDavid.Jack-Eichel.2015Draft.jpg

I’m sitting in the Pearson airport in Toronto waiting for my
connecting flight to Miami. As I ponder the idiocy of my decision to take the
red-eye flight out of Edmonton to get to Florida sooner I’m listening to
Toronto sports radio and reading the papers. Two months after the draft lottery people are still upset
Connor McDavid is going to Edmonton. 

Some columnists and many fans believe that young McDavid’s
path to NHL success and stardom should have started in Leafsland. I found this article from yesterday’s paper in the waiting area. I’ll admit I chuckled when
I read it. Would it have been written if the Leafs won the lottery?

Eventually Stinson and others will move on, but with less
than 60 hours until the draft there is much to discuss regarding the Oilers.

Here’s what I know…

The Rangers asked for the Oilers #16 pick in exchange for Cam Talbot. Peter
Chiarelli declined, but now the negotiations and bartering begin. The Oilers
would trade the #33 for Talbot, but the Buffalo Sabres are also interested and
they own the 21st and 31st picks. If they are smart they
won’t part with #21, but if they offer #31 will Glen Sather opt to take the
better pick and have Talbot in the Eastern conference, or is he willing to take
#33 and send Talbot out west?

In 2013, the Vancouver Canucks wanted the Oilers to trade Martin
Marincin, the #7 pick and a 2nd rounder for Corey Schneider. Craig MacTavish
said no, and the Canucks settled for the #9 pick from New Jersey. Mike Gillis wanted
a larger return to trade him to a western foe, and I wonder if Sather is thinking
the same with Talbot.

If Talbot had two or three years left on his contract, I
believe Chiarelli might consider trading the #16 pick, but he won’t do it with
Talbot one year away from unrestricted free agency.

If the Oilers miss out on Talbot, would the Canucks trade
Eddie Lack to a divisional rival? The Canucks only have one pick (23rd
overall) in the first 113 picks and GM Jim Benning desperately wants to get a 2nd
and 3rd round selection.

Would he take the #57 and #79 for Lack? I’m sure he would prefer
a higher pick, but the Canucks, similar to the Ottawa Senators with Robin
Lehner, are not dealing from a position of strength. The other 28 teams know
they will have to waive a goalie before the start of the season, or carry three
on the roster, and unless a team is really desperate for a goalie, they can
afford to be patient and force the Canucks and Senators to
accept below market value.

Two years ago you couldn’t get Lehner out of Ottawa for anything. Bryan Murray loved him, but now Andrew Hammond has passed him on the Senators’ depth chart after playing only 24 NHL games. Hammond was an average AHL goalie in December, but now he has a three-year deal and vaulted over Lehner on their depth chart. If the Senators feel Hammond, who is very unproven, is a better bet than Lehner, there is no reason to overpay for him in a trade. Lehner is worth acquring, but I don’t see his value being more than a 3rd rounder due to his play and the Senators’ situation.

I spoke with a former teammate of Lehner. “When he is on he is great, but his mental game is the issue. He can be a bit of a head-case at times, but maybe that’s because he’s a goalie,” he laughed. Lehner turns 24 in July, and the majority of goalies don’t mature or completely develop until they are 25+, so I can see the appeal, but I’d take Talbot or Lack way before Lehner at this point.

TRADE TALK…

According to Bryan Hayes from TSN 1050, the Leafs want to trade one, if not both, of Dion Phaneuf or
Phil Kessel. It is an interesting situation. The Leafs would prefer to trade
Kessel, but he doesn’t mind playing in Toronto, while Phaneuf would love to get
moved.

Who do you think has more market value right now?

Phaneuf is
a legit #2 D-man, and he is a #1 on at least ten NHL teams. Kessel is a top-five
scoring winger in the NHL. Logic says the D-man should garner the better
return, but Kessel is a dynamic finisher and I think he might have more value
for teams who can’t score.

The Kings are creatively trying to move Mike Richards and
his horrendous contract. They will have to retain a significant % of his salary
to make a trade happen. One NHL executive told me, “The concern most teams have
is whether or not he can skate well enough to contribute in today’s game. His
competitiveness isn’t a concern, but, frankly, he has looked slow the past two
seasons.”

NEW JERSEY…

The Oilers will have a new third jersey this season. I’ve
been told that orange will be the dominant colour. I’ve also been told they won’t
be available for purchase until late September, or realistically, early
October. I haven’t seen the jersey, but it sounds like it might look similar (but not exactly the same as pic above) to
the orange jersey the OKC Barons had last year. I like bright colours and if orange is the dominant colour, I’m all for it. 

QUICK HITS…

  • Eight teams own 47.5% (29 of 61) of the picks in the first two rounds of the 2015 draft. Those eight will be in the middle of much of the wheeling and dealing.

  • The NHL schedule will be released tomorrow and Oilers fans should expect a few Saturday home games starting at 5 p.m. The NHL will want to expose Connor McDavid and the Oilers to fans out east.
  • I’d rather watch 3-on-3 in OT than more shootouts. Last season, 170 games went to a shootout. Players had 1,254 attempts and scored 380 goals (30.3%). With five minutes of 3-on-3, I predict we only see about 45 games reach a shootout this year, which would be the fewest since the shootout debuted in 2006, which was also the lowest shootout per game ratio we’ve seen, 11.79% (145 of 1230).

    Last season in the AHL they played three minutes of four-on-four, or first whistle after three minutes played, and then four minutes of three-on-three in OT. Of the 204 games that went to a fourth period, only 25% went to a shootout.

  • I had the pleasure of getting a vote for the NHL awards. The PHWA votes on the Hart, Calder, Lady Byng, Norris and Selke. Here are my votes:
    Hart: Alex Ovechkin.
    Norris: Drew Doughty.
    Calder: Aaron Ekblad.
    Lady Byng:  Jiri Hudler
    Selke: Patrice Bergeron

I will now try and nap in the airport. The red-eye flight is looking worse by the minute.

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  • Lofty

    There seems to be at least four clusters of basically equal goalies … Take the cheapest one let someone else over pay.

    AHL but ready –

    Jacob Markstrom
    Antti Raanta
    Malcolm Subban

    NHL back-up but ready to be a starter
    Robin Lehner
    Cam Talbot
    Eddie Lack
    Petr Mrazek

    NHL Starter
    Jimmy Howard
    Jonathan Bernier
    Craig Anderson

    UFA
    Kari Ramo
    Michel Neuvirth
    Johans Enroth
    Antti Niemi
    Devan Dubynk

    How many starting positions are available? These group basically equal I am not sure I would pay a premium for any of them.

  • Lofty

    Can we please stop floating the idea of Dion out in the universe. He may be a “#2 defencemen” but not on any team I would build. For how much of a potential cancer he is with the ego he brings…. not worth. Now if he was Pronger this would be a different comment even if he had the same characteristics as Dion.

    So let’s take the new coach and another year of strength and conditioning on our D group and see what happens in lieu of bring in Dion.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Those new orange jerseys coming out. I don’t think they’re so new. I seen them at United Cycle almost two years ago. They looked awesome then, and they’ll look even better once they have Connor McDavids name and number on the back.

    The Chinese knockoffs should be on Ebay come monday i’m sure. There’s little doubt what number he’ll wear. The longer they make the fans wait, the fewer they’ll sell when the Oilers actually start retailing them. Tick tock tick tock merchandising.

  • Zarny

    The anticipation is extra fun this year with Edm, Cgy and a few others sitting on a pile of picks, teams wanting to move up into the 2nd tier, a buffet of goalies on the market and teams everyone knows are looking to dump salary.

    I think Phaneuf has far more trade value than Kessel.

    Kessel will be 28 to start the season. The average age for peak production in the NHL is 25. There have been 193 50 goal seasons in the NHL. 140 were from players 22-28 y/o. Players 32 and older have only accounted for 5.

    There is no denying Kessel’s raw talent, but you don’t see a lot of fat NHLers who buck the trend with father time. And while Kessel has a nice collection of 30 G seasons he’s never topped 40. He’s a one-dimensional 25 goal scorer with even a modest decline. At $8 million for another 7 seasons? No thanks!

  • toprightcorner

    That Article about bidding for draft eligible players was hilarious, it is like he doesn’t havee any knowledge of professional sports whatsoever.

    The entire NHL player salary structure would implode if this would happen as you could not afford to pay veterans much at all and most players would be forced to retire at the age of 32.

    Typical self-entitled, cry baby, center of the universe, my crap don’t stink Leafs fan whining about everything. Guys like this make the Leaf fan stereotypes factual.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      They’ll be coming out for pre game warm up with Star Wars music blaring in the background. Just like in the last couple years of the WHA.

      Might be fitting with McDavid here now come to think of it..