The Oilers in the Wake of McDavid’s Injury

What happened to Connor McDavid in Tuesday night’s game against the Flyers was a real punch to the gut. And that’s coming from someone who has doesn’t have anything resembling any ties or allegiances to the Edmonton Oilers franchise. Purely as a fan of hockey, it’s nothing short of regrettable that we’re going to be deprived of seeing and enjoying someone who has instantly become one of the most fun players in the league to watch for at least a couple of months. 

While making ‘Auston Matthews to Edmonton’ jokes is low hanging fruit, I wouldn’t say that it’s all doom and gloom for the Oilers just yet. There’s still undoubtedly legitimate question marks surrounding their ability to keep the puck out of their own net, especially now that it’ll presumably be in their control less frequently without one of their best possession players around. And unless Leon Draisaitl can effectively transition out from his cushy role as the top line’s right winger and into a second reliable pivot for them, the options down the middle beyond Nugent-Hopkins leave a lot to be desired. 

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

But that top line is so, so very good and maybe now that the blindingly bright light emanating from McDavid’s presence is temporarily out of the picture, Taylor Hall will get the recognition that his dynamite play warrants. 

Hall’s individual case fascinates me. Obviously coming into the league as the first overall pick in the fabled ‘Taylor vs. Tyler’ class instantly put sky high expectations on him right from the jump. It’s always tough to truly gauge people’s beliefs on things like this, but from my various interactions there appears to be a distinct segment of the population that believes Hall has been something of a disappointment to date. That the team’s continuous struggles and lack of winning since he joined the team reflect poorly on him. After all, shouldn’t a player you’re selecting with that first overall pick completely change the course of his franchise around?

I’ve been personally trying to combat that sort of thought process for some time now. While trying to look for silver linings after news of McDavid’s injury timeline broke the other night, I had this exchange on Twitter which I figured was worth expanding on:

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

It certainly makes for a great story, one which I’m not surprised certain people have been trying to weave. The problem is that there doesn’t really appear to be any sort of tangible evidence out there to support these notions. 

The fact of the matter is that Taylor Hall had elevated himself into that super elite tier of left wingers long before McDavid arrived in Edmonton. Look at the list of names he’s associated with in terms of 5v5 scoring since his sophomore season back in ’11:

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 8.43.32 AM

For whatever it’s worth, his production wasn’t much different with the man advantage. During that same stretch of time he has been near the top of the league in both point production and shot generation on the power play.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

I think there’s also something to be said for the general offensive burden Hall has been having to shoulder by himself. While Individual Point Percentage (IPP) is a stat that can be misleading in smaller samples, I’m willing to believe a trend which has been snowballing for the ~3,500 minutes of 5v5 time Hall has played means something.

His 86.1% IPP – which in essence means that he has factored into 86.1% of his team’s goals scored while he has been on the ice – is the highest in the league during that time. Without going back and looking into every single one of those goals individually, it feels safe to generalize that Hall’s imprints have been on a large majority of what the Oilers have been able to produce over those four seasons. 

This isn’t to take anything away from McDavid’s initial impact in the league, because it has certainly been significant in its own right. Despite a relatively slow start in his first couple of games, he’s still in the top-20 of NHL scoring for the year and was producing at a point-per-game before getting hurt. His 50.38% score-adjusted possession rate was one of the best on the team, and he had drawn three more penalties than he had taken. He’d also chauffeured Nail Yakupov to the best stretch of his career — of Yakupov’s 10 points this season, only two of them weren’t either finished or assisted by McDavid. I imagine the sailing won’t be as smooth for the likes of Yakupov and fellow linemate Benoit Pouliot without McDavid’s playmaking and speed around to set the table for them. How quickly he was able to adjust and assert himself onto the NHL level is a testament for how high the ceiling is for him moving forward.

It just seems like a stretch to superimpose that impact onto Hall’s early season success. Of the nine points in the 198 or so 5v5 minutes that Hall has produced this season, McDavid has only factored into one of those goals and shared the ice with him for just 22 of those minutes. If anything, it has been the Hall and Nugent-Hopkins – who has somewhat quietly been progressing into that second-from-the-top tier of pivots since sometime last season – combination that has been lighting the world on fire for the Oilers. 

While the idea of McDavid drawing attention away from them is a good one in principle, it has actually been that aforementioned top line that has been routinely going up against the toughest competition the opposition has to offer. In that time all they’ve been doing is controlling nearly 54% of all shot attempts and 64% of all goals

The presence of a legitimate second scoring line surely helped grease the skids and make the Oilers a tougher team to go up against for opponents. The mark of a good team is possessing the ability to come at the opposition in relentless waves, without much let-up. But given the sample size stretching back a couple of years now to supplement what we’ve seen in this young season, I think Taylor Hall will be just fine in the absence of Connor McDavid. Whether the Oilers themselves will be as a team is a whole other question. 

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

  • YFC Prez

    Hhhhhmmm, this article has me rethinking breaking up that top line.

    I said this earlier but I imagine if on Friday things aren’t working, then McLellan shortens his bench, and has Lander center Puoliot and Eberle, then puts Nuge and Draisaitl back together with Hall.

    Man, nice to finally have depth.

    Also, it is true Hall has found a new gear this year. Weird what the promise of having a phenom player and a management dedicated to winning can do to a guy’s supposedly ‘poor’ attitude.

  • paul wodehouse

    At least the McDavid injury has finally put a stop to the blather on ON about the Oilers being too deep at center and we must trade either RNH or Drai for a defenseman.

  • Rebuilding the Rebuild

    Looking at the next 3 games.
    Pittsburgh. Then off to Chicago and Anaheim.

    2 of 3 are doable. So is 0 and 3.
    It will be interesting to see what they show over these next 3 games.

  • YFC Prez

    So I totally picked Hall for my star this year!

    Just throwing that out there. Someone better bring me a hero cookie!

    Im so glad Hall is in the midst of a major SIUTBSOHC , I understand there’s things he could do better ( hell there’s things Crosby and Stamkos could do better also) but Hall is a great player. That’s very often forgotten in the bitterness of the last several years.

  • YFC Prez

    As long as they apply the system McLellen is trying to convey, I think the oilers should be around 0.500 by the time mcdavid returns. As longs stage goaltending is average and the D start to play like NHL D. I be believe the offense will be fine, just gotta play better D.

  • OtOil

    McD is just a nice add over the off season. McL was the REAL upgrade, and now we are going to see why.
    It just feel like the Doug Weight years, where the Oil would fight back.

    • paul wodehouse

      “…just a nice add…”

      Really? I try not to insult anyone online, but this is a crazy statement. The best player the Oilers have had in decades (at 18!!!), and he is just a nice add? Wow.

  • NJ

    That guy lost me at “Nuge is every bit as good as McDavid.”

    Nuge is better defensively than McDavid…. But offensively, McDavid was making good defensemen look like rookies in his first 10 games. I’d suggest that McD is the best player to debut in the past 20 years. Including Crosby, Toews and Ovi.

    Just my opinion if course ….

    Also, dude needs to write his own blog

    • Leaking5w-30

      I miss him too – we need to hire him as the “stay in front of the net and score greasy goals” coach. Come back to us Smytty, it’s just not the same without you.

  • Dan 1919

    I’m honestly not sure why it’s getting attention, are there REALLY that many people who don’t support Hall or is he pretty much the same as any star in the league.

    Legitimately, the non-supporters of Hall are likely just rival fans beaking and then there’s always going to be your few ignorant fans.

    I’m not a Flames fan, and I’ve been known to say how terrible Johnny hockey is, in reality it’s incredible what he can do for his size.

    But for those of you who actually watched Hall play for the last 5yrs and actually thought he’s been a disappointment really know nothing about hockey. If this was your assessment, you should be generally disappointed with your overall evaluation skills. If you step back and take a look, you’ll probably find you’re fairly disappointed with the lack of success you’ve had in your own personal life… Because let’s face, we all get frustrated here and there, but if you genuinely believed Hall was anything but a HUGE asset to this team, you’re probably a pretty stupid person, and I’m sure you yourself wouldn’t even deny that.

    • Reg Dunlop

      So, in your simple little world anyone disagreeing with you is either a troll or is stupid? Very interesting. Maybe you should step back and take a look, you’ll probably find that, like any girlfriends you may have had, you’re fairly disappointed in the size of your penis.

      • Canoe Ride 27.1

        I didn’t read anything about disagreeing with him, rather the statement that if you were or are a Hall basher, you are an idiot, as Hallsy has the number to back up his success.

        Sensitive much?

  • paul wodehouse

    “Hall is in the tier of super-elite LWs…”

    He didn’t make the Olympic team, but with his improved play, he is a lock for Team Canada in next year’s World Cup? Odds?

  • Anton CP

    The Taylor vs Tyler comparism should put into rest now. They are both elite at this point of their respected careers, it is not Hall’s fault for the Oilers haven’t been in the playoffs and also it was not Seguin’s brilliance that he won the cup with the Bruins.

  • Shit bitch cunt fuck

    I agree with the Nuge putting his offensive imagination in his back pocket after his rookie injury. Because he was more dynamic with the pick but after he realized that the team needed him to focus more on the defensive side of the puck and so he did which left points on th table. You’ll notice he always is the last man in the offensive zone and first man on the back check. He always comes extra low in the d zone for breakouts which cause him to lag behind on the attack. But it is time for him to get back to being that dynamic offensive player who he can be. Man we are blessed with him and mcd. I seriously feel like I lost my best friend but Nuge helps me get through my days right now lol. And I’m actually glad the took Nuge off halls line because hall hogs the puck. Nuge is way better when he’s the catalyst do the line, when he carries the puck through the neutral zone.

  • Jaxon

    http://stats.hockeyanalysis.com/ is a fun site. Did you know that Iiro Pakarinen is among the NHL leaders in shots/60? For his 17 games last year (I know, small sample size) he shot at a rate of 11.53/60. Holy crap! I like his defensive game too. I’m hoping he gets an extended look with 2 skilled linemates at some point this season.

  • paul wodehouse

    He truly is the McSaviour…my gawd

    there goes someone else mired in the time warp that is the Connor McDavid era…fact is he’s in a hospital right now with a broken body and will be a whole human being again soon all healed and playing hockey like no one else can!

    … he’s NOT the [Mc] Saviour…otherwise he wouldn’t have been hurt…you had a great comment going until you went all goofy … thrill and hero worship containment for you seems to be futile but please work on it man!

    4 will FINALLY play to his potential and this club stands a good chance of becoming a very good team and it may very well win all the marbles one day!

  • paul wodehouse

    …newage you’ve come full circle or you’ve begun to eat you own tail …why all the screaming and ranting? Are drinking and /or vaping? or is it a Zen phase you’ve lost your grip on here …you just get on your horse [rant] and you go off into worlds beyond…in this last one you’re actually starting to spell CONNOR wrong so…be very careful with the spelling of the meal tickets’ name please…IMHO Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is a very timid player in comparison to the now broken 97 but in the likeness of a Stevie Y … quiet and crafty with immense talent …you’ve explained a whole lot about his game and clarified many aspects of his skillset yet to be unleashed i think …i believe he’s a late bloomer and won’t really start to fly and be a super star until this squad can find dmen that can give those much needed outlet passes to the greatness of 93 … don’t take offense OR hold your breath…
    just keep up with this mountain of good work.

    • Canoe Ride 27.1

      The rant was more like a stretch.Like scream therapy.

      I believe the Process makes the Player.

      Only if you have competed at high levels will you undersand how fine of a line it is between good and elite…its not like it is obvious and everyone is ALWAYS giving 110%.You cannot look in the room and make inferences , you have to have the DYNAMIC EXPERIENCE to know in competition who is maxing out and when.

      I KNOW how Connor fell becuse I have a lifeimes worth of experience working with competative sports “dynamics”, I do not need to go through a learning process and I do not enjoy dragging others through lessons either.

      Winning and losing and elite competition group dynamics are special things,you can never understand until you have experienced them first-hand.

      Leadership is usually easy to sort out, everyone in the locker room KNOWS who provides the winning solutions the most,who can make the team turn the corner in competition the most effectively.

      I was a leader many times and IMHO you must be UNSELFISH and see beyond personal minor moments of glory like the goal scoring rush,you must become elite at scoreing but then scornfull when you do it because it is never enough , you always need more so its either you optimise your teammates or neutralise theirs, you have to understand that what you do on your own is NEVER ENOUGH even if you can score at will and carry the team it is not OK to give yourself so much importance process-wise and deprive your mates of learning and leading opportunities.

      You must be selfish with the outcome of the game not the things happening within it,many times I had to target and neutralise epic physical opponents at their nasty game and trust my klutzy teammates to score enough while I mucked it up and remediated high impact opponents,I had to do it on my own with no chit-chat and no Coaches directions….I became a Master at identifying opponents team or system catalysts and then individually and surgiclly working them over one at a time milking them completely,someimes I would pick on one key man so much he would be removed from the game because he was making multiple mistakes consistantly or because a limb was numb,I was alpha and I knew who was Alpha on the other side immediatly,I targeted the Alpha or his most impactfull key teammates,within 5 minutes I had a tactical template developed.

      You must play a game within the game,execute everything everyone does consistantly System-wise accurately then get freaky and pinpoint opponents within the system you use and punish them,breaking one single link at a time.The Oilers did this in the past with Doughty{he couldnt figure out what he did to kick the hornets nest lol} and the tactic was effective at removing one of their primary process managers,they used an entire roster focus where I was usually a lone-wolf working alone on a single link,and not the weak one either usually you must target the strongest ones first.

      Hall would have been easier to take out than Nuge because you can suck Hall into opening it up 100% and leaving it all on the table consuming most of his teams opportunity maxing himself out allowing you to feed him a high volume of 2nd rate opportunity ,I did this early in my immature days to.You cannot easily suck Nuge into this dynamic.He knows his limits and has learned to achieve sucess using his teammates more than himself ,BUT he can still school you one on one and you cannot back him off he is truculent like his life depends upon it oddly enough I dont think he can help his pushbacks he has a streak in him.

      I have been trying to rough out the dynamic template Nuge and Connor need to optimise themselves.To me they are identical players cerebrally.Externally Connor drives the net by preference with high speeds in the o-zone and Nuge uses his speed in the n-zone and then gets cagey in the o-zone and shoots by preference,these ARE their primary personal weapons.Nuge IMHO is not timid nor is his play,his tactical preference is simply different.Crafty yes.

      I want to see Mac-L provide a perfect KISS consistant canvas for these two to paint on.

      This is NOT an EveryMan focus like I would normally say the Oilers should be using,things have changed now.

      We have 2 identical players and redundancy so it is now worth the risk of setting the entire Process up to optimise their individual sucess and build team sucess off of them like we did off of Wayne,exactly the same ways.

      I want to see Nuge and Connor leading ON THE ICE making KEY TACTICAL DECISIONS THEMSELVES ON-THE-FLY with everyone supporting them.This is a massive departure for guys like Hall.

      I want to see this management focus ADDED on top of what Mac-L is doing Process-wise….the Process makes the players so everyone MUST execute perfectly for Mac-L ,KISS if we are to see Nuge and Connor utilising Gretzkys on-ice on-the-fly dynamic management processes.

      We couldnt make this decision until Connor came along because we only had Nuge as a Franchise Player and no redundancy as Plan-B if he was injured.

      Mac-L has given the all the men creative freedom in the o-zone and he has solidified the d-zone exit,however the n-zone is no mans land.Creative freedom only goes to Nuge and Connor in the optimal System and EVERYONE else sticks to a KISS structure providing consistant dynamic patterns for our surgeons to work with in all 3 zones.We are to loose in the n-zone and we need KISS structures set up by everyone which produce consistant dynamic patterning that our Spear-Tips will thrust in and out of AT THEIR ABSOLUTE DISGRESSION .

      Our conversion rate of possesion to shots to goals is being held back because of our lack of n-zone tactical focus and because of our lack of creative instinctual structure in the top 2 zones.

      We are NOT talking about building the Oilers an NHS System focus like the Kings and Hawks and others use here,and like Mac-L and JW were building in San Jose.

      We are talking Dynasty Team on-ice dynamic management impacts which is very different than the possesion/transition focused NHS and much more traditional especially in terms of defense.

      The Oilers DO NOT want the balance the Hawks System creates,nope not at all,we want MORE offense and structured dynamic control of possesions with little to no dependancy on our own d-zone exits for process management catalysation.

      We want to top-load our process with skill and hockey IQ and creativity but keep the System KISS and structure based in all zones with a nasty impactfull dominating simple no offense high speed exit focused defense ,2 different types of structure with 2 different micro-management programs,one for the d-zone and one for the Devils Phonebooth the Hammer and Anvil will create in the o-zone/N-zone.This is a key area no one is grasping,you need 2 management programs pulling in the exact same process direction available to you on the ice.A Set-play based structure based on clipboard notes and a creatively catalysed structure based on habits.

      We need to shink the rink and build the Devils Phonebooth where skill is KING and size does not win you the prize.The Hammer and Anvil is as KISS as it gets and as TRADITIONAL as it gets and it will do this for us.

      I am worried that it is taking to long for Mac-L to grasp that the Hammer and Anvil is his horse….because once he does he can begin to see what types of players PC needs to get him,and we can see a justifiable supported influx of nasty teeth which is all the Oilers have needed for a decade.The Hammer and Anvil lets the defense dole out tremendous volumes of punishment and wear and tear on the opposition and it also keeps the forwards in forward motion N/S constantly and in dominant aggressive postures and positions which will win them more battles as a HABIT.

      The complicated cerebral quotient the defense needed in the past is gone when you use the Hammer and Anvil….no fancy tactics…no special d-zone exit tactics and formations….just a PUMP AND DUMP ,pumping the puck carrier at or above the blueline then dumping all pucks immediatly ino the n-zone ,constantly feeding the n-zone support men pucks and stutter-stepping the oppositions attack to hold up pucks for the Forwards coming back to pick off on the backchecks and turn and burn with.

      I have already been seeing highlights of NHL Teams implementing the Stand-Up defense over the last 2 weeks on Possesion/Transition Systems with devestating effect and highly entertaining clean center-body-mass respectfull checks with NO HEADSHOTS…as it should be.

      They will have to bring back face-offs now without a doubt because soon eveyone will be dumping pucks in before they hit the kill-zone..and much action in the o-zone will be puck retrieval scrums which reduce offense until FOs are called at which point offense INCREASES coming out of lightening quick set-plays,FOs are needed to optimise this o-zone action and to police it properly.Without Faceoffs being called a LOT MORE in the o-zone super-skilled teams like the Oilers will soon run rampant in the NHL because Face-Offs give lesser skilled teams many more chances to score set play goals,and lesser skilled teams pefer less creative set-play Processes.

      Keeping face-offs suppressed is keeping impactfull volumes of offense away from the lesser skilled NHL Teams who need it most,and this negatively impacts the NHLs on-ice product and ultimately undercuts the Fanbase.

      A more anerobic flow is preferable because it is more cliff-hanging exciting and produces more goals more ways than no stoppage River Hockey does.

      Face-offs pin the action in one zone and build the Devils PhoneBooth which results in high level uber-exciting skill plays which end up in goals and which Fans LOVE TO SEE.End to end skating constantly with periphery shots on over-sized marshmallow Goalies is NOT HOCKEY…..the Bettman era removed an entire DIMENSION from the game itself by suppressing Face-Offs and the NHL has been hemmoraging offense ever since.

      I am not sure if that was a rant or not?

      I know what you mean when you refer to the importance of consistantly executed 1st passes out of the d-zone,however the Hammer and Anvil simplifies everything in that most pucks are either held up on or above the blueline and most times there is a dump-in the tight backchecking forwards bringing the Hammer down on the Anvil will have superior speed going deep to recover pucks because bodies will be removed and held up on the blueline,this means our Forwards will gain possesion more and be exiting the d-zone with possesion much much more.They will either pick off pucks backchecking when the opponents hit the Anvil or they will get to them first as the Hammer falls all the way down into their d-zone.

      A faster game played primarily in the Devils PhoneBooth will create more possesion changes,more shots on net,more goals and more excitement everywhere including bluelines where huge blow-em-up hits will be taking place.Less River Hockey Skating drills end to end with no goals and more skill plays and goals in the Devils PhoneBooth…..LOTS MORE GOALS IF WE GET OUR FACE-OFFS BACK.

      Trust me Face-offs will be back as soon as Bettman is gone because NHL League evolution has created a tangible demand vested as a hunger and need for offense .No one can score on Marshmallow man rushing N/S so you need to shoot E/W and Face-offs triple these E/W dynamics and goal scoring chances with a realistic chance of going in on PILLOWMAN the Goalie.

      Lose the Majic-Sticks to shrink the Goalies armor ….OR….bring back Face-offs…..the Players Union isnt letting anyone EVER regress Player safety for Goalies,they could kibosh the brittle sticks as to dangerous however and let the Tenders equipment shrink jusifiably down the road a bit ,or simply put back FOs and add much more E/W action and much more sucessfull offense against the current Marshmallow-men in net everywhere without removing the sticks OR the Goalies armor.We gave you the elbow-bone and chicken-wing and showed you how to shoot through the Tenders sweater where it hides open net as you freeze his body mechanics glove side this has increased scoring , now we give more with the solution of how to overcome the equipment size issue by bringing back FOs which supports 3x as much E/W o-zone action which in turn allows more goals to be scored .

      The NHL needs more goals…now you know what to demand they change .Demand they fix what they broke when they removed FOs from our sacred game.

      Is this a rant yet? I am not feeling it if it is.

      I want an NHL that fits my Oilers like a glove and supports them and their historic talent-pool in every way possible.It is a work in progress lol.

      I believe this is a Playoff Team as we speak….I believe we can string together enough 4-5 game win streaks to put ourselves in a good position to make a push when Connor returns.

      Hockey is best viewed as a Possesion by Possesion cliff-hanger….and you should conduct yourself accordingly and manage your Processes accordingly….the more skill you have the higher volume of possesion exchanges you wish to create for 60 minutes,the less skill you have the lower volume of possesion changes you wish to see….so we need to differentiate between “extended possesion” and “Possesion” styles….one burns up clock because it never surrenders pucks and one fires like a Glock because it fires pucks on net ASAP with no fore-play…..both are Possesion driven processes with hugely different impacts.

      You did say to keep up with this Mountain of good work right? lol.

  • Danglishish

    Connor McCollarbone does live with Hall right? A very Hall thing to do to go diving it the end boards without so much as a hand put on him.

    We can stop the McJesus talk now. Lol Jesus walked on water no drama. Conner can’t handle ice and plexiglas

  • South of Cowtown

    McD was shredding D and elevating the play of his line mates at the age of 18 with no NHL experience! Enough said.

    It will be interesting to see how the Oil play. There is no question their compete is greater than last year but what I want to know is how much of that is due to McD and how much to TMac – I think its TMac. With their sensation out for 2-3 months, it will be very interesting to see if they are able to increase their determination to pick up the slack.

    Sometime this season the team will be whole. Injuries to key contributors like Ebs, Schultz, Reinhart, McD has one wondering what they could do with a full complement.

    Sit back and reflect on what these guys will look like in 3 years with Rein/Nurse/Drai playing full time, Hall/Nuge/Ebs at the ripe old age of 26/25/28 and McD with 3 more years and 15 pound of extra man muscle. The Oil will be a destination team. A team others want to play with instead of the joke of the league. Pick up a rock star UFA D in the twilight of his career who wants a cup and watch them dominate.

    Its going to be a great ride……

  • MattyFranchise

    How did I know that monster of a post was made by NewAgeSys?

    Anyway, Hall has always been dominant at LW and that isn’t changing this season. What the Oilers have always lacked since he was drafted are centers and defense.

    A big knock on him is his defensive play but who are we kidding here? He’s a top line winger, that’s not his job. His job is to score goals and get points and he does that very well.

    The only real complaint I have about him that’s not related to the demands of his position is that he doesn’t play in a way that is conducive to his over all health. He battles injuries a lot. On the other hand, it’s because of his style, which is what gets him so many points in the first place.

  • Oiler Fan 16

    Hall has embraced the challenge of being a leader on the team. McDavid has really brought it out for whatever reason. I think it is great to see for all the Oilers.

    Hall’s injuries in recent years have put a cap on him so far, but if he can stay healthy, watch out.

    Nuge is a very good player, but not with the physical over-matching that McDavid and Hall provide. They are just different.

    It is still hard to believe that the Oilers have 2 physically dominant players like this. Plus Nuge, Eberle, Drai and Yak.

    Holy smokes, this forward group will be so dominant when they can get the puck.

  • Oiler Fan 16

    Over the next couple of months it will be very interesting to se how the Oilers offense evolves without McDavid. They have tremendous talent in Hall, Nuge, Eberle, Draisaitl, Yakupov and Pouliot. Will they have the confidence/stones to really achieve what they are capable of?

    A serious concern is that the current structure of the Blue may not allow them to maximize their potential. If that is the case then Chiarelli will need to act.

  • South of Cowtown

    Hall playing with the renewed intensity and desire he showed in his rookie year once again . Combination of playing with McDavid on team and McLellan .

  • oilerjed

    Excellent article with a good angle.
    I wonder if the other players truly appreciated what Conner brought to the team. Not only was he bringing it on the ice and drawing the attention of pretty much every player on the opposing team but while I am not in the locker room, I am guessing that it is the same with the media. Giving Hall and Nuge etc a little breathing room. Incredible that this amount of pressure can be foisted on top of an 18 year old’s shoulders and have him break through it and perform the way Conner did.

    I know this article is about Hall, who is playing great. My only hope is that the young guns have a greater appreciation for what Conner is bringing to the team, and with that appreciation comes a little more maturity. That way when Conner makes his triumphant come back this spring the other main players on this team are ready to help and shield him, taking some of the heat off of his shoulders.

  • paul wodehouse

    Players like Hall, Nuge, Ebs and McDavid on getting injured so early in there careers can be a good thing, these players needed to push the limits and see what their limits are, I would rather have a player that knows what his limits are compared to a player that never tests it.

  • paul wodehouse

    …OF16

    I give you Keith Seabrook Hjalmarsson & Rozsival and Oduya (now a Dallas Star)
    …it’s the Stanley Cup Champion CHICAGO MODEL!

    you said …”Holy smokes, this forward group will be so dominant when they can get the puck…”

    ..if Chiarelli thought of nothing else this season but to get players (any players) close to any of these 5 Dmen he sees nothing but offense and team record scoring again … the Oilers have maybe one in Nurse who’s what …14years old in NHL terms of experience with a long way to go to become any of the above defenders but I’m convinced he’s going to be the first legit first pairing defender since Chris Pronger…is Klefbom close or does he in a package get you an unreal upgrade?…the 4000 pound elephant in the room is how does Chiarelli get what this team needs more than anything…

    • oilerjed

      “the 4000 pound elephant in the room is how does Chiarelli get what this team needs more than anything…”
      NOT by sending away Klefbom that has to be sure! Flipping Klefbom will not get us a #1 dman with out a significant ++ and will only leave us with another significant gap on the blueline (ala Petry). Trade away a top winger and some high level prospects (Kbom is no longer a prospect)for a dman on an expiring contract and get him signed.

  • South of Cowtown

    This past off season, I noted to my beer buds that even before CM was drafted, the Oil was a much better team. The trades, new coach and maturation of the core were the basis of my opinion. Now, we will see that that team perform in a Connorless environment. I think they will be fine. It might even allow the coaching staff to assess this team of mere mortals. Let them build the lines without the distraction of CM and see who plays well with who, then have the luxury of finding a home for him. Go Oil!