This is fine.
The Oilers lost Connor McDavid on Tuesday. Breaking his left
clavicle after careening into the boards dangerously, the timetable for
McDavid’s return is “Months”. Plural. The team lost the most dynamic skater on
the roster, maybe the most dynamic skater in the league. His skill is
undeniable, his speed is breathtaking, but how will his absence affect the
The good news is that the Oilers happen have a little bit of
depth when it comes to high-end young offensive players. Connor McDavid is
leaving the Oilers but Jordan Eberle is coming back. It’s not a one for one swap,
but at least it’s a top sixer for another top sixer.
Jordan Eberle has been Edmonton’s most consistent offensive
performer for several years. He’s a 60 point player in a league where 60 point
players aren’t all that common. He finished the last season in the top 40 in league
scoring, hovering around the the likes of Jeff Carter, Marian
Hossa, and Zach Parise.
Eberle’s return to the Oilers is a boost of NHL experience
on a team driven now more than ever by kids. He’s 25 years old and has less
than 400 games played in the NHL, but he’s a leader on the club and in the
prime of his career. He’s been carrying mail for the hockey club since he started. If there’s someone ready to handle the pressure of trying to
make up for the loss of a Connor McDavid, it’s Jordan Eberle.
I’m OK with the events that are unfolding currently.
Leon Draisaitl has stepped into the NHL this season and done
absolutely nothing except rip up the league. I’ve been bullish on Draisaitl for
a while now and you can see why. He has the combination of size and skill that every team in the
Western Conference needs. He’s going to be a star in the NHL. I really believe
In the 37 games he played last year he mustered only nine points. In three games
this year he already has seven. Last year he was also Edmonton’s top possession
performer. It’s a tiny sample size but he’s number one again right now. Just like
his offensive numbers we can’t go projecting an entire season of dominance
based on three games, but it’s a hell of a start.
Leon Draisaitl is the reigning Memorial Cup MVP, Western
Hockey League playoff MVP, and can solve the Rubik’s Cube in under a minute.
What we’ve seen so far is that he can be a one-shot scorer on a line with
skilled players like Hall and Nugent-Hopkins. Right now it looks like he’s going to be
the centre on that top line, at least for Friday’s game.
The big German forward can play every forward position and from rookie camp all the way through training camp he looked fantastic. The desire to have him “over-percolate” in the minors was valiant, but misguided. He has the skill, size, and desire to play in the NHL. He doesn’t need to learn how to beat AHL defenders. He doesn’t need to learn how to score on AHL goaltenders. The lessons he needs to learn are taught in the NHL only.
He wasn’t ready a year ago. Today he’s going to prove he can
shoulder the load.
That’s, Okay. Things are going to be Okay.
The Pacific Division is terrible. The Oilers lost the last
generational player to enter the league in 10 years, but this is also probably
the worst their division has looked in 10 years. If there’s any season in which
this kind of a loss could be handled, it’s this one.
The best team in the Pacific so far is Los Angeles and they
are only six points up on the Oilers. That’s it. After the Kings it’s the Canucks, who
aren’t convincing anyone that they’re actually any good. The San Jose Sharks
follow them and are somehow less scary than ever before. Arizona is shockingly still a franchise but that could change at any moment.
Then we get to Edmonton. No, seriously.
The Oilers today are ahead of the Flames and the Ducks. If
you think the Oilers are completely out of the race for a playoff spot already
you would be sorely mistaken. The division they play in is so dreadful that
even the Oilers could still claw their way up to third.
Connor McDavid needed surgery to repair his collarbone, but
it’s fine. Everything is fine. The Oilers can still pull this off.
The season isn’t over.
This is fine.