Looking Ahead and a Sincere Thank You

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The Edmonton Oilers 2015 calendar was another disappointing year, on the ice at least.

They were 16-22-6 in 44 games between January and April, and they are currently 15-20-3 from October to December with one game remaining before the calendar turns to 2016.

They are a combined 31-42-9 in 2015, and once again they are struggling to be competitive.

The high point of 2015 was when the Oilers won the draft lottery on Saturday, April 18th, ensuring they would draft Connor McDavid first overall at the 2015 draft.

A few days later Bob Nicholson became the Chief Executive Officer and Vice Chair. He demoted Craig MacTavish and hired Peter Chiarelli as the new general manager. Todd McLellan and his staff were hired a month later, and then McDavid officially became an Oiler in June.

Fans were ecstatic about the changes, and confident McDavid would help end the losing. McDavid didn’t disappoint, but he broke his clavicle in his 13th game, and the Oilers are once again near the basement of the NHL standings.

The good news is they are only four points out of a playoff spot in the weak Pacific division, and McDavid should return to the lineup some time in January.

McDavid’s arrival combined with solid play from young Leon Draisailt and Darnell Nurse give Oilers fans hope, but until Chiarelli can acquire one, and possibly two, solid veteran defencemen this team will struggle.

Taylor Hall is having a great campaign and sits fifth in NHL scoring, while Draisailt is tied for 30th despite starting the season in the American Hockey League. Offence isn’t the problem, however — preventing goals is once again the Oilers’ Kryptonite.

The Oilers have allowed 3.11 goals per game, 27th worst in the NHL, and until they learn to play defence and get consistent goaltending they will continue to struggle.

WHAT HAPPENS IN 2016?

GregorTeller

Chiarelli will continue to revamp his lineup. He wants a heavier team and he knows he has to improve his defence. He might be able to do it through free agency, but the UFA crop of D-men is not very deep after Dustin Byfuglien. The only other player who is currently playing top-pairing minutes is Alex Goligoski.

A trade is the more likely alternative, and in order for Chiarelli to acquire a reliable, top-three D-man he will need to trade a skilled forward.

I’m surprised by the push back from fans who bristle at the thought of having to trade a proven forward like a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Jordan Eberle. The team will not win until they improve the blueline. It simply is not good enough. When the team has to play Justin Schultz top-four minutes it will not be competitive.

Trading one of the aforementioned forwards doesn’t mean they are bad players. It will happen because they have value, and unless you believe Chiarelli can land a top-three D-man by trading spare parts, I don’t see any other alternative to trading a forward with value.

Chiarelli and McLellan have a better sense of what they need moving forward. There will be some tough decisions, but I see another summer of change for the Edmonton Oilers.

The Oilers have tinkered with the bottom end of the roster for years, but it has not improved the team. In 2016, we will see movement among the top-six forwards and the top-four defence.

There has been ample discussion about the Oilers running three offensive lines when McDavid and Nail Yakupov return, and while that might happen for a short time, it won’t happen next season. The Oilers must improve their defence, and trading two of those forwards is the most realistic option.

Who, when and where is difficult to predict, but I’m certain it will create a lot of discussion and debate among Oilers fans.

This club has to start improving in the standings. Changes need to be made and when they make their 2016/2017 debut at their beautiful new arena, there will be many new faces, and it won’t only be the bottom of the roster getting an overhaul.

PARTING SHOT…

Applause

A loyal Nation reader who asked to remain anonymous has generously donated four seats to Saturday afternoon’s game versus the Coyotes. He wanted us to raise a bit more money for our Month of Giving.

We will split the tickets up into two pairs. For each pair (row 14, great seats) we will take six $100 donations. If you want to enter the draw send me an email to gregor@tsn1260.ca. I will send you a link where you can donate. The first six will go into a draw for one pair, and the next six will go into a draw for thesecond pair.

We will raise $1,200. Thanks again to the generous reader who wanted to help out.

Our fifth annual Month of Giving was extremely successful again. Thank
you very much to all the TSN 1260 listeners, sponsors and readers here at the Nation who helped make it a great 18 days.

This year we raised an amazing $85,250 (I’m including the $1,200 we will raise today) in 18 days of auctions.

I
started the Month of Giving in December of 2011 with the hopes of
raising $25,000 for various charities who help less
fortunate people in Edmonton. I was blown away when we raised $50,400.

We raised $55,600 in 2012, $77,150 in 2013, $92,765 last year and $85,250 this year.

In five years we have raised an amazing $358,165.00.

You
have helped us make a difference in many people’s lives, for simple
necessities like food. We should never take for granted how lucky some
of us are, and I believe we need to look out for others and I’m so
grateful that the listeners of TSN 1260 and the readers of Oilersnation
feel the same way.

I want to thank all the sponsors who donated auction items:

Realtor Michelle Derk
Vons Steakhouse and Oyster Bar
Dinette and Patio Furniture
The Edmonton Eskimos, Ed Hervey, Mike Reilly and Chris Morris.
Pro Am Sports
Derks Mens Wear
Todd McLellan
The Ranch Golf and Country Club
River Valley Health
High Stick Vodka
Crystal Glass
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
On the Rocks
Eagle Rock Golf Course
The Edmonton Oil Kings
Moxies
Hughes Petroleum
Taylor Hall, Jason Strudwick and Ruth’s Chris
The Brick
Blackhawk Golf Course and Al Prokop
XIX (Nineteen)
Michael Anthony Jewellers
Vivo Ristorante, Ryan Smyth and Matt Hendricks
ATB Financial
Jim Mones
Chop Steakhouse and Brad German

I
would also like to thank those who bid so generously on all the
packages, if you didn’t win but still bid thank you for increasing the
prices. It allowed us to raise more money.

Thank you Glen, Craig, Darrell, Jeff, Corey, Mark, Matthew, Justin, Tanner, Lee, Greg, Chris, Jack, Troy, Amanda, Clayton, James, Cory, Ken, Diane, Arnold, Jill, Jesse, Jason, Greg, Derek, Ashley, Jeremy, Ryan, Steve and those who entered today.

This year we
helped out a variety of different charities. Your donations and bids helped
many who really needed it: The Christmas Bureau, The
Holiday Hamper, M.E Lazerte high school breakfast program, The MS
Society, Operation Friendship Senior Society, Rotary Breakfast program, Santas Anonymous and The Edmonton Food Bank.

Thank you Edmonton and surrounding areas. We live in a wonderfully generous community and I’m proud to call Edmonton home.

Thank you once again, and please know you made Christmas and the next few weeks much more enjoyable for many people in need.

God bless you.

Recently by Jason Gregor:  

  • 3rd Laraque From The Sun

    I am really trying to get over the damage that Klowe and MacT did to the Oilers.

    I start to move on ….. then I see Shultz playing instead of Petry, Talbot playing instead of Dybnyk, Ference in the press box, Nikitin on the rooster, etc

    But I really get upset when Bob Nicholson praised Kevin Lowe on Hockey night in Canada.

    He said Klowe has a brilliant hockey mind.

    What!!!!!!

  • CaptainLander

    Okay let’s try my “Fix the Oilers” post.

    Assuming the rules are the same as some other posts.
    A) There is no cap and no spending limit
    B) Other teams will agree to whatever trade I want
    C) All UFAs want to come to Edmonton
    D) Other teams main goal is to help the Oilers win the cup.

    So, first we trade…..

    Unfortunately The Oilers are really just a group of players and just not a team. Building a “team” can be challenging. In a weird way it may be that the Oil have to many top picks. With a top pick you get a good player but maybe not the right player for your team. Gregor often points out that the Oil have to much of the same player. The problem I see with building using UFA players is again that you do not get the exact player you need only the best of what is available. Was Sekera really what the Oil needed, I would argue no. But he is an improvement (maybe not over Petry but I won’t get into that).

    I think the Oil are in a pretty good spot to finally make real moves to build a team. When you only have 2 or 3 assets that other teams would want it is not worth making a move. The oil now have enough depth to begin to build a real team buy moving quality for quality.

  • AJ88

    I would like to agree with Jason but Eberle’s or RNH’s salaries make them almost untradeable.

    They each make 6M per season.

    Other players make: Tavares- 5.5, Sequin – 5.75, Benn – 5.275, Kesler – 5.0, Neal – 5.0, Wheeler – 5.6, Duchene – 6.0, Bergeron – 6.5 and the list goes on and on.

  • Jason Gregor

    A guy like Ryan Smyth would be a great coach to a guy like Kassian. Teach him the game in front of the net and how to be a good person. I think we just found a whole new spin for “OIL CHANGE”.
    Kassian has the speed to keep up. The size to park himself in front of the net. It’s just a question of the desire. It’s all to Kassian. He has to want to be in the NHL. he has to make the sacrifices to stay there. I hope he has learned from his mistakes. He’s in a great position to play with skilled linemates. Don’t get dinged for lazy penalties but always stick up for your teammates

    Nurse continues to impress mme.He came to a teammates aid last night. Battled one of the toughest SOBs in the NHL.

  • At this time of the year it seems easier to put into perspective the experience of the past 12 months. Unfortunately for fans of the Oilers hockey club it means looking back over a decade of despair. Anyone who cares about the Oil has now gone through ten consecutive years of losing.

    Mistakes, Mis-steps, mis-management call it what you will the team has under performed and failed to overcome poor performance by players and coaches. The so-called leadership has failed miserably year after year to right the ship. The team has become an embarrassment to the NHL, not to mention the business of professional sport.

    If you were the king of the world what would you do about it?

  • freelancer

    I would not go so far as to say “scoring isn’t a problem” for this team.

    They have scored 2 or less goals in 17/38 games and 1 or less in 10 of those 17 games.

  • rnj

    Hall-Drai-X

    X-McD-Yak

    One of the best top 6 in the league.

    People against trading RNH / Ebs – no one is saying they aren’t good. That they are good is why you trade them.

    “But injuries!” -> Great point, an entire forward line was injured and we went on a streak not seen in decades. A couple dmen go down and we’re on a slide. Which position has more of a depth issue?

    $12M in cap and top line skill on a third line doesn’t make sense.

  • rnj

    Hey Jason,

    Love your articles but just wondering…why do you never discuss anything regarding trading Taylor Hall for a top defenseman. If he really is a top 10 forward in the NHL he should be able to get us a top 20 D man back…

    Just logically speaking shouldn’t Taylor Hall get us more value back than Nuge or Ebs?

    I mean it’s a team game if t makes the team better then why not? With or without any of these guys the results won’t change until we fix our defence.

    I think everyone agrees DMen and centres are more valuable than wingers. Couldn’t we trade Hall and put Nuge on the wing. If Drai or McDavid get injured we still have Nuge as backup.

    I don’t think the loss of Hall and changing A guy like Nuge to a different position would be impossible to overcome especially if it significantly improves our back end.

  • JG said “I’m surprised by the push back from fans who bristle at the thought of having to trade a proven forward like a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Jordan Eberle.”

    I’m surprised by this as well, especially the horror by some fans at the thought of trading Yak.

    I’m am really really tired of watching losing hockey, for 10 years now. Thats a decade of suck. Why are some fans so loyal to these players. I think if Ebs or Nuge (or both) are traded there will the usual outcry from parts of the fanbase. However, this will not last long if the team starts to win.

    All I can do it trust PC and TMac, knowing that they can’t possibly screw this team up as badly as MacT, Howson and Lowe.

    Can’t wait for next year.

  • freelancer

    I don’t think any deal would be satisfactory, especially when we are trading them at a young age. Next season’s trade deadline? Yeah, that makes more sense.

    I think Nurse, Klef, Davidson, and Reinhart will be studley-studs next year. Sure, we need defense now…but these same guys will be fantastic next year.

    So I say hold off. Focus on development this year. Win with McDavid. Entice UFA dmen with McDavid highlight reels. Allow our 22 year old forwards to develop under McLellan.

  • Anton CP

    Ok, let’s be frank, the Oilers rebuild has never begun until this season. Lots of questionable decisions from the previous managements and it continue to hurt the team until now.

    MacT’s bonehead moves:

    1. Fire Kreuger over SKYPE and hire Zoolander Eakins.

    2. Crushed your own starting goalie’s confidence by denouncing it right before the season “…if you have to ask the question…”

    3. Crowning the new defeseman as “…Norris potential…” and treat him as untouchable that he has yet to show his “potential”.

    4. Trade away the best defenseman on the team, also happened to be a RIGHT SHOT, Jeff Petry.

    5. Signed Nikitin to a 4.5m cap hit. (that is more than the following: Ladd, Jack Johnson, Kulikov, Vlasic, Voracek, Klingberg, Shattenkirk, Loui Eriksson, Oshie, Voynov, Giordano, Hedman, Henrique, Hudler, Ryan Johansen, Josi, Simmonds, Carlson, Hamonic, Erik Johnson, Krug, Franson, Huberdeau, Lucic, Mark Stone, and Toffoli)

    6. Signed then 34 years old Ference to a 4 year contract with 3.25m cap with AND NMC.

    I won’t judge too much on Purcell and Fayne’s signing because they are at least have some usefulness but certainly not worth the money that they are getting.

    The only 1 thing that MacT actually did it right is by trading away Smid to Flames for Brossiot.

    The whole blue lines are a mess that created by MacT, don’t forget he has also signed Belov until he just gave up NHL.

    Tambo’s bonehead moves:

    1. Tell your best D-man to stay in AHL because you don’t want your young players to pick up habits like “whining about injuries” however left your young players exposed to no defense whatsoever.

    2. Trade away Cogliano.

    3. Let Roloson walk because he was too old (40) who also played for 4 more years after with relatively solid games.

    4. Signed Khabiulin (36) to 4 years and was so drunk and many injuries that Dubnyk has to take over.

    5. Fired (MacT), hired (Quinn), fired, hired (Renney), fired, and hired (Krueger). In 5 years.

    And then, KLowe’s bonehead moves:

    Too many.

    • bradleypi

      The blueline has been a mess since pronger bailed on the team. Not sure how that was Macts fault. Its been a mess for 4(?) Gms now? I want to say Lowe was gm when pronger demanded the trade. And it was just really unlucky that every time the oilers came to the draft with the 1st selection, the best players were always forwards. Mact then drafted nurse. You guys can rip Mact forever for signing nikitin and ference but I think he had a plan. He wasn’t signing ference for his skill. He signed him for his leadership and because he just won a cup. Seemed like a perfect fit for these young guys that desperately needed veteran leadership at the time. And I think nikitin was just a hope and a prayer really. Take a chance that he would play well and bide time for the youngsters to develop. (Nurse, klefbom, Davidson, musil, marincin). I surely don’t have to tell oilersnation that the oilers will always have to overpay for free agents? Or am I out to lunch? I know nobody here will agree with this because Mact is HATED but that’s how I saw things. The time to fix this defence is now! So many assets and Chiarelli seems afraid to use them? If this team stays status quo the playoffs will be a pipe dream in February.

  • 3rd Laraque From The Sun

    Ya why not Brent Burns? Dont ask me for who. But obviously one of our skill fwds would be part of a deal for the bearded wonder. Forget Shea Weber..he’s starting the back 9 on his carrear.I realize BB is roughly the same age, but BB does not have a ridiculous contract thats on the books for what..? Another decade. Also lately I’ve read a couple pieces that suggest that Webers possession #s aren’t very good.A decline in play has seemingly already started with Weber.

  • 3rd Laraque From The Sun

    And enough of the banter about trading Taylor Hall. If you think we should trade Hall…you haven’t watched many oiler games this year. This kid plays full out Game in ,game out. He’s a dynamic player,capable of grabbing a game by the throat!He just doesn’t get a lot of help some nights.Trading our leading scorer …the straw that stirs the drink…is a BAD IDEA!When it was coming down to drafting Taylor or Tyler in the final interview process prior to their draft day…the two phenoms were asked the same question by the oilers.The question? I’m paraphrasing a little but the question asked was “why do you want to be drafted #1″? Tyler said ..cause I want to b.e #1! Taylor Hall said ” cause I want to b an OILER” The kid has heart. He’s a fierce competitor. He needs to b on this team !untouchable! Nuff said. Oh and he turns the puck over occasionally. .CAUSE HE ALWAYS HAS IT ! WHEW. K..I’M DONE

  • 3rd Laraque From The Sun

    Ebs and RNH need to go……but at 6mil each who would trade for them?
    Is Nurse a mini Pronger…..or a new Gator?
    Does Chai make a splash trade Jan 1st…..to upstage Boston?
    Once the Oil’s defense is healthy…..does Jultz sit?
    Does anyone remember Cujo winning games on his own…..is it time to go after B.Elliot?
    If Kassian turns his life around…..is he the next Lucic?
    Is Edm’s PP one dman away from success….or do we need to bring in an Adam Oates?

  • Anton CP

    I LOVE Nuge, but suddenly we have two solid centres in Drai and McDavid and he no longer fits. He is the most likely to get us what we need in a trade. Ebs is an opportunistic player, a complementary player, but he rarely pushes the play. He’ll fit well on one of our top two lines but he needs to (what everyone HATES hearing: I’m looking at you Henderson) play less soft.

    It’s not fair to call Nuge soft, he’s not, at all. But Ebs… sorry, yeah.