It is that time of year again, friends. Time to pack away the last remnants of playoff talk (even the cheeriest of men have long since abandoned this, but many look past the standings until the days grow long in an effort to avoid winter doldrums and depression). We are here, in the land of the lottery. Again. Jesus.
I stand in awe when it comes to the ability of Oilernation to recover from another fatal winter. You know, I often say ‘Oilers fans have the faith of a child’ and usually get enormous pushback, but the line is meant as a compliment. The ability to heal, to love again, to have hope where there are few signs of life, that is the human spirit personified. Having the faith of a child is a good thing—abusing it is quite another.
Today, I would like to talk about the Edmonton Oilers as an organization with no urgency. Since Daryl Katz (legend has it) mentioned rebuilding in the cold days of January 2010, there has been a distinct lack of urgency. Oilers fans are now accustomed to the ‘overundersidewaysdown’ calendar.
The hockey calendar is the same for 29 NHL teams, and it goes like this:
- Mid-July through end August: Low times
- September: Slow build
- October: Clean air of games and hope for everyone
- November-January: Games gather importance, story lines emerge
- February: Build to deadline
- March: Sorting out the contenders from pretenders for good
- April-June: Peak hockey, as the playoffs bring glory and giants emerge
- late June, early July: Two weeks of roster overhauls and the draft
Most NHL fans know that calendar, they can set their moods by it. For Oilers fans, the calendar is different:
- Draft Lottery Day: Chills!
- Draft Day: Cheers!
- Opening Night: HOPE!
- October-April: Mind-numbing darkness
Peter Chiarelli’s goal this summer has to be the following: Get the Oilers back on the regular calendar!
NOW, A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR!
The 2016 draft lottery is within view now, Leafs fans are bracing themselves for the inevitable. Poor fools, one hopes they aren’t dumb enough to turn the cameras on themselves again—the pain of the McDavid moment shall live in infamy because Leafs fans. Here is my early list of this year’s top 10, your mileage may vary:
C Auston Matthews, Zurich Lions (Swiss-A): Elite Prospects describe Matthews as
a high-octane dynamo.
W Patrik Laine, Tappara (Sm-Liiga): 6.04, 207. Impact prospect, he is currently in the
R Jesse Puljujarvi, Karpat (Sm-Liiga): Size, speed and creativity, he is a
- L Matthew Tkachuk, London Knights (OHL): He is a highly creative forward.
- LD Jacob Chychrun, Sarnia Sting (OHL): He is a breathtaking skater.
LD Mikhail Sergachev, Windsor Spitfires (OHL): EP says he is a dominant two-way
R Alexander Nylander, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL):
He is a slick winger and a lot like his
C Clayton Keller, USNDTP (USHL): Steve Kournianos: Keller
is a strong, shifty skater with a powerful shot, displaying brilliance
and hockey sense strikingly similar to what (Mitch) Marner brings to the
- R Alex DeBrincat, Erie Otters (OHL): Small sniper.
RD Dante Fabbro, Penticton Vees (BCJHL): He moves the puck well
and is effective defensively, and at 6.01 185 his resume reminds me a
little of Brian Rafalski.
- If Peter Chiarelli is going to have an aggressive deadline, the trades could start coming in soon. How many do you think he will make? My guess is three: Purcell, Schultz and either Matt Hendricks or Mark Fayne. The Gryba injury may move the Fayne trade to summer.
- Where does Brandon Davidson play on the depth chart next season. I imagine the team will use Klefbom, Nurse and Davidson LH side, but my bet is Davidson plays the tougher opposition and the organization brings Nurse along de facto third pair.
- Are these the final games for Teddy Purcell? If so, a tip of the cap to a game veteran who played the game as it should be played no matter the score or place in the standings. I respect the hell out of that guy.
- When Justin Schultz is traded, there may be a spike in performance—placed on a responsible team and given chores he is suited to, it should look good. Don’t be fooled, though. The job Edmonton asked of Schultz is not in his DNA, and his best role for an NHL team is third pair with PP minutes. I wish him exactly that, for a contending team.
- One thing Peter Chiarelli could do at the deadline is trade for a free-agent to be other teams pass over for one reason or another. Why? Give that player Teddy Purcell’s minutes for the final lap of the season.
- If PC doesn’t do that, I expect Zack Kassian, Nail Yakupov, Anton Slepyshev, Iiro Pakarinen and Lauri Korpikoski will get time on the skill lines.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
Ross Sellers, Mile High Sticking: I’m still not ruling out a Tyson Barrie trade, especially if the Avs
continue to play like they have. Barrie could most definitely bring
Jonathan Drouin to Colorado, and he might be worth the trade, especially
if they don’t have to resign him.
GAME DAY PREDICTION
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Avs catch the Oilers unaware by showing up for the start of the game, putting the home side on their heels and down 2-0 early.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers push back in the second period, but are frustrated by good goaltending, poor finishing and penalties. We go to the third period with the enemy up by two.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION:
The Oilers score late with the net empty, a rifle from McDavid that reminds Joe Sakic of someone he knows well. Alas, the Avalanche also score with the net empty and Edmonton begins the descent into Auston City Limits.
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