Last Goodbyes

Change is coming to the Edmonton Oilers. We might not know
how or who, but we know change is coming. No team can be this bad for this long
and stay mostly intact. Here are five players we might be watching for the last
time tonight.

Nail Yakupov

Starting with the easiest of the players to project out of
the lineup, Nail Yakupov is very likely to move this summer. We know that his
agent, Igor Larionov, was given permission by Peter Chiarelli to work the
phones and drum up interest in his client around the NHL. Yakupov’s value is
going to be very low. He has no cache around the league. His scoring numbers
are not living up to the billing of a 1st overall pick. I love him
to death, but if he’s part of a deal that nets the Oilers a defenseman, it is
likely as part of a package. We’ve seen him linked with Pouliot going out in a report by Jason Gregor. The deal was apparently kiboshed after the Pouliot injury, but that’s something
that might show up again this summer.

Yakupov came to the Oilers by way of the draft; the prize
for enduring the painful 2011-2012 season. At 59GP, 8-13-21 he isn’t going to
wow anybody with his standard numbers. Still, I love being a citizen of Yak
City. Unfortunately the consensus around the NHL is that the player and the
team would be happier away from each other. He has shooting ability and 1 year
remaining at a low price. Mix in the fact that he’s still a young player and
this kid could surprise everyone next season in the right situation.

Mark Fayne

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Mark Fayne. The
problem is that the team needs to upgrade their defense and they probably want
to keep several others before they would want to keep Fayne. The Oiler stay at
home defender plays a strong positional game when he’s on top of everything. He
has an OK shot but he rarely uses it. He can hit people but prefers to stay in
lanes than leave them for thunderous glory. He gets thrown to the wolves with
Sekera quite a bit as the only natural, healthy righty on the team with a lick
of defensive sense.

What Fayne has in his favor is that he’s a righty with bit
of experience and he’s under 30. That alone should make him attractive enough to
a lot of teams. However, he still has two years left on a contract paying him
3.625 million per year. He was on waivers once this year and nobody made a
claim on him, which should confirm the fears teams have about his Cap hit. If
this is his last game I would expect the return in a deal would be someone with
an equally questionable salary. Also, if this is his last game as an Oiler I
hope that the team genuinely replaces him with someone of quality.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

The Nuge has had a very difficult season. He was on pace to
match the output of his past several seasons before breaking his hand. Despite
that, he appeared off kilter during the heart of the schedule. Overall, I’d say
this hasn’t been a great year-long audition for RNH with his new General
Manager. When he was left off of the Team North America squad’s initial roster
it was eyebrow raising. As were the rumours that the Oilers were interested in
Seth Jones and Nugent-Hopkins was the name people were hearing. He recently had
his bell rung and hasn’t looked quite right since then either. With news of RNH
declining Team Canada at the World Championships it seems his injury might be
more severe than we thought.

If this is RNH’s last game as an Oiler then it’s not because
he had a down season. A year ago he was the team’s most consistent player and
the 1C of the club. All the attributes that made him the player he was didn’t evaporate.
If he’s leaving the Oilers it’s only because the team has a chance to acquire a
truly elite defender. Properly run NHL teams don’t give players like the Nuge
away. However, an actual hockey deal for the right player might see him leave.
Lord only knows what the Canadiens are capable of doing if they’re dumb enough
to keep Therrien on board. Possibilities are endless.

Jordan Eberle

Along the lines of “you have to give something to get
something” is where you’ll find the reasoning for why this might be Jordan
Eberle’s final game as an Oiler. Eberle is a former NHL All-Star. He’s a
potential 30 goal man and if he works on his one-timer this summer could net 40
with McDavid as his center. Eberle started the season injured for the month of
October, but is one of the NHL’s most consistent goal scorers. If there’s a
glaring flaw with 14 it’s that his defensive game is as weak as Nail Yakupov’s
but without the effort.

One of the lasting rumours of the season has been Eberle for
Hamonic. The Oilers need what Hamonic provides and McDavid could probably turn
any one of our readers into at least a 15 goal scorer. The Islanders are very
likely to lose Okposo this summer to free agency and if they do then they will
also need what Eberle provides. I think it’s very likely that this is a swap we
see at the earliest possible convenience for both teams. Hamonic has requested
a trade to this part of the world. Eberle is a longtime member of a brutal
Oiler team that may or may not have a culture problem.

Griffin Reinhart

Call it a Mulligan. The Oilers submarined two very valuable
assets at last year’s draft thinking they found an answer to their problem on
the blueline. They wanted a player who was closer to helping them than
whichever 18 year old they would have drafted. They succeeding in finding
someone older, but having Mathew Barzal or Kyle Connor or anyone else taken
near that 16 spot would probably be more valuable than Reinhart as of today.

I still believe Reinhart has an NHL career ahead of him, but
the Oilers have depth on the left side that is going to keep Griffin on the
outside looking in. He has to break through Klefbom, Sekera, Nurse, and
Davidson just to be a 3rd pairing guy. If the club starts looking to
package players for that elite defender they need on the right side, the other
team will likely want a young defender in return. Nurse is probably off the
table so that leaves someone like Griffin Reinhart. He hasn’t been
disappointing so much as he’s been replicated by others.

Goodbye

I’m willing to bet that three of the five players mentioned
above are gone before October. Which three I couldn’t say with any certainty but
I wouldn’t buy an Eberle, Yakupov, or Fayne jersey any time soon. I don’t look
forward to some of these players leaving. I don’t think Edmonton has anybody
remaining who would potentially be addition by subtraction aside from
Korpikoski.

Yakupov is a personal favourite and it will break my heart
to see him leave town and take knives in the back on the way out. Fayne has
done the best he could do playing at least one spot too high in the order all
year. The Nuge is a smart player who opens up possibilities all over the ice.
Eberle has scored a lot of goals for the Oilers and that shouldn’t be forgotten
because he doesn’t defend well. Reinhart has performed exactly to expectations
up to this point and it’s not his fault that he shoots left. I would wish any
of them the best of luck in their future endeavors if they move on from the
Oil.

  • I never thought we’d see this kind of talk. Remember the HOPE days, when the answers were Hall and Omark and Paajarvi and Eberle? And then Nuge was supposed to save the team from itself?

    I want nothing more than for Hall and Ebs and Nuge to win a Stanley Cup together, but I know it’s not going to happen and that makes me sad.

  • Boom or Bust

    This year I remember telling everyone…theres no way we are last again. Maybe miss playoffs, but we wont be last. . Not this year… No way.. Well I don’t care anymore. Do what needs to be done to fix it. I’m tired of the letdown.

  • reaperfunkss

    I hope Eberle goes. Frees up cap space and shows that if your not going to play defense then your not going to play here. The “Core” is seriously flawed and i believe the flaw is they think they are invincible here. Moving him will hopefully wake the others up.

    Waiting for Gregor to say “this summer is the most important summer in the history of the franchise” for the uncountable consecutive year.

    Hope they pound the nucks. then willis or lowetide can tell us what a “statement game” it was

    I am grumpy.

  • Rysani

    Hello Oilers, my old friend,
    I’ve come to talk with you again,
    Because the vision of you losing,
    Disappoints me while I try sleeping,
    And the vision that you’ve planted in my brain,
    Hope remains
    Within the Oiler Nation.

  • Jay Arrr

    I would rather see the Oilers trade from LD, where they are deep, rather than C or RW, where they are relatively thin, to address the RD position.

    I have a hard time believing that the Oilers’ terrible goal differential and overall goal scoring is a lack of offensive ability or offensive depth. It is a function of spending too much time in their own zone.

    I think they have an opportunity to balance their blue line using a combination of the first pick and a LD. On the other hand, I might be aiming too low on the caliber of right handed defenseman that the Oilers need to go after.

  • Butters

    I keep Fayne and play him sparingly. The Oilers need to expose players for the Expansion draft. If the rumours about 25% of a team’s cap needs to be exposed are true, then definitely keep this contract for another year.

  • Leaking5w-30

    It is a nice change of pace that we don’t have a coach on the goodbye list this year. Any reason why ference wasn’t on the list … He has got to be thinking about retirment

        • Seanaconda

          Pronger was actually completely effed up tho. It will be a curious situation if he decides he can play and we have to have him as the 7th dman all year.

          • Leaking5w-30

            Ya I doubt that long term ir wil be the answer. The oil should offer him a fat contract to be a conditioning coach or assistant for th oil kings…. Intice him to retire. While the money is nice I can’t imagine he wants to ride the pine for an entire season.

          • Seanaconda

            I guess they could pay him his same salary for a year to get him to retire but I doubt they do it. If he wants to retire he can just pretend to be injured also he’s from edmonton so riding the pine wouldn’t be that bad for him. His sister was my teacher in junior high.

  • 2centz

    My dream scenario…
    -Sign Lucic
    -Trade Hall for Pietrangelo (May need some tweaking,as I don’t know if one for one would work,but should be very close.)
    -Trade Eberle and Klefbom for Hamonic and Okposo (only if an extension can be agreed upon with Kyle) otherwise Eberle and perhaps Davidson for Hamonic and Strome. (McDavid is good pals with Dylan,and perhaps would love having Ryan here?)
    – this by no means creates a complete or finished product,but it does fill a great deal of the teams needs,and leaves pieces like Yakupov,Pouliout, and perhaps our first round pick to fill in any other of the teams needs. The bottom 6 would still need to be tweaked,and perhaps khaira could fill Korpikoski’s spot,if the team bought him out or traded him. This team on paper would be big,mean and nasty,and teams would no longer be circling dates against the Oil to bust slumps,pad stats,play back ups or take a night off.

  • Craig1981

    No way he moves Reinhart unless it is a piece if something huge. It would be admitting his mistake. If we are last again and kyle Connor and Aho set the nhl on fire, fans are going to be after Peter Chiarelli head.

    …..I’m actually disappointed with him now

  • KMA

    There isn’t another team in the NHL that would accept the 6 million dollar contracts of the bot called Nugie and Eberle without the Oil retaining some salary. We can thank CrackT in all his wisdom for this situation.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    I find it funny that if a player like Subban is actually trade bait, people don’t want PC to try and go after a player like that despite having to possibly give up the likes of Klefbom, the #1 pick or Ebs for a top line 25-30min/game dman. Sure he makes a paltry 9mil and has some defensive warts but, imo, he can make a pass on the fly to the forwards, chip in with goals, and by the looks of things be a solid team mate. Think Nurse+, and without having to hope on potential like we have to do with Nurse. What Subban can bring to this team is something the Oilers have needed since Pronger(*spits*). Id gladly give up anybody but Hall, and McDavid if it meant having a better chance at the playoffs, especially after the last 10 years of poop.

    Drafting Matthews just means it’s another year in the gutter watching another 18 year old thrown to the wolves.

    The time to win is now!

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      i think Reinhart is on the table after some bad advice from Bob Green on what Green had remembered from Griffin’s Oil King days. he’s not that bad but he’s another in a long line of average d-men the Oilers already have and if the Oilers ever want to get better, we need 2 good vet d-men to go with Sekera and the 3 kids they appear to be moving forward with….Davidson, Nurse and Klefbom. we won’t be winning anytime soon if we don’t in my opinion.

      • RJ

        There’s a couple of things:

        1) LHD depth – the Oilers have a ton of LHD depth. Unless Reinhart was going to step in and become a top pairing defender, it wasn’t the smartest move.

        2) Balance – the L/R disparity in the depth chart is a major problem, but skill sets are also an issue. If you’re going to acquire a defenceman, how about making sure you add one that brings something different to the table? One that could be a puck-mover, plays on the PP, etc. They have lacked that for years.

        3) Age/Experience – You had Klefbom, Nurse, and Davidson already in the system before they acquired Reinhart and Sekera. Sekera brings veteran experience to a blueline that has a ton of youth and minimal games played. You had three young LHD already when they added Reinhart. If they have 5 vets/1rookie, that’s fairly common. 4 vets/2 rookies does also happen. But having 2 vets (Sekera/Fayne) and 4 rookies is terrible management.

        4) Acquisition Cost – If they had acquired him for a third (what the Penguins paid for Jultz), then that isn’t too bad. If he’s in the NHL, great. If he needs another year or two in the AHL, that’s ok. But Snow traded Reinhart and a third and got two first rounders. There’s no way Reinhart lives up to that price unless he magically becomes a top-2 D.

        5) Bonuses – since there are so many young players on this team, bonus overages can become a major issue. It’s been discussed quite a bit at LT’s site. It may be necessary to leave Reinhart in the AHL all of next season to manage this situation (or trade him)

        I think if they have Klefbom/Davidson with Nurse as the AHL first call-up, then that’s reasonable. But they’re not going to have much long-term success with so many defencemen with under 200 GP (which is most of them).

  • hootoil

    The Oilers said goodbye to Northlands Coliseum. A full couple of days of Ceremonies. The Old & the new.One person seemed to Missing in Action from the watching and paying public. Edmonton Oiler Fans are aware of the last decade of no playoffs.Daryl Katz the Owner for some reason – could not appear in Public. The Fans were unable to say – Hello Daryl in Edmonton?

  • Petrolero

    10 years of not only losing but doing so with gusto and you still have doubts a but a losing culture in the Oilers Matt Henderson? Are you serious? We’re on record losing territory here. Maybe some folks are still struggling with grasping the massive scope of rhe failures of this decade of oilers hockey. Suspect you might be one of them.

      • Petrolero

        You tell me. Doubting at this point that there’s a culture problem in the Oilers is nothing short of baffLing. Don’t try to stand in the middle of the bridge at this point just because you feel you might be throwing peraonal favorires under the bus. Either run with it or don’t. That’s my advice anyway. Take it or leave it. By talking that way about the losing culture I felt like you’re still pointing out there you found another leak in the engine room when the ship has already flooded, broken in half and on its way to the bottom of the ocean.

    • OtOil

      So what? The team is just as entertaining as it has been at anytime in its history. People watch and enjoy the struggle, and relate to that more than they do with glory days. Sells more Trucks, and crap too! (one of the few returns the Oil acually put back into the city, really this buisness is just a collosal drain of reoucres, and kills the Edmonton “brand” around the world with its failings, prime exdample of backwater politics meets snake oil sales man.. but I digress) So what man? So what they suck, but they keep me entertained in through the crappy parts of winter.

  • bradleypi

    Two things….. “Eberles defensive game is as weak as yakupovs without the effort”. Hmmmm. Yakupov -17. Ebs -11. Seems to me somebody actually does play a little harder on defense.

    “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with mark fayne”. Now we all know how much Henderson hated schultz. Let’s compare schultz and faynes stats since fayne became an oiler. Fayne. 11 points -28. Schultz 49 points -15. I dunno. Nuff said. Methinks MH needs to reread hockey for dummies and then actually watch some games……

  • Derian Hatcher

    I give all of the writers, posters and readers of ON a Weiser’s slow clap of respect. Trollers may come here and do their thing but there is no denying the level of passion and dedication that are Oilers fans.

    Take a bow…keep supporting with unrelenting passion – good things are ahead.

  • OldOilerFan

    Excellent read, your last paragraph sums it up how I see it too.

    Yak will do well somewhere else. The Cap alone dictates that one if not two of the big three go. And I still believe in Reinhart as a player, he’s progressing. Geez ON get over what we paid for him already. No one thought Nurse was ready and they took a shot. The left side issue, is the issue! Hey, Chiarelli has options to make a deal, I think it will be exciting!

  • Spydyr

    Another I love them all don’t trade any of them articles.

    They have proved what they bring. Not one year in the playoffs for any of the core. It is not the supporting casts fault.To win your best players have to be the ones to do it.

    This summer the team requires major change. At least two of the core should be moved.

    • I agree that your best players should be your best players, but I disagree with the idea that this team should have been expected to win with an imbalanced roster.

      We saw increased scoring late last year with Nelson, but also saw big gaps in our goaltending and defense. So even with increased offensive output, you can still have problems winning.

      Way too much emphasis have been put into the “core” not being enough, when the reality is that the “core” wasn’t really a core, it was a bunch of talented kids that imbalanced the roster because there were too many of them.

      A solid “core” for a team should include a goalie, 1/2 defensemen, and 2/3 forwards.

      Trades must be made (which is something we both agree on) to achieve that balance (which is something we may not agree on).

  • MessyEH!

    KENNY WAYNE SHEPHERD’S song “Last Goodbyes” lyrics seem very appropriate to describe my feelings toward Yak and likely his feelings towards his time in Edmonton. You may have just out Lowetied Lowetide.

  • ifiwasgm

    What Yakupov needs is a consistent environment and “on ice” leadership and guidance.

    If he knows he’s on the hot seat(has to produce, and do it RIGHT NOW) whenever he gets put in a position to succeed, that doesn’t benefit him.

    Even early when he was with McDavid he wasn’t playing that well, but when he didn’t get jerked off McDavid’s line, he started to settle in and got better every game(until McDavid got injured).

    I’ve always said, Hall, Eberle, and Nuge were allowed to make countless mistakes but Yakupov was not allowed to make any mistakes. This has been his development with Eakins, and now Mclelland.

    This management has failed Yakupov WAY more then Yakupov has failed his expectations.

  • 88

    If Pavel Datsyuk retires and heads home Detroit will
    still be on the hook for his 7.5M cap hit.

    I believe in good hockey trades where both teams can benefit from each other.

    For anyone who is going to say we need defence
    Yakupov will not fetch us a right shooting D
    ( whatever Peter Chiarelli does with one of the “core” will have to solve our D issues)

    This is my fantasy trade after hearing about Datsyuk retiring from the NHL to go play one more year in Russia.

    Edmonton
    Nail Yakupov
    (2.5 Cap Hit 1 Years)(RFA)

    to

    Detroit
    Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit retains 50% Salary)
    (7.5M Cap Hit 1 Years)(UFA)

    Anthony Mantha
    (925,000 Cap Hit 3 Years)(Entry Level)
    AGE: 21
    HEIGHT: 6′ 5 (196 cm)
    WEIGHT: 205 lbs (93 kg)

    Edmonton gets Mantha for 4,675,000 for year 1 -> Datsyuks contract ends

    Mantha can develop into top 6 with size + skill + will be at a value contract ($832,500) for year 3 of
    Mcdavid’s entry level contract.

    Peter Chiarelli likes size + skill

    Mantha is big and fairly mobile
    can play LW and RW
    can shoot the puck
    he has a good wrist shot
    Isn’t afraid to mix it up physically

    Detroit gets Yakupov for 6,250,000 for year 1 -> becomes RFA

    Yakupov will flourish in Detroit’s system and can join the likes of not only his own agent but Russian greats like Sergei Fedorov playing in a top 6 role.

    Ken Holland likes Russians with skill

    Yakupov did get better defensively under Todd and Detroits system is solid,
    can shoot the puck
    can skate for miles
    throws hits
    *Detroit saves 1,250,000 in cap space

    Turn something sad to something good

    Datsyuk leaving the NHL to go home to be close to his daughter.(Datsyuk leaving not 100% confirmed yet*)
    End of an great Russian players journey in the NHL can help revitalize another young Russian Kid
    who loves hockey and needs to enjoy the game again. And the Oilers who need size and skill get a developing Giant.
    Despite what everyone thinks of Nail Yakupov as a player, people around the NHL know there is something there in him.
    but his value is so low because Edmonton is in a position of weakness. Both Yakupov and Mantha have something to prove.

    I can only dream….

    88

    https://www.capfriendly.com/

  • TKB2677

    I got into a twitter debate with Henderson about Yak, his future etc. As soon as Yak scored a couple of token points to bring his season total to a pretty pathetic 23 pts, 8 of them being goals, the inevitable tweets that’s been the calling card of Yak lovers came out. You know the ones, “As soon as you put Yak with decent players, he scores”. It’s never Yak’s fault, it’s always the coaches or who he plays with fault. He was labelled the #1 draft eligible player in 2012 by just about everyone in the scouting community except maybe the Oilers if the rumors are true. He was drafted #1 by the Oilers yet a guy who’s calling card is nothing but offense, can’t piss a drop of offense unless he plays with the best of the best on his team. While I agree that who you play with will have an impact on your production. If any of the other offensive guys played with the linemates Yak played with that Henderson and company deemed beneath Yak, I am 100% certain that they would do a hell of a lot better than 23 pts. You put Eberle on a line with Letestu and Korpikoski, he’s going to have more than 8 goals in 60 games.

    So during my debate with Yak, I put the question to Henderson. Since in his opinion and the opinion of Yak and his agent, Yak should have been playing top 6 mins. Larionov went so bold as to go on radio on multiple stations and say his client should be playing 17 mins a night. So basically top line mins. So I put the question to Henderson. Since he believes Yak should have been given top 6 mins, who does he feel Yak should have been ahead of?

    If healthy, I have the following players as being ahead of Yak on the depth chart because they are flat our better than Yak. Their numbers say they are better. Their all around games say they are better. Their coach think these guys are better.
    McDavid
    Hall
    Draisatl
    Nuge
    Eberle
    Pouliot
    Maroon

    So if all of these guys are on the Oilers next season including Yak and pretending the Oilers bring no one in to change up the dynamic of the forwards, ie more skilled size. If you are making up your lines and picking the 6 best guys to make up the top 6, who’s Yak better than? He has to move past 2 guys to get into the top 6. Worse yet. According to Yak and his agent, he should be playing 17 mins a night, so top line mins basically. So who would be beating out to play on the Oilers top line?

    The whole idea of 3 scoring lines is complete garbage. You can’t have 3 lines playing the majority of the minutes in a game and none of them having the ability to check. There isn’t one team out there who’s top 3 lines are made up of entirely offensive guys. You of course need scoring from your 3rd line but you need your 3rd liners to score in the range of 10-15 goals but also be able to CHECK and kill penalties. Yak lovers cling to his contract and say he can be a 3rd liner because of his contract. While somewhat improved in the defensive end, he’s still not very good defensively. As a player, you can’t be weak in the defensive zone and be a 10-15 goal guy. You won’t score enough to offset what you give up defensively.

    • Hawk E. Pashyn

      Your comments are all based on Yakupov’s entire history with the Oilers. The problem with that is that development does not happen in straight lines. Yakupov’s development has been very slow since he was drafted, and that falls on both the player and the organization. But it doesn’t change the fact that it’s been slow.

      What I find totally interesting is that Yakupov’s development seemed to take an immediate upward swing just before and almost coinciding with his trade request. The moment that tension was released, he relaxed and played better. And I began to see the player that might be, and I have to admit… that player could be impressive for a number of reasons. Rather than get into all of those reasons, allow me to summarize it in a few quick sentences: Yakupov is an extremely unique hockey player. He plays the game differently than almost anyone out there, and his skillset reflects that uniqueness as well. He also plays better when he is happy. There is a high-ended potential with Yakupov that comes with his enthusiasm for the game, both of which fans connect with.

      In short… trading Yakupov right now is unlikely to be a win for the Edmonton Oilers, because we still don’t know what his ceiling is… hardly at all. Recent play indicates he is starting to catch on to systems play, and adapt his play within that. It took him this long… and now, just when he’s “getting it,” we’re going to trade him for peanuts. It’s too bad. I actually hope Chiarelli can work it out with him, and deal a guy like Eberle – whom we have a much better indication of where his ceiling is – instead, and for a much better return. I think Yakupov’s ceiling is higher, and his unique characteristics could blossom into having a dynamic other teams have trouble defending simply because he doesn’t do things the way 99% of players do them; yet Eberle represents a better return (plus cap space).

      My smart money is on PC finding a way to move Yakupov into that top six, where he may belong after all. Fits really well with Hall and Draisaitl, actually…not sure if you noticed that or not. Anyway, that’s my late rant to the column, not that anyone is going to read it, but I felt inclined to comment. Cheers.