The Oilers haven’t had a “core” for many years. They have three players who have been on the team five years: Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and they were either sophomores or rookies in 2011/2012.
Let’s take a quick look at players who have been the staples on other western conference teams during the past five seasons, and compare them to the Oilers.
I’m looking at the past five seasons, since that is when RNH, Hall and Eberle played together for the first time. I’ve included each team’s point totals as well.
St.Louis Blues (230-110-36, 496 points): Alex Pietrangelo, David Backes, Alex Steen, Jaden Schwartz, Kevin Shattenrirk and Brian Elliott. Patrick Berglund and Ryan Reaves have been there the entire time as well. Vladimir Tarasenko and Jay Bouwmeester arrived in 2012/2013. A solid foundation.
Chicago Blackhawks (222-108-46, 490 pts): Patrick
Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Marian Hossa, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Corey Crawford have had them the perennial top dog in this time. Patrick Sharp was there until this season. Their main group consists of one goalie, three D-men, one centre and two wingers.
Anaheim Ducks (215-117-44, 474 points): Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry
and Cam Fowler. Andrew Cogliano has been there five years, while
Francois Beauchemin was there until this year. The Ducks have added a
lot of youth in the past three years, both their goalies, as well as
Sami Vatanen, Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson, Rickard Rickell. They are a
rarity, in they had only three top-end mainstays but have still managed
to be ultra competitive.
San Jose Sharks (205-130-41, 451 points): Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture, Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun. Couture is the youngest at 27 years old. They had skill and experience and it is no surprise the Sharks have been one of the top nine teams in the league during these five years.
Los Angeles Kings (201-126-49), 451 pts):
Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, Jonathan Quick, Dustin Brown and Jeff Carter (arrived during 2011/2012 season) have been their main guys for all five seasons. Alec Martinez, Matt Greene, Trevor Lewis, Dwight King, Jordan Nolan and Kyle Clifford have also been regulars in this time span. Justin Williams, Jarret Stoll and Mike Richards were there until the end of last season. If we just look at the first five they have a goalie, a D-man and three forwards.
Nashville Predators (190-133-53, 433 pts): Shea Weber, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Mike Fisher, Craig Smith, Colin Wilson and Pekka Rinne. The Preds have been looking for proven scorers for much of their history, and having acquired Ryan Johansen, James Neil and Filip Forsberg via trades they have now some solid scorers. They’ve been a solid team for years, but lacked the top-end forwards to compete with the five teams ahead of them in these rankings.
Dallas Stars (195-142-39, 429 pts): Jamie Benn and Alex Goligoski. The Stars have gone through many changes over the past five years. Vern Fiddler and Jordie Benn are the only other players who have been on the roster all five years. They made some great trades a few years ago acquiring Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza and that has kept them competitive.
Vancouver Canucks (192-139-45, 429 pts): Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Alex Burrows, Chris Tanev, Alex Edler and Dan Hamhuis. The Canucks are starting to change over their roster. Kevin Bieksa and Ryan Kesler moved on recently, and more changes are coming as they add youth. Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen have also been on the roster all five years.
Minnesota Wild (188-143-45, 421 pts): Miko Koivu, Jared Spurgeon and Marco Scandella are the only three for all five seasons. However, they did add Ryan Suter, Zach Parise, Jason Pominville, Charlie Coyle, Jonas Brodin, Mikael Granlund and Jason Zucker in 2012/2013. They’ve had these ten for four full seasons.
Colorado Avalanche (187-152-37, 411 pts): Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie and Semyon Varlamov. Landeskog and Barrie were rookies. The Avs made the playoffs once in these five seasons, and they’ve overhauled much of their lineup, especially since Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic took over.
Winnipeg Jets (176-156-44, 396 pts): Dustin Byfuglien, Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little, Toby Enstrom and Ondrej Pavelec. Andrew Ladd was there until this year’s trade deadline, so I’m inclined to include him as well. Mark Stuart has a complementary mainstay. The Jets have some solid players, but they are still looking for one or two elite players. They made the playoffs since returning to Winnipeg in 2011.
Calgary Flames (171-164-41, 383 pts): Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie, Matt Stajan and Mikael Backlund. The Flames offence has been recently bolstered by Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett, and despite having a solid D corps they’ve only made the postseason once in five years.
Arizona Coyotes (159-164-53, 371 pts): Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Shane Doan, Mike Smith, Mikkel Boedker (dealt at deadline), Martin Hanzal. Michael Stone and Antoine Vermette. Vermette left for 19 regular season games and a Cup win with Chicago, but he re-signed with the Yotes. The Yotes have lacked an elite offensive player, but they have some good young skilled forwards now. They made the conference Finals in 2011/2012, but haven’t been back to the postseason since.
Edmonton Oilers (135-193-48, 318 pts): Hall, Eberle and RNH. The Ducks are the only other team with only three main pieces on the roster, but Getzlaf and Perry had each won a Stanley Cup and an Olympic gold medal prior to the start of the 2011/2012 season. At the beginning of the 2011/2012 season they had a combined 880 games of NHL experience, while Hall, Eberle and RNH had 134.
BALANCE AND EXPERIENCE
It is no surprise the successful team’s best players had experience among their core group and they weren’t all forwards. They had defence and solid goaltending.
Asking three young forwards to lead your team up the standings is the main reason the Oilers have been stuck in the basement, not to mention a revolving door of coaches.
I understand fans’ frustration with the Oilers. You are sick and tired of supporting a losing organization. You want results, and you deserve them, but I believe the “core is rotten” suggestions have no actual basis. This team had no semblance of continuity and nothing resembling a core. They had three young forwards who were given the task to save a franchise. It was a loser bet.
The Oilers roster today does have what I would call a workable core. Hall, Eberle and RNH now have 1,119 games of NHL experience. Cam Talbot enters his 4th season in the NHL and has almost 250 pro starts between the NHL and AHL. Connor McDavid is a phenom. He’ll be top-five best forwards in the NHL next year.
Andrej Sekera is a proven top-four D-man with 567 games under his belt. Oscar Klefbom, when healthy, is a legit top-four, and likely a top-pairing defender. You throw in some support players like Benoit Pouliot, Patrick Maroon, Brandon Davidson and Darnell Nurse and they are least heading in the right direction.
There will be changes this summer, and if Peter Chiarelli is able to acquire a top-three defender, then one of one Hall, Eberle or RNH will be used to garner this type of defender.
Hall, RNH and Eberle are the three-longest serving Oilers, and that is a more accurate way to describe them, instead of insinuating they are the core.
Here is the list of the top-five players (GP) during these five years and their average age, to illustrate the level of experience for each group.
San Jose: Marleau, Pavelski, Thornton, Vlasic and Burns. 1816 games, average age 32.6.
Los Angeles: Brown, Kopitar, Doughty, Lewis and Clifford. (Quick dressed in almost the same amount of games as Clifford, but he didn’t play in all of them). 1786 games, average age 27.8.
Chicago: Seabrook, Hjalmarsson, Keith, Toews, Kane. 1760 games, average age 29.
Vancouver: D. Sedin, H.Sedin, Hansen, Burrows and Hamhuis. 1710 games, average age 33.6.
St.Louis: Backes, Pietrangelo, Shattenkirk, Berglund and Reaves. 1702 games, average age 28.
Winnipeg: Wheeler, Byfuglien, Thorburn, Little and Stuart. 1696 games, average age 30.4.
Nashville: Weber, Smith, Josi, Wilson and Fisher. 1683 games, average age 28.4.
Anaheim: Cogliano, Getzlaf, Perry, Fowler and Lindholm. 1661 games. Average age 26.8.
Dallas: Fiddler, Goligoski, Benn, Cody Eakin and Antoine Roussel. 1654 games, average age 28.,4.
Colorado: Cody McLeod, Landeskog, Duchene, Johnson and Barrie. 1616 games, average age 26.2.
Arizona: OEL, Doan, Chipchura, Vermette and Stone. 1603 games, average age 30.2.
Minnesota: Koivu, Spurgeon, Suter, Scandella and Coyle. 1491 games, average age 28.
Calgary: Brodie, Giordano, Stajan, Backlund and Monahan. 1474 games. Average age 27.4.
Edmonton: Eberle, Hall, RNH, Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz (Anton Lander is 5th on the team among active players. 1465 games, average age 23.8
The Oilers were four years younger than every other group, except Colorado, who were on average 2 1/2 years older.
They had no chance to compete.
ONE OF A KIND
We’ve had some fun auction items on the show, but this signed Grapes suit is one of the best. All the proceeds go towards the Kidney Foundation of Canada. Don’s son Tim had a kidney transplant. We will auction this off today between 2-6 p.m. You can bid via text to 101260 or call 780.444.1260.
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