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It’s Raining News!

Today might have been the busiest day for Oilers news since June 29, 2016. It began with an interesting exchange between Darren Dreger of TSN and Dustin Nielson/Wil Fraser of TSN1260. The conversation surrounded dealing Jordan Eberle for Ryan Strome of the NY Islanders, with possibly more pieces on either side (Dusty and Wil discussed Hamonic as a possible).

The Peter Chiarelli media avail was a watershed moment for Oilers fans, breaking news each minute on the minute. Some bullet points:

  • On the season (2016-17):  “What happens is that the team starts developing a real identity and starts feeling good about itself and that’s what you saw at the end. Now we’ve got players that have played in a playoff drive, young players, we’ve got players who have played in two rounds of a heavy series. I was banking on the meaningful games and maybe the playoffs and that was a 15- to 20-point improvement from the year before. We exceeded that.”

I think it’s important to realize this team had substantial success. In reading online comments since the season ended, it seems we’ve glossed over the 82 games and first 12 games of the playoffs, and landed on the final game of the season. Edmonton’s breakouts in G7 were not good, but the team had Andrej Sekera on the sidelines. If he’s in the lineup and healthy? If Klefbom, Sekera and Benning are on each pairing, I count at least one able puck mover/passer.

  • On the current defense: There’s still an element of growth in our d. If you look at Klef, Larss and then you take out Reggie and Rusty just because they’re older, then you’ve got Darnell and you’ve got Matt. You’ve got some young D who had a terrific experience in these playoffs. You saw Darnell move up with Larsson and I think you saw a good pair. You see some promise there. You saw Benning move up with Russell, you saw some good performances. There’s room for growth, we have to allow space for that. We made some major additions this past year, I’d like to let it evolve a little bit.

Added to the news on Andrej Sekera (out 6-9 months with a torn ACL. Ugh) I think we see the path PC is on now: Stay the course on blue. That likely means Kris Russell back, and Eric Gryba also possible (Chiarelli mentioned to Bob they would talk). Chiarelli may be looking for a RHD in the $2.5-3.0 range, I’ll mention Cody Franson (UFA) and Mark Pysyk (trade, we talked about him the other day) as possible acquisitions.

  • On the expansion draft (to Bob Stauffer): “I think we’re going to go 7-3-1.”

That means (I believe) we are locked and loaded with Cam Talbot, three D (Andrej Sekera, Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson) and then 7F’s (I’ll guess Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Milan Lucic, Jordan Eberle, Patrick Maroon, Zack Kassian, Jujhar Khaira).

  • On where Leon will play:  I want to give our coach the ability to flip-flop because it changes the tempo of the game and can change the nature of the game. Unfortunately, that means pushing Nuge to a lower third line. I’m not saying it’s unfair to Nuge because he’s a team guy and that’s one thing he stressed in his exit meetings, but in the ideal world it would be nice to have set centres and a big centre like Leon as your centre and not your wing. This is about versatility, and as far as team building it means getting a guy that can play the wing and play centre who might be a centre and can take faceoffs.

In parsing his words, I think RNH (or a replacement) will have an important role again next season. This quote also gives me reason to believe the Strome talk from earlier in the day. A RHC like Strome would mean another center who can take RH faceoffs on his strong side (added to Letestu).

  • On the way forward: “Nothing has really changed in our approach to building this team… We’re still going to be patient.”

This may signal another season without balance, but it’s going to be difficult to avoid it now. If the Oilers sign all the defensemen on the current roster and replace Reinhart (expansion) with (say) Pysyk? I’ll call that balanced.

POSSIBLE LINEUP

In many ways, the job of a general manager is to excite the masses while giving up zilch. Still, it’s fun to speculate, so here goes:

  • Goal: Cam Talbot, Laurent Brossoit
  • Defense: Oscar Klefbom-Adam Larsson; Kris Russell-Mark Pysyk; Darnell Nurse-Matt Benning; Eric Gryba (Sekera IR)
  • Line 1: Maroon-McDavid-Draisaitl
  • Line 2: Lucic-Nuge-Slepyshev
  • Line 3: Caggiula-Strome-Puljujarvi
  • Line 4: Khaira-Letestu-Kassian

Thoughts?

  • OilFarmer

    Lowetide I don’t understand why you continue to put Khaira on the protected list over Letestu. It doesn’t make sense why you would protect a guy who couldn’t crack the lineup over a veteran that can play up and down the lineup and has great chemistry with Connor on the powerplay

    • kormega

      Somehow it’s believed here LV is soaking for Reinhart and won’t look on Letestu. Hope McPhee had missed playoffs or he doesn’t need special teams scorer.

    • Kale

      They have to expose Letestu b/c EDM needs to expose a certain number of fwds who have played 200 games or something like that. Obvs Letestu would be protected if those rules weren’t in place

          • Sir Dudeinstein

            Off year how?
            2010-2011 69 GP 18-25-43 11power play points, he was at 0.62 points per game playing 17:40 Rookie Year
            2011-2012 78 GP 34-42-76 20 power play points, he was at 0.97 points per game playing 17:35 Career High
            2012-2013 48 GP 16-21-37 9 PPP, he was at 0.77 points per game playing 18:59 (shortened season)
            2013-2014 80 GP 28-37-65 20 PPP, he was at 0.81 points per game playing 19:32
            2014-2015 81 GP 24-39-63 21 PPP, he was at 0.78 points per game playing 19:02
            2015-2016 69 GP 125-22-47 11 PPP, he was at 0.68 points per game playing 17:51
            2016-2017 82 GP 20-31-51 14 PPP, he was at 0.62 points per game playing 16:46

            So points per game can be translated to points per 60 minutes if you want, granted from 2015-2016 his line seen less checking lines against (as they go against McDavid) his “down year” can be seen as part of his trend. Being now at the age of 27, some reports reported at the age between 24-32 is majority of the players peaks, and most common being 24-27. Eberle “peak” currently was when he was 24, so may be an indication on a downward trend that been pretty consistent it seems. If he keeps the regression how it is, I may think he will be looking towards the 0.52 (43 point or so) points per game to 0.58 (48 points or so)points per game.

            Eberle wont get much bigger or heavier so dont expect him to hit, his back check has improve and that came with some maturity in his game this year. But he isnt fiesty enough to be a 3rd line player, he doesnt hit enough to be a 3rd line player, so if we keep him on the 2nd line, are we okay with playing him 16-17 minutes a night and pray he posts 51 points again, He isnt worth the 6 million and if we are going to trade him we may be looking at retaining 25-50% of his salary to get someone/something decent.

            But thats two cents

          • mb

            20 goals 51 points is a off year most players would love to have. Scoring in the NHL is very hard, a player who does it year in year out is extremely valuable. Sorry many of you don’t understand that.

          • Sir Dudeinstein

            @mb we understand that, and we acknowledge that 51 points isnt exactly small or something to look past. Its the other aspects of his game, he has improve defensively (though playing less time and his line not being the focus) but have you watch an entire oiler game? I ask that because looking at a score sheet after “oh eberle got a point” the fact is, when hes back checking (which I will restate, he has gotten better) he looks lost in our zone, when he is cycling he avoids corners, avoid giving hits, and sure his shoot percentage is low this year, he just lost all confidence.

            Now social media and people like myself has not made this easy for him but I did put his numbers year by year, can you guess when eberle signed that contract?
            How much has eberle improve defense been because of overall team defense?
            Couple games left in the season against the Kings, do you remember Doughty’s comment about the Oilers? Wasnt it been now the Oilers forwards are actually coming back and backchecking.
            So yes 51 points for a player who barely has step in his game since he signed a 6 million dollar contract, who for the past 3-4 years showed little to no motivation in his game, and a player who rather give a snowblast instead of a hit in a meaningful Playoff game.

            That to me showed that Eberle isnt the player that many has preached was that exact moment when I find it hard to defend him. 51 points is a lot to come up with, but if a player cant sacrifice himself for the eam like Hendricks done on how many occasions, then what does those 51 points mean to us?

        • Jaxon

          Could Lander be signed and exposed even though he has mentioned going to Europe next season? Right now, it’s still just rumours. Could they agree to sign and loan him to Europe ala Yakimov?

  • bwar

    I think that the Oilers make deal for another forward they can protect before the expansion draft. I also expect them to make a deal with Vegas to have them take a specific player in the draft. Being able to shed a $4 or 6 million dollar contract in the expansion draft will be very valuable for the Oilers moving into next off season.

    • AJ88

      I am sure 29 other teams have players with inflated salaries that would also like to deal with Vegas. Why would you expect the Oilers to be able to make that deal?

      • bwar

        Because getting something extra for free will have big meaning for Vegas. They will have lots of cap room to manipulate in exchange for new assets and players.

  • kormega

    It’s not time to change, time to get better. Trading Nuge for an average D would be a huge mistake. Get Trouba or Faulk (I’d take Trouba) for Eberle and picks 1st or 2nd or both and Cup will be around. My thoughts.

  • Gravis82

    I want to see RNH on LW wing with Leon running his own show at 2C. Lucic to 3LW, but first unit powerplay. If Nuge is ok at 3C (as it sounds like he is from Chia’s statement) then no reason Lucic shouldn’t be either. This will result in more points for Nuge and less points for Leon. But probably the same amount of points overall. Also have the added benefit of increasing RNH’s trade value….if it comes to that….but I hope it does not.

  • PulParty

    Now thats a third line! We may miss Letestu but I guess he is getting older. Do we get that PP righty from within the team or in a trade if we lose letestu? Hamonic instead of Pysyk would solve that…easier said than done obviously.

  • OilRider

    I’m still curious to see how Nuge would handle playing the wing. If you want to establish Leon as your Centre, why can’t RNH be your guy that can float between Center and wing?

    • If the Oilers sign another NHL player who is eligible, like Iiro Pakarinen, they can. However, the rules of the expansion draft, as currently stated, mean the Oilers must expose two signed veterans. You could expose Eberle and Pouliot, but I chose Letestu.

  • FlameChampion

    Since Kassian is an RFA. Cant they just wait to sign Kassian after the expansion draft and not use a slot on him? Unless they think hes going to sign with LV, which I doubt he would. (I realize this is kind of underhanded but they are sorta doing the same thing with Russell (except hes a UFA)).

  • Thumby

    Not seeing Eberle on that roster is strange yet satisfying to me…not sure why…
    Also, that is one tough group to play against…and I’m praying we can add one more RHD power point D man somehow without blowing our brains out….

  • realyyouthinkthat

    why do you constantly think Kharia is worth keeping. you be getting a kick back from his agent.4th liner at best. he’s had chances with the club and had be useless. a certain veterain that can win faceoffz is worth protecting. Kharia done a dozen depth players.

  • Spiel

    Blew a 2-0 series lead and lost 4 of the final 5 games against Anaheim in that 2nd round. 43% share of shot attempts. That series wasn’t really close and was mostly fortunate bounces and craptastic Anaheim goaltending that got the series to 7 games.
    Oilers were ~47% on shot attempt for the entire playoffs.

    • MacT's Neglected Helmet

      It was a weird series. Bad officiating. WILD swings in momentum. I’d say that the Oilers probably deserved to lose the series (Getzlaf was a beast) and they also deserved to lose in a tight Game 7.

    • Mike Modano's Dog

      …and how did your team do, Spiel, or do you have the courage to even say which team you were cheering for, rather than just bashing our team. I’m guessing Calgary, who couldn’t even win one game against them…or is it Vancouver who didn’t make the playoffs? 😉

  • ChrisG

    Stroke is a terrible option. 42% on face offs? That solves nothing except saves some cap space and hope that Strome can find his game.

    How about Filpulla? Last year was an off year on faceoffs… career over 50%. 1 yr @ $5 mil remaining. Philly would have to take some salary …. pouliot and a pick?

  • Slipknot 8

    @Lowetide

    Line 1: Maroon-McDavid-Draisaitl
    Line 2: Caggiula-Thorton-Marleau
    Line 3: Lucic-Strome-Slepyshev
    Line 4: Pitlick-Letestu-Kassian

    Klefbom – Larrson
    Sekera – Hamonic
    Nurse – Benning
    Gryba

    Fixed that for you Lowetide

    • Boom76

      OilersNation should add a button (to go with cheers/trash) that reads “GDWP” that stands for “Guessing Drunk When Posting”. The Thornton/Marleau line made me smile and think of many of my own late night concoctions.

    • AJ88

      I’ll give it a go too

      Line 1 – Marchand-Crosby-Kane
      Line 2 – Ovechkin-Mcdavid-Tarasenko
      Line 3 – Bennett-Mathews-Kucherov
      Line 4 – Hall-Lander-Yakupov

      Burns – Subban
      Karlson – Hedman
      Schultz – Whitney
      Larson

  • JustinD

    Everyone that is mentioning Letestu has to put themselves in Vegas’ shoes. Would an expansion team waste a pick on a player who is going into the last year of his contract before UFA status or would they be mor einclined to take a young player that can be with the team for years to come.
    It is not good asset management to protect Letestu when it is so unlikely that Vegas takes an expiring contract. It is very unlikely Letestu repeats his success there as this year was a career year and he is getting older, so the OIlers should expose him and expect McPhee to be competent enough to know that even if Letestu has a great year he is unlikely to stay with an expansion team near the back end of his career.

    • crabman

      As I have seen mentioned before the upside to taking Letestu would be flipping him at the deadline. A vet center that can win faceoffs and play both special teams and by the deadline wouldn’t cost a lot against the cap. That has value to a contender near the cap ceiling. For Vagas it is about getting players with potential long term with the team at the expansion draft but also stock piling picks for the future. They will be bad for a while a 2nd or 3rd round pick might have more value longterm than anyone they would take from the oilers.

  • Boom76

    I think we’ll lose Letestu (sucks) but a fella I think can grow to quickly replace him is someone everyone’s forgetting about (and I’m calling it, he won’t get a freak injury next year): Mr Tyler Pitlick. Add Strome to the mix and maybe even Pully-G (#98) and we are looking sooooolid!!!

  • JimmyV1965

    Don’t get the he love for Strome. I mean he’s just another midling player who might benefit from a change of scenery. I’m surely not trading Eberle for him.

  • JimmyV1965

    Carl Soderberg out of Colorado would be an interesting aquisition. He had horrible numbers last year, but has performed very well for the rest of his career. His $4.75 million salary is too much, but maybe you can get the Avs to eat &1 million.

  • toprightcorner

    Eberle, 1st, Caleb Jones for Strome, Hamonic and Kulimen.

    – NYI saves $4 mill by Oilers taking 1 year of Kulimens contract at $4.1.
    – NYI gets a good LD prospect in Jones
    – Oilers technically don’t add any to their Cap as Eberle and Russels new contract would be $10 mill, the same as they are taking on. They actually save with the extra body of Kulimen who is over paid but can play bottom 6 on either wing and is good PK.
    – I would play Strome on RW until Nuge is traded next season.

  • toprightcorner

    1) Sign 1 of Williams/Sharp/Vrbata for RW stop gap for JP to stay on 3RW or the AHL for half a season.
    2) Trade Eberle, 1st, Caleb Jones for Strome, Hamonic and Kulimen
    3) Sign Hanzal for $4.25 x 4
    4)sign Hainsey or Streit for 1 year to cover Sekera

    Maroon – McDavid – Draisaitl
    Lucic – Nuge – Strome
    Caggiula – Hanzal – Vbrata
    Kulimen – Letestu – Kassian

    Klefbom – Larsson
    Hainsey/Streit – Hamonic
    Nurse – Benning