Yesterday, NHL super-insider, Elliotte Friedman, appeared on Sportsnet 650 in Vancouver and said what we’re all thinking — the Oilers are too slow.
If there’s one thing that the Oilers are lacking apart from the general ability to score it’s the ability to rush the puck down the ice. If it’s not Connor carrying it then the puck is not moving all that quickly. When Peter Chiarelli rolled into town, one of the first things he said was that he wanted the Oilers to be a bit bigger and tougher. What he didn’t say is that getting bigger also generally means getting slower at the same time. For as fast as the Oilers once were, that may not necessarily the case anymore. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at the lineup.
Here are the lines for tonight’s game that Gregor through down in the GDB. How many of these forwards would you consider fast players? Before you make your choices, I also want to know what percentage of the team you think the quick players account for? Is it more than 50%? Are you sure? (I’ve bolded my picks and italicized the ‘maybe on a good days’)
Maroon – McDavid – Draisaitl
Lucic – RNH – Letestu
Caggiula – Strome – Kassian
Jokinen – Khaira – Slepyshev
How about the defence?
Klefbom – Larsson
Russell – Benning
Nurse – Gryba
When you really think about it, the Oilers have fewer than 50% of their current lineup that would be considered above average skaters. Sometimes that lack of speed is actually costing them points, as we saw in the 3-on-3 OT period in Pittsburgh. Lucic got caught in a foot race and that is not a situation that the big man excels in. Being slow with that much space on the ice can be a killer and it was exactly that on Tuesday night. So what does that mean for the Oilers?
BACK TO FRIEDMAN
So now that we’ve stated the obvious, what’s next? What can the Oilers do to fix this problem?
“I think they’re too slow. I really do.”
Alright, Elliotte, you said that already. I want to know what Chiarelli is going to do about it. Give me something here. We need a little hope to get us through this early season darkness. Lay it on me.
“A couple of teams that played them in the preseason — it was funny, one guy was actually laughing as he said it to me: ‘Take McDavid out,’ and he realized how stupid it was to say that, ‘And they’re really, really slow.’ We’re seeing that right now.”
Alright, alright the Oilers are down and now you’re going to kick them with quotes from unnamed players that make fun of them behind their backs? Salt in the wound, Elliotte. Not cool. Now, if you would please tell me what Chiarelli is going to do about it.
“McDavid is the fastest player in the league, but after that, they’re really slow.”
I KNOW, MAN, YOU DON’T HAVE TO KEEP SAYING IT! THEY’RE SLOW! ALRIGHT? I SAID IT. IS THAT WHAT YOU WANTED? S-L-O-W. SLOW. The Oilers need to get faster (which is ridiculous considering who they’ve traded away and gotten rid of over the past few years but that’s a different story) so what are they going to do about it? Please, sir.
“I think that they are going to look for speed. I think they are going to try to find some players around the league that have some hop to them because they need guys fast enough to play with McDavid.”
Now, if there’s one thing we learned last year it’s that a guy like Pat Maroon can play with McDavid because he’s figured out where Connor needs him at any given time. I’m not worried about a guy like Maroon playing with Connor. The problem is that there’s only one Connor McDavid on this team and the rest of these fools need an influx of skill if they’re going ever going to be more than just a one man band.
So we’re eight games in and Chiarelli is already working the phones for trades? Depending on how you look at it, that could be a scary proposition. Everyone knows the Oilers are struggling and it’s not like the other GMs are going to be rushing to help If anything, they’re going to be throwing anchors at Peter Chiarelli with an actual chance that they’ll accept them. We’ve seen what a desperation trade looks like around here and I’d go so far as to say that I hope we don’t see another. I’ve had enough one-for-ones to last a while, ya know?