Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Monday Musings: Learning curves

It would be fantastic to compose a chart that monitors the progress of all NHL players because so many of them take dips or have surges at unexpected times.

Daniel Sedin scored his 1000th point on the weekend, joining brother Henrik as the only brother combo in NHL history to surpass 1000 points. Daniel is only the 87th player in NHL history to reach 1000 points. It is quite the achievement, but when he was 25 years of age he only had 151 NHL points in 315 games. How many of us would have projected him to score 1000?

He made his NHL debut at 20 and in his first four seasons produced 34, 32, 31 and 54 points. He played in Sweden when he was 24 due to the lockout. He returned to the NHL in 2005/2006, having just turned 25 years young a few weeks before the season began, and he emerged as a much better offensive player producing 71 points. He followed that up with seasons of 84, 74, 82, 85 (in 63 games) and 104 points. His brother Henrik had 146 points in his first four seasons. Not surprisingly the identical twins were producing at virtually the exact same rate, but at 25 neither were tracking to become 1000-point players.

Regardless of how much statistics and video you watch, there will always be players who will exceed expectations, or fall short, and it can happen quickly from year-to-year.

Heck, for Laurent Brossoit it happened from period to period. On Saturday in Calgary, Brossoit looked good in the first 40 minutes. His rebound control was fine. He wasn’t scrambling. He looked poised. But then the third period came and with the Oilers up 6-1 he suddenly couldn’t stop a puck, especially from a sharp angle. After watching him make six or seven highlight reel saves versus Toronto on Thursday, it was odd to suddenly watch him fight every puck. He didn’t magically lose his ability. To his credit, he admitted he lost his focus, and in the NHL for a goalie that can have devastating results.

“A lot of the goals I’d like back,” he said after the victory. “The one that beat me short side, I thought I had everything covered. They found holes, that’s my bad. I have to stay extra tight, especially in the third periods, no matter what the score is. I got casual,” said Brossoit.

An honest response. No excuses. Ideally, you don’t want him to lose focus, but it happened, and luckily for him it ended in a victory. It doesn’t sting nearly as much when the team wins. Now we’ll see if he learns from it. I fully expect him to start versus Philadelphia on Wednesday. The Oilers are 4-2 in their last six. I don’t see Todd McLellan giving Nick Ellis his first NHL start on Wednesday, but he might on Saturday or Sunday when the Oilers play back-to-back. Although when Talbot took over for Henrik Lundqvist in New York, he played back-to-back twice. It will depend on how Brossoit plays, but if he bounces back and plays well on Wednesday and Saturday in Toronto the Oilers might just stick with him instead of going to a more inexperienced goalie.


Jan 16, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers left winger Jujhar Khaira (54) celebrates his first NHL goal against the Arizona Coyotes during the second period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

1. I’ve really liked Jujhar Khaira’s game the past few weeks. He looks so confident with the puck. Watch how rarely he just dumps it up the boards in his own zone. Instead, he holds onto it and isn’t afraid to skate it out of the zone, often stick handling by an opposing forechecker. He has seven points in his last eight games, and he is making smart, confident plays all over the ice. He uses his size to protect the puck and he is using his speed more effectively as well. He is forcing the coach to play him more. If he continues playing this well he will push for more ice-time in the top-nine.

2. The Oilers’ offensive players are a perplexing bunch. They have scored the fifth most goals in the NHL at 5×5 — this group can produce at even strength. But their PP, where the most skilled players reside, sits 29th in goals scored, 12, and 23rd in PP efficiency at 17.1%. The Oilers have had the fewest PP chances in the NHL, 70, which is surprising. Only three other teams have had fewer than 82, and half the league has had over 90 powerplays. The Chicago Blackhawks have had 42 more powerplay opportunities than the Oilers through 27 games. That is 1.5 more per game. It is shocking how few powerplays they have had, and maybe the lack of opportunities is a factor in their low success rate, but Leon Draisaitl still doesn’t have a PP point, and the past few games he’s barely been involved when he’s on the ice.

3. Todd McLellan became the 37th coach in NHL history to win 400 games on Saturday. He should surpass Punch Imlach (402), Michel Therrien (406), Jacques Demers (409) and Jack Adams (413) this season. His 731 games coached is 47th all-time

4. The Oilers issue is 5×5 goals against. Goaltending is a major factor — their team sv% is under .900 and their goals against average is 29th at 3.37. The goalies have allowed 87 goals on 833 shots (.895sv%). Sure, team defence is a factor as well, but Cam Talbot, and now Laurent Brossoit, simply need to be better. The penalty kill is the other major reason having surrendered a league-high 25 goals, despite being 16th in PK situations. Some timely saves, an improved PK and the Oilers should be able to take a run at the playoffs, but admittedly those are two big What Ifs.

5. I’ve read and heard many suggesting the Oilers woes have to do with Kris Russell’s contract. I didn’t like the fourth year, and would have preferred his number to start with a three instead of a four, but the fact is his play this season has not been an issue for the Oilers. In fact, he is living up to his contract. Russell is tied with seven other defenders at 78th in actual salary for NHL defencemen. This season he has not been a negative for the Oilers regardless of his salary. His ten EV points has him tied for 16th in the NHL among defenders. He is playing fewer EV minutes than last season, but he’s been much more effective. He is likely fresher in games, and for a smaller D-man that can be a huge benefit.

6. Russell is tied for sixth on the Oilers in scoring, and he has only played 16 minutes on the PP all season (which likely helps his point totals, but I digress). His possession numbers are fine. He has played 392 minutes at 5×5 and his most common D partner has been Eric Gryba (100), then Matt Benning (87) and Darnell Nurse (84). People argued he was propped up by Andrej Sekera, but without him this season he has actually flourished offensively. He has regained his offensive confidence. He, like Nugent-Hopkins, were challenged by Todd McLellan to make more offensive plays and Russell has responded. Russell was an elite offensive defender in junior, and while he won’t be one in the NHL, he has rediscovered those instincts. If he keeps producing points like this, and having solid possession numbers, then he isn’t the salary cap anchor. It is fair to assume none of us expected him to produce like this, and while the fourth year of his contract isn’t ideal, at this moment Russell is the least of the Oilers worries. If he reverts back to adding nothing offensively next season or late this year, then it is fair to question his value and contributions, but so far this season he and Nurse have been very good on the Oilers blueline.

7. I agree often with Lowetide, but I strongly disagree with his notion when the Oilers are healthy he would have Russell as the #7 and have Sekera play the right side with Nurse. Sekera struggled mightily on the right side in 2015 with Nurse, and Brandon Davidson simply is not a better NHL defenceman than Russell. I don’t understand why he would list Russell, their top-scoring defender, as the #7 when everyone is healthy. I’m all for using analytics — I believe they can really enhance what we see — but nothing I’ve seen from Davidson in 2016 and 2017 that tells me he is better than Russell.


Thank you to Bob for his great bid on the Hughes gas and hockey package and to all who helped in our Pyramid of Giving. We raised $7,700 on day one for Santas Anonymous and The Holiday Hamper

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    • Rob...

      The only player that has exceeded my expectations this year is Nurse. I think JJ has even more to give. I think he has it in him to get to the point that other teams are asking about him at the trade deadline. He’ll get there if he keeps his confidence and his health.

  • inheritance

    Regarding Russell:

    You list him as tied for the 78th highest salary for a defenseman this year. That roughly should mean he’s a #3 d man on his given team (31 teams * 3 = 93), but he averages with the 5th most ice time without Sekera. Then you also mention the LHD-RHD balance. When Sekera returns, there is far too many LHD on this team, and it’s probably preferred to have someone of equal skill as RHD instead. That is another reason why the “Analytics” crowd hates the Russell signing.

    The dislike of Russell is not because of his performance, it’s because Chiarelli and company decided to sign him to a contract that would be extremely difficult to live up to. This was the same player that didn’t sign as a UFA until September of last season. It was totally unnecessary to give him a four year contract at a four million cap hit and a no move clause.

    I have not once heard of any reporter, blogger, people praising what a great deal this was for the oilers. This is not a knock on Russell as a player, but a knock on the management that decided to sign this contract.

    As another example, I think most people will agree that Draisaitl is a fantastic player and the future looks bright, but he looks to be overpaid. It’s not Draisaitl’s fault. I don’t blame him for getting everything he can, but the management paid him a lot of money on assumptions without solid information. He has never carried a line on his own. The success he has had was with Hall as his LW or McDavid as his C. He’s done extremely well with superstars playing with alongside him, but there has been very few opportunities for him to be the driver as a number one type C, yet we are paying him like he has already made/done it for years. That’s the issue the analytics community has with the management, not with the players.

    • Jason Gregor

      I don’t blame a player for getting overpaid. And fact is Russell is living up to his contract this year. Read where his production ranks, combined with his possession numbers.

      You said the dislike for him isn’t due to his performance, but his salary. Wouldn’t you blame the GM if you don’t like the contract. That makes little sense to me to blame the player, even though you admit his performance doesn’t bother you. If he is playing well, and so far producing for his salary, why would you be upset with the player?

      • crabman

        the OP explains exactly how I feel about the Russel contract but to be fair that is only part of the analytics communities argument. they usually point to the time he spent in his own end last year and his corsi dispite his on ice goal share being fine. I don’t like the contract long-term for the reasons stated in the OP.
        Gregory I most certainly blame the contract on Chairelli and worry it may end up costing us a good young player in the near future. You obviously like him more than Lowtide, so where do you rank him on a healthy Oilers D and how? is this teams defence good enough when healthy that no upgrades are needed and if changes are need to become a contender who would you move? because with Russell’s contract, age, and current roster spot on a struggling team He is probably the hardest Dman to move on the team.
        That is my biggest problem with player and contract.

        • Jason Gregor

          When Sekera and Larsson return there is no reason to think Oilers D isn’t good enough. Same six as last year with Nurse playing much better. Klefbom and Larsson need to find their game. Russell has been fine and Benning getting better. I see Oilers not having to play any D more than 20 min with all six playing. Will keep them all fresh and be a benefit. Sekera can be brought in slowly.

      • Rock11

        Gregor, Unfortunately in a cap league you can’t separate the player from the contract. They are so intertwined that “value” becomes as important or more important than quality. Before the cap value didn’t matter as a rich team, like the Oilers are now, could just spend what they needed to get good players. These days a savvy fan can see that a fan favourite and superior player like RNH might need to be traded in part because of what Russell is making. Yes that isn’t his fault but that doesn’t mean I have to like it when RNH gets moved for the other crappy Strome brother so we can have a $4m third pair D-man. Fairly or unfairly Russell is going to bear the brunt of that. It’s the price you pay to collect the cheques.

        • Jason Gregor

          Why does fan favourite matter? So if you like a player that is okay to have him overpaid. Fact is RNH is overpaid for his production, yet that doesn’t bother you like Russell being overpaid. Fact is you and everyone has bias towards certain players. People have jumped on the Russell sucks bandwagon and regardless of what he does they won’t alter their view. This year he has exceeded expectations and has great production. RNH has been touted as a great two-way player and he’s not. Never had 60 points and he isn’t big enough to truly shut down top lines. I think two-way player is the polite word people use to describe a guy who isn’t elite offensively. RNH doesn’t have tough matchups this year and he is on pace for 56 points. Matching career high. Good numbers, but not elite. He did nothing in playoffs, but Eberle faced wrath not RNH? Fact is some players are loved and other hated by the masses, but it doesn’t mean the masses are correct in who they like more than others.

  • Beer

    Is LB ready or bad coaching(a few games in the minors once in awhile)??? He didn’t seem game shape ready. The talent is there, but something is wrong. As back-up he should be ready.

    • Randaman

      He has been sitting on the bench watching Cam play too deep in his net, losing his posts on many occasions and always being on his knees early. Great mentor! Besides that he plays so little, what did we expect? I say give Ellis a shot. He looked great in camp but PC didn’t want to expose Brossoit to waivers.

    • I thought that it was a mistake to call him as backup to start the season. He needs to get reps in, see the puck, get comfortable in game situations. Poor kid has played scrimmages for the most part and then thrown in against the freakin’ Maple Leafs. But really, other than that weird third period against the Flames, he hasn’t been bad. He’s come on in relief in some really bad situations, and I’m sure his confidence isn’t anywhere near where it needs to be. But now you’re stuck: if you send him down, what will THAT do to his confidence, even though he would continue to develop into a true starting goaltender? If you leave him up, how long before he puts a couple of solid performances under his belt? Once again, this season is our Kobayashi Maru. Full of no-win scenarios.

      • fasteddy

        I suspect he’s a questionable goal or two away from the busses….I don’t buy the “I was playing to the score” excuse; no self respecting pro wants to perform poorly in front of 20,000 fans and thousands watching on HNIC

  • inheritance

    That’s exactly what I am saying? It’s the GM’s fault. He has made foolish gambles and turned a cup contending team with McDavid’s best contract in the league into one that is struggling to make the playoffs this year. I don’t blame Russell for signing that contract.

    I guess the question is, if you could have a mulligan today, would you have still sign the contract this past season? Is he worth 4 years * 4 million with a NMC/limited no trade last two years? Does it make sense to sign him to that contract for this team?

    The divide between most people lies in the answer to those questions. I believe, and most of the analytical community think that the Russell contract puts the Oilers further away from a cup than towards it.

    Do you think the Oilers are better off signing Russell to that contract? Or would have been better off to utilize the money/cap space for other resources?

    • Randaman

      Does it really matter now? Russell has played well with a couple gaffs. Yes, one was a major one. Get over it. His teammates have.
      Apply for the job if you have all the answers. All you Russell haters are getting annoying.

      • inheritance

        If he was playing so well, why was he on the third pairing with Gryba for the majority of this season? Again, it’s not hating on Russell, it’s his contract. The contract was bad and it’s Chiarelli’s fault. Could this be a cup contending d core? That depends, what else do you have left. They have downgraded the forward group too significantly to improve this d core slightly and as a result I don’t believe they can contend for a cup.

        I would apply for a job with the Oilers, but it’s unfortunate that they only hire friends and family and hasn’t interviewed a GM or coaching candidate in a while. Maybe that’s why they find themselves in the position they’re in today?

    • belair

      Foolish gambles? He AVOIDED the UFA market. He re-signed Kris Russell, who experienced success on that ‘cup contending team’. What were his alternatives to that contract this summer?

        • belair

          Waiting him out also runs the risk of us getting caught with our d***s in our hands. It was a very weak UFA market and we technically only gave Russell a $900k raise. Not exactly crippling. You know what is crippling? A bottom pair of Yohann Auvitu and Eric Gryba.

      • crabman

        belair, so you think the Oilers had no choice but to sign Russel to a 4 year contract? I’ll give you 1 alternative don’t sign him. at the time of the signing Klefbom was coming off his best season and signed longterm. Sekera was out but will return and has been our most consistent Dman and is signed long-term. and we have Nurse who played well in the 3rd pairing and the team has invested a high draft pick and development time into and at the time hoping would take a step forward into a top 4 role, which he has. at best they were investing $4M for 4 years on an undersized aging LHD playing on his weak side. at worse another Fayne contract in a couple of years.
        Of the Oilers miss the playoffs this year, through no fault of Russell’s, and next year he is our #5-7 Dman or worse in the AHL and we need to walk away from Maroon or trade Nuge will you still be arguing that this Russel deal had to happen. Chairelli had a choice and I think long-term it will be scene as a bad one.

        • belair

          So the alternative is walking into this season with one of Stanton, Auvitu or Gryba as full-time NHL regulars? Glad to say you’re not the GM calling the shots. Our GM chose to keep the guy who played top four minutes all of last season on our playoff calibre roster.

          Kris Russell is our leading scorer on defense currently playing somewhat low impact minutes. He has been a good gamble so far beyond that unfortunate play vs Toronto. He’s in year one of a front-loaded four year contract that is very tradeable exiting year two, considering he’s still only 30.

          I have no issues walking away from Patrick Maroon should the choice be between him and an NHL calibre defense. Then again, if we walk away from him, it’s because he’s asking for too much anyways. RNH isn’t going anywhere regardless.

          • inheritance

            That’s not the only alternative.

            – Arizona traded Jamie McGinn for Jason Demers. This sort of trade would make a lot of sense to balance the LHD/RHD for the oilers.

            – There was an expansion draft. The Oilers could try to trade for a Collin Miller type.

            – Shattenkirk was probably never coming here, but at his price point and term he would have made a lot of sense.

            There are deals out there that are possible, that we will never know about. I would prefer to spend the cap space on players more effectively than paying Russell for a third pairing role for 4 mill 4 years and with a NMC.

            If Rusell went ufa, how many offers would he have had better than that?

          • belair

            Jason Demers was traded in September, nearly three months after the decision was made on Russell. There was no certainty he was even available at that point in time. Even then, he costs you and asset and also…we’re talking about Jason Demers. Barf.

            And you’re right, Shattenkirk was never coming here or reportedly Hall would be a Blue. Moving on…

            Vegas wasn’t doing us any favors either. They’re a divisional rival and an expansion franchise. What would they have to gain by sending us their young emerging defensemen?

            The UFA options? Alzner, Kulikov, Beauchemin, Hainsey, etc, etc…

            Russell was the devil we knew…and he’s been a pretty good bet so far all things considered.

      • FISTO Siltanen

        Brendan Smith. All the haters should point out this alternative at $350K more every season. Dude has 5 assits and I think he’s missed some games as a healthy scratch.

        I agree with Jason – it is one year too many. If I would ‘ve given him his 4th year he would’ve recieved a $2M signing bonus going into the 2nd last year to make the contract even more moveable.

        But I like him as a player this year and that’s all you can ask for.

        • Big Nuggets

          Del Zotto is leading Vancouvers defense and only costing them 3 mil over 2 seasons. That is the contract size and term I would have been looking for. After one season good or bad you could trade him off and keep all the players you want.
          Somehow Russel got a no movement clause into the first year of McDavids monster contract. That would have been a no go if I was GM. 4 years is also long for an aging shot blocker/charlie hussle type.

          • Redbird62

            Del Zotto’s salary and term are probably a reflection of his injury history. Injured every season since 2012 missing 36, 15, 18, 30 and 31 games. Maybe the Canucks get lucky with him.

  • MessyEH!

    Blaming the player and not liking the player on the team BECAUSE of his bloated undeserved contract are different things. Russel at 3 million would have been great. Instead we have Andrew Ferrence 2.0.
    Russell is a NHL defenseman everyday of the week. He is not currently or is he likely ever going to be a top 4 defensemen on a Stanley cup winner. Your numbers qouted in the article validate what I see on the ice. Russell looks like Henry Winkler being swarmed by bees. Yes he blocks shots. Because he doesn’t have possession of the puck.

    • Mc?

      Top 5 in the league in blocked shots last year was Erik Karlsson. Not saying Russell is Karlsson, but if you are going to use a stat to justify your bias, please use one where arguably the best defenseman in the league is not 2nd or 3rd in said stat.

      As for the “Stanley Cup Winner” comment, would the Penguins have taken Russell last year with their depleted D-core?

        • MessyEH!

          You would need to take playing time into account as well. I don’t recall ever seeing Karlson sprawled on the ice taking himself completely out of the play.

        • Mc?

          I agree he is .5million overpaid, but as the article clearly stated, he is actually playing up to his contract as of right now…. that’s not to say it will last 4 years, but as of now he is, and he is an integral part of the “team” and the locker room… which sometimes is worth .5-1million overpay.

          • MessyEH!

            Agreed. We don’t always know the “intangibles” a player brings. We only see what’s on the ice and the statistics we are provided. The more people defend Russell it makes me question my opinion of him.

            Or I think his family and friends must be commenting here. A lot!

          • Rock11

            No. In a cap world you can’t pay .5M more than a guy is worth because then the next guy gets that deal and pretty soon RNH has to be traded for magic beans because your cap is so out of whack. In a cap league ruthlessness is required of a GM. He needs to be able to say “I like you as a player, we want to keep you, and we will not pay more than X”. If that isn’t enough for the player then you move on to the next guy. 5-6 LHD are so plentiful that no GM should ever have one at more than $1.5m.

          • Mc?

            I agree 1.5million is what a 5/6 Dman should be paid ( see Gryba ) but when the inked Russell to the contract he played top 4min for the team last year. ( again do not get me wrong I do not like the contract should have been 4x2years, or 3.5x3years ) what I meant was if the choice for Chiarrelli was Michael Stone @ 3.5million or Russell @ 4million, I can understand the Russell signing and the extra .5million, for the intangible’s that cannot be tracked

        • Randaman

          Maybe you could call him and ask for a reduction because you don’t like how much money he makes. Does it really make sense to keep debating this over and over? Are you a Henderson fan by chance? Geesh

          • MessyEH!

            So is it healthier to ignore the problems with team. I mean they have been so successful this year we should just give all the players a free pass. They’re great guys.

  • Derian Hatcher

    Good write-up Grogor. LB let in some soft goals, no doubt. But I wonder how being in so few games affect the details of his game. Technical aspects like being up against the post can be worked on in practice, but I am not sure the speed of the game can be replicated consistently in practice. I’m not trying to excuse the goals, as they were obviously weak as he acknowledged, but I feel there is something to be said for playing in actual games to refine one’s craft and work on the small details.

    • Oilman99

      There is no excuse for the bad play of LB. A goalie in his position has to be ready when called upon. His mental breakdown shows he is not ready for the show. Russell is the type of dman every team needs, he gives all he’s got all the time, and his team mates know it and appreciate it.

    • MessyEH!

      I don”t think those low chance shots, from the goaline, get worked on too often in Practice. I”m sure hes been glued to the post now. We still don’t know what LB is. But it’s not trending in the right direction.

    • belair

      His mechanics seem off as well. Tucks his glove into his body when challenging the shooter. He reminds me of bad Scrivens. IMO we should be actively searching for a stopgap starter in Talbot’s absence.

  • camdog

    How come nobody cared that the Oilers gave 4 million to Pouliot for 4 seasons, when the cap was less than it is now? And don’t tell me he’s a better player. And I liked Pouliot’s game for most of his stay here, except the first 40 last year.

    • Big Nuggets

      Pouliot was coming off of a Stanley Cup Finals appearance with the Rangers and was known for ‘puck retrieval’. He was also one of the only players that seemed willing to sign in Edmonton, he had a couple 18 goal seasons including time on the ‘1st line’ with Nuge and Eberle. Might have been an overpay but he wasn’t doing so bad until last seasons collapse.

  • camdog

    And Sekera as, Gregor pointed was awful on his off side, he was a disaster and he was healthy. What an awful idea, the numbers guys are so blinded by their narrative it’s getting a bit silly.

  • CaptainCanada94

    Whenever you are feeling bad about the Oilers, go and check out Flames Nation! Not only do they beat up the Flames, they also beat up the Stamps. I think they are still crying over the loss to Oil on Saturday. Broissoit was extremely leaky, which is fueling their nastiness over there. I love it.

    While I wish Oilers were in a better place in the standings to give LB some more rope, I’m quite concerned with putting the eggs in that basket. Especially with Ellis outperforming him in pre-season. I am very impressed with LB post game and his accountability level and owning his loss of focus. One more shot against Flyers. If that game is not to an NHL level goalie, we need to explore other options.

  • ziyan94

    My concern with trading for goalie help is that all the other GMs know of our shaky situation; they will charge high and throw us anchors rather than life vests.

  • Not a First Tier Fan

    Concerning the number of chances at the PP…

    At this point it’s completely irrelevant because of how BAD the Oilers power-play is under Woodcroft. Considering how much momentum they lose during the PP you sometimes wish they could decline the man-advantage the few times it does come up.

    That said, there shouldn’t be a surprise about the Oilers having such a small number of chances. NHL refs hate the Oilers and aren’t even trying to hide how imbalanced the calls have been since last year. How else do you explain how Nurse gets a penalty for breathing on someone, yet McDavid can’t buy a call even if the other teams player takes his skate off and stabs him with it. (Slight exaggeration for effect – but definitely not too far from the mark…)

  • Big Nuggets

    Russel is doing a good enough job this season to earn the 4 million. As long as he plays well enough next season so we can trade him it will be alright. Although I will be disappointed if we have to get rid of a good player next year because of the Russel contract.

  • Anton CP

    So Brossoit has not been playing well in during Talbot’s absence but don’t forget that Brossoit was a 6th round pick and only 24 years old. Goalies nowadays are rarely hitting their strides until at least 25 and considering Brossoit was the 11th goalie taken at 2011 draft and only one (John Gibson) has been playing regularly in NHL that Brossoit is not a failure. Remember the last goalie that the Oilers ran out of the town then later turned into a Vezina contenders for almost every year? Brossoit’s issues are magnified due to the poor performances of the team this year, if the Oilers’ record is better that no one will criticized Brossoit heavily but with a poor standing and everyday goalie down with injury that Brossoit is forced to deal with more pressure.

    • I am Batman

      Your point being…. let’s give Broissot all the rope he needs?
      Sure, but we also need to win hockey games, LB has taken 10 goals in 2 games; unless you see us scoring 6 every night, we have no time

      • Anton CP

        As said, the only reason that Brossoit has been heavily criticized lately simply because the Oilers are not doing well this season. If the Oilers record is like 6~8 games above .500 that very few will look at him as a bust. Yes, Brossoit should play better but to actually expect him to take over the no.1 spot during Talbot’s absence is unreasonable especially the blueline in front of him did not do much to help. Basically, like every other years that the Oilers fans just cannot wait to throw any young player under the bus when they struggled. Which is why, I love the team but I truly despise many of you as so called the Oilers fans…you are as much of the problem as any other involved in decision making up in the front office. You are part of the reason why this team has sucked for such a long time.

        • I am Batman

          Sorry Anton , with all due respect:
          1) you didn’t answer my question, what do you want to do with LB? He isn’t stopping the puck, nobody wants to crucify him, we just want another goalie.
          2) fans come in all styles, but no matter what Eberle and Hall say, there is no influence on how we cheer that translates to the ice. One can have a (wild) imagination but there is nothing to support that we make the guys lose.
          3) even if the Oil was first in the pacific and LB had accepted 10 goals in two games, there would be criticism, yeah there wouldn’t be anxiety but these are anxious times and we can’t afford to baby sit (I mean develop) a goalie. If he needed development he shouldn’t be the backup.

          Don’t get so frustrated at those who think different.

          • Anton CP

            Ok, 1) it is simple, since LB is the current backup (and possibly into near future) that you can still ride on him for a few more games to see if he is indeed not ready or just having a bad stretch.
            2) part of why fans can be the problem? You don’t believe that the managements are also under pressure from fans that demands results? Teams in US can loss in a landslide and you wouldn’t see any fans throw their jersey onto ice.
            3) but not for any American teams, for other teams based in America will be more like ”well, he is a backup goalie afterall…” and then move on. Again, Brossoit can play better but again that he is a very young goalie that is still learning on being a goalie in superstars league.

  • Jujhar Hockey™ has been great as of late, but I wouldn’t move him up into the top 9. I really like this 4th line and I think he, along with Kass and Letestu can be counted on more minutes.

    They’re facing easier competition and while all 3 are deserving of 3rd line positions on other teams, this is simply a testament to the Oiler’s scoring depth. This line will win every single 4th line matchup in the league.

    JJ can also take Pouliot/Henderson’s role on the PK, both players that had good active sticks (and honestly, I think Oiler fans miss Pou more than they let on, considering how they’ve been getting roasted on the PK…remember all the shorthanded chances Pou created?). I don’t know if players perceive PK time as a “reward” but I think he can be counted on in this area.

    So yeah, keep him on the 4th line, and show more confidence in that line by giving it more minutes when appropriate.

    Another reason to keep him there…the Oilers have *chemistry* on this line. Their cycles, their setups from behind the net, they’re jiving right now and there’s no reason to split that up. Yeah, JJ might look better than Strome on the 3rd line…but I can’t see him playing the same blue collar game with Drai and Maroon.

  • RJ

    Russell’s salary is 78th among NHL defenceman. As others have pointed out, that statistic is meaningless.

    You need some structure in your defence corps as it relates to salary. Top pairing defender? $4m is a deal. Second pairing defender? Seems to be the norm. Bottom pairing defender?Its an overpay.

    Depending upon where you’re playing Russell, the deal can be great, average or terrible. Right now TM has been playing him on the third pair, which makes it an overpay.

    I think the bigger issue is that the Oilers are clearly built around Nurse, Klefbom and Larsson. With Sekera in the mix for the foreseeable future, I’m not sure the rationale for Russell needing 4×4 with a NMC.

    Especially with an expansion draft and the “potentially busiest offseason” ever. There was no deal with LV that made sense?

  • MGD

    What is Russel actually making this year? His AAV is $4mil, but doesn’t he only make $2.5mil in his last year? That would mean he’s making more now…. sure, maybe he’s earning $4mil worth now, but he’s getting paid $5mil this year, $4.5mil next year! It’s not ’til year 3 that he actually gets paid $4mil, then $2.5 his last year. PC better hope Russel survives at least 3 more years b/c that contract is untradeable until that last year!

  • TKB2677

    I am not a Russell hater nor am I a Russell lover. I see him as a serviceable dman who is a #4 on a lot of teams. I would have preferred the Oilers to sign him for 3 or less years and his contract starting with a 3 but I live in the real world, not a fantasy world like some Russell haters do in my opinion.

    Who were the top UFA dman this past offseason?
    Alzner – 5 yrs, 4.625
    Brendan Smith – 4 yrs 4.35
    Kulikov – 3 yrs, 4.333
    Russell – 4 yrs, 4 mill

    So Russell got less than all 3 of those guys in money. I personally would take Russell over Alzner and Smith any day. It’s debatable about Kulikov but 4.333 is a lot to pay a guy who’s going to get hurt, coming off an injury year and who won’t score 20 pts. So money wise, Russell got paid at the low end of the main top 4 guys.

    Then I look at the lesser guys.
    Stone 3 yrs – 3.5. He’s a #5
    Del Zotto 3 yrs- 3 mill. He’s a 5-6.
    Even Hamonic who’s been TERRIBLE in Calgary and looks to be a 5 now makes 3.857.

    So in looking at Russell’s contract. He’s better than Stone who signed for 3.5 mill, he sure looks to be better than Hamonic. So if Russell scores 25+ pts, playing close to 20 mins a min, playing both sides, and doing decent defensively, how is he overpaid at 4 mill?

  • BringitbacklikeSlats

    “7. I agree often with Lowetide, but I strongly disagree with his notion when the Oilers are healthy he would have Russell as the #7 and have Sekera play the right side with Nurse. Sekera struggled mightily on the right side in 2015 with Nurse, and Brandon Davidson simply is not a better NHL defenceman than Russell. I don’t understand why he would list Russell, their top-scoring defender, as the #7 when everyone is healthy. I’m all for using analytics — I believe they can really enhance what we see — but nothing I’ve seen from Davidson in 2016 and 2017 that tells me he is better than Russell.”

    It’s because he’s an adamant believer in Corsi as an individual players evaluation. He lives and breathes it, and he’ll apparently be buried with it before admitting their may be a flaw in using it assessing a defensive defensemen which he admittedly doesn’t value that highly.
    I have tremendous respect for his insightful and often hilarious commentary but little use for what he views as quality on a Blueline. According to LT Oscar Klefboms the world according to Garp. Meanwhile checks don’t get finished on Oscars watch, puck grenades get tossed around for his teammates to take hits, wingers waltz by him with no hesitation, and his wild clapper ends up in an odd man rush against us 1/3 of the time.
    Sorry. I don’t buy that kind of crazy. He may want Lady Byng winners guarding his teams blue paint but no thanks…not on mine.

    • IRONman

      Goaltending is The Problem here. Who cares if Russel gets 4 or 3 million. He is our top point producer for D. If we do not get the Goaltending fixed we are F@@ked for this season and next.

  • Vanoil

    Davidson plays a smart, efficient, economical game and has a very useful shot from the point that often gets through. He rarely if ever makes mental mistakes and is almost always positionally sound, is not afraid to step infront of a shot, and, is physically big enough to clear the net front and end board battles. More importantly, his gap control is always precise and he never gives up the blueline freely. All of that is what is required on the back end at the NHL level. He doesn’t present with the quickest mobility, but he doesn’t wear ankle weights either. He is sound and capable. Russell, is admirable in that he consistently plays above his weight class, and his experience gives him the confidence to not get overwhelmed there. He has a lot of the basic tools which also permit him to be an NHL defender, his most telling characteristic is anticipating the play and being positionally sound to make up for his lack of size, with above average lateral mobility, and the aforementioned poise under pressure gleaned from experience / confidence. Between the two, on this roster however, there is a need for size and efficiency on the back end (why we over utilize Gryba, and rely so much on Nurse, Benning, and Larson — at their young ages). Russell is an adequate D man, but does struggle with gap control and Board battles; and, while his skating is perhaps better than average, his smaller stature means he often has to skate twice as hard to cover the same space, leaving him exposed on longer shifts. Add to this his paucity to win any sort of board battle, and his relative utility becomes more obvious. He has some merit, but as evinced by last years’ post season, when play gets amped up his weaknesses start to come to the forefront. I never agree with Lowetide, but here he is correct, if you are building a championship team (under the cap) Russell is below what you need your regular six D to be. Davidson, as he was trending, is much more like Benning (without the offensive up-side perhaps), in that he maybe a capable top four, even in the post-season. That alone puts him above Russell, but for the experience which is obviously not transferable, let alone the intangibles like heart, which is why you keep him in the room, even if you don’t dress him every night.

    • BringitbacklikeSlats

      Finally an intelligent player assessment. One thing I’d say is that during the playoffs last year Russell was pretty reliable. I PVRd the games and have gone back and watched them and frankly didn’t see much panic in his game at all. More Poise than a lot of guys and that’s what you traditionally should count on from a 30 year old vet.
      And again showing this year that he’s capable of top 4 minutes. I believe a massive part of our problem has been a belief in Klefbom being a top 2 player when there was little evidence to support it. Kids a fine player( a solid 4) but no way in hell is he a top two on any good team.
      At the same time I see a huge belief deficit in Kassian. He should have been given longer looks as a 2nd line RW. He has all the tools necessary and showed game changing ability in the playoffs.