It’s mid-December and Christmas is right around the corner. OilersNation has dug deep and exhausted multiple sources to bring you exclusive Oilers information. We’ve managed to intercept some of the Oilers’ Christmas wish-lists on route to Santa. Lets take a look at what the Oilers scribbled down.
Christmas Wish: A 10-game win streak
McLellan’s ask is simple, he just wants the ship steered right. After coming into the season with the highest of expectations, the Oilers sit in the bottom of the standings. They’re dangerously close to being out of it if they’re not already. McLellan just wants the prospect of playoff games for all the young boys and girls in Edmonton.
I’m not one that thinks McLellan’s job is in any real danger, but a winning streak would cure any doubt. There was a faint ‘better roster’ scribbled over and erased in his letter as well. Hmm.
Christmas wish: A mulligan on last summer
On the surface Chiarelli’s summer doesn’t look too bad: Following a playoffs where they were one win away from the Western Conference Finals, he signed two franchise cornerstones to long-term deals. Signed the Oilers number two defenceman in ice time for four years. Cleared salary by trading a pricey forward for a younger, cheaper one, and buying out an overpaid winger. Signed a bunch of organizational depth for Bakersfield, and a couple depth players for Edmonton, and bet on the Oilers youth and internal growth. Not bad, right?
Well, that didn’t go as planned. The McDavid contract is great, but Draisaitl’s is iffy considering the leverage Edmonton had. Draisiatl’s paid like a top ten forward, but has spent the majority of the season on the wing with McDavid. Kris Russell’s contract is as problematic as it was when it was signed. He only recently moved into the top four when both Adam Larsson and Andrej Sekera were out. Otherwise, he’s been used a fifth defenceman by McLellan. Oh, and Darnell Nurse needs a new contract this summer. He’s averaging almost 22 minutes a game on a defence that already has four guys making over four million.
The cap space saved by trading Jordan Eberle, who’s on pace for 30 goals, and buying out Benoit Pouliot hasn’t been used, and betting on unproven, young players like Drake Caggiula and Anton Slepyshev looks foolish. The Oilers won one playoff round, but there wasn’t much done to improve the team. Chiarelli probably wants a do-over on the offseason.
Christmas Wish: A big contract extension
Maroon’s on a steal of a contract for Edmonton, but that contract runs out this summer. He’s going to want a hefty raise from the $1.5 million the Oilers pay him ($2m total with Anaheim’s salary retained). Something in the four-year, $4m per range seems likely. Maroon will probably have to wait until the offseason, though. If the Oilers are out of it near the deadline they have to move him. They can search for the next Maroon or allocate that money elsewhere. Maroon’s a great complimentary winger, but not a player you pay a premium for.
Christmas Wish: Just, like, one save on the penalty kill
With how bad the Oilers’ penalty kill is, this seems like a reasonable ask.
Christmas Wish: Two scoring wingers, and maybe a flu shot.
The Oilers captain needs some scorers flanking him. Milan Lucic and Jesse Puljujarvi currently occupy those positions. Lucic is on pace for nearly 60 points, but only 18 goals. Puljujarvi’s scoring at a 22-goal pace despite starting the season in the minors. The hope is that he’s McDavid’s longterm winger, but playing there now is an indictment of the lack of options on the roster. McDavid needs some wingers that can keep up and finish some of his ridiculous passes, say, a certain speedy left-wing or a goal-scoring right wing?
And get this guy a flu shot.
Christmas Wish: The 2016-17 power play
The Oilers power play was top five last year. It sits 17th right now and that’s not good enough for a first unit with Connor McDavid on it. Last year’s power play was a real weapon. This year feels like they should start declining penalties. I don’t think Santa will deliver, but maybe start with Oscar Klefbom shooting less and more shots in close?
Christmas Wish: Fewer minutes
Most can agree Russell shouldn’t be playing 22 minutes a night. He has a better better chance to add value to the Oilers if he’s playing 16-18 minutes. His contract was always too much and too long. But he can play third-pairing minutes and maybe get those gosh darn Corsi nerds off his back! Analytics that!
Christmas Wish: Connor McDavid’s skating
Okay, this would be pretty cool. Who wouldn’t want to see this?
Christmas Wish: Future Sekera’s ACL
Sekera will return in a week or so, but he’ll need time to get up to speed. The Oilers need the Sekera that’ll be in game form months from now.
Boy, those are some serious requests. Maybe McLellan gets is 10-game win streak, but those are pretty unlikely. Maroon will get a contract that’s better than the one he has, but it probably won’t be in Edmonton. McDavid could use some help on the wings, but he’ll probably have some by next season.