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Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Forecasting the Second Half

The Oilers entered the second half of the season with playoff hopes dashed and fans enraged. Offseason bets haven’t worked out, and the long-term effects of downgrading in skill each summer are showing.

Still, the season isn’t a complete loss. The Oilers can build for next year. There won’t be blockbuster trades, but they can make moves that help long term.

Apr 20, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN;Edmonton Oilers forward Patrick Maroon (19) passes the puck in front of San Jose Sharks defensemen Brent Burns (88) during the first period in game five of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
  • Sell off at the deadline. Patrick Maroon, Mark Letestu, Mike Cammalleri, and Yohann Auvitu are impending unrestricted free-agents that have to be moved. Maroon’s the big chip, and could net the Oilers a second-round pick. Letestu might be able to get a third, and take anything for Cammalleri. Auvitu’s versatility at wing and defence means he could have a role in Edmonton beyond this season.
  • RFA housekeeping. Ryan Strome, Anton Slepyshev, Drake Caggiula, Brandon Davidson, Matthew Bennning, and Darnell Nurse are all restricted free-agents after the season. Caggiula, Benning, and Nurse are part of the future. Davidson could return as cheap depth. Strome’s $3-million qualifying offer means he could be sent out at the deadline as it’s unlikely the Oilers qualify him at that price. Slepyshev has rarely played and reportedly available, it’s easy to see him gone.
  • Test drive players. I’ve talked about Anthony Duclair being an option. He’d be the kind of player that wouldn’t cost a lot, but could be worth taking a chance on in the twilight of the season. The Oilers aren’t adding in the typical way at the deadline, but someone has to fill in for the free agents that go.
  • Try RNH on the wing. What’s the harm? They’re loaded at center with few skilled wingers.
  • Rest Cam Talbot. Talbot’s played a lot of hockey for the Oilers. There’s no point starting him 35 times the rest of the season. Give Al Montoya more games. Maybe even Laurent Brosoit or Nick Ellis get a game if either plays well in Bakersfield.
  • Clear salary. The Oilers’ cap situation is even more precarious with McDavid’s mega extension kicking in next season. If there’s someone that would take Kris Russell’s contract the Oilers should consider it, especially with Darnell Nurse needing a new deal.
  • Lay the groundwork for the offseason. People get fired when team’s don’t do well. Going from a 103-point season to an ~80-point season during the last cheap year of a generation center? That’s going to cost someone their job. A mid-season change is unlikely because teams won’t let their guys go on route to the playoffs. But things happen in the NHL when they’re not supposed to. Contract terms get discussed in advance, players talk to one another about free-agent destinations, and an organization in the midst of a disappointing campaign could let a team like Nashville or Tampa Bay know they’d like to interview one of their assistant general managers after the season.

This year is incredibly disappointing for the Oilers and their fans. This won’t be exciting, Oilers fans know a team playing out a lost season all too well, but they can set themselves up for next year with some smart moves.

  • nijames

    They have a lot of holes to fill before they are true contenders but at least they have the first ir second best player in the NHL to build around. Going to be extremely hard to get any 1/2 defensemen with $21 million in cap space taken up by two players. Lots of work to do by whoever is the GM, lets hope it is not Gretzky, that’s the last thing this team needs. He has already proven in Phoenix that he was a great hockey player but not great at all in running a team.

    • WillyWonka

      you can make an argument that McD is the best… (or will be the best) but to call Drai the second best? someone needs to take a break on the koolaid
      i am not worried about Conner living up to his cntrac – the guy is on a whole other level, but Drai is not. Good? Sure, but the overpay on is contract may be the cause of the next lockout… thanks Chia

      • The Ghost of Alex Plante

        I don’t think the implication was that Drai was the second best player in the NHL, It was that McDavid is either the best or second best. The “ir” is actually supposed to be an “or.

      • Joy S. Lee

        The ‘overpay’ was a tradeoff – the idea being for it to become a bargain halfway through the 8 year term. He’s what, 21, 22? There’s a helluva lot of upside to that guy and that 8-year term. That’s what the team is banking on. It’s on the books, like it or not… the question now is how they’re going to build a Cup winner around those two, isn’t it?

    • LAKID

      Could of had one RHD for free but Chia declined to claim him on waivers, could have had Montoya for free because he was going on waivers but Chia gave up a draft pick.

      • Hermanic

        Can somebody pleeeeeeeeeeease tell Drew Remenda to STFU!!! cant stand his analysis while the game is on or watching a replay, Nicholsons Hockey Canada buddy, what a moron

  • bcoil

    So I would like someone to do a article on how many coaches ,GM’s ,scouting staff and players the main stream media the social media and the fans have run out of town or their jobs in the last 12 years .. Do we really want to do it again????
    I realize we live in a world of instant gratification where everyone under 40 expects things to go their way in seconds or they push a button on their computer to make a change but.. these ongoing efforts by the aforementioned members of this lynch mob that is always looking for a sacrificial lamb has got stop or no one will want to come here be it in management or as a player.

    • camdog

      Which GM do you think was run out of town by media – Lowe, Tambellini or Mactavish? A couple coaches were run out early but that was Lowe and Mactavish that were involved in that. Players well yes there have been lots of players trashed.

    • Neddd

      @bcoil

      Many coaches have been replaced yes but it has not been as bad for the GM position. Kevin Lowe and Steve Tambellini were in chair for lengthy terms, its really only Mactavish who was replaced hastily (2 year term).

      I understand what you’re saying, it doesn’t look good to be continually changing out management, both for optics and continuity reasons. But when a team takes such a significant step back, and its future/potential has actually been eroded, it has to be done in my opinion. Chiarelli has put the team in a worse position for the salary cap and from a talent/asset perspective. I don’t see how the organization can trust him moving forward.

      • bcoil

        My point is simply this .We as fans have neither the knowledge or the right to effect people and their careers in this manner .Would you like me as a unknown person off the street to have control over your employment ? Of course not but its seems that we think as “fans ” that along with that passion comes all these rights to control people .We don’t sorry you and i may control what we write on a computer but that is about it so we should quit taking ourselves so seriously .

        • Neddd

          @bcoil

          It is the nature of the business they chose. You’re right, I wouldn’t appreciate people off the street judging/commenting on my work performance, but I’m not in show business. Its what Chiarelli and everyone else in the hockey world signed up for when they accepted their respective positions.

          Its not like my current boss/employer deciding to stream my performance reviews on you-tube without my prior consent/knowledge. “Oh by the way Neddd, Ive decided to publicly broadcast your performance reviews, I can actually make money from this I’ve discovered”. That would be kind of funny though.

        • Coheed

          The problem with your argument is that fans are not unknowns throwing rocks from the sidelines. Fans are customers paying for a products, in this case entertainment in the form of NHL hockey. Whether they are paying for admission, buying merchandise or even watching on TV (NHL gets lots of TV revenue, and that doesn’t happen if no one is watching), fans are the ones who are in control of the product. Free market will dictate whether someone will buy your product, and if customers are dissatisfied with your product, they will not buy it.

          If I bought a product from a store that I wasn’t happy with, I would return it and might give it a bad review online. I wouldn’t expect to write hundreds of blog posts about it. That’s what makes sports different, but make no mistake, we as fans absolutely have a right to be critical of the product the Oilers are providing, and the people in charge of that product.

    • The Ghost of Alex Plante

      Right, they should keep people around just for the sake of it, who needs results anyways? Ever think that so many coaches were run out of town because they didn’t produce any results? And only one GM has actually been “run out of town”, Lowe, Mactavish and assistant GM Howson are all still employed by the team. What other professional organization has such little accountability? Who else would continue to employ people who have consistently shown no positive results what so ever? No wonder they suck so bad. This organization is an embarrassment.

      • No other organization has this little of accountability, or should I say no accountability whatsoever? “People get fired when teams don’t do well” . Does not apply to the Oilers, only to professional teams. Book it, no one will be held accountable as per usual. Second half forecast? More misery and shoddy officiating. Did not watch last night and will not a again until the clowns on the bus are removed permanently.

  • 24% body fat

    Every team that traded Brayden Schenn is now mad. Put in the right situation he broke out. Not saying that will happen for Strome, but If they move him out, where are we going to find NHL players (let alone right hand shots that can fill in at C) to replace him.

    Good teams dont have their number 4 or the left side d depth chart making 4 mill

  • WillyWonka

    OK in the look ahead, you are:
    1) bringing in forwards and
    2) moving out defense…
    it’s the D (and a rough patch for Talbot) that is sinking this team.
    Add a forward and sell defense???????
    with a couple of stud offensive d-men, this team starts rolling (i.e. a Giordano/Hamilton pairing)
    you think the team is struggling to score points, but i believe its the defense that is the weak point in the system, even for scoring. scoring is a five man job.

  • winteriscoming

    Didn’t see anything regarding the GM or coach didn’t we give up a draft pick or two for Chia? You need to look at the entire team not just the players in your evaluation.

  • Natejax97

    Draft Brady tkachuk.

    Unless you get 1st overall. Then you get the stud d man

    Use all draft picks for more decensive I depth so 2 years from now when we are a contender we have the correct depth.

    Load up on assets. No more lifer ahl guys.

    • LAKID

      Looking at the schedule I think we can easily overtake Vancouver and make a run at Arizona and Buffalo. Finish in the top 3 and the Lottery balls will fall to the Oilers and Dahlin will be our first overall pick OR will he Chia?

  • Slipknot 8

    This is why you cant have Chiarelli driving the bus….
    How could the Oilers wreck the team so badly with McDavid – Hall – Ebelre – RNH – Draisaitl – Nurse – Klefbom and 2 picks in the top 33 of the 15 draft…….
    Ladies and gentlemen I give you Chiarelli……..

  • belair

    I could see the Oilers doing what the Pens did to Schultz and rejecting the QO and re-signing him at a lower price point. He hasn’t earned a raise this season. But if he’s dedicated to the Oilers, I could see them being more than willing to give him another shot.

    As for Maroon and Letestu, I’d like to see them packaged together to maximize the quality of the return. Take back a short-term salary dump and get what you can.

    Letestu and Maroon for Hagelin, prospect and picks? Sign me up. It’s eons better than the two thirds you’re farting around for at the deadline.

      • Christian Pagnani

        Strome’s a weird player. There’s value in a RH guy that can play a bit of center and score 35 points. But he’s not a great skater and doesn’t penalty kill. I could see a playoff team interested in him, and the Oilers doing it because there were reports they aren’t happy with him and they need to add speed.

      • Glencontrolurstik

        I don’t know???
        All this talk about moving this & changing that…
        Am I the only one that sees a pretty talented team with no direction?
        Even McDavid… How many times in a game now is he saying, F***-it… and we see him go on a one man tear…
        If the team had some direction, we wouldn’t see that… Like it was progressing last year. Lots of promise & progression, this year, it’s “seat of your pants, on the fly management” with absolutely no direction.
        It’s not the lack of skill level to my eye. It’s lack of direction & systems.
        That’s why we are seeing individual players mid-game saying “f***-it” and going on a brief tear, trying to be the hero…
        I just don’t know how a team can go from showing so much exciting promise to what we see today? God, Eberle wasn’t THAT good???

        • I agree. How many times have seen them out of sync and heard “pass just out of the reach”? How many times have we seen them take the puck into the zone then panic and make a blind pass or just go right into 2 defenders? I get we aren’t doing well and some changes are necessary but should we really be tearing down the walls and burning the entire mall down? I remember Tampa fans were crucifying Jon Cooper and Stevie Y last year, those same fans are calling them God’s gift to hockey this year. Im not saying Todd and PC will lead us to a complete turnaround next year and first in the NHL but I do think we should atleast give them a chance(im well aware this isn’t the popular opinion and im ready for the trashes).

        • Hermanic

          Can somebody pleeeeeeeeeeease tell Drew Remenda to STFU!!! cant stand his analysis while the game is on or watching a replay, Nicholsons Hockey Canada buddy, what a moron
          get rid of Strome, he is useless

    • Slipknot 8

      Yes! the huge concern for me is that he overvalues players like Sekera, Russell and Benning, despite some glaring and obvious limitations from those players and would be willing to move a Nurse or Klefbom in order to fill a spot he traded away elite skill from, such as LW or RW…..It’s like one step forward three back for this team or is it “death by a thousand paper cuts” its all a blur these days…

  • The Future Never Comes

    Pray for the best, prepare for the worst. That’s all I can think about moving forward, I see a very scrambled future with little to no assets to work with. We need draft picks for cheap future contracts, but we also need actual NHL contributors during Leon’s and Connor’s prime. Where to go from here and how to do it, I do not have the answers too.

  • BasementDweller

    No one will lose their job over this season. We’re hearing the same preaching of patience and “we’ll get this fixed” from the organization again that we always hear. Nicholson will do a half-assed forensic audit but nothing will come of it.

    Firing anyone will be an admission that his last audit and subsequent changes were a failure. What happened last time? Were the guilty parties shown the door? No, they were bumped into other roles in the organization. It’s too easy for people in the Oilers organization to suckle at the teat of Katz and keep their pockets lined.

    If you and your work buddies had jobs that paid you extremely well despite you being an abject failure would you rock the boat?

  • Forwards can’t score if the defense can’t defend and then get the puck up the ice, and chip in from time-to-time. This has been the core, ongoing problem for this team. Yeah, their 5v5 Corsi looks great, and while they shoot and shoot (2nd in shots/g), they can’t hit the net to save their life (26th in shot%) even though they supposedly have Lucic and Maroon in front of the net.

  • TDSM31

    I honestly think the Oil brass believes they can just do the Tampa/New Jersey thing and miss the playoffs but come back and be a top team the following year with the same staff.

  • Spaceman Spiff

    Clear salary? Huh? I thought the narrative amongst the blogging community is that the Oilers are basically Team Cap Space. You mean the Oilers need to be shedding contracts?
    Huh. Could that be the reason why the traded Eberle?

  • tkfisher

    Still can’t believe the last two years. Chiaclown came into a situation and had the easiest job on the planet. Don’t screw up. He had a generational talent in McDavid, two elite offensive players in Hall, Drai, two complementary offensive players in RNH, Eberle. He was given a top 4 pick to use or trade in Puljujarvi. He has a blue chip D prospect in Nurse, and a young serviceable Top 4 D man in Klefbom. If we go back further, there was a young RHD PP specialist in Shultz who should not have been rushed, put in over his head, damaged and traded. Management had one job, don’t F UP. And in the past 3-5 the management team has been slowly eroding the talent base. We have more holes now, than we did a few seasons ago. Brutal management.

  • tkfisher

    Still can’t believe the last two years. Chiaclown and MacT came into a situation primed for success and had one job, Don’t screw up. They had a generational talent in McDavid, two elite offensive players in Hall, Drai, two complementary offensive players in RNH, Eberle. This team was given a top 4 pick to use or trade in Puljujarvi. There was a blue chip D prospect in Nurse, and a young serviceable Top 4 D man in Klefbom. If we go back further, there was a young RHD PP specialist in Shultz who should not have been rushed, put in over his head, damaged and traded. Management had one job, don’t F#$% UP. And in the past 3-5 the management team has been slowly eroding the talent base of this team and taken steps backwards. We have more holes now, than we did a few seasons ago. Brutal management.

    • IRONman

      Fix the D. Keep Sekera and Nurse. Shop the rest. 4 million too much for 77,6, and 4. Need budget players. 97 and 29 are awesome together. So keep playing them together. The GM of this he Oilers has to decide to win now at some point. 2007 till 2015 was just farting around