Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

What can the Oilers learn from this season?

This is a disappointing season for Oilers fans and management. But what can be learned from a season that’s gone so wrong when many thought they’d be competing for a Stanley Cup?

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Too many bets on unproven players

I wasn’t surprised when the Oilers traded Jordan Eberle for Ryan Strome, but that left an incredibly thin right wing unless Leon Draisaitl played the majority of the season alongside Connor McDavid.

The Oilers sold low on Eberle and bet that Drake Caggiula, Anton Slepyshev, and Ryan Strome could replace his scoring. Caggiula and Slepyshev had a few nice goals in the playoffs, but they had 28 points combined last year.

Chiarelli made a bet that either Darnell Nurse or Matt Benning could fill in for Andrej Sekera’s absence. Nurse has assumed more minutes and hasn’t looked out of place, while Benning’s had a rocky campaign. There wasn’t much cover elsewhere on the blueline. Oscar Klefbom’s season hasn’t been as good as last year with injuries holding him back. Kris Russell is a shot-blocking specialist who McLellan trusts, but is limited.

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Unused cap space

The Oilers have a lot of cap space, even when you account for McDavid’s bonuses. They’re among the lowest spending teams in the league.

The idea was with Eberle traded for Strome and Benoit Pouliot bought out they’d have a ton of room to load up for a Stanley Cup run at the trade deadline. That plan failed. Had this season gone another way, maybe the Oilers add Michael Grabner, Evander Kane, and Mike Green in deadline deals.

I’d rather have Eberle than the majority of the players moved at the deadline. The cost of these deadline acquisitions would have hurt an already shallow prospect pool with draft picks and players headed out, although winning a Stanley Cup makes that matter less.

RELATED ARTICLE:   Morning Report: Oilers Vs. Coyotes (18 January)

You can always improve

I get wanting to keep the roster more or less the same. They made the playoffs for the first time in a decade, and management felt confident in a team that was a few goals from the Western Conference Finals. But it’s hard to argue Chiarelli didn’t make the Oilers worse in the off-season.

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Chiarelli re-signed Zack Kassian and Kris Russell, signed McDavid and Draisaitl long term, and traded Eberle for Strome. Jussi Jokinen was added on a cheap, one-year deal.

With Sekera injured, Chiarelli should have done more to solidify the defence. He opted to re-sign a third-pairing defenceman for too much money and too many years. There needed to be more done other than bringing back Russell and signing Yohann Auvitu.

The wings were bare unless Draisaitl played right wing. The Oilers don’t have a full-time winger on pace for more than 40 points. Draisaitl is well past that but has split time at centre and wing. Same with RNH recently.

You can’t build through free agency

July 2015: Oilers sign Andrej Sekera to a six-year, $5.5M AAV contract.

July 2016: Oilers sign Milan Lucic to a seven-year, $6M AAV contract.

June 2017: Oilers re-sign Kris Russell to a four-year, $4M AAV contract.

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The Oilers can’t add another expensive contract in free agency that carries no-trade or no-move protection.

Sekera may not have a working leg by the end of the season. Lucic’s contract is moving into albatross territory. Russell’s deal is too long and too rich for a third-pairing defenceman when the Oilers need to sign Darnell Nurse and still improve their defence.

RELATED ARTICLE:   Connor McDavid: Whatever it Takes

McDavid’s line can’t do it all

McDavid is probably going to give you 95-105 points in any given season and crush whatever opposition he faces. He can’t be your entire game plan.

The Oilers outscore and out-shoot teams with McDavid on the ice, but are heavily outscored without. They were about even in terms of shots without McDavid until dipping below lately.

Oilers management needs to bridge the gap between McDavid’s line and the rest of the roster.

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The Oilers can’t make the same mistakes they made this season. Whoever is in charge needs to have a better offseason than Peter Chiarelli had last summer. This means acquiring talent without sending a better asset the other way.

It’ll be more difficult. McDavid’s mega-extension kicks in and the Oilers aren’t flush with tradable assets, so they’ll have to get creative if they want to return to the playoffs.

  • 24% body fat

    CAGULLIA! Hahahaha, this guy had never achieved anything in hockey ever until his senior year in college, which all seniors do. Than they gift him a position in the NHL after coming off an injury. They have to stop doing this. People were made when Schultz go the icetime but at least he did something in the AHL.

    Gamberdella had similar stats to caggulia in college, yet he is playing in the AHL and working on his game, and with not very good results. Yet Cagullia is playing quality minutes in the NHL and is barely a replacement level player. Addition by subtraction with the player and with the person in the organization wanting to give this scrub cherry ice time.

  • Rob...

    Oilers’ window is closing. I heard on the radio that GM’s will today be discussing career ending ‘injuries’ that eliminate bad contracts. ~Amazing that Lucic has been able to play given his severe ice allergy. Eh?~ For the good of his health he needs to be shelved permanently effective immediately.

    • A-co

      Well Rob allergies are nothing to SNEEZE at….if he is indeed alergic to ice they should be shutting him down ASAP!!! Will oilers fans miss his out of this world on ice production….NO they won’t. ..but the health of the player should be #1…let’s all hope he can seek treatment for this more than common health issue…maybe acupuncture could help him along with being away from the rink…Godspeed 27

  • QuitForRealThisTime

    That the NHL is a tough league and has a lot of parity. Every decision or set back can lead to major disappointment. No one is perfect (except of course Oilers Nation posters who know all and never make mistakes).
    Really seems that the Oilers could have been 1 stat away from making the playoffs ie. If the home PK was average and not record breakingly bad, if they we not dead last in PP time by a country mile, if..if..if. People he may have all they answers but no one else really does. Stay positive Oil country, we slugged it out for 10 years what a one more. Next year baby!

    • 24% body fat

      nope the pk wasnt the only thing that killed them. Everything went right last year, and chiarelli bet the team would improve even though he downgraded.

      Everyone other than MacT and Chiarelli knew 80s hockey was dead and yet they didnt learn.

      -6m to a player we all knew couldnt skate, was going to be a bad contract, and for some reason wanted to come here yet the GM gave him an extra year than the market. brutal

      -4M for a third pairing left winger who lays on the ice the whole game and whose break out passes are always of the boards in the air and never on the stick of the forward

      -Griffin Reinhart, because he is a big slow oil king who pushed around kids in junior who were not as developed at him as the times! good pick

      -Not going to draft barzal, because a super skilled right handed center the oiler did not need, but another large left center in Ek because you know, big slow hockey

      -drake caggulia over JP, strome and slepyshev, College grit over every other level proven skill

      -Gustavson, and Brosoit as backups, never have the achieved even back up status at the nhl level.

      We all knew this, why didnt Chia. So yes as it stands we do know better than Chia. He was fired from a team that won a cup because they knew he would lead them to disaster,

      • Hemmercules

        So many people have a hard on for this Barzal guy. The Oilers got McD in that draft and already had Leon in the system. I would actually be kinda surprised if they took another center had they retained that #16 pick that year. Not to mention 13 teams passed on him after Eichel and Mcd were gone.

        • RJ

          Some teams believe in the importance of having a L/R balance in the lineup. Having a quality RHC would have been great for lineup flexibility. Kind of how they managed Letestu, only a centre with more skill and speed.

        • 24% body fat

          first of all, who cares if you have 97 and 29. The draft should be about maximizing your assets. In a redraft right now he might even go 2. He was ranked 7th or 8th and boston had 3 picks, so no, 13 other teams did not pass on him. Maybe 6. As well the were going to draft Ek. A left handed center because of size, why else? All scouting reports say Barzal was better, and he was right handed and could play wing. You realize he is outscoring Tavares, and Tavares got moved from center to play on his wing?

          As well for other teams passing on him, I believe it was Taresenko that a lot of teams passed on too before he fell to the mid teens.

          If the oilers drafted Barzal and Carlo, where would they be today. Trading Eberle for cap space isnt as bad of a move, no need to sign russel or lucic to bad contracts, no lack of scoring, and a proper right hand left hand balance through the whole roster.

          Hall-connor-barzal nuge-leon-jp khaira-strome-slep cag-????- Kassian

          Sekera – ????? Klefbom- Carlo Nurse – Benning

          Yamo pick and this years pick wouldnt have been so desperately needed and could have found a top 4 RHD,

          This trade and lack of understanding how to draft killed the early years of CMD in Edmonton. the same drafting philosphy for the past 10 years is why we are always in the lottery as well.

        • Arfguy

          Tend to agree. Yeah, Barzal looks awesome, but if Boeser was still playing, I bet OilersNation loves Boeser more for his goals.

          I love how everyone thinks it’s a done deal that if Reinhart had not been traded for, Oilers would have secured Barzal. Let’s be real here…the Oilers passed up a right-hand shot centre in Seguin to choose a left-hand shot Taylor Hall.

          Hall, who has never hit more than 30 goals before this season. Taylor Hall, the player who has reached 70+ points once before this season, was chosen over Tyler Seguin, who has not only hit 70+ points 5 years in a row now, but is on the verge of getting 40 goals.

          I love hearing how obvious things are well after the fact. Eberle would have 10 goals this season and Hall would consistently play like an idiot if they were both with the Oilers. Also, Matt Barzal would be enjoying a surging career with most likely any team other than Edmonton…well, maybe Buffalo.

  • Hemmercules

    Expect the worst, hope for the best.

    Should be an interesting summer. Im expecting the same GM and coaching staff next year and I highly doubt they wont try to add another contract in free agency. Chia is a shopper at that time of year and always seem to add a face or two on not-so-nice contracts. Maybe Maroon returns, 3.5×4 with an NMC for the first two years or something like that? Chia loves those no movement clauses.

    With just the current roster and maybe one more add I think they can be in a Calgary position next year, fighting to a wild card spot in March. Some guys will rebound, some will get shipped out. I wouldn’t expect big things this summer or next season but I fee like they wont be basement again. If Talbot and the Defense rebound even a little that will go a long way.

  • lee

    With all the cap space the Oilers had, really surprised the Oiler’s didn’t get a pick for taking on a big contract that expired after this season at the trade deadline. These are the things you have to do in the new NHL.
    Next season the GM will have to be very creative to plug some of the holes.
    Some of the holes wont be plugged and the fans better get used to that. Unless you are trading Dria for a boat load of young cheap top six forwards and top 4 d men, it will take a few seasons to right the ship.
    Everything except moving McDavid has to be on the discussion table after April.
    The team still has McDavid, Dria, Nuge, Larsson, Kelbom, Nurse and next season Bear and maybe Yomo with Benson coming midway through the season hopefully. All is not lost it just will take a better GM and a better Coach than the Oilers had this season.

  • OilersBro

    Here’s what I learned. The Oilers signed an older 3rd pairing defencemen when they already had left hand depth to a 4X4 NMC contract.
    The Islanders got a younger player of similar caliber for a 3rd round pick (Davy). I have nothing against russell and frankly I thought he met expectations this season however, when a guy is easily replaceable there is no excuse for giving him a long term contract with a NMC.

    Moving forward, lets lock down elite D talent like Nurse and make sure we don’t overpay for guys like Benning. If we get a bargain and short term deal for a 7D like we did with Gryba or Auvitu, great. If not, let him walk

  • KMA

    In addition to the above article, this season we have seen proof that the General manager has reached his level of incompetence and must be relieved of his duties.

  • TKB2677

    Oh good, another article that references the Eberle trade. If someone wants to say that the Oilers didn’t get enough for Hall, I am on board. But this notion that Eberle got sold low to me is hard to swallow. Let’s be clear, I actually liked Eberle and cheered for him. But what I am going to say about him is based on reality of what he actually is vs what some fans see while they are wearing their “I love Eberle” t-shirt and drinking from their “Eberle is god” cup. When Eberle was traded, what was he?
    – A small, not overly fast, one dimensional RW, who when he didn’t score points, did nothing for your team. He’s streaky, inconsistent player who has effort issues and doesn’t give a damn defensively. He’s weak along the borders, not hard on the puck and is not hard to play against. For a “shooter”, while being very accurate, he doesn’t have a great shot, can’t one time the puck overly well, doesn’t have a quick release and over handles the puck. He had a crap season last year and when the games got tougher and when all eyes were on him in the playoffs, he played worse. To top it all off, he makes 6 mill which is AT LEAST 1 mill too much. He had 20 goals and 51 pts in 82 games last year. He’s not a line driver, he’s an expensive complimentary player.

    He goes to the Isles, proves he can’t play with elite players, gets bumped down to the second line and gets lucky to be paired up with a rookie who is having a year that is going to be up there as one of the best rookie seasons in a long time. So far in 71 games, he has 24 goals and 50 pts. Now assuming he finishes the season, he might get a couple more goals and 55 pts. So not bad but considering he’s playing with a guy that might get 80 pts, not great. But everything I said he is, he still is. He is still making 1 mill too much.

    Now for the trade. When you look at the trade, Strome for Eberle, Eberle is the better player. At the end of the year, Stome will probably finish with 13-14 goals, 35 pts, playing 3rd line center and being on both the PP and PK all while making 2.5 mill. Not bad. It took him a while to get settled into the team and find a role that worked for him. So if he had of found his niche earlier, could his totals be up a bit? I think so. But Eberle is the better offensive play. So to make the trade EVEN, it probably should have been Strome and a pick/prospect. BUT the Oilers gave up the pick/prospect for cap space. Like it or not, CAP SPACE is considered an asset. So the trade was actually Strome + cap space for Eberle. The problem is the Oilers didn’t USE the cap space. If the Oilers got Strome then used the cap space to get a deadline guy, no one would complain.

    What happened is the PP fell off the map. They were top 5 last year. Eberle wasn’t even on the Oilers #1 PP unit so him being gone had nothing to do with it. They are last or near the bottom this year. Their PK was record setting bad. Eberle doesn’t kill penalties. Their 4th in vezina voting goalie last year, couldn’t stop a beach ball for most of this season and is near the bottom of the league for starters. Eberle does nothing to help your goalie not let in garbage goals. So instead of being in the playoffs, maybe in the 5-8 position like they should have been able to do easily and then adding a big piece to put them over the top because they had all that cap space, they were WAY out of it and adding at the deadline was pointless.

    Here is something to think about. So while the management have made some mistakes and made too many bets that didn’t work out. If you think the return for Eberle was bad and they “sold low” last offseason, you would be even more pissed if the Oilers had kept Eberle for one more year because they had “cap space”. The Oilers missed the playoffs because Eberle does NOTHING to help you with the PK and goaltending which were the 2 main reasons they are out of it. Then when McDavid and his 12.5 comes on the books, the Oilers are selling Eberle for NOTHING because all you can take back is some mediocre picks and prospects because you CAN’T take on a player for salary reasons.

    • RJ

      I agree with most of it. Eberle peaked in year 2 of his ELC that’s where some of the problems begin. You have ON writers who loved to use 5 year averages when discussing Eberle because it pumped up his stats. Made him look better than he actually was. The problem has never been Eberle leaving. It’s what type of return?

      Top-6 RW for a bottom-6 C/LW. Obviously the team is bleeding value. People can say cap space, but the Oilers didn’t need cap space this season. You’re making the argument that the Oilers needed to do the deal now to get cap space later.

      On the flip side, Tavares is a UFA at the end of the season. Snow’s job in the off-season was to add pieces to his team to make it attractive to Tavares to sign on long-term. They had terrible depth at RW, so they needed a guy like Eberle. They should have added more. Whether it’s a player or a pick or a prospect, it should have been Strome +.

  • Heschultzhescores

    We learnt that you can be 31st on the PP and PK, even achieve historical lows, and the coaches still keep their jobs. We have learnt that hanging with your buddies in a boardroom makes for great memories, but no new ones.

  • RJ

    I would say that UFAs should not be ruled out, because not every UFA signing is terrible for the team.

    Thomas Vanek has 48 points so far this season and his $AAV is 2m. And he’s right-handed so he could have been veteran depth for the right side.

    • IRONman

      There has to be accountability now. No Barzal??? No Hall who has 31 goals. Ebs 26 goals. Lack of talent outside the 1 st round picks. Except JJ, great guy. I blame Scouting most. Oilers have vital need to find low cost high quality players. 21 million in two players, ouch when you only got 59 million to dress a team. Dear Mr Katz, clean house.

      • Not McDavid's Fault

        Can we drop the Barzal love fest we have for a player we never drafted. Yes we should have keep the pick but there is no guarantee we draft him. 7 teams misjudged him he should have been top 5. There are good odds we would have picked a different player.

        • RJ

          Dont take this personally but I wonder how many “please stop talking about Barzal” comments are from the same people who kept insisting Reinhart was a future top-4 defenceman, and we just had to give him a chance.

          Whether or not Barzal would have been selected is irrelevant, insofar as there was a ton of talented players available at 16/33 in those drafts that would definitely have helped this team, and the closet Chia fans have to own it.

  • 1ncinawhile

    The more I read (in multiple places online, blogs and also msm)… the more I realize that the largest factor to the Oilers lost season was…. Coaching.

    PK… PP….all the wacked out lines we’ve seen… the delay in trying Nuge with McDavid… etc etc etc… the list of coaching errors is looooooong….

    So I rate responsibility for lost season as follows:

    1. Coaching.
    2. Management
    3. Goaltending
    4 and 5. Pp and pk
    And reason #2458 McDavids failure to put up 150 points and win every game by himself…

    If coaching doesn’t change and management doesn’t stop making silly moves, then for next season… our only hope is reason #2458 comes to fruition… and mCDavid caries the team to the playoffs… cause the lad sure ain’t getting any help.

    • RJ

      I have to reject reason #2458.

      If the Oilers had given McDavid elite wingers all season and not Lucic (10 G) he’d have put up a lot more points. Think Gretzky/Kurri not Lemieux/Rob Brown. That falls on management and coaching (since I think Nuge looks good riding shotgun).

  • Castrum

    One would hope they would have learned that they should just pack up for Seattle and take their loser stink with them. Thank god my boy Evander never had his career ruined by the Losers.

  • godot10

    We learned that McLellan and his coaching staff are NOT particularly good. To finish with 70 something points, the worst special teams, is pretty hard to do when you have McDavid. In Colorado with a worse roster in every conceivable way, Bednar’s team is likely to make the playoffs. Arizona is running with the Oilers since Nov 1.

  • -That to get better you have to keep improving your roster and making good transactions, not making it worse. I don’t blame the FO for giving the younger kids like Caggiula, Puljujarvi, Khaira, and Slepyshev a chance to step up but to expect all of them to hit atleast 30pts each is completely unrealistic.

  • Alberta Ice

    It’s official. The BOA is not. Two teams expected to sweep into the playoffs this year. Vegas grabbed the Oilers expected spot and I dare say Colorado was supposed to be the Flames spot. So how do you spell disappointment? Oilers and Flames.

  • hootoil

    The Oilers are guaranteed next year to reach much of the Salary Cap (60%) on around 6 to 7 players next season. That is not a good situation. GM Pete & Coach Todd will be looking for reemployment if the math is not worked on?

  • CMG30

    As much as it pains me to write this, it must be said: The Oilers would have been better off with McTavish as GM. At least he followed the principal that it’s better to do no harm rather than Chirelli’s philosophy where somehow you get a better team by replacing your good players with plugs.

  • ed from edmonton

    everything that could go wrong, other than a major injury to McD, has gone wrong fro the Oil this year. At last year’s end of the year media availability, PC stated he would be giving younger players a chance to grow into more prominent roles, and he was certainly true to his word. Unfortunately none of the young players has shown much. When he moved out Ebs and jetisoned Pou the OIl needed either Shleppy, Cagulia, Pulujarvi or Strome to raise their game. Obviously this hasn’t happened. When a 150 lb 19 year old was the best of the lot through October, the writing was on the wall. This failed gamble has to be on PC.

    The Ebs trade was done one year too soon as PC did not use the cap space to help his team in any way. If he wasn’t going to use this cap space why the rush? This is also on PC.

    However, who could have predicted the Klefbom would implode this year and Talbot would be amongst the worst starting goal tenders through 60 games? Had one of the young wingers panned out and PC had found a useful player with the cap space, I doubt if the Oil make the playoffs with shaking goaltending and questionable defence many nights.

    The question is where do they go from here. i.e. what changes can the OIl (whether PC or someone else is in charge) realistically do? Given the tight cap situation and sparse prospect pool options are limited.

    I would say I am leaning to dumping Tod MAc, he may not be the right coach for where the iIl will be next year. Thinking about Tod MAc’s previous experience in the NHL (Detroit and San Jose) he was in places where they had a steady stream of quality reliable veterans. This may have been part of his problem with over reliance on struggling veterans this year.

  • russ99a

    The Oilers can learn much this season:

    1. Even inexpensive NHL players are better bets than rushing draft picks and college signings into key roles.

    2. Shuffling lines constantly and swapping players in and out of different positions doesn’t help. Line cohesiveness matters, and line matching can give you better results.

    3. Defense matters, at defense, but especially at forward.

    4. Cheaping our at backup goalie is just going to burn you in the end.

    5. Finding a line that can handle the toughs and kill penalties is way more important than forcing three scoring lines down everyone’s throat with not enough talent to even consider such a strategy.

  • toprightcorner

    Lets clear some things up for people.

    Russel does not have a full NMC for his 4 year term. After next season, he has to submit a 10 team trade list and then 15 the following year. This was likely to be a 2 year contract and then a trade if the team needed to.

    Sekera is the same, after next season he submits a 15 team trade list every season. This too can be traded after next season.

    With regards to adding a top 4 dman to cover for Sekera, that is impossible. top 4 dman don’t sign for 1 year contracts, they sign for 4-5 years. PC instead sighed Russel for 4 years at less hit than a solid second pairing guy and he can trade him after 2 years. Russel is the guy you want on your side in the playoffs, his effort is second to none and had a great playoffs last season. I didn’t mind the bet, would have preferred 3 years nut he wanted five with a full NMC. Settleing in the middle with a clause in the middle is not terrible.

    Regarding the extra cap from Strome. 3 reasons why this was not used and I was hoping the wouldn’t use it.

    1) PC had to wait until he signed Draisaitl and needed all the available cap space with the rumored $9-$10 million offersheet
    2) With McDavids contract kicking in next year, you would only be able to sign a player for 1 year and frankly, there were not many wingers out there that would sign for one year unless you were taking a chance. Jokinen was that guy, the media and fans were excited as he was only 1 season away from 60 pts.

    3) With Sekera’s LTIR, the Oilers would get some more money towards the cap but they were not sure how long he would be out. Had a season means they get an extra $2.25, which went to Jokinen, Kharia and Jokinen.

    4) If Chairelli would have spent the extra cap, that would not have made this team good enough to make the playoffs the way they played, so then you have these holes you need to fill and you blew last years cap savings already so there is no cap space to add what you needed.

    The smart play in business is when you make a huge capital investment in a new building or equipment, you never spend all you have, you need to have some set aside in case you come across other issues that need to be changed or fixed.

    If Chairelli listened to everyone and spent that cap last year, we would be screwed and not able to make changes to improve.

    This is very simple to learn not to blow your whole wad when your not sure exactly what you have when you need to fix the roster on less money per line than you are used to.

  • Anton CP

    1) Both point one and point two are sharing the same reason: the team massively overachieved last season and the unrealistic expectations are at all time high. 6 RFAs are coming up at the end of season with McDavid’s massive contract to kick in. This year is actually an audition year for most of those RFAs and it is also tough to sign any quality players for only an year contract without taking away opportunities for younger players to prove their worth. If the team is actually on the bubble then maybe using those cap rooms to sign a few one year vets would help but the team is near the bottom of the standing so I doubt any extra signings will help at all.

    Eberle argument is always silly, this is from many years ago about how the Oilers (mostly fans and medias) are constantly overvaluing their players that in reality are not worth much in other GMs’ eyes. Just to get all of those Eberle fanboys to understand this: Eberle may have almost 20 points more than Strome but both Eberle and Strome are producing at the same rate as for their respected teams (seriously, Josh Bailey has 67 points!). Strome will be likely around 50~60 points if he is still with the Islanders because that team play with 0 defense at all. Eberle for Strome is not a bad trade if you are taking dollar for dollar ratio. Since Strome has just a year left on RFA that he also has a very low risk to contract binding.

    I mean, I’ve said about the irrational and delusional part of the Oilers fans (bandwagon jumpers of 2006) that “STANLEY CUP” are constantly referenced within the discussion. McDavid is (or will be) better than Crosby but Draisaitl is not Malkin, and Talbot is not Fluery. The Oilers have no one like Gonchar, Satan, and Dupuis.

    2) Funniest thing is how you are contradicting yourself with point four and point two. So you are saying that the Oilers have lots unused cap space BUT you can’t build through free agency? Both Sekera and Lucic were the best UFAs at those years so if you are saying that “you can’t build through free agency” basically means that all NHL UFAs are wasted of money. It maybe true but this is pretty much saying that any players are going for the market for their UFA year should just retire because no GMs should waste money to sign them. Russell’s argument is purely biased. He is 78th ranked payroll by defenseman. Even someone that is not in the league still getting paid more than Russell (Voynov). Russell is third on scoring for defenseman with the Oilers by taking only 82 shots. His point production efficiency is off the chart for the Oilers.

    3) The last point is true but the bigger issue is not just that simple. When you look around the top teams around the league (except Vegas, a complete anomaly) that teams have a defenseman among the point leaders (within top 5) that the Oilers have none. No one can produce from the back and it hurts when the team is looking for scoring. How many times that McDavid scored like a defenseman rushing out of his own zone?

    So in the end, what is wrong with the Oilers this season?

    To be fair, lots are wrong but at the same time the expectations are unrealistic too. If anyone should take the blame for this year then maybe coaches should be the one to take the most. It is sort of amazed to me that Nurse has only 30 mins of PP with most 5 on 5 mins this season. Considering that Nurse is first on scoring for team defenseman that makes you wonder if McLellan is purposely sabotage Nurse’s production to lower his new contract value? So just maybe, this entire season is purposely tanking not for draft positions but more so to low balling all of those RFAs. Maybe we will find out the truth next season…