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College Corner: Let’s find some positives from this season

We at Oilersnation have proudly teamed up with NAIT to give students in the Radio and Television program an opportunity to produce content for audience. This is a semi-regular feature in which students submit extra credit assignments and we post the ones we feel are the most interesting. This topic was what positives can we garner from this disappointing season? 

Five Diamonds in the Oil

BY IAN SHEPPARD ON MARCH 29, 2018

What positives can we take away from the 2017/18 Edmonton Oilers season? With a season full of expectations, few of which were accomplished it can be hard to see the light.

Here are five things to be happy about:

The Captain!

The most obvious positive in Oil Country, no matter the season outcome is and always will be Connor McDavid. For a guy playing with a lack of viable help McDavid finds himself in the Art Ross race for a second straight season.

McDavid is currently one point behind Nikita Kucherov for the league lead in points with 102 (40G-62A). Adding the illness’, the captain fought through at the start of the season these numbers are more impressive.

While notching three hat tricks this season including a four-goal game against Tampa Bay, number 97 jumps to the top of the list of positives and gives Oiler fans more than enough to be excited about over the next eight years. 

Jujhar Khaira! 

The play of Jujhar Khaira has been a great surprise this year. Not only has Khaira displayed well in the stats sheet, netting 21 points (11G-10A) but his physical game has proven worthy of acclamation.

Khaira has been a physical force this year creating a presence on the ice that some other higher paid Oilers have failed at. Khaira has stepped up to be the first to defend a teammate this season. He’s notched 43 penalty minutes, showing he’s not afraid to do some of the dirty work as well.

Darnell Nurse! 

The play of the Oilers defense has been subpar through chunks of this season. One bright spot on the blue line has been Darnell Nurse. Nurse has taken major strides in his game not only as a shutdown d-man but also utilizing his speed to become an offensive threat. Nurse’s offensive game has shown through decently this year with 25 points(6G-19A).

With Nurse being an RFA this off-season it is imperative Peter Chiarelli find a way to come to an agreement on a contract with his young d-man. He has assuredly played his way onto the first pairing for next year.

Young Talent!

The Oilers have had a few young players in 2017/18 show flashes of potential for the future.

Expectations for Jesse Puljujarvi were through the roof going into this season which resulted in some disappointment when the young Fin ended up playing 10 games in Bakersfield.

But through 60 games with the big club, Puljujarvi has shown offensive flashes with a sharp shot. Puljujarvi has totaled 20 points (12G-8A) while bouncing up and down the line-up. With some more polishing, JP could end up being the powerplay sharp shooter this team has been craving.

Another young player showing promise in the City of Champions is Ethan Bear. Since being called up from Bakersfield on February 27, Bear has proved to be a raw talent but is showing he may be a positive for the blue line going into next season.

Bear put up 16 points (6G-10A) through 34 games in the AHL and since making his NHL debut a little over a month ago has one goal and three assists in 13 games.

With a defensive grouping that has created more questions than answers this year, and the health of Oscar Klefbom becoming a consistent issue, having a young player like Bear can give hope for more answers in 2018.

It could also be a sign that a few players currently on the roster are more expendable than previously thought.

Nuge! 

The biggest thing to be happy with this year is the play of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The Nuge has developed into the most solid two-way player on the Oilers roster. He has finally discovered the role he can play on this squad.

Nuge has totaled 45 points (22G-23A) through 59 games, while also missing a month and a half with a rib injury. Nugent-Hopkins jumped out to a fast start this season recording 31 of those 43 points before being shelved with the injury.

Since coming back, Nuge has gotten some time playing the wing next to Connor McDavid on the first line. Through a few games on the top line, there have been flashes of RNH looking like the perfect fit to fill the role of “97 shooter”, which is enough to get people excited for next year.

With a season falling massively short of expectations, it can be difficult to find a reason to smile. The Edmonton Oilers may have had a rough season, but it is possible to find some positives to look forward to next season.

Will these things be enough to get you ready for the 2018-19 season?

Mar 20, 2018; Raleigh, NC, USA; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) looks on from the players bench against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Edmonton Oilers defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 7-3. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Three positive takeaways from the Oilers season

BY WYATT ZIEGER ON MARCH 29, 2018

This time go round, for the first time in many seasons, a lot of expectations were put on our  Edmonton Oilers. After a highly successful campaign that saw them finish with 103 points in the standings and one Ryan Kesler away from the western conference finals, many experts had them as cup contenders, fans had them as a sure-fire playoff team and the Oilers themselves had visions of a deep playoff run. Spoiler alert, that never happened. Now don’t get too down Nation, even if the Oilers aren’t playing for the cup this year, there are still plenty of positives that have come out of the season.

1. In house fix for McDavid shooter?

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has been a curious case this season. Bounced around quite often this year Nuge has spent time as a 2nd line centre, 3rd line centre and looks to find permanent residency riding shotgun on the left side with Oilers captain Connor Mcdavid. After a two point night (1G-1A) against the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday, the Nuge now has 12 points (5G-7A) in his 10 games since joining the top line. The chemistry is undeniable between the two, Nugent-Hopkins is a smart player who see’s the ice well, has always been offensively gifted and has looked nothing short of spectacular in his showcase alongside Connor. Expect to continue to see the two of them together come October.

2. Prospect development

Early on in the season was the audition of Kailer Yamamoto, with seven points in six pre season games the undersized winger made himself hard to ignore and was given a chance with the big club. Nine games later in what most believe to be a good learning experience, he was sent back down to the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL where he has dominated and will be hungry coming into training camp. Fast forward to now and our newest addition to the big club; Ethan Bear. Called up after the team limped there way through February, Bear was then given the green light to stay with the team after Oscar Klefbom was shutdown for the remainder of the season. Bear has been a pleasant surprise even getting to notch his first NHL goal Mar. 25th against the Anaheim Ducks. While a promising defensive prospect Bear still needs more time to work on his game and hopefully over the offseason the Oilers can find a stop gap defensemen to play until he can make the full time jump.

3. Connor only continues to get better

Unlike a sea captain, Connor McDavid refuses to go down with his ship. Now with 102 points (40G-62A) on the year Connor has opened up a six point lead for the Art Ross trophy looking to become the first player to lead the league in scoring in back to back years since Jaromir Jagr in 99-00, 00-01. Since Feb. 1st he has been stacking up the points, in just 28 games played he has compiled 48 points (25G, 23A) for an average of 1.71, his 40 goals on the season make him the first Oiler to achieve the milestone since Petr Klima in 90-91 and needs only three points in five remaining games in order to surpass Doug Weight’s high of 104 points set back in 95-96. Look for Connor to not only surpass that total but also eclipse the 110 point mark for the first time in his career.

  • Heschultzhescores

    Ya, just like the Oiler’s, even our writers are a few steps behind the play. Ironic that the article is about finding positives when clearly the writer has mailed it in too. It really sums up this season and organization.

  • Here’s a list of talent I’ve traded away.
    Phil Kessel
    Tyler Seguin
    Blake Wheeler
    Richard Rakell (pick)
    Taylor Hall
    Jordan Eberle
    Nail Yakupov
    Justin Shultz
    Matthew Barzel (pick)

    That’s quite a list of NHL talent and I’m still a GM in the league. That’s 1 positive for myself and I can’t wait to add another former #1 pick to that list this summer!
    Chairelli out

  • Fire Woodcroft!

    Agreed on all points except Puljujarvi who I felt didn’t really have a great year. Expectations were probably too high but more development is needed there. My main beef with Jesse? For a so-called shooter he doesn’t seem to shoot much – and when he does he seems to miss the bloody net.

    Ethan Bear could also use some more seasoning but he’s been pretty steady the last few weeks. He definitely doesn’t look as out place as some other Oilers defenders.

    Kudos to ON for giving the college kids this opportunity.

    • crabman

      @Fire Woodcroft!,
      I agree Puljujarvi had a disappointing season but expectations were too high.
      That said shot volume isn’t one of his issues. Out of all current Oiler forwards who played at least 40 games Puljujarvi has the highest shots/60.
      Puljujarvi 9.5/60
      McDavid 9.3/60
      Cammalleri 8.5/60
      Nuge 8.2/60
      Draisaitlt 7.7/60
      Slepyshev 7.4/60
      Pakarinen 7.3/60
      Strome 7.2/60
      Caggiulla 6.8/60
      Lucic 6.7/60
      Kassian 6.1/60
      Khaira 4.9/60

      These are only shots on goal not even all the missed shots.
      I think the reason he doesn’t seem like such a high shot volume player to you is because of his poor shot selection. Too often he is firing the puck from bad angles, from just inside the blue line or from the boards. high shot volume but low shot quality.

        • crabman

          Shot selection sucks.
          I think he still has potential but needs to get stronger and work on skill this offseason. passing, shooting and stickhandling.
          I’ve said before I think his stick is too long for him. It is affecting his stickhandling/zone entries and his shooting. He is still only 19 so I have faith he will get better if he and the team put the time into developing him.

      • Leichs

        Jesse seems to have not much for hockey IQ. Much like Yakupov, he seems to have the size and skill set of a great NHLer but unfortunately if you don’t have the brain to think the game you cant do much with it.. You cant teach hockey smarts. Seems like another Yak so far in the sense that he doesn’t really know when he should be shooting or passing.. He still skates in big loops rather than straight lines and for his size, hes not very physical and doesn’t seem to attack or want to have the puck. I know hes young but hes been in the league on and off for two years now. I really don’t see much of a change in him from the start of this season until right now. Hopefully he gets there one day but I’m not really seeing what everyone else is based on his play in the A and NHL. Hell, he couldn’t even crack the Finish squad last year… Maybe there is a reason the Finish GM of Columbus passed on him. I hope i’m wrong and he comes in with a fire next year and makes me eat my words because he is a great character.

  • Slipknot 8

    Another positive is how the Edmonton Oilers can continue to extract money from this endless sea of die hard Oilers fans…….
    The fans are the positive this year!
    just my two cents

  • CMG30

    Positives are all about how you spin it. For example:

    Somehow the Oil managed to extract a top 10 draft pick while simultaneously having the leagues top point getter on the roster!

  • Arfguy

    I’m honestly ok with the Oilers waiting another 3 or 4 years to see if Puljujarvi develops. I know it’s a bad plan and I honestly don’t know what the process is to keep him with the organization until he matures more, but at this point…I’d rather not give up on promising talent until the player hits 26 or 27 years of age.

    I base this on players like Ryan Dzingle, Victor Arvidsson and Sean Couturier. These players all started playing better close to their early-20s rather than at 18, 19 or 20.

    It is not going to be a popular opinion, but the organization really needs to embrace the methodical and long-term approach, rather than immediate gratification.