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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson / USA TODAY Sports

What if everything went right?

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are underway, which made me wonder what if everything had went right and the Oilers were in round one of the playoffs currently?

There’s a lot of talk about what went wrong and which bets were poor, but we’ve heard it all before. Let’s have some fun and imagine if the season went how most people thought and the Oilers were heading to the playoffs.

How does it happen?

Cam Talbot posts another great season. Instead of saving .907 percent of the shots faced, he’s up in the .915-920 range.

Darnell Nurse and Matt Benning fill in for Andrej Sekera’s injury, or at least enough until Peter Chiarelli can add at the deadline.

Do the Oilers get involved in the Erik Karlsson sweepstakes? Probably not. We’ll say the playoffs stay mostly the same except the Oilers are in and Colorado is out, pushing everyone down a spot in the division and standings. More on their seeding later.

The trade deadline

This is the big one. Chiarelli left a huge amount of cap space open. Probably too much, but for the purpose of this post it leaves a ton of room to add for a cup run. One saving grace of this season is the Oilers weren’t in a position trade a bunch of picks and prospects. Their prospect pool is weak and they need the draft picks to bring along young cheap talent over the next few years.

Had the Oilers be in the playoffs at the deadline, I have no doubt the Oilers would have traded a bunch of early draft picks, including their first.

The biggest need for the Good 2017-18 Oilers are similar to the bad ones: some scoring wingers, a right-handed defenceman, and special teams help.

  • RW – Michael Grabner – traded from Rangers for a 2018 second-round pick and LD William Lagesson
  • LW – Mike Hoffman – traded from Ottawa for 2018 first-round pick, LW Drake Caggiula, LW Tyler Benson, and LD Caleb Jones
  • LW/RW – Thomas Vanek – traded from Vancouver for LW Jussi Jokinen and LW/RW Anton Slepyshev
  • RD – Mike Green – traded from Detroit for 2019 second-round pick and LD Dillon Simpson.

Post-Deadline Roster

Hoffman McDavid Maroon
RNH Draisaitl Grabner
Lucic Strome Vanek
Khaira Letestu Kassian
Klefbom  Larsson
Nurse  Green
Sekera  Russell
 Benning
 Talbot
 Brossoit
  • Hoffman gives McDavid a quick, shooting winger. Maroon can slide over to RW for the meantime where he’s played a bit before (and currently playing in New Jersey). He’s signed beyond this season at a reasonable $5.187M cap hit so giving up the first and prospects is easier to stomach.
  • Grabner adds some much-needed speed to a slow Oilers team. He can also help the penalty kill and be a threat when the Oilers need an empty-net goal to seal a win.
  • Vanek cost nothing and the Oilers right wing is brutal. Vanek can play with Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or form a soft minutes line with Ryan Strome and Milan Lucic. He also adds another right shot on the power play.
  • For this post’s sake, Green is healthy enough to be traded and gives the Oilers depth on right defence and a better partner for Nurse, bumping Sekera and Russell to the third pairing. Another right shot for the man advantage.

That’s a seriously deep forward group. I resisted running all of McDavid, Draisaitl, and RNH at center so Draisaitl and RNH can unite on the second line, but you could switch RNH and Hoffman. That’s a competitive group that just needed some wingers. Green adds depth on defence and puts a recovering Sekera and Russell in a better position.

But that took a lot of assets. Maybe I’m far off here, but the Oilers had a poor prospect pool and this would have made it even worse. Kailer Yamamoto is still here, but there’s virtually nothing after him and Ethan Bear.

That matters less if they win it all, or even just make a Finals appearance, but how deep could this group go? Let’s say Vegas still wins the division, but the Oilers bump San Jose into the first Wild Card spot and face Anaheim in the first round. I think that’s a winnable series, but they’d be in tough against a hot Vegas team or Winnipeg/Nashville in the later rounds.

I don’t think it’d be their year even if they made it to the trade deadline and loaded up. Their defence still isn’t good enough compared to Nashville and Winnipeg.

  • Flint

    This article reads like EA Sports. You forgot “What if Crosby decided to demand a trade to the Oilers to play with McDavid and unicorns saved the world with the power of greyskull.”

    On what imaginary planet are the Oilers going to land Hoffman, Vanek, Grabner, Green AND keep Maroon all in one season?

    • Ty Guy

      holy geebus!!! you thought the prospect cuppord was bare now!!! this dream leaves us with 4th rounders for years and we all know how well the oil draft outside of the first. anyone who’s a glimmer of a prospect and all our picks…POOF!!! would pray this never happens.

  • DB

    We’re all just passengers in the trailer that the bus tows with no connection to the Oilers comings and goings. Sharpen your summer shorts and retape your sandles. Sad!

  • oilerjed

    Holy S#&t. Can you imagine if Chia was crazy enough to make those deals. Completely clean out the few prospects we have for a team that would be lucky to get out of the first round. The pitchforks and torches would really be out at ON.

  • QuitForRealThisTime

    Nuge McD Rat
    Lucic Drai Grabner
    Cagg Strome Pul
    Aberg Khaira Kassian

    Nurse Larsson
    Sekera Russel
    Kbom Benning

    Talbot
    Montoya

    More like this is what the team will look like, unlike the article I took the Cap into consideration and realistic trade availability that improves the team.

    • GinYYC

      Adding at the deadline the Oilers only have to pay for about 30% of the cap hit, so Pete’s 6 mil in cap room equates to adding about 20 mil in contract value.

      I’m fairly certain this was the plan going into the season for Pete. He figured we were good enough to make the playoffs as is, and then would add a ton at the deadline. All his bets went bad though and by deadline time we were sellers with wasted cap room.

  • TKB2677

    I am of the opinion that Chia knew his roster had some holes in it at the start of this season but holes and all, his team should have been good enough to either be in 8th before the deadline or right there. I believe that is why he wanted all that cap space so he could afford to make the type of deals shown above. The biggest obstacle every deadline for most teams is cap space. The teams in the playoffs or in the hunt are usually right near the cap every time. This season probably brought his career numbers down a tiny bit but after this season, his career numbers are 0.918% and 2.50 GA. His numbers at the end of this season were .908 and 3.02. Let’s keep in mind that Talbot’s numbers were significantly worse than where he ended up and it too going on a pretty good run of really good play in the last 6 weeks of the season just to get his numbers to where they ended up. So at the end of this season, he ended up being a full 10 points less save percentage and over half a goal a game. That is a MASSIVE drop. Before the deadline and his big run of really good play, he was even farther off his career numbers. If he is at his career numbers, the Oilers are in the hunt or in a playoff spot at the deadline. No team can win without good goaltending. I don’t care how stacked you are.

    So Chia took a big time gamble and it blew up in his face. In hindsight, he should have never kept all that cap space open to start things off or he should have made a move when the team came out sputtering. But in saying that, teams don’t like to trade mid season so the screw up was he should have used the cap space early on.

  • Hemmercules

    They should have got another dman and a winger instead of saving the cap space but they likely weren’t a cup contender anyway. Not to say I wouldn’t have loved to watch a few playoff games and maybe go to one. Everything went right last year, everything went wrong this season. If they find some middle ground and add a couple guys they will be in the hunt again. Hard to say if they will ever get that offensive dman but with improvements in other areas they still have a good core and have a decent shot next season to make the show. Its all riding on Talbot in my opinion. If he plays well they are in, if he pulls the same thing as this season they are doomed again for sure.

  • bwar

    This is the type of stuff that gets brutalized in the comments section. What on earth made you think it was a good idea to post?

    I quit reading when you got to the trades since Chiarelli could never get even close to any of the value you suggested. If you quadruple the cost of each trade you are inching towards reality.

    • oilerjed

      Good way to keep people engaged and commenting. Gotta keep the hatred hot or people will log off for the summer and apatheic to the oilers cause until the draft and July 1st.

  • camdog

    For things to have gone right Las Vegas would have needed to be bad. I wonder how many game winners by James Neal before PC realized that Vegas wouldn’t be a seller? PC’s entire master plan of winning the Pacific took a big hit because expansion teams are supposed to be bad.

  • Heschultzhescores

    It’s so sad now in Oilerland that we jave been relegated to fantasizing about the playoff and a bunch of what if’s! Sorry, not playing the wgat if game. What if’s keep these clowns in their jobs. All that matters is what was and what will be.

  • Serious Gord

    Everything already did go right. LAST SEASON. arguably the fewest lost games in the top two offensive and defensive lines.

    And it was that unicorn season that gave fans Manangement and players an inflated opinion of how good this team is.

    A massive mistake that could cost this team for years to come.

  • crabman

    Even with the cap space the Oilers only make a couple of trades at the deadline. But if we are playing the what if everything went right game I doubt they use a 2nd on Green. Sekera would be back to 100% and Klefbom wouldn’t be playing through an injury. That maybe add a depth dman. And I think they look at Hoffman but ultimately don’t pay that price and opt for a rental like Vanek and/or Grabner. Puljujarvi would probably occupy same 3rw he finished the season at. All in all they give up a 2nd this year, a 3rd next (for the depth defender, or never trade Davidson and use him as the depth defender) and a couple B prospects to bolster the wings. Keeping our 1st and best prospects

  • Gravis82

    “Darnell Nurse and Matt Benning fill in for Andrej Sekera’s injury” – Why would that ever be expected to happen. Whoever was expecting this should be fired.

    “Chiarelli left a huge amount of cap space open. Probably too much, but for the purpose of this post it leaves a ton of room to add for a cup run.” – Don’t make stupid trades or sign stupid contracts and you won’t have room because your team will be filled up with good players to start with.

    “Had the Oilers be in the playoffs at the deadline” This was never going to happen with this team with sekera out at the beginning of the year.

    “some scoring wingers, a right-handed defenceman”. The fact that we need two of these is laughable considering hall was traded for one.

    Is this real life? This article is missing the point. None of these things would have been problems with competent management. This narrative should not stop until there is accountability in this org.

    • Kepler62c

      Ahh the armchair GM – always quick to point out the flaws of smarter and more competent people, evidenced by the fact they are real GMs and not whining from their parents basement.

      Reality is it’s difficult to win in the NHL, even more difficult to sustain it. To say Peter Chiarelli is not a competent manager is what is laughable! Do I disagree with some of his moves? Of course, I’m a fan. Do I understand that he’s actually an intelligent man who sees everything we see and more? Of course, I live on Earth.

      I think what some of this article highlighted, especially the ending, is even if this Oilers team made the playoffs they would still be in tough to make the cup final. Perhaps, with all the extra information on his own players and insight from the coaches that we don’t have, PC understood the gamble he was making, (i.e. expect Nurse, Benning, Caggiula, Slepy, and Khaira to all continue developing in a straight line) calculated the cost of improving the team, and made the decision that it was better to stand pat for a season and see how the gamble played out. IF however, he’d added a RHD, brought in another winger, spent to the cap, at the start of the season we might be looking at an early exit and no assets or cap space to improve further.

  • suburbanchia

    Made an account just to comment on this. Dumbest post I’ve ever seen on ON. What planet are you living on? I stopped reading after seeing that impossible roster.

  • Finnaggled

    Youve put puljujarvi in the minors? Or forgotten about him? Hes certainly better that useless kassian and is on an upward trajectory. And if im right, that means you dont need one of grabner or vanek, so less assets out.

  • toprightcorner

    That would be one of the best trade deadline additions in history as far as number of quality additions.

    Also remember that if the Oilers started with Draisaitl on Connors wing so if they payed well, Draisaitl would likely have played there all year and Nuge would be 2C.

    If the Oilers were in a solid playoff spot at the deadline, Maroon would be on pace for another 25 goals and Lucic would have had a repeat season. Even if Lucic stunk it up, The team would likely be looking t resign Maroon and therefore not look to add a top 6 LW with a year left on his contract.

    Hoffman is the guy I don’t believe Chairelli would have been able to get, he wasn’t traded at the deadline, meaning he either wasn’t on the market or the cost was too high.

    Even with Grabner, Vanek and Green, those additions last year would likely have had the Oilers in the Conference final with at least a decent shot at beating Nashville.