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Photo Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The First Solution

A win against the New York Rangers on Saturday afternoon was much needed for the Oilers but with a slow start to the season the heat has definitely been cranked up. The major issue here for the Oilers is that their schedule doesn’t have a soft spot that allows them to catch their breath.

Sportsnet Insider Elliott Friedman threw more fuel on the fire during a segment on Sportsnet 960.

“I just think the heat internally in that organization… I was just told this morning it’s a really tense place.”

“I would just say this… I don’t think there’s a person in that organization who feels secure.”

The Oilers managed to get by the Rangers 2-1 on Saturday and while that victory certainly helps I’m pretty sure it doesn’t mean everyone is in the clear. A win is a win so they’ll take it but they squeaked by a Rangers club that will likely be near the bottom of the Eastern Conference all season. This team has not yet scored a goal without Connor McDavid being involved, and if they can’t find their way through the early stages of the season, there are a number of things we could see happen.

They could replace the P.O.H.O. For anyone who is new here, I’m talking about President of Hockey Operations Peter Chiarelli. Upper management believed in Chiarelli enough to keep him around this offseason so I highly doubt they pull the plug on him by the end of the first month of the season.

They could make a coaching change. Replacing Todd McLellan, while a number of you may like to see it happen, is another highly unlikely option. If the team starts 2-13 or something ridiculous like that then they may have no other choice. Unless it’s an absolute disaster, I’m not sure how Peter Chiarelli could honestly look at his lineup and blame the coach more than himself and so that brings us to option number three.

I’m almost certain that trading for a defenseman would be the first move the Oilers make if their season continues to trend in the wrong direction. The majority of the early season issues are on the blueline. Matt Benning certainly hasn’t played well but he’s also being asked to play a role he’s not yet ready to handle. Oscar Klefbom has struggled as well. Benning and Klefbom are two of the d-men the Oilers would likely classify as “puck movers” and they haven’t exactly executed that task effectively.

Who could the Oilers find that could be capable of second pairing minutes and possibly help the power play? Before I get into a couple of names let me make it clear that these aren’t necessarily players I would trade for but they do seem to fit the bill for what the team may need.

JUSTIN FAULK: FIX THE PROBLEM

Ah, yes, the old Justin Faulk thing again. Justin Faulk has been mentioned so many times in Edmonton you’d think he had already been acquired, failed miserably and was out ran out of town by Rishaug.

Faulk was very much there for the taking during the offseason but I’m wondering how much that availability has changed. The Canes made a coaching change in the summer, they are off to a very impressive start and Faulk is second on the team in minutes. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a not huge fan of Faulk but he’s a veteran who can move the puck and he has powerplay experience. He checks off a number of boxes.

JULIUS HONKA: TAKE A CHANCE THE PROBLEM CAN BE FIXED

This would be a leap of faith, taking a bit of a risk on a d-man who hasn’t been able to crack the lineup regularly in Dallas. He has the pedigree of an offensive d-man and has put up very nice numbers in the American Hockey League. He had four points in 42 games for the Stars last year but was only playing around 13 minutes a night. It doesn’t look like the Stars will have much room for Honka to see significant minutes this year. He’s a puck mover.

IN CLOSING:

A win over the Rangers helped calm the masses, a bit, but it would take a win over the Jets on Tuesday to truly turn the tide. The one thing I’m the most curious about is what happens if they open up the season with wins in just three of their first ten games. Would that be enough for Chiarelli to pull the trigger on a deal for a d-man? With Winnipeg, Boston, Nashville, Washington and Pittsburgh looming it wouldn’t shock me if we get a Chiarelli press conference after the first ten games saying they want to be patient because of the competition they had to face early in the season.

What do you actually think it would take for some sort of change to happen? If they don’t manage to get on track I’m going to guess we won’t still won’t see anything until the 20 game mark. By then it will probably be too late but at least they would have scored a goal without McDavid doing all the work…..maybe.

Previously by Dustin Nielson:

  • Think about how many goalies haven’t panned out here save Talbot’s 2016-17 season. It’s very difficult to be a good goalie when your defense is terrible.

    The issue on this team is defense, particularly on the right side—scouting, drafting, and particularly development.

    It’s why Hall was traded.
    It’s why Russell was brought in to play his off-hand and signed for $4m with an NMC.
    It’s why Benning has been playing higher in the lineup.

    Trading Petry and/or Schultz for peanuts was a dumb move and left the team with the above scenarios. They didn’t let Petry develop enough. They thought Schultz was a top pair guy.

    And now, Bouchard, a rookie defensemen, is the answer right now? He can’t be. He has miles of potential.

    This is all on the GM.

  • TKB2677

    I think the main course of action for the Oilers defense is to keep doing what they are doing. Teams don’t trade dmen as much anymore. If they do, it costs you a fortune. So it’s not worth it. Even to get Faulk, it would cost A LOT. So the best thing to do is to draft and develop. I think they have a real good one in Bouchard and I think there is a real chance they have a decent one in Bear. I see Bouchard as at least a potential top 3 guy. Yes he is young, yes he makes the odd rookie mistake but he is a heady guy, poised with the puck and makes WAY more good plays already than bad. I see Bear as a 5-6 guy that can play on your PP.

    Having said that, I still think they need to add to their defense. I think the best course of action is to add a subtle guy. They have to be a legit NHLer. A guy I would look at is a Petrovic. He’s on Florida’s 3rd pair playing 13 mins a night as some guys have passed him. He’s an Edmonton, he’s a UFA at the end of the season so you aren’t marred to him. He skates well, can move the puck a bit and plays with an edge. Not much offense in the pros but he is PK and can defend. In a perfect world, you have a dman that can do it all including score points but the thing they need first of all from the defense is guys that can get the puck out of their own end and DEFEND.

    IF the Oilers could get a guy like that and their defense looked like:
    Klefbom – Larsson
    Nurse – Petrovic
    Russell – Benning

    That’s isn’t great but doable. I think could be Petrovic is probably a 4-5, mostly a 5. I think Benning is definitely a 5. But between them, maybe they can give you passable #4 mins.

  • Goaltender Interference

    Which Flames team are you looking at? The one I see has nearly as many glaring flaws as the Oilers – if not more.

    I guess ‘Forward Depth’ must be a subjective term…