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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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:


  • Rufio Barcoli

    I don’t understand why so much stock is put into what Elliott and Bob think.
    They’re best compared to gossiping gypsies and not some wise men.
    Their rumors are probably at a 1% accuracy, if that.
    Elliott even says “I think” and “I was told” , what he thinks is irrelevant and for all we know his wife could have told him.
    Elliott, and people like him in the industry, say those things all the time to make it sound like they’re not pulling things of their anus. When in fact that is exactly what they are doing to exploit situations and stay relevant.

    • Chris_Cruise

      That’s a bit harsh. The reason they are considered insiders and trusted sources is because they actually have good track records and relationships with teams, players, agents, GM’s etc.

      Some stuff may be ‘click baity’ from time to time but they are in the positions they’re in because of their reputations and relationships.

      If they simply lied and made stuff up as you suggest then how do you think that would affect their relations with teams and GM’s?? They’d lose all access to players and management. Clearly they aren’t just pulling stuff out of a hat, their jobs depend on legitimacy. Where there’s smoke there’s fire, don’t shoot the messengers.

      • Rufio Barcoli

        They are considered insiders because the company they work for gives them those titles.
        They don’t have good relationships with GM’s. What are you basing that comment on?
        Their lies and bs won’t lose them access to players because their access is granted to them by their employers who work with the NHL.
        Do you not remember all the “insider rumors” over the last two off-seasons?
        If what they said was true Oilers roster would look completely different today.

  • Joeboot

    Friedmans comments about stress at the management level will permeate down to the players. That will happen through conversations with certain words used or tone, from management to coach and coach to player. Likely don’t even know their doing it.
    This would explain less than stellar performance by most of the oiler players.

    • ed from edmonton

      So are you saying that expressing something to a player that suggests this is a serious business and they should understand their performance or lack there of will have consequences is a bad thing?

      • Joeboot

        Totally missing the point, if you’re afraid to make a mistake, ( I believe many are) it makes the player hesitant. It can be the inconsistent message from the coach like playing Lucic on the PP last year when he clearly should not have been. It can be playing Cagguila more than his performance dictated. Players aren’t stupid, they see what’s going on and maybe MacT is getting pressure from Chia on who gets ice.
        IMO over past seasons MacT is far too quick to criticize players and effort after games. How often have you heard him say “we didn’t have the team prepared” or taken any responsibility. I’ve never heard it from him but I have from Babcock.
        Back to my original post, if management is tense that permeates throughout the organization. Most will not understand this concept. It’s like safety mentality in a construction company, if management thinks safety is BS the guys on site will too, and I guaranty their incident rate will be higher.
        Pressure here from the fan base also adds to the environment of being afraid to make mistakes.

    • Chris_Cruise

      You think a few stern looks or a strong tone in practice is going to adversely affect a team of overly coddled, ultra insulated atheletes?

      They’ve all dealt with high expectations and stress at every level of hockey their entire lives.

      The less than stellar performance has everything to do with a lack of motivation and a poor roster than it does from some tension in the front office.

      Pressure makes diamonds unless there’s simply no quality there to begin with. I wouldn’t be making excuses for these guys.

      • Joeboot

        Missing the point, many ways to say the same thing, but message will not be the same based on tone and facial expressions.
        Prior to NHL they would be looking at pleasing primarily parents. Compare to a regular work place, if you relate to/like/respect who you work with/for you are more apt to put in better effort than if you lack respect for who you work with/for.
        Next point I partially agree with, but you have to ask why is there lack of motivation. Look at Vegas last year, virtually everyone had them missing playoffs based on roster but they had motivation because they wanted to show everyone they were worth something. I fully expect them to take big step back this year.
        Pressure comment is just dumb. No quality, MC David, Nuge, Klefbom, Nurse, Larson, Lucic, JP, Yamo, Kassian, all first rounders.