Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Oilers after 20: Three Up Three Down

The Oilers are 9-10-1 after a quarter of the season. They’ve given pretty much everything back from a strong start and are back onto a 78-point pace. Let’s look at which players have helped, and which players have not.

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Three Up

Alex Chiasson

Alex Chiasson’s eight goals in 14 games make him Edmonton’s most productive non-centre playing the wing. Chiasson’s making good on his $650K contract, which helps when there are other expensive players not performing (Milan Lucic, Ryan Strome/Ryan Spooner).

Chiasson also gives them another right-shot in a lineup of lefties. He might have a role on the top power play, which featured five left-handed shots to start the season.

Chiasson won’t score the 43 goals he’s on pace for. 15 goals and 30 points? That might be reasonable given his start. That kind of production would be a godsend given the Oilers’ lack of scoring wingers.

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Mikko Koskinen

Mikko Koskinen’s $2.5 million contract was extremely questionable for a goalie with good numbers in Russia. Every goalie is Hasek-like in the KHL. Through seven games, Koskinen is 4-2 with a .917 save percentage. He’s easily outplayed Cam Talbot and will likely start against San Jose Tuesday.

The Oilers haven’t had a competent backup since Anders Nilsson had a good stretch in 2015-16. He couldn’t sustain it and was traded to St. Louis. The only thing is Koskinen’s taken over the starting job. Maybe Cam Talbot is the reliable backup they need?

Oscar Klefbom

Oscar Klefbom wasn’t the player he could be in an injury-plagued 2017-18 season. Klefbom’s playing nearly 26 minutes a night, has eight point and dominant shot metrics after offseason shoulder surgery last summer. Klefbom is Edmonton’s most capable defenceman with the puck and it’s showing this season.

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Klefbom has four more years on his contract after this season at $4.167 million. That looks like a bargain right now.

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Three Down

Apr 2, 2018; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Edmonton Oilers goalie Cam Talbot (33) makes a save as Minnesota Wild forward Nino Niederreiter (22) looks for a rebound during the third period at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

Cam Talbot

The Oilers needed Cam Talbot to perform near his career save percentage of .917. He’s at .888 through 14 games. That simply isn’t good enough. Koskinen will start the next few games barring a catastrophic performance. Edmonton brought back largely the same roster from last season. Peter Chiarelli bet on another heroic season from Cam Talbot, like the one in 2016-17, to cover for a mediocre defence and lack of secondary scoring.

Talbot’s poor performance couldn’t come at a worse time. He’s an unrestricted free agent after this season and costing himself millions with a bad start.

Milan Lucic 

Lucic’s decline is wild. He started 2017-18 with 26 points in 36 games – a 59-point pace! He finished the season with 6 points in 46 games for 34 points. He has 5 points in 20 games, so after scoring at a 59-point pace early in 2017-18, he’s had 11 points in 66 games. Lucic has two 5-on-5 points in 20 games this season. His production is below replacement level and his contract looks like a disaster. 

Lucic’s struggles make more sense when you look at 5-on-5 production. His 5-on-5 scoring has cratered since signing with Edmonton. Lucic’s strong year on the power play hid this in 2016-17, but it predictably fell back to earth since.

The Oilers needed a bounce back from Lucic. Instead, he looks more done as an NHL scorer than ever. Lucic was a clear drag on a line with Leon Draisaitl. Lucic and Ryan Strome weren’t much better. Strome’s in New York now leaving Lucic with two rookies on his line. Yikes.

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5-on-5 scoring without McDavid

Last season, the Oilers scored 82 5-on-5 goals and allowed 112 5-on-5 goals against when McDavid wasn’t on the ice. This season the Oilers are on pace for 65 goals for and 110 goals against in non-McDavid ice time.

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The Oilers need to produce more when McDavid isn’t on the ice, which makes Todd McLellan’s decision to pair McDavid and Draisaitl together more confusing. McDavid’s will get it done with just about anyone with little difference. The McDavid-Nugent Hopkins combination hit a cold streak, but Draisaitl should have a better chance to produce sans McDavid than Nugent-Hopkins.

  • TKB2677

    Here is a question. Does anyone think that Talbot was a bit of an equipment goalie?

    At 6’4, 196 he’s a fairly good sized guy. It’s not like he is Ryan Miller who is 6’2, 168 lbs soaking wet and looks like a giant in the net, then you see him without equipment and highschool kids are bigger than him.

    2016-2017, when Talbot was all world, I don’t think there was any equipment changes and the gear was the same for a long time.

    2017-2018, they shrink the shoulder pads a bit and Talbot sucks for most of the year. Eventually he rounds out his game finishing strong to end the year. But prior I think well into February, I believe he was below .900 which is pretty bad. The Oilers didn’t have a back up capable of winning a game to keep them a float while Talbot sucked so without NHL goaltending, they disappeared into a hole.

    2018-2019, they shrink the chest protectors and Talbot so far has been mostly lousy. After 14 starts, he’s got a 3.30 GA and a .888 save percentage. Those are not NHL numbers and it sure feels like last year as so far he flat out can’t make a big save right now like every team needs. He himself said in his interview last night, he can’t find a way to make a big save when the team needs it. He said he started making big saves after it was 4-2. Well no disrespect Talbot but if you spot a team 4 goals before you make a big stop, it’s too late. Very few teams will win if it takes you 4 or 5 goals to do it.

    So I am just wondering if he was a bit of an equipment goalie because his game has went into the tank for long stretches every year they changed the gear to be smaller. Eventually he figures it out so it wouldn’t shock me if after xmas he figures it out but that could probably be too late again.

    Now to be clear, the Oilers have issues with their roster and coaching BUT when they get NHL goaltending which I think is around .910, they are usually in the game and can win them. When they don’t, they have no chance.

    • MillHoodsHockey4Life

      Not going to say he’s been amazing by any stretch of the imagination but he’s getting killed on too many bad bounces/deflections and screened shots. Yesterday two perfect shots through crowds bar and in, and a fluke goal- when you’re struggling to start and then give those ones up you can sense the pressure building on himself and from the crowds. I’d just hate to see ANOTHER goalie become the fans’ punching bag only to see them do well elsewhere and repeat the hero to zero trend with the next goalie in line.

    • Peksisarvinen

      You’re reading too much into it. Talbot is a backup goalie with nothing to prove he’s ever been a legit #1 goalie. He had a good season, so what, so did Jonathan Cheechoo. What else has he ever done to deserve a starting goalie job to begin with?

  • Serious Gord

    Klefbom looks to have hit a wall. Likely due to fatigue. He’s playing far too many minutes to be as good as he could be.

    How long before he’s hurt or really goes into a performance tailspin?