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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 47.0: Win and Develop (8pm MT, SNW)

It is difficult to gain ground in a playoff race when you can’t win consecutive games, but the Edmonton Oilers have been able to stay in the Western Conference race despite the trend of lose-win-lose-win-lose-win-lose-win over their previous eight games (4-4), because the Colorado Avalanche went 2-4-2, and the Anaheim Ducks went 0-5-3. Edmonton can’t expect those teams to keep floundering, but even if they do at some point the Oilers need to get on a winning streak.

They enter tonight’s tilt in Vancouver tied with the Canucks with 47 points, two back of Minnesota and three back of Colorado and Dallas for the two wildcard spots. The Avs are technically in third place in the Central, and with the Oilers 13 points back of third place Vegas in the Pacific division, Edmonton’s only playoff hopes focus on the two wildcard slots. They will be battling Vancouver, Anaheim, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota and even the surging St. Louis Blues, who are suddenly only two points back of the Oilers and four points out of a wildcard berth with one game in hand.

The final 36 games should be very exciting, and possibly nerve-wracking, for Oilersnation. Playoff races are rare in these parts, and while the team clearly has some holes, so do the other teams they are battling, so try to enjoy the next few months.

As good as it is for the Oilers to be in a playoff race, my concern is if they will ever be able to be a legit Stanley Cup contender with the current belief system that prevails within the organization.

I have long believed the organization has an underlying arrogance that they know best. There is nothing wrong with confidence and belief in yourself, because without it you will never suceed. And while you don’t hear them utter those exact words, actions always speak louder, and all you have to do is look at their development of Jesse Puljujarvi and now Kailer Yamamoto.

This season, 36 players 20 years old and under have played at least ten NHL games.

Five came from the 2018 draft in Rasmus Dahlin, Andrei Svechnikov, Jesperi Kotkaniemi (all 18 years young), along with Brady Tkachuk and Isac Lundestrom. Lundestrom is now in the AHL after 15 games with the Ducks.

Fourteen players are from the 2017 draft in Nico Hischier, Nolan Patrick, Elias Pettersson, Miro Heiskanen, Filip Chytil, Robert Thomas, Michael Rasmussen, Casey Middelstadt, Henri Jokiharju, Drake Batherson, Jusso Valimaki, Lias Andersson, Max Comtois and Kailer Yamamoto.

Hischier and Patrick are in their second NHL season. Comtois is back in junior, Andersson and Batherson are now in the AHL and Valimaki is injured.

The seventeen players from the 2016 draft include Patrik Laine, Pierre Luc-Dubois, Clayton Keller, Mikhail Sergachev, Samuel Girard, Jesper Bratt, Jacob Chychrun, Dennis Cholowski, Tyson Jost, Victor Mete, Brett Howden, Dillon Dube, Josh Mahura, Sam Steel, Joey Anderson, Jordan Kyrou and Jesse Puljujarvi.

Mahura, Steel and Anderson are now in the AHL. So of the 36 players with 10GP, seven are back in the AHL and one is injured, which leaves 28 players in the NHL who are 20 and under.

Of those 28 who remain, Yamamoto and Kyrou are tied for the lowest points-per-game this season at 0.15 (two points in 11 games each), while Puljujarvi is 25th at 0.20 (seven points in 35 games), ahead of only defenceman Mete, who has six points in 37 games.

Yamamoto and Puljujarvi were drafted as offensive players, but neither is producing much in the NHL this season. Yet tonight the Oilers will dress both on the right wing.

Is this really what is best for the players and the long-term future of the Oilers? How can so many people in the organization believe this? A source has told me this is not just Peter Chiarelli’s decision. Many in the organization want Puljujarvi here. This is why even if they fire Chiarelli I’m not sold it fixes the underlying problem of the organization.

The Arizona Coyotes have two players 20 and under on their roster. Keller is in his second season after scoring 65 points as a rookie, while defenceman Chychrun is in his third season. He has produced 44 points in 145 games (he missed 30 games with an injury last year).

The Buffalo Sabres also have two in rookies Dahlin and Middelstadt. Dahlin is an incredible talent with 25 points in 46 games and Middelstadt has seven goals and 13 points.

Colorado has two with Girard and Jost. Both are in their second seasons and Girard is playing 19:46/game in Colorado and has chipped in 13 points on the blue line, while Jost has 6-9-15 in a third line role.

Detroit has Rasmussen and Cholowski as raw rookies. Rasmussen has 6-7-13, while Cholowski has 7-9-16 and is playing 18:33/game on the blueline.

Montreal has the youngest player in the league, Kotkaniemi, and he has produced 6-17-23, while Mete has six assists and is playing 16:37/game in his second season on the backend.

The Devils’ Bratt and Hischier are both in their second season. Hischier had 52 points as a rookie and he has 32 points in 42 games this season, while Bratt has been injured and has 18 points in 32 games.

The Rangers have rookies in Chytil,  7-9-16, and Howden, 4-11-15. There are rumblings the Rangers might send Howden to the AHL as he has struggled after an excellent first 20 games. He was playing 13 minutes a night, but in the past few games he is around 10 minutes.

The Blues recalled Kyrou recently due to injuries, but he’s only played 13 games, while Thomas has 5-9-14 in 37 games as a rookie.

Other teams have young players in their lineup, but outside of Kyrou, and recently Howden, they have been producing and playing decent minutes.

Puljujarvi has seven points in 35 games, and it is his third NHL season. He isn’t a raw rookie like Kyrou and Howden and many of the others, where you expect early struggles. Puljujarvi is averaging 12:16/game and only 1.14 shots/game, which is 24th among these 28 players. Yamamoto is 27th at 0.92 shots/game, ahead of only Mete.

The Oilers believe the NHL is the best place for Puljujarvi. Why?

He isn’t scoring. He isn’t shooting very much and there is no way he is gaining offensive confidence. He was drafted to be an offensive player, and if this was his rookie season, I might understand if there were some struggles. But it is his third year, and the organization fails to realize that you don’t develop players in the NHL. You develop them in other leagues FOR the NHL.

Now in the heat of a playoff race they will play Yamamoto on the second line. He has one goal in 22 career NHL games. He is coming off an injury. He has played one NHL game, and four AHL games since December 2nd. In his eleven AHL games he produced 4-4-8 — decent numbers, but why wouldn’t you continue to let him develop in the AHL, so next year he would come to camp with loads of confidence and possibly ready to be a complementary top-six forward?

I’m sorry, but Yamamoto isn’t a better NHL player today than Ty Rattie or Jujhar Khaira. You could play Khaira in the top-six if needed or even Zack Kassian for a few games.

I don’t see how playing two 20 year olds who are struggling offensively helps your NHL team win. Nor does it help with their development, which if done properly, should increase the Oilers chances of winning in the future. This strategy doesn’t help anyone in my eyes.

LINEUP…

Oilers

Draisaitl-McDavid-Chiasson
Lucic-RNH-Yamamoto
Rieder-Brodziak-Kassian
Khaira-Cave-Puljujarvi

Nurse-Russell
Jones-Larsson
Manning-Benning

Koskinen

Colby Cave makes his Oilers debut. I understood why they claimed him off waivers. It gives them a centre and allows Khaira to play left wing where he has been more effective. The scouting report on Cave is that he is competitive and a consistent worker. Decent hands, but don’t expect big numbers.

The Oilers will have to make a roster move by 3 p.m. today when they activate Yamamoto. They could just put Alex Petrovic on the IR retroactive to last Tuesday and give them a few days to make a decision or facilitate a small trade. The other options could be placing Rattie or Spooner on waivers. I doubt they waive Manning and if they expose Gravel a team would pick him up because he is very cheap and a decent depth option. If they waive Spooner they would gain $1.025 million in cap space. I don’t see anyone claiming his $3.1m cap hit for this year and next. Maybe he finds his offence in the minors and you can recall him in a few weeks. Rattie going down wouldn’t save them any cap space.

Canucks

Baertschi-Horvat-Boeser
Roussel-Sutter-Virtanen
Schaller-Granlund-Leivo
Eriksson-Beagle-Motte

Edler-Tanev
Hutton-Stetcher
Pouliot-Gudbranson

Markstrom

Elias Pettersson skated this morning, but isn’t ready to play. The Canucks obviously miss his offence, but they play hard and defend quite well. Connor McDavid said the Canucks have been good in not allowing you to gain speed on the attack, but McDavid is coming off a season-low 17 minutes in the Buffalo blowout and he was looking forward to the challenge of breaking out against the Canucks.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Canucksarmy:

It’s goal season again at Rogers Arena.

The Canucks peppered the Panthers net on Sunday for five goals (sure a few were of the empty net variety) and it’s time to show the visiting Edmonton Oilers that it wasn’t a mirage. Zack Kassian is coming off an epic two-goal performance, same can be said for Milan Lucic. Vancouver can boast their underachievers as well with Ben Hutton, Loui “all the dangles” Eriksson, and Markus Granlund all lighting the lamp last game.

There is a pileup of disappointment meeting tonight but thankfully someone has to win. Sven Baertschi has Canuck’d pretty hard lately and may continue his impressive run while Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser would be wise to start their engines again.

If the Oilers lose, that Baggedmilk character eats beets. That’s reason enough for the Canucks to win. Canucks Army doesn’t have anything that is embarrassing to eat, maybe a bagel. Bagels are popular at the Rog lately.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers win two in a row for the first time since December 9th and 11th with a 4-2 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers score on the PP. Draisaitl gets his team leading eighth.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Milan Lucic has three goals in 24 career games v. his hometown team. He scores tonight, giving him four goals in his past five games in 2019.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 1/16/2019 – 2:00 pm MT



  • Himynameistaylor

    Thank god hitchcock is more respected than McLellan otherwise that floater from 25 feet would’ve resulted in a regulation loss. Koskinen should sit for the next few games cuz of that one. Glove side. Again.

  • Hemmercules

    Positive vibes. Trash away because I know positivity isn’t welcome here. I only ever thing negatively about this team and it’s getting tired.

    Oilers win tonight and go on a streak. Klef comes back and they storm into the playoffs.

  • ed from edmonton

    Let’s see players on the Oil roster who were developed in the NHL include McD, Drai, Adam Larsen (for the most part), RNH, Nurse (for the most part). So I would say the Oil have done well in this regard. Ken Holland is often quoted about “liking his fruit over ripe”. But now that the Wings don,t have the quality or depth have you noticed how much “green fruit” now plays for the Wings? I will say that Yamo is more likely to help the Oil be win a game than say Spooner and should be here before Spooner.

  • Soccer Steve

    Jason Gregor could write a couple articles a week for Oilersnation, host a daily sports radio show, raise a newborn AND be the Edmonton Oilers General Manager and still do a way better job than our guy. Wow.

  • Spoils

    i’ve decided I’m going with it. Oilers win 5-0 with RNH, Drai, McD picking up points alongside Looch and hey why not Reider. As the Oilers slouch towards the trade deadline, the bounces will conspire to let the last air from the balloon. Oilers win a few extra games, the noose around Chiarelli’s neck loosens, and he makes his final TURaDe.

    2019 First Round Pick and Puljujarvi for Zucarello and $17 worth of Manhattan street meat.

    We wait.

    • bwar

      Any trade involving our first needs to be for a player with an expiring contract that will bolt as soon as the season is over. Zucarello fits our requirements so I guess we should start preparing our welcome to Edmonton parade.

  • bwar

    Things aren’t as cut and dry as players need to be in the AHL to develop. Yamamoto was sent to the AHL, played there a good chunk of the season and got recalled. The Oiler’s obviously recalled him for a reason but unfortunately he got injured and he didn’t get to play. I don’t see anything wrong with playing Yamamoto for a game or two, seeing where he is and then reevaluating what to do with him. I think it’s likely he goes back to the AHL before the All-Star break but I think it’s a good idea to give him a game or two in the NHL and see if he’s improved on the areas he was told to work on when he was last sent to the AHL.

    Now Puljujarvi is a different story and I really can’t come up with any excuses for him to not be sent down. He’s playing a limited role and not being given a ton of offensive opportunity. You’d hope a top 5 pick would start gaining some traction after three seasons in the league but Puljujarvi hasn’t. Send him to the AHL, play him on the top line for a dozen games, if he has performed well call him back up. It’s not rocket surgery.

    • Spydyr

      So you think Yamamoto will somehow improve as a player while being injured?

      That’s not how it works.

      Playing lots of minutes in key situations and getting first unit powerplay time is how Yamamoto would improve. Yamamoto would get exactly that in Bakersfield.

    • 99CupsofCoffey

      I think they recalled Yamamoto because he had a goal and a few assists his last 3 games down in Bakersfield. And if that’s all it takes, then… um… go Oilers.

      • bwar

        So we don’t want players scoring in the AHL? Do you thinking sending a player to the AHL, telling him to work on a few areas, having him play a stretch of games and then recalling him, is terrible asset management by the organization? The outrage right now shouldn’t be over Yamamoto being in the lineup tonight, it should be Puljujarvi being turned into a lifelong fourth liner.

    • Jason Gregor

      Played a good chunk in AHL? He played 11 games and had eight points. That is not a chunk in my eyes. A chuck would be at least half a season or do what Colorado did with their #10 overall pick Rantanen. Played entire year in AHL, produced 60 points in 52 games and then came to NHL and scored 20 as a rookie.

    • Odanada

      Your AHL club is supposed to provide a competitive atmosphere under a coach that develops player skills AND confidence. It should be a place they may not love being sent to, but where they learn and grow under a good coach whose job is to prepare them for life in the NHL. Wouldn’t it be great if they felt the AHL actually helped transition them to the bigs, instead of viewing it as some form of punishment/failure.
      “Player development? What’s that?” – Scott Howson

    • Glencontrolurstik

      Was it Dubnyk & Broissoit or the defense? Is it Talbot & Koskinen or the defense?
      Maybe this club doesn’t have the insight to spot the actual root of the problem?

    • SSB1963

      And yet there were some arm-chair gm’s on here stating that LB wasn’t an NHL goaltender. Should look at the leaky defensive core first before pointing fingers at the goalies.

  • Goaltender Interference

    Principe and Quinn trying to put a shine on Manning… What a joke. The old boys club have obviously sent out orders to start polishing that turd.

    Maybe some of the outrage over the trade has finally broken through the echo chamber…

  • Spydyr

    The Oilers have wasted two years of Puljujarvi’s development by playing him in the NHL before he was ready. They are now doing the same with Yamamoto .

    People then ask why do so many of the Oilers high picks fail to work out. The answer is player development.

  • Abagofpucks

    I hate to say it but i really can’t see yamamoto being much even in the future.
    I wish all the best for him but wish they would have picked somebody else.

    • Spydyr

      I said the exact thing the day they drafted Yamamoto .

      The Oilers had a later (for them) first round pick and instead of doing the common sense thing and picking a player that had a good chance to be a bottom six player for the next decade or a defenceman with potential they play the we are smarter than everyone else in the room card and pick the undersized skilled guy.

      Basically another walkabout pick.

    • GK1980

      Man everyone is hard on Yamo. With time and patience I think this kid has the fire required to be in the NHL. I do agree he should be in the AHL right now though, that’s what it’s for.

  • Randaman

    So you are saying “DEVELOP”? Isn’t that what they have supposed to have been doing for the last 13 years? Patience fans, because that is all we deserve. More development time. BULL! Trade Jesse (BUST), trade Kailer (TINY), trade the first rounder and second rounder for that matter. As the one vulture said, patience my ass, I’m gonna kill something. Please don’t take that literally.

  • Alf

    Awesome….. Playing a guy picked up on waivers yesterday as fourth line center in a huge game. Playing a rookie RW coming off injury in a top 6 role in a crucial game vs a divisional foe! Top 4 pick from 3yrs ago can’t get traction in the NHL and lacks offensive confidence….. let’s put him with the new waiver guy on the 4th line…….. #BecauseOilers #DevelopMuch