96

The end is near

Ken Hitchcock is extremely frustrated with what he’s seeing from the Oilers right now but his feelings likely pale in comparison to what fans are dealing with yet again. Only the most optimistic of people would truly believe the Oilers could still make a run to the post-season if you are one of them, good for you! Their Head Coach was full of criticism and disappointment after a loss to the Sharks on Saturday night.

SKILL AHEAD OF WORK

Nov 20, 2018; San Jose, CA, USA; Edmonton Oilers head coach Ken Hitchcock yells in a game against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

“When you put skill ahead of work you get burned, and there’s just too much of that going on, we address it all the time, we think we’re moving in the right direction and we just stumble badly,” he said. “It isn’t even what the other team is doing to us, we just shoot ourselves in the foot.”

While he didn’t directly mention Leon Draisaitl in that quote I think most of us can put one and one together and realize who he’s talking about. I see a number of people talking about Draisaitl haters and how in the end the MSM is going to run him out of town. I don’t think this is the case at all.

Draisaitl is a phenomenal offensive talent, especially when he is on the ice with Connor McDavid. If this team is going to have long term success Draisaitl will most certainly be a part of it but as a leader on this team, Draisaitl needs to know that other players are watching when he loses Evander Kane in the neutral zone or flies by the front of his own next against Chicago. Support players on any roster, in any sport, will be driven to work harder and do the little things better when they see the superstars doing the same thing.

So once again, I’m not running Draisaitl out of town; I’m merely using him as an example of elite players needing to be held accountable in all aspects of the game. Don’t get me wrong, the play of the talented German is way down on the list of Oilers issues, but him setting an example for others will go along way in the future of this organization, a future that he will be a huge part of. It is possible to really like Draisaitl’s game while at the same time thinking he can do better in some aspects of it.

HITCH OUT; GULUTZAN IN?

I was asked on The Nielson Show if it was a crazy thought to suggest that Glen Gulutzan should take over the rest of the season. It would be the most Oilers thing to do and I can why some folks would say it couldn’t hurt. The issue I have with it is that it basically means the players are once again being given a free pass for the team’s lack of success.

Would the Oilers play better under Gulutzan? Maybe. Am I intrigued to see what it might look like? Kind of. Would it be the best thing for this organization long term? I don’t think so. Unfortunately, the focus of this club needs to be the next 2-4 years, not the next 2-4 months.

THE JESSE DILEMMA

Feb 12, 2018; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi (98) looks to make a pass from behind Florida Panthers goaltender James Reimer (34) during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Remember all of those teams that played a 4th overall pick with their 4th line centre in hopes of properly developing him? Me neither. The fact Hitchcock couldn’t even find 11 minutes for Puljujarvi when Ty Rattie was lost for the majority of the game is just further proof they have no idea how to handle this player.

For the life of me, I can’t understand why they won’t send him down to Bakersfield. The Condors have a very good thing going on right now and by all accounts the atmosphere around Jay Woodcroft’s club is terrific. Why would an organization not want a 20-year old to be a part of that? If Puljujarvi was playing on the second line with Nugent-Hopkins and having an opportunity to develop some chemistry in an offensive situation I would understand. Playing him for 10 minutes on the fourth line instead of having him playing top-six minutes for an elite AHL squad is just plain stupid.

As of practice today JP is on the right side with Nuge and Khaira but I’m sure it will last for six minutes against the Penguins. I don’t think I’m alone is questioning why this trio hasn’t spent more time together this season. I still believe it’s the best second line they’ve been able to construct at any point this year. I’d leave this group together for the rest of the season.

A few folks have speculated that maybe Jesse and his agent have told the Oilers he doesn’t want to go back to the AHL. I’ve reached out to a few sources on this suggestion and have yet to hear back.

Previously by Dustin Nielson:

  • Serious Gord

    Are there any seasons ticket oil fans who will decide to renew based on getting into the playoffs this season?

    I say that knowing personally people who only have seasons tickets in order to have them should the oil make the playoffs – selling off most of their regular season tickets to either break even or make money on them.

    • Prairiechicken

      Season ticket holder here. For me the playoffs are a red herring. I’ve written in to OEG already saying that unless upper management was cleaned out, or I heard a compelling reason why they shouldn’t be, that we, very sadly, wouldn’t be renewing.

        • That's My Point

          Is Yzerman signed yet?
          If I’m a BILLIONAIRE owner, I’d sign Yzerman to a $75M six year deal and he can have total control, including cleaning out the OBC and starting from scratch. 6 years from now should have depth in the NHL, AHL, draft picks in junior and over seas and be competing for the Stanley Cup like a “regular” NHL team does on an annual basis.
          The Oilers have only ONE SEASON where they’ve won MORE regular season games than they lost since 1987-88, that was in 2016-17.

      • hockey1099

        20 year ticket holder here and don’t think ill be renewing. First i said i would renew if they fired Chia. They did that and i still have no desire to go anymore. Unless there is a massive change with a new GM im out. I cant even break even on the games i cant make. Its depressing when you cant even sell your tickets for what you paid for them. The ticket prices are too expensive and the product on the ice is garbage. We are blowing the MCdavid year and need a miracle to get out of cap and NMC hell. The team has six players. 3 defencemen and 3 forwards. We dont have a goalie. Good luck fixing this dumpster fire in the next 3 years.

      • FutureGM

        Told them the exact same thing. Also asked if they planned to push back the renewal date until a GM was found. Was told they did not plan to do so at this time

    • As they john shannon said on oilers now yesterday its the fans that cause this team to play bad at home. Love when people paid by the oilers blame everyone except the obc for the poor play. Im starting to hate myself for caring about this team.

      • Prairiechicken

        It drives me bananas when the fans receive the blame for any of this mess. Classic blaming the victim.
        That said, it’s not just employees of the Oilers who blame the fans. Fans on this forum frequently blame the fans that go to the games … for as they say, unless people stop going, Katz will keep the status quo. So we’re guilty of this blame game too.

    • Axe

      I debated whether to renew for next year.. When Chiarelli got fired I had some hope that maybe they can turn this thing around.. Sadly I have now realized that the problems run very deep in this organization. The secondary market is pretty bad so u can’t even sell (at a loss) games u can’t go to andIt has goten to the point where if u give away tickets for free to family, friends or coworkers u have to apologize in advance that their evening might be ruined.. So not worth it to renew unfortunately

  • CMG30

    A new coach might give the team a 10 game bump. Then it’s fright back to the status quo. This is a team that knows they’re out and are just playing out the string.

  • Datsyukian

    Sorry, Mr. Nielson (Neilson?), I understand it is a blog, not a newspaper, but it would go a long way if authors here could care to proofread their contributions so as to avoid the plethora of spelling mistakes. I am sure “DraisIAtl” does not read this blog but I don’t think he would like what he would see. I love what you guys do, but a little patience with the words would do you well.

      • Fuzzyfoot

        Normally I wouldn’t care if it was a one off, but I read oilersnation a lot and see lots of spelling and grammar mistakes. These guys are getting paid to write articles, and things like “and I can why some folks would say it couldn’t hurt.” happen quite often lol. It doesn’t take long to proofread, and you don’t have to be an english major to catch a mistake like that.

    • Wadentheshade

      Wow!! Datsyukian and Dougie_Sharms, can’t imagine what goes on in your day that you have time to point out spelling mistakes. English majors? I think you are missing the point of this site. Now both of you get back to organizing the lettuce as head of the vegetable department.

      • Datsyukian

        I would never call out the occasional error, as these things do happen, but this was different. The guys writing here here are journalists and thus should have good writing ingrained in them. By the way, Robin Brownlee’s articles demonstrate that good writing IS possible.

  • Abagofpucks

    Trading leon would be dumb, anybody who thinks we should is just being a frustrated fan. Jesse has to be kept in the fold, why? Because he’s 20, take a break fans. We are in next year land, it sucks but it’s our reality.

  • Zav19

    There is no way I would have Glutzen finish out as coach. Look at how good Calgary is without him and he has never been great coach any where else he has coached. As for Leon I would say he is the least of our problems!!

  • Zav19

    The biggest thing we have to do is send Lucic home. We are stuck with his contract no matter what so send him home and tell him unless him and his agent can find a trade he is done. And please tell me why he has a letter on his jersey when he has requested a trade at least once if not more. We don’t want to send him down either because Bakersfield is on fire and has great thing going so we don’t need the big pilon down there with this crap attitude.

    • crabman

      If the team was going to just sit him out for the rest of his contract, which I’m not suggesting, would it not make more sense to just buy him out? It frees up $2.375M next year and $1.875M in 2021-22. That money would be better spent on depth players than a player you don’t want to play. The 2020-21 and 22-23 seasons are pretty much no savings cap wise and the team would be stuck with a $650K cap hits for an additional 4 years but that is pretty negligible at that point.
      The team will need to decide his future with the team this summer. It really only makes sense to buy him out this summer after that it is keep him for the duration of his contract or find a cap floor team that would pay him the $4-5M/year in real dollars, compared to his $6M cap hit, if the Oilers eat half his salary. That’s probably the best the Oilers could hope for but still doubtful they find a willing trade partner.

  • This roster simply isn’t good enough, nothing else needs to be said other then that. A 3rd coach in one season definitely isn’t going to be the solution. When you consider our biggest additions in 2 years have been a guy off of a PTO(Chiasson) and a goalie from Europe(KoKo) then it’s no wonder this team isn’t competing highly.

    • crabman

      The only way the Oilers should finish the season with a 3rd head coach is if Hitchcock decides it isn’t worth the frustration coaching this team and steps down. I wouldn’t blame him in the least.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Never thought Woodcroft would have the Condors doing so well. Props to him, I wanted him gone when they cleaned out the assistants last summer.

  • The Immortal

    The same Gulitzen that the Flames fired because he wasn’t a very good coach?

    Tell me again why Slepy was banished to the USSR but we still retain his rights. You’re going to tell me he wasn’t any better than any of the wingers we have now?

    Even friggin Yak is scoring more than in the USSR than any of our wingers..Chiasson excluded ..he’s had the best month of his nhl career and has now returned to his normal self.

    Hell I even miss Benoit Pouliot..

  • HockeyRooster

    I understand Draisaitl needs to be called out for the poor Kane back check. I can buy that needs to happen because as Dusty puts it “him setting an example for others will go along way…” If setting a good example is all this team needs to play better, why the hell haven’t they been watching Connor? Most shifts on most nights, Connor is using his skill and giving 100%. The issue with this team is so much worse than not having a player that works hard to set an example. I thought I had a point to make here but I guess I don’t. I’m just sick of the weak a$$ efforts…and this was all happening while this team was fighting (ha!) for a widlcard spot. What the hell kind of crappy efforts are we going to see as they slide further out of that race?

  • A-co

    If jesses agent him hitchhiker boy are putting up a fight about sending him down to the farm to develop more than the play should be to package him up and cut ties with him…he is doing nothing right now in the nhl and the ahl is the place for him right now in his development…I was excited when he fell to the oilers in the draft but he hasn’t shown anything to indicate that he is an offensive force in the league…did the oilers mishandle his development..maybe?? But at the same time some of the blame has to be put on the player or just realize that he was a bust pick…one the majority of nhl teams would have made…sucks to have a pick that high not turn out..put him with yakupov and that’s 2 really high picks that should be helping the team right now…how different would this team look with 2 capable top six wingers putting up points with the centers the oilers have??

    • ed from edmonton

      This is the first I have heard the rumor of JP balking at time in the AHL. Although it was pretty clear he was promised at least enough NHL games I his rookie year to quality as an entry level year. Likely holding the KHL option at that time to get that concession. If JP thinks he too good for the AHL, that’s a problem.

    • jesse says yep

      Like Nielsen wrote “A few folks have speculated that maybe Jesse and his agent have told the Oilers he doesn’t want to go back to the AHL. I’ve reached out to a few sources on this suggestion and have yet to hear back.”
      Repeating speculation without any sort of confirmation is just another instance of a “commentor”, (which is all Neilsen is) trying to create a narrative rather then offering actual factual information. Sadly this site has become a schill for TSN radio and a feeding trough for trolls.

    • polarcap

      I agree. The future success of the oilers in filling holes around McD, Drai, RNH, will come from the Bake. They are running for the Calder Cup. JP could build chemistry, gain confidence in a winning culture. Oil are 6 points from the bottom and 2 points from a top 5 pick. Dylan Cousins would look good in in an Oil jersey

  • camdog

    AHL time is where skilled players can go to learn the defensive side of game, without losing confidence, because they still score goals. Some players like Eberle never learn. Bouchard needs to learn defensive game in AHL before he plays in NHL. It’s not the Oilers way but it should be. Trying to teach Jesse defensive game with 4th line minutes is just a blow to confidence. Just because you have the skill to play in NHL doesn’t mean you should.

    • jesse says yep

      And the assumption that JP will go down to the AHL and be gifted minutes in the top 6 is a bit of a myth as well. There are many pro players down there who are earning minutes and from interviews that I have read nothing is guaranteed for a player just because of their draft status. So if JP goes to the COndors and can’t keep a player in check and is scratched, what do the Oil do then?

  • This team doesnt want to be coached. They want to play how they want and dont want to follow a system. Ive been noticing the top line is often late getting back to thier end and are getting scored upon lots lately.

  • OriginalPouzar

    If there are season ticket holders who are not renewing their tickets, hit me up – I would be amenable to “leasing” half the home games from you (assuming that a transfer of ticket ownership is not an option). I live in Calgary but I would take tickets for my parents, etc. and, of course, drive up for a few games a year.

  • OilersBro

    If Jesse doesn’t click with Nuge, I’d like to see him with Draisaitl instead of demoting him to the fourth line. They both are big bodies and Drai might have some chemistry. Don’t just give a 19y/o kid one chance to succeed…

    • OilersBro

      That being said, Jesse and Khaira could be very good middle 6 players next year and right now I love the idea of a “show me” line with a talented center like Nuge. I saw the 3 of them play together once live and they looked like the best line that game.

  • Axe

    Hitch may not be a “player’s coach” but too bad for the players! He is the coach and they should listen and follow his instructions.. I, and many of us, have fairly blamed Chiarelli and OBC for lack of talent and the holes in the roster, however I am seriously starting to question the comittemnt of these players! Let’s be honest Tmac was not a bad coach and neither is Hitchcock. When same issues (giving up first goal on first shot, horrible PK, lack of backchecking, not standing up for each other etc..) keep resurfacing under a multitude of coaches (head coaches and assistants) it gets to the point where the players have to look themselves in the mirror because they are gonna start receiving more scrutiny soon and deservedly so.. This is a flawed team in both talent and character!!

  • Vanoil

    Enough of Jp with Nuge talk — Nuge deserves better than JP as a line mate and is BY FAR more important to this team’s long-term health than JP, who needs a different environment to succeed in (likely larger ice, so he can use his skating).

  • Oilersrule

    What ,you mean Jespersen sling shottiing mini chips in your face and endless distractions and advertising whenever they get a chance to bombard you with, over expensive food,beer,parking isn’t thanks enough for being a paying fan?

  • Rama Lama

    I for one have been pointing out how LD is one-dimensional, in other words all offence and no defence……..I have been trashed on my posts for this. I think most fans know who the players are that play both offence and defence and LD is not one of them.

    It’s true that you can teach a guy to play defence but not be able to teach him how to play offence……..but I say every time player cheat for offence they need to be reminded that hockey is a 200 foot game……….he continuously cheats for offence but I can’t remember any coach benching him to help him learn his lesson, for this they are all guilty, regardless of which coach he has played under.

    He could be so much more of a player than he currently is……….without McDavid I doubt he has much to offer.

  • Kneedroptalbot

    I’m looking forward to Hitchcocks post game remarks more than the games.
    That’s the most entertainment since the Ben Scriven’s throw back jerseys.

  • VvV

    Everyone in the media keeps asking wondering why JP isn’t with the Condors for the reasons you stated in the article
    . Well why don’t you ask the Oilers management next time youre at a press conference? Ask it exactly like that and mention the those exact thoughts. I haven’t heard anyone ask those questions, are they too tough? Are you going to get black listed, I don’t get it. You, Gregor, rishaug etc complain about it every day wondering why yet nobody actually asks the tough questions when given a chance

  • Gravis82

    STOP TALKING ABOUT HOW OUR GOOD GOOD PLAYERS NEED TO BE BETTER! JUST STOP IT.

    OUR TERRIBLE PLAYERS NEED TO BE REPLACED. THAT IS ALL

    There is absolutely no point wasting one word talking about how drai needs to be better in some areas. What planet are we living on here. Dusty, seriously.

    Every player outside of Mcdavid and draisaitl needs to improve their game even more. Leave the players who are actually keeping this team from being historically bad out of the conversation until we fix our team

    The guy might get top 10 in scoring, just stop it. Park this narrative for the next few years or you can count yourself as contributing to the mob mentality that runs good players out of town.

  • Nanook

    I cant even watch the games anymore. its disgusting what this team has become. im so sick of taking it on the chin from buddies that cheer for other teams, real teams that figure out how to build a team and play. its become a complete embarrassment. rather watch American pickers on history channel than the garbage product this team puts on the ice. I never thought id stop caring what this team does, but its just become too much to bear. had plans to drive up and see my first game in the new building, cancelled that plan, not worth the gas.