74

Cold Hard Truth

Sorry to be a buzz the kill the morning after a win over the first place Islanders, but let’s be honest: it was a win that left the Oilers second last in the Western Conference and still six points out of a playoff spot. Anyone who talks about being this team being in the mix for a playoff spot at this point is absolutely delusional.

I understand why the players are going to believe, because that’s what you want them to do. I can understand why management wants to believe, but I can’t buy their positive spin any longer.

If you want to continue to buy in, I’m not going to shame you for it. If anything, you should be applauded for your commitment to this year’s team.

This Oilers team isn’t going to miss the playoffs because Klefbom was injured for a significant portion of the season. This Oilers team isn’t going to miss the playoffs because Draisaitl forgets to back check every once in a while. This team isn’t even going to miss the playoffs because Koskinen has come back down to earth. This team is going to miss the playoffs because they have zero depth offensively — none, at all.

THE LINEUP

Mar 27, 2018; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) celebrates a first period goal assisted by forward Connor McDavid (97), his 100th point of the season at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

This was the makeup of the Oilers line up last night.

Cleared Waivers 2019 – 1st Overall Pick – Cleared Waivers 2015
3rd overall pick1st overall pick – PTO Signing
Zero Goals – Waiver Claim 2018 – 43 Games in AHL this season
$6,000,000 – 34-year old free agent signing – 2nd NHL Game

When you look at what they are working with above you should actually be very impressed with their effort last night, but don’t let that fool you. It’s one night. They snapped a six-game home losing streak. Koskinen won for the first time in nine starts.

In order to make a run to the post-season, the Oilers would have to go on a streak similar to the Hawks or Blues. Can you honestly look at the group above and tell me they are capable of that? If you said yes, I want some of what you are smoking.

For comparison’s sake, I decided to look at Chicago and how they are constructed up front.

HAWKS

Dec 21, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Drake Caggiula (91) celebrates a third period goal against the St. Louis Blues at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Trade for Manning ? – 3rd overall pick – 1st overall pick
2nd round pick – 3rd overall pick (Trade for Schmaltz) – Euro Signing
Trade for Panarin – Trade for Saad+ – 6th round pick
12th overall pick (Trade for Schmaltz) – Trade (Hossa Deal) – 3rd round pick

No players who have cleared waivers, no players who have been claimed on waivers, no reclamation projects and no PTOs.

The Hawks were an easy team to look at because they managed to go on a nice run.

Let’s go the other way on this and look at the LAST PLACE Ottawa Senators.

SENATORS

Senators centre Matt Duchene skates during his first practice after being traded from the Colorado Avalanche in Ottawa, Monday November 6, 2017. Duchene was traded to the Senators in a three-team deal that sent centre Kyle Turris to the Nashville Predators. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang ORG XMIT: JDT108

1st round pick – 1st round pick – $7,000,000
3rd round pick – 4th round pick – Waiver Claim 2018
Karlsson Trade – Karlsson Trade – Hoffman Trade
2nd round draft pick – Pyatt/McKenna Trade – Trade with Boston

This is the Sens line up WITHOUT Matt Duchene, Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel.

So, the last place team in the NHL has one player claimed off of waivers, no players who cleared waivers, and no PTO signings in their line up even when three of their key players are being sat on purpose. 

Even the Oilers management staff would have to be embarrassed by what they have put together at this point of the season. I wish this group of Oilers players the best of luck the rest of the way but it’s not really fair to expect much from them. It’s not on them, it’s on everyone else who apparently agreed with, or possibly even encouraged, Peter Chiarelli for the last four years.

THERE IS HOPE

The Oilers best hope to get out of this current mess comes in the form of the Bakersfield Condors but not this season or next. If the new GM follows through on the patience that Bob Nicholson has been preaching as of late the team may have a chance to get things back on track by the 2020-2021 season.

Then and possibly only then will you have a team full of home-grown talent in both primary and supporting roles which is the way the majority of NHL contenders have been built.

Previously by Dustin Nielson:



  • CMG30

    Sadly one just has to look around the NHL to see all the former Oilers who should be filling out this teams roster but have been frittered away by horrendous management decisions. Managers who couldn’t wait to cash in perfectly servicable players for a shiny new toys that invariably failed to live up to expectations.

  • Ass Eatn Szn 69

    and i got ragged on for trashing all of his stupid moves the day they were made, i was called a bad fan, not a true fan, didnt know anything. Funny when I quote the post on FB that the debate was on how none of them answer now. Go the hell Chia and your stupid mustache.

  • Rick Stroppel

    I MUST RESPECTFULLY DISAGREE WITH ONE PART OF THIS

    If you listen carefully to Nicholson, he has NOT been preaching patience. He said “we are NOT doing a rebuild”. He said
    “we are right there” or something to that effect. That has been the problem of the team literally for about a quarter of a century. They are CONSTANTLY over-estimating the quality of their own line-up, and therefore not getting rid of all the incompetent people who built the lousy team.

    • camdog

      Right now the Oilers are estimating the ability of the Bakersfield Condors/amateur hockey players to supply the Oilers with professional players. I haven’t watched the Condors play myself and I don’t believe in our Pro Scouts ability to identify NHL talent, given their failed track record. Hockey’s Futures used to be the site I went too for this info, they’d compare talent on different teams so you could make an honest guess as to whether the Oilers were gaining on their competition.

      So the question is how can Nicholson honestly evaluate the talent in the organisation? Second question would be does he understand that it could take 5 years for these prospects to be ready? I believe the organisation needs at minimum a 1 year re-set. If Nicholson is hiring a new GM and he doesn’t have a year to get the house in order, well then he’s just looking for another Peter Chiarelli – somebody that can talk the talk but can’t deliver.

    • True, but what Dusty is referring to is Nicholson’s claim that at an organizational level they will be more patient with prospects specifically. That they will begin to over-ripen them instead of rushing them. Nothing to do with the team up here.

  • I to feel for the players. They havent been put in a position to win. Almost every move that has been made over the last 4 seasons have made this team worse. And the worse part about this is that there has been no real changes above the gm. All the people in charge seem to be ok with the loosing. I didnt watch much of last nights game but i did notice more empty seats than usual. Also on tuesday night it was the smallest 50/50 i have ever seen at rogers place. Even the people that are there arent spending the money like they use to. IMO this management group has no love for the fan base, no respect for this city. And hey Katz stop paying for sex and fix your team!!!

  • Axe

    Yeah I have to agree it’s hard to leap frog all these teams and make the playoffs.. Especially with news this morning that Connor has a hearing scheduled for that check yesterday. As nice as it was for them to come back late last night I am not sure how good a meaningless run that has us finishing a handful of points out of the playoffs will do. Call me a conditioned loser (thanks to the awesome oiler management of the past 13 years) but I would rather take a better draft position (top 5) and the ability to pick a difference maker over such a run right now..

  • Canoe Ride 27

    ON: The least you can do is level with me. What are our chances?
    Dustin: Not good.
    ON: You mean not good, like one out of a hundred?
    Dustin: I’d say more like one out of a million.
    ON: So you’re telling me there’s a chance. Yeah!

    • MrBung

      Bottom line. Given the assets and opportunity Chia pissed away, Cap hell and bad contracts, and where prospects are in their development, this team is minimum 2 years from being truly competitive.

  • Slipknot 8

    It’s not all doom and gloom…….You only have to drop around 10M in salary & sign at least 3 competent top 6 players to get this thing back on the rails.
    I still think you can unload Lucic contract…
    This is the waste the Oilers HAVE to get rid of….

    Lucic – 6,000,000
    Sekra – 5,500,000
    Brodziak, 1,150,000 – Trade
    Rattie, $800,000 – RFA
    Cave $675,000 – Trade
    Chiasson,$650,000 -UFA
    Petrovic 1,950,000 – UFA
    Benning 1,950,000 – Trade
    Russell 4,000,000 – Trade
    Koskinen 4,500,000 – Trade
    Rieder 2,000,000 – RFA
    29,175,000

    This is a massive reworking but its doable…

  • Harry2

    So who is worse? A fan who cheers from his couch and still has hope they can squeek in? Or a fan who pisses and moans and buys tickets and merch and is constantly negative?

    I choose to be the former. Remember, Katz knows one language, money. Theres no harm in being a fan from the couch just dont spend a dime on this team

      • Oily Reign

        You know what’s really sad?
        Trolls.
        I feel for you little buddy but hanging out on a fan site of a team you don’t support is very very sad.
        Get off your bed, go upstairs and tell your parents you are not as pathetic as everyone tells you! You are special.
        Now get outside and get some sun on that pasty skin.
        Connor loves you.

    • Canoe Ride 27

      I’m tracking with you Harry but the problem with that is McDavid. I’ve got to see him play live 4 times (in Vancouver) and he’s always worth the price of admission.

  • Serious Gord

    Gotta disagree as to the reasons why no playoffs this year. Had sekera and Klefbom been healthy the team would have more than six points than they do now. And they would make the playoffs.

    But they would be one of the worst teams to ever make the playoffs. And that would be due to the lack of depth at every position – something that’s been the case for decades.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      To add slightly to that, one can say that our goaltending wouldn’t have been such an issue had Sekura & Klefbom been healthy. That’s how fragile this lineup is. Take out one or two small pieces and the whole thing falls apart. Things have to change.
      But beefing up each position by one key piece will be a great start.

      • Serious Gord

        Chias whole plan this season was as vulnerable as a jenga tower – one injury or poor season for a key player and the hope of playoffs comes crashing down. What they got was two injuries- Klefbom and sekera and two bad seasons- talbot And Lucic.

        • Glencontrolurstik

          It’s funny, when I was writing the above I wanted to use Jenga as a visual, because it’s a perfect analogy as to the reason’s this team (basically was a similar roster to 2016/17 playoff run) has regressed, but losing key players at different times helps explain it.

  • winteriscoming

    Great article Dusty finally someone who isn’t blowing smoke up our butts, management has slowly reduced the skill level in the line up it started when they decided that they needed to be bigger and stronger when the league had moved towards skill and speed. Reminds of coach who once said we don’t need scoring we are going to run the trap.

    • Serious Gord

      It’s going to take three seasons minimum to acquire or develop that talent. And even that is a massive challenge – some of the teams in the league are miles ahead of the oil with lots of talent both on their nhl rosters and on their minor league teams.

      Is there a more top heavy team in the league – three stars and precious little else.

      • Natejax97

        2 years ago we beat the Maple Leafs for fun…look at where the 2 franchises are now. Now granted Toronto is not going to be able to keep all their superstars together, someone is leaving to make room for Marner.

        I would take McDavid, Leon and Nuge over Tavares, Matthews and Kadri any day of the week…but Toronto’s depth on the wings is outstanding. They didn’t get there by trading, they drafted and developed it over the past 2-3 years. It might not be patience we want, but it might have to be that way.

  • CMG30

    Here’s a story idea for the writers of ON over the summer. How about someone conduct their own ‘forensic audit’ of key decisions made by this organization over the past few years. I know that ON writers don’t have special access to the Oilers organization but certainly the verbal coming out of the organization at the time could be examined to see how the moves were justified. Outcomes certainly can be compared to stated goals. PC’s name will be all over these moves but it would be interesting to try and find out who else may have played a role enabling the move or perhaps should have played a role in stopping bad decisions.

    At the end of the day, this Oilers organization totally lacks internal accountability, therefor it would be a public service to provide a modicum of external accountability. PC should have been fired 2 seasons ago, yet this organization continued to let him pound away right up until the final moment. Frankly, I don’t believe the organization would have even fired him when they did except that the fanbase is now in open revolt across the city and season ticket holders are starting to drop them.

  • bwar

    Oilers are in the playoff race. Our odds of making the playoffs are quite low but with the pace this race is proceeding at, one hour streak and we have a shot. McDavid still had the ability to put the team on his back for the rest of the season.

  • ed from edmonton

    Nielson has done a great job of putting things in perspectives. It show us how incredibly good the likes of McD, Drai and RNH have been this year to keep the team out of the basement.

    However I disagree with Nielson’s comment about goaltending not being that big a thing. The hot streak after Hitch took over was due almost completely on Koskinnen playing great. Since then the OIl goaltending has been substandard goaltending costing the Oil between 6 and 10 points. Again this show that given more or less average NHL goaltending a playoff spot might have been possible. An incredible achievement the three amigos

  • Rick Stroppel

    SORRY, THE MATH DOES NOT WORK

    The Oilers are not chasing one or two teams, they are chasing six teams. They literally have to PASS AND STAY AHEAD OF six other teams to make the playoffs. They cannot count on ALL SIX of those teams to go cold or stay cold. That is because those teams are PLAYING EACH OTHER. Every time they play each other one team gets two points and sometimes both teams get points.

    The Oilers goal differential is -33, one of the worst in the league. They have shown NOTHING to indicate they are capable of a 15-7 run or anything like that.

    So the plan is this:

    Play McDavid and Draisaitl 30 minutes a night. McDavid keeps on getting sick, he seems really frustrated and pissed off…wonder why?

    Don’t trade Chiasson or Kassian…we need those guys!

    Let the young players play 6-8 minutes a night…that will really motivate them!

    Maybe…just maybe…struggle into the playoffs and get blown out by Calgary in 4 or 5 games.

    Draft pick around 15-20…that’s OK…we have such great scouts!

    This is a smart plan?

  • Harry2

    If the Leafs can trade Clarkson or CBJ Horton or DET Datsyuk then the Oilers can trade Lucic. It will cost us a prospect and a pick but clearing 6 million times 3 years will be worth it bigtime

  • Abagofpucks

    I see Mr Bung changed his name to shadenfreud lol what a chump. Buy this post from dusty it sounds like he had to sleep on the couch last night , well atleast the sock got some lovein lol.

  • btrain

    There is no denying what a sad group of forwards this is. That said, although it will take a while to be in a “contention” position, I don’t think it has to take much to become much more competitive. I think its realistic that the team could clear 8 + mill in trades, buyouts, and AHL demotions. Then there is an approximately 3.5 mill projected increase to the cap.

    I am thinking they should target two top 6 caliber wingers in the 4 to 5.5 mill range, preferably one from each end of that range. Michael Ferland will be looking for a raise as a UFA flirting with another 20 goal season. Perhaps something south of 5 mill would do it? A youthful Pat Maroon, if you will. You would have to think one of Johnson, Gourde, Miller, Palat, Kilorn, would shake lose from Tampa with Point being up for a big raise and Kucherov’s raise kicking in. Most of these guys are around the 5 mill and change range but all have term remaining and all but Killorn (29) are 27 or younger. Maybe Silverberg could be a target given the ducks want to get “younger” and he is not exactly lighting it up at 28. He is making 3.75 mill this year but hasn’t improved his numbers over the span of his current contract. So not sure how much of a raise he could expect.

    Anyway, the point is to clear up enough space to acquire, via trade/signing, 2 wingers with actual NHL scoring credentials, that are under 30, and combined are around 10mill/year.

    Weakness/question marks at second line RW up front will remain. With no cap left over, there will likely be a significant question mark on the right side of the second pair as well. However, these also happen to be the two positions that have the best & closest to ready prospects in the system. With any luck they are going to be that much closer after what is turning into a solid AHL season (hopefully Puljujarvi will be part of that). Therefore, these positions stand the best chance of sorting themselves out internally over the next couple seasons, without doing anything but perhaps ensuring some adequate place holders remain (Rattie, Chiasson, Reider, Gravil, Petrovic, etc).

  • Ron Burgundyz

    Totally agree – this is a bad team, and unfortunately there is no quick fix. Next year is going to suck as the only contracts that come off the books are Petrovic, Gravel, Malone and Chiasson (and we have to replace most of those).

    But for a Positive Friday spin, if we can get a management group with even a little bit of competence, 2020-2021 could be a whole different story. Here’s what the summer of 2020 could/should bring:
    – overripe prospects (Yamamoto, Puljujarvi, Benson, Jones, Bouchard (I’ll go out on a limb and say he only gets a callup or two next year))
    – lots of cap space (even if Lucic still on roster and cap stays the same, there will be $23MM to work with)
    – expansion draft opportunities
    – potentially a “free” buyout as part of the expansion draft, and an end to the disastrous Lucic contract.

    I would also buy Sekera out of the last year of his deal that summer to get his $5.5 off the books, to leave us with around $27MM in space, and possibly as much as $35-$40MM if compliance buyouts are allowed and the cap goes up. And the only key piece to sign that summer from an RFA perspective is Nurse.

    We could – and should – be looking at a completely different cast of complementary pieces, and a very solid core of the best player in the world, Drai, Nugey, Klefbom, Larsson and Nurse. Just one more year of misery…

  • hammer313

    Hahaha, I have been saying before Christmas this team is not good enough and won’t make the playoffs. I’m was not impressed at all, by their desire and play. As a consequence, I have checked out! Sadly, I have been a long, long, time Oiler since the WHA days and now barely watch a game. I would like to say that it bothers me, but it doesn’t, I had given a lot of my time and misguided support to a team organization that does not give 2 sh$*s to their loyal fans. With their constant price gouging for the horrid product they have on and off the ice! I’m out, as many others are proving to be, as well.