HOT TAKES – February Edition!

It’s time for another round of the hottest damn takes you are going to find on both the Oilers and the rest of the National Hockey League. Happy end of February everyone!


Let’s start with something that many of you may find ridiculous. Sam Gagner will score 20 goals for the first time in his career at the age of 30 with the Oilers. Gagner has come close to the 20-goal mark twice in his career. He buried 18 with the Oilers in 11-12 and actually hit the 18-mark again just two seasons ago with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

In order for Gagner to hit the 20-goal mark he will need to see power-play time on the top unit and at this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens.


The Oilers will finally find a shooter for Connor McDavid and it turns out it’s a dude with the same damn name. I don’t think the Oilers were just randomly linked to Brown prior to the deadline. You have to think McDavid may have suggested that the organization at least explore the idea of acquiring the former Barrie Colt. The Oilers coaching and management group think very highly of McDavid’s hockey IQ and if he thinks Brown will help, they would likely continue to pursue him.

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The good news for the Oilers is that the Leafs may be in a position to move Brown at a reasonable price in the off-season. When given an opportunity to play with Auston Matthews in 16-17 he found a way to score 20.

So maybe it could work out, or maybe he’ll be on Brodziak’s line by the middle of November. That’s why it’s so exciting. Connor Brown starts next season in the Oilers top six, even if he’s not really a top six forward.


Leon Draisaitl is absolutely on fire right now. I’m going to say he scores 50 just because I want to have a lot of fun with a 50 Watch hashtag. Any suggestions for an official hashtag for Draisaitl’s 50 Watch? #50watch seems way to simple and lame. Leave your suggestions in the comment section and I’ll make it a thing here on with the Nation and on The Nielson Show.

After scoring 50 this year Draisaitl will never hit 40 again. The big German’s shooting percentage is currently at 22.4%. Brayden Point and Elias Pettersson are the only players in the league who have played at least 50 games and have a better shooting percentage than Draisaitl.

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If the Oilers eventually find some help on the wings I can see Draisaitl “settling in” as a 30-35 goal guy with 50-55 assists on the side.


Unless the Oilers end up drafting first or second overall, I’m going to be all in on moving the pick for immediate help on the wing. A pick in the 3-10 range should be able to land the Oilers a top-six forward that is under control moving forward.

The Oilers need an impact winger who can help right now, not in three years. If you were ever going to move a top ten pick this is the year.


When the Oilers blueline is healthy I actually don’t mind it. I don’t love the cap hit for Sekera but he is certainly an important piece. If the Oilers begin next season with healthy versions of Klefbom, Larsson, Sekera and Nurse as their top four I wouldn’t hate it. I certainly wouldn’t be a fan of $4,100,000 for Kris Russell on a third pair.

I’m sure there will be much discussion this off-season about adding an offensive right shot d-man but I would be hesitant to pull the trigger on a major deal with Bouchard coming long term.


I don’t know who the new GM will be or how he will pull it off but I’m going to say right now one of Russell or Lucic will be moved in the off-season.

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The Jets gave up too much for Kevin Hayes and he isn’t going to be the piece that puts them over the top. You want to give up a 1st round pick for Hayes, I kind of get it, but I still wouldn’t love it. The Jets then also tossed in a 22-year old that will have a long career in the NHL, even if it’s in a bottom six role.

The Jets are paying Bryan Little 5.2 million for the next five years, if you feel the need to bring in a better 2nd line centre at the deadline every year you probably shouldn’t have signed him to that deal.


Cam Atkinson is the most underrated offensive player in the NHL. All the talk in Columbus has been about Panarin and then Bobrovsky and then Duchene and then Dzingel but nobody ever talks about Atkinson.

The pint-sized winger has already tied his career high in goals with 35 this season. He had 35 goals two years ago as well and has scored at least 20 goals in every full season of his career. He had 24 goals in 65 games last season which pro-rates to a 30-goal campaign. The Jackets have him locked up long-term at less than six million, nice. #CAMSANITY

It’s a shame everyone else is leaving.


The Predators will win a Stanley Cup in the next 18 months. I’m not sure if it’s going to be this season or next season but I’m willing to bet the Preds are crowned champs sooner rather later.

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The entire core of this team will be back next season and they have already come close to getting the job done once. Granlund will be an excellent top six pick up and next year they will likely be adding Eeli Tolvanen to the mix as well.


The Carolina Hurricanes are just a goaltender away from being a legit contender in the East. Curtis McElhinney has done a really nice job for the Hurricanes this season but if they are going to take the next step, they will need to find a true number one in the off-season. I’m just not sure who it is. The NHL isn’t flush with difference making goaltenders right now.


I’ve given you my takes, time to leave yours below.

Previously by Dustin Nielson:

  • KootenayDan

    Russell and his 4 mill. contract need to go, he is 3rd pairing at best and he can take Benning with him. Sam has been a nice pick up not a game breaker but a solid depth forward on a decent contract. Been watching Cave closely sure does the little things well should replace Brodziak. Reider is not worth 2 million, either he takes the league minimum or he can go too. Currie should get a long look and I bet he would be happy to make 650,000 as a depth forward. The best move the Oilers made this year was moving Chiarelli out thanks for less than nothing.

  • Deezy

    I’m with Dusty. If the 1st rounder’s not Hughes or Kakko, the pick’s gotta be dealt for somebody to play LW in the top 6. Chia already wasted 3 of the first 4 years of Connor’s career in Edmonton.

      • Die Hard Oiler Fan

        Suggest we fill the GM position first. Ultimately the successful candidate should have the ability to construct a roster to support the style of team they envision, and then to hire a coach to support this. If the new GM wants a team that plays a fast, wide-open brand of hockey, would Hitch’s input (favours a more defensive, heavy style) be valuable or not in terms of either drafting or acquiring UFAs ?

    • Rock11

      Problem I have with that is that you are likely downgrading talent wise. Some of the forwards at the top of this draft have 1st line potential and that isn’t even counting the top two guys. Trading for an established guy probably gets you a 2nd line guy in return. At some point this organization has to quit downgrading in talent for a short term fix.

      • Deezy

        How many more years of McDavid’s career do you want to waste? We need one more guy in the top 6 that can play with Draisatl, McDavid and Nuge. Surround that group with the likes of Gagner and potentially Connor Brown and you’ve got a group that can compete up front (unlike this season). But let’s do it your way and wait for another guy to develop while McDavid and Draisatl’s deals tick away. We have the best players from the 2014 and 2015 draft. It’s time to surround them with legitimate talent and see where things go.

        • Depends how long the 80’s gang holds on, as long as they are involved and they are, the sh*t show will continue. Players in and out do not matter, they have changed the roster about 20 times, and consistently get it wrong because they do not know what they are doing, and keep proving it repeatedly. Only ones left cow towing to this bunch is the ones that want their press passes. Every other media outlet in the world is laughing at them, and rightly so.

      • Die Hard Oiler Fan

        I agree. Would love to see the Oil have a shot at Dylan Cozens. Why ? He’s big (6’3″, 185 lbs. depending on which site you look at); he is fast (one of the best skaters in the draft); he’s a right handed shot (which the Oil lack). While I agree the 1st round pick could land an established top six winger, we would need to clear a lot of cap space first. I know drafting a guy like Cozens won’t likely help next year (hopefully Oil have learned, a will develop whoever is chosen properly), but adopting a build through the draft approach for another year or two, should result in a very solid young roster to support our existing 4-5 core players. Sekera and Russell will be gone in another two years when their contracts expire, and we’ll have cap room to up some players coming off entry level deals, or to go out and acquire top 6 talent at that time.

      • Yea whoever is the GM will have to “toughen it out” for the next 2-3 years until the current crop of prospects cone up through the system and make do with what’s here for now. Trading high draft picks should be off the table unless it’s a deal that is too good to refuse.

      • Oily Reign

        His effectiveness totally disappears once the officials start calling the cheap shots and not the retaliation afterwards. Kind of like this whole myth of “new” fast skilled hockey. There has always been small fast skilled players, lumbering giants, and everything in between. What did change was how the league’s officiating started over penalizing “heavy hockey ”
        Chia’s biggest crime was not following what the Eastern teams, and hence the league were changing to.

  • Napoleon

    A high draft pick on an ELC is what the Oilers need, sure trading the pick for a “legit” winger is the dream however we HAVE 0 cap space for the next while. So unless we can dump Zack, Matt plus keep the pick!!!

  • camdog

    If theoretically one of Nurse, Sekera or Klefbom are capable of playing on the right side you’d surely see that sometime this season, wouldn’t you? There’s more game data to suggest Koskinen is a legit # starter than there is to suggest any of those 3 can play the right side.

  • Napoleon

    No real relief in sight until the expansion draft, Lucic will be bought out prior to it. I hate to think of protecting him in TWO expansion drafts!!! 2021 is how long rebuild 17.0 is gonna take, keep the pick dont panic stay the course…….

  • Gravis82

    never trade picks. Sure the oilers need help now, but that is not how it works. You draft everyone and keep everything until such time that you literally have too many prospects. .

  • nicolas10

    McDavid is the best player since Peter Forsberg & Pavel Bure, but he has absolutely no business even advising the GM about who to bring in or out. McDavid having a say about how the team is built is part of the problem & not part of the solution.

    My theory is that Chiarelli brought in Manning just because McD & the OBC had too much influence over his job. My theory is also that with his ludicrous latest trades he was just trolling the Oilers to hasten his firing because he was tired of all the interference.

    There are obvious issues in the management of this club, and I would go so far as to say there are probably issues in the locker room & it reminds me of the Saku Koivu era in Montreal. It looks like some players are chased out of town. See Aberg. The guy is a legit NHL bottom six player who could play on a scoring line too. Why chase him to replace him with 20 year olds who need AHL seasoning? Sure he’s not your ideal winger but the one winger you have you trade away.

      • nicolas10

        Dude I didn’t say that McD wanted Manning to be part of the team. I’m saying that I think Chia brought Manning because he was tired of outside influence. I am probably wrong but there goes my theory anyways.

        • My bad, I misread that. And totally agree, as soon as they announced the picks for Rienhart, we all knew he was just a puppet, and the next guy will be as well. I would laugh like hell if Hitch just up and said I quit. The house of cards is now known by the entire hockey world, not just the NHL, they should all resign, but their massive egos will not allow it. Until they are all gone, no Cup or Cups for the Oilers no matter who is on the roster. Next generation will be Katz’s kid or kids and Keegan Lowe. Nepotism wheel never stops turning. I imagine Todd and Chia on a beach somewhere , saying I though we had jobs for life, but at least we are still being paid. More wine?