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Ten Little Tidbits

Lost in the darkness of another year without the playoffs is series of career highs for Oilers forwards.

CAREER HIGHS

Leon Draisaitl has already set his career high in goals, assists and points this season. Zack Kassian buried his 15th of the year against the Kings surpassing the 14 he scored with the Canucks in 2014. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins previous career best was 24 goals; he is already at 28 snipes this season. Alex Chiasson passed his career high in goals months ago and also set a new benchmark for points in a season against the Kings. 

Then there is Connor McDavid. The captain hit the 109-point,110-point,111-point 112-point mark for the first time in his career last night. At this point, I’d be SHOCKED if he doesn’t reach 120 points, which is a total many of us believed he could track down at the beginning of the season. 

MATT BENNING

The bad news for Matt Benning is he took a puck to the face against the Kings. The good news is that his play as of late has been pretty damn good. I chatted with a Western Conference scout on Tuesday who suggested that Benning’s play over the last month has certainly increased his trade value heading into the off-season.

I think Benning would be nice to have around to use as a measuring stick against some of the younger d-men on their way up. His presence here can continue to allow young blueliners to develop at a proper pace if someone comes in and steals his job in the fall you can still move him at that time.

LUCIC FOR KOVALCHUK

Just for fun today I tossed this poll question out on Twitter:

The results really don’t surprise me at all. Zero chance this would happen but with Kovalchuk not even on the road trip with the Kings it was a fun topic to discuss.

NO TRADE FOR NUGE

This has nothing to with Nuge scorching the Kings, but I’d be very hard pressed to find a trade that makes sense.

I don’t think the need for a defenseman is desperate enough to sacrifice Nugent-Hopkins and why in the hell would you trade him for a winger? If you move Nuge for a winger who is suppose to play centre when McDavid and Draisaitl get united? None of this makes sense.

Help on the wings will have to come from within the organization, in the form of a free agent or a very creative trade that does not involve Nugent-Hopkins. 

KIRBY DACH

TSN’s Craig Button turned some heads by having Kirby Dach at 15 and Peyton Krebs at 17 in his most recent rankings for the 2019 draft. Dach has been thought of as a consensus top ten pick and a possible top five pick for the last couple of years. Krebs is projected to be in the 7-12 range most places I look.

For what it’s worth, I was told by a WHL source that there might be some internal issues between Dach and the Blades. I wonder if that contributed to the tumble in Button’s rankings. I would still be very surprised if Dach is on the board when the Oilers make their pick in June.

MIKE BABCOCK

Was told by someone this week that if Mike Babcock isn’t back in Toronto next season he’ll looking for a Bill Belichick type roll in another organization. Just making note of this because both Edmonton and Los Angeles came up in the conversation.

NO LOVE FOR THE BEARS

Have been told by someone very close to the Oilers that certain members of the staff don’t think very highly of University Hockey here in Canada. It’s not the end of the world but it is frustrating when you have the best program in the history of Canadian University hockey right here in your backyard and for lack of a better term you don’t respect it.  In addition to Luke Philp signing with the Flames, the Bears also sent a defenseman to the KHL and a goalie to the American League in the past ten days.

SEAN BURKE

Sean Burke was at Rogers Place again on Tuesday in his role of Western Pro Scout with the Habs. I’m pretty sure Burke won’t end up getting the Oilers GM gig but I do think he would be a good guy to have around the organization even if it’s just to help out with Koskinen once in a while.

OH NO MIKKO

The game against the Kings is a perfect example of why the Oilers have to find a backup goaltender capable of pushing Koskinen next season. There is no way the Oilers can head into next season confidently expecting to be a playoff team with Koskinen starting to 60-65 games. It can’t happen. 

THE STREAK CONTINUES

Once again I predicted Tobias Rieder would score a goal and once again he let me down. I don’t know which one of us looks worse at this point. The good news is that the stage is set for an epic battle on Thursday between Tobias Rieder and Valeri Nichushkin. The big Russian’s return to the NHL has not gone well as he has yet to find the back in the net in 54 games. Nichushkin could score a goal against the Flames on Wednesday but what type of idiot would make a prediction like that.

Previously by Dustin Nielson:

    • Ass Eatn Szn 69

      i see what your getting at, i thought so too, however even with this year as an outlier his output has been slightly regressing. So how big of an outlier is it? Im thinking somewhere in the middle of his last year an this year.

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      After getting thrown under the bus why would Reider want to come back here. I like Reider but the Oilers need offence and there is someone else who can fill Reider’s role like Currie or Gambardella. Reider did fine with Chiasson and Drai but outside of that he hasnt had much success and the Oilers arent going to sign him. Another team may take a crack at him but it wont be at his current salary and might no even be on a one way deal. Reider is a good solider but this team needs scoring and point and too many guys arent putting up points. Let him go and find someone else for his roster spot

    • slats-west

      His positional play is poor he’s weak on the wall and he was suppose to be on PK – nothing has transpired. And he has not gotten any better in any category meanwhile other players Like Currie and Gambo are showing more grit and higher IQ than him. Ba-bye

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    There’s no trade scenario involving Nuge that makes sense. If he’s traded, we’ll spend the next decade wishing we had a player just like him. Do NOT trade the Nuge.

      • IRONman

        Nuge stays. 6 million is valuable contract. He brings heart to the Team. Skates his f@@king @ss off. No trade. Just find him a winger. Leon with McDavid is gold. Wow Leon can hit 50 goals

        • He is not going to resign for the same amount period. I predict he will ask for more than what he is worth, Oil wont do it , and he will sign elsewhere for less. which would be his plan all along, we have seen this before and will again until management is completely purged, and we know that is not going to happen.

      • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

        Aren’t Russell and Sekera both UFA the same year Nuge is? Those two would tree up like $9 million from the cap, plus the amount it increases between now and then. If we’ve got some young D like Jones/Persson/Boosh on their ELCs at that point, it’s not unreasonable to think we could afford Nuge. Now, if he doesn’t want to re-sign, there’s nothing to be done about it, but the money should work.

    • Ryan Jones Is Still My Hero

      I think the best trade candidate is probably Sekera to be honest. I think he’s playing well enough that the Oilers wouldn’t have to retain salary, or minimal salary if necessary, which clears up space to go sign a winger. Jones can fill in the 3LD spot for him.

      • Vanhellian

        Russell should be traded. He makes weak plays all over the place. Always wraps the puck around the boards. Not good for nurse. Too expensive.
        I realize he has a difficult contract but he still has to go

        • Ryan Jones Is Still My Hero

          True, and I agree that Sekera is a good mentor, but at least Russell plays the right side. If we trade him then our right side next year includes Benning as 2LD and Bear/Bouchard as 3LD, or we have to use a bunch of the Russell money to sign a replacement Dman and we don’t address the forward situation. If we trade Sekera, we have a cheap dman that should be able to log good 3rd pairing minutes, and we can use 5.5 million to find a forward. I just think it makes the most sense.

        • FISTO Siltanen

          Signing Russell wasnt horrible but anchoring this team with an albatross contract in hindsight was stupid. They should have:

          A) offered 3x $4.5M (with final year as low as possible plus a signing bonus to take the sting off)
          B) 2x $5M
          C) current deal at $6M, $4M, $3M, $3M with a $2M signing bonus attached going into 3rd contract.

          All those left options to move him. Unfortunately, the options currently left are minimal.

  • That's My Point

    Draisaitl would go 1st overall if they had to do the 2014 draft now.
    99 points and 46 goals, only 2nd to Ovie this season.
    4th overall in points.
    Pastrnak and Point not quite as elite.

  • rnj

    Not a single person who says they’re open to trading Nuge has explained how they’d fill the gap. 1LW, 2C, PP, PK, 25 goals a season, looks eternally young, where else are you gonna find that?

      • Hooker

        How’s that working out so far? Fair question isn’t it? Trading Drai or Nuge could bring 2 or 3 more good players to make the team stronger overall. Not saying do it at all costs, but don’t dismiss the idea out of hand like everyone seems to be doing

        • rnj

          Hooker – who are these people you’d get back for Nuge? I am open to it, but it doesn’t seem to be reality. If you support this idea give examples of what kind of names and salaries you’d want in return.

          Gord – why is he gone? You say he’s overpriced for a 3C, have you seen him play 3C this season? He’s a 2C 1LW combo with Drai. If he puts up 65+ points a season why wouldn’t you sign him for 7M? In 2 years the cap will have increased by 3-5M so it’s not like it’s a big crunch. If you’re saying he’ll leave to a better franchise, only if the only continue to botch things. Trading Nuge based on that premise is a vote of no confidence in your own organization that doesn’t make sense

          • Serious Gord

            So if he’s on the same line with Drai then the three players McD, Drai and RNH (@ 8 million) will cost 29 million. out of a total cap of somewhat less than 60 million – roughly 1/2 of the entire team cap. And you still have 22 more players to pay for.

            Lucic + Klefbom + Kosk will cost you another 14.6 million leaving 16 million to pay 19 more players.

            The league minimum in 21-22 will be $750,000. thus you will have just 1.75 million to spread around those 19 players above the minimum.

            RNH (and Nurse) have to go…

    • Serious Gord

      He’s a goner in two years so you are going to have to replace him regardless. Trade him now – when he has peak value – for a bunch of assets that can contribute when the team might be competitive.

  • That's My Point

    Are Edmonton media still squawking with an early April Fools’ joke of trading Nuge for the WORST +/- D in the league: Ristolainen???
    Hopefully Nuge made that stop last night.

  • TKB2677

    I like Bennings game lately, he’s playing well. He looks like a real solid, right shooting, 3rd pairing dman who can do lots of things OK. A nice guy to have on your blueline. BUT the Oilers need to bring in more speed, puck moving and offense to their blueline. 3 things that Benning doesn’t really bring. In order to bring in dmen that do those things they lack, you have to open up spots. In a perfect world, you get rid of both of Russell and Sekera to open up cap space and roster spots but I don’t know if you can. I could see maybe 1 being moved but not both. I think the Oilers need 2 new dmen who skate well, move the puck and have some offense to their game. So I could see Benning moved for a bottom 6 guy.

    • Rock11

      Russell yes Sekera no. I get the cap hit but what is lost in the discussion of the improvement in Benning’s play is it precisely coincides with having Sekera as his partner. A LD of Klef, Nurse, and Sekera is playoff worthy. A serious upgrade of 2RD is required though. Maybe Bouchard can be that guy by the middle of next year. Maybe it Persson. Either way I don’t think that either of those guys would be a downgrade from Russell. They likely give more on D but offset that with offensive upside. All for $3m less.

    • rondelo

      I think in order to get rid of the big contracts to create cap space they will have to tie a prospect to the said big useless contracts,,,but they will need to be carefull

    • Glencontrolurstik

      Don’t forget about Bouchard. I think he will be here at some point next year.
      He is very offensive, to the point that he’s often out of position because of it. That’s OK though, because his offense should make up for it, you can’t stifle that. What you do need with Bouchard though is a responsible d-man that can cover for him when he’s caught in the O-zone. I’m not saying Benning is that guy. What’s Craig Muni up to? hahaha…

  • Ass Eatn Szn 69

    if benning has good value trade him now, bear, bouchard and perrsons scratching at the door, with day in bakersfield, and berglund, marino, deharnais, pro bound, lets start selling high on replacable assets.

    • Ass Eatn Szn 69

      time to trade nurse,

      – sell high, his points are inflated by 29 and 97 from touching the puck on the pp
      -klefbom is better and on a much better long term cap hit
      -nurse is going to want 6+ after next season
      -nurses for say parayko balances the roster better, russell plays left side and jones and gravel can push him
      -nurse is erratic in his own zone, and takes too many penalties
      – keep him if he wants to sign 8x5m, but mean erratic defencemen are not the ones to pay in todays nhl

      • Ass Eatn Szn 69

        all who trash are going to be the first to start complaining when nurse is making 7M and getting scored on, and making bad passes out of the zone.

      • slats-west

        His raw talent is exceptional. But it’s Hockey IQ which limits him and most of that was fatigue having to play munutes beyond what he is capable. Having Sekera and Klefbom back has helped Nurse play better. Which really is what we need – depth in the organization. Trading Nurse for the right assets is fine with me but with which GM? and I’d like to see another deal first before that one as it’s not necessary today.

      • Stallions #35

        If I had to trade Klef or Nurse…I would trade Klef.
        Sorry but injuries and the fact that Nurse has more of an edge and younger…the only part is how much will Nurse want after the bridge contract?

  • WheatiesHockey

    Trading Nuge should never be considered. It would be difficult to replace his intangibles like leadership and being the longest serving Oiler. If anyone deserves success wearing Oilers colours have to say it would be Nuge.
    Amazing that Oilers management didn’t make plans for a serviceable back up for MK before unloading Talbot. Finding a quality inexpensive serviceable back who can play 25-35 games might be a challenge. The Jets were ecstatic to pick up Broissoit from the Oilers. Maybe they can find a goalie who is number 3 on a really good team depth chart.
    With respect to CIS hockey players seldom get a look form NHL teams. The reasoning seems to be the were already scouted when they were playing CHL. After the NCAA season is done there is always a big hunt for mature free agents among NHL teams. The difference between teams like Tampa and the Oilers seems to be that one team is really able to find gems in the second round or later or undrafted players brought into their system. For a team like the Oilers with little cap space and a weaker depth chart finding a few gems would really help.

      • That's My Point

        They can’t keep Lucic you meant to say.
        They can make a contract for Nuge work.
        If the Oilers do NOTHING, the salary cap keeps increasing so you have the money for Nuge there.
        Done, “That was EASY!”

          • Stallions #35

            He is not a third line center. Yes he can be but I would have no issues with McDavid as 1C Drai and Nuge alternating as 2C/1RW. 7-8 million a year for what Nuge brings is a bargain to what some of the teams have paid for less and at what? 26 or 27 years old?

      • Glencontrolurstik

        They most certainly can. The cap is going up exponentially year after year… We have to realize that the over-pays on questionable talent that Chia made (thankfully only 1 or 2 year contracts) will be expiring over the next couple of years. That, combined with the increase in cap (5ish mil next year) should make signing & re-signing what we need much easier than it looks at the moment… We were left with a mess, but it shouldn’t be as hard to clean-up as you drill-down and take more into account.
        What we pay for McDavid & Draisaitl is a real value, we could be in a Leaf situation.

    • slats-west

      Oilers have not made a trade for a good goalie since Dwayne Roloson. Fire all goalie scouts and get Sean Burke in here as Assistant GM/Goalie Mentor. Has to be better than what we have and you could have a GM in training for future.

  • Jason Gregor

    Currently Oilers would pick 9th…I think it is very likely Dach is still there. I’d be interested if they took him seeing as C is their strength and their top-two centres are set for the next seven years, at least.

    Krebs is a tough one from what scouts tell me. He had so little talent around him that you wonder how many more plays he could make if he had some D-men who could give him the puck, but then does he look better because there isn’t much talent around him. To me Dylan Cozens and Byram Bowen are the two most skilled in WHL. Both could be top five. A guy to watch for is Brayden Tracey from Moose Jaw. He played midget last year and jumped to the WHL this year and produced 81 points in 66 games. He really came on in the second half of the season and many scouts feel his trajectory is going up. He wasn’t on many radars at the start of the season, but could be a first rounder now. It shows how much young players can change in a year and why amateur scouting is very difficult.

    • Serious Gord

      So you would split up Drai and McD? Seems to me that that has been a mixed bag of results these past few years… With RNH gone 24 months from now the depth at Centre could be an issue.

        • OILERSORDEATH

          In what way would you all assume Nuge is gone?? How do you know he wouldn’t sign an extension? He seems like hes having the best time of his career even though they haven’t locked a playoff spot. Nothing in his body language at all suggests hes looking for another team

    • Glencontrolurstik

      We could all be amateur scouts if the networks would televise some CHL playoff games… As an Oiler fan at this time of year, I’d tune in… I’m certainly not alone, I don’t think? It’s a great time and a perfect time to showcase (in our case the WHL) the league that would love to get more reg. season attendance numbers… I can watch darts or poker on almost any given hour 24/7.
      It’s certainly some great hockey that I think would be well received. Canada is the “centre of all things hockey.” (yes Mr. Gates, I spelled “centre” correctly)…

  • Serious Gord

    Re: Babcock

    If the Leafs go out in the first round it is quite likely that Babcock gets fired. He is already in a semi-public spat with the GM over the goalie issue. And he seems to be bridling at not having say over that and other roster decisions.

    I think he would be about as good a GM as the team could find. But will he work for an org that doesn’t give him a free hand to fire and hire who he wants?

  • Gravis82

    Players usually have their best seasons around this age. We just witnessed it, on a terrible team.

    Can you imagine if this was a legit top5 team in the league what Leon and Connor would have done this year?

    What a waste

  • Abagofpucks

    I have to laugh at all the trade nuge and nurse idiots, all they want is the oilers to be worse, they never have a list of who would be coming back. All they have is we gotta trade them away yup…. there just never had a clue fools that really don’t care about the oilers.

    • BobbyCanuck

      OK, If those 2 play as well or better next season, and the season after what do you think they would ask for salary? What the comments are getting at is that we will still be in Cap Hell, when these 2 come up for renewal

      • Serious Gord

        Exactly. We will likely not be able to afford them in two years.

        Both are at or near their peak in performance AND their value as there is still some term on their contract left.

        Buy Low SELL HIGH.

        The oil could get a boodle of players/prospects who will be able to contribute three seasons from now and beyond which (hopefully) will coincide with the rest of the team being competitive.

        FACE IT. This team is going to be awful next year and still not be competitive the following season. Both of these players being on the team won’t change that.

        • Boba The Fett

          How do you seriously think we cant afford him, he has 2 years remaining after this year. At that point the cap could be up another 10M. Even if he has 2 more years at 65-70 pts and ask for 7-8M our top 3 will cost 28-29M. Also Russell/Sekera will be entering their last years so trading or buying them out would be easier. Gagners contravt will be gone the year before as well.
          Other teams that have an expensive top 3 are:
          PITT – 25.5M
          TB – 25.8M
          TOR – 29.6M and Marner isnt even signed yet
          WAS – 25.3M
          SJ – 23M and they have to resign Pavelski and Karlsson still
          NSH – 24M
          VGK – 23.5M

          And these are all for next year, Nuge signing would count 2 years after, when I am pretty sure a number of teams will be ag the same numbers. Whats makes it better also is that we should have a good dose of ELC contracts coming to the NHL over the next 2-3 years as well.

          Nurse will also get max 5.5 I think, he will not be on the PP next year so his pts will decrease.

  • Oil9744

    Lucic back to LA makes sense cause you know he would wave his NMC for that. I was thinking Kovalchuk as well but I think a position that is way more important is in net with the Oilers. I would try to get Jonathan Quick. Before you ask, Yes I did watch the game last night. Every goalie has a bad season here and there but Quick is still one of the best goalies in the NHL. Just last season alone the kings had the fewest goals against average in the NHL and he had a .925 save percentage. He was even better in the playoffs in a losing effort against Vegas only cause LA couldn’t score a goal. Plus he’s only 33 and knows how to win at the highest levels. Koski has wholes in his game and I don’t think anyone is comfortable going in to next season with Koski and some jo blow back up. You could have a stacked team up front but with shaky goaltending it won’t work. Look at the Jets for example recently of that until they got Hellybuck. Florida is in the same boat.

  • camdog

    Lots of money to sign RnH, Ken Holland style max term would bring him into mid 30’s. Seattle coming in cap going up. Money isn’t the problem, if the Oilers can stop being stupid with their other hockey moves.