Lost in the darkness of another year without the playoffs is series of career highs for Oilers forwards.
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.
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:
Kovalchuk for Lucic, who says no?
— Dustin Nielson (@nielsonTSN1260) March 26, 2019
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.
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.
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 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.