It is official. The Edmonton Oilers will miss the playoffs for the 12th time in 13 years. Terrible, pathetic, vomit-inducing — there are a variety of adjectives and terms you could use, but they all lead to frustration. The Oilers current run of ineptitude isn’t the worst in the NHL, but they are one year away from setting a new level of bad.
1. No NHL organization has played 14 consecutive seasons and only made the playoffs once. The Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets did miss the playoffs 13 of 14 seasons, but the 2005 lockout interrupted that streak. Same with the Florida Panthers, who missed the dance 13 of 14 seasons between 2001-2015.
2. Between 1971-1983 the Detroit Red Wings only made the playoffs once, matching the Oilers current ineptitude. Then they proceeded to make the playoffs 30 of the next 32 seasons. Technically the Devils franchise also missed the postseason in 12 of 13 years. The Kansas City Scouts missed in 1975, 1976, then relocated to Colorado, where the Rockies went playoffless in five of six years before relocating to New Jersey where the Devils missed their first five seasons. Over the next 24 seasons, the Devils won three Stanley Cups, lost in the Finals twice and made the playoffs 21 times.
3. You’d like to think the Oilers losing will end at some time. And with a new GM coming in, you hope it starts right away. The ineptitude of the management during this run, especially since 2009/2010 has been ugly. It needs to be fixed.
4. The frustration has reached new heights among fans. Some watch parts of games or none at all. It sounds like many season ticket holders will not be renewing their seats. And last night Connor McDavid voiced his displeasure. “It wasn’t good enough all year. We did our best to stay in the fight. It’s been an insane season. Coach/GM change. My frustration level is really, really high. I’m not happy about it. We have a lot of crap to figure out,” said the Captain.
5. Of course he is frustrated. He should be. The management did an incredible job to weaken the talent around him since he arrived. The new GM has the luxury of having elite players. When I asked Jim Nill if the Oilers GM job would be appealing he said, “They have the toughest assets to acquire; elite skill. That is a great starting point.” Many will want this job, as long as they aren’t forced to keep the entire management team. If they have the leeway to bring in their own people the job becomes much more enticing.
6. The final three games will only impact the Oilers chances of winning the lottery. They currently have a 6% chance to win the lottery, and that could climb to 7.5% or drop to 3.5% if they manage to pass Chicago and Vancouver. There is, however, one major thing to watch. Leon Draisaitl’s quest for 50 goals.
7. Leon Draisaitl is trying to become the 90th player in NHL history to score 50 goals in a season. It is an exclusive club, and it gets significantly more unique when you talk multiple 50-goal seasons. Only 45 players have done it twice, twenty have done it three times and 14 players have had four 50-goal seasons. Tim Kerr, and Alex Ovechkin are the only two of those 14 not currently in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Ovechkin is a first ballot entry once he is eligible.
8. From 1984 to 1987 Kerr was a dynamic scorer producing 54, 54, 58 and 58 goals. He was injured in 1988 and only played eight games. He returned in 1989 and scored 48 goals in 69 games. He was dominant on the powerplay and scored most of his goals right around the crease. He battled injuries after 1989 and never played more than 40 games in any of his final four seasons. In his prime he was a dominant scorer, around the crease specifically. I’d argue that during his prime years he was better around the net than Dave Andreychuk.
9. Fourteen of the 44 players who scored 50 goals once in their career never surpassed 40 goals in any other season. Players like Adam Graves, Guy Chouinard, Bobby Carpenter, Jonathon Cheechoo, Sergei Fedorov, Bernie Geoffrion, Danny Grant, Vic Hadfield, Rick Kehoe, Gary Leeman, Hakan Loob, Mike Modano, Al Secord and Craig Simpson.
10. Bernie Nicholls scored 70 goals and 150 points in 1989. His second best season, both goal and point wise, was in 1985 when he had 46 goals and 100 points. He played with Wayne Gretzky in 1989. Lanny MacDonald had five 40+ goal seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Colorado Rockies, but in 1983 he erupted for 66 goals with the Calgary Flames. Those two had the most goals of any one-time 50-goal scorer.
11. Edmonton product Johnny Bucyk was the oldest player in NHL history to score 50 goals. He was 35 years old when he scored 51 goals and 116 points in 1971 for the Boston Bruins. It was his 16th season in the NHL. He produced 83, 93, 75, 81 and 83 points in the five years after scoring 50 goals. Pretty impressive run from the age of 35 to 40 for Bucyk.
12. There have been a total of 195 occasions where a player scored 50 goals and 37 times a player reached 50 on the dot. And 13 times has a player finished with 49 goals, one shy of the elusive 50. Here are the players who scored 49, but never had a 50-goal season: Gordie Howe, Frank Mahovlich, Kent Nilsson and Rob Brown. The other nine all managed 50 goals in another season.
13. The Pittsburgh Penguins have had a player score 50 goals 16 times, which is the most in the NHL. Edmonton is second with 15, while Washington and Los Angeles have 14.
14. Connor McDavid picked up his 115th point last night and became only the 45th player in NHL history to do it. It was the 111th time a player has done it and the second this season joining Nikita Kucherov. Only 18 players have had 115 points twice or more in their career. I’d wager a lot of money McDavid will reach 115 points again before his career his over.
15. McDavid likely won’t enjoy his 115-point season this summer. He wants to be in the playoffs, and I’d be curious what he says to Bob Nicholson in their end-of-season meeting. If I’m Nicholson I make sure I have a conversation with him before he departs for the summer. McDavid will channel his frustration into off-ice workouts and will return in September a better player. He is always looking to improve himself, and it would be nice if the management team held themselves to the same standard.
16. McDavid has been the most prolific scorer in the NHL the past three years and he is always working on getting better. Nicholson has to recognize his management team has been the opposite and significant change is needed this summer.
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Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 4/2/2019 – 9:00 am MT