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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

How Will the Oilers Improve: Part One

The Edmonton Oilers finished 15th in the Western Conference and missed the playoffs by eleven points last year.
They were 25th overall in league standings.
They were 25th in goals against and 20th in goals for.
Their powerplay was 9th at 21.2% and their penalty kill was 30th at 74.8%.
They were 28th in shots on goal/game with 29.2 and 19th in shots against/game at 31.7.

Outside of the powerplay, those numbers are undesirable.

Oilers GM Ken Holland didn’t make a major splash in free agency, which wasn’t surprising considering he had very little salary cap flexibility, but also because overpaying on July first is rarely the wise move. The reality is more often than not you have to overpay on July first. If a team really likes a player, part of signing him is knowing you will overpay.

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The good news is since July 1st free agent signings have been at a standstill and now it becomes more of a buyers market. There are some good players available, and we could see players forced to sign one-year deals for less money than they’d hoped for. Patrick Maroon had to do this last year when he signed for $1.5 million in St.Louis. It was perfect for him because he got to live in the same city as his son and then won the Stanley Cup, but those situations are rare.

Maroon didn’t have a great season stats-wise, producing 10-18-28, and might have to sign another short-term, lower salary contract this summer. He isn’t the only one as other quality UFAs are still without a contract. Maybe Holland signs one in late July or August when players get a bit more antsy. Does Ryan Dzingel on a one-year deal at $2.5 to $3 million make sense? If I’m Dzingel I’d look at Edmonton, because the opportunity to play a top-six role is wide open. Have a great year and he could cash in on a multi-year deal next season.

Even if Holland signs one more UFA, that player won’t suddenly make the Oilers a contender. If this team is going to improve it will come internally. The list of players who had good seasons last year is quite short, so many players have a chance to be better.

For today’s exercise, I’m looking at realistic improvements. So I’m using league average, 16th, as the goal. Of course, you’d like players or units to be higher, but I’m looking at the Oilers just being competitive which would be 16th.

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Let’s start in goal.

Mikko Koskinen finished the season with a .906 sv% and a 2.93 GAA. He was 25th in SV% among the top-31 goalies in starts. If we assume he is the starter, then he’ll be in the top-31 in games started this coming season.

Can he make ten more saves this year? If he does then his sv% would be .912 and that would tie have him 16th. Ten more saves in 51 starts? If we assume Dave Tippett’s system will be more goalie-friendly, is it not unrealistic to assume Koskinen can make ten more stops. Then add in he is spending all summer working on his weaknesses. Notably leaning back instead of forward when challenging shooters, thus giving them more room upstairs.

If he makes 15 more stops his sv% would be .915 and that would have had him 11th last season. The gap between below average and above average isn’t that much when you break it down.

I don’t think it is a stretch to believe Koskinen can make 10-15 more timely saves.

PENALTY KILL

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The penalty kill must improve, but how? It is on the players to be better. There isn’t some magic PK system that will suddenly alter their success. The PK has been on a downward spiral since December, 2016. In 215 games since the Oilers PK is 31st in the NHL at an ugly 76.2%. They’ve allowed 148 goals on 622 kills. The PK has been on a trending down for 31 months. Last season it was an ugly 74.8% allowing 62 goals.

Two different head coaches and two different defence coaches couldn’t figure it out. This is on the players to be more committed, more in sync, make better reads and make more saves.

In order to be average (16th) they will need to kill off 13 more powerplays. Again, not a ridiculous number, but considering their PK has gotten worse in each of the past three seasons, this might be their biggest challenge. Koskinen has to be better. Their most experienced defenders; Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Darnell Nurse and Kris Russell have to be smarter, and their forwards need to get the puck out when they have a chance. It would help if they could win a few more faceoffs as well.

Last year the Oilers were -49 on faceoffs on the PK. Only the Islanders (-67), Carolina (-62) and Ottawa (-61) were worse in the dot, while the Rangers were also -49. The Canes PK was still 8th, but Ottawa and both New York teams were all below average on the PK. Losing draws and not getting the pucks out when they had controlled crushed the Oilers.

Here are the numbers for the D-men last year:

Name       TOI       GA       GA/60
Larsson    165        26         9.44
Nurse       158        26         9.87
Russell      140       27         11.53
Klefbom    109       17          9.28
Benning     87         12         8.24

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The one positional change I’d make is not asking Russell to play his off-side. Getting pucks out on your backhand isn’t ideal. Move him to the left side and have Benning and Larsson as the two RD on the PK.

Name       TOI       GA       GA/60
RNH         139       22         9.49
Brodziak   116       17         8.66
Kassian      98        13         7.86
Draisaitl     94        14         8.83
Rieder        89        12         8.20
Khaira        69        10         8.67
McDavid    48        10         12.2
Chiasson    44         6         8.03

There will be changes among the forwards on the PK. Tobias Rieder will not return and Kyle Brodziak might not be a regular in the lineup. Markus Granlund should be one of their top PK forwards. He had the 2nd most PK TOI in Vancouver last season and their PK finished 11th. Khaira needs to show Dave Tippett he can be a reliable penalty killer and be used more, possibly on the second unit with Kassian. For all the good things RNH does, his inability to win a faceoff crushes him, especially on the PK, and with the new rule coming in this season where the attacking team gets to pick which side to take the faceoff, he might struggle more if he is on his weak side more often.

Maybe Colby Cave gets a look. He was 11 of 17 PK faceoffs last year. Granted he only played 14 minutes on the PK, but if he is going to be in the lineup, he has to show Tippett he can kill penalties. Gaetan Haas and Joakim Nygard were good penalty killers in Europe, so I’m sure they will get a look in preseason. If they can help the PK, then their stock goes up a lot.

I’d consider using RNH less on the PK and more at 5×5 if one or two of Nygard, Cave and Haas prove they can kill penalties. The past two seasons have been RNH’s worst when it comes to GA/60 on the PK. He was 12.4 in 2018 and 9.49 last year.

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And it would help if they cut down their penalties. The Oilers were shorthanded 246 times last season, 10th most in the NHL. Having more offensive zone time, should help in this regard, because they will be attacking more than defending.

TEAM DEFENCE

Edmonton allowed 271 goals last year, 25th most in the NHL. They have to improve here. If not, they will miss the playoffs for the 13th time in 14 years. They made the playoffs in 2017 despite a sub-par PK over the final 60 games, because their 5×5 defence was very good.

Every group needs to improve from goaltending to defence to the forwards.

Koskinen needs to be better, and so does Mike Smith. Tippett’s style should help, but it won’t guarantee their GAA improves if the players don’t play better. Cutting down on quality chances will help, and Alex Chiasson outlined how the forwards are responsible for too many goals against. New defensive coach Jim Playfair outlined to me his approach to helping the defencemen here.

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“At the end of the day we have to defend better,” said Chiasson. “We spend too much time in our own end, and we have to become a team that is harder to play against in the offensive zone. A team that can create second, third and fourth chances and that will limit our time to defend. I didn’t watch a lot of playoff games, but the ones I did watch you see teams break out the puck really clean, there are up in the neutral zone and they play as a system of five. When you do those things you don’t have to defend as much as we did last year.”

So how much better do they have to be to be average?

They have to eliminate 27 goals against. Colorado was 16th in GA with 244. Essentially one fewer goal every three games.

Some of that will come via an improved PK, they hope, while the rest comes mainly at 5×5. Edmonton was 24th in 5×5 goals against with 179, while the Winnipeg Jets were average (16th) allowing 163. So 16 fewer goals at 5×5 for Edmonton to be average. That is one every five games.

Last year we witnessed one of the biggest defensive improvements from one year to the next when the Islanders went from allowing the most goals in the NHL in 2018, 293, to allowing the fewest at 191. It was a stunning turnaround, and they achieved it with essentially the same defensive corps, except @Devan Toews who replaced Calvin De Haan. They brought in new head coach Barry Trotz, who implemented more attention to the defensive end, and Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss stared 43 and 39 games respectively and posted .930 and .927 SV%. In 2018 Greiss started 25 games and had a .892sv%.

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I’m not expecting the Oilers team defence to go from the outhouse to the penthouse in on year, but asking them to be average, which would put them in the race, isn’t unreasonable.

I believe much of their improvement must focus around their team defence and goaltending and come from smarter decisions, better positioning and playing the system properly.

What do you feel would be realistic improvements in these areas?

***Part two of this series will run tomorrow.***

THIRD ANNUAL OILERSNATION OPEN

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After having such a blast over the past two years, we absolutely knew that we were going to organize another golf tourney for the summer and, after a few months of planning, we’re psyched to finally be able to launch our third annual golf tournament.

  • When – August 29th, 2019 (Thursday)
  • Where – Cougar Creek Golf Resort
  • How much – $1000/team or get in on the $900 Early Bird price until July 10th
  • Teams – Groups of Four (4)
  • How – Book your team here

As always, a portion of all proceeds from your ticket purchase will be donated directly to a local charity. This time we’ve partnered up with the Gregor Foundation to make sure that our kids are at their most handsome.

Recently by Jason Gregor:


  • Hemmercules

    Back in January I pretty much assumed the Oil wouldn’t make the playoff next season after what Chia left them with. Even with a new coaching I still don’t see it happening unless they add some more significant pieces. The team has been through so many PP and PK adjustments over the last few years and they are still terrible so I cant see the special teams taking any kind of jump with mostly all the same players. They don’t have the cash to add anyone good either so I assume the roster we see today will be basically it for the most part. I’m fine with it. Take it slow. Tank one more year and next summer they should be able to make some meaningful roster moves when some cash opens up. I barely remember what playoffs feel like anyway so what’s a couple more years in the toilet.

    • Scratch

      The lineup has not improved and if the that lineup couldn’t improve under HOF coach Hitch, several players having career years and now without any recent draft choices ready to move up Tippett won’t have any more success, we’re in the long game here, maybe 2021 or 22

      • GRC

        2 things on Hitch. First he was an interim coach…the buy in from interim coaches is very low and their shelf life is even lower.
        So the fact that Oilers had a brief surge and then dropped of was not a surprise at all. Especially when you consider how grating Hitch is.
        Secondly…the game has clearly passed him by. A consultant role is really the best place for him at this point in time

  • billsbills

    The PK can get better pretty easily. For the last two years I’ve watched PPs collapse the box Edmonton forms and the PK ends up in a straight line in the middle of the ice. Making back door tap ins the norm.

    Penalty killing isn’t rocket science and it hasn’t changed much in the 35+ years I’ve been watching hockey. Four man box. Keep the play to the outside, stop or deflect cross seam passes and have your goalie make a save.

    The worst team can be great at penalty killing if they stick to the box. Not a triangle, not a T, not a diamond. A damn box. FFS.

  • Towers-of-dub

    better awareness in the defensive zone for one. less back to the play stuff, less lack of awareness where the safe outlet passes are. more awareness where the other teams forwards are, and not putting yourself in a position to have pucks bounce in off you because you didn’t know who was where. Less panic, more composure.

    • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

      Maybe, but the Islanders also sacrificed their offensive potential for a complete defensive structure. There’s a reason Greiss and Lehner were so damn good.

      • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

        Look at the point totals of their forward core.

        In the 17-18 season, Matthew Barzal had 22G-63A-85Pts. Last season his goals went down to 18, his assists dropped to 44, and his points plummeted down to 62.

        In the 17-18 season, the Islanders scored 264 goals and allowed 296. Last year they scored 228 goals, but only allowed 196.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      Hey, T.O. Fans,… all this without Mr. 11 million dollar man…..
      Shows to go ya, what great coaching and great defensive systems will do for a team. No big names, except Ebs haha (who all of a sudden became a playoff star) but they were very effective with basically no-names on the team… Promising parallel to what Oiler Fans can hope for next season, without a lot of analyzing every little thing. Just do it!

    • Abagofpucks

      Our tenders gotta be reasonable or it could be a long season. OLE Mikey says he’s gonna be working hard to get us into the playoffs.

      We know from watching Smith and Kosko they are capable of stealing wins, but when they drop a steamy one down its hard to watch.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    Every aspect of this club needs improvement. Powerplay, penalty kill, goaltending, defence, depth scoring, coaching, general managing. The reason the 16-17 season was so successful was because we had all of that work in unison (no injuries to significant players also helped). But in the last 2 seasons, a combination of these “ingredients” if you will, haven’t been there. It’s been better than 2007-2015, mind you, but it hasn’t been enough.

    • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

      And by “no injuries to significant players) I’m talking regular season. As soon as Klefbom and Sekera went down in Game 5, we were doomed

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    The site admins really need to fix the keyword filter rules, they are beyond baffling when it comes to posting comments, I get they are trying to catch spammer etc, but man its brutal on innocuous comments

  • chezzychez

    Koskinen was started in way too many back to back’s down the stretch last year and struggled mightily in (i think) all of them. That would help his numbers too. Not sure if Smith will look much better in covering for him this year though…

    Our top 2 lines put up career years last year. Please Jebus save us from bottom our bottom 6 F’s and our PK

  • ed from edmonton

    You are saying the Oil need to get better at just about everything. Other than top line scoring and PP, which is driven by top line scorers, the Oil need improvement

  • Serious Gord

    With no major injuries to major players and just a marginal improvement in goaltending, defense and some puck luck for the wingers and they will be right on the bubble for a wildcard.

    And that along with some careful cultivation of the prospects and the team should be in excellent position to make great progress in the following season.

  • Pikester

    I’m constantly amused by sportswriters & desperate fans alike who year after year try to convince anyone who will listen; as well as themselves, that the success of this franchise depends almost completely on “ ifs” and “maybes “.

    IF player A, B, & C can move up from the farm & provide significant contributions to defense & scoring.

    IF our veteran players can continue to get better or revisit having career years.

    MAYBE we can bring in a 37 year old goalie who will play like he did 5 years ago although he struggled behind arguably one of the best defenses in the league the last 2 years.

    MAYBE the defense will magically improve despite buying out one of our most steady, minute eating defensemen without adding an equal or better replacement.

    We all hope for something to cheer for every season but unless Holland can pull off a miracle & add a fast, effective top 6 winger, & a true top 2 defenseman, I’m afraid this team is going to be a bottom feeding mess yet again this year.

    I truly hope I’m wrong but the proof & the numbers don’t add up for me to expect anything different without substantial improvements.

      • Pikester

        The track record of the last 11 years (minus 1 aberration in which almost everybody did play well, very few injuries, & the hockey gods smiled on us) tell me that it’s not particularly in our favor. If we are a fan base which wishes/hopes/prays for our primarily unproven & lack luster rosters to all have career & injury free years just to get into the playoffs then I’m truly disappointed in us. We need & deserve more of a sure thing.

        I’d rather have a roster like Tampa’s & hope they do better in the playoffs next year, than have a consistently subpar roster like the Oilers have had for over a decade & pray for them to catch magic.

        • Jason Gregor

          Tampa’s roster won the same amount of playoff games as the Oilers.
          The Blues were in last place in January.
          Suggesting things can’t change seems odd to me. The Islanders proved it.
          And I wrote about realistic numbers. Not being as dominant as Tampa, Blues or NYI. Just be average. If you think improving the PK is impossible. Okay. Tell me why. Tell us why this year they can’t improve to be average. And FYI, if your response is because the past 13 years that is a hollow answer. It really has no impact on this year. New GM, new coach, new communication within the organization. Things can change quickly in the NHL. The Oilers have sucked for a long time, because the organization couldn’t get out of their own way. Holland has to clean some of that up, and it will take time, but I don’t see why asking to be average is unrealistic.

          • Pikester

            Yes Tampa won the same number of playoff games as Edmonton but at least they got there, put revenue in the pockets of owners, investors, & all the businesses that generate income from playoffs for a couple games. Also I’m pretty sure Tampa fans had a much more enjoyable regular season sitting in the seats & watching at home to the tune of 62 wins. St Louis is an incomparable; there’s a better chance of a follower out of all Oilersnation to win the Lottery then for an NHL team to be in last place in January & then win The Cup ever again.

            Yes there is a chance the power play could improve but it’s primarily the same individuals they’ve had over the last 3 years (plus or minus a few 3rd liners & losing Eberle & Sekera) , over several head coach & assistant coaching changes so I’m not sure where the miraculous improvement is to come from? Unless RNH, Conner, or one of the new depth signings can start going 60% on offensive zone face offs I’m not clear on how the PP improves enough to put the Oilers in the top 15 in the league.

            Yes the Oilers could improve slightly in a few areas but let’s not ignore the majority of the teams in the Pacific Division will be as good or better this season. The only teams that might be worse or at least “catchable” will be LA , & possibly Anaheim. Not good enough for playoffs. SanJose lost Pavelski but will have a full year of a healthy & motivated Karlsson, Vancouver improved, Calgary won’t take a step back, Vegas will be fine, even Arizona will continue to be competitive again.

            The real question is not necessarily whether the Oilers can improve marginally over what they were a year ago, but how many teams can they be significantly better than?

          • ricardo2000

            I agree with Mr Gregor’s theoretical analysis as realistic goals are essential for anyone’s career progress. Basically the Oilers are 6 to 8 wins away from a playoff spot. It will take team defence, in particular, improved defence when the top six are on the ice to make this change. This change requires fewer goals against and improvements across the stats board.
            These goals are all possible with the current lineup. The Oilers have many young defensemen in the junior and AHL pipeline that could make these things happen. McD and Drai are league top scorers with poor defensive play 5X5. Better defence should have them in the O zone far more often with an offensive explosion likely boosting them to runaway status in the scoring race.
            Pikester, commenting below, suggests that the ‘..majority of the teams in the Pacific Division will be as good or better this season’ without providing any credible reasons for this, or for the possibility they might actually be worse. Frankly, the playoffs exposed a lot of weaknesses in Pacific adversaries. I expect Tippet and Holland to exploit these and reduce the Oiler defensive problems with sound coaching. Now we have to see if the team can make it work.

  • TKB2677

    If the Oilers can get their PK to not be bottom feeders, that would help a lot. Everyone talks about their offense, well they were 8 goals behind the 100 pt Preds. The difference was their defense. So a better PK would help a lot. I heard Gregor talk about it today and I agree with what he said. He mentioned how brutal Nuge has been over the last 2-3 seasons on the PK and he plays a TON on the PK. They keep switching PK coaches and it doesn’t get better so it’s time to use different players.

    The biggest thing is their depth scoring. Nichols somewhat unfairly mouthed off Rieder saying if he scored more goals. While not totally correct, it’s also not totally of base to a degree. They wouldn’t have made the playoffs if Rieder scored 10 goals but at the same time, if you are going to be successful, you can’t be paying 2 mill for zero goals. So they need their bottom 6 guys to score like normal bottom 6 guys. That’s 10-13 goals. They need Grandlund to produce like he normally does. They need Khaira to score more than 3 goals. Whether JP is here or whoever is in his spot, they need more than the 4 goals in 46 games. That’s a 7 goal pace over 82 games and he played a lot of 3rd line mins. They need Lucic who’s a bottom 6 guy now to give you more than 6 goals. 6 goals is not even good 4th liner numbers.

    So if they could just get their bottom 6 guys to be what they should be which is decent bottom 6 guys, they will improve.

  • Heschultzhescores

    Wow, that’s a whole bunch of crappy stats that need to improve in a short time. I do think its doable if the guys totally commit to a system. They need to stop being comfortable with losing, and demand more of each other. We need to REFUSE to be the league whipping boys any longer. I expect better than 16th, just due to another year of maturity. Days off are days inbetween games, they need to learn that the good teams also work harder than they do.

  • KootenayDan

    Every year I like to think this team is getting better obviously hope is eternal and I’m not sure how to think otherwise. Maybe the right leadership can bring some success to this organization and Holland with Tippett might be the ones to do it. In the meanwhile patience is needed and that is hard when after 12 years we are still in the same place. I think this team will improve simply because the players will have more faith in the leadership of this team.No more quick fixes just do it right.

  • Hockey Bunker

    In answer to the headline…..No.
    Bad goaltending, weak overrated defense, too many slow forwards creating an unbalanced attack, and no cap room to fix it.
    But in a couple of years they might get a few things straightened out.
    We can watch teams with more balance and better management like the Canucks leave us in the dust.
    At least we have the cups!!!!!

  • Fireball

    Really good read. Subtle changes is all it takes. They were 11 points out of the playoffs last season which seems like miles after the last 13 years but that’s basically 1 win per month. If you clean up the PK alone it’ll fix the save percentage.. If we had a 3rd line centre who can actually win more faceoffs then they loose would also help drastically. When you have to go get the puck more often than not your already behind the 8 ball. It’s a possession game. Winning face offs has a drastic affect on the outcome of games, your ability to kill penalties, and transition the puck. These changes don’t require a sh$& ton of cap space. Holland has likely adressed some of it already . If you sign a Brian Boyle between 2 n 3 million it might very well fix the majority of these issues. He’s career over 50% in the dot, not to mention he had 18 goals last year. If continued to win face offs and dropped 5 goals he’d still be something we did not have last year.

    • Fireball

      Someone might point to the Strome trade here but I will point out he’s never been 50% in the Dot and what he done in NY he certainly was not doing in Edmonton before he left. Not to mention he was far from a physical force for the Oil. He was defensively sound but he had to be cause every time he was on the ice he had to go get the puck back.

  • macinmillwoods

    Simply put; they don’t have the assets in trade or the cap space to improve other than marginally, and to top it off they’ve drafted and developed poorly for about 30 years. It would take a miracle of surprisingly stellar goaltending and nearly injury free season (sound familiar?) to make the playoffs with the current line-up. They still need a legitimate top 6 winger and that is a minimum 5.5 mil cap hit. They need a legitimate 3rd line center that can win faceoffs and that is minimum 3 mil cap hit. They need a stud d-man too but that might be on the way in a couple of years. Goaltending…I guess we’ll see but it doesn’t look promising. I know this is going to get trashed but the cap hasn’t caught up to Connor and Leon’s salaries yet. I’m sure in a couple years it will be Ok but when over 25% of the cap is going to 2 players, its difficult to fill out your roster with other top 6 forwards and top pairing D. Its not the NBA. 60% of the time McDavid and Draisaitl are not on the ice. St louis won the cup last year with 7.5 mil as the highest paid players. Boston’s highest paid player was a little less than that, I think San Jose was 8 mil and pretty sure Carolina didnt have anyone make more than 6 mil. Depth and goaltending wins.

    • cityofchampions

      McD and Drai are signed up for 6 or 7 more years yet, and the cap will rise a lot in that time (not next year, but the years after that with the new media deal) so I don’t know what you are worried about. Actually, in the year after next we are going to have McD and Drai on what will then be sweetheart deals and have the cap room to add top-end players. We have 2 years of hard sledding ahead of us, but if we do things right we should be in cup contention for the last half of McD’s/Drai’s contract (a shame it’ll take that long, but that’s what bad management has forced us into). I know its always “next year” in Oilerland, and that nobody wants to hear it, but a bit of patience over the next two years and we should finally be a contender again. A good first step would be to make the playoffs this year… if we get some playoff experience the next two years then year 3 is when we are can really go for it and sign a couple high -end free agents (as long as we don’t try to rush the rebuild and overpay on salary and term right now).

      • cityofchampions

        I somehow activated the thought police and my additional comments disappeared into the ether. Simply put, this is the start of Rebuild 4.0 (or whatever you want to call it) but Ken isn’t going to tell us that as this market would lose its mind. The proof is in the pudding though, Ken is only signing players to 1-2 year stop-gap contracts waiting for the cap to rise, for our prospects to develop (Broberg, Bouchard, one of the young goalies) and for some ugly contracts to expire. With responsible management (i.e. no ugly contracts now), we should be in a position 3 years from now to pick up some high-end free agents and actually be a contender. We just don’t have the cap room and flexibility to do it now, though hopefully we can do just enough to make the playoffs on the back of McD and Drai. Year 3 is when our window will open….until then there will be ups and downs, but for everyone’s sake let’s stop getting too unrealistically up (i.e. expecting cups now) or getting so far down that people start worrying about your mental well-being (Alex, Gord).

    • fasteddy

      Look at Vegas in 2017/2018…made the finals with a team of 2nd/3rd line types; they had no big $ players, and the advantage of not having any terrible contracts that most teams seem to have a couple of.

  • madjam

    You have to build a better base than other clubs , and then your stars can shine . Holland appears to be doing that firstly , and thus some improvement should be expected even though not sexy exiting additions so far . The base seems better than last season already and more cap friendly . If the base was getting worse then a downturn would be inevitable .

  • FISTO Siltanen

    “much of their improvement must focus around their team defence and goaltending and come from smarter decisions, better positioning and playing the system properly.”

    As much fun as it is to rip Chiarelli for an underwhelming roster (not a Cup contender) over the last two years I never felt when I looked at this roster it was a bottom ten team. Holes, yes. But if they just played together and for one another there is no reason why they should have missed the playoffs last two years.

    This comment from Gregor says what I feel. Play good hockey and they’ll be in the playoffs. Play lazy uninspired hockey and they’ll miss.

    Not hard.

  • Gravis82

    Goaltending is same. PK might be a bit better, but that is mostly systems. It will be better. Defense is worse without sekera…meaning it will be about the same as last year. Sekera was finally healthy again, and was positioned to improve the D core by a fair margin. How we have Mr. Cap Space back on the team instead.

  • blobbo

    Interesting analysis of Koskinen. He never gave the impression of a goaltender unable to be good. He obviously needs to improve on his weaknesses. The only issue is the contract that was given before he fully proved himself. That wasn’t his fault; he signed the contract delivered to him. The shoe is on the other foot now since it’s up to him to prove he’s worthy. I might be in the minority but I think it’s very possible he will prove his stuff this season.

  • camdog

    Interesting that everything being said about Tippet everybody was saying about Hitchcock when he came in. It’ll be easier for Tippet given he’s got the pre season to put the system in, but if the new players that come in aren’t better positionally than last years and the d-prospects aren’t able to fill in for injuries, it’s the same team as last year.