The Edmonton Oilers are 18-13-4 and they’re tied for second in the Pacific Division with a team a few hours south of them.
They have the top two scorers in the league in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl with a seven and six-point lead on their closest contender.
The Edmonton Oilers are about to lose out on a player who would almost surely push them into a playoff spot to a division rival who likely won't give up as much as Edmonton could offer all the while sliding in the standings as their provincial rival surges.
This is fine.
— zach laing (@zjlaing) December 14, 2019
On the outside, everything looks fine.
But when you pull back the layers, you’ll see the Oilers are a group overwhelming relying on it’s top two players as the entire team begins to falter. In fact, Draisaitl and McDavid are 1-2 in TOI among forwards this season with 797:58 and 783:33 minutes played. The next closest is Jack Eichel with 738:33.
And now, a four-game losing streak with losses in seven of the last nine games have seen the Oilers squander nearly any lead they built after a hot start to the season.
It’s a stark comparison to how good Edmonton was early this season, but it’s also not a shock. Edmonton rode an wildly unsustainable shooting percentage early this year while expected goal rates were far, far below their actual number.
All hope, however, is far from being lost. Edmonton is still in the hunt for playoffs and the team can recover from this skid. It won’t be easy with the next three games against Dallas, St. Louis, and Pittsburgh, but hockey is a strange sport.
Make a trade
First things first, the Oilers need more run support. Simply put, they can’t continue to rely on Draisaitl and McDavid to do everything for them.
Ken Holland has the ability to make a trade right now for one of the league’s best players, but from afar it seems they’re not in the discussion as much as they maybe once were. I, however, have no insight beyond what’s been reported publicly and that’s just my assessment of what’s out there.
But maybe his irons are more in the fire than we think and let’s hope that’s the case.
The Athletic’s James Mirtle floated the idea of Adam Larsson being a player the Maple Leafs looked to acquire last night, also noting that Kasperi Kapanen is a player who could be relegated to the squad’s fourth line in the new year.
Adding a suggested Kapanen-for-a-D deal, there’s reason to believe the two teams could make good trading partners.
Kapanen is in his first year of a three-year, $3.2-m AAV deal and would fit money-wise in what Edmonton is building as a top-six scoring winger.
Last year, he notched 44 points in 78 and has 18 points in 34 games this year. All the while, he’s been a reliable possession player throughout his career with good, not-great-goal rates leading into this year. He’s also spent time on both special teams with the Leafs.
Nonetheless, whether it’s Hall, Kapanen or someone else, it’s clear the Oilers are in need of some offensive help to take the workload off two of the best players in the league.
Relying on them is fine, but there has to be some concern surrounding their TOI and the potential for burnout to come sooner than later.
On Twitter: @zjlaing