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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Nielson’s Notes: Oilers 5 – Blackhawks 3

As if we didn’t have enough to talk about Tuesday, the Oilers wrapped up a news-filled day by hosting the Chicago Blackhawks.

Where do I even begin?

THE MCDAVID INJURY

In the last 48 hours, McDavid’s injury has gone from a bruised knee, to a Charley Horse, to a quad injury that required a trip to Toronto to get looked at. As someone asked me at Rogers Place on Tuesday night, why do you have to go to Toronto for a quad injury? It’s a valid question but at the same time, it doesn’t surprise me considering the team that McDavid put together for his knee rehab this past summer. I want to take the Oilers’ word for the two or three week timeline, but considering how the last eight months have gone we shouldn’t assume anything until McDavid is back on the ice.

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THE SKED WITHOUT HIM

At this point, the team likely doesn’t expect to have McDavid back until early March. Here’s a look at the rest of February:

I’d say this schedule isn’t easy but it certainly isn’t a murderer’s row of contenders. The upcoming road trip to Tampa, Florida and Carolina could be difficult and a test against the Bruins is never easy but the rest of the sked is very manageable.

He could miss time in March as well but if the team can go 4-4-1 in their remaining nine games this month they should still be in the mix when Connor returns.

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NYGARD EXTENSION

Was anyone else completely caught off guard by the extension for Joakim Nygard? It’s nice that he’s taking less money to be here for another year, but what does it say about his play that he’s willing to stick around for less? I like the speed that he brings to the table and he doesn’t shy away from the physical play, but he has three goals and six assists in 33 games. Ken Holland obviously likes what he has seen so far from the first year Swede, but I’m not sure why this deal couldn’t have waited until the offseason.

WHO’S NEXT?

With Kassian and Nygard in the fold for next season who will be the next piece that Holland locks up? I think the answer is easy: Josh Archibald. The pint-sized speedster was bringing it again against the Blackhawks and when it comes to effort, he’s been one of the most consistent players on the team. Archibald is scoring at a 13-goal pace which is all you need from a bottom-six forward who kills penalties.

Archibald is making $1,000,000 this year; I could see a small bump up but nothing significant.

THE SHEAHAN LINE

The Oilers having success with McDavid out of the line up doesn’t come down to just Leon Draisaitl. The Draisaitl line had been more productive than McDavid’s prior to the injury and as we saw against the Hawks there is no reason to think they can’t continue to produce.

The biggest positive from the game on Tuesday night was the line of Sheahan, Kassian and Archibald looking like they had some chemistry. In addition to opening the scoring, they managed to create in the offensive zone a number of different occasions.

If this line can click it would make even more sense for Holland to go out and try to add a top-six winger prior the deadline, a guy that could play with McDavid and Neal for the home stretch.

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Neal – McDavid – ???
Nuge – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Archibald – Sheahan – Kassian

I think that’s a top nine that could get you to the post-season.

ONE-TIMERS

  • Adam Boqvist is going to be a stud for the Hawks. He’s playing with Duncan Keith and should end up being the cornerstone of the blueline in Chicago for the next ten years.
  • There has to be a better option somewhere in the organization than Patrick Russell — he doesn’t move the needle for me in any way.
  • If the Oilers are going to keep their heads above water while McDavid is out Oscar Klefbom will need to be a heck of a lot better than he was on Tuesday.
  • I’m not going to sit here and debate who’s the better goaltender between Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen right now but I do think they need to ride Smith for as long as they can. It doesn’t matter how you win, it’s the fact that you do and he is battling his way to victories. Make the most of this. Koskinen’s time will come at some point this spring.
  • Kind of surprising to see Dylan Strome as a healthy scratch but he has just one point since January 1st. Even with a month-long slump, he has 30 points in 44 games this season.
  • Leon Draisaitl’s second period backhand pass to Yamamoto was a thing of beauty. If Yamo buries that for the hat-trick, that pass is on highlight reels for the rest of the season.
  • Nugent-Hopkins has 23 points in his last 18 games and it’s been nice to see Nuge have an opportunity to play with another offensive talent.
  • We’ve got a big guest joining us in studio for the 2 Guys and a Goalie podcast on Thursday at Noon. We are going to keep it a surprise but I’m giving you a heads up right now you don’t want to miss it.

Previously by Dustin Nielson: