117

56 Thoughts After a 56-Game Season

In no particular order, I present you, my dearest internet friends, with 56 thoughts to wrap up the 56-game season. Enjoy my brain dump.

May 24, 2021; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele (55) scores on Edmonton Oilers goalie Mike Smith (41) during the third period in game four of the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bell MTS Place. Mandatory Credit: Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports
  1. I can’t even lie, I’m still salty about the playoffs and I don’t know how long it’s going to take to fully get over it. High expectations lead to high levels of frustration.
  2. I hate that we had to mention the phrase ‘offseason planning and draft coverage’ during our Nation HQ meeting this week. Gross.
  3. I feel compelled to use my soapbox to remind us all that having Connor McDavid on the roster is a blessing and that we all need to take more moments to appreciate this luxury. I know the playoffs didn’t go the way we want and that some people are upset with him for varying reasons that are real or imaginary, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still be thankful for the fun we had on the ride that was 105 points in 56 games.
  4. BTW I know we’re going to hear a lot of nonsense about getting him out of here but McDavid is not going anywhere so it’s best to just ignore the noise. Put another way, we’d probably be saying the same crap if we were fans of the other McDavid-less teams.
  5. I can’t wait to see the mental gymnastics some people are going to come up with for reasons why he shouldn’t win the Hart Trophy.
  6. How ridiculous was it that Leon Draisaitl finished the year with 31 goals and 84 points, and barely anyone outside of this city is talking about it? Jamie Benn won the Art Ross with 87 points in 82 games in 2014-15.
  7. Draisaitl is one of those guys that just seems to get better and more dominant as his career progresses, and I’m very excited to see what he looks like after heading into the offseason with a sour taste in his mouth. Would anyone be surprised if he comes back to town a foot taller? Not me, anyway.
  8. As much as I love seeing McDavid and Draisaitl together, this team is better when those guys are centering their own line. If that’s going to work, Holland needs to find wingers that can consistently contribute in the top six or else we’ll be talking about the same problems next summer.
  9. Without question, this is an incredibly important offseason for Ken Holland. I know the words that came out of his mouth on Wednesday claimed that he didn’t feel the pressure to improve the club immediately, but I don’t buy it for a second. I’m not suggesting by any means that he’s at risk of getting fired, but why else would his answer to that exact question end up being five minutes long?
  10. Did you know he worked in Detroit?
  11. Did you know that he won Stanley Cups in Detroit?
  12. According to PuckPedia, the Oilers will have a bunch of cap space to play with this summer but a bunch of that could be eaten up by re-signing players they currently have on the roster. RNH, Chiasson, Khaira, Kahun, Haas, Yamamoto, Ennis, Shore, Larsson, Barrie, Kulikov, Koekkoek, and Smith all need new deals and while I know that many of these names will not be back, it’s still going to take a good chunk of change to bring back those that are.
  13. Having the NHL’s salary cap stay flat for the foreseeable future means that teams with space should be able to swing some deals for quality players for cheap. Last year, the Avalanche picked up Devon Toews for a pair of second-round picks, and he’s turned into a huge piece of their blue line. Will the Oilers be able to find a deal like this out there? Do they even have the ability to scout these guys appropriately? Where’s the analytics department?

    Apr 28, 2021; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Winnipeg Jets forward Blake Wheeler (26) and Edmonton Oilers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov (70) skate for the puck during the third period at Bell MTS Place. Mandatory Credit: Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports
  14. Speaking of draft picks, it’s going to be another shy year at the NHL Draft as Edmonton has only their first, fourth, sixth(2), and seventh rounders. The Oilers have all of their picks in 2022 apart from the 4th they traded to New Jersey for Kulikov that would have been a third had they won a playoff round (whomp whomp), and that makes me hopeful that Uncle Ken will be able to get some fishing done since he has a few minnows to toss out in the water. Dare to dream?
  15. I honestly can’t believe how many people would be happy to see Ryan Nugent-Hopkins walk away for nothing, leaving a gaping hole that you’re not really thinking about along the team’s left side that will be incredibly hard to fill without him. I mean, it’s going to be hard enough for Ken Holland to find one top-six LW to round things out but to have to find two? Won’t happen. Honestly, I wonder if people would be so eager to punt RNH after his first down year in his last four if they knew how shallow the UFA pool is for that position. And listen, I know my schtick around here is to praise RNH no matter what happens — believe me I’m not saying to throw the farm at the guy because the deal has to make sense — but this team is not really at a place where they can toss away quality free agents that want to play here. Elliotte Friedman is reporting that the negotiations between the two sides have fallen apart a little bit here, but you could also counter by saying that we have almost two months to get something done. We shall see.
  16. Not to mention, I would also bet that Nugent-Hopkins’ 5v5 numbers bounce back to his career average in 2021-22 after having the number get basically halved this season. Bad years happen, people. Let’s hope it makes him cheaper.
  17. Oh, and if you think it’s realistic that 19-year-old Dylan Holloway can step into the NHL and fill the void left by a 10-year veteran then I’ve got a bridge to sell you. How many times do we need to see the same movie around here?
  18. I do think Holloway will play for the Oilers next year, but I hope people remember how long it took Puljujarvi and Yamamoto to develop before heaping the pressure of our fishbowl on him.
  19. I still don’t understand why Dave Tippett didn’t take a timeout in game three. I know he said there was a TV break coming up but so what? Just because I know I can have a beer after work doesn’t mean I shouldn’t also have one at lunch.
  20. Do some folks actually think that Holland would actually fire Dave Tippett? After the Oilers got bumped, there were plenty of fans on Twitter calling for his firing and that surprised me because it honestly seems about as likely as me dating Miranda Kerr. Holland doesn’t do that stuff — know your customer.
  21. Tyson Barrie executed his plan perfectly, didn’t he? The guy rolled into Edmonton on a cheap one-year deal, led the league in points by a defenceman, and now he’ll likely be able to land a monstrous deal with someone that will likely regret it two years from now. Amazing.
  22. As someone that wanted Barrie as an Oiler for a long time, I enjoyed the season with him on the roster even though there were plenty of moments when his yardsale defensive tactics made me think I was going to have a heart attack.
  23. I’m happy to hear that the Oilers are working on an extension for Adam Larsson but worry about the rumoured four-year term that’s being thrown around. Considering the style of game he plays, a four-year contract could be painful if he has to miss any length of time for his body breaking down.
  24. When did Joakim Nygard start working on that contract? I mean, the Oilers just got knocked out of the playoffs five days ago and he’s already landed himself a new six-year deal back in Sweden. Was he texting his agent from the press box or wherever he was watching the playoffs? Did this make anyone else laugh?
  25. I keep wondering if we’ll be allowed to go to games in the fall. My head says yes, but having lived through the past year and a half reminds me that planning that far ahead seems ridiculous.
  26. NationBeer remains delicious.
  27. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been endlessly jealous to see the atmosphere the US teams have going for their playoff games with fans allowed back in the barn. I’m not saying that having fans at Rogers Place would have made a difference in the playoffs, but I’m not not saying that either.

    Mar 29, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse (25) scores the game winning goal past Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Michael Hutchinson (30) in overtime at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
  28. What a year for Darnell Nurse. A lot of us were wondering how he’d be able to step up in Oscar Klefbom’s absence, and ol’ Darryl did about as well as we could have ever hoped. In 56GP, Nurse put up a very impressive 16 goals and 36 points.
  29. Speaking of Klefbom, having him be an unknown as we head into the expansion draft is one of the weirdest stories of the offseason. If he can come back and play, he could be a game changer. If he can’t, we’re down a powerplay quarterback.
  30. My early expansion guess is that we lose either Caleb Jones or Tyler Benson.
  31. Sticking with the expansion draft, I wonder how different this one will be after so many GMs made themselves look foolish the last time around when Vegas got started. There were a lot of picks and players getting thrown around leading into Vegas’ inaugural season and a lot of those same GMs still have jobs, so it will be fascinating to see how the whole thing plays out this time around.
  32. Will we see the same number of deals with Seattle to avoid picking certain players? Will picks/prospects get thrown around if a cap problem gets picked up? Who will be the goose this time around?
  33. It made me laugh to see other fanbases making fun of us for Wayne Gretzky taking a gig on TNT when most of us had kind of forgotten that he worked here in the first place. Classic.
  34. Why couldn’t it have been Bob Nicholson to take a gig with TNT?
  35. I want to apologize again to Mike Smith for doubting him when he was re-signed during the offseason. That said, I’m prepared to do it again if his renewal comes in at a dollar amount that makes me unhappy.
  36. When was the last time you saw a snakebite quite like the one Kailer Yamamoto was battling over the last part of the year? Dude was getting all kinds of chances but it honestly looked like he would never score again.
  37. It goes without saying but the Oilers are going to need Yamamoto to get his touch back for next season if they’re going to make some waves in the postseason. I don’t have any suggestions for what he can do to overcome the snakebite, but I’ll be sending him some good vibes through the universe anyway.
  38. Jesse Puljujarvi was one of the best stories of the year and I cannot wait to see how he follows this season up after putting up 15 goals and 25 points after returning from Finland.
  39. Before the season started, I predicted that Puljujarvi would score 12 goals and to have him finish with 15 was a very nice surprise. We need secondary scoring and to have some it coming from Pulju at this rate was a blessing.
  40. I’m going to miss the Canadian Division even though I won’t miss seeing the same teams over and over again.
  41. Where was Hunter all year? Did we really not have any mascot money?

    Mar 8, 2021; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Ottawa Senators forward Tim Stuetzle (18) and Edmonton Oilers forward Kyle Turris (8) battle for position during the second period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
  42. What the hell happened to Kyle Turris? I mean, my expectations for him as the 3C were pretty low but even then he missed by a country mile. Does he get buried in Bakersfield next year?
  43. I’m not really a fan of adding more buyout money to our cap number, but it may be the only way to get out of Koskinen and/or James Neal’s contract. Personally, I would buy out Koskinen over Neal because it would be a smaller price to pay over a shorter term and the money freed up isn’t all that much different, but we’ll have to see where Holland is at after admitting he was not opposed to the idea.
  44. If Smith comes back for a third season, I really do think the Oilers have to find a way to get rid of Koskinen. The Oilers need to find a goalie for the future and this tandem is basically the opposite of that.
  45. I honestly still can’t believe Mikko allowed four goals on four straight shots against Vancouver. I doubt we’ll ever see that again.
  46. Zack Kassian has a lot of work to do if he’s going to win this blogger back as a fan in his corner. That’s not to say I hate the guy or anything, but he had about as bad of a year as anyone could have ever expected to start off his new four-year deal. I know people are ripping on RNH for having a bad year and deservedly so to a point, but at $3.2 million, Kassian (2G, 3A for five points) needs to get off cameo and back to being focused on producing points and throwing bodychecks.
  47. Speaking of having only two goals, Holland needs to find a better 4C option than Gaetan Haas (34GP: 2G, 1A). I know I made a bunch of jokes about loving him this year, but this is a spot on the roster that could really use an upgrade.
  48. I wonder how much offence Ryan McLeod will be able to come up with at the NHL level? I mean, it’s clear that the dude has the wheels and competitiveness to play here — I thought he made at least one or two noticeable plays per game in his cup of coffee — but the Oilers need players that can chip in offensively and I’m looking forward to finding out whether McLeod helps to foot the bill.
  49. I hope Evan Bouchard is getting to work on what is likely the most important summer of his life. If Barrie does actually chase the bag in free agency, Bouchard will have a huge opportunity to work his way into an everyday spot on the roster, and I hope that will motivate him to get going on his training.
  50. I’m not saying it’s entirely his fault, but I bet Josh Archibald is going to have a longer offseason than most after his bad penalty on Logan Stanley was responsible for kickstarting the Jets’ comeback in game three.
  51. I wonder if Holland is going to head back to Europe again to sign more random free agents in the hopes that someone will stick. Personally, I’d prefer proven NHLers over taking another swing at a Joel Persson type, please.
  52. Can we normalize a 56-game season, please? Honestly, by the end of the year, I was so jacked up for the playoffs to start that I don’t know how I’ll be able to handle going back to a full 82-game schedule next year. Okay, so I’m mostly kidding but I also don’t know if I am the more I think about it.
  53. I cannot wait until we’re able to throw events again. As much as it’s been fun to do our thing here on the website and on social media, it’s not the same as when we’re all able to get together in the same room. I miss Pint parties.
  54. Could you have ever imagined going a full(ish) NHL season without having any fans in the building?
  55. As much as we love to argue and yell at each other in the comments section, I feel incredibly grateful for the community that surrounds this website. Had it not been for all of you fine folks, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do so I just wanted to say thank you again for keeping the ball rolling. At some point, we’ll have a playoff run to cheer for that’s worthy of the incredible fanbase this team is blessed with and I cannot wait to get a little silly with all of you.
  56. Keep Nuge Forever.

Is there anything I missed? Anything you fine folks noticed that you’d add? Let me know in the comments section.