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Happy Festivus! It’s time to share our feats of strengths and air out our grievances

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baggedmilk
5 months ago
If you’re a Seinfeld fan or have been hanging around this very website for more than a minute, you know that December 23rd is Festivus, the day when we air out our grievances and celebrate feats of strength. And since we’re Oilers fans in the midst of a season unlikely any other, there is plenty to discuss as 2023 winds to a close.
As far as I can tell, our unwavering dedication to the Edmonton Oilers affords us the opportunity to embrace a day like Festivus. Not only do we have the opportunity to prove we’ve been paying attention by venting our well-intentioned grievances, but we also get the chance to celebrate any wins that have happened as well. If life is about balance, then Festivus just might be the perfect holiday. Remember, it’s our unwavering dedication to the Edmonton Oilers that gives us the right to complain, and the grievances I’m dishing out this year are only my way of trying to help them get better. Let’s get to it.

THE GRIEVANCES

While everyone’s list of grievances will always be different, here are the five four biggest things that annoy me about the Oilers that I’d like to see change in 2024. Will my grievances be met with praise and inspire change in the way that I would wish? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t be using my big ol’ soapbox to scream out my issues from the digital mountaintops. Got it? Great. Let’s move on.

Anchor Contracts

I think the only logical place to start with my list of grievances is with the anchor contracts that are currently littering the Oilers’ books. Specifically, we need to touch on two of them. At $5 million, it’s hard to look at Jack Campbell’s five-year deal as anything other than a total failure. Not only has he failed to live up to the contract, he’s not even playing for the Oilers right now. Add in Connor Brown’s $775K deal for this season and the $3.25 million bonus that hits the books next year, and you’ve got the makings of $9 million in wasted cap space that is lingering like a fart in an elevator.

Secondary Scoring Struggles

It wouldn’t be a Festivus article without mentioning the lack of secondary scoring the Oilers continue to struggle with from some key members throughout the lineup. Put another way, I would have never believed you in a million years if you had told me that Vinny Desharnais would have more goals than Connor Brown at the Christmas break. I hate to pick on the guy with two grievances in a row, but it’s hard not to when you think of the cap cost and the total lack of production on the scoresheet. Over and above Connor Brown, the Oilers simply need more from the bottom six and that includes veterans like Warren Foegele, Ryan McLeod, and Mattias Janmark. Between those four forwards, the Oilers have spent $9.85 million for only seven total goals. That’s nowhere near good enough.

Inconsistencies aplenty

Here in the final stretch of 2023, the only thing consistent about the Edmonton Oilers is how inconsistent they are. There have been nights when they look like they can beat anyone, and there have been even more nights when they look like they may never win again. In all the years I’ve been writing about the Oilers for this website, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen them look so drastically different from night to night, and I’m hopeful that they can snap out of this funk once we get back from the break. I know not every game can be a masterpiece, but even getting passable efforts seems trickier than it should at this stage.

The Jay Woodcroft Firing

I’m not here to dwell on the fact that Jay Woodcroft got fired, but rather that the organization pulled the trigger on the guy with the best winning percentage after only 13 games behind the bench. While it’s obvious that we don’t know what would have happened if Woody stuck around, I’d be lying if I was completely rattled by the organization’s decision to make a coaching change. That’s not a shot against Kris Knoblauch either, I think he’s been more than capable through this first stretch of games under his watch, but what I don’t understand is why the guy that’s helped them win over the last two years wasn’t given more of a chance to climb out of the hole.

FEATS OF STRENGTH

Since no Festivus celebration is complete without highlighting some feats of strength, I looked back at the last 12 months and came up with a list of the best things that have been going on with our beloved Oilers. Here are a few feats of strength that come to mind when I look back on 2023, and I’d love to see your lists down in the comments section:

Oh captain, my captain

How could I list feats of strength and not start with the incredible season Connor McDavid put up in 2022-23. With 64 goals and 153 points, McDavid tore through the NHL like he had access to a Game Genie from the mid-90s. It’s almost like every time you think he’s reached his peak, he finds another gear that leaves the rest of the league in his wake, and I will never tire of watching that happen. I know I say this a lot around here, but it bears repeating how lucky we are to be able to watch the best player on earth do his thing on a nightly basis.

Leon Draisaitl we speak your name

It’s weird to suggest that a guy who’s on pace for 95+ points is struggling, but that’s where Leon Draisaitl is at so far in this 2023-24 campaign. That said, if there is anyone on earth with enough talent to “turn things around” it would be Leon Draisaitl. Either way, like McDavid, we’re extremely fortunate to have Draisaitl on the lineup as the 1B to McDavid’s 1A, and I hope for nothing but continued success and a fresh contract extension for him in 2024. Dare to dream?

Nuge’s 100-point campaign

As President and CEO of the Ryan Nugent-Hopkins fan club, I’ve seen a lot of weird things happen over the first decade of Nuge’s NHL career. I’ve been a ride-or-die since the day he was drafted. Even so, I don’t think I would have ever expected RNH to put up a 100+ point season as he did in 2022-23. And while Nuge’s production has slowed slightly this season — he needs more goals than anything — he’s still producing at a point-per-game pace and is setting himself up for another strong individual campaign.

Evan Bouchard’s offensive game

Even though I absolutely know that Evan Bouchard leaves plenty to be desired on the defensive side of the puck, it’s hard to argue what he’s been able to do at the other end. Punctuated by the 13-game point streak that saw him amass a whopping 20 points (5G, 15A), Evan Bouchard is turning into one of the league’s premiere offensive defencemen right before our eyes, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing how high he can fly with this side of his game. If he can somehow round things out on the defensive side of the puck then we could have an absolute stud in our stables if he isn’t considered on already. Dad is part of the solution, folks.

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