Ten Tuesday Questions
Photo credit:Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
By Jason Gregor11 months ago
The Edmonton Oilers are 18-11 with 36 points through 29 games. That prorates to a 101-point season. They’ve dominated for games, and been dominated for stretches. I still see them as an obvious playoff team, but there are some questions to discuss as they won’t resume skating until December 27th.
1. Who should Ken Holland acquire at the trade deadline?
I feel Edmonton needs two top-six wingers who can produce 5×5. @Kailer Yamamoto and @Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are good NHL players, but their 5×5 production isn’t good enough when playing with the league’s top-two scorers. If RNH is their third line centre Edmonton is in really good shape, but he can’t move down there until they find two top-six wingers. That is the challenge and why Holland might not fill both slots this season.
2. Will Dylan Holloway be able to contribute?
His rehab is going well and he is on target to play in January. He will start in the American Hockey League, and I’d let him get comfortable down there for at least six weeks, maybe more. Anton Lundell and Seth Jarvis were taken 12th and 13th in the 2020 draft, before Edmonton selected Holloway 14th. Both Lundell and Jarvis are playing regularly on very good Florida and Carolina teams respectively. Once Holloway gets back up to speed I could see him at minimum being a competent third line left winger. I’m high on Holloway and he could be considered a trade deadline acquisition, except the Oilers won’t have to give up anything to acquire him.
3. Which wingers could Holland acquire?
Edmonton doesn’t have much cap space, so they will need to get creative with any trade. Alex Radulov and Joe Pavelski are both UFAs with Dallas, however they carry a $6.25m and $7m cap hit respectively. Both have been productive in the playoffs, but they are 35 and 37 years old. How much do they have left?
Phil Kessel has won two Stanley Cups, but he has a $6.2m cap hit. He only has five goals this season, but he scored 20 in 56 games last year. He also hasn’t missed a game in 12 seasons. He is durable, and he can shoot the puck. He’s an enticing player to picture with Leon Draisaitl. Kessel and Evgeni Malkin, who plays a similar style to Draisaitl, had good chemistry and production in Pittsburgh.
Max Domi has 15 points in 18 games with the Blue Jackets. He’s tenacious, and he should be highly motivated to perform well in hopes of landing a solid new contract.
Joonas Doonskoi is having a terrible season in Seattle. You could get him for very little, but he has a $3.9m cap hit. Even if the Kraken retain half he is still a $1.95m hit. I see him more as a third line player than a legit top six though.
4. Can Edmonton reduce its 5×5 goals against?
It was my main concern at the start of the season, and nothing has changed. I do wonder how much the return of Mike Smith will help. Edmonton had the fifth lowest goals against/game in the final 43 games last year after Smith returned from injury. However, they were still 18th in those games averaging 1.93 GA/game at 5×5. They won’t suddenly become a defensive juggernaut 5×5, but they must improve in the first few months of 2022 if they hope to have success in the playoffs.
5. Is Foegele getting comfortable?
Some players can fit right in and excel on their new teams, while others need time to adjust and feel good. Foegele started well with 2-2-4 in his first seven games, but then he didn’t score until until game 28. His last seven games he has been much more involved and around the net. He’s shooting more, taking the puck to the net regularly. I’m not sure he is a good enough finisher to a be a regular top-six player, but he should be a really solid third liner who can moonlight in the top-six when needed. I’ve really like his play the past few weeks.
6. Will Leon Draisaitl score 60 goals?
He has 23 in 29 games. It seems highly likely he will score 50, but he has a chance to become only the 21st player in NHL history, and third in the last 25 years, to score 60. He needs 37 goals in the final 62 games. I think he is a very good chance because of how dangerous he is on the power play. Fourteen of the 20 players to score 60 had at least 20 powerplay goals. Draisaitl already has 13.
7. Could Draisaitl score 30 power play goals?
Only four players have done that. Tim Kerr had 34 in 1986, Dave Andreychuk had 32 in 1993, Mario Lemieux had 31 in 1989 and 1996 and Joe Nieuwendyk scored 31 in 1989. Draisaitl has a very effective one-timer from the lower left circle, and his ability to move into the slot makes it difficult for teams to defend him. He has a realistic shot to score 60 total and 30 on the power play. Lemieux is the only player in NHL history to have done both in the same season.
8. Should the NHL re-word the rule for rookie of the year eligibility?
Currently, to be considered a rookie a player must be 25 years old or younger on September 15th and they can’t have played more than 25 NHL games the previous year, or have played in six or more games in the previous two seasons. Why they opted for six games in the previous two seasons seems very random.
Michael Bunting is considered a rookie. He played five games in 2020 and 21 in 2021 for a total of 26 games. Evan Bouchard played seven games in 2020 and 14 in 2021, but he isn’t considered a rookie. How does that make sense?
The NHL should simply change the wording to state the player can’t have have played more than 25 games in the previous two seasons.
9. Will the Oilers score 80+ power play goals?
They’ve only done it twice, scoring 83 in 2006 on 485 opportunities (18.1%) and 80 in 1982 on 283 chances (29.3%). It will be difficult to do because they don’t get nearly as many chances as they did in 2006. The Oilers are eighth in the NHL in PP/chances per game at 3.13. That is much higher than the 2.80/game they had in 2020 when they finished the season with a 29.5% power play. Edmonton is currently at 31.9% with 29 goals on 91 chances. They are averaging one PP goal/game. It will be hard to maintain, but definitely something to monitor.
10. How many games will Mike Smith play?
When he returned from injury last season he started 33 games in 96 days. If the Oilers resume play on the 27th of December, they are currently scheduled to play 53 games in 125 days (assuming they don’t add another week at the end of the year). Starting 38 games in 125 days is much less taxing than the 33 in 96 he played last year. If he is able to play well right away, I see no reason he can’t play 38 of the final 53 games.
MONTH OF GIVING…
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You can bid by listening to TSN 1260 between 2-6 p.m. today and calling 780.444.1260 or text 101260. All money raised will help out Santas Anonymous and The Christmas Bureau. Thanks in advance.
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