This is a blog post that I wrote over a year ago. Enjoy. Please note, this was my second blog I ever wrote before I went off to college. Their may be spelling mistakes. I just copy and pasted it from my blog post site. Not really worth the time to edit at the moment. In the coming weeks, Ill post a new one.
It has been well over 20 years since the Dynasty in Edmonton subsequently came to an end. It’s something about those days for a lot of Edmonton fans that has really set the tone for what is being expected in Edmonton AKA the City Of Champions. Since the last time the Oilers lifted the Stanley cup in 1989-90 season the only champions that have brought the city of champions a “championship” where the 1993, 2000 and 2003 Edmonton Eskimos CFL football team. So what is expected out of the Edmonton Oilers hockey team of 2013-2014?
The last time the Oilers were in the Stanley Cup playoffs was the 2005-2006 in what was a great 7 game series with the Carolina Hurricanes. Outside of that the last 7 seasons in Edmonton have been consistent to the point where you can almost guarantee that the oil will finish in the bottom 8 of the western conference. Things started to look up with the drafting of solid future NHLers in Jeff Petry, Sam Gagner, Jordan Ebrele, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent Hopkins and Nail Yakupov and formerly Magnus Svenson Parjavi. Now in 2013-2014 will the drafting of such high profile players pay off? Not so much….
Already off to a shaky start this season, the Oilers are still looking for answers. Why aren’t we winning? Why aren’t we dominating? My answer to that isn’t about the pressure that management, ownership and lastly the young players are putting on themselves. Simply put, just because you have the first pick in 3 straight drafts doesn’t make your team a winner. Yes, it gives you positives and a future to look forward too but it is by no means a guarantee.
A lot of fans are comparing the situation in Edmonton to the situation Pittsburgh was in not too long ago. It’s a fair argument, but what most people don’t realise is Pittsburgh addressed more than one issue simultaneously and they did it without 3 consecutive 1st overall picks.
With the first pick in the draft the Penguins brass drafted Marc Andre Fleury. They started from the position that was in greatest need . The next year the pens took Evgeni Malkin, Alex Goligoski, Tyler Kennedy. The pens followed up in 2005 with the likes of Sydney Crosby,Kris Letang, and Joe Vitale. Add in 2000 first rounder Brooks Orpik and the Penguins have given themselves winning teams for potentially the next 10-15 . So really you can’t make a comparison to what Pittsburgh did.
We can’t sit here and say that Edmonton has been unsuccessful at drafting, they haven’t. They have had a few great drafts but at what cost? 5 Straight years of drafting a forward in the first round isn’t the answer to any teams problems if you’re not addressing other needs.
But here are some fun facts for everybody.
-Since 2007 the Edmonton Oilers have drafted 55 players. Of those players 35 of them forwards, 16 defencemen, and 4 goalies.
-Most of those defencemen were drafted in or after the 4th-5th round of the draft.
-Since 2007 the oilers to date have played 474 games, winning 186, losing 234 and a additional 54 in the extra time/shoot out.
-In that time averaging 2.6 goals a game while allowing almost 4.
So why were twice as many forwards vs. defencemen drafted in a time when a majority of the issue was goals against? and why were there only 4 goalies drafted in a time where there was never a clear cut number 1? That is not a knock against Devyn Dubnyk but how many years are you going to give a guy before turning the page!? He has showed promise, but promise is all Edmonton has talked about over the past 6-7 years and the word has really lost its meaning at this point.
This is a project that slowly needs to end. It’s not working. A lot of Edmonton fans are hell bent on keeping Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov. But my question to you is why? You’re not winning with them. In my Opinion I would Keep Jordan Eberle, And Taylor hall. Substitute Nail Yakupov for Ryan Murray, The second overall pick from 2012 and this team instantly looks better.
It’s 2013-2014 and the oilers are off to a shaky 4-12-2 start. Allowing almost 4 goals a game. I think it’s time to set up a real rebuild. Starting from the back end.
A lot of questions will continue to remain unanswered. Tune in at the 41 game mark where i will go more in depth to the current situation!
My name is Sebastian. I appreciate you taking the time to read.
I find that one of the hardest parts of being a general fan of the sport hockey is that sometimes you have to knock your favourite team or player. No, my favourite team is not the oilers. On a list they would be my 2nd favourite team. Toronto Maple Leafs are my 1stbut I’d like to avoid that topic right now. My favourite player is Taylor Hall. Why? Because there are way too many aspects to his game that you have to appreciate. This is a 3 part blog on the Edmonton Oilers. Here is part 2, the halfway Point!
Since the 20 game mark of the season the oilers have improved, but not enough that I can still give them a whole lot of credit for. I understand that this is a relatively young team but at the same time I believe Dallas Eakins who I am a huge fan of as a coach, said that he wanted the players to clear the thought of the oilers being a young team out of their heads! None the less they have improved. Sitting 4-12-4 in the first 20 to 11-15-1 in there next 27 games for a record of 15-27-5. There are still a lot of negatives with this team. It’s not an overnight fix. I understand that, as do many fans. But as I mentioned in previous posts that Edmonton deserves better. Here is my perspective on how things could change and Edmonton and the players I would like to see come through the home tunnels at Rexall.
At the beginning of the season, I saw Edmonton as a middle of the pack team. Not quite a playoff team, but a respectable season. 38-31-9 is actually where I had them pegged. But I gave that defence core more credit than deserved. It all starts with the play of Andrew Ference. Who I actually think is the lone bright spot despite the offensive numbers of Justin Schultz. Ference plays around if not more than 20 minutes a game for a team that’s only averaging 2.6 goals a game! He is also only a -2 player in 40+ games. My only knock on Ference is that he’s there number 1 defensemen in Edmonton and that scares me. He was the 5/6 guy on Boston last year. People can argue “well that was a deep team full of depth” and that may be. Way I see it is if you’re that good, regardless you would be playing top line minutes. You know what you’re getting with Andrew. He’s a good shutdown player who will eat up some minutes. But he is not a number 1. He’s a number 3 or 4 at best. Justin Schultz is a slick skater but I have my doubts about him too. I know that a lot of statistics aren’t an indication of the player but if your job is to keep the puck out of your zone for the most part, there should not be a reason why you’re a -14 in 39 games. That’s the stat that bugs me. I’ve watched Justin play, a lot. There are parts of his game I like. He can move the puck, skate, score, and quarter back the power play. But as a defenseman you still have a job. If he could learn the fundamentals of a defenseman then he will live up to his expectation. If he doesn’t learn them, he will have a hard time finding work in the NHL one day. Someone who is going to have a hard time finding work someday. The positives with Justin, He is young! He has time. I know what everyone’s thinking and yes I focused a lot on these 2. But these are Edmonton’s 1 and 2 defensemen and they are nowhere near where they should be and that’s something the oilers brass has to improve on. Mac T and the boys have to try to find that one defensemen who can come in and take that number one spot on your blue line. The depth on the back end is average. But they need to address that back end. Michael Del Zotto or Dan Girardi are two guys I would push hard for.
The forward core in Edmonton is a work in progress, same crap we have been hearing for 4+ years. The 12 forwards filling the chart most nights are either underachieving, on par, misused etc. The one thing I don’t understand is why the management team is so reluctant to deal any one of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent Hopkins, Nail Yakupov, and Sam Gagner. They are all great players and would give you a great return. I have had the same attitude with this team for the last few years and that is “if you’re not winning with them, trade them”. I’ve been called crazy for it. But the 5 above mentioned players have not experienced success since junior. For some of those players that was 8 years ago. Maybe it’s time to get them out of that environment. Start a new rebuild but don’t start from the bottom like they have and are really close to failing at. Bring in some players with experience and move some out. Get a little bigger up front on that top 6 too.
I look at the top 6 of Boston and Chicago and LA and I understand those are premier teams but the average height and weight between Edmonton and the above mentioned is a couple inches and about 20 pounds. If it was up to me I’d be inquiring about and I know it’s a long shot but Milan Lucic, Ryan O’Reilly. If I were the Oilers general manager, I would call Toronto to see what it takes to acquire the rights to Leo Komarov. I know Leo wouldn’t fit in to their top 6 but he can rotate barring injury and is a really huge 3rd line presence who can pot a goal every so often.
The bottom 6 I can’t even talk about. The minute I mention any of them they either end up in the press box or with OKC. I won’t place all the blame on their top 6. That bottom 6 is atrocious. Most of those bottom guys wouldn’t even make it on a average 3rd or 4th line although Luke Gazdic , he only has 4 points is very effective and I think may finally have found his calling in the NHL. He’s going to be one of the hush hush deals at the deadline for a playoff team looking to go deep. He is someone I could picture on that amazing 4th line the bruins have had for the better part of 4 years! He’s not flashy but he knows his job and does it right with the limited time he gets. At this time I have no further input on the bottom 6. It’s that bad!
This goaltending situation believe it or not is the least of the team’s worries. It’s still something I would address but for now it’s something they can work with. Devan Dubnyk is not a terrible goalie. I think he’s just never been challenged. So when you go into camps late august, early September and you’re the only NHL quality goalie on the roster, there’s something wrong. Take the situation Toronto is in now. Bring in a guy who will challenge you for that number one spot. You can say they have already done that but they haven’t. Have a 1A and a 1B situation. It may not be easy to bring that goalie in without giving up some chips but it’s worth the gamble. Are you serious about playing and competing every year? If not it’s time to bring in new management.
Here we sit just a little over the half way mark of the season. Not too much has changed since week one. The oilers are on pace for another top 5 selection. I know it’s getting frustrating in Edmonton but I guess we all should just learn to practice patience. I named a lot of players above that would be perfect fits in Edmonton. It will help them rebuild a team identity. What kind of identity I don’t know, but it’s at a point where what they’re doing isn’t working. They don’t have an identity. The oilers only average 2.6 goals a game so they aren’t very much an offensive team. The oilers allow 3.4 goals a game. That’s not terrible but that’s not a defense 1st team. So what are they? They have the right team for what they are trying to do but the wrong crop of players. You saw in my previous post the draft stats for Edmonton since 2006. They never properly rebuilt. They didn’t re tool either. They put too much pressure on the kids to turn it around and now they’re stuck. I wouldn’t go selling off everybody. In that top 6, I would keep Taylor Hall and David Perron. They both have decent size. They both have great feet. They both also have great handles with the puck. Mix them in with the above mentioned Milan Lucic and Ryan O’Reilly and you address some of the concern that was once needed. You will get scoring and physicality combined.
One of the last points I want to make is about Ryan Smyth. Ryan is one of my favorite all time players. He has always been dependable. Not a flashy guy but with him you could always guarantee around 28 goals and about 35 assists. Ryan is someone not afraid to go to the front of the net and always scored the garbage goals. In my opinion he is not meant for this team. With the direction this team is going why they brought him back is beyond me. When a team normally trades the face of the franchise that usually means it’s time for both parties to part ways. He would be a good chip for the oilers to trade at the deadline. He has a contract of 2.5 million and hasn’t played terribly this year posting 16 points in 37 games and is on pace for 31 points. Not bad for a guy who plays in that bottom 6 in Edmonton. Not to mention he’s a pretty solid play off performer. Weather he has a cup or not there’s no argument when you look at the numbers (59pts-93gps) He won’t get you a Jarome Iginla type return but you have to look at what Edmonton needs and what teams could use Ryan down the stretch and then assess what you could get in return. I think that barring the cap space and the moves the ducks make at the deadline, Ryan could very well fill that roster out. I think that Anaheim has a lot of depth at certain positions and could spare some pieces they have (goaltending). I think it’s time to part ways with Ryan and the time is now. Get the bold moves rolling starting with him.
I appreciate you taking the time to read part 2 of Oil Change. The bottom line is Edmonton needs to start making changes and the time is now