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Sports5 things to like about new Edmonton Oilers, even if they have just a 20 per cent chance of making playoffs

17:30  02 september  2019
17:30  02 september  2019 Source:   edmontonjournal.com

Contrary to popular belief, the Edmonton Oilers are not short a Center

Contrary to popular belief, the Edmonton Oilers are not short a Center The Edmonton Oilers are not short a center. To paraphrase a famous James Carville quip: It’s the wingers, stupid . In fact, you can argue that the Oilers have the best trio of Centers in the entire NHL in Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. If these 3 generals had enough troop numbers around them all would be fine. It’s the wingers. What the Oilers are short of is wingers. If only Peter Chiarelli had held onto either one of Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle, Draisaitl may never have needed to play port or starboard. And this club would be absolutely stacked down the middle. Even if Chiarelli had signed a FA winger other than Milan Lucic.

weak playoff chances of the Edmonton Oilers , which Luszczyszyn pegs at around a 20 per cent 5 reasons for hope with the Edmonton Oilers . I can’t say I’m bullish on Edmonton ’s chances this me about the Oilers right now, five things that could easily go right for the Oilers and make them a

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5 things to like about new Edmonton Oilers, even if they have just a 20 per cent chance of making playoffs© Karl B DeBlaker Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid brings the puck up the ice against the Carolina Hurricanes during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, N.C.

This in from Dom Luszczyszyn of The Athletic, his fair and sober take on the weak playoff chances of the Edmonton Oilers, which Luszczyszyn pegs at around a 20 per cent chance, above only the four weakest teams in the NHL, Ottawa, Los Angeles, Detroit and Buffalo: “Starting with Edmonton, the next 27 teams are all above 20 percent (or very close to it in the case of one team), and while that’s still not much, it’s tangible. It’s where last year’s Islanders began their season. With similar good fortune, the Oilers can make a surprising postseason run. In an incredibly weak Pacific division, it’s not that unreasonable.”

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Among the many observations that he makes in his preview of Oilers, Luszczyszyn writes: “The Oilers are the literal embodiment of those Twitter depth chart jokes that show a team’s best players and then Guy, Guy, Guy to fill out the rest. That’s what happens when a team’s stars are surrounded by actual replacement-level players; you get this team filled with Guys.”

And: “There’s an outside chance the team can make the playoffs this year — anything is possible with the best player in the world — but more likely than not this season ends the same as 12 of the last 13 did: near the bottom of the standings, a travesty considering some of the team’s top tier personnel.”

5 things to like about new Edmonton Oilers, even if they have just a 20 per cent chance of making playoffs© Provided by PostMedia Digital

My take

I agreed with almost every word that Luszczyszyn wrote here.

Oilers’ Jesse Puljujarvi signs one-year deal in Finland with NHL out clause

Oilers’ Jesse Puljujarvi signs one-year deal in Finland with NHL out clause Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi has signed a one-year deal back home in Finland, but the door isn’t closed on his NHL career. The post Tyler Seguin: Wouldn’t be surprised if Jason Spezza scores 15-25 with Maple Leafs appeared first on Sportsnet.ca.

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I don’t use the same statistical metrics to rate individual players as he does, but we ended up in the same place in our analysis of most Oilers players, including his notion that Connor McDavid and Darnell Nurse need to pick things up in the defensive end, that Adam Larsson needs to step up his two-way game if he’s going to help the team in a Top 4 role, and that players like Zack Kassian and Alex Chiassson are weak even strength players (One area of disagreement is on Matt Benning and Oscar Klefbom, where I see those in the Corsi school of analytics like Luszczyszyn slightly over-rating both players, while greatly underrating Kris Russell. Individual scoring chances data suggests Russell’s two-way performance was similar to Klefbom’s level of play last year, with Russell contributing much less offensively but being far sounder defensively. As for Benning, he did OK-ish but mainly because he was in a bottom-pairing role).

Ken Holland's steady moves may fix Edmonton Oilers, but will never satisfy the haters

Ken Holland's steady moves may fix Edmonton Oilers, but will never satisfy the haters But those with McDavid-in-Edmonton Derangement Syndrome will always hope he leaves Edmonton The Edmonton Oilers were gifted with Connor McDavid, as well as three other first overall draft picks between 2010 and 2015, as well as numerous other high first round picks, so there will be no shortage of criticism of the team until it starts to win. That is only right and fair. The incompetence of the Oilers under owner Daryl Katz has been astonishing, demoralizing and consistent. Critics who point out this trend aren’t wrong-headed, or anti-Edmonton, or out of touch with reality. That said, a few of them do go overboard now.

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Overall, I see nothing wrongheaded or capricious in Luszczyszyn’s take, just a reasonable assessment of Edmonton’s chances from a writer gaining a reputation for doing solid work in this area.

5 things to like about new Edmonton Oilers, even if they have just a 20 per cent chance of making playoffs© Provided by PostMedia Digital

5 reasons for hope with the Edmonton Oilers

I can’t say I’m bullish on Edmonton’s chances this year any more than Luszczyszyn is. I’m too worried about the goaltending for that to be the case. I fear that the bets made on Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith won’t pan out, and that this will sink the team, even if other areas of the team improve or greatly improve.

But, of course, I’m a glass half-full Oilers optimist, a hardcore fan, one of the Oilers Faithful, so I’m going to cling to that 20 per cent chance that the Oilers have like it’s a vintage Wayne Gretzky Titan stick.

And I will point out five things that encourage me about the Oilers right now, five things that could easily go right for the Oilers and make them a significantly better team than they were in 2018-19.

  1. The bottom lines will be faster, which will allow the Oilers to ramp up offensive forechecking and pressure when they’re down a goal. I don’t expect Kyle Brodziak or Colby Cave to be on the Oilers this year, and Milan Lucic is gone. Replacing them will almost certainly be faster players like Markus Granlund, Joakim Nygard, Josh Archibald and Gaetan Haas. If nothing else, when the Oilers need to have a more sustained forecheck, they should be able to mount one.
  2. The Oilers will get an injection of young skill at some point this year. Highly skilled players like Tyler Benson, Kailer Yamamoto, Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear, Evan Bouchard and Cooper Marody all played well at the AHL level last year, with Benson, Jones and Marody performing like league All Stars. I expect two of them (Benson or Marody and Jones) will make the Oilers out of training camp, and a few more of them will get significant time in Edmonton this season. These players have all dominated at the AHL level, save for Yamamoto and Bouchard, so they have passed that key developmental marker. Their skill will be a welcome addition to the Oilers roster.

    5 things to like about new Edmonton Oilers, even if they have just a 20 per cent chance of making playoffs© Larry Wong Tyler Benson (left), Kailer Yamamoto (middle) and Evan Bouchard

    Agent: McDavid's knee improving but 'can't say' if he'll play in opener

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  3. The Oilers have been hurting for solid puck-moving for years on defence, save in 2016-17 when a healthy Andrej Sekera and Oscar Klefbom led the way. But the puck-moving of the defence will be improved this year. Gone are iffy passing players like Alex Petrovic and Kevin Gravel, with Brandon Manning also a long shot to make the team. Andrej Sekera did well in a bottom-pairing role, but Jones is a strong skater and puck mover and a better bet than the aging Sekera. Bear, William Lagesson and Joel Persson might also help move the puck, not to mention Bouchard. In regards to big Bouch, who killed it in both the OHL and AHL playoffs last year, Luszczyszyn writes: “A year of seasoning in the AHL is likely what’s best for him in what should be a losing season for the Oilers, but if he manages to earn an NHL job, he could be a spark that ignites the team — a strong puck-mover that might be able to help give the team’s lacklustre forward group a push in the right direction.”
  4. The Oilers best players, McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Nurse, Klefbom, Larsson, are all a year older, and while not one of them had a good year in the defensive end last year, that may well improve under Tippett and with one more year of experience. I think the main issue for McDavid and Draisaitl in their own zone is that neither one of them is exactly sure of their role. They keep switching off and on between centre and wing in the d-zone and that leads to confusion and missed assignments for both of them. They can also switch assignments from wing to centre game to game. The smarts are there with them, the effort is there, but it’s no easy thing to play sound defence against tough NHL competition, and it doesn’t help when your role is always changing. There’s no reason that McDavid, Draisaitl and Tippett can’t sort out this issue. As for the d-men, every single one of them save for Russell struggling mightily in the defensive slot against tough competition, but perhaps one more year of extra seasoning will assist players like Nurse, Klefbom and Larsson ramp up their reads and execution. Each of these d-men has had hot runs of games where for a few months they’ve played strong defence. Perhaps they can extend those runs to cover a much larger chunk of the season. 5 things to like about new Edmonton Oilers, even if they have just a 20 per cent chance of making playoffs© Provided by PostMedia Digital
  5. Of course, Todd McLellan and Ken Hitchcock were hugely experienced and successful coaches, so there should be no reason to expect Tippett to get more out of the roster than they were able to do. One thing about Tippett, though, encourages me, and that’s his ability to get the most out of players with marginal talent. He had that challenge for years in Phoenix and his teams generally did well for their low level of talent. Tippett especially appears to have the knack for finding roles for players and getting the most of them in those roles. Tippett also might well have more to work with in terms of talent for role players, with Joe Gambardella, Nygard, Granlund, Haas and Archibald at his disposal. We will recall that Hitchcock tried to get an “identity line” going for the Oilers last year with Brodziak, Lucic and Kassian on it, all of them assigned to be aggressive checkers and hard workers. I don’t question the work ethic of these three players, but Brodziak and Lucic simply lacked the speed and skill to execute, and that lack of speed did indeed define the Oilers. I expect Tippett will have more success creating two bottom lines that help the Oilers grind out a few extra wins.

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