It’s now August and hockey is again just a month away, with the World Cup of Hockey in September, which means — yes — it is that time of the year again! This month we will be previewing each team’s 2016-17 season. Tonight, it’s the Edmonton Oilers.
Category Archives: Edmonton Oilers
It’s that time of the year again, when the playoff race starts and every playoff contender and hopeful fight for a spot in the 2016 postseason. It’s also nearing that time when every team tries to look for pieces to deal and get better either for the playoffs or for the future. That said, for the next four weeks, I’ll be analyzing every team’s surpluses and needs per division leading up to the trade deadline on February 29th.
Oh yes, and I’m doing the teams in alphabetical order. In this final part, we’ll take a look at the Pacific Division.
Needs: Depth forward
Final Analysis: The Anaheim Ducks have been unbelievably the best team coming into the second half of the season. They are now second place in the Pacific Division, and are a resounding 8-1-1 in their last ten games. One would definitely think that after the Western Conference Final elimination by the Chicago Blackhawks, they’re planning on going all in this year. Only thing is they need more scoring. Maybe acquiring another forward into their line-up would be nice to bolster up that offense even further.
Needs: Defensive depth
Final Analysis: With Arizona losing the battle for a playoff spot, they might as well gear up for next season. While they have loads of talent at forward position, it’s definitely time for an upgrade on defense. Mikkel Boedker is a name that’s been thrown into the mix of possible trades for the Coyotes. Maybe shop him and a prospect or pick for a good defenseman?
Needs: Defense and goaltending
Final Analysis: Calgary has struggled mightily this season. They’re the second worst team in the Pacific Division, and there’s no question that they need help defensively, and may need some help in net as well as Jonas Hiller has not been getting it done this season. According to a report on Bleacher Report, Kris Russell, Jiri Hudler, Joe Colborne, Josh Jooris, Jonas Hiller, and David Jones are rumored to be in the trade mix for the Flames ahead of the deadline.
Needs: Defense and goaltending
Final Analysis: The Oilers — no surprise — are bottom dwellers for yet another year. Fortunately for them, there is hope. they have 2015 first round pick Connor McDavid back in the line-up. They have a pretty darn good coaching staff in Todd McLellan and company. But then again, you have to wonder if there really is hope for this organization since recent poor performance have forced McLellan to sound the alarm on the team, indicating “big changes” are coming to the Edmonton Oilers line-up. In fact, GM Peter Chiarelli certainly has not dismissed the idea of some big moves to come if not by trade deadline, then by the offseason. Let’s just say this. Anyone who isn’t named Taylor Hall or Connor McDavid is up for grabs.
Los Angeles Kings
Needs: Top-6 Forward
Final Analysis: Earlier this year, we all said that the L.A. Kings — with the way other Pacific teams had been then — were going to run away with the division because they were absolutely on fire. Well, lately, they’ve cooled down a bit, and it’s enabled teams like Anaheim and San Jose — especially Anaheim — to climb back within reach to take over the division. Now, this team is obviously a playoff contender. Cup contender? Maybe so as well, but GM Dean Lombardi could be on the phone to acquire one more piece before they attempt that Cup run again. According to multiple sources, the Kings are one of the teams gaining interest on forward Andrew Ladd of the Winnipeg Jets. Also, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, the Kings are looking to acquire a defenseman.
San Jose Sharks
Needs: Forward, defensive depth, and back-up goalie
Final Analysis: After the crap show that was last season, Doug Wilson made some pretty key acquisitions in the offseason that have gotten the Sharks to where they are now, and at least so far, that’s a pretty good sign. Joel Ward’s been a pretty good signing. Paul Martin has been… good enough being paired with Brent Burns. The most impressive acquisition through trade I would say so far in terms of guys within the NHL has been Martin Jones. While he’s had his moments, he’s kept the Sharks in games when he’s been called upon. The most impressive signing overall has to be Joonas Donskoi. He’s got hockey sense, the work ethic, and hell, he’s even got the mitts!
That said, that doesn’t mean the Sharks don’t still need to improve. Two days ago, Wilson pulled an early morning trade to acquire Nick Spaling — who recorded his first goal and point as a Shark last night against Colorado — and Roman Polak. That also meant that Raffi Torres’ time as a Shark was done, despite still being with the San Jose Barracuda of the AHL on a loan. The move itself did address a bit of the offensive and defensive depth issues. With Tommy Wingels out with an injury still, Dainius Zubrus has taken his place while Spaling replaced Mike Brown last night, which could possibly mean that Brown will be seeing less and less time in a teal sweater for the rest of the season.
However, the feeling so far within the organization is that there are a select few forwards on the roster and in the system still who could be moved if not by the deadline then in the summer. The aforementioned Tommy Wingels feels like one of them. Matt Nieto, who has also struggled to produce points the past two seasons with the Sharks, could also be one of them, along with Ben Smith down in the Barracuda. Longtime forward Patrick Marleau had also been in the rumor mill earlier in the year. Either way, the Sharks need to upgrade their depth at forward as well as on the blue line.
Since Alex Stalock has continued not to perform up to par, spanning from last season, he could be on his way out as well sooner than later as the Sharks scour the trade market for a back-up goalie. Now, here’s the interesting thing. With the playoffs just months away, do the Sharks try to acquire a back-up goalie like they possibly will be in the next few days up until the end of Monday, or do they just stick with what they have in the development system and call up either Aaron Dell or Troy Grosenick for the playoffs? Only time will time, I guess.
Needs: Depth forwards and defense
Final Analysis: This Vancouver team… I honestly don’t even know what the hell they’re doing, to be quite honest, and I don’t think anyone else knows either. Whatever the case is, it’s looking like it’s going to be a fire sale just like what Lou Lamoriello is doing with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and according to a report from The Score that’s exactly what Jim Benning has essentially announced. Hunter Shinkaruk, a promising first-rounder from the 2013 Draft, was dealt to the Calgary Flames for Markus Granlund, a player who split time between the NHL and AHL. Other players up next will be a combination of the following: Linden Vey, Matt Bartkowski, Ronalds Kenins, Adam Cracknell, Chris Higgins, Brandon Prust, Yannick Weber, Radim Vrbata, and Dan Hamhuis. Six of those players are set to become UFAs after this season, according to General Fanager. This is going to be a long rebuild process for Vancouver.
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Zack Kassian. A name that has gone hand in hand with controversy ever since he emerged as a high level prospect. Taken 13th overall in 2009 by Buffalo, Kassian has earned plaudits for his physical approach to the game, but it is his off-ice antics that threatened to curtail an NHL career that began with significant promise.
It was 2006 the last time the Edmonton Oilers reached the playoffs. Since then, the NHL has gone into lockout once again, Sidney Crosby won Gold for Team Canada at Vancouver 2010, the Winter Classic has been created and morphed into an international spectacle, the Winnipeg Jets have been reincarnated and league realignment has taken place. Of course, this is far from an extensive list of major Hockey events since 2006, but it gives the Oilers playoff exodus a sense of scale.
By Jonathan Cowley
As the San Jose Sharks got ready to roll into Edmonton to face former coach Todd McLellan and the Oilers on Wednesday, they faced an unusual prospect. Not only were they facing their previous coach for the first time, but they were about to run into somewhat of a surprise package. Edmonton has a hot goalie, and his name is Anders Nilsson.
This young 2015-16 season saw the debut of Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers and Jack Eichel of the Buffalo Sabres, two generational talents who will try to help their respective franchises get better. However, there were also others, including Detroit’s Dylan Larkin, Chicago’s Artemi Panarin, Arizona’s Max Domi (son of former NHLer Tie Domi), Vancouver’s Ben Hutton, Winnipeg’s Nikolaj Ehlers, St. Louis’ Colton Parayko, and Oscar Lindberg of Broadway (yes, I mean the New York Rangers).
With this influx of young players, including those from previous seasons like Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon and Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau, it’s obvious that the pace of the National Hockey League is faster. It’s also affecting the decisions of many GMs of many teams. Keep in mind that there are also certain teams going through a transition phase (e.g. the San Jose Sharks). More and more teams are letting young players try their hand at the big leagues, which is also as important for their prospects as it is for them to develop in the minor leagues be it the junior level (Ontario Hockey League, Canadian Hockey League, etc.), in the American Hockey League, or in the ECHL (East Coast Hockey League).
As much as it affects the salary cap as all entry-level contracts have a base cap hit of less than $1 million, the most important impact is the style of play. While strength is still a key factor, the speed and finesse of younger players is more evident than ever. You notice how fewer veterans are able to keep up with the pace of today’s game. If you’re not effective out there on the ice, if you’re not able to react fast enough and you can’t skate hard enough for the occasional odd-man-rush or backcheck, chances are you’re not going to get very much ice time especially if you’re an old veteran player. The same is true even if you’re a more-than-capable veteran for today’s game. Also, because this is a puck possession league, the amount of skill that these younger players have to keep the puck on their sticks is absolutely phenomenal. That is another reason for the influx of youth in the NHL.
According to James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail, almost 44% of ice time this season has been by players 25 and under. That’s up 10% from the past decade. With that shift, older guys especially those 32 and older are getting the door shut on them by various teams. Former NHLer and Calgary Flame Curtis Glencross is a perfect example. The 32-year-old was an unrestricted free agent looking for teams to pick him up. However, with each and every attempt signing a professional tryout contract, he was essentially given the boot simply because teams are more and more willing to give their younger guys more ice time to make the team, especially for the future. As a result, he retired at the start of this season.
It’s a League-wide trend that will undoubtedly continue for the next couple years or so, but it’s easy to understand why given the pace and style of today’s game. Again, it’s fast. Players are more than ever prone to mistakes if they’re ever caught mishandling the puck. The ability to play a good two-way, 200-foot game is more important than ever. You have to be as good defensively, skating on the backcheck and using your stick well without taking a penalty (most of the time), as you are with either playmaking or scoring. That said, hockey sense is important and the kids playing in the NHL right now have a ton of that to go with all the talent that they have.
In my opinion, I feel like this definitely does make the game a lot more fun to watch. You have all these young players not only trying to adapt to the pace of the League but also showing what they can do, essentially impressing the coaching staff for the future of the organization while also playing to the system. Hockey’s not just about the offensive aspect where you cheer for however many goals it takes for a win, but also — again — how well you can play defensively, and today’s puck possession game is just what that is.
On the eve of their 36th NHL season, and the final one to be played at the iconic Rexall Place, the Edmonton Oilers have announced their opening night roster for 2015/16. This was always going to be an interesting announcement, from the moment the fate of the franchise took a decidedly different turn on 18 April 2015, when a certain set of lottery balls fell their way.
Gone (mostly) are the controversial decision-makers that have dominated the Edmonton sports scene for over a decade and a half.
Gone (mostly) are the flotsam and jetsam that have plagued the depth of the city’s beloved Oilers since July 2006.
Incoming are the new heroes of the City of Champions, on whose shoulders rest the hopes and prayers of an army of win-hungry fans.
Let us review those who would enthral us, frustrate us, captivate us and disappoint us.