Well that was fun to watch last night! Sloppy at times, definitely still not a team who knows how to shut the opposition down in the 3rd, and the Blues aren’t playing to their capabilities right now without a doubt. But they got over 2 massive mental hurdles. One would be the PP didn’t just get 1, they got 5 (4 that counted). The way they scored them too should give this crew a wakeup call. Throwing the puck on net with traffic, that formula will never not work. The other hurdle was simply beating the Blues. The Blues have taken pleasure in pushing around the Oilers over the years, and last night the Oilers pushed back and you could tell the Blues weren’t expecting that.
This season might have been one of the most disappointing for Oiler fans over the last 10 years. It’s not leaving them the most pissed off they’ve been, there have been plenty more than this one, but it’s right up there for disappointing. The thing that nobody in the national media wants to acknowledge is the ridiculous amount of injuries that set this team back this season. Eberle, McDavid, Klefbom, Nugent-Hopkins and now Davidson all missing significant time. It’s only 5 players, but all 5 are very key players who’ll end up missing at least a month of action. 30th-27th or so is guaranteed yet again, and they still should be better then where they are. But this time around it wasn’t as much about the team just being a joke (as much as the media elsewhere wants to maintain that to be the case) and a lot more of the team not staying healthy. As I’ve said recently, it isn’t making an excuse for them, it’s a fact.
But it happened, so unfortunately for Oiler fans it’s time yet again to suck it up and look forward to what is coming. I hit on why I think the rebuild is done as of this summer a few weeks ago. Today I’m just going to jump the gun despite 9 games remaining and look at the draft.
Obviously it is possible, maybe this season more than ever, that they could move their 1st round pick. It is a very odd year, because I don’t THINK I would move the pick unless they get the 1st overall. I believe they can fill their holes by moving other pieces. But if they do luck out yet again and get the top pick, the return that would bring would be incredible.
Picks 2-6 or 7 in this draft would give the Oilers a player that is better to build around then a kid like Eberle for example. Bigger, faster, hasn’t been around for all the losing. Eberle on his own maybe wouldn’t get them a top pairing D-man, but an Eberle package likely would.
So with that being said, I’ll give you my top 5. Not for the league, but for the Oilers.
Auston Matthews – OBVIOUSLY. I’m pretty sure I would trade down for a massive return, or trade out for what would also be a massive return. He’s awesome, but the Oilers are more than set down the middle. Draisaitl wouldn’t bring in an elite number 1 D-man. From what some are saying, Matthews would bring back that guy +. Side note, I’m starting to pull for the Oilers to get this pick, just piss off all the people crying about them possibly winning it. This isn’t a team that has been intentionally tanking the last 6 seasons. They aren’t the 76ers. It’s disgusting and pathetic how bad they’ve been. But if you’re concerned about this, you’re probably a massive tool. And yes, I’m fully aware that a lot of people in hockey are concerned about this.
Patrik Laine – I completely disagree with the notion that the big, highly skilled power forward has massive value in the NHL. These guys never have the impact on a team that fans and media want to believe they do. But this team needs size, could use more speed, and REALLY needs a RH bomb on the PP and that is what Laine brings. He also is willing to engage physically which we all know the Oil have been desperate for more of. You really couldn’t find a type of player who would be a better fit with McDavid than Laine.
Jakob Chychrun – 2nd in my rankings, but 3rd for me from an Oilers perspective because with Davidson emerging this season, the great year they’ve had with a lot of their kids (Oesterle, Jones, Bear, Lagesson, Paigin, all had impressive seasons), and the fact that it does look like they’ll finally be able to acquire that big time top pairing D-man they’ve needed forever. But even if that is the case, D-men are so valuable right now that you simply can never have enough in the system. You can’t make a trade these days, unless you have a good young D-man. Then GM’s are knocking down your door.
Matthew Tkachuk – I don’t think Tkachuk is better than Puljujarvi. But Tkachuk fits the Oilers better than Puljujarvi does. He brings serious grit to the table and he doesn’t need the puck on his stick like Puljujarvi does. If you’re looking for a winger to play long term with McDavid, I’m not sure Puljujarvi would fit, much like Taylor Hall doesn’t fit with him. I have very little doubt Tkachuk’s game would be a terrific compliment to McDavid.
Jesse Puljujarvi – I broke him down, now allow me to build him back up! It isn’t as though I don’t like the kid. I’m probably going to be one of his biggest fans. I compared him to Blake Wheeler in my rankings, but another guy who comes to mind is Marian Hossa. If he becomes that type of 200 foot player, he’ll be one of the top wingers in the game. But again, his style is that he loves to pack the puck and create, which is what McDavid does. There wouldn’t be any reason to be upset should the Oilers take him, but when talking about the top 5 kids for this team, that’s what separates him and knocks him down to 5th for my liking.
The one thing I definitely wouldn’t do is put any of these kids in the NHL next season, outside of taking Matthews. Laine and Puljujarvi can both either play another season in Finland or in the AHL if they choose. Zero need to plug them in. Tkachuk would benefit from going back to London and lead a Knights team that will lose Dvorak and Marner next season. And even though Chychrun is very physically mature, another season under Derian Hatcher in Sarnia won’t hurt at all. If the Fins had to go back to the CHL, then it’s different for them. But they don’t.
If they do look to move the pick, I sure hope it isn’t the disaster the Griffin Reinhart trade was last year. I just can’t buy that move wasn’t all done by Craig MacTavish, Scott Howson, Bob Green, and all the Reinhart champions that have remained in the organization. My guess is they had done the leg work, Chiarelli put his faith in them and they did what they did while running the show…they failed. I’m not giving up on Reinhart at all, and he’ll play in the league. But that trade was awful from the second it was announced.
They needed a D-man, but they didn’t need a young, LH shooting D-man with heavy feet and low offensive upside. To trade a mid 1st and a high 2nd in what might go down as one of the best drafts ever for a kid who basically didn’t fit, it was absurd. And has been made worse by the fact that Davidson and Oesterle have passed him on the depth chart. It sure would be nice to have a Barzal, or Connor, or Eriksson-Ek, or Samsonov, or Chabot, to go with a Stephens, or Dermott, or Carlo, or Meloche. You wouldn’t have to have them on the roster anytime soon, or they could be trade bait (better bait than Reinhart will be). Why is it that me, a low end blogger who isn’t even analytically a good rec hockey player despite seeing soft minutes most nights could see this disaster coming a mile away and they couldn’t?
Anyway, much like this season, it is all in the past and this is the reality for Oiler fans. It is going to be an intriguing offseason, especially draft night. Could be some vital pieces added to the puzzle that night, and should they keep the pick they’ll be getting a kid who’ll be a terrific fit for the type of team they’re trying to build.
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