Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Joanne Ireland of the Edmonton Journal,
As Craig Ramsay grappled for a way to illustrate his exasperation during the Edmonton Oilers’ lamentable trip through California, he zeroed in on one play in the game against the Anaheim Ducks.
It was late in the third period, the Ducks already had a 5-1 lead and rookie defenceman Brandon Davidson went down to block a shot.
“I thought he was going to take it in the face, but he was willing to do that,” said Ramsay, an Oilers assistant coach. “That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about.
“The players don’t quite understand what it takes to win and play consistently and challenge in the National Hockey League. You have to be ready and willing to battle and you do the hard things that allow you to win.
“It’s not about a toe-drag top-shelf-er. It’s about banging one in from the goal crease. It’s about putting your foot out (to make a block).”
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
Teams know the Oilers have already drafted centres Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Leon Draisaitl from 2011 on, so why does he need another one?
Maybe they feel (and rightly so) the Oilers need a defenceman at the draft more. Maybe they’re even wondering if MacTavish also really likes McDavid’s centre teammate Dylan Strome, the OHL scoring champ who had four goals and six points in his final league game Sunday, and if he can get him later for a flip of picks, he’d take that.
There are lots of scenarios in play for the No. 2 pick, such as:
- What if the Nashville Predators called and offered defenceman Seth Jones and Finnish goalie Juuse Saros? The Preds don’t have their late first-rounder because they traded it to the Leafs for Cody Franson, which gums things up somewhat. But Jones can be a top-two defenceman. Saros played in the world junior and is in the top Finnish league right now, and Jari Kurri, the former Finnish national team GM, was raving about the 19-year-old at the 1984 Oilers Stanley Cup reunion last fall. We all know the Preds will be riding Pekka Rinne in net for years to come. All those years, the Predators had a terrific defence but couldn’t go deep in the playoffs because they had no first-line centre.
- What if the Toronto Maple Leafs call, with the cupboard bare at centre, and offers to flip their No. 5 selection for the No. 2 for defenceman Morgan Rielly, another player who most scouts feel will be a top-pairing defenceman in short order?
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
So much time has been spent this season talking about the treasures that await the league's last-place team that you start to think in rainbow terms.
A handful of truly awful teams following that brightly colored arc down, down, down the standings with the hope that what lies at the bottom, the very bottom, is a pot of gold and a ticket up.
Certainly that's how great the promise of Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel is, with the duo poised to go first and second in June's draft in South Florida.
But among those teams lurching their way to the bottom as the season heads into its final two weeks is a team that is living proof that finding the "treasure" at the end of the arc guarantees nothing.
The Edmonton Oilers are once again among the worst teams in the league, despite a stretch dating back to 2009 that saw them pick first overall in the draft three times in a row (2010-12, only the second time in the history of the draft that happened), and pick third, seventh and 10th overall since then.
The Oilers have defied the odds by failing to turn such a treasure trove of picks into anything remotely resembling a playoff team, let alone a championship contender.
"By every measure, they seem to be failing," said longtime NHL executive Frank Provenzano, also a frequent contributor to ESPN's hockey coverage. "You shouldn't be picking that high and be that bad.
from Craig Custance of ESPN,
One of the most interesting decisions Edmonton Oilers GM Craig MacTavish will have to make this offseason is what to do with Nail Yakupov, who Yakupov scored again on Wednesday and added an assist, turning March into his most productive month of the season.
He appears to be earning the trust of coach Todd Nelson with his ice time this month at a season-high 18:02 per game. He also has seven points in eight games.
Yakupov is a restricted free agent after this season, and at some point MacTavish is going to have to spin off one of his forwards for more help on defense, especially if the Oilers somehow land one of the top two picks in the draft. But is now the time to sell on Yakupov, before he really starts tapping into his talent? It'll be fascinating to see how this plays out.
read on for Burnside and LeBrun on the Ducks, Powers on the Blackhawks and Strang on the salary cap...
Two minutes for illegal hit to the head for Kadri on this hit...
Andrew Ference with a message for Kadri, watch below...
Gene Principe caught up with Oilers GM Craig MacTavish to get his thoughts on his lone deadline deal, Jeff Petry to the Habs for two picks, and whether he was close on any others?
Lots of Oilers fans wonder how a team with such a weak defence can afford to let Jeff Petry go. They’re right — he’s going to leave a big hole next year. But last summer, when the time came to sign Petry long-term, his game wasn’t deserving of the commitment. Sure, he was the best guy on a poor defence, but in my opinion, someone will be having buyer’s remorse on Petry at this time next year, when he signs for four years and $18-19 million.
The key to the negotiations though, is that Petry wanted to go to UFA. There haven’t been any talks leading up to the deadline. The player simply wants to exercise his rights, play the field, and make a choice on a new team come July 1. It isn’t always a GM’s mistake when a player leaves. Sometimes the player, in this case an American-born player married to an American girl, wants to head south.
It’s no more complicated than that.
-Mark Spector of Sportsnet where you can read more NHL topics.
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
With the defending Cup champion Los Angeles Kings giving up a first-round draft pick in 2015 and a blue-chip prospect to acquire solid Carolina Hurricanes defenceman Andrej Sekera, the gauntlet has been thrown down at the feet of their rival, the Anaheim Ducks.
Can Edmonton Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish squeeze a first-rounder out of the Ducks now for Jeff Petry? Maybe.
Petry is the best available rental defenceman on the board now, unless you are a Zbynek Michalek fan from Arizona, and the dominoes usually start to fall in the West when one Cup threat makes a bold move.
Montreal, Detroit, Tampa, Washington, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and the Ducks are all looking for one more defenceman, and Sekera, 28, who plays hard and can make a good first pass and might sign with L.A. after the season, may have set the price for rental defencemen.
The feeling has long been that the Oilers were looking for a second-round pick and a solid blue-line prospect for teams, but maybe Sekera has changed MacTavish’s game plan somewhat.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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