Kukla's Korner Hockey
from John MacKinnon of the Edmonton Journal,
If they made a film about this 2014-15 Oilers team, they’d title it The Blunder Boys, and it has veered from comedy into farce.
The Oilers constant repetition of mistake after giveaway after gaffe has become a joke, as team captain Andrew Ference emotionally underscored after their 5-2 loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Monday night.
The Oilers blooper reel of gaffes, giveaways, pratfalls and collapses is feature-film length about now, just 25 games into an NHL season gone horribly wrong. The mistakes by the 6-15-4 Oilers blur into one by now, don’t they?
The Oilers performance Monday night is the sort that gets coaches fired, if not coaches and general managers as a package, deserved or not. When a team — a talented one — is bumbling along in this fashion, something has to happen. It’s that simple.
Ference, for one, clearly believes the onus for failure falls squarely on the players, not the coaches.
added 9:10am, Watch Ference's post-game remarks below...
Edmonton has been a bad team for a long time, and has turned to youth to solve their problems. It’s not a healthy dynamic, rather, it’s a nasty, self-defeating cycle. One the Oilers can’t seem to break, as the decision top pencil Leon Draisaitl in as second-line centre even before training camp this season demonstrates beautifully.
The Oilers are using the NHL as a development league. That’s bad. If it is to be used as a development league, it’s important that players are handled carefully and consistently; instead Edmonton have tossed them in the deep end and for good measure shuffled coaches on a semi-annual basis. Watching the team operate is a master class in how a losing environment can be perpetuated.
-Jonathan Willis of Sportnet where you can read more on the Oilers.
“We can’t start to just tear everything down, we have to get a solid plan as we go forward here of how we can get this team to win a Stanley Cup. We’re a long ways from that where our record is today — we all realize that — we just can’t panic here and make major changes unless they’re going to help us in the future.”
-Bob Nicholson,viice-chairman of the Oilers Entertainment Group on Prime Time Sports this evening. More from Mike Johnston of Sportsnet and you can listen/watch the whole interview too.
...are trades the answer right now? As another rival executive suggested, is the smartest thing at this point not just to take a knee and get in the lottery chase given this year’s draft class?
On the surface, it’s probably what makes the most sense. But eight years of hockey hell has also eroded some of the goodwill (loyalty?) of the fan base in Edmonton. Can you afford to take a knee and not risk further brand alienation? Or would fans in Edmonton, a pretty savvy hockey community, understand that it would be worth it given the draft class?
-Pierre LeBrun on the Edmonton Oilers. Read more from LeBrun on the Oilers at ESPN.
The Edmonton Oilers and Columbus Blue Jackets, two of the worst teams in the league, are working together to make a trade happen to improve their fortunes.
TSN Hockey analyst Aaron Ward is reporting that Oilers winger David Perron and Blue Jackets centre Artem Anisimov are the players being discussed for a potential trade, but there could be more players involved.
TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger first reported over the weekend that the Oilers were looking to deal Perron and said general manager Craig MacTavish is looking for a top line centre in return for the 26-year-old.
Perron has two goals and eight assists in 22 games this season with the Oilers, his second year with the team. The Sherbrooke, Quebec, native has two years left on his current contract.
from Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet,
from Katie Strang of ESPN,
Listening to Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock tell the media Monday night about veteran center Stephen Weiss needing to earn his way back into the lineup ("We don't give away anything for free," Babcock said) despite his hefty five-year, $24.5 million contract is a good reminder why the Wings have made the playoffs 23 straight seasons and are often held up as an example of building a team the right way.
Now, let's contrast that with the downtrodden Edmonton Oilers, who have offered little incentive to their young stars in terms of making them earn responsibility and ice time. A smart hockey man pointed out to me on Monday what happened when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored just four goals in the lockout-shortened 2013 season: Nugent-Hopkins was awarded a seven-year, $42 million contract extension that following September.
What happened when Detroit's Tomas Tatar had two straight 24-goal seasons in the AHL from 2010-12? He was told to go do it again, and didn't find a regular roster spot in Detroit until 2013-14. It's a difference in culture.
The Red Wings foster high expectations and preach patience and preparation. The Oilers, meanwhile, are in shambles and appear to have no long-term plan, firing their goalie coach Monday in one of the most cringe-worthy, petty-looking moves this season. You want to shake things up, do it, but we all know a scapegoat when we see one.
read on for more hockey topics from the ESPN hockey writers...
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
If the Edmonton Oilers are indeed sniffing around St. Louis Blues centre Patrik Berglund, who is currently playing left wing on that stacked team because the team has Paul Stastny, David Backes and Jori Lehtera firmly planted at centre, the Blues conceivably are asking about Jordan Eberle in a package.
Nobody’s saying it would ever be a one-for-one arrangement because Eberle has more currency around the league as an offensive weapon (76- and 65-point NHL seasons on his resume) than the six-foot-three, 217-pound Berglund and he makes considerably more money than the Swede for longer term, but Eberle could take Berglund’s spot as a winger in St. Louis.
There is some history with Eberle and Blues’ management, of course. St. Louis head coach Ken Hitchcock had the Oilers’ winger at the Canadian Olympic team summer orientation session in Calgary before the 2014 Sochi Games, and Blues general manager Doug Armstrong was also part of the Canadian Olympic management group.
Plus, the Blues and the Oilers have been trading partners before. Oilers GM Craig MacTavish traded forward Magnus Paajarvi and a second-round draft to St. Louis in the summer of 2013 for winger David Perron.
from Damien Cox of Sportsnet,
The pressure is mounting in Edmonton, the pressure to do something. Anything. Now.
Which is, of course, absolutely the wrong idea. It’s the kind of thinking that has, for example, kept the Toronto Maple Leafs away from the winner’s circle for 47 years.
The idea, assuming this was all a plan, was to build a powerful hockey machine in Edmonton, something similar to the squad that ruled the sport in the 1980s. Even if that was impossible in a salary cap era, multiple high picks over multiple years was supposed to deliver a championship worthy outfit.
It hasn’t yet. But that doesn’t mean it won’t.
But it won’t if the plan gets changed now and decisions are made to make the short-term more palatable.
This was always going to be extremely painful. And one imagines it must be for Oiler loyalists.
continued plus numerous other hockey topics...
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
MacTavish knows he has to make a trade, but what is his No. 1 priority? It’s tough to finger Ben Scrivens or Vitkor Fasth completely for their .887 and .890 save percentages because the team defence gives up so many chances. Against the Hawks, there were so many 3-on-2 breaks it looked like a normal morning line-rush practice. Is that the goalie’s fault? Do they need a 26 to 30-year-old centre with a 500 to 700-game pedigree and 500 or so NHL points to help No. 1 centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? They aren’t getting a Giordano or a Doughty or a Weber or a PK Subban. Normally you have to draft them. They thought Justin Schultz could be that guy, but he’s struggling mightily.
Here’s what the Oilers could be looking at:
Goal: Antti Niemi, 31, (San Jose). He’s played 293 games and is an unrestricted free-agent July 1, and his halcyon days in Chicago when he won the Cup in 2010 seem light years away. He does have good numbers since then in regular-season (2.38, 2.42, 2.17 and 2.39) but he is 20-20 in the playoffs in those four yeas. This year he’s 7-6-3 with a 2.58 average and .915 save percentage and the Sharks feel Alex Stalock can be as good, and they have young Troy Grosenick, who got a shutout in his first NHL game, coming. Would they take back, say, Fasth, also UFA and a young forward or D-man? Niemi’s cap hit is $3.8 mil, Fasth’s is $2.9 mil.
Centre: Patrik Berglund (St. Louis). He’s the third centre there behind Paul Stastny and Jori Lehtera, the first-year Finn. His cap hit for this year and next is $3.9 million. He’s having a poor year (four points) and he’s only a 47.2 face-off guy, but he’s only 26 and he’s 6’3″, 217 pounds. Scouts say he may be more comfortable on the wing; he’s got a very good shot. The Blues are short of depth D-men after their top six, especially trading Jordan Leopold to Columbus, although they do have Chris Butler, who played in Calgary last year. If the Oilers wanted Berglund, they’d have to give up more than one piece.
more with other options at the positions mentioned...
After losing 7-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks last night.
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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