Kukla's Korner Hockey
The Oilers need a goaltending upgrade, better personnel on the blueline and an improved commitment to defensive hockey to move up the NHL ladder.
Saturday’s draft lottery win is a great starting point. It provided their franchise with a defining ‘wow’ moment and a genuine opportunity to fast track the rebuild within the rebuild.
This time, they’d better get it right.
-Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail where you can read more on the Oilers.
from Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star,
The Oilers already had three No. 1 picks in a row, and they kept winning lotteries and letting Oilers president Kevin Lowe say stuff like how they have two tiers of fans, and how half the league would trade rosters with them if they could, and “there’s one other guy in hockey today that is still working in the game that has won more Stanley Cups than me. So I think I know a little bit about winning, if there’s ever a concern.”
That was in 2013. They’ve finished 28th in the league twice since then. Their three No. 1 picks have been supported by just horrific drafting and development and decisions outside the first round, and Edmonton just went ahead and leveraged their 11.5% chance at the No. 1 pick into Connor McDavid. It was reported by Chris Johnston of Sportsnet that going into the final ball, the Leafs actually had a 4-in-11 chance, Buffalo 3 in 11, and Edmonton 2-of-11. (Carolina and Columbus had single chances.) Very Leafs, really.
But this is what happens when you fight on Edmonton’s turf. By the way, Oilers owner Darryl Katz, who has already played footsie with Seattle in a successful attempt to sucker Edmonton out of public funds for a new arena, is actively suing the Erie Otters and Sherry Bassin, the mentor of ... Connor McDavid. Ha, terrific.
Plus, did we mention they already won three lotteries? Ergo, the disappointment. As Coyotes co-owner Anthony Leblanc told Joe Yerdon of NHL.com, “(When I) realized it wasn’t us, I’m not going to lie, I’m like, ‘Holy crap, I hope it’s Buffalo.’ To find out it was Edmonton? That stung. That stung.” As Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said, “They’ve got some luck.”
from Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun,
For the fourth time in the last six years the Oilers have won the No. 1 pick in the draft. And this time it’s a generational player. This time it’s a Sidney Crosby.
It was 2:40 a.m. in Switzerland when G.M. Craig MacTavish called.
MacTavish has won Stanley Cups but what he said happened in the middle of the night over there is unmatched.
“This is as excited as I’ve been in the game. Tomorrow we’ll be back to work, but tonight we’re real excited.
“Scott Howson, Bob Green and myself watched it in our hotel rooms and we all came running out of our rooms to have a little hall party. I haven’t done this since high school,” said the G.M. who is in Zug for the U-18 world championships.
“I was watching on my i-pad as it scrolled down. Pretty incredible. The Toronto Maple Leaf card came up and they didn’t win. Then our card came up and it was ‘We have a winner!’
“Almost unbelievable. It’s a monumental day for the Oilers today. Lucky Bill Scott!” he said of his assistant general manager he sent to Toronto with instructions to bring back McDavid.
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?
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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