EXPANSION HYPOTHETICAL

 

Everyone is buzzing about the announcements out of Boca this morning that NHL GMs have discussed some possible expansion procedures should the league choose to expand.

Based on this tweet:

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 1.26.32 PM.png

 

We have an idea of what some possible expansion draft rules might look like.

With that in mind, let’s talk about who the Oilers would protect and how scared we should be.

Let’s start where it is easy.

 


 

 

 

DEFENCEMAN x 3

1. Oscar Klefbom – He has to be #1 guy on this list. This year he only appeared in 30 games, scoring 12 points (4,8) and averaged over 21:00 a night.

He also boosts this teams offence on the powerplay where the Oilers scoring 6.5g per 60min of PP time = 20% with him on the ice and he was scoring at a 11.5% rate, which would rank him 5th in the NHL, through those 30 games. His GA60 is 2.67, ranking 4th among Oiler defenders.

He seemed close to becoming the Oilers best defender before his injury and infection and if he does make a return to the line-up this season we will hopefully see some solid play — but he won’t be at his best.

 

2. Darnell Nurse – We could skip the stats on this guy. He is tough as nails and willing as hell to shed his mitts or get in someones face. He does have flaws, to the eye test, such as taking poor penalties and sometimes getting a little deep in the offensive zone and late on the backcheck.

Stats-wise Nurse is so so. He has 8pts (2,6) through 59 games and has racked up 51 PIMs. He sports a  -12 and plays 20:00 a night.

Defensively he has struggled. He has a defence-worse GA60 of 3.2.

He will be a nasty man in the future and there is no way the Oilers can not protect him.

 

3. Brandon Davidson – Let’s be honest. 6 months ago, Davidson is not on this list. But he has been the most impressive Oiler this season – outside of McDavid – and has really shown his worth. He could become a trade piece, he is on a cheap deal and can easily become a top 4 defender soon – so the Oilers would be silly to trade him and he would be a obvious pick for expansion from a team with not much else.

Stats look good for Davidson 11 pts in 51 (4,7) and an impressive  +7 averaging close to 19:00 per game.

Defensively, Davidson’s GFA% is 1.85 per 60 of ice time so about 2 goals are scored with Davidson on the ice every three games. Not bad. It’s the lowest on the team outside of Hendricks 1.1.

 


 

There are probably some teams sweating about only being able to keep 3 defensemen. But the Oilers are not that team. They don’t have much depth and they don’t have many prospects still in the pipeline or that would fall in other expansion-protected categories.

This leaves the following as likely to be taken if there is an expansion, but trust me, the new team WILL 100% BE TAKING A FORWARD.

In order of least garbage to most garbage (but all still garbage):

• Andrej Sekera – Capable in bottom 4 D role, contract may be a concern.

• Eric Gryba – Big man, bottom pairing

• Griffin Reinhart – Has not shown potential, may pan out

• Jordan Oesterle – Has shown upside, not best option, low level of experience

• Adam Pardy – He is what he is, similar to Gryba

• Nikita Nikitin – Yeah… about that.

That about covers it. Of course some AHL guys would be available such as Brad Hunt, but other than that the Oilers are quite slim on the backend. If we consider the bigger picture – the expansion draft it seems would require teams to pick the best possible talent to fill a role and if you’re a new team looking at the Oilers, it’s quite obvious that the bulk of their talent plays forward.

 

The offensive hypothetical is coming soon….

 

McDavid Ramblings

In defiance of all odds and probabilities the Edmonton Oilers somehow managed to win the Connor McDavid sweepstakes. In between the unlikely win, Tim Murray’s antics, MacT’s hallway dances, and pure, delicious, hatred from almost every other hockey team, this weekend was chock-full of things to talk about.

On Dumb Luck

Somehow they did it. They flippin’ won again. Although most other responses from around the league would have been more along the lines of: “Holy f***, f*** those dumbf***ing, lucky motherf***ers, always f***ing, making a f***ing joke of the f***ing game and completely f***ing young f***ing stars”. But guess what, the win came down to nothing except luck. Luck and 4 little ping-pong balls.

The Oilers didn’t purposely try to tank, they didn’t reside all hope of next seasons success on the shoulders of an ODDS BASED LOTTERY SYSTEM, instead they played hard down the line and actually played some of their best hockey in between the time they were eliminated from the playoffs until the season ended.

The Oilers had an 11.5% chance of winning and they did and while other teams had reason to be upset, the Oilers did nothing different than any other team in the lottery except having some plain, dumb luck. In fact they had only a 0.5% chance of winning the 4 draft lotteries they have won in the last 6 years and again it comes down to luck… So there’s no reason to be mad right, wrong. Lots of people are mad.

On Dancing

MacTavish said he and Scott Howson were up at 2 am (they are at the U18s in Europe) celebrating in the hotel hallways. I am sure MacT knows his summer just got a whole lot more interesting, but he is undoubtedly excited to have such an excellent asset to work with.

Hopefully he has a productive summer and is still dancing come October.

On Pure Hatred

If you make the mistake of using Twitter and expecting people to be happy for your team or to say “Awe, shucks”, and offer their support, you are not smart. Twitter was plastered with hate towards the Oilers with messages ranging from questioning the lottery to calling conspiracy and accusing Katz of paying the league to hoping the Oilers ruin McDavid (because that is what they do to prospects, apparently.) It was actually quite rough to see the hate the Oilers were getting, but it is understandable.

If the Buffalo Sabres had 4 of the last 6 first-overall picks you’re damned right I’d voice my contempt. I’d accuse Tim Murray of being a horrible GM (we’ll get to that) and I would question the fairness of the lottery system. The other teams in the league are hating on a team that has missed 9 straight years of playoffs and has 4 first-overall picks in that time and still can’t get it right. Perhaps hating on a team so bad isn’t even worth it, but people always find a way. The Oilers still aren’t good, but they now have something to take them that way.

Sure the Oilers myriad of young stars now has its most brightly lit leading the way, but if you assume that means instant success you’re probably wrong. They are WAY ahead of where they were on Saturday at 5:58pm MST (2 minutes before they were announced winners), but they are not good enough. The Oilers have a lot of work to do and it started today.

On Immediate Changes

Whether or not it came as a reaction to the lottery win, the Oilers made a significant organizational change today one that will have a large impact on the roles of which the members of the Oilers brass play and who they report to.

Bob Nicholson has been appointed the CEO of the Oilers Entertainment Group. While the group has a broader focus than just the on-ice product, a large portion of Nicholsons work will be ensuring the improvement of the team. In an afternoon press conference, Nicholson basically said everyone reports to him and he calls the shots. Looking at the success he had with Hockey Canada I think this is a great step for the Oilers. It will call into question the work being done and perhaps will result in further organizational change that is desperately needed.

Nicholson stated that a “forensic audit” would be done to see where things were at and where they are going, the results of that audit are not ready for the public but will hopefully provide further insight and transparency into the inner workings of the Oilers organization and where things are going wrong.

On Todd McLellan

Another big news story today was the parting ways of Todd McLellan and the San Jose Sharks, the team he coached for 7 seasons.

McLellan is from Saskatchewan and working in Edmonton would likely be ideal, geographically. With McDavid’s number likely to be called first on June 26th, the NHL Entry Draft, there will probably be a domino effect resulting in some big trades and some skilled players moving in. This might be enough to coerce McLellan into a job, he will probably want a say in how things are run and if the Oilers are smart they will give him that opportunity.

I expect his name to be in the mix with serious candidates, likely including the Oilers interim head coach Todd Nelson. TODDS!

On Tim Murray

Tim Murray sure seemed upset that his team didn’t take home first prize and apparently wasn’t too pumped about his consolation prize either (BTW, that’s Jack Eichel). He called the lottery into question and pretty much made it seem like he did all he could to lose and still wasn’t even good enough at that.

He apologized yesterday and tried to save face but after that incident (and his behaviour at the lottery as a whole) as well as the way he handled firing Ted Nolan, I am sure glad that he is not the GM in Edmonton. The Sabres had a rough year and probably “deserved” McDavid, but it is a lottery (see paragraph number one) and they still will get an incredible talent, a 1B if you will, in Jack Eichel.

I understand his anger, but he could’ve handled the situation much better and hopefully he can restore some public confidence because the last thing the Sabres need is organizational distress. Trust an Oiler fan, it doesn’t do much good.

On Mr. McDavid 

The young star seemed less than thrilled as he sat next to Strombo immediately following the lottery announcement. Some have said this reaction is due to the fact that the Oilers won, while he was probably upset his hometown Leafs didn’t win, I don’t think he is going to pull a Lindros.

He went to a bad team in Erie, despite many thinking he may not go. And the OHL is easier to manipulate than the NHL, if you’re a star.

He is a teenager finding out his destiny. Where he will live, sleep, eat, work, play, and spend the next 7 (at least) years of his life. That is a lot of a young person to comprehend and I am confident that he will be welcome with open hearts and lots of love when he makes his inevitable Oilers debut next season.

Time to Put the “Great” Back in The Great White North – Canada’s Cup Contenders

It’s been 22 years since Lord Stanley’s Cup was presented to a team in the most hockey-crazed country in the world. It was 1993 when the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup in 5 games over Barry Melrose’s LA Kings. It was time where the cup practically lived in Canada, the Oilers, Flames, and Canadiens won 7 Cups in a row from 1984-1990. And 8 out of 10 from 1984-1993.

Since then, the Cup has stayed with teams down south. There is nothing really to explain the fact that a Canadian team has not won the Stanley Cup in so long. Perhaps the odds are just too bad. Only 7 out of 30 teams play in Canada, less than one third, and therefore it is way more likely that the Cup ends in the hands of an American team. Not that that is a bad thing.

The success of American teams has undoubtedly helped the games popularity in the USA. Teams like Los Angeles, Anaheim, and Chicago and Boston have been dominate in the past decade or so and that has obviously given their respective fan bases something to cheer for and support. The game is popular, wildly, in Canada. Fans are rabid, they crave hockey, and while they will still tune in to watch the Stanley Cup be hoisted, there would be something so special about watching a Canadian team win. While the drought has dragged on over two decades, that is not to say that Canadian teams haven’t come close.

The Flames took the Lightning through 7 gruelling games in 2004. And the Oilers came oh-so-heartbreakingly close against Carolina in 2006, and they probably would have won had Dwayne Roloson not gone down injured on a freak play that continues to haunt Oiler fans. Ottawa made the finals the next year, but lost in 5 games to the Ducks. And in 2011, the Canucks can riotously, literally, close to winning the Cup against the Bruins.

Canadian teams have come close many times in the past decade, which is quite good considering the odds. But this year, the odds have never looked better.

Five of seven Canadian teams have qualified for the playoffs this season and each team has, while some are long shots, a chance to win the Stanley Cup.

Here’s a look at each Canadian team in the playoffs and why they have a chance to bring the Cup to Canada, in order of best to worst chances.

Winnipeg Jets

The Winnipeg Jets are scary. Terrifyingly brutal, big, fast, and strong. The Jets are very similar to the Los Angeles Kings; they are a big, physical team that, when they want, can dominate the game. They are getting very good goaltending of late, Ondrej Pavelec posted a 0.920 SV% and has three consecutive shutouts. Talk about going into the playoffs strong. Dustin Byfuglien has returned from a 4 game suspension for a violent crosscheck to the neck of the Rangers J.T. Miller. They draw a lot of penalties and had 269 powerplay chances this season, but finished below the league average converting on only 17.84%. The Jets did not have any big goal scorers, number wise. Wheeler had 26, Little and Ladd had 24 a piece, and the team finished with 230 goals for, good enough for 15th in the league.

They will win if…

Ondrej Pavelec stays hot and someone steps up offensively.


Montreal Canadiens 

Carey Price will likely win the Vezina trophy and perhaps the Hart trophy as well and, if his team succeeds, it will likely be 100% on his back. This season Price lead the league in wins (44 and a Canadiens record), save percentage (.933), and goals against average (1.96). He also finished tied for second in shutouts (9). Price has had the 5th best season for a goalie of all-time, save percentage wise, and he played more games than all the goalies ahead of him on that list. Again, if the Canadiens want to win it depends on Carey Price. Other than Price, the Canadiens will rely on Max Pacioretty, who is currently out with a head injury suffered two weeks ago. Pacioretty scored 37 goals this year and was solid defensively finishing tied first in the league in plus/minus at +38. If he is on his game, the Canadiens will have a good chance to succeed. P.K. Subban will be another factor. He scored 60 points and led the team in powerplay goals with 9.

They will win if…

Price, Pacioretty, and Subban play well. They Canadiens don’t have a lot outside of these three guys, and all three will need to play outstanding for this team to succeed.


Calgary Flames

The comeback kids. In a year that was supposed to be a rebuild, the Flames have defied all logic and somehow made it into the playoffs – and they have a chance to do very well. They have had so many improbable comebacks this year, it seems impossible to think of how a team will be able to beat them 4 times in 7 games. Sean Monahan is becoming a superstar. He scored 31 goals in his second NHL season, tied with Jiri Hudler, who had an incredible season as well. Hudler had 31 goals, 45 assists and finished 8th in the league with 76 points behind names like Benn, Seguin, Crosby, Ovechkin, and Tavares. Jonny Gaudreau had a breakout season with 24 goals and 64 points. Dennis Wideman showed the hockey world he still had it in him by scoring 56 points, a career high, finishing fourth on the team in scoring. T.J. Brodie and Kris Russell have shown the ability to play strong defensive hockey finishing +15 and +18, respectively. These two, along with Wideman, stepped up in the absence of their captain and best defenseman Mark Giordano. Jonas Hiller has been average, but good enough to keep his team in games, finishing with a .918 SV% and 2.36 GAA.

They will win if…

Their weird luck and offensive prowess continue.


Vancouver Canucks 

Forgotten in the cloud of the Flames miracle wins, the Jets first playoff trip, Carey Prices legendary season, and the antics of the Hamburglar in Ottawa, are the usually-successful Cancucks. The Canucks have what the Flames, Jets, and Senators lack: experience. Tonight will be Henrik Sedins 100th NHL Playoff game as he faces off against Monahan and Gaudreau playing their first. The Sedins and Radim Vrabata have led this team all year and their success has opened things up for their secondary scorers like Higgins, Burrows, Bonino, Hansen, and Matthais. The twins both surpassed 70 points and Vrabat lead the team with 31 goals. The Canucks have some serious secondary scoring. Each line has a 15-goal scorer and having a four-line attack will be an advantage over the Flames shortened back-end with Giordano and Bouma likely our for the series or at least a few games, in the case of Bouma. The Canucks short-fall is their goaltending. Eddie Lack has been good, but does not have NHL playoff experience, and Ryan Miller, the more experienced of the two, has been hurt for the last few months and will likely have some serious rust should be get a start or have to relieve Lack.

They will win if…

Vrabata and the Sedins get and stay hot and the goaltending is solid.


Ottawa Senators

The Senators had their season saved by perhaps the most unexpected player in their organization: Andrew Hammond. The once struggling AHL goalie has been phenomenal for the Senators. In 24 games he has 21 wins, 1 loss, and 2 overtime losses. He has posted a 1.73 GAA and a .943 SV%. His record and stats are better than Carey Prices from Feb. 18th, when Hammond made his first start, until now. The Senators are getting a lot of offense from a lot of different places. Erik Karlsson leads the team with 66 points, and Kyle Turris and rookie standout Mark Stone fall into second with 64 points each. Mike Hoffman has had a standout season leading the team in goals with 27 and finishing 5th in points with 48. The Senators made the playoffs thanks to an unlikely run from an unlikely goalie and some serious scoring from unlikely sources Hoffman and Stone.

They will win if…

Hammond can continue to surprise the hockey world. He has played extremely well and if he can continue to do so, the Senators will succeed. Also, Stone, Ryan, Hoffman, and Turris need to keep scoring and help their goalie out.


So there you go. The Cup has a few Canadian contenders each with a really good chance to bring the Cup back to Canada .

No matter what though, the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs will be an exciting and thrilling ride!

Playoff Preview #1 – Series Starting Wednesday

This years playoffs promise to be particularly unpredictable. Literally every series could go either way and honestly, there is not a single series I am sure of! So lets ignore the stats and just predict!

Below I will break down each series with head to head numbers, my prediction, and a a justification.

The West

Canucks vs. Flames

Head to Head

  • 4 wins each in 8 match-ups this season

Prediction

  • Flames in 7 games.

Justification

  • Despite the Canucks looking more stable and probably more likely to win the series, the Flames have a never-say-die attitude which helped get them in the playoffs in the first place. They will be a hungry team and that is an unmeasurable factor that will likely have a big impact. It will take 7 games and the Canucks will likely lead every game at some point.

Predators vs. Blackhawks

Head to Head

  • Blackhawks won 3 of 4.

Prediction

  • Blackhawks in 6 games.

Justification

  • Until this morning I had the Predators chosen to win this series. I thought Chicago’s continued playoff success might catch up to them and they may be fatigued, especially with Patrick Kane out. But Kane is cleared for game 1 and will be a huge factor in helping his team win this series. Pekka Rinne may be able to steal a few games, but I don’t think Chicago can be slowed down enough to allow the Predators more than 2 wins.

The East

Canadiens vs. Senators

Head to Head:

  • The Senators won 3 of 4.

Prediction:

  • Senators in 7 games.

Justification:

  • I can’t justify this. While the Senators dominated the Canadiens and Carey Price this season, Montreal is one of the best teams in the league and has a goalie having on of the best seasons of all-time. The Senators have a Cinderella story writing itself, and they will somehow come out on top. It might take seven games, but the Senators, like the Flames, have an “X” factor that will get them to the next round and leave the hockey world scratching its head.

Capitals vs. Islanders

Head to Head:

  • Each team won the two games played at home. 2 wins apiece in 4 meetings.

Prediction:

  • The Capitals in 7 games.

Justification:

  • It is finally time for the Capitals to take the next step. They are a highly entertaining and extremely explosive team to watch. Ovechkin has scored 50 goals for the 6th time in his career and you know he is burning for a cup now more than ever. I don’t think the Islanders can sustain the pace they played at in the regular season and even if they do play extremely well, I don’t think the Capitals can be slowed down offensively.

A Final Thought on the Oilers Before Playoff Time

With the playoffs starting tomorrow, the pain of another losing season stings just a little bit more as other teams prepare to chase the cup.

The Oilers are not one of those teams. They have not been one of those teams in nine seasons. And according to Craig MacTavish, they will not be one of those teams next year.

MacT’s end-of-the-season press conference did not have any comments about “Norris potential”, but the Oilers GM did not say what fans and the media and city and the players want to hear: we are going to win.

False promises of too-good-to-be-true prospects, and the constant reminder that “we will get better eventually” are not things anyone in this city wants to hear. MacTavish strayed away from saying that Nelson would return as head coach but the way he spoke of Todd sounded like he was happy with the job he had done to close out the season, but that he won’t be back. That’s what I thought anyway.

He commented on the potential first defensive pairing of Klefbom – Schultz next year. Basically stating there was potential, but hardly saying that they are good enough.

Craig made a point that he was losing credibility in this city and most fans and media are probably in agreement with that statement. He hasn’t done what is needed to win and seems hesitant to be bold like he promised.

No more Oilers talk until the draft… PLAYOFFS, BABY!

81. Sharks // Fresh Oil (More Debuts, Duh!)

For the last time this season the Oilers faithful will flock to Rexall to watch the team. While it has been a long season chock-full of the usual turnstile of coaches, mismanagement, and losses, there is no doubt that Rexall will be loud tonight.

The San Jose Sharks are in town and their season has been poor as well. From their GM calling out their star player and said star player returning fire to missing the the post season for the first time 2002-03. With their head coach likely on the outs and their worst season in a decade coming to an end soon, the Sharks may be a deflated bunch when they hit the ice in Edmonton tonight.

Debuts

• Laurent Brossoit will be making his NHL debut tonight. This season he has 49 games played tallying 22 wins, 21 losses, and 4 OT/SO losses. He has a 2.65 GAA and 0.916SV%. He spent 4 years with the Edmonton Oil Kings and will be back on familiar ice. I’m sure this will help calm the nerves and allow him be comfortable.

• Curtis Hamilton is also making his NHL debut. He and Brossoit are the 42nd and 43rd players to suit up for the Oilers this season (as per Jason Gregor via Twitter). Hamilton has 12 goals, 17 assists, and 29 points in 60 games. He will likely play on the third or fourth line.
Records
• The Oilers come into tonight after a huge win against the Kings on Tuesday night. (See “A Win for the West”). They are .500 in their last 10.
• The Sharks are also .500 in their last 10.
The last time out the Oilers beat the Sharks 5 – 4 in a shootout in San Jose that saw 26 shooters before Rob Klinkhammer was able to seal the deal. Here’s the run-down of that shootout (via Hockey Reference), it is absolutely insane.
Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 11.23.00 AM
Odd Prediction
Oilers sign Todd McLellan during the first intermission. He spends the next two periods coaching the Oilers to a victory. Curtis Hamilton finds the twine to become the latest Oiler to score his first NHL goal this season.
Game Prediction
Oilers ride the high of beating the Kings last game and play solid against the down-and-out Sharks. Brossoit plays well back on Rexall ice and holds the Sharks to minimal offence.
Oilers win 5 – 2.

A Win for the West

Last night, a rag-tag Oilers squad put together a valiant effort to defeat the Stanley Cup Champions two of the last three years. And while that was a meaningless game for the Oilers, the Jets, Flames, and Canucks all seriously needed the Oilers to win. Here’s how the night broke down…

Oilers defeat the Kings 4 – 2. Kings stay in 9th in west, 4th in division, and out of a playoff spot.

Canucks clinch a playoff berth due to Kings loss.

Jets defeat Blues 1 – 0. Jets gain 3-point lead on Kings for last wild card spot in West. Both teams have 2 games to play.

Flames defeat Coyotes 3 – 2. Flames maintain a 2-point lead on Kings for final division playoff spot. Flames will finish ahead of Kings in ROW so the Kings will need to flatout beat the Flames on points.

Had the Oilers, Flames, or Jets lost, the West playoff picture would look a lot different. And with the playoff race being so tight, last nights win for the Oilers was crucial for every other Western Canadian team. That’s a good thing.

As for the Kings, making the playoffs will be a big task. With only the Jets and Flames having not clinched a spot the Kings will need to win out their final games to have a chance to clinch one of the final two spots. If the Flames defeat the Kings on Thursday night they will be in.

And with Winnipeg and Calgary facing off in the final game of the season, the Kings will literally have no chance of making the playoffs if they do not win on Thursday.

And all Canadian hockey fans can get behind that.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.