When Daryl Katz took control of the Oilers after the Edmonton Investors Group had passed away, Shawn Horcoff was overjoyed and wanted to speak with the new owner (he had judiciously avoided the previous owners, fearing that if they saw him he would surely be traded). So Katz's men called for Horcoff, gave him a large contract, and then let him speak. Horcoff said, "Thank you most kindly. I can only hope this is a sign of things to come! You see, our previous owners would never spend money, and would always trade players away. They could sustain a competitive team, but our best players were always leaving town. If you lighten your grip on your wallet, and let us retain our best players the people here will love you and would build you an arena without hesitation!" Katz answered, "You can go now. Come back in two years, and I will give you my answer." So Horcoff left, new contract in hand and content that all would be well.
Then Katz consulted with Lowe and MacTavish, the advisors who had served under the previous owners and asked them, "How do you think I should answer this request?" So Lowe said, "If you hold on to the best players that this team has and add more good players to them, the people will no doubt love and serve you, just as Horcoff said. I have added Visnovsky and Cole already, and..." "And now we just need a center to replace Stoll!" MacTavish screamed glaring at his longtime partner.
But Katz rejected the answer given to him by the old advisors and looked to a new man for advice. He asked him, "What do you think? How should I answer this request?" Tambellini replied, "The culture here is rotten. You need to make Lowe nothing but a figurehead immediately, and I'll make sure to sabotage MacTavish. I won't get him that center, and I'll get rid of Cole for less than nothing, and then we can ditch that coach and bring in some men I know well. As for Horcoff and the people, if they think old Cal was hard on them, they're in for a big surprise! We need to rebuild! The old owners sold players? We'll sell even more! They sold out of poverty? We'll sell by design! If it was perilous to connect emotionally to players before, we will make it downright impossible! And then BAM! Stanley Cup."
Edmonton Oilers (24-31-6)
MTS Centre, 6:30 p.m. MST
Television: Sportsnet West
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report:
The Jets are one of several not-so-good-but-not-so-bad teams in the Eastern Conference with a real shot at the playoffs. They've played very well recently, going 6-2-2 in their last ten games including key victories against the Maple Leafs, Capitals, and Lightning. Their Fenwick percentage with the score close has improved over that stretch so that it now stands at 50.8%, good enough for fourth in the Conference. They really do have a shot. The best part is that because the Southeast division is so bad, they even have a shot at the third seed in the East, which might even make them favorites in the opening round of the playoffs. And should they win that round, I can't help but think of all of those Atlanta Thrashers' fans who endured so much losing. Not as bad as Nordiques' fan watching the Colorado Avalanche lift the Cup in 1996, but I not a lot of fun either.
Edmonton Oilers (24-31-6):
Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Hemsky
Smyth - Gagner - Eberle
Eager - Horcoff - Jones
Hordichuk - Belanger - Petrell
Smid - Petry
Whitney - Potter
Barker - Sutton
Winnipeg Jets (30-26-8):
Ladd - Little - Wheeler
Kane - Burmistrov - Wellwood
Glass - Slater - Thorburn
Stapleton - Antropov - Miettinen
Enstrom - Byfuglien
Jones - Stuart
Flood - Hainsey
By the Numbers:
- Tom Gilbert is gone, and it's a real shame. I understand that he was likely going to make more than $1M per goal this season, but the Oilers sure did count on him to do an awful lot of the heavy lifting. Light lifting too, actually. After all, Gilbert did lead all Oilers in time on ice per game at 22:48. Other teams that have traded their leader in ice time at the deadline include... huh... guess it's just the Oilers.
- On a smaller scale, Winnipeg's acquisition of Grant Clitsome is awful. The Blue Jackets got sucked in to giving Clitsome a two-year contract after he scored 19 points in 31 games last year. A lot of that had to do with his 11.1% on-ice shooting percentage five-on-five, which was the seventh-highest number in the NHL. His Relative Corsi was negative that season, despite having 63% of his end-zone starts in the offensive zone. Clitsome is a replacement level guy who will earn $1.4M next season on a cap hit of $1.25M. A step back for the Jets.
- Tom Gilbert is a combined -29 during five-on-five play over the last three seasons. I grant you that that doesn't sound like a particularly impressive defenseman. But then... it's good to remember that the Oilers are -121 as a team over that same time period.
- To be fair, Nick Schultz actually looks decent using that same methodology. He's a combined -19 over the last three seasons during five-on-five play on a Wild team that's got a -66 total. Of course, Schultz didn't get quite the same amount of ice time or consistently difficult opposition, but it's not like he was the only guy struggling to stay in the black with the Wild.
- I understand that folks aren't sold on Devan Dubnyk, but he's working towards establishing himself as an average netminder in the NHL at a pretty young age. His EV save percentage this year is about average at .922, and that's helped to bring his career rate up to .917 on 2,071 shots. His work on the PK is similarly close to average (.863 on 483 shots). I'm not saying that he's definitely good enough to be a starter, but I think there could be real value in giving Dubnyk four or five years at something between $1.5M and 2.5M. I don't know if he wants to lock in at that rate, but it'd be an awful lot of security to turn down.