With the Pacific Division being as terrible as it's been this season, there have been some rumblings that the Oilers could, somehow, someway, sneak into the playoffs. Currently, the Oilers are six points back of third place Arizona in the division. Having Connor McDavid and Oscar Klefbom back in the very near future will definitely improve the team, but let's not kid ourselves. The Oilers aren't good enough to make the playoffs.
After the Oilers brutal start to the season, going 3-7, my colleague Scott Reynolds looked into how many other teams over the past ten seasons collected only six points in their first 10 games and who had a poor goal differential. The good news is that there were a small handful of teams that went on to make the playoffs or at least push for a playoff spot following a rough start. But from what I found, those teams that started poorly had strong underlying numbers but had scoring and goaltending issues that sunk them early on. The teams that bounced back were good possession teams that saw improvements in their PDO to get back into the playoff picture.
Unfortunately in their first 10 games, the Oilers had a 45.7% Corsi For (score adjusted), good for 28th in the league, along with a 90.4% on ice save percentage, which was 24th overall. Since then, their possession rating has moved up to 48.5% (19th in the league), while their save percentage at even-strength has improved slightly to 91.5% (26th in the league). The Oilers have also had the worst goals for percentage with 44.4% since their brutal start, with the goal differential being -16. (Source: War on Ice)
So if you had any hope that the Oilers were going to be one those teams that started poorly, but improved as the season wore on, I'm sorry. Based on the current state, and the performance of past teams, it's not going to happen.
Couple other metrics to consider (even-strength, score adjusted):
|Corsi For %||47.9||22nd|
|Fenwick For %||47.7||23rd|
|Goals For %||43.9||28th|
|Scoring Chances For %||48.2||25th|
|High Danger Scoring Chances For %||45.5||27th|
"If the team is at a point where they are really contending around the deadline then we will try and help the team." Chiarelli.— OilersNow (@OilersNow) January 18, 2016
Now if for some reason, the Oilers do look like they're close to the playoffs by the deadline, should the Oilers consider giving up assets for short-term objectives?
In my opinion, no. This team's overall performance, including the underlying numbers, should not give anyone confidence that they can (a) make the playoffs or (b) actually do something in the playoffs. If the Oilers do get red-hot between now and the deadline, it'll be based on a lot of luck, which is never something you should make a bet on. I get supporting the team, but the Oilers are in a transition year that's produced poor results since October.
The team should obviously continue trying to win as many games as possible, and push for a playoff spot if they can. It just wouldn't make sense to give up assets for short term gains as the numbers indicate that this team is far from bring competitive. Instead, the Oilers should be focused on collecting assets for expiring contracts, and make improvements to the roster for next season. Hopefully this includes getting some help for the defence core, or else I'll be copy/pasting this article next year.