The Oilers are now just past a quarter of their season, and I’ll bet you a nickel that no one really had it drawn up this way. Are they underperforming? Did they over-perform last year? What’s going on out there?
Our Copper and Blue panel is here to discuss exactly that in our first of a two part series. We’ve got Patrick, Corey, Shona and Matt to suss out what we’ve all been subject to.
Here’s part II:
- Can this team make the playoffs this year?
PATRICK: Yes they can. I'm no longer convinced that they will, but the talent is there. They'll have to start winning a bunch of games right away if that's the plan.
COREY: Can they? yes, but I doubt they will at this point. The Oilers would have to play at about a 105-point pace to make the playoffs this year, assuming the cutoff is the same as it was last year. If everything goes well, I suppose that not impossible, but my realistic expectation is a 9th or 10th place finish.
MATT: Does it even matter? They aren't winning the cup, and anything less than that is a disappointment for me.
- Cap strapped and full of pending RFAs, the Oilers have more than a few roster decisions coming up in the next six months. What's the one move that this team must make between now and July 1st?
PATRICK: There isn't one. From everything we're hearing, the Cap ceiling is going to be above 80 million next year. It's really a non-issue and should continue raising the question of why Eberle and Pouliot needed to go. Peter Chiarelli to Cap Space is the equivalent of a crack head or a government to money. He keeps getting it, uses it about as quick as it comes in -- without having anything new to show for it -- and then claims he needs more. There isn't a move that needs to be made to facilitate any more space right now. Not only should there be enough as is, but I haven't seen this front office do anything intelligent when they get it anyway. Maybe the only move that needs to happen is a lack of movement. Just don't go hard on Maroon and it's all fine.
For future purposes, I'd like to see all the good RFAs signed well beyond the next lockout. The next CBA is going to have a lot less team-friendly RFA terms and I think contracts like Eichel's, Draisaitl's and Tarasenko's are going to be closer to the norm than Pastrnak's. I'd like to see this team take advantage of good, young players' lack of leverage one last time before then. I definitely want Yamamoto to be signed a year early for this reason. That kid is a steal at #22.
COREY: I don't necessarily think the HAVE to make any moves before July 1st. Their playoff chances are pretty low for this season, so it's tough to see them as buyers. If they can sell off a bad contract, that would be fantastic. Lucic and Russell top that list, but Chiarelli unburdening the team from some of his biggest mistakes seems unlikely. I'd love it if the team went after some high-talent young wingers. There are usually a couple good options in the AHL who may be undervalued due to size or low draft position.
SHONA: I would like to say they need to dump Kris Russell. Realistically, I think they move someone like Maroon and then Nuge because they need cap.
MATT: Relieve Peter Chiarelli of his duties. The work done to this roster over the last two summers will require both time and deft management to overcome. We're pretty sure the Oilers are already starting to run out of time, and we know their management is trash. I'm worried that it won't matter though. There needs to be an overhaul in management that seems so far away, it honestly feels like an impossibility. Until effectively all of the decision makers in management are gone, every opportunity for them to make a decision just makes me anxious. And nauseous.
- Finally, If the wheels roll off and the Oilers finish out of the playoffs in Connor McDavid's final year of his entry-level contract, is Peter Chiarelli's job safe? Is Todd McLellan's safe?
PATRICK: This is not a patient town anymore, there's been a lot of losing over the past 12 years. I wouldn't be surprised to see a big billboard on the Yellowhead highway next season if Chiarelli is still here after missing the playoffs. Fans do not have time for this with McDavid in his prime. That being said, his job probably isn't in jeopardy. The fans are going to be pissed, there will be plenty of reasons for one or both to lose their jobs, and yet, I doubt it happens. If those pro scouts are still the go-to come next summer, you can definitely chalk me up as a pitch-forker because that would be inexcusable, but I doubt a change gets made that quick. If one goes, it's going to be McLellan.
COREY: I sure hope not. I had a decent opinion of Chiarelli's work in his first year, but I lost all faith during the 2016 offseason. Needless to say, I wasn't a fan of the 2017 offseason either. If it were up to me he'd already be fired, and he'd never get another GM job anywhere. But whatever none of this really matters and I'll cheer for this team no matter what, even though I have no faith in management. Watching hockey is fun, and the Oilers play in the city I'm from. Go Oilers.
SHONA: Neither is safe and neither should be safe
MATT: I hope not, and I don't really care. I think McLellan could do enough with an actually good roster to not be a consequential hindrance. I don't think Chiarelli can undo what he did without making it far worse.
Thanks go out to our crew.
Will Edmonton’s fortunes turn around before it’s too late?