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Oilers Midseason Roundtable, Part II

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Backup goaltenders and big surprises, can the Oilers turn this car around?

Edmonton Oilers v Winnipeg Jets
C&B is impressed by Jujhar Khaira
Photo by Darcy Finley/NHLI via Getty Images

We’re just a little bit past the halfway mark of the 2017-18 Oilers season, and things haven’t quite gone as planned. The Oilers have eighteen wins in forty-four games, and they’re all but mathematically eliminated from the second season. Is there any relief in sight?

Fortunately, our experts here at Copper and Blue Industries are here to help get to the bottom of it all. Featured in this midseason roundtable are Matt, Patrick, Shona, Corey, and Derek B.

This is part two of a three part roundtable.

  • The Oilers traded for Al Montoya the other day, sending a conditional fourth round pick to the Canadiens. Good trade? Bad trade? Why or why not?

Matt: What’s the point? Seriously. Get a competent NHL backup in the summer for money instead, and take a proactive approach to roster building for once in my entire life. Now it just feels like throwing bad money after bad. Why burn the asset at this point? Why buy?

Patrick: Well, it’s a conditional 5th in my books, but yeah. It’s neither a good or bad trade, it’s just kind of there. Historically he’s been one of the better backups, and a 5th round pick is about the right price. He’s hardly going to play so I’m not too sure how necessary it is at this point. On the other hand, unless Keith Gretzky manages the AHL system a bit better, that 5th round pick was never going to amount to anything either.

Shona: Bad trade. As it’s been pointed out, the Canadiens most likely would have waived Montoya when they took him off the IR. The question really becomes why are the Oilers paying for things that a day or two might bring them for free? Beyond that, I think it’s too late to bring in a new back up goalie and see a positive return from it. If the Oilers didn’t want Brossoit in the role, they should have made a trade when Talbot was injured. Making the trade when Talbot is healthy and they plan to play him for the majority of the games seems like replacing a marginal piece and calling it a complete overhaul.

Corey: Cool trade, bro. Where was it at the start of the season, or before the start of last season. Montoya is unspectacular, to say the least, but he seems like a good dude. That’s probably a big part of how he’s stayed in the league for so long. Bakersfield get LB back, so, good for them. I’m not convinced he’s any better than Ellis, but at least they have the option. From an Oilers perspective this means basically nothing.

Derek B: I don’t hate it. Montoya is a typical backup in that he’s had some good years and some down ones. It depends on if the coach trusts him to give Talbot a rest. Brossoit had clearly fallen out of favour this year and getting him reps in the AHL isn’t going to hurt him. I know the thinking is “He would have been on waivers shortly, why not get him then?”... simply because you aren’t guaranteed to get him there. I don’t mind a small cost to get a guy you think can get the job done and avoid the chance of missing him on waivers.

  • Who’s the Oiler who’s been the biggest surprise this season? Why?

Matt: Connor McDavid, because he has not yet gone on strike.

Patrick: Jujhar Khaira was the ultimate passenger his first couple games of the year and has been pretty good since. He was especially useful with Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Strome. He’s still a streaky guy. We tend to evaluate players when they’re playing their very best instead of the full picture. He plays mediocre about as often as he plays well, but he hasn’t played a really bad game in a long time... Is this actually a pleasant surprise? What I just wrote sure doesn’t sound like it.

You know what? I completely forgot about Darnell Nurse. I’m so used to him being a good defenseman now that I forgot he was a borderline bust prior to this season. Definitely Nurse, he’s been awesome.

Shona: I don’t know if I’ve been positively surprised by anyone. I’m more being cranky about missed opportunities and how exactly the Oilers expect to build a sustainable championship contender in their current situation. I have been moderately surprised by the fans who seem to think that being a fan of the Oilers means agreeing with everything they do, but that’s not really the team.

Corey: For me it’s definitely Jesse Puljujarvi. I didn’t think he was ready for the show at the start of the year, but he’s really impressed me since getting called up. If he keeps up his current shot rate, he will be one of only 15 players to average over 2.5 shots per game as a teenager since 2005 (min 25 gp) http://hkref.com/tiny/Gq4DU. That’s very exciting. I didn’t think he would be this good this year.

Derek B: Jujhar Khaira. Talk about the long road. He’s had a bunch of ups and downs. Good years in the BCHL, decent freshman year at Michigan Tech, disappointing WHL. Really not sure what I expected from him other than “probably tops out as an NHL 4th liner”. Obviously he’s not going to shoot 17.5% during his NHL career, but he does lots of things well in that 4th line role. He has that ability to own the puck down low, so even if the sh% dries up, he’s potentially got some value as a guy who keeps the puck in the good end of the ice.

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Tomorrow: Worst Case Scenarios