The Oilers are making the second-half push. At least, they’re going to ride Connor McDavid as far as he can take them. With the second half of the season in full swing, our staff is here to discuss everything that’s going right with the club. They’re also here to talk a bit about what’s not so hot.
With us for this roundtable discussion are some of your favourite Copper and Blue personalities. I’m talking about Corey, Shona, Patrick and Czechboy.
This is the second of a two part series. Today, the focus is on Darnell Nurse, Peter Chiarelli, and the Oilers playoff hopes.
Question: With Oscar Klefbom out with a finger injury, the spotlight has shifted more towards Darnell Nurse. Nurse has experienced some growing pains this season, though he does have eighteen points at the time of this question. Has Darnell Nurse met your expectations? Why or why not?
Corey: Nurse has met my expectations this season. But, I should note that my opinion of Nurse is less favourable than that of the average Oilers fan.
He’s tough as nails, but unlike the team’s other non-Klefbom veteran defenders, Nurse also also has the tangible hockey skills of a top-of-the-lineup defenceman.
Still, I believe that his sub par passing skills will keep his overall value lower than his other tools suggest it should be.
Shona: To be brutally honest, my expectations of Nurse are try not to fuck up too much. I have noticed that like many of the young players the Oilers have developed, he’s not particularly consistent and before Klefbom’s injury and so I wouldn’t have expected any more from him than was happening before that. He shows flashes of brilliance and he can be utterly awful... in the same period. It’s hard to know what to expect. I’m just going to sit back and gather some more data on the subject.
Patrick: Darnell Nurse is a top-4 defensemen, but he’s in no way a 29-minute guy. He has so many flaws in his game — his inability to pass is the most frustrating aspect of it. He doesn’t make good decisions, his game lacks a shred of subtlety, and as a result, he’s far too easy to anticipate and force into a bad move. He’s not the guy he was drafted to be, but he is fully capable of 2nd pairing duties. He’s a divisive player in the sense that some view him as a top guy when he’s on, and a bottom guy when he’s not. I think the truth is a bit in the middle there. Take the good with the bad, and you’ve got an average 2nd pairing player. Temper expectations, but don’t devalue him either. I think it makes little difference anyway as I think he’s in his last season as an Oiler.
Czechboy: He’s on pace for 40 points almost. That would be a great thing. Imagine if Klefbom could stay healthy and also get 40 points? Imagine if Sekera returned to form and did the same? If that happened we’d have a legit Top 4 D. Now toss in a rookie Bouchard plying his trade in the 5/6 role with some powerplay time. I like that Nurse can handle big minutes and is able to step up the lineup when needed. I feel he’s an excellent 3/4 guy who can chip in points. I felt like that last year too. So, no I don’t think he’s done more or less than his usual self. I’m personally more excited at the prospect of Jones looking like he might be for real. Of course, I though Bear might be too and he his 0 goals and 10 assists in 26 games in the AHL. Still, the thought of these guys all healthy and fighting for an NHL spot next year is nice: Klefbom, Larsson, Sekera, Nurse, Russel, Bear, Bouchard, Benning, Persson and Jones (I assume Manning and Petrovic will be gone by then). Only need 6 to be good to make the playoffs.
Question: Do the Oilers make the playoffs in 2018-19?
Corey: No. My current projection is 9th. I don’t care for Anaheim’s team, but the Flames, Sharks, and Golden Knights are unlikely to lose ground to the oilers. I count the Jets, Preds, Avs, Stars, and Wild as Central teams better than Edmonton, which leaves three divisional spots and two wild card spots to that group.
Shona: I hope not. Rumour is that Chiarelli keeps his job if they do.
Patrick: They could have, but this last stretch losing a bunch of winnable games makes all the difference. They left too many points on the board to make up the ground without an incredible surge. This question is largely asking me if I think one of those surges is going to happen — I don’t.
Czechboy: NO. After the first five 8 game segments they’ve been in the playoffs once after a heater. To make it they’d have to go on a heater again AND play around .600 after the heater. I don’t see it happening. Pacific is no longer a weak division as Vegas, Calgary and SJ have done what everyone thought they’d do.
Question: Is Peter Chiarelli the GM of the Oilers on July 1st, 2019?
Corey: I can’t imagine why he would be. But, who knows with this organization.
Shona: He shouldn’t be if this team actually wants to build something for the future. I really hope he’s not the GM next week let alone on July 1st.
Czechboy: Chia should’ve been fired same time as Hextall was. Coincidentally, Hextall is much better at his job than Chia. While none of these small trades have hurt us (or made us better) he is still the man with his finger on the button. He should not be that guy anymore. He should be gone before trade deadline as I don’t trust him to make a trade. He should be gone before draft because I don’t trust him to make a trade there either (although, I don’t mind his drafting at all). He should be gone before free agency because I don’t trust him to sign anyone. So will he still be the GM? Of course he will because we’re the Oilers and we can’t have nice things.
Thanks to our roundtable contributors.
The Arizona Coyotes take on the Oilers tomorrow at Rogers Place.