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The Good, the Bad and the Chia! Part 9 - Games 42 to 50.

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2017 NHL Draft - Round One
Is this the genius that drafted McAvoy and Pastrnak OR the man who took Debrusk, Zenyshin, Zboril over Barzal, Connor and Chabot?
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

A lot can change in 9 games. We are now at the All Star break and a lot has happened. I’m noticing that a LOT of people are talking about the Oiler’s right now. Chia’s firing even made the Czech hockey news. What people aren’t talking about too much though is how the actual team is doing. We’re pretty close to a playoff spot believe it or not.

This 9 game segment had us playing a very friendly schedule against Anaheim, SJ, Florida, Coyotes, Sabres, Canucks, Flames, Hurricanes and Red Wings. 5 of our 9 opponents in this stretch were not in the playoffs (Buffalo, Carolina, Detroit, Florida and the Canucks) and we went sub .500 with a 4-5 record.

Last time our record was 1-7 and the Poll was 82% NO for making the playoffs. 2 polls ago it was 87% YES for making the playoffs. What a difference 17 games can make (5-12 in last 2 segments combined) .

Poll

Do you think the Oilers will make the playoffs?

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    Yes
    (43 votes)
  • 72%
    No
    (116 votes)
159 votes total Vote Now

Our best stretch was right after Hitchcock was hired. We went a sensational 7-1 and it was the only 8 game segment of the season where we were in a playoff spot. It was at that time, during our best stretch, that I said I didn’t want Hitchcock back next season. Do fans still think Hitch is the answer? I’m seeing a ‘blender’ and a team relying on the same 6 or 7 guys that our former coach was using. For the record, I didn’t blame McLellan and I don’t blame Hitchcock. Scotty Bowman, in his prime, could not get this team to win. The problem has always been the GM and the team he built.

I continue to have an image of the Oiler’s as a high flying juggernaut. However, in the last 3 segments, I’ve seen Ken Hitchcock hired and players like Spooner, Manning and Petrovic added to our roster. Absolutely nothing about those types of acquisitions make me think we are headed in the right direction. Chia used to be a very good tinkerer. Sure, he has lost almost every ‘hockey trade’ but his tinkering (and drafting) have always been good. His last ‘tinkers’ are trending us towards being a slower and more defensive team. I’m positive Derrian Hatcher would be able to sign on with a PTO to the Oiler’s if he expressed interest.

I know I’m in the minority but I would love to make the playoffs and get killed. That is so much better than not making it and drafting between 10 and 20. I would love us to get Parayko as he might help this year but, more importantly, would help for a few years. I don’t want any rentals. I want us to expand our 6 real NHL players to 10. I’m going to suggest that if we put our entire team on waivers that only about 10 guys would be claimed and 12 would be heading to Europe or the AHL.

Guys that would get claimed:

McDavid, RNH, Nurse, Drai, Larsson, Klefbom, Jesse, Jujhar and Chiasson.

Note: Kailer and Caleb Jones are currently not on our roster. If they were, I’m positive someone would take them as well.

The rest of the roster has a few more NHL players but no one would take them at their salaries/contracts (eg. Russel, Lucic, Spooner, Kassian and Rieder). The remainder of our roster will probably never see the NHL again after this season is over.

Some Oiler fans always think our 10 to 20 picks are better than everyone elses 10-20 picks. For instance, Martin Necas was taken in that range and is in the AHL at almost a point a game pace and NO ONE is complaining. Martin Kaut was taken in that range and in the AHL and NO ONE is complaining. Kailer gets 8 points in 11 AHL games and people think he’s NHL ready. Jesse plays 4 games and is right back on the big club. Evan Bouchard, the FOURTH dman taken in this years draft, doesn’t make the big club and people are outraged. During the Juniors, he was heavily criticized for being slow. For those keeping score, the only Dman drafted this year in the NHL is Rasmus Dahlin who was taken first overall. This is an Oiler thing. While I agree that a team like Detroit has a ‘fear of rushing’ the Oil certainly do not. They need to get a fear of rushing because our current method of ‘development’ is not working. Kailer should be in the AHL all season. Bouchard should go the AHL next season and work on his skating and positional play. Jesse should’ve spent a much longer consecutive period in the AHL before this. These players are very good and could be excellent NHL players but they are no better than guys like Dobson, Boqvist, Necas, Kaut, Zadina or Wahlstrom. For the record, whoever we draft between 10 and 20 in June is also not better than the guys taken in the Top 5 and will not be NHL ready come October. I will bet they will look great in prospects camp and the first week of preseason though.

Anyone notice Bouchard and Kailer didn’t make the Top 50 prospects list? An easy thing is to say ‘Button is a moron’. Sure, but none of our guys cracking the Top 50? Guys that I like a lot like Ryan McLeod and Tyler Bensen don’t even get mentioned. Where would you put them on that list?

At the start of the season I mentioned the Pacific was the best division in the NHL. Then the Pacific managed to be awful for the first 2 months. That is not the case anymore. Going into the All Star break, 3 of the top 8 teams in the NHL are from the Pacific. 2 of the Top 3 as well.

The mind boggling thing is the Islanders are 6th in the NHL. A lot of that has to do with us giving them some world class players to build around (including that no good bum Eberle who would be 4th in scoring on our team with his ‘poor season’). Even better, they lost their best player for nothing and are this high in the standings. Let’s argue that Tavares is no McDavid. He is definitely as good as Drai. Imagine where we’d be if we lost Drai for nothing in the offseason? Even better, the Isle drafted Wahlstom, Dobson, Wilde and Skarek last year. All are awesome and not one is in the NHL this season. If we lost Drai and had drafted Wahlstrom, I will guarantee you that Wahlstrom would be in the NHL right with about 5 points and everyone calling him a ‘bust’. I can’t think of a team more negatively affected by the Chia firing than the Isles.

Our Goalies split duties pretty close to evenly. What is funny is that the better goalie of the 2 in this segment is being shipped out of town eventually and the lesser of the 2 is signed for 3 more years for a contract that is an overpay and was in no way necessary to sign this week. The Oil had lots of time to evaluate both goalies and make a decision. I like Koskinen and think he’s the better of the two. I don’t think any goalie in the NHL would fare much better in front of our current D corps. However, signing a guy after playing roughly 20 good NHL games for 3 years is insanity.

The team scoring is still the usual 6 or 7 guys doing all the work with zero depth. It is encouraging to see Lucic with 4 goals in 9 games. Or Jesse very slowly inching up the points chart with every segment. Connor, Drai and RNH must be so frustrated! Nurse continues to have good point production. I think he’ll hit 40 points this season.

All things considered, we did okay in this segment. We were in the top half of the NHL.

It is amazing but we are still in the playoff race. We started the season with 5 available opportunities to make the playoffs (3 in Pacific, 2 Wildcard). Now we are in a dogfight with 4 or 5 teams for the 2nd Wildcard spot. The optimist can easily say that we are a 3 or 4 game winning streak away from being in the playoffs. The pessimist could counter that we are also a 3 or 4 game losing streak for seriously being in contention for Hughes (who should be in the NHL next season). It’s frustrating to see that Vancouver and the Rangers are currently ahead of us. Both teams fully admit they are in a rebuild and they are doing better than us.

Things I said last time:

We go 4 and 4

We are still not in a playoff position

Talbot takes back the net

Chia is fired but a member of the Old Boys Club takes over and we get no further ahead.

We ended up going 4-5, we are still not in a playoff position, Talbot couldn’t be further from taking back the net but Chia was fired! I have a lot to say about that ... next time.