Ah, January. Like a stiff fart through a calm breeze, you have once again descended your beauty upon us. The Oilers
are atop the Pacific Division by six points clawing their way around the second wild-card berth as the new year begins, and 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 part one of a two part series.
Question: The Oilers have had some highs, and some lows so far this season. Todd McLellan was fired after an underwhelming first quarter. The club won eight out of eleven games after hiring coach Ken Hitchcock. More recently, they suffered a six game losing streak. Is this the Oilers club you expected? Are they under-performing? Over-performing? Why?
Corey: This club is probably about as good as most outsiders thought they’d be, which is usually a pretty good thing to check if you want to have realistic expectations. Most sportsbooks had them in the high 80s for points, and more likely to miss the playoffs than to make them. There are always going to be ups and downs in a season, but, looking at the team’s full resume so far, that still seems like a realistic projection for the Oilers.
Shona: This is pretty much what I expected. When I looked at the roster at the start of the season, I had come concerns that the Oilers didn’t have the depth to perform consistently. I think that lack of depth has contributed to their streaky performance this season.
Patrick: I expected this club to be fighting for one of the last playoff spots this whole season, and end up making it by a few points. When they won all those games, it was definitely an over-performance, and losing as often as they have lately, especially the way that have is also an under-performance Making the playoffs isn’t that much of an accomplishment, so I don’t consider it a surprise whether or not a team makes them or misses them. At the moment I don’t see the under-performance turning around, there are too many internal issues.
Czechboy: I didn’t expect such drastic highs and lows. Mostly just lows. My last two 8 game segment reviews had us go 6-2 and the next one had us at 1-7. The firing was one of Chia’s last straws and it worked great until we had injury and it exposed, again, how weak our D is. However, the standings have them out of of the playoffs and I didn’t think they were a playoff team so they’re what I thought they were.
Question: Let’s discuss the Alex Petrovic and Brandon Manning trades. Is there anything to like about these deals? Or, are these just panic moves from Peter Chiarelli?
Corey: At this point, if I didn’t have such a low opinion of Chiarelli, I’d seriously consider that he might be doing a parody of himself, this season. He’s still frantically searching for the toughness that he claimed was essential, and a top priority of his on day one. Total panic move.
Shona: I hate everything about them. I hate them so much. I hate Chairelli saying the word sexy, (Editor’s note: Peter Chiarelli described these players as “not sexy”) I hate they were minus five on the first three goals against the Kings. I hate everything. I feel like I’d like these moves to be panic, but they fit in with what Chiarelli has brought in to date too well to be panic. I honestly believe that he believes he’s building something more than an excellent pile of garbage to light on fire.
Patrick: There is nothing to like about these moves. One doesn’t move the needle at all, the other negatively affects the room as well as hurt the on-ice product. I believe that there are more trades in the works, and a few of them for ‘in the room’ issues. Bringing in a guy like Manning, with the history it has is really going to hurt any credibility that these future trades for ‘in the room’ are solving the problem.
Czechboy: How many bottom pairing D do we need? If we wanted Eric Gryba level players we should’ve kept him. I feel like we’ve traded for about ten 6/7 guys in the last few years while never addressing the gaping hole in the Top 4. Is there anything to like? Not really. Petrovic and Manning are no better than Davidson/Jerabek, Gravel/Manning, Benning/Jones or Simpson/Musil. Are they panic moves? I don’t think so. We were bleeding goals and he got a few NHL qualified players to help stop the bleeding. The guy I felt worse for was Garrison who got shot out the NHL via canon!
Question: Let’s talk about the goaltending situation this season. Both Cam Talbot and Mikko Koskinen’s deals are expiring after this season. With a limited budget going forward, do you try to sign one? Both? Do you let them walk and try to play the free agent route? How do you handle this going forward?
Corey: I’m still expecting Koskinen to be mostly a pumpkin, but I’m willing to give him another chance if he finishes off the season strong.
Talbot’s been a little better lately, with a few exceptions. But I’m losing faith that the guy from two years ago will ever be back. I’m worried the perceived value for a former true number one, with his career numbers, might exceed what we can realistically expect him to deliver in the future.
Shona: Money-wise, I think you can only keep one. Which one is something I honestly don’t know. Koskinen is such a small sample that he might not be a consistent performer in the NHL, but Talbot’s record isn’t great either. He’s only ever been a starter in Edmonton and that hasn’t worked great in more years than it has. How I’d like to handle this moving forward, is to stick my head in the sand and pretend it’s not happening. And since I’m not the GM, I can totally do that. Next question...
Patrick: I don’t know goaltending well. There are a few free-agents this year, and sometimes good ones end up just coming out of nowhere. We have some prospects at the position, I’m not sure if any are ready for backup duties next year or not, I’d wait for some more information a little later in the seasfore doing anything.
Czechboy: To qualify. I don’t think we are going to the playoffs and should be sellers at the deadline. I’d like us to trade for actual NHL players that can help us next year and not rentals or prospects. I’d wait a few more weeks to see if we think Koskinen is for real and then offer him a 2 year contract around 4 mill per. I’d trade Talbot to a team looking to shore up. I dream of a Talbot for Gudas trade. I do think Talbot will go on to success elsewhere. While we have lots of goalie prospects, I don’t feel we have any ready for next year and our goaltending will be an issue.
Thanks to our contributors for their answers.
Part II of our roundtable finishes up on Friday afternoon when we talk about defencemen, the second season and Peter Chiarelli.