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The Bad, the Ugly and the ... Welcome Back!

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2019 NHL Draft - Round One Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

I won’t lie. I considered keeping ‘Chia’ in the title simply because his hands are all over this cap strapped and depleted roster. He is gone but his ‘presence’ is definitely felt to this day.

So here is roughly our starting lineup unless Holland has an amazing trade lined up.

I’ve noticed a sentiment that Holland did a good job this offseason. Here is the thing, his predecessor(s) were so bad that when you don’t make major mistakes, you are considered good at your job. I want to be clear. Not making major mistakes and being good at your job are 2 different things. Holland made no major mistakes (I didn’t like Sekera buyout personally) and he did trade Lucic for a much more buyout friendly contract but he didn’t really do much to address our Top 6, goaltending or Top 4. We’re also still in cap hell. This leads me to my first poll:

Poll

Assuming both were free agents this July. Who would you rather sign for this upcoming season for 1 million/1 year contract?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Lucic
    (28 votes)
  • 75%
    Neal
    (317 votes)
  • 18%
    I wouldn’t sign either for 1 year/1 million
    (77 votes)
422 votes total Vote Now

Last year, I wrote an article about how we only have 7 NHL players. Well, I’m pretty sure we only have 6 now: McDavid, Drai, RNH, Larsson, Nurse and Klefbom. Everyone else on the roster is unproven or past their prime. McDavid, Drai, RNH and Nurse all had career years and we still weren’t a playoff team. It’s the supporting cast that is the issue. Any of those guys get hurt or have a down year and the season sinks fast.

Our 2 ‘starting’ goalies are both backup level for any contending team. Even funnier is that they are both untradeable, over 30, had preseason numbers in the .800’s and are coming off poor years. What could go wrong?

Our only position of strength is 1C and 2C although I’m not actually sure who the 2C is? I’m still of the preference of RNH on line 1 as a winger and Drai on line 2 carrying his own line. RNH has the worst job in hockey as he’s constantly given the worst assignments and teammates.

We are using the same D that was caved the last 2 seasons. Our only major difference is Sekera is out and Bear is in. I’m really happy for Bear and hope he does well but I’m just not seeing an elite D core here. We’re also hoping, again, that Klefbom doesn’t get hurt. A Larsson bounceback would help. Continued growth from Nurse (do NOT trade him) and Russel is excellent as a third pairer so I do feel him and Manning will be fine and, in an Oiler rarity, are actually playing in positions suited to them and not above their skillset(s).

I’ve mentioned this for a long time but we need 6 forwards that can score 40 points or more to be successful. Last year, everyone felt our RW was solved because we had Jesse P, Kailer and Ty Rattie tearing the preseason up. One is in Russian, one is in Finland and one is in the AHL. I asked last year and I’ll ask again this year. Which 3 guys in this group do you feel will get 40 points this season?

Neal, Kassian, Granlund, Chiasson, Jurco, Nygard, Khaira, Cave, Archibald, Haas and P. Russel.

Here are their NHL totals from last season:

To help put this in perspective. RNH and Drai outscored 11 of our 14 forwards combined last season in the NHL. Put another way, Connor McDavid, Milan Lucic and Tobias Reider also outscored 11 of our starters combined.

My answer is we won’t have anyone get 40 points. Our 4th leading forward scorer will get 30 points (again). My pick before preseason would’ve been Bensen but they shipped him away awfully fast and never really gave him time with the big 3. I feel like he’d really excel around other ‘high IQ’ players.

Keys for success:

McDavid needs to play all 82 games and get around 120 points or more

Drai needs to carry a second line and also play all 82 games.

RNH needs to get around 60 points and also play all 82 games.

Klefbom and Nurse both need all 82 games and BOTH to get 40 points.

Larsson needs a bounceback season.

3 of the ‘other’ forwards need to score at a Top 6 pace (40 pts or more).

Our goalies need to find a way to hover around .915.

Second Poll:

Poll

Will the Oiler’s make the playoffs?

This poll is closed

  • 44%
    Yes
    (178 votes)
  • 55%
    No
    (220 votes)
398 votes total Vote Now

Random final thoughts:

To be successful in today’s NHL you need contributions from ELC’s. We only have 3 ELC’s on our opening roster - Bear, Haas and Nygard.

Was there ever really any competition at training camp?

We’re also getting to the point where we will start losing players to waivers. Eg. Jesse P was waiver eligible. Next season Jones, Bear and Lagesson will be as well. Cave is another that would have to go on waiver wire. Part of the recent Detroit model was losing guys on waivers because they percolated too long.

The Pacific isn’t that strong on paper this year. SJ and Las Vegas seem like locks. Calgary made some interesting moves and acquired internet whipping boys Lucic, Talbot and Reider (and almost MacDonald). I think Anaheim is much stronger than people think. I think Arizona will have a good season as well. Still, our division isn’t a powerhouse and we do have a chance.

We aren’t making playoffs. Starting next season we will have a lot of players that would need to go through waivers. We have unproven/aging vets taking spots of guys that have played full seasons in the AHL. Wouldn’t it be better to lose with Bensen, Jones, Marody, Starret and Yamamoto then lose with Nygard, Smith, Haas, Granlund and Jurco?

I looked at last years opening roster and 5 of those guys aren’t in the NHL currently - Brodziak (retirement), Jesse (contract - Finland), Kailer (injured - AHL), Bouchard (AHL - percolating) and Rattie (KHL). I would not be surprised if 5 from tonight’s roster also weren’t in the NHL next season to start.

I looked at our cap and noticed this gem:

To put it simply, we are paying almost 7 million dollars in cap space to not have Gagner, Lucic, Pouliot, Gryba and Sekera play for us. Toss in Manning as a nacho pressbox eater for another 2 million and we are paying 9 million of cap space for those 6 players. Oh Chia, you magnificent bastard!