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The Good, the Bad and Fire them all to be Safe - Part 3

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Edmonton Oilers v Montreal Canadiens
‘If Toby Rieder would have scored 10 or 12 goals, we’d probably be in the playoffs.’ Bob Nicholson (the man in charge of the Oiler’s future)
Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Welcome back!

Last time we were 6 points out of a playoff spot. We needed to go on a run for the ages to ‘maybe’ grab a playoff spot. After the last 8 games we went 4 and 4, allowed more goals than we scored and are now 5 points out of the playoffs with 8 games remaining. I have done 9 segments so far this season. In 9 segments, we were a playoff team for ONE of them. The other 8 segments always saw us on the outside. Here are the team stats for the last 8 games:

Here are the scoring leaders for the last 8 games. Only 2 guys averaging over a point a game. Benning led our D in scoring this segment. 8 players with 1 point or less. It has been explained to me that this is all Tobias Reider’s fault.

Here are the goalies. I’m not sure how I’m feeling about Koskinen’s glove hand these days. I’m also noticing that every goalie that steps in front our D seems to be under .900. Maybe we should stop blaming goalies and fix the D?

‘Almost made playoffs’ . Are we in the Wildcard Division?

I suppose there is validity to this statement but we are in the Pacific Division. There is no such thing as a Wildcard Division. Our Pacific rivals all went out and improved their teams over the summer, and during the season, while we did nothing to improve our team. Names like Stone, Karlsson, Nyqvist, Stastny, Pacioretty, Neal, Lindholm and Hanifin were added to the Top 3 teams in the Pacific. We picked up Alex Chiasson, Jakub Jerabek and Tobias Reider. Later we picked up Brandon Manning, Ryan Spooner and Alex Petrovic.

I realize the final wildcard spot was up for grabs for about 5 teams. However, the season should not be judged on how we ‘almost’ grabbed a historically low 8th seed spot in a 5 team battle. It should be judged on how we look in our division.

To put this in simple perspective. If we win our next 8 games and Calgary, San Jose and Las Vegas lose ALL 8 of their remaining games we still would not make the Top 3 in our division. We’re not even close to being a contender in the Pacific.

In some great news, Connor was voted best player, hardest to play against AND the player you would most like to build a franchise around. Can you imagine being able to be a GM 4 years ago and being given the absolute gift of building a franchise around a young Connor McDavid on an ELC? Nobody could screw that up. Now imagine if you also had Leon Draisaitl, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent Hopkins, Darnell Nurse, Oskar Klefbom, Jordan Eberle and Nail Yakupov to build around him? Slam dunk! Oh wait...

Keith Gretzky

I cannot shake the amazing irony out of my head. The Oiler’s will miss the playoffs for the 11th time in 12 seasons and feel that the solution to the problem can be found internally? A good chunk of those failed executives are still employed by us. To say we need a major overhaul of our management is a massive understatement. In the last decade I’ve seen us fire a lot of coaches, all the assistants, equipment managers, physical therapists, goalie coaches, a GM or two, the Starbucks counter girl, trade elite players for non elite players and miscalculate talent levels at epic proportions. What I haven’t seen is a massive overhaul of the front office and the Old Boys Club. Make no mistake, our head office still employs a lot of the same people it did during all this losing. We are not only the most incompetently run team in the last decade we are also the most inbred. Those 2 things are not exclusive of one another.

I have read several times that Nicholson has yet to conduct one interview so far. Does it cost that much money to fly Ron Hextall and Mark Hunter to Edmonton and have a chat with them? I get there might be better candidates down the road but there are 2 guys near the top of everyone’s list and, as far as I can tell, there is nothing preventing them from meeting with Nicholson if he wants to make a phone call.

We have 3 ‘windows’ to get ready for next season. Trade Deadline, Draft and Free Agency. We already did nothing at the deadline (thank goodness we kept Chiasson for the ‘playoff run’). Next big opportunity to make change is the draft. Right now, it’s looking like we won’t have a new GM in place by then.

Sekera

Sekera looks good. However, if ‘plan A’ is to rely on Sekera/Klefbom to carry our D for the third straight season then I’m going to suggest that won’t work. Or course I’d love them both to play 82 games and get 40 points each. Of course! However, what is the likelihood of this happening? Also, Sekera is playing great in very sheltered minutes and not in minutes resembling a Top 4 assignment. The biggest benefactor of this is Matt Benning who is having an excellent finish to his season on the third pair.

Bensen

I looked at the Oiler and Condor schedule. I think we should bring up Bensen for the April 1st, 2nd and 4th games. That would give him 3 games of NHL experience, a nice bump in salary, a well earned reward (let him do that solo warmup skate, he’s earned it), some tips to work on in summer and he would only miss one Bakersfield game (April 2nd) so it would not have a detrimental affect on his stats or team. I hope he makes the team out of camp and has a nice 40 point rookie season.

Speaking of AHL

Bear has passed Jones in both points and .ppg average. I checked that awhile ago and Jones was ahead of Bear for both. Bear is clearly coming on strong now. One of Bear/Jones should be a placeholder for Bouchard next season while he does a full season in the AHL.

Notice Yamamoto? .65 ppg in the AHL for a 20 year old is very good. However, it doesn’t scream ‘should’ve been in the NHL 2 years ago as an 18 year old’ at me and, yet, there he was. I am so tired of rookies ‘earning’ spots on the NHL roster because management doesn’t fill them with actual NHL players.

Gagner

I love Sam and I thought it was a good trade but he’s not scoring 40 points next season and there will come a time when we are mad we are paying him 3 million to be a bottom 6 scorer. If he was making 1.5 to 2 million a season then he’d be a good deal for us. In no way do I think trading for an AHL player making 3 million a season is worthy of being rewarded an NHL GM job. I’d like to point out the Keith was part of the team that decided to trade from Spooner in the first place.

Since I’m on ‘40 point scorers’. Don’t expect Kassian, Lucic or Chiasson to do that either next season. They will come as close as our potential 40 point scorers Rattie, Kailer and Pulijaarvi did this year.

I just don’t see how we can sustain winning over 82 games while playing 3 Forwards and 4 Dmen all night. Czechboy, October 2018

I wrote an article in October pointing out we only had 7 NHL players at the time. Those 7 included Cam Talbot who has not materialized as a solid NHL goalie this year. So we actually had 6 NHL players. I saw this brilliant breakdown of where our scorers line up across the league. The Cult also wrote a very similar article.

Then, TSN also had an article showing that our wingers are the lowest scoring wingers in the entire NHL (we’re the yellow bar).

Edmonton is about 40 per cent less productive than the average NHL team when it comes to offensive production at the wing position.

From the moment Chia was fired I said Nicholson needs to go. The guy that hired Chia is now in charging of hiring the next guy. I have no idea why he get’s a do over? Since then, every interview has left a cringeworthy feeling of incompetence. Very recently, he threw Tobias Reider under the bus!

A few things

  1. We are still, technically, in a playoff race.
  2. Tobias Reider is an active member of our roster in that race.
  3. Of all the underperforming and overpaid players on our roster, why Tobias? How about Manning, Lucic or Petrovic who are commanding around 10 million in salary?
  4. Would you want to come here as a free agent when you see how our management speaks about players? Caleb Jone’s mother even posted a shocked face on the article.
  5. It was extremely out of line and unprofessional

Now here is the thing that upsets me though. We got a peek into what management thinks. A behind the scenes look at what these morons think is the problem. Nicholson said that if Reider had scored 10 to 15 goals that we’d be a playoff team. The guy in charge of hiring our next GM thinks that the difference between us and the playoffs is a bottom roster guy scoring 10 to 15 goals!?!?!? Not our lack of wingers? Not our lack of D? Not our lack of goaltending? Not all our wasted 1st round picks? Not all our lost trades? Not our cap situation? Nope! It was Tobias’s fault for not scoring 15 goals.

Going back to the Pacific Division for a quick second. We are minus 35 in goal differential. If Tobias scored 15 more goals we’d be minus 20. Minus 20 will not get you into the playoffs. The third place team in our division is Las Vegas and they are PLUS 29. For us to be Plus 30 (to beat them), Tobias would’ve had to have scored an extra 65 goals this season.

Currently, there is not one playoff bound team (in the East or West) with a negative goal differential.

Nicholson needs to be fired/retired along with MacT, Howson, both Gretzky’s, Coffey and Lowe.