Welcome back. It’s over. As always, my article was way too long and will be split into 2. I did 10 of these segments this year. We were in the playoffs for 1 of the 10. We spent 90% of this season out of the playoffs. Let’s look at the season as a whole.
Let’s start with some stats:
18 points in a season would make you a top 10 scorer for the Edmonton Oilers.
At the start of the season I wrote 3 preview articles. Probably a good time to look back since most of it still holds up after 82 games.
The good - this was an overly cheery article about all that is good. The kind of article I think people wish we wrote more of here at the Copper and Blue. I’ve always felt that if the Oil put together an awesome team and we were winning that we would get much more positive articles. The only thing I’m positive about is that the team was awful this season and failed to crack 80 points despite several heroic career years from a select few.
The bad - this was a more realistic portrayal of my views which didn’t change once during the year. Here was my closing statement from this article back in October:
Coming into a new season with the hope of new assistants, a KHL backup, Tobias Reider, Kyle Brodziak, ‘everyone will rebound’ and ‘some of our players are a year older’ making sweeping change (eg. close to 25 more points) is definitely a highly optimistic view that I don’t seem capable of sharing.
The Chia - this was me going scorched earth on everything. All summer long I was furious about what we were (and weren’t) doing. Sadly, the article really stands up well today. I’d recommend reading the comment section to see what the mentality was at the start of the season. Luckily, after back to back sub 80 point seasons, I think people realize we won’t be regressing back to our 100 plus point 2016/2017 season. It was even called ‘ridiculous’ by our ‘daily links’ guy Patrick. Here is the specific part he didn’t like:
To make the playoffs we need a lot of things to go right and a few miracles:
- Cam Talbot and Mikko Koskinen around .920
- Connor needs 164 points
- Leon needs 82 points on a line completely separate of Connor
- RNH needs 60 points and a full season
- Klefbom needs to play the full season and get about 40 points (or someone else on D has to step up and do that)
- 3 of Ty Rattie, Milan Lucic, Drake Caggiula, Pontus Aberg, Steve Chiason, Ryan Strome, Juhjar Khaira, Kailer Yamamoto, Jesse Pullijarvi and Zack Kassian need 40 to 50 point seasons. None of these guys have ever done that other than Milan Lucic consistently and Ryan Strome once. Which 3 you picking? I’ll be honest, I see more Spengler Cup future All Stars then I do NHL All Stars. If I had to pick I’d say Milan, Ty and Jesse. Boy is that a strong bet by Chia.
Amazingly, some of those things happened and we still didn’t make the playoffs or come close. Connor had a career year (not 164 points but he clearly improved in every area of the game and is the best player in the world) and it wasn’t enough. Leon had a career year (50 goals and over 100 points) and it wasn’t enough. RNH had a career year (69 points) and it wasn’t enough.
I said those 3 would have to combine for 306 points to give us a chance. They actually combined for 290 points and we didn’t even come close.
Klefbom did not have a healthy year or 40 points (60 games and 25 points seems to be his norm) but Nurse did both those things (and people complained about him and want him traded).
Cam/Mikko didn’t even come close to .918.
No one got 40 points from that group. Alex Chiasson (who I was calling Steve at the start of the season) did get 38 points and was on a 40 point pace for sure. He was an amazing PTO signing and easily the best PTO this season. He even beat Eberle by 1 point. Good job to Chia for that. Still, no other forward came close to 40 points. In fact, of that group of 11 players ONLY 5 of them played more than 50 games for us. Here were the Top 3: Chiasson 38 points, Kassian 26 points and Lucic 20 points for a total of 84 points. Drake was traded for Manning in what I consider to be the worst trade of the season. Aberg wasn’t even given a chance to play. Strome was traded for Spooner (in an equally disastrous trade) but he ended with 35 points #becauseoilers. Maybe we should stop trading guys at their lowest possible points and look at things like shooting percentage before making these moves?
Jesse got zero traction going, spent a lot of nights eating nachos or playing around 10 minutes a night and he ended up with double hip surgery and 9 points. Kailer was getting limited minutes and has 1 goal in 2 failed and shortened NHL seasons now. People will still argue he was NHL ready 2 years ago as an 18 year old though.
Neat stat: The 3 guys (Strome, Caggiula and Aberg) we gave away in losing trades ended up getting a total of 83 points. Funny, eh?
Drai came 1 goal shy of tying Ovechkin for the Richard trophy. He was the first Oiler to score 50 goals since Kurri/Gretky. He had an amazing season and got 105 points. The problem is that he did the majority of that damage with McDavid and not away from him. We would be better off with Drai and Connor getting less points apart from each other. Let me explain with an exaggerated example:
Connor and Leon both get 100 points on the same line being in on 100% of each other’s points. In this scenario the Oil score 100 goals.
Connor scores 80 points on line 1 and Leon isn’t in on one goal. Leon scores 50 points on line 2 but Connor is not involved in one point. In this scenario the Oil scored 130 goals.
The individual total is down but the team total is up. I know people will disagree but I’d like to point out we just finished the season with 2 guys in the Top 4 in scoring and the same 2 guys in the Top 10 in goals and didn’t even come close to the playoffs. To be very clear, I don’t blame Connor, RNH, Drai or Chiasson for this. They all overachieved and gave it everything. I 100% blame our management for not being able to surround them with other 40 to 50 point scorers. Most nights Nuge played on a line with 2 guys who wouldn’t end up with 60 points combined on the entire season. I honestly feel RNH has the worst job in the NHL. That guy deserves so much better.
Here are the Top 5 goal scorers this season:
Quick quiz! Who do you think is the lowest paid player on this list? If you guessed Leon you’d be correct.
I was not happy about the offseason signing of Koskinen. I felt Francouz was better and he signed at 600K. I also said we should target Khudobin or Mrazek (who both make less money and both led their teams to the playoffs this season). When we resigned Koskinen for 3 more years I almost had a heart attack. The only good thing I can say is that Koskinen does have good company around him:
Most those goalies command a similar salary or more. If we improve the D then he will improve with them. Still, that signing was terrible and will burn us.
Speaking of keeping good company. Let’s look at Nurse:
This is the second year in a row that Nurse has led the D in scoring. He has missed 2 games in 2 full seasons. He can also beat the shit out of a lot of guys in the NHL. You want grit, he has it. He’s also good buddies with Connor and Leon. Career year. Keeps improving. A homegrown and developed Oiler. Keep this man!
He is the first dman to get over 40 points in a decade. 2008/2009 saw Souray and Gilbert both get over 40 points. Imagine having 2 D get over 40 points in the same season?
Neat stat: While researching this I noticed that Ladislav Smid got 0 goals in the 2010 season. No one threw him under a bus to my recollection.
Part 2 will be out before the Draft lottery or as some Oiler’s fans would say - ‘the most wonderful time of the year’. I can’t wait to see who the next 18 year old is that will save us!