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The Good, the Bad and fire them all to be safe - season finale!

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2009 NHL Entry Draft, First Round
These 2 guys don’t see a problem. Why would they, the money keeps rolling in.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Welcome back to Part 2! The article is way too long and I apologize but this is it. I wanted it out before Oiler’s Xmas which is the draft lottery tomorrow. I’m sure everyone has noticed no one is commenting much on games and recaps but, don’t worry, traffic is about to pick up. Once we know where we pick and who we might get. The HOPE will rise again. Also, need a GM, a coach and free agency. This is our playoff season and it start’s tomorrow.

WE ONLY HAVE 2 PRO SCOUTS and one is related to Messier. It’s amazing how this team is run like a family car wash. ‘Cousin Billy needs a job, make him VP of something!’. To put this in perspective. If the Oil were to make a trade today that conversation would happen between our GM and our Pro Scouts. Two of the three people in that conversation are named Gretzky and Messier. Overseeing that would be Bob Nicholson. If this doesn’t concern you, then you are a new fan to the Oiler’s and here because of Connor.

Even funnier when you realize one of our amateur scouts is a Chiarelli. First, we need to fire both our pro scouts. Second, we need to hire about 5 of them and good ones. Some of those lost trades have to fall at these guys feet. If your resume this season includes being involved in the Manning, Petrovic and Spooner trades then you need to be fired.

Thanksgiving Curse

2 teams beat the Thanksgiving curse this season. The Canes and Blues were nowhere near the playoff picture at American Thanksgiving and they both made the playoffs. Congratulations to both!

2016/2017

A lot of things went right that year. Notably we had a healthy Sekera/Klefbom (combining for a healthy 60 plus points), a Vezina quality Cam Talbot and a legit Top 6 with Eberle, Lucic and Maroon all getting over 40 points to complement RNH, Drai and McDavid.

I recently read that JD Dudek signed a PTO with an AHL team. Why does this matter?

Well, Dudek is who we got back for Maroon. This means that we gave away a Top 6 player (27 goals and 42 points) on our best team in 13 years for absolutely nothing. We’re not signing Stolarz so we gave away Cam Talbot for absolutely nothing. We also turned Eberle (51 points) into Sam Gagner.

So 3 of the most valuable players in our best season in 13 years were turned into Sam Gagner, 1 NHL start of Justin Stolarz and a player that didn’t even come close to playing for us.

12 out of 13? How about 8 in 26?

1 playoff appearance in 13 years is truly awful. I thought I’d dig deeper though. Here is a list of all the Oiler’s seasons. We have 8 playoff appearances in 26 years going back to 1992. 1986 was our last 100 point season (we had 6 consecutive 100 point seasons prior to 1986) prior to 2016. That is a 30 year gap between 100 point seasons. It has been awful here for a long time.

Neat fact: If you look at the last 13 seasons. The Chia ones would rank 1, 4 and 5. Chia was awful but he was actually better than all his predecessors. A lot of those predecessors are still gainfully employed by the Oil as well.

The AHL will save us!

Do you know who led the AHL in goal scoring last year? None other than Valentin Zykov who scored 2 goals in the NHL this season and got bounced between 3 teams. Do you know who led the goalies in the AHL last season? Garret Sparks. My point? Don’t always think a strong AHL team will save you. Ty Rattie was an exceptional AHL player and if Lucic went to the AHL he’d probably win the scoring title. I do believe that Bensen will be Top 6 and our next homegrown 40 to 50 point scorer since Eberle. I also believe that Marody will be a bottom 6 player and can join Khara as another drafted and developed player. I’m personally quite high on Caleb Jones as well. It’d be great if the amazing Bakersfield team could yield 4 NHL players at great contracts. Especially if Bensen is Top 6 like I think he will be.

What do we have in Jesse/Kailer? I think Jesse becomes waiver elibible after this so he has to be on our main roster or start in the AHL, get called up and not sent back down. Kailer has not been consistent at any level since being drafted. He’s very much a hot and cold player. Using Gaudreau as his comparable, Gaudreau didn’t make the NHL till his 4th year after being drafted.

Sidenote: Bakersfield has been amazing for one season. If Bensen, Marody, Bouchard, Jones and Bear all make the big club. How good do you think they’ll be next year? What top shelf prospects does that leave? A little too much padding on the backs from management for fixing the prospects. Now, if Bakersfield is dominant for the next 2 or 3 years and consistently feeding us NHL players then I’ll be thrilled.

The 6/7 logjam

Bear/Jones/Benning/Person/Bouchard/Lagesson are all battling for one spot in the 6/7 range. None of them solve our Top 4 issues (specifically, we only have 3 guys in our Top 4). The closest thing to a Top 4 solution we have is Andrej Sekera in October. Sekera is already on his way to Bratislava where he should be playing 22 plus minutes a night for Team Slovakia in all situations. If he can come back in good form and Top 4 in October, that would be huge for us. I fully expect our entire Top 4 to be at the World’s.

It is very rare for a player to jump from the AHL directly into the Top 4 and succeed (Justin Schultz won D of the year in the AHL and then jumped directly into our Top 4 - how’d that work out?). It’s even more rare for someone to jump from Junior to the Top 4 as well. Sure, there are exceptions but I’m just not seeing the exception in our group. I’m very high on Bouchard being an amazing Top 4 player in a couple of seasons but not October. Even Miro Heiskenen stayed another year in Europe before coming over. No shock about Rasmus cracking the Top 4 as he was generational (I really thought Buffalo was going to be better). The NHL is a young man’s game but not an 18 year olds. Not too many 19 year old D dominating the NHL either. There were actually 7 that were 19 or younger. There were also 20 guys that were 20 or other.

You might think that is a pretty high number and proves the case that Bouchard should be Top 4 in October (when he is almost 20). Let’s take a closer look:

Only 4 guys of those 20 played a full season. Only 2 of them were under 20. Matthew Benning would be 6th in scoring on this list. The 3 best D on this list were drafted 1,3 and 9.

I would trade Benning for Brown but otherwise I would keep him. He is an excellent 5/6 D with some offence. He does have value. If we trade him for magic beans then we could regret it. I do wonder what kind of value Bear and Jones have on the trade market? I wouldn’t even consider trading Bouchard. He is completely untouchable in my eyes.

Our last 22 games had us go with a fully healthy D. We got caved in our last 22 games. That was the best D that we could field. I don’t know how much more we can get out of Nurse, Klef, Larsson, Russel, Sekera and Benning.

Next year’s Spengler cup all Stars!

Gambradella, Curry, Malone, Cave. Rattie, Lucic, Gagner and Brodziak. Ty Rattie is most likely done in the NHL which is a shame as he seems like a great guy with a lot of skill. I think he could have a tremendous run in the KHL. Gagner is one of my favourite all time players but he will max out at 30 points in the bottom 6 for 3 million dollars.

Oiler’s Culture

I haven’t really felt Bob Nicholson has said anything worthwhile. I’m happy he feels the Oil should start ripening their prospects a little more. Otherwise he seems like a used car salesman to me. I don’t trust him at all and have no idea why he gets a do over. His most terrifying comment was the the new GM will have to fit into Oiler’s culture.

What exactly is Oiler’s culture and why is it so good? From where I’m sitting Oiler’s culture is a 30 year spell of usually not making the playoffs, never getting 100 points in a season, winning draft lotteries and not improving, squandering high draft picks, rushing prospects, always relying on the next 18 year old, consistently firing coaches, consistently hiring friends, losing trades, trading for magic beans, constantly justifying awful signings/trades by talking about ‘character’, running good players out of town, never having a roster of capable NHL players, consistently relying on 3 to 8 guys to carry the team, destroying goalies, never having an elite D, not doing extensive searches when jobs become available and constantly talking about the 80’s.

What have the Oil done in the last 25 years to make me think that their Culture is so good? I wouldn’t mind some Bruins, Nashville, Pittsburgh or Tampa culture. Even Toronto seems to be doing a lot right. Lastly, are their other teams in the NHL trying to emulate Oiler’s culture? I just never see Oiler’s getting hired anywhere else by any other teams for upper management. I’ve consistently heard people reference the ‘Detroit model’ for instance but I’ve never heard one person say to do it the ‘Oiler’s way’ (unless they are mocking us).

We currently have No GM.

We currently have no coach for next season.

We are cap poor.

Did everyone know we didn’t have one player on an ELC for the final stretch of the season? The most common model in the NHL is to live of over achieving ELC players while they are cheap. We have not done that.

We currently don’t have a plan ouside of ‘win the draft lottery’ but, to be honest, that hasn’t fixed our problems once. We lost with 4 of our former first round picks McDavid, Drai, Nurse and RNH all having career years.

I saw this clip and it really reminded me of the Oiler’s management:

Most wonderful time of the year

For an Oiler’s fan this is the best time of year. Nothing but HOPE as that is all we ever have. Maybe we’ll win the draft lottery, we’ll draft a kid that will immediately make us a playoff contender, imagine Hughes with McDavid, maybe we’ll make a great trade at the draft, maybe we’ll sign an awesome free agent, maybe Jesse gets 50 points next year, maybe Kailer does too, maybe Bouchard could start in the Top 4 and have no problems, what about Jones in the Top 4, maybe we trade Lucic, maybe we don’t overpay for a player not approved by the Copper and Blue and maybe Koskinen wins the Vezina? It’s the same every year.

Here is what I see for next year:

Top 6 - Bensen, RNH, McD, Drai

Bottom 6 - Kassian, Lucic, Gagner, Marody, Brodziak, Khara

Wildcards - can Jesse and/or Kailer fill in Top 6? Don’t forget our shiney new Top 10 pick as they’ll have to start in the NHL right away because that is part of our ‘culture’. Despite a great season, I don’t think Chiasson is a Top 6 player. I’d love him in our bottom 6 on a good contract though.

Top 4 - Larsson/Klef/Nurse/Sekera

Bottom 2 - Russel/Benning

7 - Jones/Bear/Person/Lagesson - Currently, none of these guys have proven to be better than Benning. We really need to clear up this logjam. We also need another Top 4 guy. I think Bouchard should start in the AHL till at least Xmas. If he’s destroying that league (like he currently is the OHL Playoffs) then call him up but please don’t do it the ‘Oiler’s way’ and start him in the NHL and then to the AHL. Hard league —> Harder league —> Hardest league.

Keith Gretzky

I don’t want him because he was around for all the horrific moves in the last few years including Cagiula for Manning, Koskinen signing, acquiring Petrovic, singing Jerabek, signing Garrison and acquiring Wideman. He also gave Cam Talbot away for free and while the Gagner/Spooner trade is a win - it’s marginal at best because Gagner will be paid 3 million next season to score about 30 points. I’m still not sure why we didn’t trade Chiasson for the stretch run? Also, I don’t think he’s on anyone else’s radar as a potential GM, do you? Do you think Seattle is considering him? I don’t. It’s an ‘internal hire’ and I don’t want an ‘Oiler’s culture’ guy. I want someone who pisses off Nicholson, Howson, Lowe, MacT in his interview. Not someone that impresses them and thinks like them.

Ken Holland is not part of the solution either. He had a great run but cap management (something Keith Gretzky has no history of) is awful. I would put cap savvy near the very top of my list of requirements for a new GM. Ken Holland is terrible at that. Peter Chiarelli was awful at it. Keith Gretzky has never done it. Again, Ron Hextall would be my number 1 pick with a bullet - great with a cap, patient, prior organization’s fanbase speaks highly of him and I genuinely believe he doesn’t care what the OBC thinks.

Katz is not losing

The Canadian teams are rounded out by Edmonton (13th, $540 million), Calgary (20th, $450 million), Ottawa (23rd, $435 million) and Winnipeg (27th, $415 million). Source

The only Canadian teams that make more money than the Oil are much bigger markets (Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver). When you look at the Oiler’s peers (smaller market, Canadian) then you quickly realize that Katz is winning. New arena, very expensive tickets, luxury boxes, always sold out in spite of how awful they are.

The only way Katz clean’s house is if he starts losing money and he’s not even close to losing money. He’s been winning this whole time.

Enjoy the draft lottery! Don’t worry, wherever we pick, that guy will be on the team in a few short months. It might be a ready prospect like Hughes/Kakko or an underserving one that gets thrust into the big league. In either case, know that the new kid is not the solution for October. A rookie Hall/McD/Drai/RNH/Yakupov all didn’t get us into the playoffs.

Imagine if, after taking the patient route, that Nicholson ends up hiring Keith Gretzky and Ken Holland? Firing Chia without a plan was stupid. We already have lost out on Joel Quenneville.