Welcome back! There is a lot going on in Oilers land right now. This is now a 9 game review. Nurse is out. Skinner is a winner. Drai/McD are on top of the world. Keith/Ceci have been good. Bouchard is getting great minutes. McLeod and Benson are showing some signs. Bro is in the show! After a sweep and a whipping, we beat the Jets!
First 8 games - 7 wins, 1 loss. 14 points
Games 9 to 17 - 6 wins, 3 losses. 12 points (9 games)
PP was second (behind Nashville). PK was 11th in this 9 game stretch.
There is a lot of good right now. Let’s start with the NHL standings by points percentage.
Some have pointed out it’s a weak schedule so far. No contenders. That may be true but we’ve played 17 games and there are only 31 other teams in the NHL. The fact we keep seeing a weaker opponent means we are the stronger one. Also, we used to play well and lose. Now we can play 1 period out of 3 and still win. It’s not ideal but we keep finding ways to win!
There is a good chance we have 2 Hart nominees right now:
Right now, there is also this! Skinner has pulled off a few ‘Scriven’s’! He’s been playing great. Obviously a rookie goalie and need to see more but what a start!
I think it’s fair to say we have one of the best teams in the NHL. Easily one of the best forward groups. A molten Top 6. Elite PP. All of that is working really well! Benson is looking better. McLeod is looking better. Broberg looked solid in his debut. We have some downtime and a weaker schedule. I can’t think of a better time to be missing Nurse and to test out Skinner a little more.
Koskinen had a pretty subpar stretch here. Below .900.
There is no real time line for Smith returning.
I thought our third line was fixed. Bear-Foegele-Ryan was looking good for a game or 2. Kass had the fans back in the stands. It was a very expensive third line but I was happy it was fixed. Well, it isn’t fixed at all. All 3 of those players are losing the 5 on 5 battle with very few points.
Our 1LD is Duncan Keith (who played well last night)
Nurse is out for several weeks with a finger injury.
Foegele is struggling in bottom 6 while Bear is doing quite well in Top 4 in Carolina. I like Foegele but trading a bottom 6 forward for a Top 4 D is always poor value.
Here are our scoring leaders. I only included guys with more than 2 points:
Not too many guys on the list. We are, again, being carried by our Supernova’s. It thins out real quick.
Kono and Samo are struggling in the AHL.
I will be leaving this part here for every review. I still think the moves below will become problematic for us.
Holland ‘win now’ guys (bold is 30 or over):
Kassian (3.2), Turris (1.6), Ryan (1.25), Shore (.85), Keith (5.5), Barrie (4.5), Ceci (3.25), Russel (1.25), Smith (2.2), Archi (1.5), Stalock (.75) and Neal/Sekera/Lucic buyouts (5).
That is over 30 million dollars in cap space!
Returning next season will be Kassian (3.2), Ryan (1.6), Shore (.85), Keith (5.5), Barrie (4.5), Ceci (3.25), Smith (2.2) and Neal/Sekera/Lucic buyouts (5) for 26 million next season
Well, the ‘Holland’ is rising to the surface.
Smith didn’t play in this segment. He’s 39 and one more year to go.
Derek Ryan was getting about 8 minutes a night and demoted to 4C. One more year to go.
Kassian did nothing. 3 more years to go. Foegele is not a line driver.
Oilers forwards GF-GA at 5v5 over the past 10 games.— Bruce McCurdy (@BruceMcCurdy) November 17, 2021
Top Six doing fine. Supporting cast? pic.twitter.com/eOYXlPsoi7
Holland has now had 3 off-season's and a lot of cap space to fix our bottom 6, our D and our goaltending. I wrote an article during this span that belongs in the Ugly as it was misguided. So I’ll simplify my point here:
Most of the guys carrying us were here before Holland arrived. He’s essentially added Zack Hyman and Cody Ceci to our 10 best players on the roster. Drai, McD, RNH, Nurse, JP, Yam and Bouchard were all here before he got here. (note: getting JP back was genius by Holland but he was an Oiler when he arrived).
We are still poor at 5 on 5. Our D passes much better but we are near the bottom of the league for shots allowed (9th worst) and goals allowed (6th worst). We outscore our problems. Specifically, a few Hart candidates are outscoring our very imbalanced roster. Our record is amazing. So much good. A lot of that is on a few players.
There are 3 ways I see this season ending well in the playoffs:
- All the guys Holland signed pan out and we win the cup with our current roster. One of Koski or Smith is hoisting a cup after winning 16 straight in the playoffs.
- A few of our locals fix all our problems. Broberg cements himself as a legit NHL LD. Skinner pulls a ‘Binnington’. Holloway shows up and fixes our bottom 6.
- Holland is aware we need bottom 6, D and G improvements and will be tinkering all season till we get there. Imagine having 3 areas of need after 3 offseasons? This will be hard with no cap space as well.
Till next time. Keep winning! I think we’ll be okay without Nurse for a few weeks. I am loving that Bro, Skinner, McLeod and Benson are all part of the team right now and doing well. I expect warts from Bro in this span but hoping this ends up being a one way ticket. Given how good our forwards are and how weak our LD is, I’m still okay with Bro over Zegras.