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Some Thoughts On The Oilers Defence

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Getting Caleb Jones back into the lineup ought to be a top priority for Dave Tippett and the Oilers

Toronto Maple Leafs v Edmonton Oilers Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images

The Oilers played to a 6-5 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Monday night. Goaltending was a sticking point for the Oilers, but I think the story is bigger than that. It’s been over two weeks since Caleb Jones has been in a game for the Oilers. It’s been about two weeks too long.

Yesterday’s Oilers defensive carrousel stopped here:

Darnell Nurse - Tyson Barrie

William Lagesson - Adam Larsson

Slater Koekkoek - Evan Bouchard

A few thoughts

  • Ethan Bear has been out for a couple of weeks after taking a puck to the head while on the bench. Devin Shore was waived today, so there’s reason to believe that Bear might be back as soon as tomorrow. There’s absolutely no question that Ethan Bear gets back into this lineup as soon as he can, so do you scratch Bouchard? You probably shouldn’t. They’re not going to scratch Barrie, so you’re either setting Adam Larsson down for a game (that’s probably not going to happen), or Evan Bouchard might move to the left side for a game or two.
  • Where is Caleb Jones in all of this? What did he do on January 31st that has kept him out of the game for the last two weeks? There’s not one good reason why Jones isn’t in the lineup right now. Not a one. This isn’t rocket science. Lagesson is fine at 3LD if Jones gets put in at 2LD where he should. If you’re going to move Evan Bouchard over to 3LD, then so be it. Caleb Jones at 2LD isn’t a controversial idea. He’s easily one of the top four defencemen on this club. Fun fact you may not have known about Caleb Jones: He’s got the highest 5v5 GF% among all defencemen on the club this season. That’s good! Know what’s working against him? When he’s on the ice, the Oiler goaltenders have an .861 SV% at 5v5. That’s really, really, really low. The club is averaging .906 at 5v5, which is low, but miles away from .861.
  • Slater Koekkoek is fine in a pinch. Right now he’s an OK 6D on a club that doesn’t have two of their best players in it. Ditto Lagesson, who is a little high up on the depth chart right now, but has some good instincts with (and without) the puck.
  • Darnell Nurse is having a noticeably good stretch over his last six or seven games. He’s played right around the 25 minute mark for most of that stretch except he’s reached 27 and 28 minutes in two of his last three. Nurse has points in 11 of his 17 games on the season, he’s scored five goals in his last eighteen shots. Ride that wave, but don’t be surprised when things return eventually fall back to Earth.
  • There’s a push right now to upgrade the goaltending position at the expense of the club’s defence. The club could use an upgrade in net, but this is something that probably ought to have been handled two months ago. They’re up against the cap, so whoever goes out is going to have to equal nearly what comes in, and I don’t think that the club is going to land anything they’ll want to keep their hands on until the end of the season. Don’t think the Ducks are going to hand over Gibson for anything less than the moon, and I don’t think Arizona is in the market to take on any salary at this point in time.

The Oilers face Winnipeg on Wednesday night.

The Oilers ought to put Caleb Jones back in the lineup tomorrow night and every night after that.