Oilers, run down.
The Edmonton Oilers, once the home of the NHL’s greatest player, now a place NHL player’s fear going to. A dynasty of hockey in the 1980’s, Edmonton brought home five Stanley cup Championships. Now, Edmonton is a place to be when it comes to hockey, they have dedicated fans that want their team to do well, but they will sure let you know about when they are not. Just this season, a fan proceeded to throw their Oiler jersey onto the ice, to ensure he let them know he was not too happy with them. It was a really silly thing to do, but that is what hockey fans seem to do some days.
The Edmonton Oilers have had it rough since the loss of the 1980’s rosters, since their last cup in 1989-1990 the Oilers have lost twice in the Western Conference Championship game and once in the Finals. Edmonton has missed the playoffs in total 14 of 23 times since 1989-1990 and eight consecutive seasons on pace for nine.
Since the departure of Craig MacTavish in 2009, the Oilers have had four head coaches and only one of them lasted a second season. Dallas Eakins, the newest coach of Edmonton, is in his second season, but fans are already calling for him to be fired.
With three #1 overall picks, one #3 and one #7 the Edmonton Oilers have not found their game changer.
Taylor Hall was selected #1 overall in 2010, although he has produced and emerged as Edmonton’s top offensive player, he has yet to be surrounded with two wing weapons. Jordan Eberle, selected 22nd overall in 2008, has been the only consistent winger on the top line with Hall. Hall is now a 5 year vet for Edmonton, hanging onto 99 career goals and 138 career assists, after last years terrible team defense Hall sports a -22 in his career and -15 from just last season alone.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, selected #1 overall in 2011 has struggled with injuries to start his career. In 2011-12 Nugent-Hopkins was slated to fight for the Calder Trophy with Colorado Avalanche #2 overall pick Gabe Landeskog, however, an injury would see Ryan to 62 games and a 3rd place Calder finish. 2013-14 wasn’t a terrible season for Nugent-Hopkins, he would find 56 points in 80 games (4 more than his rookie season in 62 games.) None the less, Ryan, stayed fairly healthy and showed he can produce. He sports 13 points in 19 games so far this 2014-15 NHL season.
If having two back-to-back number one overall picks wasn’t bad enough, Edmonton found themselves with their third consecutive number one overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft. In 132 career games, Nail Yukupov, seems to be the one that really got away from Edmonton. Yukupov has had two full NHL seasons, both of which he only played 48 and 63 games. Last season Nail owned a miserable -33 and only 24 points, 11 goals and 13 assists. In 132 career games, Yukupov has, 31 goals, 31 assists for 62 points and a very sad -45. It is safe to say that Nail Yukupov may not be an Edmonton Oiler for his entire career with such a low production. Had Edmonton had a choice to re-pick in the 2012 draft, they may have taken the #3 pick, Alex Galchenyuk, or the #6 pick Hampus Lindholm instead.
Edmonton would slip in the draft to obtain the number seven pick in 2013, yet still a top 10. They would take Philadelphia Eagles greatest quarterback of all-time’s nephew, Darnell Nurse. Since being drafted, Edmonton wanted to make sure to develop their young defenseman. Darnell would stay in the OHL to develop and finds himself there against this season, after getting his first taste of NHL action. Nurse played just two games with Edmonton, scoring 0 points and obtaining a -2 with 2 shots on goal. Darnell Nurse’s NHL career should hopefully start next season.
The newest addition to high draft picks in Edmonton is the 2014 NHL draft’s number three overall pick, Leon Draisaitl. Leon is a 6’1” 210 pound German born center with a ton of upside as he posted 163 points in 128 games with the Prince Albert Raiders. Draisaitl, like majority of young NHL players, has had a slow start to his NHL career, posting 5 points (2g/3a) a -9 and 28 shots in his first 21 career games. Leon still has the rest of his season to both stay healthy and improve his stats and leadership.
The Oilers lack a lot of experience and leadership, they brought in Andrew Ference, a once time cup winner to help their back end, but that’s about it. Ference is Edmonton’s captain and leader, but he is the oldest defender with the most experience, he alone cannot support this Edmonton defense. On the offense, Edmonton signed Matt Hendricks, although a solid penalty killer and fighter in his prime with Colorado, Hendricks has never been that solid go to clutch leader that the Oilers offense lacks. An extremely young lineup with not a lot of winning experience haunts the Oilers, not having that winner that has been through it all on offense is certainly needed to help this team. Until then Benoit Pouliot is as close as they will get, having gone to game 5 last season with the New York Rangers to lose the Stanley Cup to the Los Angeles Kings.
Edmonton thought they settled their goaltender issues also, after parting ways with Devan Dubnyk and Ilya Bryzgalov, Edmonton got Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth. Scrivens played back up to James Reimer and Jonathan Quick in his stints with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Los Angeles Kings before being acquired by the Oilers. Scrivens went from back up to starter upon his arrival in Alberta and finished the 2013-14 season having played 21 games with 9 wins and 11 losses with the Oilers. The Oiler organization also went out to find Viktor Fasth from the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks found their young goaltender Fredrik Andersen and decided to trade Fasth after a breakout first NHL season at back up, where the then 29 year old goaltender went 15-6-2 with a .921 save percentage and 2.18 goal against. With an up and coming set of young goalies coming up, Anaheim split was with Fasth for a couple of draft picks in 2014 and 2015. Since arriving in Edmonton, Alberta Fasth has played backup to Ben Scrivens, appearing in 15 games going 5-7-2 in those games.
This is a young team in Edmonton, with a few trades and alters that add experience and a sense of winning, this Oiler team could end up both very good and very scary. The Oilers fan base does not want to give them any more time, it has been going on 9 seasons since their last playoffs, a season in which Edmonton was only one win away from a sixth Stanley Cup. An empty net goal late in the third period of a 2-1 game would seal a game 7 loss for the Oilers. Had they won, this franchise could be down an entirely different road right now, or maybe not, we will never know.
Three needs got Edmonton are; leadership, winner mentality and solid defense. With a young defensive core the Oilers are in the market for an established vet who knows how to both lead and win. Eklund, an established blogger for his own site is close enough to sources to keep rumors flying. Though I would never count on him as a confirmed source, does have seem to think that the Oilers are currently talking with the Philadelphia Flyers regarding a defenseman. Though if you ask most Flyers, right now they want to give up some of their players for a bag of pucks. If the Flyers trade say a Luke Scheen and possibly another defenseman you could imagine that possibly Nail Yukupov could be involved.
The Oilers could also invest in obtaining a top 6 winger, especially to skate along-side Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. It is highly doubtful, but could Edmonton go after maybe an Evander Kane? Knowing they should have a fairly high draft pick, the Jets could seek maybe a Darnell Nurse and a first round pick with another prospect or draft pick involved.