Boy, is there ever frighfully little going on. Here's an odd curiosity that piqued my interest:
Yeah... I know... What are the chances? Granted it's DevEn, not DevAn, and Dubyk, not DubNyk, but still...
But really, other than CHL playoffs, there's diddly happening with the Oilers. Oh yes, they signed Olivier Roy, but that won't matter till next year in OKC. Don't get me wrong; I'm just as thrilled as everyone else about the NHL playoff races that are going on, but none of them involve my sad little team.
Teemu Hartikainen has been a tiny dot of light in an otherwise all-encompassing void of blackness. He looks like he could challenge for a roster spot next year, but I'm not sure if he'll make it. If the Oilers draft a center and don't make any moves at forward in the off season, the lines for next year could look like this:
Hall - Nugent-Hopkins/Couturier - Eberle
Paajarvi - Gagner - Hemsky
Jones - Horcoff - Omark
Reddox - Brule - Cogliano
I lied, they'd have to move Fraser and Jacques out of town. Anybody singing the blues? All in all, that's a pretty solid lineup at every forward position. I've always thought Brule played well in the middle, and he's decent in the dot. He's just got to get healthy sometime. Keep in mind that if they don't take a center, the lines look like this:
Hall - Gagner - Eberle
Paajarvi - Horcoff - Hemsky
Jones - Brule - Omark
Reddox - Fraser - Cogliano
Is it me, or does that chart look significantly better when the centers all move down a line and the Oilers have a true number-one-in-the-making at the top? I've moved Cogliano to the wing because until he can show that he can win a draw, he's not a checking center. He's a pretty darn good fourth line checking winger though. That line could put up some points, and be fairly effective in a checking/PK role. I think every line on that top chart could score pretty effectively. The third and fourth lines on the second chart? Eh, not so much.
Meanwhile, the Oilers defense would look like this with no changes except drafting Adam Larsson:
Whitney - Larsson
Peckham - Gilbert
Smid - Foster
Again, Vandermeer and Struddy would have to walk as free agents, but that's basically it. Petry becomes a spare or gets sent back to OKC, unless he can massively outplay Foster and somehow Foster gets sent down. Frankly, those combinations still aren't good enough. The Oilers have an opportunity to lock it up at the forward position. After that, every asset available can be poured into shaping the defense. Also, from a development standpoint, I'd rather see pairings of:
Whitney - Petry
Peckham - Gilbert
Smid - Foster
Give Perty some time (and a very good partner) and see if he can run with it. I'm betting that he can. Except for maybe the top pairing, I've put an offensive defenseman with a defensive one, which is a balance that I like and think the Oilers currently lack, if only for a lack of options. There's also a fairly experienced (for this team) player matched with an inexperienced one on each pairing. Gilbert's shot blocking is something I'd like to see instilled in Peckham even more, and imagine what Petry could learn. Whitney is like Visnovsky - everyone who plays with him seems to get better.
- By the by, what do you want to bet that Jordan Eberle scores three more goals and ends the season with 42 points?
- Even if Colorado only wins one more of their last seven games and lose one in overtime (1-5-1), the Oilers would have to go 5-0-1 or a perfect 6-0 to not finish 30th. When the Oilers lose two more games in regulation and Colorado wins one, the Oilers will be mathematically unable to catch them. So, basically, the next Colorado win or two overtime losses locks it up.
- If the Oilers don't earn another three points this season, it will be the worst team point total in franchise history. 23 wins is also a new record for futility, and they will recieve that dubious honor even if they win another game, which looks doubtful.
- Amazingly, their offensive output is only second-worst this year with all the injuries. Ottawa has scored fewer goals as a team. The season where the Oilers had just sixty points they scored 242 times. This season they are on pace for just 194; the worst total ever. 195 in 2006-07 is the current low mark.
All that looks pretty bleak, no? Never fear. Where is there to go from here but up? As I've said before, the team isn't as far away as all that would have you believe. What this team needs it to get healthy, acquire another elite offensive weapon through the draft, and maybe try to shore up the defense, though that could be difficult this off season, given the above numbers and the shallow free agent pool. If anything happens with the defense, I believe it will happen via trade or offer sheet.
A complete list of UFA defensemen can be found here:
Not many guys who fit the age/price bracket and can also make enough of an impact to make it worth it for Edmonton. Probably the Oilers will try to bring their own kids along by tossing them into the fray, and whoever is still standing will still be around when this team is ready to win. The bad news is that almost no matter what, this team will still have a top-ten pick next year. The good news is that they can parlay that into a defenseman via the draft, which preliminary indications suggest is fairly deep in blueliners.
Also, the list of UFA defensemen for 2012 is much more promising:
Liles, Wideman, Burns, Oduya, Suter, Carle, and Coburn could all play on my team any day of the week, and they have to sign somewhere...
That's it until something happens!