A few thoughts that have been rattling around in my head.
Let's start with Draisaitl. The main argument for keeping him in the NHL was that he had nothing to gain from being sent back to the WHL. It's an argument that Terry Jones and others made when the season started. But even if Draisaitl had nothing to gain, both he and the Oilers had plenty to lose. If the NHL proved to be too much for the young German, as it has, his confidence could suffer greatly. As we've seen with Yakupov, that can be a far-reaching problem. The team, too, lost a valuable year of contractual control over the player as well as what could have been an inexpensive year of tangible production if Draisaitl started his ELC next year.
- I've been thinking about the Oilers' improved possession numbers, even though they can't win. Is it possible that the really bad goaltending is contributing? Only Carolina has spent more time trailing at even strength than the Oilers, and Edmonton is at 47.4% Corsi when not behind in games. 674 of their 1500 Corsi For events at even strength have come while trailing (44.9% of the total). Maybe the awful state of the goaltending is causing Score Effects to make the Oilers look better than they are?
- The Oilers can't make a trade right now because when you're drowning the other GMs would love to throw you an anvil. But that's why the Oilers need to start winning, not tanking for draft position. As long as the team is desperate, they'll be in a terrible spot when trying to negotiate. Almost without fail, the Oilers need trade help more than the team they're in talks with. As long as that continues, they'll have to spend more assets than other teams - maybe so much so that it doesn't make sense to make the trade at all. It's a grim situation. So when a player like Kyle Chipchura comes available for free, the Oilers literally can't afford to pass. Any assets that make the team better today lessens their needs in future trades, and makes them less desperate to find help.
- My previous conviction that Dallas Eakins should be fired was based on the notion that he was in control of how much ice time his players got, as well as who played and who didn't. I'll be curious to see how the player usage changes when MacTavish leaves the bench. So far, Brad Hunt is still in the NHL, Schultz is getting ice time and Yakupov isn't, and Perron isn't getting a chance on the top line. We'll see how much poor play will be tolerated before players get benched or a seat in the press box. If it was really MacTavish who dictated the player usage, then Eakins could be another rookie who the Oilers organization managed to ruin.
- Hope you all had a great Christmas! My wife makes enough food for two armies, so I found some time to write this in between plates of leftovers. Enjoy the WJC everyone, and all the best in the New Year!