Thursday, July 23, 2015

Oilers line-up - Has it really improved?

Let's compare the end of the last year with the opening lineup this coming season. Why? Because we're bored, and need to reassess and assess and reassess and think and think and hope and dream.

When Ron McLean says the Oilers will win the Cup in 3-4 years, people should listen.  The guy is a walking computer.  He's from Red Deer so deep down, he's an Oilers fan.  They need to get him back on TV more.  He is the master.

Ok, enough with the McLean stroking. (there, I said it, happy?)  Now there were some injuries last year and lot of line shuffling, but this is essentially what the season ended with on a healthy basis.


End of 2014/2015
Pouliot - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Hall - Roy - Yakupov
Fraser - Lander - Purcell
Hendricks - Gordon - Klinkhammer

Derek Roy celebrates with Jeff Petry and Nail Yakupov.  Image courtesy
There are 3-4 replacements on there to today.

McDavid replaces Roy - UPGRADE.  Roy has experience and helped Yak, but he's small and not as skilled as McDavid, that's for sure.  The Anointed One will certainly have a bigger impact than Roy, even though Roy had a bigger impact than Gagner in his latter year with the Oil.  But still, they're Hobbits.  McDavid is not.  I'm curious as to the two-way play of McDavid to see if it improves the consistently leaky 2nd line.  Leak leak.  They're like green onions, but bigger.  Oilers need to be more like green onions.  Smaller leaks.  Get it?  No?  Too far?  Nevermind.

Korpikoski replaces Fraser - UNKNOWN.  Fraser had a good run at the end with some goals. Korp has speed and skill but we'll see about the umph and consistency.  They're certainly paying him enough.  I'm not even sure I spelled his last name correctly.  If I didn't, oh well, what are you going to do about it?  You didn't even know, so there.

Letestu replaces Gordon - EVEN.  This was a cap dump although it was spent on Korp.  I said it last year that Gordon is a 4th liner making a 3rd line wage.  Letestu is good but not great on the dot, but has more two-way skill than Gordon.  I think it also cuts down on the number of bench changes as Gordon pretty much would take faceoffs then head off.  That said, Gordon and Hendricks were one of the top checking lines in the league.  Rarely would a team get by them.  I hope Letestu gets Le Testie.  Not even Gene Principe is going to use that play on words.  But don't be surprised if he does.

Start of 2015-2016
Pouliot - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Hall - McDavid - Yakupov
Korpkoski - Lander - Purcell / Pitlick
Hendricks - Letestu - Klinkhammer / Gazdic

Mark Letestu with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Image courtesy of the Associated Press

So what of Draisaitl?   I think the smart move is to play him in Bakersfield.  If he starts dominating at the AHL level, then you can easily trade Purcell or Pitlick at the deadline to make room.  Purcell would be preferred as he's a $4m hit. Pitlick is injury-prone so this year is do or die for him. But that 3rd line is certainly a little faster than last year.  Here's to Lander for picking up his game.  If Drats shows gusto, Lander may land somewhere else.  (h/t to Gene).


Near End of 2014/2015
Ference - Petry
Klefbom - Schultz
Marincin - Fayne
Nikitin (IR) / Aulie / Davidson

There are several replacements.

Sekera replaces Petry - UPGRADE.  I always liked Petry, but he's a 2nd/3rd pairing in Montreal where Sekera is a 2nd/1st pairing in general.  While Sekera is a left shot and Petry a right shot, for skill, Sekera is a top D with more experience and umph than Petry, who tended to leak chances.  At least we won't hear Gene say "Petry dish" anymore. 

Reinhart replaces Marincin - UNKNOWN.  I would say that Reinhart has more heart (see what I did there, Gene!), but Marincin has more experience.  Reinhart is not proven yet and I don't see him on the opening lineup but in Bakersfield where he'll have to prove himself.  

Gryba replaces Aulie - UPGRADE.  Gryba can skate and is pretty tough.  Aulie Aulie Oxenfree cannot skate.  (Screw you, Gene, I got this!) 

Start of 2015-2016
Sekera - Fayne
Klefbom - Schultz
Ference - Gryba
Nikitin / Reinhart

Andrej Sekera battling against a Flame.  Good to see.  Image courtesy of

Overall, the defense is only slightly better with Sereka.  This is not a playoff defensive core yet and assuming that Chiarelli knows this, there is a strong need for another proven top pairing defensemen in the likes of Franson or Seabrook.   I think that move nearly completes this team for a good run at the playoffs. Until then...

OKC Barons' Darnell Nurse ties up a Texas Stars guy.  Image courtesy of

So what of Nurse?  He played well in the AHL playoffs.  I think you start him there then see how you can make room on the roster.  Nurse will essentially replace Ference or Nikitin.  It's about asset management.  Both Ference and Nikitin need to show they still have value.  Ference has a couple years left and Nikitin one year, so if you play Nikitin and he shows some value, you can at least trade him for draft picks.

My guess is Chiarelli is going to wait and see then make a move either in December or at the trade deadline.  I'm not sure if a buyout will happen--only if Nikitin continues to suck (likely).


End of 2014/2015
Ben Scrivens
Viktor Fasth (IR)
Richard Bachman
Laurent Brossoit
Tyler Bunz
Ty Rimmer

Talbot replaces Fasth - UPGRADE.  Fasth was supposed to be our #1 but I honestly can't blame the guy, or any goalie for that matter, for having to play behind one of the leakiest defenses in the league. That said, he lacked in focus.  Talbot was certainly an up-and-comer with the Rangers and backed up King Henrik very well, but that's with a pretty solid defense in front of him.  Talbot is also supposed to be employing the same goaltending technique that ol' Dubnyk learned before signing with the Wild last year.  Good signs there.  But I'm now thinking Gene is going to use some turbot fish for "Talbot" or something. Maybe he won't. I'm still taking a drink.

Nilsson replaces Bachman - UNKNOWN.  I always liked Bachman, became a quick fan favourite, but they let him go and he got picked up by the Canucks organization.  Anders Nilsson has some NHL experience with the Islanders, had great numbers in the KHL last year (1.71 GGA, .936 SA) to catch attention.  (Gene, I got nothing.)

Laurikainen replaces Bunz - UPGRADE.  Bunz's debut at the end of the season didn't pan out well.  Playing mostly in the ECHL, getting a puck to the throat can't be good, but moving him out of the system was good for the Oilers to make room for others, like Laurikainen.

So what of Scrivens?  We all get very nervous when he plays the puck and he's much too scrambled eggs for my liking.  He's streaky and when he's on, he's very, very good, but when he's not, he's out to lunch. Hopefully the competition come camp will push him harder, but I don't see him lasting and will get traded at the deadline or sooner before he's UFA to at least get some value and Gene will say "Scriven me timbers" when Ben falls to trade. That would open the bridge door for Nilsson or Brossoit to make their case.  

Start of 2015-2016
Cam Talbot
Ben Scrivens
Anders Nilsson
Laurent Brossoit
Eetu Laurikainen

Photo by ME!


It took Gretzky, Lemieux, and Crosby about 3-5 years before they made an impact on their team's standings and Cup contentions.  Hoping he isn't subject to injury, I believe whichever line he's on, he'll need a big fast checker to get the puck to him off the boards.  I'm not sure having him with Yakupov will work.  But maybe this is the guy that Yak needs to elevate.  Because if Yak can't do that with McDavid, he can't with anybody. Then again, McLellan might put Hall, McDavid and Eberle together and Pouliot-Nuge-Yak on the 2nd line.  


On paper, this roster is slightly better than last year and will garner about another 10 wins more, where Calgary had 21 more wins to make the playoffs and to beat the Nucks.  But we do have the new coaching element to consider, and what level of impact McDavid and Talbot will have on the team to boost the scoring by a goal every two to four games and reduce by every two games respectively--that alone could boost the wins by 20.  McLellan has a winning powerplay in his books and that may add even more wins.

It's that darn defense, I tells ya.  One more guy.  One more guy.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

NHL expands to Quebec City and Las Vegas

- 32 teams in two seasons. #NHL #Oilers

Welcome back Quebec Nordiques!  They used to be my favourite Eastern team--particularly the Stasny brothers.  They weren't Toronto or Montreal, but different.  Since they got moved to Denver, Ottawa has been my Eastern Canadian team.

On Vegas, I'm not sold on this idea. On the list of pro sports popularity in the U.S., hockey is fourth behind the NFL, MLB, and NBA--none of which have a team in Vegas, nor are there any plans to.  There also simply isn't enough of a hockey fan base there.  There's more of an NHL fan-base in Saskatoon that's for sure.  Thinking that a holiday destination spot will bring in folks certainly isn't working with Florida, who have a lower turnout for their games than the Oilers did for a prospect scrimmage game.  And another thing, the Canadian to U.S. dollar really sucks right now at 76 cents that fewer Canadians are going to Vegas, so don't expect more of us to go and support the away team.

As well, the Coyotes and Panthers.  There's no economic sense to keep these teams there and it boggles my mind why the league continues to support this failed experiment.  As much as I think a team in Vegas will fail, moving the Coyotes franchise there won't work either.  Seattle guys didn't get their bid in in time, so there aren't many other locations in the West other than Seattle that the league could move into.

Kansas City, you say?  Well, I've spent a lot of time there and I love that city.  I've driven around neighbourhoods and nary a hockey rink I'd see.  Oklahoma City is a fairly large city, but they couldn't even keep an AHL team viable with enough fans despite the good talent.

My point here is there are more reasons to expand to more teams in Canada than in the U.S.  I would say the U.S. city expansion has all but dried-up, save Seattle (which should simply take the Coyotes franchise).  With that, I can't see the league being more than 32 teams at most and even now, 30 is pushing it.

So, assuming there will be 32 teams, what would that mean for league realignment?  We just had one that made the West have two fewer teams.  Will it get back to par in 2016/17?  That would mean an Eastern team would need to move back to the West, Columbus perhaps?

WEST (16):

Pacific (8):
Edmonton Oilers
Calgary Flames
Vancouver Canucks
San Jose Sharks
Anaheim Ducks
Los Angeles Kings
Arizona Coyotes

Central (8):
Colorado Avalanche
Winnipeg Jets
Minnesota Wild
Chicago Blackhawks
Nashville Predators
St. Louis Blues
Dallas Stars

EAST (16):

Atlantic (8):
Toronto Maple Leafs
Montreal Canadiens
Ottawa Senators
Detroit Red Wings
Buffalo Sabres
Boston Bruins
Tampa Bay Lightning
Florida Panthers

Metropolitan (8):
New York Rangers
New York Islanders
New Jersey Devils
Pittsburgh Penguins
Philadelphia Flyers
Washington Capitals
Carolina Hurricanes

Friday, July 10, 2015

Oilers roster has been overhauled twice in a few years

So I was at a friend's last night and we ended up playing NHL '13.  Wearing my new Oilers McDavid shirt, I, of course had to pick the Oilers and partner with a buddy.

The lineup from 2012/13?  Do we even remember?  I'm going to put a rating next to each player on what their performance was like for their role.

Hall (B+) - Nugent-Hopkins (B) - Hemsky (B-)
Smyth (C) - Gagner (C) - Eberle (A-)
Hordichuk (D-) - Belanger (D-) - Jones (D+)
Eager (D) - Horcoff (C)- Petrell (C+)

Smid (C+) - Petry (B-)
N. Schultz (B-) - Whitney (C)
Peckham (C-) - Fistric (C-)

Khabibulin (B-)

Only three players remain from that roster from only 3 years ago.  Four, if you include Lander, then five if you include Yakupov.

Now, the current roster and what I think their performance will be at with this experience and linemates.  I'm basing this on my gut instinct.

Pouliot (B+) - Nugent-Hopkins (A) - Eberle (A-)
Hall (A+) - McDavid (A-) - Yakupov (B)
Korpisocki (C) - Lander (B) -  Purcell (B-)
Hendricks (A-) - Letestu (C+) - Klinkhammer (B) / Gazdic (D+)

Sekera (A-) - Fayne (B-)
Klefbom (B+) - Schultz (C+)
Nikitin (C-) - Ference (C-)

Talbot (B-)

Now, I know that half the defense may change, but I don't see one of Griffin Reinhart or Gryba on the starting line.  There is a distinct possibility that Darnell Nurse will play and that Nikitin and/or Ference and/or Schultz gets traded or bought out for UFA Cody Franson, Christian Ehroff, or traded for Seabrook.  Ideally, the D might just look like this:

Sekera (A-) - Seabrook (A+)
Nurse (B) - Franson/Ehrhoff (A)
Klefbom (B+)/Nurse (B) - Fayne (B-)

Now look back to '12/'13.

What a difference good management can do.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


- He dazzles! He amazes! #Oilers #BillyMooresCup

A friend and I attended Rexall Place for the Billy Moores Cup--where two Oilers' prospect squads played two periods of 4v4 then seven minutes of 3v3.  But, yeah, we were there for one reason and one reason only.

We got there an hour early and the lower bowl was already starting to fill up, but we got 12th row centre ice.  Twitter photos on the big screen started showing big lineups outside 30 minutes before puck drop.

Prior to the game, the beginning tribute and moment of silence to Constable Daniel Woodall followed by his wife and two small children dropping the ceremonial puck between McDavid and Draisaitl was beyond heart-wrenching.  Edmontonians watching and in the building felt as one at that precious moment.

Then the Wizard took the ice and started playing.  As much as folks have been calling him McJesus, it's not proper.  It's not proper because Connor McDavid, last night for me anyway, hath started his own religion.  McDavidism. McDavidianity.

In his first goal, he went around the right side of a guy in the slot, then as he looked like he was going to attack the net, he goes around it and backhands it in off the post--with the goalie finally arriving.

He seems to move forward in time, and so when our glaring eyes have finally caught up, it's too late. The puck is already in the net.  So much so that when Leon Draisaitl scored on McDavid's team with a really nice goal and the fans cheered and cheered and a centre ice face-off ensued, the puck was already in the other net.  The Anointed One won the face off, put on his Lord of the Ring, disappeared in time for a moment, skated through Drats, then reappeared with seventeen deke moves to put the puck in the net.  We were all asking, "What just happened there?  I'm still celebrating Drat's goal for crying out loud."

His other four goals had the same dazzle and magic--nothing like I've ever seen.  I'm serious when I say that.  I sometimes wonder if there's glue on his blade; he makes the puck stick to it somehow.  His body and hands work in unison but separately.  While his feet and body move one way to trick the goalie, his hands are already potting the puck.

I was so caught up in the moment that I started cheering "LET'S GO OILERS!" which means you're cheering for both sides.  After Connor's 4th goal, we all just started laughing because he almost made a mockery of the game--but because he's so humble, we knew he wasn't, so the laughter really was just pure joy.

Not to be left out, Darnell Nurse was a beast on the ice with some pretty flashy moments. I said it two years ago--he's a hell of a skater for a tall lanky guy, but he knows how to move the puck with pizzazz.

If this really is a new side-religion stemming from Oilerism, then sign me up, take my money, and take us to the promised-land for I shall praise thee, O gracious Anointed One, in Your Name, Amen.

Now check out the highlights of his goals here.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Oilers quick shots

- some fast notes and comments #Oilers #NHL #McDavid

- At the development camp, Darnell Nurse is beating up on everyone and everyone went nuts when McDavid stepped onto the ice.  See here:

- The players were at NAIT the other day learning how to cook. Drats likes spinach. Hugg ugg ugg.

- Connor McDavid signed a 3 year entry-level contract. It's now official official.  He has said many times he is thrilled to be in Edmonton and wants to play here for the rest of his life.  So to all those who wasted their breath saying he wouldn't, go shove a bag of pucks in your mouth you jealous jerks.

- He is apparently staying at Ryan Smyth's home for now. Sure beats when Hall and Ebs stayed in a hotel to start camp.  As I said, Smytty is the original Oilers Jesus, so in keeping with this Christian historical perspective, that makes McDavid St. Peter?

- Speaking of Peter, I saw Peter Chiarelli walk out of Earl's on Jasper Ave yesterday around 6pm. I think I was the only one who noticed.  Ironic since just before that I was checking to see if he signed Cody Franson or something.

- Assistant coach of the rafters, Rocky Thompson is now the head coach of the Windsor Spitfires, Hall's old team.

- I had a dream that the Community Rink at the new arena was open and had a sunroof that opened up.

- Rangers forward Marty St. Louis announced his retirement in Edmonton yesterday as he coaches his son's team at the Brick Invitational.  He looked relieved and happy.  What a career and good guy.

- I'll be at the development camp Saturday morning or more likely at the Billy Moore's Cup on Monday to watch this supposed McDavid character, but more so, Nurse and Draisaitl.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Former Oilers watch

- Post-free agency day. #Oilers

I was watching TSN or Sportsnet this morning--I can't remember which as yesterday was Canada Day and I was on my buddy's pontoon boat in a lake all day then zipped home to watch the fireworks, from my place, which were an utter disappointment even though I had it tuned to CKUA FM thinking the music was in sync with the explosions, which it wasn't.

Anyway, on the ticker at the bottom of the TV screen, a pile of names went whizzing by, all of which were former Oilers, which brings me to today's edition of "Former Oilers Watch" post-UFA/Canada Day.  Here we go.  Are you ready?  No?  You don't care, do you?  Well, too bad.  You're going to read it anyway.

Rangers GM Glen Sather, who's last act was to trade their backup goalie Cam Talbot to the Oilers for 2nd and 3rd round picks because he "wanted to help his old team", stepped down.

Leaves sign F Mark Arcobello to a 1-year $1.2 million deal.  There could be a whole website called "Where's Arco?" that would get a lot of traffic because he moves around so much.  Seriously. In one year, he went from Edmonton to Nashville to Pittsburgh to Arizona to Toronto.  That's five flippin' teams. In Arizona he was a bright spot with 16 points in 27 games.

Not to out-do Arco, mayor of Hobbiton, Samwise Gagner, the former #6 draft pick has gone from Edmonton to Tampa Bay where he spent about 89 seconds to Arizona and now to Philadelphia where Ron Hextall said he likes his skill but will likely play him on the right wing.  In Arizona, he had 41 points in 81 games, but they boldly said he's not an NHL centre.  The Yotes get Grossmann and CHRIS FRICKIN PRONGER! Well, his contract anyway.

Speaking of former Oilers centres in Philly, Chris VandeVelde, (CVV like we used to call him. No not really) signed a 2-year extension.

Goalie Richard Bachman, who shone for the Oil in the last stretch, spending most of his time in OKC, was signed by the Vancouver Canucks for 2 years.  Good on him.  He was probably the best AHL goalie and it looks like he'll stay there for call ups if Markstrom or Miller get injured.

D-man Taylor Fedun also signed with the Canucks.  Sharks didn't resign him, so good to see him get the chance he deserves.

Devan Dubnyk signed a monster 6 year deal with the Wild, whom he carried through the playoffs as far as he could.

Zack Stortini signed with the Montreal Canadiens for a punching bag and a hair cut after being UFA from Philly.

And last but not least, remember Shawn Horcoff?  He was at the bottom of the UFA listing of 45 players. But, the Anaheim Ducks felt the need for his services and signed him to a 1-year $1.75m deal or something. Waaaaaaay less than the fat $5.5m he was making in Dallas and Edmonton.

Not resigned with the Oilers:
G Viktor Fasth
C Derek Roy
D Keith Aulie
F Matt Fraser
F Steve Pinozzotto
F Curtis Hamilton
F Brad Ross (from Toronto)
? Niko Hovinen
? Kellen Lain
F Jesse Joensuu
G Tyler Bunz
? Frans Tuohimaa

I don't see any of these guys getting signed in the NHL.  Fasth is better than Scrivens in my opinion and didn't get momentum going behind a bad defensive team.

D Sheldon Souray - Anaheim Ducks

Free agents:
C Kyle Brodziak - Minnesota Wild
F Colin Fraser - St. Louis Blues
C Jared Stoll - Los Angeles Kings
D Lubomir Visnovsky - New York Islanders
C Will Acton - Vancouver Canucks
D Corey Potter - Calgary Flames
F Curtis Glencross - Washington Capitals
F Dan Cleary - Detroit Red Wings
F Taylor Chorney - Pittsburgh Penguins
D Eric Brewer - Toronto Maple Leafs

Free Agency isn't free

- Oilers nab two with room for more. #Oilers

Are we there yet?  Are we there yet?  Are we there yet?

Almost. There's still some work to be done.  GM Peter Chiarelli made some smart moves in the last few days, but we are now all waiting for one or two more, hopefully two to make the Oilers a complete team that can make a run for the playoffs.

I'll be honest, I only heard of one of these guys before--Letestu.  Was I hoping for a Mike Green or Cody Franson signing?  Damn straight.  Green is now in Detroit, so am I still hoping for a Franson signing?  Frigg yeah, man.

Free agency is anything but free for teams who tend to over-pay to fill veteran roster gaps.  With the cap set at about $71m, managing that cap is everything and Chiarelli appears to know what he's doing slotting the right salaries on the right lines and looking for more well-rounded players than pure role players.

But let me say this (actually I don't need your permission, this is my bloody blog, right?), what a difference there has been already having Chiarelli here over the Lowe/Tambo/MacT/Howson clown show.  So many signings and trades they made that made no sense and we swallowed it.  And one or two that still haunt us. More on that later.

Ok, three moves:

1. Gordon for Korpikoski

Stalwart "Wagon Line" centreman faceoff specialist Boyd Gordon was traded back to the Coyotes at straight up for left winger Lauri Korpikoski on a 2 year $5m deal who will fill in on the 3rd line after the Oil decided to not resign Matt Fraser.  Korp, a Finn drafted in 2004 #19 overall by the Rangers, is 6'1" and 205lbs, who has had relatively consistent 3rd line numbers.

Pros:  Gordon was a 4th liner making 3rd line money and a role player on the dot and PK.  Oilers need to free some cap space and Gordon had one more year left so this was a good value trade.

Cons:  Korp is only $500k less and not a centreman, so that left us hoping Chia had one lined up in free agency the next day.

Rating:  B-

So where's that centreman?  Oh, here he is.

2. Mark Letestu signed for 3 years at $5.4m ($1.8m AAV)

Pros: A steady centreman with >50% on the dot from the Blue Jackets was just the right guy to be Gordon's replacement at 60% of the cost. More versatile, Letestu can jump up to other lines and to the right wing 5v5. Also, being right-handed, he can have some passing chemistry with left-winger Matt Hendricks.  He's also an Alberta boy,

Cons: He's 5'10" and 199lbs, so just under that size needed, but hopefully he's stronger than he appears on paper.

Rating:  B+

3.  Andrej Sekera signed for 6 years at $33m ($5.5m AAV)

The 9-year veteran defenseman is touted as a top four defensemen, which means he's the top defenseman on the Oilers--for now.  Wow, look at that. He was drafted in the 3rd round and is a top four defensemen. What have the Oilers done lately with their post 1st round drafted defensemen?  Petry?  Gone. Marincin?  Gone.  So it's fitting that Chiarelli finds a guy.

Pros:  He's known as a consummate professional, hard hitting, and decent size at 6'0" 200lbs. So much so that L.A. traded for him at the deadline.

Cons:  Had a knee injury that sideline him.  Hopefully it doesn't occur again.  Left shooting on a team full of them.

Rating:  A

Remaining moves:

The Oilers have about $10.5m left in cap space. Signing Schultz to say $3.5m will bring that to $7m, which they could nab Cody Franson for a couple years and have a much better blue line than last year.  But that's tight and with McDavid's big dollar future, Oilers need to shed.

1.  Trade Nikita Nikitin for picks and pucks.  They didn't buy him out, so eat half his $4.5m salary and get some value.  If Chiarelli pulls this off, he's a genius. An utter genius.  When Nikitin was signed for that amount, I lost my own senses that I think I ran into a wall. I don't remember, because I lost my senses, remember?  I don't. See!  That had Howson and Lowe all over it.  Never again, will the Oilers make a signing like that.  Right?

2.  Sign Cody Franson for $5.5-6.0m.  After dumping Nikitin, Franson is a much better option and fills the blue line better on the right side with some offensive firepower and size. Two things Lowe and Howson thought Nikitin has but doesn't.

3.  Trade Teddy Purcell for a much tougher top 9 winger.  Purcell's soft for $4m/year.  Yeah, yeah, good possession numbers, but his plus/minus sucky sucks, and so we need mean guys now to clear the way for McDavid.  I'm hoping Pitlick can step up this year and take that 2nd or 3rd line right wing spot and hit and pop pucks out, but it's either Yakupov, Pitlick, or Purcell that will get traded.

4.  Trade Nail Yakupov in a package for a d-man if he doesn't pan out by November.  Todd McLellan will have a chance to assess him.  Honestly, if Yak can't succeed with McDavid and adapt to a much better coaching system like McLellan's, then he's officially a bust.  Send him to a team struggling on the PP and let's get some more veteran D.

If the Oilers want to really turn the corner and become a consistent team, they need to start top prospects Leon Draisaitl, Darnell Nurse, and Brandon Davidson in Bakersfield and appropriately call them up on injuries (which will happen).  I absolutely can't wait to see Darnell Nurse hit the ground running and explode, but a good stint will give him the minutes and room.  Drats needs the minutes too.  Both will slide into the lineup next year very nicely sending Lander and Ference away in trades for prospects and draft picks.

So here's the lineup the Oilers will go with and I'm sort of hoping they into the season with:

Pouliot - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Hall - McDavid - Yakupov
Korpisocki - Lander - Pitlick
Hendricks - Letestu - Klinkhammer/Gazdic

Sekera - Franson*
Klefbom - Schultz
Ference - Gryba

Oh, speaking of Gazdic, I'm glad he's still around. We need that enforcer to protect McDavid. Klink and Hendy can get'er done too, but admit it, one thing not many people are talking about is how nasty teams like Anaheim will go after The Anointed One to intentionally injure him and sacrifice.  I would have Gazdic out there more than Klinkhammer this season for a measly 5 minutes a game to strike fear into jerks like Corey Perry.

O Captain My Captain
Taylor Hall.  I'm hearing rumours that Ference will hand the "C" over.  Taylor Hall is the natural choice and he's ready for it and I think coach McLellan is ready for him to take it on.

Thanks for reading.  Even if it's free.