. Until Chiarelli can get two, not one, TWO legitimate top VETERAN defensemen, we will continue to see the losses. Let's look at the current crop of crap.
We thought Andrej Sekera was "the guy" and we were so please he decided to come here. After watching him over the last three games, I can assure you that he's not. He's a 3rd/4th defensemen at best. I have not been impressed with the puck handling and initial passes. He's not bad at checking and taking the man, but he has old Petry brainfarts once in a while.
Mark Fayne has been below average in my opinion and not playing up to his potential. But he's a right-shot defensemen, which is rare to find. He's a 4th/5th defensemen in reality.
Oscar Klefbom, with his big shiny contract, has been the best of the bunch, yet one of the youngest. His bomb of a shot netted him a goal the other night. You can tell though that he gets dragged down by whomever his partner is. He has the potential to be a legitimate 2nd pairing d-man on any team. Which brings us to...
Justin Schultz with his good no-look puck handling lacks in umph on the defensive side of the puck. I'd relegate him to power play and offensive zone special teams, rather than be a reliable defenseman in our own zone. And keep him off the penalty kill, please.
The above should be the 2nd and 3rd pairings respectively--meaning, there's a gaping hole in a legitimate top pair. What else is new? Which brings us to "the rest"...
Andrew Ference, despite his fitness level, we all know he's losing his legs and is top candidate for a buyout.
Eric Gryba, a big crushing guy with some skill, his zone exits right in front of the net make me bloody cringe. His passing is terrible.
Griffin Reinhart has potential to be a solid 3rd pairing guy--just needs more experience and a better partner.
Brandon Davidson has to be better or risks waivers. I don't see Nurse being called up this year, until Nikitin and Ference get moved or bought out, so Davidson might ride the year playing every other game to up his value for a package trade deal.
There's no doubt now. The 2015-16 season is a big transition one for the entire Oilers organization. Prez/GM Chiarelli has a lot of work to do still to rid the fat cat contracts of the past and develop prospects properly and add good veteran talent.
Before we get to that, can we finally and actually close the book on the goaltending situation and not call it a situation anymore--at least for this year? Talbot has been superb in his 3 games and while Nilsson had a couple doozies, he still saved 50 shots with calmness and excellent positioning. He'll adjust.
There are a couple holes with the forwards, but part of it may have been solved by adding Matt Hendricks to the top line with Hall and Nuge. That said, Hendricks isn't a right-shot, so passing and streaking up the ice doesn't fit here, otherwise, I liked what Hendy was doing--hitting and freeing up the puck for Nuge.
With Hendy on the top line, putting Slepyshev on the 4th line appeared to work really well. But unless Gazdic is mucking it up, which he hasn't been, Klinkhammer is a better choice.
Purcell is not a top 6 guy anymore, and watching Yakupov try to gel with McDavid, I didn't see it. I think I'm giving up on Yak. How he didn't see Spezza on the backcheck to pick him up is beyond me. Also, Yak is SUPPOSED to be the guy to bury a breakaway, but he didn't--then didn't backcheck properly. His value is dropping and dropping fast. I honestly don't see how Chiarelli keeps him around.
Lander is useful and very versatile, but he's expendable in a trade for a top pair d-man--plus it opens a roster spot for Draisaitl.
By the end of the season, the roster holes should be:
And I have full confidence that Chiarelli gets this--unlike the past. And that to me, is the biggest difference.
Until then, LET GO, OILERS, LET GO!