As the holiday season approaches, PHR will look at what teams are thankful for as the season nears the quarter point of completion. There also might be a few things your team would like down the road. We take a look at what’s gone well in the first month and what could improve as the season rolls on. So far we’ve covered ANA, ARZ, BUF, CGY, CAR, CBJ, COL, DET, LAK, NSH, NJD, NYI, SJS, STL, TOR, WSH, and VGK.
What are the Oilers most thankful for?
The fact that they have already locked up Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl to long-term deals and don’t have to worry about them wanting to leave after the team’s disappointing start to the season. Not much has gone right for Edmonton as many of their moves have not worked out well and the team sits in seventh place in the Pacific Division (when most people expected them to win it this year) with a 11-14-2 record. The team has had trouble on defense and even have had trouble putting the puck in the net as they have relied too heavily on wings that have not produced. Much of the blame falls to general manager Peter Chiarelli who has made several questionable moves, including trading winger Jordan Eberle for Ryan Strome. Eberle has 10 goals and 19 points for the New Yorkk Islanders, while Strome has managed four goals and 11 points.
Who are the Oilers most thankful for?
McDavid. It doesn’t matter how much the team overall has struggled. That just hasn’t been the case for the team’s star player. McDavid has 11 goals and 32 points and been that one positive player to focus around. McDavid, who still makes just $925K, however, will get a nice pay raise next season when his eight year, $100MM extension kicks in, meaning McDavid will be with Edmonton for a long time. He should be in contention for the Hart Trophy again and if he can get a nice hot streak going, perhaps McDavid can beat his 100 points total that he had a year ago.
What would the Oilers be even more thankful for?
Some of their defensive depth to improve. Injuries on their defensive end have not helped with the Oilers struggles this year. The biggest injury was when the team lost Andrej Sekera in May after tearing his ACL. He should be back in a few weeks, although there have been no official updates. Sekera was a critical piece to the team’s defensive success last season. The team has also just lacked depth this year. The team has added former Oiler Brandon Davidson back to the team today after claiming him off waivers from Montreal and expect Adam Larsson to return soon from injury, but the hope is the return of Sekera should give the team the depth it really needs.
What should be on the Oilers’ Holiday Wish List?
Finding a trade partner that can get the team a not too pricey wing solution. The team has tried to put its faith into young wingers like Anton Slepyshev (one goal), Drake Caggiula (four goals), Jujhar Khaira (three goals), Jesse Puljujarvi (four goals), Kailer Yamamoto (one goal and returned to junior team), Iiro Pakarinen (no goals and just waived and sent down to the AHL), Zack Kassian (two goals) and Jussi Jokinen (no goals and traded to the Los Angeles Kings). Many might still have some potential, but none of them seem to be players who could be in the team’s top-six. The team is loaded with centers, but can’t seem to find anyone to consistently put the puck away. A move must be made at some point if they want to salvage their season.