The Edmonton Oilers looked to be a team on the rise after Ken Hitchcock took over coaching duties back on Nov. 20. The team went on a 9-2-2 run and looked to be heading to the top of the Pacific Division. However, suddenly after a three-game losing streak and a tough loss to the NHL’s best team in the Tampa Bay Lightning, many questions are being raised whether the team has enough offense to compete with the Lightning or other top teams in the league.
In fact, Sportsnet’s Mark Spector writes that there is practically no depth on this team as the Oilers are fielding two lines that can score and another two that aren’t posing any offensive threat at all. Only six forwards have more than 10 points and only four of them have 20 points or more. Unfortunately for the team, the Oilers have invested a lot of money unwisely as it’s well known that the team is paying Milan Lucic $6MM and he has totaled just one goal and seven points this year. Ryan Spooner, who is making $3.1MM, has scored just two goals and five points between Edmonton and the New York Rangers, while Tobias Rieder hasn’t scored a goal yet at his $2MM contract.
The scribe adds that the team needs that depth scoring even if they have to find it in Bakersfield. However, at the moment, the team is relying more and more on their top players. Connor McDavid played 23:27 on Saturday against Tampa Bay, which is too much.
- The Los Angeles Kings have had quite a bit to worry about when it comes to prospect Gabe Vilardi, who was cut from Canada’s World Junior roster last week as he still remains out with a back injury. The 19-year-old has played a total of 36 games in the past season and a half, 32 with the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL last season and four with the AHL’s Ontario Reign in a conditioning stint this year. While Vilardi is expected to return to the OHL as soon as he’s healthy enough, there is concern about his development as well as whether he can get healthy, according to Josh Cooper of The Athletic (subscription required). General manager Rob Blake’s main concern is his health. “We’re more concerned about getting him healthy,” Blake said. “I’m not looking at the other part of that. We want to make sure he gets healthy first.”
- TSN’s Jason Brough writes that the Vancouver Canucks need to start thinking about moving some of their defensemen, especially defensive blueliner Alexander Edler. The veteran has been playing big minutes for Vancouver as he averages 22:46 of ATOI and played 27:30 in Saturday’s game against Winnipeg. The scribe writes that the team needs to convince Edler to waive his no trade clause, so the team get some assets for him and then maybe re-sign him for next year to help work with the incoming youth.