5 Things That Killed The Oilers This Season
Hello everyone! I stepped away from blogging for the last couple of days to decompress from the Oilers season. I did some bouldering, biking, and last night I stayed up all night reading.... because I wanted to and definitely not because the ending of that Game of Thrones episode...
Now that I'm feeling refreshed once more, I want to take one last look at the Edmonton Oilers 2018/2019 season as a whole. There will still be plenty of time for me to release player report cards and break down other specific aspects of the team but I would rather spend my time talking about the future of this team. Discussing issues and problems with the team is not interesting for the readers; it's nothing you haven't heard 1000 times.
Over the summer I will produce some content talking about why the Oilers penalty kill failed, or about why last season proved RNH is one of the best second line centres in the game, but I'm going to shy away from the things I have had to repeat over and over again.
With all that out of the way, here are 5 reasons why the Oilers season finished the way it did.
5) Tobias Rieder (kinda)
Eating my eggs and bacon, I sat in the room wide-eyed as Bob Nicholson came down hard on Toby Rieder. It was a major gaff by Nicholson and while it was not Tobias Rieder's fault the Oilers did not make the playoffs there is some truth to the statement.
Looking back, the signing of Rieder to a one year, 2 million dollar deal was viewed as a bargain deal during free agency. Rieder was supposed to come in and be able to produce 10-15 goals somewhere in the Oilers middle six forward group. Edmonton had far too many question marks and depth issues throughout their lineup to be competitive, but Rieder was a proven commodity who should have provided some semblance of production.
4) Oscar Klefbom's Injury
The Oilers started December going 5-1-1 through their first 7 games...then Oscar Klefbom was injured and the team went 1-6 over the remainder of the month. The tools and skill-set that Klefbom brings to the Oilers cannot be stressed enough and he is without question, a top pairing defenceman. Should Klefbom have stayed healthy for the whole season, I would expect Edmonton to be ahead of a few more teams in the standings, likely in the Minnesota range.
3) Trading Ryan Strome
Many thought the Ryan Strome trade was a purely lateral shuffle that would do nothing to improve or deter the team...I hated it from the moment it was announced. Not only was Ryan Spooner proven to be detrimental to his linemates in New York, the Oilers were getting rid of their one proven option at centre on the third line.
After Ryan Strome was traded, we saw the line blenders coming out in full force. Brodziak became a third line centre for a time, RNH and Draisaitl each took a line, trying to carry anchors with them, Colby Cave was signed... and here we are at the end of the season, and a third line centre is one of the areas the team still needs to address.
2) A Full 60
"Playing a full 60 minutes" is one of the most cliched phrases in hockey. The game is a constant back and forth between opponents with the eb and flow changing from minute to minute. Having said that Edmonton failed to show up too many times to start games and far too often played the remainder of the game behind the 8 ball.
When the Oilers trailed after the first period they went 7-19-3. Looking at only their home games the team was a pathetic 1-9-2. For fans who paid to watch games, if the team was down after the first period they could basically leave with the knowledge that they were not going to win.
1) Inability To Make Moves
This list was not intended to be a ranked top 5, however I would place this as one of the largest issues that plagued (and still plagues) this team. The roster was incomplete from the first day of the season with depth being a massive issue. As the season progressed and injuries occurred, players failed to meet expectations, and as others in the division passed Edmonton by, the inability to address any of these issues became the key issue.
Large amounts of cap space being taken up by the likes of Milan Lucic, Kris Russell, and Andrej Sekera prevented the team from bringing in any players of note. The lack of depth made it that any trade the Oilers made, immediately created a hole in whatever player they just traded. Good teams in the NHL rarely make big moves during the season, but the weaker teams can improve by adding during the season. The Blackhawks fortunes started to change shortly after acquiring Dylan Strome from the Coyotoes. The Oilers did not have the assets to make deals like that and continue to lack options to improve the team.
What would you say were the biggest issues to haunt this team throughout the 2018/2019 season?