Oil Drops - Heroics Against Blues, "Driving a Line," Seattle, Cap Increase
Ryan Nugent Hopkins and Connor McDavid both scored beautiful shoot-out goals to propel the Oilers to a 3-2 SO win against the St. Louis Blues, but the game would never have gotten to that point had it not been for some last minute heroics by Oscar Klefbom.
The first period went about as awful as it could have with the Oil finding themselves quickly down two nothing. The Nurse-Russell pairing were on for both goals, with each player being at fault for allowing the shot to get through. I included in my Keys To Victory that Nurse needed to be better but he might have had his worst period of the season.
Everything that Edmonton did suggested that fans were in for a 4-0 shutout loss, but to the credit of the team they rebounded strong in the second and controlled play for the rest of the game.
Cam Talbot had himself the exact game that he needed. While neither of the first two goals could truly be put on Cam, had the Oilers lost it would have signaled another mark against the netminder. Talbot finished the night 0.933% as well as made the stop in the shootout to win the game. Cam should certainly get another start soon, which should come either against the Wild tomorrow or the Flames on Sunday.
An interesting debate came across my Twitter feed a few days ago regarding one of the most controversial phrases in hockey, "driving a line."
First off, the issue is what defines "driving a line," and in this writer's opinion, it is something that does not need twelve different stats to explain. When I look around the league for players who drive a line I am looking at players who are able to generate offense, are not detrimental to their linemates offense, and can improve their linemates production.
Connor McDavid is on another level from every other player in the National Hockey League so it is unfair to try and put Draisaitl on the same pedestal in regards to what he does for his linemates. Having said that, players like Alex Chiasson, Drake Caggiula, and Tobias Rieder all have a higher GF% when they are with Leon as opposed to playing without.
The other issue is again the fact of how starved the Oilers are for offense. Edmonton has three top 6 forwards in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl, and Connor McDavid along with a rotating cast of supporting players. It is true Draisaitl's GF% drops from 57.14% with McDavid to 43.75% without him, but Ryan Nugent Hopkins and Leon Draisaitl have only played 11:46 together without Connor McDavid. Put another way, when Leon Draisaitl has played away from Connor McDavid, it has been with complimentary wingers, and third and fourth liners. It is unfair to expect Draisaitl to pull these players around at a high scoring rate. Connor can do it...but that is because he is Connor.
The NHL has officially announced that the Seattle TBD's will join as the 32 team for the 2021-2022 season. Now that the news is official we can once again have all of our news regarding trades, and player acquisitions have the added asterisk of worrying about expansion drafts... joy.
The expansion rules will be the same as when the Golden Knights entered the league, meaning each team can protect seven forwards, three defencemen, and a goalie, or eight total skaters and a goalie.
The way too early Oilers expansion list would likely look something like this:
The Oilers were smart and sent Evan Bouchard back to the WHL he is exempt from expansion. Kris Russell will (finally) be off the books as will Andrej Sekera on the backend. Milan Lucic if he remains an Oiler has a NMC and must be protected by the Oilers.
First and second year professional players are exempt but players like Ethan Bear, Caleb Jones, Tyler Benson, and Kailer Yamamoto will be past that point. The roster could look very different three years from now and these players will either be players worth protecting, or long gone.
Note: Both Ryan Nugent Hopkins and Adam Larsson are set to be UFA for the 2021-2022 season by the Edmonton Oilers and would have to be signed prior to the expansion draft to be kept. Another wrinkle is the looming issue of there likely being another lockout in the 2020-2021 season. It's too early to focus on expansion too much, but the decisions made over the next couple of years for whoever is the Oilers GM, should absolutely take Seattle into account.
Though not official Bettman has stated he expected the cap to be in the range of 83 million for next season, which would be a 3.5 million dollar increase from what it is now. For a team like Edmonton dealing with cap restraints, and that needs to make decisions on a number of RFA's, this is good news.
In no particular order here are the cap decisions I would like to see the Oilers make.
- Find a way to rid the team of at least one of the Lucic, Russell, and Sekera contracts.
- Qualifying offers for Ty Rattie, Jujhar Khaira, and Tobias Rieder.
- Sign Puljujarvi to a 2 or 3 year bridge deal.
- Walk away from Garrison, Patrick Russell, Chris Wideman, and Cam Talbot.
- Sign Alex Chiasson,Mikko Koskinen, and Kevin Gravel to REASONABLE one or two year deals.