Edmonton Oilers Needs: Consistent Effort, Size and Defense


 

Apr 10, 2014; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defensemen Oscar Klefbom (84) tries to clear a puck in front of goaltender Victor Fasth (35) during the second period at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Whenever the Edmonton Oilers are mentioned on social media sites, whether it be Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, there are 3 areas of discussion by the fans. Size in the top 6, a legitimate number 1 NHL defenseman and consistent effort. I will break down the needs and how to acquire them in the now,

  • Size in the top 6

Needs: The Edmonton Oilers top 6 are really clones of each other with different skill-sets. David Perron, Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sam Gagner and Nail Yakupov all average at about 6’0, 190lbs. In the big pacific division, the current Oilers top 6 is not a top 6 you’d want facing off against teams like the San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks. The Perry’s, Getzlaf’s, Brown’s, Thornton’s and Marleau’s of the trio of monster Cali teams can out muscle these Oiler forwards any day of the week. Clearly, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagner are not big center men. An upgrade over Nugent-Hopkins isn’t likely mainly due to that Ryan is the number 1 center on the team. Sam Gagner, however, can be replaced.

How to acquire size in the top 6: To acquire an asset, you have to subtract. Right? Well, I don’t see it that way, in terms of replacing Sam Gagner’s  No. 2 center position. Some of you may see what I’m getting at, and yes, it’s Prince Albert Raiders C/W Leon Draisaitl. The Cologne, Germany product has delivered fairly well this past season in the WHL, accumulating 105 points (38 goals, 67 assists) in 64 games played. It’s a bit of a stretch  where I project Draisaitl to be picked, most likely ahead of Bennett and Reinhart, but he’s 6’1, 209lbs according to  WHL.com. He’s bigger than Gagner and wins draws. He’d be a good 50-55 point per season player at the very least, and he has incredible vision. So, why not select Leon Draisaitl?

  • Number 1 defenseman

Needs: This is the easiest weak point that a fan can point to as the primary source as the Oilers continuous failure year after year. Since Chris Pronger packed his bags to Anaheim, the Edmonton Oilers have not had a defenseman that can log 30 minutes a night. Those defenseman are rare and there are only two in today’s NHL that can play at that level–Ryan Suter and Shea Weber. So really, the Oilers were lucky to have number 44 patrol the blue line (No, not Sheldon Souray) even if it was just for one season.

How to acquire a number 1 defenseman: Now this is a tricky situation. I’m going to say the same-old, same-old fantasy that almost all Oiler fans want to see happen. That fantasy? Acquiring Shea Weber. Now, he will bring almost everything Chris Pronger brought, except he has a ridiculously gigantic contract. Yes, I’m using Bryzgalov’s vocabulary now, “Ridiculously gigantic”. Anyway, that’s the only downside. Now the upside. Like I stated before, Weber can play 25-30 minutes a night on a consistent basis, he arguably possesses the hardest shot in the NHL and he ain’t afraid to rough things up. Now, the price. What’s it going to take to pry Weber out of Nashville? I’m on a line of Eberle, one of Marincin, Klefbom or Jeff Petry and possibly this years draft selection. That’s a pretty big price. Heck, I think that’d just make the Preds listen.

  • Consistent Effort

Needs: The Edmonton Oilers need to put forth a consistent effort day in, day out. I can’t help but point to the L.A Kings game last night where the Oilers got drubbed 3 zip. Almost the entire game, TSN’s Ray Ferraro kept preaching the Oilers to put up a consistent effort every game of the season. Ferraro mentioned size, and lacking a elite rearguard are indeed issues, but if the Oilers played every game with consistent effort, their place in the  standings would be different.

How to achieve consistency in effort: The recipe of success. Yes, there are several ways to lead a player to play confidently and consistently, from a vocal, motivating coach, to players such as Matt Hendricks. One easy way? Trust the every guy in the locker room next to you and have confidence.

How it all plays out (In perfect scenario):

I believe, if the Oilers acquire Shea Weber and develop a new mentality, or grow on the mentality Dallas Eakins‘ is trying to reinforce, the Oilers can achieve long term success. You’d have Shea Weber logging big time minutes, Weber would help develop Schultz into an elite offensive force and the back end would be less shaky. Yes, still shaky but a little less rocky.

Now, if we don’t acquire Weber and go the Leon Draisaitl route, it would still be beneficial. Leon, who may not play a big man’s game, is still a big man and can potentially put up big time points in the NHL. I’m more of a prospect guy, if have yet to tell. I don’t see Evgeni Malkin in Draisaitl, but at the same time I do. I said the same thing last June about Dallas Stars rookie star Valeri Nichushkin, there’s a bit of Malkin, but not a lot.

I’m not comparing either Draisaitl or Nichushkin to Malkin but all three play the game identically (Downside on Draisaitl: Doesn’t play big man’s game).

Now that concludes this post.

 

Tags: Draisaitl Eberle Hall Nashville Nugent-hopkins Oilers Weber WHL

  • BillHK

    Thanks for a well written post. I doubt that the Oil will make a play for Weber. His contract is just too big for the Oil who, for the coming few years, the Oilers will need to dish out a couple of more big contracts to RNH, Yak, Schultz, etc… Btw, if you give up this year’s first round as part of the package for Weber, then they cannot draft Draitsaitl.

    My take on this entire 2nd (3rd?, 4th?) rebuild is that the oilers did it all wrong. D-men take longer to develop than Forwards, so they should have loaded up on top D-men with their drafts (or through trades) before drafting their Forwards. Yes, I know about the “best player available” stuff, but trades at or before the draft are possible and the Oilers management really did mess-up their D with the handling of Souray and then trading away Gilbert.

    As for size in the top 6 and Centers:

    Centers need to have good positional play and defensive awareness, plus strong face-off ability is highly desirable. Gagner and Cogliano both do not have these things in spades The Ducks figured that out in 2 weeks, but it’s been 7 seasons and the Oilers have still don’t have a clue! Now it’s a bit late, so I truly hope that Gagner has a bounceback season as a Center, keeps improving on face-offs and puts up 55-60 points next year. He definitely has the talent to do so.

    With regards to size – here’s an idea. I hear that Penner is a free agent. He helped drive the play for several years as an Oiler, at 31 he’s not over the hill yet, and definitely has the size. Not sure that he still has the speed to be a top 6 forward though, and Mr Pancakes might not mesh well with Coach Fitness First.