The Oilers Season Is Over: An Ode To Another Year Lost


Breath easy Oilers fans, the season is over.

Despite the fact that we set a franchise low in wins (24), the Oilers saw success under Todd Nelson. The previous franchise low was in 1993-1994 when Ted Green was at the helm.

SeasonLgTeamGPW ▴LTOLPTSPTS%SRSSOSFinishPlayoffsCoaches
2014-15NHLEdmonton Oilers8224441462.378-1.010.036thD. Eakins (7-19-5), T. Nelson (17-25-9)
1993-94NHLEdmonton Oilers8425451464.381-0.520.006thT. Green (3-18-3), G. Sather (22-27-11)

Provided by View Original Table

The Eakins era came to an end in a burning fashion that was highlighted by a 11-game losing streak between November 11th and December 3rd where we gave up over four goals per game. After snapping the streak by beating the Sharks, the Oilers went on another losing streak.

This time 9 games. And on December 15th, Eakins got his walking papers.

Eakins was signed to a four-year contract to coach the Oilers, so Edmonton is still having to pay him to not coach the Oilers for another two years.

The entire 112 games that he coached were a waste as the team regressed under his tutelage.

I still feel that under Todd Nelson, the Oilers were a completely different team. Even though our roster was filled with players with little experience, Nelson was able to This season, our Corsi For percentage at even strength this year was 48.1%, which ranks 24th among NHL teams and not far behind teams like the Montreal Canadiens (48.5%) and the New York Rangers (49.5%). On top of that, it is also a 3.8% increase over last season. That is more of a tribute to Eakins telling the team just to throw everything on the net:  

"“I think maybe on the start of the year we were really focused on shooting the puck and Corsi numbers,” Eberle told Derek Van Diest of the Edmonton Sun. “When that starts creeping into your head, you’re just shooting the puck just to shoot it and you’re not trying to create the best opportunity you can.” – Justin Cuthbert, The Score"

"Under Nelson, “the biggest thing I’m noticing is, we’re playing better as a team,” said winger Jordan Eberle, who leads the Oilers in goal-scoring with 15. “We’re playing better as a five-man unit systematically. We’ve upped our tempo in practice a little bit and we’re playing more like that in games. Those two things – and we’re starting to enjoy coming into the locker room a bit more. A lot of that goes with winning, but it’s really a catalyst in helping you play better too.” – Eric Duhatschek, Globe and Mail"

It is clear that Eakins had brought in some unorthodox systems with him to the team and he even removed all of the glory days items from the locker room. Heck, he even went down to hang out with Jason Garrett and the Dallas Cowboys for a few training camp practices. As a matter of fact, if the Oilers kept Eakins for the entire season they would currently have the highest odds at drafting McDavid as they’d have a league low 50 points.

Can someone stop the puck?

As Henderson noted above, our goaltending was atrocious this season. It’s very possible that they are simply struggling due to Edmonton’s middling defence that featured a lot of AHL level players getting playing time, as well as guys like Nikitin who struggled so much due to injury. Or how could we forget the Brad Hunt experiment that saw him play almost 20 minutes a night during his eleven game stint. Let’s just visualize the separation between Scrivens and Fasth, and the rest of the NHL goaltenders under Henderson’s guidelines:

As we go into the offseason, Viktor Fasth is due a new contract as he is a UFA. Realistically, I don’t see the Oilers retaining Fasth going into next season. Ben Scrivens has one year left on a contact that will see him get paid $2.3 million. Is it possible that Scrivens gets bought out?

Well since it would cost us $1.5 million against the cap, we would only save $700 000. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him back on the bench next season as I feel he could still be a valuable backup. writer Garik16 pointed out, by the age of 27, goaltenders in the NHL have historically began to decline in their play:

"1.  Goalies don’t improve as they get older2.  By age 30, goalie decline starts to get REALLY noticable3.  By mid-30s, even with the aging line, goalies rapidly start to fall apart.With a few 27-32 year old goalies hitting free agency this year, teams should REALLY be careful how much and how long they pay guys who are hitting the roughest years in their careers."

As we look at some of the available free agent goaltenders this year, the list is covered with goaltenders that are reaching the age of 30, and that decline point. The Oilers need to be very weary when making signings this season as there are not any goaltenders that I feel are “out of the park” players. The last thing the Oilers need is to oversign a goaltender.

UFA’s like Antti Niemi, Karri Ramo, or Andrew Hammond are players the Oilers should target looking to sign them to a 2 year deal for no more than $3 million – $4 million.

What about the Bross?

Last week, Laurent Brossoit wow’d in his first NHL start where he stopped 49 of 51 pucks facing the San Jose Sharks. Those 49 saves were the most in an NHL debut since Manny Legace made 49 saves on October 21st, 1998 during his first NHL game. Brossoit has done very well with the OKC Barons in the AHL this season, where he has posted a 2.65 GAA and a .916 sv% and he now has the chance to lead them into the playoffs. That’s some valuable experience for a 22-year old.

Going into next season, the place for him is going to be in Bakersfield. After that however, I would not be surprised to see the Oilers have him in Edmonton competing for the starting role.

There is lots of time for us to break down this season and look into the future. So make sure to stay tuned to Oil on Whyte as we indulge into the details.