Now that Christmas has passed, we can move on to the latter half of the Edmonton Oilers season. I feel that there are going to be some pretty massive changes to give head coach Ken Hitchcock more help down the lineup.
Here are five predictions that I think could go down for the Edmonton Oilers before the end of the 2018-19 season,
Prediction #1: A 6 Million Dollar Man Will be Moved
It’s not going to be the one you think of though. The Boston Bruins love Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and they are in dire need of some help down the middle. The health of David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron has been in decline in recent years, and it’s time for a passing of the torch.
The cost would be Torey Krug and Jake DeBrusk though. Edmonton needs a defender who can put up points and QB their power play as well as an industrious winger with the ability to score.
Prediction #2: Ken Hitchcock Will Sign an Extension with the Oilers
It’s only been Hitchcock’s lifelong dream to coach his hometown club and now that he’s doing it, don’t expect him to give up the post easily. The players are reacting positively to his methods, and I believe they’re on their way to their second playoff appearance in four seasons with the future hall-of-fame coach at the wheel.
Prediction #3: The Call-Ups Will Continue to Impress
The Oilers prospects coming up from their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield will get their shot in Edmonton and for the first time in a long time, not look out of place. GM Peter Chiarelli has done a masterful job at the draft since taking over in 2015.
All that’s left is for Chiarelli to clear out some of the dead weight on his NHL roster so that he can fit in some of these kids playing in the minors.
Prediction #4: Goodbye Truculence, Hello Skill
When Chiarelli was hired in 2015, he turned a small skilled team that was so easy to play against into one that wouldn’t take any guff on the ice. Players like Eric Gryba, Milan Lucic, Pat Maroon, and Zack Kassian were brought in to take care of business, but in a blink of an eye, the league changed. Now skill is preferred to brute force.
I foresee the Oilers looking at teams that might find themselves staring down the barrel of a shotgun named Tom Wilson and in need of a counter move in case they do meet up in the playoffs. Zack Kassian and Milan Lucic have been rumored to be of interest to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Prediction #5: There Can Be Only One Doc
Darnell Nurse‘s nickname is “Doc,” and for those of you who didn’t know, the Oilers had a doctor playing for them in the ’80s. A defenseman by the name of Dr. Randy Gregg. But there can be only one doctor on this team.
I guess that if the Oilers do bring in a player like Torey Krug, that will spell the end of Nurse’s career in Edmonton and he’ll be used in a package to bring in a center or a right-shot defender. There’s no doubt in my mind that there’d be a long list of teams who’d love to have Nurse on their team.
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Nurse is going to be a fantastic defenseman one day because he’s solid, he plays the game very honestly, and he can transport the puck well. His challenges are obvious though, in that his hockey IQ isn’t elite, he’s not a great passer, and he doesn’t put up a lot of offense.