Edmonton Oilers: Player report card at the halfway mark

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - JUNE 21: General Manager Ken Holland of the Edmonton Oilers speaks onstage during the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 21, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - JUNE 21: General Manager Ken Holland of the Edmonton Oilers speaks onstage during the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 21, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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Edmonton Oilers
VANCOUVER, BC – DECEMBER 23: Edmonton Oilers Goalie Mikko Koskinen (19) in net against the Vancouver Canucks during their NHL game at Rogers Arena on December 23, 2019 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Devin Manky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Players that are questionable for the future

Mikko Koskinen

Koskinen has the dubious honor of being the last transaction Chiarelli did – re-signing for too much money – before PC was fired. The money was a little much, and the term was a little much too.

Koskinen seemed to be covering his bet at the beginning of the season, as his hot goaltending was – in part – why the team got off to such a great start. However, he came crashing down to earth in November and December, which is – in part – why the team started to struggle a bit after that.

If it weren’t for the fact that Mike Smith has been much worse, Koskinen likely would’ve had starts taken away from him because of that. Right now his stats are OK – .912 sv% and 2.85 GAA – but not great.

Also somewhat disturbing is that although he’s won 2 out of his last 4 starts he hasn’t had a sv% above .900 in any of those games, which is not good. He has shown flashes of brilliance but is too inconsistent to make me believe that he is a solution long term.  I don’t know how Holland will get rid of Koskinen but you never know – no one thought he could get rid of the Lucic contract either but he did.

I would suspect, however, that unless Koskinen gets more consistent that Holland will try to make a move with goaltending before too long. Unfortunately as the #3 in the organization is injured right now we’ll have to stick with what we’ve got for the time being.  Hopefully, Koskinen can handle the increased workload now, all we can do is cross our fingers and hope for the best between the pipes.

Joakim Nygard

Nygard came to the Oilers with much hype.  During the Oilers skills competition he won the fastest skater award, narrowly beating out Connor Mcdavid. But what has Nygard got to show for his efforts?  He has the speed but doesn’t seem to have to hands to match his speed and thus can’t finish off his offense.

The only reason he’s not in the “disappointment” pile is I’m willing to cut Nygard some slack because he’s a European rookie that might need more time to get used to the smaller NHL ice surface and increased physical play.

For a guy with such a huge speed, I’d expect better than 2-4-6 in 25 games.  I guess his 1 redeeming quality is he doesn’t seem to be overwhelmed defensively at -2.  He doesn’t have any other skills to speak of so if he’s not scoring he’s not doing anything good for the team.

He’s played up and down the lineup and can’t seem to score no matter who he’s playing with.  Unless he has a better 2nd half I can’t see the team bringing him back for next year.

Matt Benning

Benning has only played 24 games this season, being injured for the rest of it, but honestly, at this point I don’t think the Oilers miss him too much. He’s currently sporting 0-5-5 in those 5 games.  That extrapolates out to 17 points – a hold from last year, which explains why he’s not in the “disappointment” pile.

Another thing in Benning’s favor is he’s been good defensively – albeit against the soft competition 3rd pairing D face.  He’s +8 in those 24 games, which leads the team right now. But Caleb Jones had been making noise in that position as of late, putting up almost as much offense at a much cheaper price.

Not to mention they could also find an outside hire for cheaper than that at the position.  Also, the key to this is Benning is an RFA.  Would you give him a raise of 10% from this year?  I wouldn’t, yet according to the terms of the CBA it’d be mandatory.  Better to trade him away for a pick or let him walk.

Benning makes $1.9 million and is in a contract year, so unless he shows more offense I have a feeling he’ll be a prime trade chip at the trade deadline – trading Benning for a draft pick would be an easy way to free up some cap space for next season by not having to re-sign him.

Patrick Russell

At this point, if you said “who?”  I wouldn’t blame you at all. Patrick Russell was a guy who Tippett liked on the 4th line early in the year but as it often goes in the bottom 6 other guys have pushed him out.

Russell is rather forgettable as a player.  He has only produced 0-4-4 for offense and even then hasn’t produced any offense at all since Nov. 24. He was out of the lineup against the Rangers.  Considering that the Oilers pulled out a win from that, I tend to think he won’t play in the next game, either.  The only thing Russell seems to excel at is hitting, as he’s 8th on the team with 41 hits.

But is that enough to hold onto a roster spot?  On this team that is lacking in depth scoring, I tend to think not. Unless Russell can pick up his offense, I doubt he’s back next year.  At this point, he may not even get in the lineup again for awhile.