The Edmonton Oilers have placed Kyle Turris on waivers.
It’s a small move with a player who has struggled in league play this year. But the Oilers are also struggling, at least when it comes to the flow of play.
Edmonton has a record of seven win and four losses in the last 11 games, which is outstanding. That doesn’t sound like a team in any kind of trouble, does it?
The Oilers have mainly been winning because of the stellar play of goalie Mike Smith. This is why we now see people like Jack Michaels, the team’s excellent play-by-play announcer, putting out the idea that Edmonton’s real MVP might just be Smith, and not the astonishing Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl.
“There’s an argument to be made for Mike Smith as team MVP even though McDavid/Draisaitl no doubt will be at the front of the line for the Hart,” Michael said. “And yes, I’m aware most will disagree.”
But as Smith’s game has taken off, the Oilers own play has faded. When it comes to creating and defending against Grade A chances, the Oilers are in trouble.
This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.
Edmonton had an impressive positive differential in scoring chances in the first 30 games of the year, but this trend has completely reversed in the last 11 games.
In its first 30 games, Edmonton averaged 12.8 Grade A chances per game, while giving up just 10.2 per game.
Brilliant, and it had me bullish about the team even when it was off to a weak start in terms of wins and losses.
But in the last 11 games, the Oilers have averaged 8.3 Grade A chances per game while giving up 11.1.
Not good. Not even close to good.
It’s fantastic that the Oilers are still finding a way to win most of their games. But unless the team can change course here, which is certainly possible, this does not bode well for a long playoff run.
So what to do?
Here are the options:
- Shake up the current top two lines in significant fashion. This should be Plan A, but it should have been done a long time ago, with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins placed back on a line with Leon Draisaitl and Kailer Yamamoto. That line was the hottest in the NHL last season but we’ve barely seen it this year. Why not? When RNH gets healthy, why not give it a go? He’s hardly been scoring at McDavid’s side. Yes, McDavid will need another left winger but the team can try Tyler Ennis, Dominik Kahun, Tyler Benson, Zack Kassian, Ryan McLeod or Cooper Marody there.
- Call up top scoring players from the minors, such as Benson, Marody and/or McLeod. This line is crushing it in AHL play. Benson and Marody are more than ready for another shot at the NHL. What is the hold up? Why not see if they can’t help kickstart Edmonton’s stumbling play?
- Make a trade. This won’t be easy. It would likely mean Edmonton giving up its first round pick in the draft. It may also mean moving out a pricey contract, which will significantly add to the price, maybe costing the team an A- prospect, not Philip Broberg, Evan Bouchard or Dylan Holloway, but maybe a player like Dmitri Samorukov, McLeod or Raphael Lavoie. But depending on which player is available in trade, and if he’s a solid bet to help the Oilers this year and maybe for a few more years, such a price may well be worth paying.
- This team is strong enough to compete for the Cup in crucial ways, but too weak in a few ways. It’s got two brilliant centres, a true No. 1 d-man in Darnell Nurse and an acting No. 1 goalie in Smith. It’s strong where it counts, up the middle. But it needs one or two pieces and some maximizing of the current talent if it has any hope of picking up its play and competing for the Cup this year.
Staples on politics
Alberta’s draft K-6 curriculum will finally help students learn the ‘nuts and bolts’ of math, experts say
At the Cult
Edmonton Journal Headline News
Sign up to receive daily headline news from the Edmonton Journal, a division of Postmedia Network Inc.
By clicking on the sign up button you consent to receive the above newsletter from Postmedia Network Inc. You may unsubscribe any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of our emails. Postmedia Network Inc. | 365 Bloor Street East, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 3L4 | 416-383-2300