The Edmonton Oilers have been scrutinized all season long on different levels, on various statistics they should improve and what needs to change. At one point in their disastrous season, the Oilers' special teams have been a source of woe all season long. Back in January, their penalty-killing (last in the league) had drawn most of the attention, but their power play had sunk to 29th with a success rate of just 15.1 per cent after half of the campaign in the books.
“At times, our execution is not there,” veteran forward Milan Lucic had said to Global News. “I know it’s easy to say: ‘Shoot it!’ but when someone is in the lane and a guy’s blocking it, that’s just like shooting it into the goalie’s glove.”
A new statistic has been observed by NHL insider Elliotte Friedman, and now we realize someone should have told Lucic that many the offense up-font could have used some help from the blue line. In his latest 31 Thoughts column on Sportsnet on Thursday, Friedman reveals another major issue on the Oilers' lineup and how the team and general manager Peter Chiarelli will not be able to ignore it any longer.
"Entering Wednesday’s games, Edmonton had 127 points from defencemen, 27th in the NHL. (Nashville is best, at 195.) That is something the Oilers will address in the off-season. It’s a priority."
Friedman is not someone who used the word "priority" lightly, but in the Oilers' case, fans certainly hope the insider's hidden message will come across. Some pundits will feel less worried about the Edmonton defense, claiming that if Oscar Klefbom and Andrej Sekera would have both been healthy, they probably would have put up more points to help the mediocre statistic. However, it seems clear that the Oilers are missing a strong piece on the back end, and that the trade for Adam Larsson did not fill all the voids to be a true contender.
Like the aforementioned Lucic appears to be landing on the trade block this season, his disappointing season and high-priced contract will not manage to bring it a star defenseman to Edmonton. Let's not forget that the Oilers had been shopping forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for most of the season, and could use him instead in a move for the appropriate help on the blue line.
There are also a few pending free agent defensemen that could be interesting to take a closer look at, though the most coveted one, Washington Capitals' John Carlson, should be too expensive for Edmonton. And with Lucic taking most of the cash with his massive seven-year contract worth a whopping $42 million, it looks like a tough go on the market...
Let's see if they can find a solution, but let's be honest, with stats like this, they must!