I know it, you know it, we all know it: the Edmonton Oilers have had an extremely embarrassing season and one in which they have drastically regressed from the previous season in which they looked like a legitimate playoff contender. On Wednesday, they were officially eliminated from playoff contention. In his latest column, TSN's Frank Seravalli asks the very important question: "What happened to the Edmonton Oilers?"
There are many things fans can blame the save percentage, power play and penalty kill.
"Cam Talbot carried a .903 save percentage into the New Year. He could not deliver key saves, especially early in the season, especially on home ice.The Oilers’ power play dropped from fifth overall last season to 31st this year. The penalty kill may help explain how perplexing a season it has been. Edmonton will set a new NHL record for penalty kill futility on home ice (61.4 per cent) in a season, but have the NHL’s best penalty kill on the road.
They allowed two or more shorthanded goals against in 11 of the first 27 home games of the season. That’s happened just once in 37 road games.Same players, same system, same coaching. Go figure."
The main problem remains the trades that were made: "the compounding effect of losing Jordan Eberle the summer after Taylor Hall would have on the Oilers in the standings. Their departures created significant voids of high-end skill in the lineup."
Come on, you see it. Eberle has been on fire with the New York Islanders. As for Hall, he is one of the few Hart Trophy candidates, so we don't need to rub it in any longer.
And if only it stopped there... Bad trades. GM Peter Chiarelli could be sorry and make important changes this summer that fans could still trust. However, he has also made a terrible decision when it came to veteran forward Milan Lucic.
The 29-year-old gritty forward is just the second season of a seven-year, $42 million contract. Say what, you ask! The most painful thing is that Lucic has only tallied a single goal in his last 36 games, which is one of the main reasons why the Oilers are struggling at the wing. For months now, trade chatter hinted at Edmonton looking to fill on the wing, and with the lengthy lucrative deal offered to Lucic, who cannot produce, you see why.
"He does not have a power-play point since Dec. 23, despite playing regularly. His inability to keep up and handle pucks should have the Oilers’ brass wondering how his $6 million salary cap hit will be palatable next year."
The main mistake Chiarelli made was to project the Oilers as the Boston Bruins he led to the Stanley Cup back in 2011. In a press conference when he took over in Edmonton, he used the word “heavier” 13 times to describe his vision of the team.
Let's not all blame Chiarelli alone, says Seravalli.
"Chiarelli alone is not complicit in that “heavy” vision. Bob Nicholson, Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish were all on-board with his plan after watching the Oilers get pushed around for years in the West. What hurts is had the Oilers not traded Hall and Eberle, they would be better positioned to compete in the current NHL landscape."
At the beginning of the month, Oilers team president Bob Nicholson made comments suggesting that things are about to change drastically in Edmonton.
“We have a plan and we are going to get it right,” “There will be some change, but we are not going to make those until the end of the year,” “I think we want to make sure that we get the right culture in the dressing room,” said Nicholson as per Sportsnet.
“Fans will buy in if they can understand the plan once we make the changes.”
Let's hope they do...