Yakupov is traded!

Oilers trade Nail Yakupov for Cap Space and a Pick

The Oilers have traded Nail! Sad days.

Nail Yakupov to the Blues for Zach Pochiro and a conditional pick.

There has been all kinds of speculation that Yakupov had asked for a trade and that the Oilers were close to trading him last season but honestly we’ll never know for certain how much truth there is to this stuff. What we do know is that Peter Chiarelli has now traded two of the wonder kids from the previous administration and in both cases cap space was a large part of the decision.
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By Oonanur - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47227282

Edmonton Oilers: No Need To Be Concerned With Jesse Puljujarvi

The Edmonton Oilers continued their recent history of drafting highly touted offensive prospects in the first round. With the fourth overall pick in the 2016 draft, the Oilers drafted 18-year old Swedish right winger Jesse Puljujarvi. This marks the fourth time in five years the Oilers drafted an offensive player with a top five pick: 2012 #1 Nail Yakupov, 2014 #3 Leon Draisaitl, 2015 #1 Connor McDavid and now Puljujarvi.

Puljujarvi comes to the NHL with high expectations. The 6’3” right-winger recorded four goals and four assists in 16 games as a 17-year old in Finland’s top professional league. NHL’s Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb had high praise for Puljujarvi saying, “He’s a powerful skater with good speed and balance. He has outstanding hockey sense and reads the play well. He’s a good playmaker with strong puck-handling skills. He can take advantage of 1- on-1 situations with his long reach.”

Puljujarvi made a name for himself when he was named MVP of 2016 World Juniors Championship. In seven games, he recorded 17 points on five goals and 12 assists, placing him second all-time for points scored for a player under 18 in the tournament’s history. Puljujarvi is in elite company, as his 17 points is tied with Wayne Gretzky and Eric Lindros and is only behind Jaromir Jagr. Puljujarvi has drawn comparisons to future Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne.

With all of this high praise and expectations, you would assume that Puljujarvi would be impressive so far in training camp. Unfortunately, this is not the case. College free agent Drake Caggiula continues to impress coaches and turn heads in training camp, turning the pressure up on Puljujarvi. Caggiula is grading somewhat higher than the fourth overall pick, causing concern with the fan base. Puljujarvi is still a teenager with no experience playing outside of Europe, while Caggiula played four years at one of the best pro-producing hockey programs in North Dakota University.

It seems like the rookie is going through some growing pains, which should be expected with such a drastic culture and life change. Despite Puljujarvi playing on the top line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the Oilers’ 5-1 preseason loss to the Winnipeg Jets, there is still talk that he can start this season in AHL. Teammate Mark Letestu is trying to limit expectations saying, “My expectations for Jesse haven’t been sky high…maybe outside they have. It’s the best league in the world. What Connor did last year is very difficult. Not a lot of rookies can replicate that. There’s going to be growing pains…you can hear the coaches communicating with him and he’s adjusting.”

It is smart for the Oilers to not put added pressure on the teenager in his first season in the NHL. He may have dominated as a teenager, but that doesn’t mean his skillset will translate automatically at this level. There should be no cause for concern with these recent reports of Puljujarvi being out played by a free agent rookie. The Oilers believe Puljujarvi will be a major factor in their franchise’s plans, but fully understand the growing pains that come with such a young player.

Should the Oilers Trade For Hamonic or Shattenkirk?

There has been so much talk this season of the Oilers making a trade in the off-season to bring in a true top pairing D-man. Much of the talk has Jordan Eberle or Ryan Nugent Hopkins being sent out to acquire Travis Hamonic or Kevin Shattenkirk, both of whom would likely improve this team a great deal. I don’t want to get into the pros and cons of dealing Ebs or the Nuge but we all know that you need to trade value to get value and for the first time in a while I trust the GM to make the right deal.

So the question remain: Should the Oilers trade for Hamonic or Shattenkirk? I’ll admit that before doing research for this article I would have picked Shattenkirk, I’m just more familiar with the player so I have less doubt that he can come in and help the team win. I put together a player usage chart over at hockeyabstract.com to compare both of these guys to defensemen already on the Oilers and I’m actually a bit surpised:

playerusage-shattenkirk-vs-hamonic

A little info about the chart if your not familiar with these:

The higher up on the chart a player is the tougher the opposition is that he is facing and the further to the right a player is the more defensive zone draws the players takes. That means that the upper right corner of the chart is where players who are trusted most by their coach and get the least protection are found. The color of the players bubble is determined by their relative corsi to the rest of their team. The deeper the blue in the bubble the better the players Corsi is and the deeper the red the lower the players Corsi is. I chose rel corsi because I believe its a better indicator for the individual player regardless of how good of a possession team they play on. Lastly the size of the bubble is determined by the time on ice the players plays, the larger bubble indicates more minutes.

Hamonic VS Shattenkirk

Its pretty clear to me looking at this chart that Hamonic is a top pairing d-man and Shattenkirk is a second pairing. Hamonic is starting more shifts in the defensive zone and doing it against tougher competition than Shatenkirk and still has a bit better relative corsi. He also plays substantially more minutes than any body else on this chart. Shattenkirk is playing 2nd pairing minutes, getting the offensive zone push and playing easier competition than Hamonic and really isn’t the proven top pairing defenseman the Oilers need.

Personally, I’d love to get both of these guys but if I had to choose one it would hands down be Travis Hamonic.

Connor McDavid

Upper Deck 2015-16 Series One Hockey

As a kid I loved collecting hockey and baseball cards, of course it was a bonus to get a stick of gum with them and then use the doubles in the spokes of my bicycle tires. I had no idea how much card values would skyrocket and of course most of the cards I collected in the 80’s are either lost or are in awful condition. I did manage to keep a small collection of cards from the early 90’s in good shape and have passed them down to my son, who is only 10 years old, but understands the benefits of taking care of collectibles much better than I did at the same age.

The quality of the cards today is much better than back in my days as a youngster its much easier to keep them in top condition. I recently received the new Upper Deck 2015-16 Series One card set along with the 2015-16 Connor McDavid collection with the understanding I would review them on the site and I must say they are superb.

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meaningful

Meaningful Games

Meaningful games in December. Yes it’s true. The Oilers who are now winners of 5 in a row find themselves just one point short of a playoff spot. Yes, that’s true too.

The Oilers really haven’t played a game that matters after the month of November in, well I can’t remember when to be honest with you. The Pacific division is terrible, but that’s fine when it comes to where our team sits in the standings. If the old rule for making the playoffs still applied only 2 teams from the Pacific would currently be in a playoff spot. Los Angeles and Vancouver. Thanks to NHL for these rule changes, the Oilers have a chance.

All of this while the team is missing 3 of their top 6 forwards, Benoit Pouliot, Nail Yakupov and young phenom Connor McDavid haven’t played in ages and it appears only Pouliot is getting close to returning.
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Andrew Ferrence

Oilers Predictions Part 2 – The Defense

I talked about the forward group for 2015 here.

The Oilers have 10 Defencemen who I believe will be in contention to make the team out of training camp and there will be some upset fans when the team decides to send players to the minors even though they may have outplayed veterans in training camp. The candidates are: Andrej Sekera, Oscar Klefbom, Mark Fayne, Justin Shultz, Eric Gryba, Nikita Nikitin, Andrew Ferrence, Griffin Reinhart, Darnell Nurse and Brandon Davidson. It will not surprise me in the least if any of Nurse, Reinhart or Davidson outplay Ferrence or Nikitin in training camp but unless there are men going on the injury reserved list I will be shocked if any of the three make the team. Ferrence is currently the team captain and while his on ice performance leaves alot to be desired over the last couple of seasons he is by all accounts a good captain and a needed presence in the dressing room. This combined with a veteran coach who is more likely to trust veteran D-men will most likely result in the following lineup on D:
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Taylor Hall

Oilers Predictions Part 1 – The Forwards

So much has happened with the Oilers this off-season, they finally have a competent management group and coaching staff, they’ve drafted the best prospect in the past 30 years in Connor McDavid, and brought in Cam Talbot, Griffin Reinhart, Andrej Sekera, Lauri Korpikoski, Mark Letestu and Eric Gryba. Think about that. Crazy.

As I see things this is the Oilers forward depth chart:
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The Cost of Todd McLellan

The Oilers announced today the hiring of Todd McLellan who most recently coached team Canada to the gold metal at the Mens World Hockey Championships and prior to that coached the San Jose Sharks for 7 seasons. The hiring does come at a price however as San Jose has the right and apparently is going to exercise that right to receive a 3rd draft pick from the Oilers as compensation. Even though San Jose fired McLellan at the end of the regular season he has one year left on his contract which gives the team the right to compensation. As far as I understand it the Oilers have the ability to wait up to 3 years to give up the pick.

Honestly this rule makes little sense to me, if San Jose fired the coach they shouldn’t have any right to claim compensation if the coach signs with another team.
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Will Peter Chiarelli Make Bold Moves?

The Edmonton Oilers have given full control of the Oilers to Peter Chiarelli, naming him President of Hockey Operations and General Manager. Chiarelli is going to take a few weeks to assess the team and players to see exactly where his positions of strength and weakness are before making any moves, but he will make moves. Given his track record of making big trades in Boston I think we can expect a big trade or two this summer.

The Weaknesses

The weaknesses on the Oilers are pretty obvious, they need a starting goalie and they need a couple of top pairing defensemen if they want a shot at making the playoffs next season. They may have an opportunity to get a piece or two via free agency but typically that requires an overpayment and I’m not sure thats a good idea in Edmonton so I expect Chiarelli to make a couple of trades to fill these areas.
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