Thoughts on the Oilers: Progress; Heavy Teams; Yakupov Struggling; Omark vs Schremp; International Hockey

Source: Edmonton Oilers

Source: Edmonton Oilers

The month of December has thankfully come to an end for the Oilers. The Oilers won five games out of 15, and went on a six-game losing streak. Taylor Hall has been the lone bright spot on the team, driving the offence. Unfortunately, the team defense continues to weigh down the club.

It’s been a long season, but I think it’s been a vast improvement from last year. There are obviously some major issues, but the team itself is in the first year of it’s second rebuild. A new GM, a new coach and new tactics have to be given some time to see progress. MacTavish has made a ton of moves since coming in and appears to be active in acquiring much needed help. And before critiquing MacTavish, consider the absolute mess that Tambellini left behind.

Heavy Teams

Anytime the Oilers play the likes of St. Louis, Los Angeles or Boston, the discussion of “heavy teams” pops up. It’s a common misconception that size alone can boost a team’s success. The only time size plays an actual role in game outcomes is when it’s used effectively to protect the puck. Possession is critical for success, and size CAN play a factor. But all too often, we see average sized players protect the puck well. Players from a very young age are taught proper skating and body positioning to protect the puck and regain possession. So why size is always trumpeted as the key to success doesn’t make sense to me.

Yakupov Struggling

It’s tough watching the young Russian spend more time on the bench, and recently the pressbox. The guy has a lot of offensive talent, but unfortunately his defensive game is still a  work in progress. Why teams think they can develop guy in the major leagues is beyond me. Eighteen year olds, unless they have some exceptional talent like Ovechkin and Crosby, should spend at least 50 games in the minor leagues before making the jump. A well developed minor league system can develop a player properly and give them time to adjust to the pace of the NHL

As for Yak, it would be easy to suggest that he be sent to the minors. But at this point, considering he had some success last season, it would be beneficial to give him real NHL linemates that can cover for him defensively, rather than pairing him with enforcers.

Omark vs Schremp

I took some heat last week for suggesting that Omark should not be compared to former Oiler Rob Schremp. I just don’t recall Schremp being anything more than a one-dimensional player, whereas Omark has received significant praise for his all-round game.

          Wasting Linus Omark – The Copper and Blue

Schremp’s advanced stats aren’t available, so judging by his boxcar stats alone, nothing stands out. Schremp also had a lot of negative reviews from scouts even before joining the Oilers and has since been a marginal hockey player.

          AHL Prospect Rankings: #8 Rob Schremp – OilersNation

International Hockey

I’m not a follower of junior hockey, but I do keep tabs on which European teams are making progress. It’s a good sign when more countries are improving year to year, as I think the game overall needs to evolve. Hockey will always be limited to a small number of countries, but the more nations involved, the more ideas and tactics can be introduced.

Recommended Links

The State of the Edmonton Oilers: It’s bad but not as bad as it looks – Cult of Hockey

Advanced Stats Crash Course: Possession (Part 1) – FlamesNation

Man of Action – OilersNation

A Look Back at the Oilers 2013 – The Copper and Blue

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