Thoughts on the Oilers: Adjusting Expectations, Defence and + Radio Spot

Joined Lowetide on Monday morning to discuss the Oilers, including the back-to-back losses, the holes on defence and what to expect in terms of transactions. Full audio clip is below, starting around the 7:30 mark.

Couple notes:

  • I really didn’t expect the Oilers to do well in Montreal. Even though the Habs have been terrible for months, they’ve still posted some decent possession numbers (52.7% CF adjusted since December 1st), but have been completely sunk by terrible goaltending (90.7%, last in the league) with Price out of the lineup. They were bound to have a decent game eventually, which they did against an Oiler team that looked gassed in the first period.
  • I didn’t think the Oilers stood a chance against the Islanders, especially with Nilsson in net. He’s been dreadful over his last few starts now, with all that talk about head-trajectory training all but forgotten. I was hoping the Oilers could keep it close and show some signs of a bounce back, but I honestly could not find a single positive from the game. Next up are the Devils, who have been pretty bad possession wise, but have one of the best team save percentages in the league. This one is going to be boring and probably won’t end well for the Oilers.
  • Without a doubt, Schultz was the worst player on the ice in Montreal. Quick summary of the defence core’s time-on-ice and the shot attempts for and against (Source: Natural Stat Trick)
Player TOI CF CA
Eric Gryba 18:45 23 11
Brandon Davidson 17:14 19 16
Andrej Sekera 16:12 14 18
Darnell Nurse 16:05 10 14
Justin Schultz 15:35 7 15
Mark Fayne 13:44 14 15



  • Schultz was caught in the wrong position so many times in Montreal and made some glaring mistakes in his own end. I actually thought McLellan would replace Schultz with Clendening for the game in Brooklyn. Instead, it was Darnell Nurse who sat out the next game. Nurse was actually okay that game, but he’s on the left side, making him an easy candidate to swap out for Reinhart to play against his old teammates. Here’s how the defence core did in Brooklyn:


Player TOI CF CA
Brandon Davidson 19:31 12 9
Andrej Sekera 18:35 19 13
Eric Gryba 16:41 9 15
Griffin Reinhart 15:55 12 20
Justin Schultz 15:39 10 15
Mark Fayne 14:42 17 10
  • My only keepers for defence next season are Sekera, Klefbom and Davidson on the left side, and Fayne on the right. I wouldn’t declare Davidson as a top 4 guy just yet. He’s done well as a bottom pairing defencemen, and I think he could do well with someone like Gryba next season. Nurse and Reinhart need time to develop, with the former likely getting more NHL time than the latter. If the Oilers want these two prospects to reach their potential, they have got to bring in some experienced players to round out the defence core. This would allow both Nurse and Reinhart to develop at the appropriate level.
  • Quick rundown of where the Oilers rank in terms of possession, scoring chances and goals at even-strength at this point. Based on these we can see why the club is destined for a bottom five finish, and why we need to temper expectations even with young McDavid back in the lineup.
    • Corsi For% (Score adjusted) – 47.9% (22nd)
    • Scoring Chances For% – 48.3% (24th)
    • Goals For% – 43.2% (29th)
    • Team Save% – 91.2% (30th)
    • Team Shooting% – 7.4% (14th)

As always, let me know your thoughts.

2 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Oilers: Adjusting Expectations, Defence and + Radio Spot

    • Hey Dave – I like Davidson as a depth defenceman, and wouldn’t mind keeping him on long-term. But he shouldn’t come at a high price point as there are always similar options available on the market. He’s one of the few defencemen that the Oilers have developed properly, and I do think management should invest dollars and term into players they know well. He’s also one of the few guys that gets shots through and in higher volume, something the Oilers coaching staff values.

      Signing Davidson would absolutely leave you with a glut of left shot defencemen, but that’s not a bad thing either. This should create some competition and even push guys into depth roles or to the AHL to continue their development (I’m thinking of Nurse and Reinhart here). The Oilers could also move guys like Klefbom and Sekera to the right side temporarily if needed. I’m definitely not of the mindset that you have to have three lefties and three righties. Injuries are going to happen, and guys are going to slump, so why not keep good players like Davidson?

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