Joined Lowetide on TSN 1260 to discuss the Oilers. Full audio clip is here.
It’s been great to see young Brandon Davidson flourish this season as a depth defencemen. He’s one of the few defensive prospects that has come through the OIlers organization and has been able to contribute right away. I thought it was ironic that on the same day that Todd McLellan referred to Davidson as a “steady-Eddie” player, Steady Steve was featured on the Oilers Twitter page as part of the Farewell Rexall Place event.
The great thing about Davidson is that he’s been, for the most part, been playing on the bottom pair with the occasional appearance in the top four. He’s also been effective in all situations and has for the most part had a positive influence on the team’s overall performance (thanks to Zac for the idea).
Davidson is under team control for another few years, so there really should be no rush to throw him into any sort of trade. Hopefully the Oilers can shore up their defence this summer and ensure that Davidson plays in a spot that he can succeed in going forward.
Lander and the bottom six
I’ve been pretty disappointed in not only Lander’s performance this season, but also how the coaching staff has handled the player in relation to the bottom six. I never had high expectations for Lander, mainly because the bulk of his points scored last season were on the powerplay. But I did think he would take another step in his career and establish himself as a strong depth player who could move up in the lineup as needed.
It’s become pretty obvious that the Oilers are ready to move on from Lander. He hasn’t dressed for a game since the all-star game, being healthy scratched now for seven straight games. Even after the club got destroyed in back-to-back games in Montreal and Long Island, the coaching staff saw no need to insert Lander into the roster to shake things up. And recently when McLellan really shook things up, Hall was being centered by Letestu at one point, even though Hall had success last season being centered by Lander.
Really, the Oilers should be moving Hendricks back to his natural spot on wing, and have Lander back at center. Lander has not been productive this season, but you can’t tell me Letestu and Korpikoski have been any better. Lander has also had success this season playing with Pakarinen and Yakupov, so it’d make way more sense going with that on the 3rd/4th line. Letestu should be paired with Kassian (which I thought worked well) with Hendricks as the winger there. Korpikoski should ideally be the odd man out, but I don’t see management allowing that to happen.
Loading up on Centers
I’d really like to see the OIlers load up at center this off season to have depth in the position. Next season should feature Draisaitl, RNH and McDavid as pivots, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Draisaitl play wing with RNH in the middle. This would be similar to how McLellan ran Thornton and Pavelski at times in San Jose, which was highly effective.
The main issue for the Oilers is the lack of stability and production from the bottom six. I’m convinced that moving Korpikoski would solve a lot of the problems, especially when it comes to possession and scoring chances. But the team should still be adding depth players that can contribute, play tough minutes, kill penalties and fill-in WHEN injuries happen. It’s early, but the players that interest me are Kyle Chipchura, Darren Helm and Mike Santorelli (who actually played mostly wing the last few seasons, but can play center). These should not be costly signings, and should be movable contracts if a situation arises.
I’d definitely keep Letestu, but have him shift to wing and move to center if needed. I don’t think he’s been effective at all and would like to see someone else get a shot at the 4C slot. Lander I’d obviously keep, but I don’t think he’s in the long term plans.