I joined host Alicia Asquith on the CBC Edmonton News for my weekly segment to discuss all things Oilers. Clip is here and starts at the 15:00 mark: CBC Edmonton News (2018, November 22)
Topics we covered:
- The hiring of Ken Hitchcock, and what we can expect from the new head coach.
- The key factors that lead to Todd McLellan’s dismissal, including the general manager’s poorly constructed roster.
- The acquisition of Ryan Spooner last weekend and Chris Wideman earlier today, and what to expect from each player.
- The upcoming games against Anaheim and Los Angeles, and really how poor the Pacific division has been.
Couple other thoughts bouncing around in my drafts that I haven’t converted into articles.
- This does not appear to be a Peter Chiarelli hire. I’d speculate that the decision to bring in Ken Hitchcock came from higher up. And it signals, to me at least, that the team is now evaluating the general manager’s work.
- I think Chiarelli’s preference would’ve been to replace McLellan with one of the experienced assistant coaches that he hired in the summer.
- I understand why the head coach had to be replaced. The results weren’t there, and we didn’t see enough progress from some of the higher-end draft picks like Yamamoto and Puljujarvi. He didn’t line match, and I don’t think he put together optimal line combinations. It doesn’t help either when the roster he was given had so many flaws, so many holes. And I get the sense he was pressured by management to play Lucic in the top six and do everything he could to have Draisatl center his own line.
- Not absolving McLellan for the team’s poor results, but there’s a lot of external factors that I hope Hitchcock, or the future coach, doesn’t have to put up with.
- If the organization was committed to the management group, I think there would’ve been a more exhaustive search, lead by the general manager, to find the next head coach.
- I’m really curious to see how much the shots against drop with Hitchcock behind the bench. The Oilers are league average right now when it comes to shots, unblocked shot attempts and scoring chances against per hour. Worth tracking after another 20 games.
- I didn’t understand the Strome-for-Spooner trade before the coaching change. I especially don’t understand it now. The trade itself came across to me as something the coach influenced, perhaps thinking that Cooper Marody could slide into that third line center spot. And that an additional winger who has some speed would help the team.
- One line I wanted to see was Strome with Marody and Khaira. Wasn’t going to happen because Lucic was stapled to Strome’s wing, and he wasn’t going to be on the fourth line or healthy scratched. Aaand now we definitely won’t see it.
- Can’t help but wonder how Hitchcock would’ve handled a player like Strome had the trade not been made. Strome is such a non-event player; he doesn’t create much and doesn’t allow much against either. I would think he’d have found a spot in the top six on the wing or maybe remain as a third line pivot and a key penalty killer.
- I had a good laugh when I noticed that Spooner’s career shooting percentage is just as lame as Strome’s. I was hoping that maybe Spooner would be closer to league average and that maybe he could find some success playing with RNH on the second line. Expectations are fairly low at this point for Spooner.
- I suspect we’ll see the team’s shooting percentage at even-strength gradually improve, and the credit will automatically go to the new head coach. Heading into Tuesday’s game in San Jose, the Oilers ranked 26th in the league with a 6.60% shooting percentage. They’re 13th in terms of generating shots on goal (31.62 shots per hour).
- The team’s high danger shooting percentage is also extremely low. They’re 29th in the league with a 13.19% shooting percentage. I want to think that they should improve since they’re right around league average when it comes to high danger shot attempts per hour. The problem is they don’t have enough skill outside of McDavid, RNH and Draisaitl to be finishers. Currently the top two players in terms of individual high danger shot attempts per hour are Rattie and Caggiula – not exactly the most talented guys that strike fear into goalies.
Such a brutal spot that the Oilers are in right now. They need to change how they operate and how they assemble a roster, but that’s only going to happen if they overhaul their management group, and even make some changes to the executive group above the general manager. So much potential being wasted. In my opinion, they need to start changing their overall approach and strategy right away and get a jump on things for next season.