The Toronto Maple Leafs are flying high and exited their three-week break with a 6-0 win against the Ottawa Senators Saturday night.
The Toronto Maple Leafs game tonight against Carolina (one people might actually want to watch) is postponed.
The Leafs next game is Wednesday, so let’s talk about their opponent that night.
The Edmonton Oilers, who have fallen recently, and fallen hard.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers, on the other hand, had possibly the worst summer in NHL history, which I wrote about prior to the season starting when I suggested they fire everyone. They may have done so in between me writing this last night and it coming out this morning, but if not, they better get on it because they are going nowhere with Ken Holland, the NHL’s worst GM by a country mile.
The Oilers started hot and were in first place, getting 75% of their possible points on December 2nd. They did this on the back of a 40% powerplay.
Now, despite the fact that they were winning because of an unsustainable power-play (news flash: they didn’t sustain it) and had terrible 5v5 stats, there were actually article published praising their (insane) off-season and talking about how they were finally a contender.
When the Oilers were in 1st on December 2nd, they were also 17th in 5v5 Corsi, and 18th in expected-goals so predicting their downfall should have been fairly easy. (And it was).
The Oilers celebrated their 1st place position by losing six in a row, culminating in 5-1 beatdown from the Toronto Maple Leafs. The then won twice to stop the bleeding, but have exited their Covid lockdown with three straight loses.
They are 2-9 since being in first place on December 2nd, and have fallen all the way down to 14th by points-percentage. They have six points in the last month, and are 3rd last in the NHL (only Montreal and Arizona are worse) during the last month.
If you put McDavid and Draisaitl on any team in the league, that team would be a potential cup threat. All they’d need is to be OK 5v5, and have decent goaltending, and they’d likely have a realistic shot at the Stanley Cup.
So that’s the good news – the Oilers have two players who are so good that they are not far off being an excellent team. In fact, McDavid and Draisaitl are so good that the guy who spent a combined $13 million dollars on Cody Ceci, Duncan Keith and Tyson Barrie still has a job. Add in Zach Hyman, and the Oilers are spending nearly $20 million (or 25% of the cap) on three ex-Leafs and Duncan Keith who is, dollar for dollar, arguably the least valuable player in hockey.
Was that the good news? If not, oh well… the bad news is that their GM is horrible and has no idea how to build a hockey team for 2022. The Leafs have about 10 extra NHL quality fourth liners. The Oilers can’t cobble together four lines without putting out guys the Leafs wouldn’t have used to last week when their entire organization was on the IR.
Here is the expected-goals rating of the Oilers blue-line when not on the ice with the NHL’s best player (Connor McDavid):
Duncan Keith 46%
Tyson Barrie 43%
Cody Ceci 48%
Kris Russel: 41%
Only two players (Nurse and Bouchard) post positive expected-goals ratings without McDavid, but the problem is that those two guys actually play the most minutes with him. Thus, whenever McDavid is not on the ice, the Oilers have $15 million dollars worth of defenseman who could reasonably be replaced with any AHL player without making the team significantly worse.
Their goalies are bad, and their blue-line is a joke. The Oilers have moves they could make (if they gambled with an unprotected first they could probably get a huge return) but they shouldn’t do anything until they get a new GM.
It’s been over a decade of lucky draft picks and horrible managing. The Oilers deserve a quality 21st century GM. Their fans deserve their own Kyle Dubas. What they’re getting right now is a waste of the prime years of the best player the NHL has seen since Sidney Crosby.