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Sportsnet Staff
December 1, 2019, 3:31 PM
Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith is day-to-day with a leg injury and won’t be in the lineup against the Vancouver Canucks Sunday.

Edmonton Oilers

The #Oilers have recalled goaltender Stuart Skinner from the @Condors on an emergency basis, as Mike Smith (leg) is day-to-day.

Zack Kassian (back) is day-to-day & won’t play tonight, while Kris Russell has left the team to be with his wife for the birth of their second child.

4:10 AM – Dec 2, 2019
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Smith was in goal for Edmonton in their loss to Vancouver Saturday and allowed five goals on 43 shots. In 15 games this season the 37-year-old has a 7-7-1 record with a 2.83 GAA and a .907 save percentage.

The Oilers have recalled Stuart Skinner from the Bakersfield Condors on an emergency basis to backup starter Mikko Koskinen Sunday. The 21-year-old has a 7-5-2 record with a 3.23 GAA and a .890 save percentage in 15 games with Bakersfield.

In other Oilers news, forward Zack Kassian is also day-to-day with a back injury and Kris Russell won’t be available Sunday due to the the birth of his second child.

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Vegas Golden Knights center Cody Eakin (21) vies for the puck against Edmonton Oilers defenseman Kris Russell during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker). AP Photo/David Becker
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Edmonton Oilers defenceman Kris Russell didn’t count the stitches that went into his left ear Wednesday night in Denver. He just knows there were several.

“I tried getting the shot blocked. I don’t if it was the puck or the follow through, [that] kind of caught me in the ear,” said Russell of the play that injured him in the second period against the Colorado Avalanche.
“When I felt the blood coming, it was obvious something was cut.”

READ MORE: Edmonton Oilers survive American Thanksgiving cutline

Russell returned to the game in the third. After missing Thursday’s practice, Russell will play Saturday night when the Oilers host the Vancouver Canucks.

“He’s a tough little guy. I felt for him laying on the table,” said head coach Dave Tippett. “They’re sewing him up with half his ear hanging off.”

Forward Alex Chiasson is also good to go after being drilled by Colorado’s Ryan Graves on Wednesday. Chiasson didn’t return to the game after getting belted early in the second period.


READ MORE: Avalanche break out in third to topple Edmonton Oilers

“Arguably one of the biggest hits I’ve received in my career,” said Chiasson. “I just had to go through the protocol the last couple days.”

The Oilers will try to avoid losing back-to-back games in regulation time for just the second time all season.

“I think that’s just come from our group growing. We’ve done a much better job this season of realizing where we’re at as a team and what we need to do to play well,” said Chiasson.

The Oilers expected lineup is:

Draisaitl – McDavid – Kassian

Neal – Gagner – Chiasson

Khaira – Sheahan – Archibald

Granlund – Haas – P. Russell

Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland happy with season so far
Edmonton Oilers claw back against Coyotes
Klefbom – Jones

Nurse – Bear

K. Russell – Larsson


Centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins won’t play this weekend as he continues to recover from a hand injury.

Catch the Oilers and Canucks on 630 CHED with the Face-off Show at 6:30 p.m. The game starts at 8 p.m.

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Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins celebrates after scoring against the Anaheim Ducks during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson). AP Photo/Chris Carlson
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Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zack Kassian are both expected to return to action Sunday night when the Edmonton Oilers host the Buffalo Sabres.

“I feel really good,” said Nugent-Hopkins, who has missed six games after a hand issue. “It’s been a bit of a process. Felt good yesterday, even better today.”

Edmonton Oilers power play comes through in win over Canucks
Canucks topple Edmonton Oilers 5-2
“It’s only been three games, but it seems way longer than that,” said Kassian, who has been hampered by a sore back.

READ MORE: Mikko Koskinen backstops Edmonton Oilers to win over Kings

With Nugent-Hopkins returning, Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid will be reunited on the Oilers top line. Nugent-Hopkins will slide back into his second line centre slot.

“I just gives our team so much more depth,” said Draisaitl. “He plays in all situations. He’s very good in all situations.”


“Nuge is significant because we need that depth at centre,” said head coach Dave Tippett. “He’s a guy who just plays in all the situations and is smart in all the situations.

“He makes other players around him better.”

READ MORE: Senators win over Oilers again in Edmonton

The Oilers went 3-3 without Nugent-Hopkins in the lineup. On Friday, they beat Los Angeles 2-1 despite being outshot 36-20.

“You look at the guts of the game. L.A. is a volume shooting team. A big percentage of those shots I wouldn’t even call scoring chances,” said Tippett. “When I watched the game here today, it wasn’t a concern of mine.”

Oscar Klefbom and James Neal didn’t practice Sunday but are expected to play against the Sabres. Mike Smith is the probable starter in goal.

The Oilers and Sabres will be on 630 CHED with the Face-off Show at 4:30 p.m. The game starts at 6 p.m.

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The trade was one for one. On June 29th, the New Jersey Devils seemed to commit highway robbery of the Edmonton Oilers when they traded Adam Larsson for Taylor Hall. On paper, it was a fourth-overall pick bust for a number-one pick that was under appreciated and unfairly criticized in the Canadian market. The Devils needed more scoring and they got a player that could post up over 65 points on a consistent basis. The Oilers needed a defenseman that can shut down the opposing opposition and could help them from giving up goals. Larsson wasn’t the Nick Lidstrom that some pundits projected him to be, but he was serviceable.

Hall was on a very team-friendly contract that had four years left on it. While Larsson had five years left on his deal. Well it is four years later and Hall’s contact is up after this season. The story surrounding the Devils is what they are going to do with Hall. Could they re-sign him and make him the next captain and cement him in Devils lore? Or would they come out of the gate slow and be forced to move him?

St. Louis Blues Pros And Cons From Game 32 At

We all know the situation the Devils are in. It is the latter and it is worse than we thought. The Devils came down to Earth harder than thought possible. Now the writing is on the wall and Hall will most certainly be moved. The rumblings being it will be sooner rather than later.

At the end of Hall’s tenure with the Devils, the question of who actually won the trade needs to be asked. Yes, Hall did have a career year by winning the Hart Trophy in his second year with the Devils, but one good year of Taylor Hall and one playoff win was not what Ray Shero had planned. So the deal has to be looked at with what the Devils may get for Hall. As it stands, Hall has 208 points in 210 games played with the Devils. He will seem to finish his black and red career as a point per game player while being a talent the Devils could do nothing with.

People can blame Shero for holding on to John Hynes for too long, but Hall has admitted before, without Hynes, Hall would not have had his record year. Hall did miss a good chunk of time with an injury in 2018-19, but without a solid goaltender that team was not going anywhere even with a healthy Hall.

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New Jersey Devils Are The Most Disappointing Team In Sports
Speaking of an injury prone tenure, Larsson still has one more year left on his contract with the Oilers. He missed a good portion to the start of this season due to a broken ankle suffered while blocking a shot. In 2017-18 he also missed nearly 20 games due to an injury. While Larsson has never scored more than twenty points in a season with the Oilers, he has been dependable on the defensive side of the puck. Currently wearing an ‘A’, he seems to be in the future plans of the Oilers with Darnell Nurse, Oscar Klefbom, and Ethan Bear. That is a formidable top four to have if Bear can keep up his play and even take another step. With Philip Broberg and Evan Bouchard in the pipeline, the Oilers blueline is set for a few years to come. With the team currently in first place in the Pacific Division, Larsson won’t be going anywhere.

With the Oilers only making the playoffs once in Larsson’s tenure, this year could decide who won the trade. With Conor McDavid and Leon Draisatl, the Oilers should be taken as Stanley Cup contenders, IF and only if they can keep the pace of play up and not collapse. They could even possibly trade for Hall, but it is not likely due to the price Shero has set for his former MVP. All signs point to the Colorado Avalanche. To decide who won the original Taylor Hall trade, you have to take into consideration what the second Hall trade will bring in. If the Oilers make the playoffs this season or next with Larsson and get out of the first round while the Devils get an underwhelming return and won’t compete for a few more years, the Oilers would have actually won the original deal.

The Devils do not seem like they are in the mood to compete this season and ironically without a better defense and goaltending, they won’t for a while. The Oilers have Larsson and a core already there. There may be one or two players currently on the team for the Devils that can be considered in their future plans. It is sad that this is the way that Hall’s tenure is ending in New Jersey. It should not have gone like this, but it is the case. However if Hall can be dealt for a bonafide prospect like Bowen Byram, then it can be considered a push deal.

NEXT: 5 Possible Replacements For John Hynes
So in the end there are three ways that the one for one trade can be judged. Player success, team success and team future. For the player success it is an absolute no brainer. Hall won the MVP and was a point per game player. Larsson while being serviceable did not have near an impact as Hall. Team success wise, it was a push until this season. Edmonton seems to be on pace to make the playoffs this year while the Devils look for the number one overall pick, again. Much like the Oilers were in the early 2010s. Both teams made the playoffs once with both players so far, but if the Oilers can do damage this season, that edge goes to them.

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So the tie breaker is what the future holds for both teams. It depends on what the Devils get for Hall in the upcoming trade and what happens with their potential lottery pick. Dealing Hall will make the team worse and #TankForLaff will be on. But even with a Cole Perfetti the Devils will be better off. If the Devils lose the lottery and get an underwhelming return, the Oilers get the edge. They have McDavid and Draisatl. The Devils have Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier. Neither have the potential of those two, but are solid building blocks. It all comes down to Ray Shero and what he can get for Hall. But right now, as it stands, the Oilers should get a little more love for this deal. Because, they as it seems, have won the original Hall trade.

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Expect Oscar Klefbom to be a reliable fantasy starter the rest of the season. His 57 projected fantasy points puts him at #57 behind Ryan McDonagh and ahead of Shea Theodore. He has averaged 1.39 fantasy points in his past 93 games, which is more than our projected per game average. He is projected to average 1.21 fantasy points. His rank based on avg proj (#55) is better than his rank based on total fantasy points. He is overrated if you compare his ownership based rank with his projection rank. At 87%, he is the #34 most highly owned defenseman. Oscar Klefbom is expected to improve on this season-to-date’s #72 fantasy position rank.

#55 Brady Skjei (18% OWN) 59 FP, 1.18 per game 98 FP, 78 gp, 1.26 per game (#96)
#56 Ryan McDonagh (47% OWN) 57 FP, 1.12 per game 200 FP, 82 gp, 2.45 per game (#19)
#57 Oscar Klefbom (87% OWN) 57 FP, 1.21 per game 88 FP, 61 gp, 1.44 per game (#76)
#58 Shea Theodore (81% OWN) 57 FP, 1.21 per game 137 FP, 79 gp, 1.73 per game (#53)
#59 Oliver Ekman-Larsson (89% OWN) 57 FP, 1.21 per game 163 FP, 81 gp, 2.01 per game (#34)
These projections power SportsLine’s Computer Picks and Fantasy Data. But for contest winning DFS optimal lineups by top experts like Mike McClure visit SportsLine’s new Daily Fantasy Hub.

Oscar Klefbom is projected for 2.43 fantasy points in 2 games the rest of the week in week 11 which ranks him as the #54 projected defenseman for the week and a starter for most fantasy teams. This is projected to be a better than average week with more fantasy points per game than he is projected to average per game the rest of the season. He is ranked above Rasmus Ristolainen but behind Philippe Myers the rest of the week. Week 12 will be better based on projected rank (#36). He is projected for 4.46 fantasy points.

#52 Miro Heiskanen (97% OWN) 2.48 FP, 2 GP 1.32 FP
#53 Philippe Myers (22% OWN) 2.45 FP, 2 GP 1.28 FP
#54 Oscar Klefbom (87% OWN) 2.43 FP, 2 GP 1.21 FP
#55 Rasmus Ristolainen (78% OWN) 2.4 FP, 2 GP 1.31 FP
#56 Brent Seabrook (14% OWN) 2.4 FP, 3 GP 0.84 FP
#34 Drew Doughty (97% OWN) 4.53 FP, 3 GP 1.74 FP
#35 Erik Gustafsson (82% OWN) 4.52 FP, 3 GP 1.59 FP
#36 Oscar Klefbom (87% OWN) 4.46 FP, 4 GP 1.21 FP
#37 Ryan Murray (11% OWN) 4.4 FP, 4 GP 0.94 FP
#38 Adam Fox (75% OWN) 4.34 FP, 3 GP 1.46 FP
Oscar Klefbom Is a Better Value on DraftKings at $6K Than on FanDuel at $5.5 on 12/12
For each platform we calculate a position specific points per dollar and our projection says he is a better value on DraftKings than on FanDuel. He is projected for 12.7 FD points and is worth -$168 less than $5.5K on FD. On DK he is projected for 15.2 points and is worth +$100 more than $6K. Below are how he ranks based on projected fantasy points on both DFS platforms. Look for players with more FPs at lower salaries.

#12 Keith Yandle 12.9 FD Points $5600
#13 Ryan Ellis 12.8 FD Points $4700
#14 Oscar Klefbom 12.7 FD Points $5500
#15 Drew Doughty 12.2 FD Points $5700
#16 Kevin Shattenkirk 12 FD Points $5100
#7 Seth Jones 15.4 DK Points $5400
#8 Victor Hedman 15.4 DK Points $6100
#9 Oscar Klefbom 15.2 DK Points $6000
#10 Ryan Ellis 14.3 DK Points $5700
#11 Erik Karlsson 13.8 DK Points $5800
The tables below show projected stats (totals and averages) for the rest of the season and upcoming weeks. Also included are actual stats from the current and last season.

Rest of ’19-20 57 24.8 3.5 21.3 113 153
– Per Game (47 Proj) 1.21 0.53 0.07 0.45 2.40 3.23
12/9 to 12/15 (2 Games) 2.43 1.03 0.15 0.89 4.6 6.2
12/16 to 12/22 (3.9 Games) 4.5 1.98 0.28 1.70 9.2 12.9
’19-20 Season 41.5 18 2 16 78 101
– Per Game (32 GP) 1.30 0.56 0.06 0.50 2.44 3.16
’18-20 Seasons 130 46 7 39 245 203
– Per Game (93 GP) 1.39 0.49 0.08 0.42 2.63 2.18

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This in from Bob Stauffer of the Oilers, the team’s line-up against the Minnesota Wild:




Khaira -Sheahan-Archibald





My take
There’s no shortage of Edmonton Oilers players right now with plenty to prove right now.

Mike Smith. Since his huge game against Pittsburgh in early November, Smith has started seven games and won just two of them. His save percentage is .865. That’s not a save percentage that will keep you in the NHL for long.
James Neal. In his first 16 games of the year, Neal pounded 25 Grade A scoring chance shots on net and pumped in 11 goals. In his last 17 games, Neal has just 13 Grade A shots on net and just three goals. The Oilers power play is best when he’s out there so perhaps he can get back his touch on that unit. He’s got the hands and hockey IQ to do it, that’s for sure.
Oscar Klefbom. Klefbom has been riding a rollercoaster in terms of his defensive play this year. He tends to go through stretches where he gets beat on-on-one, and he’s in that phase right now. To start the year, Klefbom was leaking Grade A chances against at even strength, with 24 major mistakes on Grade chances in 11 games. He cut that to just 19 major mistakes in his next 11 games, a more acceptable rate against tough competition. But in his last 12 games, Klefbom has utterly crashed, making 32 such major mistakes at even strength. Not good. Not even close to good. Of course, all players will go into defensive slumps but it’s a killer with Klef simply because he’s so important to the Oilers. When he pulls out of this defensive slump — and he will pull out of it — expect the entire team to step up. One issue for him has been his revolving door of defensive partners, but he should have some comfort playing again with his old partner Adam Larsson, who has stepped up his own play in recent games.
The penalty kill gang of Riley Sheahan, Josh Archibald, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jujhar Khaira and Leon Draisaitl had an off game against Carolina, but has been solid all year. The players need to be solid in this crucial next run of games. Edmonton also had 18 wins after 33 games last year, but fell off a cliff from mid-December to early January, essentially wiping out all the good they had done up until that point. If Edmonton’s PK gang is strong in the next month that is unlikely to happen again, at least if the team gets OK goaltending.
Joakim Nygard gets another chance with Connor McDavid and Zack Kassian, who are flying high right now. Nygard has the speed and skill to keep up, but does he have the confidence and the hockey IQ? I think this line has a chance for some real success, which would allow the Oilers to keep a second line with Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Leon Draisaitl’s attacking, scoring and defensive play have fallen off. He’s staying out too long on shifts, desperate to make something happen. I’d like to see him simplify his game, play the centre spot on the second line and focus only on his own play in the defensive zone. If he gets the job done there and keeps his shifts to 50 seconds — two things he’s capable of doing — the offence will come. Does that make sense to you as well?
Caleb Jones is getting yet another cup of coffee in the NHL. He’s got everything he needs to make it as an NHLer, decent size, strong skils with the puck, and NHL-plus skating ability. Now he just needs to have the confidence, smarts and drive to actually play his “A” game at this level. It’s never an easy thing for a player to figure out his role in the NHL — just how much he should do and when he should back off and play it safe — but Jones got this equation right in his last game, and did so in many games last year. Can he put together a run of games where it all adds up? My bet is he can. But he, too, has something big to prove right now.
At the Cult
STAPLES: Franchise value of Oilers has gone up by $405 million since Katz took over team, Forbes reports

McCURDY: Player grades as Oilers lose to Hurricanes

McCURDY: Tippett scrambing for answers during rough patch

STAPLES: Caleb Jones up, Joel Persson down

STAPLES: Can these Oilers avoid the ugly collapse of 2018-19?

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Die San Jose tun sich in der NHL weiterhin schwer. Beim 1:5 auswärts gegen die Florida Panthers kassiert das Team mit dem Schweizer Timo Meier im 32. Saisonspiel bereits die 17. Niederlage.

video: youtube/nhl

Für San Jose war es die vierte Niederlage in Folge. Damit sind die Kalifornier derzeit ausserhalb der Playoff-Ränge klassiert.

Gegen Florida, das erneut ohne den überzähligen Denis Malgin antrat, kassierte San Jose drei der fünf Gegentore in Unterzahl. Der Appenzeller Stürmer Meier blieb ohne Skorerpunkt und beendete die Partie mit einer Minus-1-Bilanz.

Eine Niederlage setzte es auch für Gaëtan Haas und die Edmonton Oilers ab. Die Kanadier unterlagen zuhause den von Ralph Krueger gecoachten Buffalo Sabres 2:3 nach Verlängerung, nachdem sie nach elf Minuten 0:2 in Rückstand geraten waren. Der Jurassier Haas erhielt bei der Aufholjagd Auslauf im Powerplay und steuerte in der 36. Minute einen Assist beim Tor von Joakim Nygard zum 2:2-Ausgleich bei. Für Haas war es der sechste Skorerpunkt in der NHL.

Edmonton Oilers

A tip AND a tie.

Love a good 2-for-1 deal. @JoakimNygard | #LetsGoOilers

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Der Assist von Gaëtan Haas mit der Backhand zurück zur blauen Linie.

Als einziger Schweizer verliess in der Nacht auf Montag Luca Sbisa das Eis als Sieger. Der Zuger Verteidiger gewann mit den Winnipeg Jets das Heimspiel gegen die Anaheim Ducks 3:2. Der Kanadier Mark Scheifele trug mit seinen zwei Toren entscheidend zum dritten Heimsieg in Folge von Winnipeg bei.

video: youtube/nhl


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Edmonton Oilers’ superstar Connor McDavid will play in his 300th NHL game on Tuesday. In the 299 games he’s played, McDavid has amassed 134 goals, 259 assists, 393 points and 116 multi-point games. His 1.31 career points-per-game average ties him with Hockey Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne for the fifth-highest in NHL history among players with at least 200 games played.

Connor McDavid at the 2017 NHL Awards (Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports)

McDavid has won the Art Ross Trophy twice, the Ted Lindsay Award twice and the Hart Memorial Trophy once. He’s also been named to the NHL First All-Star Team three times. Not bad for a player who is still just 22.

Since he arrived in Edmonton in 2015-16, McDavid has delivered so many superb performances, that Oilers fans have begun to expect them on a nightly basis. He’s the type of special player who can put his team on his back and carry them to victory. Here are McDavid’s five most memorable games in the NHL.

1. McDavid Returns
After missing 37 games of his rookie season with a broken clavicle, McDavid returned to action on Feb. 2, 2016. It was another miserable season for the Oilers and their loyal fans, but there was a playoff-like buzz in Oil Country for McDavid’s return against the Columbus Blue Jackets. And he didn’t disappoint.

Midway through the second period with the game tied 1-1, Jordan Eberle picked up the puck in his own zone and pushed it ahead to Benoit Pouliot who left if for McDavid to work his magic. Then, McDavid turned on the jets and deked through three opponents and goalie Joonas Korpisalo to score a goal for the ages and give the Oilers a 2-1 lead.

Just over seven minutes later, McDavid picked up an assist on Pouliot’s power play goal to extend the lead to 3-1. In the third, McDavid set up Eberle from behind the net for a sneaky goal to complete a 5-1 win for Edmonton. McDavid’s goal that night is undoubtedly the most spectacular of his young career.

2. Lighting Up the Lightning
McDavid is a big-game player who elevates his game whenever he plays against another superstar. So, when Nikita Kucherov and the Tampa Bay Lightning rolled into Rogers Place on Feb. 5, 2018, McDavid was ready to put on a show for the home crowd.

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid
Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)
Just under two minutes into the game, McDavid opened the scoring on the power play by deflecting a Ryan Strome shot into the top corner. After the Lightning tied it, McDavid got the secondary assist on Leon Draisaitl’s power play marker to give Edmonton back the lead.

In the second frame, McDavid received a touch pass from Draisaitl just outside Tampa’s zone, faked to the middle, then went back to the outside and walked around Matthews Peca before roofing the puck over Andrei Vasilevskiy from a near-impossible angle to make it 3-1 Oilers.

Related: Oilers’ McDavid Will Reach Elite Company

With less than seven minutes on the clock and the Oilers well in control of the game, McDavid tallied a breakaway goal for his third career NHL hat trick and scored from behind the opposing net on an odd bounce for his fourth goal of the night, powering the Oilers to an impressive 6-2 victory.

McDavid became the fifth-youngest player in NHL history to score four goals in a game (21 years and 23 days), and the first Oiler to achieve the feat since Sam Gagner on Feb. 2, 2012, in an 8-4 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.

3. Facing His Childhood Team

Like many kids in Southern Ontario, McDavid was a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs when he was growing up. On. Feb. 11, 2016, McDavid played against his childhood team for the first time, and made an intimidate impact on the game. Early in the opening frame, Pouliot chipped the puck to McDavid on a 2-on-1 and he deked around Jonathan Bernier to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead.

After the Maple Leafs tied it up, McDavid set up Eberle for two goals in a span of 12 minutes in the second period, including one beautiful pass on the power play through a maze of sticks and skates. Leading 3-2 in the third, McDavid added an insurance marker with a snipe from just above the hash marks.

calder finalists
Connor McDavid (Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports)
Then, with Toronto’s goalie pulled, McDavid had a clear shot at the net for his first career NHL hat trick, but showed exceptional character by giving Eberle his first three-goal game instead, as the Oilers defeated the Maple Leafs 5-2 at Rexall Place.

Although he gave up an opportunity for the hat trick, McDavid became the ninth-youngest player (19 years and 29 days) in NHL history to score five points in a game. He also joined Dave Lumley and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as the only rookies in franchise history to accomplish the feat.

4. Home Sweet Home
The Oilers opened the state-of-the-art Rogers Place in downtown Edmonton on Oct. 12, 2016. That alone would have made this a historic date in team history. However, earlier that day, Wayne Gretzky rejoined the organization for the first time since he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings on Aug. 9, 1988. And when the Oilers faced the rival Calgary Flames that evening, McDavid became the youngest captain in NHL history (19 years and 266 days).

With the Oilers ahead by one late in the first period, McDavid gave the puck to Oscar Klefbom who sent in Zack Kassian on a breakaway that he buried to give the team a 3-1 lead. After the Flames battled back to tie the game 3-3 in the second period, McDavid banked in a backhand shot off Brian Elliott to put the Oilers back in front 4-3.

Less than two minutes after McDavid scored his first goal in his new home, he was hooked by Dennis Wideman on a breakaway and awarded a penalty shot. McDavid entered the zone with a burst of speed before slowing down his pace near the top of the circles to throw off Elliott’s timing, and then lifted the puck over his blocker to add to the Oilers’ lead.

Edmonton went on to win their home-opener by a score of 7-4, and McDavid earned first star honours with three points. That game was the launching pad for the Oilers’ best regular season record since 1986-87 and McDavid’s first scoring title.

5. McDavid Caps Off Great Performance in OT
Although the Oilers and perennial Stanley Cup contender Washington Capitals have been at opposite ends of the NHL standings for most of the last decade, Edmonton has played well at home against Washington in recent seasons. Still, the Oilers had a hill to climb on Thursday, trailing the Capitals 3-1 after 40 minutes.

McDavid, who had no points at this stage in the game, played perhaps his best period of hockey in the NHL in the final frame. Just over four minutes into the third period, McDavid finally got on the board with a great pass to Draisaitl, who fired the puck into the top corner to cut the Oilers’ deficit to one.

Every time he touched the ice, he seemingly created a brilliant scoring chance. McDavid legitimately could have had six points in a single period if not for the stellar play of Capitals’ goalie Braden Holtby. Fortunately for No. 97 and the Oilers, he was able to get one past Holtby with 1:44 remaining in regulation to send the game to overtime.

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The Edmonton Oilers’ CEO recently made the news after making comments about the play of former Coyote Tobias Rieder. Rieder has since responded in probably as diplomatically a way as possible when your boss publicly calls you. While Rieder isn’t having the best season, he is far from the biggest reason for Edmonton’s struggles this season. Unfortunately Rieder is just one of a few recent Arizona Coyotes who have struggled in Edmonton or had their NHL careers come to an end soon after going from Arizona to Edmonton.

Rob Klinkhammer
The then Phoenix Coyotes signed Rob Klinkhammer during the 2012 offseason and he would initially spend time in the AHL with the Portland Pirates. He did get called up during his first season and would score five goals and six assists in his first 22 games. His play was good enough that he would spend the entire 2013-14 season with the Yotes where he would register eleven goals and nine assists. Ultimately the Coyotes would trade Klinkhammer to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Philip Samuelsson in December of 2014.

Later during the 2014-15 season the Penguins would send a first-round pick and Klinkhammer to the Edmonton Oilers for David Perron. In 40 games with the Oilers Klinkhammer would tally a goal and two assists, enough to earn him a one-year extension. The 2015-16 season would see Klinkhammer splitting time between the Oilers and the Bakersfield Condors, and in his final fourteen games in the NHL he would register a single goal and no assists.

Since the 2015-16 season Klinkhammer has spent time in the KHL playing with HC Dinamo Minsk and the Ak Bars Kazan.

Lauri Korpikoski
Unlike Klinkhammer, Korpikoski managed to play in the NHL after playing for the Edmonton Oilers. After six season with the Coyotes where he would tally 62 goals and 83 assists, Arizona traded Korpikoski to the Oilers in for Boyd Gordon. After scoring ten goals and twelve assists during the 2015-16 season the Oilers would buy out the remaining year of Korpikoski’s four-year, $10 million contract. He would sign a one-year deal with the Dallas Stars, splitting the 2016-17 season between Dallas and the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Korpikoski would sign on with the ZSC Lions in the Swiss National League and has also played with TPS Turku in the SM-Iiiga league in Finland.

Boyd Gordon
After spending seven seasons with the Washington Capitals, Boyd Gordon found success with the Phoenix Coyotes as a penalty killer and one of the best faceoff artists on the team. The Oilers would sign Gordon as a free agent to a three-year, $9 million deal, but after two years they were ready to move him. The Coyotes would eventually reacquire him in the previously mentioned Korpikoski trade, and he would play in 64 games with Arizona registering two goals and two assists. During the 2016 offseason he would sign a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, only playing in thirteen games with the Flyers and spending time with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Boyd Gordon appears to have retired from professional hockey and is not currently playing.

Ilya Bryzgalov
Ilya Bryzgalov will be remembered for some of the best quotes in hockey. But before he was pondering the nature of the universe on HBO he spent four season with the Coyotes as their starting goaltender. He would sign a humongous big nine-year, $41.88 million deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, which would prove to be a mistake for the Flyers. After two years into a nine year contract, his contract would be bought out and he would be out of a job. He would be one of six goaltenders to play for the Oilers during the 2013-14 season, along with another former goaltender Jason LaBabera. The Oilers traded him to the Minnesota Wild where he would play twelve games. The 2014-15 season would the end of Bryzgalov’s career, playing two games with the Norfolk Admirals and his final eight games in the NHL with the Anaheim Ducks.

Bryzgalov hasn’t played professional hockey since finishing his career in Anaheim, although he has been active. For a deeper dive check out Pucks of a Feather’s look into his career and life beyond.

Jason LaBarbera
LaBarbera spent four season with the Coyotes, backing up both Ilya Bryzgalov and Mike Smith after he was brought in. Before Smith’s first training camp there was talk of it being anyone’s crease, so Barbs could have potentially been the starter if Mike Smith hadn’t found massive success in his first season with the Coyotes. He would sign with the Oilers where he would back up Devan Dubnyk during Dubnyk’s last season in Edmonton. LaBarbera would get traded to the Chicago Blackhawks during the 2013-14 season where he would play for the Rockford Icehogs exclusively. He would play his last five games in the NHL with the Anaheim Ducks during the 2014-15 season, a season that also saw him play with the Norfolk Admirals. LaBarbera would ultimately sign with the Philadelphia Flyers during the 2015 offseason spending the entire season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Since retiring from playing Jason LaBarbera has been the goaltending coach of the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL.

So what can we learn from all of this? For many of these players their time with the Coyotes was the high point of their careers and they would struggle when removed from Arizona’s system. Going to Edmonton wasn’t always a career killer, but it ended up coinciding with the decline of their NHL careers. Edmonton hasn’t been the best run organization over the past few years, but the fact that Edmonton acquired a lot of players who didn’t have NHL careers after playing for them is telling. Probably the biggest lesson though is if you have played for the Coyotes you should probably avoid signing with Edmonton, and if you can work that into your free agent contract it will probably help you out. As for Tobias Rieder, he will hopefully be able to find success post-Edmonton.

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We’re now in the Tyler Wright Era of Edmonton Oilers amateur scouting. It’s no exaggeration to suggest that the fate of the team is in large part in his hands. If Wright can consistently identify future Big 12 NHLers, the Oilers will have a huge leg up on their NHL competitors.

What is a Big 12 NHLer? The spine of the team, the critical players essential to any squad’s success, the No. 1 goalie, Top 4 d-men and Top 7 forwards, all the top two line forwards and one excellent checker/two-way player leading the third line.

NHL head scouts who succeed will identify at least one Big 12 player every draft year on average, they will make the most of their Top 10 overall picks, they’ll find at least one Big 12 players outside the first round every second year, and they’ll identify at least one Team Canada-quality player every four drafts.

Wright is replacing a head scout Bob Green, who did some good work in the draft. It’s not like Wright is coming in and restoring order and competence to a part of the team that had none. In fact, if there’s one area of the Edmonton Oilers operation that appears to have been functioning well in the past five years, it’s the amateur scouting department.

As new Oilers pro scout Archie Henderson told Bob Stauffer of Oilers Now: “There has been over the course of the years a real lack of legitimate NHL prospects in the organization. But in the last couple of years that has been changed. There are some young players that we do believe have good futures ahead of them, especially on the back end. I mean, you’ve got Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear, (William) Lagesson, (Evan) Bouchard, (Dmitri) Samorukov. I would say that in the American League level as far as prospects go, those five may be as good as any other NHL team has playing in their system to develop into the NHL defenceman.”

Henderson’s positive take on Edmonton’s prospects isn’t rose-coloured optimism. It aligns with improved performances each year of numerous prospects, from Samorukov and Jones on defence to Tyler Benson and Cooper Marody at forward.

All this raises the question of whether Oilers GM Ken Holland made the right choice in moving out Green in favour of Wright. I’m digging into this question in a few posts, the first of which established some back-of-the-envelope criteria to judge scouts and looked at Green’s record running the amateur scouting department.

In this second post today, we’ll look at how past Oilers head scouts have done, which will give us one more point when we rate Wright’s work in Columbus and Detroit in the final post in this series.

Strong: The Barry Fraser Era, 1979-2000
Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson
Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson

Outside of Wayne Gretzky, Glen Sather and Peter Pocklington, Barry Fraser is as much as anyone responsible for Edmonton’s five Stanley Cups from 1984 to 1990.

Fraser was the chief scout who drafted all-time NHL greats like Kevin Lowe, Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri and Grant Fuhr, often with lower round picks.

But there’s a rub — all those players were taken in Fraser’s first three drafts. After that, he had marginal success. In eight draft years — 1982, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1995 — he and his scouts failed to draft even one Big 12 player.

When we look at Fraser’s entire 22 year run, how did he do?

Here’s the list of Big 12 players he drafted in that time.

Did the scouts make best use of all their Top 10 overall picks? In his 22 years, Fraser had seven picks in the Top Ten of a draft. In 1980, he took Paul Coffey 6th overall, with Grant Fuhr 8th overall in 1981, Jason Arnott 7th in 1993, Jason Bonsignore 4th in 1994, Ryan Smyth 6th in 1994, Steve Kelly 6th in 1995 and Boyd Devereaux 6th in 1996. So he got two Hall-of-Fame players in Coffey and Fuhr, two other Team Canada-quality players in Arnott and Smyth, and had three duds-to-mediocre NHLers. Even a great team of scouts is going to have the odd dud with a Top 10 pick (the success rate of picks five-to-ten is pretty much a coin flip on average for NHL teams, with half being good-to-great players and half being mediocre-to-duds), but this is one dud too many to give Fraser top marks in this category. At the same time, with picks like Coffey, Fuhr, Smyth and Arnott, it’s tough to fail Fraser. Given that most of Fraser’s Top 10 picks were not at the very top end of the draft and he found two Hall-of-Fame players in the five-to-ten overall range, I’m inclined to say he passed this test. It’s not like he had endless first overall picks thrown his way.

Edmonton Oilers defenceman Randy Gregg, a brilliant amateur free agent signing along with d-man Charlie Huddy STAFF FILE / EDMONTON JOURNAL

Did the scouts find at least one Big 12 player on average each year of the draft? In his 22 drafts, Fraser grabbed twenty-three Big 12 players. He also signed amateur free agents Charlie Huddy and Randy Gregg, bumping up his number to twenty-five Big 12 players in 22 draft years. He passes this test as well. The only proviso here is that Fraser found eight Big 12 players in his first three years, then just seventeen in his final 19 drafts. He had a complete and ugly dry spell for five years from 1986 to 1990. That crippled the Oilers in the mid-1990s, especially when Pocklington sold off Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier for money and far lesser players.
Did the scouts identify at least one Team Canada-quality player every four years in the draft? By my assessment, Fraser drafted ten Team Canada-quality players, and he signed two others, Huddy and Gregg, as amateur free agents. Huddy and Gregg both made the 1984 Canada Cup team. By this measure, Fraser scores exceedingly well in this category. In fact, he killed here. By comparison, when the Detroit Red Wings were at the very height of their drafting acumen from 1983 to 2004, they drafted only eight Team Canada-quality players in those 22 years. Fraser outpaced that stellar performance.
Legendary Oilers scout Barry Fraser

Did the scouts draft a Big 12 player outside of the first round every second year? Sharp-eyed Fraser also rocks this category, having found sixteen Big 12 players outside the first round (the 32nd pick in the draft and later). Again, we add in Gregg and Huddy here and it’s clear Fraser and his team had success by this measure. Indeed, his eighteen Big 12 later round gems in 22 drafts is just one less than the Detroit record of nineteen uncut gems during its excellent 1983-to-2004 run.
Overall, Fraser passes every category, some with the flying-est of colours. If he had not had that terrible run of drafting from 1986 to 1990, and if had not blown three Top Ten picks in the 1990s, we might be calling Fraser the greatest scout in NHL history. He’s most certainly in the Top Five.

His reputation has been tarnished because of his work after 1983, but his final drafts through the 1990s weren’t disasters and brought the Oilers many of the key players (Shawn Horcoff, Jarret Stoll, Ryan Smyth and Fernando Pisani) who would help the team come within one game of winning the 2006 Stanley Cup.

All hail Barry the Far-sighted!

Edmonton Oilers winger Jarret Stoll (right) celebrates LARRY WONG / EDMONTON JOURNAL

Weak: The Kevin Prendergast Era, 2001 to 2007 drafts
Prendergast took over from Fraser in the 2001 draft, and the story goes that his best pick was the first one he ever made, Ales Hemsky.

But how did Prendergast do overall?

Did the scouts make best use of all their Top 10 overall picks? Prendergast had just one such pick in his seven years, Sam Gagner taken 6th overall in 2007. It’s up for debate but I don’t think Gagner has been a successful Big 12 player. He’s not been a dud but I can’t give Prendergast a pass in this category. Gagner might well be a useful Oilers winger this year, but he has too many defensive holes in his game and not quite enough offence, which is why he’s bounced around so much.
Did the scouts find at least one Big 12 player on average each year of the draft? With just five Big 12 players in seven drafts, Prendergast failed to meet this test as well.
Did the scouts identify at least one Team Canada-quality player every four years in the draft? Prendergast would have to have found two such players to pass this test. Hemsky arguably had that kind of quality and Devan Dubnyk had a strong five year run with the Wild, so I’ll give this one to Prendergast, though just barely.
Did the scouts draft a Big 12 player outside of the first round every second year? In seven years Prendergast found Stoll at 36th overall and Petry at 45th overall, both solid Big 12 players, but that was it for late round gems. Prendergast failed here.
Prendergast didn’t have a great record. There are way too many misses with first and second round players like Doug Lynch, Ed Caron, Jesse Niinimaki, Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, Marc-Antoine Pouliot, Colin McDonald, Jean-Francois Jacques, Rob Schremp, Roman Tesliuk, Geoff Paukovich, Taylor Chorney and Alex Plante. Prendergast needed two or three of these players to turn into Big 12ers, along with one or two more late round gems. But not to be, and this failure is a big reason why the Oilers collapsed into the Decade of Darkness, which started in 2006-07, the last of Prendergast’s years in charge of the draft.

WEAKEST: The Stu MacGregor Era, 2008-2014
If Kevin Prendergast dug the pit of the Decade of Darkness, Stu MacGregor and his scouts built the unsound foundation.

Did the scouts make best use of all their Top 10 overall picks? In six of his seven years running amateur scouting, MacGregor had Top 10 overall picks. Three of those picks were first overall selections, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov, with MacGregor and his scouts famously being over-ruled by management on their wish to draft Ryan Murray over Yakupov (but it’s not like Murray has smoked the NHL either). MacGregor’s team can boast of drafting Leon Draisaitl fourth overall in 2014 and Darnell Nurse 7th overall in 2017, but it flopped taking Magnus Paajarvi 10th overall in 2009. With the Yakupov/Murray and Paajarvi failures, it’s hard to give MacGregor a pass here, but I can’t fail him either, given the success of Hall, RNH, Nurse and Draisaitl. He’s in the grey zone on this one, even as the Yakupov/Murray fiasco stinks things up.
Did the scouts find at least one Big 12 player on average each year of the draft? Yes, the team found at least seven such players, but it also had six Top 10 picks and three first overall, so it’s hard to get too excited about MacGregor passing in this category.
Did the scouts identify at least one Team Canada-quality player every four years in the draft? Hall, Draisaitl and RNH are all Team Canada-quality, and Erik Gustafsson in Chicago is trending that way. So a solid pass here, even if Hall and Gustasson are no longer OIlers.
Did the scouts draft a Big 12 player outside of the first round every second year? Here is where things get painful. Here is where MacGregor failed miserably. In his seven drafts, he found just one player, Gustafsson, outside the first round who became a Big 12 players. MacGregor completely missed with numerous first, second and third round picks including Yakupov, Paajarvi, Anton Lander, Troy Hesketh, Cameron Abney, Curtis Hamilton, Ryan Martindale, David Musil, Samu Perhonen, Travis Ewanyk, Mitch Moroz, Danil Zharkov, Marco Roy, Bogdan Yakimov, Anton Slepyshev. There’s still a chance that William Lagesson will become a Big 12 player, but overall MacGregor’s record when it comes to finding late round gems is atrocious.

Anton Lander of the Edmonton Oilers puts on a team jersey handed to him from Stu MacGregor BRUCE BENNETT / GETTY IMAGES

In total, given the first round picks he had to work with, MacGregor didn’t come close to succeeding. He had two strong picks with Jordan Eberle and Oscar Klefbom, and he made the right calls on Draisaitl and Nurse, but that’s the best you can say about his seven years. The lack of prospect depth created then has only been now been addressed to some extent by Bob Green and Keith Gretzky. It’s a big reason why the early years of the McDavid era were unsuccessful.

Indeed, outside of Fraser’s five wretched years in the draft from 1986-1990, the MacGregor era is the worst in Edmonton’s history.

It’s still early days for rating Green and Gretzky, but they have almost certainly done a much better job than MacGregor and Prendergast did. They haven’t yet succeeded in the way that Barry Fraser did for a short time but things are trending well, as Henderson suggests, with about 16 players in their five drafts having a decent chance to become Big 12 players.