There’s something off with both Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. For McDavid, he doesn’t look like himself, having issues with his puck handling and not scoring in more games than he’s producing points. Meanwhile, Draisaitl looks miserable. His body language is at an all-time low and he’s quickly developing a reputation as a player who loses his cool and seems satisfied making the dangerous play that results in as many turnovers as it does highlight-reel moments.
All the while, the Oilers are relying on these two to get them going so they don’t have to make a panic trade for a goaltender. It’s a real problem and it’s likely to come to a problematic conclusion over the next few days.
McDavid Isn’t His Normal Self
Oftentimes we take for granted just how good Connor McDavid is. So, the fact that he’s got 13 points in 14 games feels underwhelming. Perhaps it’s not fair to hold him to such a high standard, but the reason his game is a concern right now is because something is obviously off.
He’s got the number of points he does regardless of the fact he has been held pointless in five of his last eight games. He’s turning over the puck, he’s losing the handle, he’s not finishing plays, and the power play isn’t clicking — one area of his many in which he is an absolute magician. TSN Director of Scouting, Craig Button, recently said he’s growing concerned about McDavid’s overall game.
“We saw him miss a few games, and maybe we can say, OK, he’s not 100%, but what I’m seeing right now with Connor McDavid is the hands, the puck skills.” He added that he’s noticed pucks are being swept off his stick and he’s unable to open up his hands. “Five times that he’s played this season without a point, that is significant.”
What exactly is bugging him isn’t clear, but even McDavid has said he’s got to be better.
Draisaitl Is Producing, But His Attitude Stinks
Meanwhile, Draisaitl is producing points, but there’s something off with his demeanor. He seems extra grumpy this season and while he’s been accused of being “pissy” in the past, his body language and attitude in the midst of real struggles for this team are concerning.
Yes, he’s on pace for 107 points (21 in 16 games), but the bigger issue in Edmonton might be what he could have if he was giving it his all, which, often times, it looks like he’s not. There have been a number of instances where analysts have called him out for cruising around the zone, not back-checking properly, waiting to hit the gas pedal until the last moments of a game in which the Oilers are behind, and more. In the locker room, he seems disinterested and frustrated with any questions and even when you see him getting off the plane on the trip to Florida, he looks miserable.
The biggest problem might be his turnovers. While he’s always been a bit prone to giveaways, he’s currently second in the NHL right now with 25. So, while he’s giving the Oilers offense, he’s also often creating havoc for the defense or squashing what could be high-danger chances before they begin. Either he’s angry about the team’s record or something else is up. His “trip” on Bo Horvat against the Islanders was a case of that frustration boiling over.
What Does This Have to Do With the Oilers Goaltending?
Directly, the respective struggles of McDavid and Draisaitl aren’t the reason the Oilers need to find a solution to their goaltending woes. But, their troubles may be a motivating factor in the organization’s rush to make a trade. The longer the two-best players on the team (and arguably in the NHL) struggle, the more the issues roll down hill and affect others on the team. And, if the problems grow to affect numerous players on the roster, which we can safely say has already happened, the sooner the Oilers look to be out of the playoff race.
Latest News & Highlight
The coach has already been fired because the GM didn’t want to wait for the Oilers to turn things around under Jay Woodcroft’s watch. Sans the Oilers picking up much-needed points with a few more wins, how long before Ken Holland (or Jeff Jackson) makes a deal for a goalie because the Oilers lose a couple more games? The need to pull the trigger on something will undoubtedly lead to the wrong deal being made.
As Mark Spector writes, “So, Edmonton is deep into the goalie market, but desperate. Teams know this, and prices are ridiculously high. Can Skinner hold the fort until someone offers a reasonable deal? If he can’t, is Holland forced to give up waay too much for a No. 2? That’s where we’re at.”
It might not be fair to overlook the atrocious defense and holes in other areas, but one way to avoid pushing the panic button is for Leon and Connor to play their games and produce as everyone in Edmonton has grown accustomed to. It’s a high bar and it’s a lot of responsibility, but it’s something they’ve done repeatedly and they’re paid well to take on the role.