In an Edmonton Oilers news and rumors update, there is a lot being said by the Oilers, about the Oilers and through the way the Oilers are playing. Is it enough to ensure they make the playoffs? If so, is the team good enough to compete should they get in?
Oh, and McDavid scored a filthy goal that you need to see to understand how pretty it was.
Holland Notes “Window Is Now”
Oilers general manager Ken Holland was part of a radio interview on The Fan 590 earlier Monday and spoke of the Oilers window to make the playoffs and compete. It was music to many fans ears as a good chunk of Oilers Nation has been saying the Oilers are wasting McDavid’s best years by not doing everything they can to make the playoffs. To finally hear the man in charge say he’s got plans to ensure the Oilers success this season is a revalation to some.
When the season began, Holland’s mentality was that he wanted the Oilers to compete for a spot and playoffs to be in the conversation. He was thinking long-term stability. Now that they are right in the hunt, he wants to get in. He said, “When you’ve got Connor McDavid the window is now, the time is now.”
From there, Holland spoke about his logic behind grabbing veteran players around the age of 26 or 27, many of whom had seen NHL experience. He did so during the summer which allowed the Oilers to keep younger prospects down in the AHL a little longer.
From here, it’s about adding pieces without mortgaging the long-term future.
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Kailer Yamoto Seems Ready
One of the players Holland referred to was Kailer Yamomoto. Edmonton called him up a few games ago and has paid immediate dividends. He scored again on Monday against the Maple Leafs.
Holland admitted that Yamamoto might have been ready to contribute earlier but he wasn’t interested in putting the forward in an unfamiliar role. “He came back up here and Dave Tippett has been using him 15, 16 minutes a night,” Holland explained. The GM wasn’t interested in placing Yamomoto on the fourth line and speculation is that he’s been called up now because the Oilers want him to have a number of NHL games under his belt when the team hits their stride and officially gets into the postseason.
At that point, Yamamoto won’t be a fresh face but a forward with NHL experience who is ready for the playoffs.
Bruce Arthur Bashes Oilers
Connor McDavid scored one of the prettiest goals of 2020 on Monday versus the Maple Leafs and perhaps the nicest of his NHL career. Not everyone seems willing to appreciate that goal for what it was without also bashing the Oilers.
Bruce Arthur for The Star said the following:
Look, years of McDavid’s career are being wasted in Edmonton, and by hockey in general. He hasn’t played in an Olympics, and unless the NHL decides to go to Beijing he won’t for the first 10 years of his career. Maybe the Oilers make the playoffs this season, dragged by McDavid and Draisaitl and their special teams in the league’s weakest division, for the second time in McDavid’s five-year career. But imagine him on a more complete team. These Oilers aren’t great. They might not even be very good.source -‘Motivated McDavid exacts revenge on Maple Leafs with mesmerizing goal of the year’ – The Star – Bruce Arthur – 01/06/2020
Oilers fans are up in arms about the comments, many of them citing jealousy and his being based out of Toronto as motivating factors behind the back-handed compliment.
The irony here is that the Maple Leafs have had their share of problems this season, the Oilers are only two points behind them in the NHL standings and Edmonton defeated Toronto bringing their consecutive point-streak to a stop at 10. Is Toronto that much better than Edmonton? It doesn’t appear so.
Regarding McDavid’s goal, Wayne Gretzky said of witnessing it in person, “He brought me out of my seat,” He told NHL.com’s Mike Zeisberger, “I’ve told him before that he does that to me. And the did that tonight.”
Oilers Have a Second Line?
One of the bright spots about the Oilers last three games (outside of going 2-0-1) is the emergence of what appears to be chemistry in the top two lines. James Neal has jumped up and played extremely well since getting slotted beside McDavid and Zack Kassian and a useful second line appears to be forming.
There is always concern in Edmonton that splitting up McDavid and Leon Draisaitl is a risk. But, over the past few games, Draisaitl has gotten back on track, is lined up with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Yamamoto and the unit is clicking.
There is some concern if you follow analytics in that the line posted a Corsi For of 38.46% on Saturday and 34.78% last night in Toronto. With that in mind, there needs to be more consistency there. Still, this is something that the Oilers have to believe can be turned around and the offense coming out of this trio is a good sign.