In the wake of the two worst NHL teams squaring off on “Hockey Day in Canada”, we take a closer look at why the Edmonton Oilers need not to worry where they sit in the standings – the situation is far worse in the nation’s capital.
Let’s start with team management; Bryan Murray & Cory Clouston are still employed? Owner Eugene Melnyk has given them the vote of confidence till at least the end of the season to ride the ship out. Both Murray and Clouston will unlikely survive the off-season. The Oilers management on the other hand will have jobs next season – and have another crack at leading the Oilers back to respectability. On that note I’ll give the nod to the Oilers.
Now let’s take a look at the talent on the ice itself, in the end of the day – you either have it or you don’t. Both teams suffer from deficiencies in goal with no true number one goalie on either side of Canada. Pascal Leclaire has been miserable and Brian Elliot is having a tough season after having a brilliant one a season ago. Robin Lehner springs some hope but his numbers as a pro haven’t been overly impressive.
The Oilers are in a similar boat. Nikolai Khabibulin can’t buy a win and Devin Dubnyk is streaky at best. Olivier Roy is a reason to hope that finally, the Oilers might have found a gem. Advantage goes to: toss-up.
On the blue-line the Sens main ticket is Sergei Gonchar, at this point of his career – I’d rather have Ryan Whitney. Erik Karlsson is by far the best defenseman on both teams – but that may change if the Oilers draft Adam Larsson. Besides a few young defensemen, the rest of the groups are headlined by trading chips, awful contracts and players simply having poor seasons. Advantage: toss-up.
This is where the tables turn for the two franchises – the forwards. Daniel Alfredsson is aging, Alexei Kovalev is a floater, and Jason Spezza is overpaid – so is Milan Michalek. Nick Foligno must be Santa Claus with all the presents he ‘gives away’ to opposing players. The Senators are doomed when it comes to offense; they are in dire need of a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Gabriel Landeskog.
The Oilers on the other hand have a plethora of talent at forward. Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi, the set-up wiz Linus Omark are all better than any prospect forwards the Senators have. Not to mention Dustin Penner who is finally justifying his contract & Ales Hemsky’s reasonable contract.
Same story when it comes to prospects. Jared Cowen & David Rundblad headline the Senators lists. Both are good defenseman, but not elite. The Oilers can match up with Martin Marincin who has exploded onto the scene in the WHL & Jeff Petry who has debuted successfully in Edmonton.
How about the forwards? Would you rather have Tyler Pitlick, Curtis Hamilton, Anton Lander, Teemu Hartikainen OR Louie Caporusso, Roman Wick, Bobby Butler, and Jakob Silverberg?
The game may be tied 2-2 half way through the 2nd period, but in the long-run the Oilers are in the driver’s seat. Advantage: Oil Country.