Source: Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
It’s been a very long season, I swear to Wayne Gretzky I’ve aged more over the last nearly seven months of Oilers hockey than I have any other season. While it feels like just yesterday Jesse Puljujarvi was crossing the street in front of me to head to training camp, I’m personally happy that it’s in the home stretch. As I stated before the Oilers have been all over the map, the expectations for this team were higher than any other Oilers roster in my lifetime. I’m usually a relatively positive person, but at times I was at my witts end with this team. With just a handful of games left, I’ve been able to find positive vibes once again.
Baby Nuge is growing into a more dynamic player
What a year for Nugent-Hopkins, he has taken his game to another level this season. During camp, I wrote an article questioning just how Nuge would do this season and if he would have more of a chance to play an offensive role. If it wasn’t for that dang rib injury RNH could’ve topped career high points in a season; he had 56 points in back to back campaigns during the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 seasons. He played 80 and 76 games respectively, this season he sits at 43 points in just 58 games. We finally got what the majority of us wanted, 97 and 93 on the same line. It’s unfortunate that we had to wait so long to see it happen, but I’m happily tuning in to see what the duo can do together.
Mark Spector recently wrote an article about how Nuge is auditioning for both the Oilers and Sens, the click-bait title did trigger my anxiety at first. However I just can’t see the Oilers moving 93 for Hoffman one for one, it has to be in the Oilers favour. By god, Chia could win a trade for once with Nuge at his highest value ever! I can’t imagine Chia trading Nuge who is a versatile player and has chemistry with our boy Connor for a winger. The salary cap may have us handcuffed a bit, but hopefully, the organization has some help for Chia to navigate his way out of the mess while hopefully not giving up RNH—we’re all aware that Chia can’t manage the damn cap alone.
Post Trade Deadline
Whatever has gotten into the Oilers water bottles after the trade deadline, they need to keep up with it. The guys came out flatter than the electrocardiograph of a dead person at times this year, it was unbearable to watch, as I’m sure you know. The team has been far from perfect, minus Connor, but it’s a much more improved vibe to watch.
As the Oilers playoff chances ticked away, the guys seemed to be more engaged, be it the fact that they want to spoil other teams chances or just have something to prove I’m down with it.
Strome proves his worth
How would you feel coming into a hockey-mad market knowing that you’ve been traded one for one for Jordan Eberle? Now that can be answered a bunch of different ways. Strome had the added pressure of being pumped up to be on 97’s line, then being removed from it not far into camp. It was almost like he had to chew more than he could bite for a large chunk of the season. Nick Kypreos also dropped that bomb that the Oilers weren’t happy with the trade, mentally he had to process that as well.
MacT finally did something right and arranged his centres the way he should’ve at the start of the season. He put Strome in a position where he could succeed in, being the third line centreman. I have no issues with bringing back Strome next season if this is the role that he’s going to play.
Speaking of MacT
This will be my negative point of the article.
Why is he so stubborn as a coach? I get that at the start of the season it was all, “this is the line up he has been given.” But he stuck to his guns on so many damn things that at points it helped sink the ship that was the Oilers playoff chances. In some aspects he’s continuing to do it, we continually see Lucic playing on the top six or power play. Sure he’s trying to help the guy by playing him on Connor’s wing, but please hustle when you miss the chance in front. Don’t look up at the sky and wonder what you did in to piss off the universe, chase that puck!
MacT has had to get out of his comfort zone with the subtraction of Letestu, and it’s made the powerplay more bearable. As stated earlier 97 and 93 are on the same line; one wonders was that really MacT’s choice or someone from higher up? Regardless of whose decision it was, I don’t think McLellan is the man to head the Oilers next season. I know this isn’t a positive topic, but some of the choices that the coaching staff has had to make over the last few weeks has brought positivity to the team.
Nurse is growing into a leader
How great has Darnell been?! He has grown into the leader that we saw in junior and at the World Juniors. He isn’t afraid to stick up for his teammates or drop the gloves if need be. The thing for me that solidified this point for me was when Bear scored his first NHL goal the other night, Nurse got off the bench and came and gave Ethan a great big bear hug. It’s only a matter of time before we see an A on his jersey.
This season has been a doozy; thankfully we’re all going to get through it together and reset for the upcoming one. There are plenty of positive lines we can pull away from it to try and ease the fact it has been so shitty, mainly Mr. McDavid. These are just a few positives that have made me feel better about this season, what are the ones you can lean on? Let me know, shoot me a tweet @nooorzy.