With the NHL on break for the next few days, let’s take a look at what the Oilers should have on their Christmas list
After a torrid start to the season, the Oilers have come back down to earth and currently sit in the second wild-card spot as the NHL breaks for Christmas (and Covid). As per usual, McDavid and Draisaitl have been the class of the league so far, and the Oilers have also seen important contributions from vets like The Nuge and Zach Hyman, as well as breakout performances from players like Jesse Puljujarvi and Evan Bouchard. Still, this team leaves a lot to be desired, and from their defensive game to their offensive depth, there are a few key gifts the Oilers should be putting on their wish list.
Offensive depth is once again a huge issue for the Oilers this season, with little in terms of production coming from their bottom six. The Oilers should look to use their wealth of prospects, including Philip Broberg and Carter Savoie, to trade for a player or two at the deadline. A top-tier scorer like Vladimir Tarasenko would be fantastic, but realistically the Oilers should be looking at the likes of Phil Kessel, Reilly Smith, and Jake Debrusk. These are all players who have proven they can produce at an NHL level, and whose asking prices shouldn’t be too high. Whatever their respective teams may be asking for them, the Oilers should be able to meet it, and with McDavid and Draisaitl in their primes, they should be looking to do anything they can to improve the offense around them.
Defensive health has suddenly become an issue this season, which has led to a very inconsistent set of pairings on the blueline. Players like Duncan Keith and Kris Russell are bound to be health risks considering how old they are, but younger players like Darnell Nurse, Cody Ceci, and Slater Koekkoek have all missed time due to injury this season. Covid obviously complicates this situation further, but the Oilers should be asking Santa to keep their defense healthy because having an inconsistent rotation of players in an already inconsistent group has really hurt them so far.
Kailer Yamamoto broke out in a big way in the latter part of the 2019-20 season with 26 points in 27 games but has failed to repeat this production in the past two seasons. The Oilers should be wishing for a Yamo breakout in the second half of the season because his offensive presence is an important one. The Draisaitl, Nuge, and Yamamoto line has at times been the best on the team, but this all hinges on Yamo’s production. Let’s hope that he can return to form when the Oilers return to play.
I want to keep this fairly optimistic since it’s Christmas time and we should be spreading joy or whatever, but there’s one thing I would like to personally wish for, for Christmas. When I wake up on Christmas and I go to check under the tree, I don’t need any big gifts like a new stick or a jersey, I would just like to get a notification from TSN or some other outlet that Dave Tippett and Ken Holland have been fired. Say what you want about Peter Chiarelli, but at least his team won a few playoff games. Tippett and Holland’s tenure in Edmonton has been nothing but a hindrance to the development of this team, and the longer they’re here, the more of McDavid and Draisaitl’s careers are being wasted. I’m not entirely clear on what Santa’s powers entail but I have heard that if you believe hard enough, anything is possible so maybe he could come through on this one for the sake of the Oilers.
One final wish: Please bring back the royal blue. The all navy isn’t it.