In No Particular Order: A Win, Possible Trades, Holloway
The streak is broken! On January 22nd the Edmonton Oilers won their first game in the month of January. Does that mean things are fixed and everything is back to normal? Probably not but at least it is a start and perhaps something the team can build on. Let's break down some notables from the game.
Winning is great but if it wasn't for some brilliant goaltending by Mikko Koskinen the Oilers easily could have lost this one 7-4. Koskinen stopped 44 of 47 shots including some grade A chances by the Flames, particularly in the third period. Good goalies should be making those saves but Mikko still deserves all the credit for making them, especially after another poor performance in the prior game.
Again we saw some players simply not be able to cash in on their chances. Jesse Puljujarvi had a great game and was a thorn in the side of the Flames all night and his net front work on the PP was a huge reason why the team found success. Still, Puljujarvi was stoned multiple times by Markstrom and simply couldn't bury his chances. The same goes for Kailer Yamamoto who actually fired three shots on net. Tyler Benson also looked great and deserves more opportunities in the lineup. He finished with three shots and five hits.
Finally after going down 2-0, the Oilers were able to find goals as Evan Bouchard burst onto the scene with two PP goals to tie the game at 2. Many, including myself have been clamoring for Bouchard to get a legitimate shot on the powerplay since last season. Tippett ignored those cries until he literally had no choice due to the Barrie injury. Tippett gets zero credit from me for putting Bouchard there now and instead becomes one more black mark against him for waiting this long to do it.
Bouchard released two deadly shots from the point which both made their way clean into the back of the net. Though he didn't get any assists on the plays, Puljujarvi was a major part for those goals for being the big presence in front of the net. Again, Tippett has shied away from having JP in that position, usually electing for Hyman instead. Injury forced his hand and surprise surprise, the result was a positive for the team.
Leon Draisaitl also came on in a big way with a four point (2G 2A) night including the game winner. Leon was looking far more like his old self in this game. Draisaitl is at his best when he plays like a one man wrecking ball and is moving his feet and driving to the net as opposed to just waiting to fire off his one timer. Huge bounce back game for a player still looking to earn a Rocket Richard Trophy.
McDavid finished the night with 2 assists but the captain did not look great all night. There were a few near highlight worthy chances where he almost was unleashed on a breakaway but he just didn't seem to have much energy during other parts of the game. You may disagree but that's just something I noticed.
Edmonton still has a long way to go in order to push themselves back into a playoff position but the team has very little in the way of cap space to make such a move. I look at the roster and I see a few areas where the team could make a move.
Zack Kassian:After this season, Kassian still has two more years left at 3.2 million on his salary. That is a lot of money for another team to spend on a player with 5 goals in 28 games this season. The dream scenario here is getting a team that (over)values toughness like the Rangers who have over 7 million in cap space or a team that might want to add that type of game like the Ducks who have over 10 million in cap space to add him. The return for Kassian would likely be insignificant as the real value to the Oilers would obviously be the cap dollars saved.
Tyson Barrie:The two PP goal night by Bouchard isn't the only reason Edmonton should make this deal but it certainly helps to reinforce the idea. Tyson Barrie makes 4.5 million a year for three years, including the remainder of the season. Barrie is an offense first defender who is a great powerplay option. There are useful skills Barrie brings to the lineup but right now the Oilers are in far more need of a physical, defensively sound player rather than another point producer. Barrie's numbers have dipped this season but I would believe there are still a number of teams that would be interested in adding a player like Barrie.
Mikko Koskinen: You better believe the Oilers have spent much of this season trying to trade Koskinen. Despite a great game against Calgary, Mikko has had his fair share of struggles and simply cannot be counted on for a long stretch. Why would any team acquire such a player? Honestly, they wouldn't which is why we haven't seen it happen yet. In order to get a team to bite on Mikko, Holland is going to have to overpay in a trade that we are all likely going to despise. An example of such a trade could be as follows:
Oilers trade a first round pick, Mikko Koskinen, and William Lagesson to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Marc-Andre Fleury at half retained salary. Holland is on record saying he isn't going to trade the first round pick for a rental but I can't imagine the Hawks accepting anything less than that.
IF and it's obviously a big if, the Oilers can move all three of those pieces without holding onto any salary, that is 12.2 million dollars of salary that could be spent to bolster this roster and address the issues we see on a nightly basis.
This is going to take creativity and some analytic thinking to make these type of deals. With Ken Holland as GM I just don't see this as a reality.
HOLLOWAY FINALLY PLAYS
Last night the Bakersfield Condors won their 6th straight game. After being down 2 goals, Head Coach Jay Woodcroft called a timeout, settled down his players as they rallied to win 4-3. I mention this because this is never something Dave Tippett would do #HireWoodcroft.
More important than this is that Dylan Holloway finally made his professional debut. The 20 year old forward, drafted 14th overall in 2020 has missed all this season so far due to complications from a broken thumb. Holloway impressed in his debut with two assists. Holloway will spend some time in the AHL but I wouldn't be surprised if the young player still comes up to the NHL before the end of this season.
The Oilers are tough against the cap right now and they are going to need young prospects on ELC deals like Holloway to make the jump and to play impact minutes in the NHL.