Tonight Brandon Manning will sit for the third straight game. The left shot defenceman, who is making 2.25 million dollars a year, until the end of next season will sit tonight. The defenceman most outlets called untradeable by Chicago will not be dressed tonight by Ken Hitchcock. The defenceman acquired by Peter Chiarelli to improve the struggling D will not make an appearance on the ice in Edmonton tonight.
It doesn't matter how you say it; it sounds bad because it is bad. In no aspect of the game has Brandon Manning been a useful player for this team, he hits players, is slow, and does not put up points. He is basically a worse version of Kevin Gravel.
Funny enough Kevin Gravel plays for the Oilers and fits in perfectly on a third pairing D. This is where the disconnect seems to be for the upper brass. Peter Chiarelli and his inner circle of the Knights of Formerly Kingsway truly seemed to believe that Manning was going to help shore up the D while players were recovering from injury.
While I have no real proof, I don't believe that Ken Hitchcock was part of that decision process. This does not look like a coach who wanted this player or wants to help them improve and contribute; sitting Manning once could be to give him some time to adjust, three games in a row is a statement.
The potential worse part of all of this is the news that Chiarelli has been looking at Manning for over a year. He has presumably had scouts watching Manning over a year and after everything they saw in Chicago, still believed he was worth acquiring.
Manning, Korpikoski, Reinhart, Wideman, Spooner, Cammalleri, Jokinen... these all represent players targetted by this GM under the belief that they could help the team and every single one of the failed to come close to expectations.
I don't know if it is Keith Gretzky who is agreeing with his boss, or his scouting staff, or Lowe or Katz. It's too simple to just say that Peter Chiarelli is the only problem (though he absolutely is a problem), but everyone on that staff who is not raising their hand to these decisions need to share the blame too.
1) Big Barkov. Outside of a few players the Panthers have struggled offensively, something the Oilers can certainly relate too. While Aleksander Barkov started the season out slower, he has 15 points in his last 11 games, including a hat-trick versus Toronto. Barkov should always be in the conversation for the Selke as he is a threat at both ends of the ice. Look for Hitch to match his top line to Barkov's all night.
2) Give The Fans A Win. Florida have not won a game on the road in regulation since December 23rd, while Edmonton has not won at home since December 14th. The Oil went 2-2 on this road trip but have lost 6 at home. Considering after this year many season ticket holders have to decide whether or not to renew, the top brass better hope this team can give the fans something to cheer for.
3) Bouncing Back Caleb Jones had a rough game against San Jose. I'm not singling him out because 95% of the team had a rough night. As a rookie we will see some nights like that from the young player and fans should watch and see how he responds tonight.
4) Next Goal in 43 games? Start the clock for when Milan Lucic's next goal occurs. Lucic scored opening night this season on October 6th. Prior to that his last goal came on the road March 22nd against the Senators. Tonight Lucic will be back on the second line with Ryan Nugent Hopkins. I don't expect goals to come in droves for #27 but it would be nice if he could finish the season with close to 10....which right now sounds like a tall order.
FILM OF THE DAY
I imagine the Oilers top staff look something like these suits in this scene from Monty Python's - Meaning of Life.