Tha Sports Junkies 101

Edmonton Has a Cold Case of the Blues

Edmonton Oilers Has a Cold Case of the Blues Nunymare/Flickr


The Edmonton Oilers currently hold the second-worst record in the Western Conference. Those are not exactly the words you would have expected to hear after such a terrific 2016-17 season. After another miserable defeat to the St. Louis Blues last night, the Oilers continue their horrific start. At 7-12-2 (16P), the Oilers clearly have work to do, but what exactly is going wrong? They have a Stanley Cup-worthy roster, solid goaltending, and of course Connor McDavid. With 21 games in the past, a quarter of the season is finished. There is certainly time to turn things around, but a gloomy start could ultimately hurt the Oilers’ playoff hopes.

Simple Stats

From a statistical standpoint, it is pretty obvious why the Oilers are playing so poorly. As a whole, they have only scored 53 goals, averaging out to roughly 2.5 goals a game. Those are solid numbers if it were goals against average, but not pretty from an offensive perspective.

Early teams with success, like the Lightning, for instance, have averaged right around 4 goals a game. That is exactly where the Oilers should be, yet they have shown no glimpses of producing Lightning like numbers. Edmonton clearly has a depth problem. Only five players have posted over 10 points, and only four players have scored at least 5 goals. Their game against the Blues last night was a clear example of their ongoing depth issues.


The Blues embarrassed the Oilers and they did it quickly. They were miserably defeated 8-3, and Cam Talbot was pulled after allowing two of the eight scored. The Oilers looked absolutely dead at times, and the Blues pounced. They were careless in their own end, lost the majority of 50-50 battles, and again lacked depth scoring.

Patrick Maroon in his Blues post-game interview put it best. The Oilers depth needs to step up, plain and simple. Maroon noted that each game only one line has been producing. Each game, a different line steps up. Stanley Cup teams need four lines rolling at all times, with production throughout the roster.


In 2016, Connor McDavid was named the captain of the Oilers at the age of just 19, making him the youngest captain in NHL history. McDavid was soon joined by veteran alternate captains Milan Lucic, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Adam Larsson.

Much like Sidney Crosby in his early years, McDavid has received similar criticism a young star can expect to get. But realistically, is McDavid too young to lead the Oilers out of their slump? It sure took Crosby and the Penguins a couple years to iron out some of their difficulties, and the 2017-18 season has shown similarities to Crosby’s early years.

There is no problem with making your best player captain. Crosby, Toews, Ovechkin, and Getzlaf are just some of the many names of star players that hold their team’s leadership position. However, what differentiates recent successful teams from those underperforming, is the example their leader has set. That includes during the regular season and into the playoffs.


Take Alex Ovechkin for example. In no way am I bashing Ovechkin as a player, because he is undoubtedly an elite scorer. But I have my doubts about his leadership skills. In the playoffs last year, Ovechkin was demoted to the third line, because at times he looked simply disengaged. He seemed to only care when the puck was on his stick and was careless in his own end.

A Stanley Cup team needs a captain willing to lay it all on the line every shift. Ovechkin let his frustration take not only the best out of himself but also his teammates.

I am not comparing McDavid to Ovechkin just yet because it is too early to judge McDavid’s performance as a leader. Yet, if things down the road don’t change, McDavid may be blamed for his team’s woes, similar to Ovechkin. 20 years old is pretty darn young to be an NHL captain, and it eventually could catch up to McDavid and the Oilers.

McDavid can’t do it himself at such a young age. He needs guys like Lucic, Maroon, and Larsson to step up. The Oilers are a great mix of talented veterans and speedy youngsters, but without leadership, their talent is a waste.

Early Season Changes

The Oilers have already made some changes to jumpstart their poor start. A week ago, they traded Finnish winger Jussi Jokinen for Mike Cammalleri. Both are well-known veterans who have serviced several teams successfully. It clearly isn’t a blockbuster deal considering both are similar players, but Cammalleri is a bit more expendable.

Jussi Jokinen was struggling in Edmonton, only posting one assist in 14 games. Cammalleri can play both on the wing and at center which expands the Oilers’ options. I have said it before and will say it again, the Oilers need to move Draisaitl to center. He is too talented to not be playing on his own line.

The Oilers have also tried shaking up the youth look, moving guys like Puljujarvi and Yamamoto up and down from the AHL. These changes have not made a bit of difference, and have failed to create a spark.

Todd McLellan

A spark can sometimes be drastic, and that might be exactly what the Oilers need. Would a coaching change benefit the Oilers? There have been several examples of fired coaches creating immediate success.

Often times when a coach is fired, players feel a sense of guilt and improve their play. Todd McLellan is a good coach and well liked, but some of his recent success may be due in part to McDavid’s maturation. But with McDavid entering his prime, is it becoming clear that McLellan is no longer fit to hold the Oilers’ coaching position? If their play doesn’t improve soon, McLellan certainly could be on the hot seat.

The other night, he noted it was his responsibility to have his team ready. They weren’t and it showed:

There is no telling whether the Oilers will end their slump anytime soon, but they undoubtedly have the tools necessary to break out of it. With a quarter of the season finished, changes need to be made and made quickly. Expect questions to be asked surrounding Oilers’ leadership, and expect more changes to come.