Frustration Boiling in Edmonton

The Edmonton Oilers season has been disappointing, frustrating, and pedestrian at best. 
(courtesy of Twitter)

The Edmonton Oilers season has been disappointing, frustrating, and pedestrian at best. (courtesy of Twitter)

The Edmonton Oilers were flying high in the season’s early stages. Coming off a disappointing sweep at the hands of Winnipeg in the first round of the playoffs, Connor McDavid and crew needed to go deep in the postseason to validate General Manager Ken Holland’s offseason moves. Now two weeks out from the All-Star break, the Oilers are out of the playoffs, with a 3-11-2 record since Dec. 1 and frustration beginning to boil over.

Starting with the offseason, Holland traded for Duncan Keith with his full salary and signed Darnell Nurse to an absurd $9.25 million extension. Keith was being shopped by Chicago to make room for Seth Jones, but Edmonton needed to have Chicago to retain salary or get a prospect in return for taking the massive cap hit. Instead, it got a third-round pick (second if the team makes it to the Cup Finals) and Tim Soderland, who is struggling to get time in the AHL. This horrible trade made their suspect blue line even worse. As great as Keith was during Chicago’s dynasty, those 30-minute nights have caught up to him. The big signing was Zach Hyman, who inked a seven-year contract for $5.5 million per season with trade protection. Hyman has been average, scoring 21 points in 32 games, but not the winger fans have been dying to see play with McDavid. 

Instead of fixing the worst goalie tandem of Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith, they added an over-the-hill defenseman, overpaid a grit forward and their offense first d-man whose numbers are inflated by playing on the powerplay with McDavid. What could go wrong? 

Leon Draisaitl and McDavid are second and third in points in the NHL with 54 and 53, respectively, and have made their frustrations with the rest of the roster abundantly clear. McDavid looked disinterested and sad after many losses in the past month, making headlines for saying the team wouldn’t say no to adding Evander Kane in free agency. Draisaitl, on the other hand, got involved with journalist Jim Matheson last week after practice when Matheson asked what needed the most improvement , and Draisaitl said everything. Matheson followed up with if he wanted to expand, Draisaitl denied saying, “You can do that. You know everything.” Matheson then proceeded to call the superstar “pissy” twice in front of everyone and had the audacity to ask another question right after, which Draisaitl rightfully dismissed — a classic back-and-forth between the two. Clips of both have armchair-GMs wondering if the two will ask out of Edmonton after the season or if Holland will get fired upon their request. The second seems more likely, requested or not, as the team has not been successful during his time in charge. 

As for the upcoming trade deadline, Holland needs to save his job by getting this team into the playoffs. Chicago’s Marc-Andre Fleury, Columbus’ Joonas Korpisalo or Los Angeles’ Jonathon Quick need to be walking in the door to take the starting goaltender role. That is a must. Adding a winger such as Joe Pavelski from Dallas, Claude Giroux from Philadelphia or Evander Kane through Free Agency would be a needed help to McDavid and Draisaitl, even though the Kane signing would be a locker room disaster. 

Edmonton still has a chance to make the playoffs and a chance to make a run in the West, especially with Jack Eichel’s return date unknown. But the 20 guys in the locker room right now will not be able to do either one of those things. The drama continues in Edmonton and might turn into a fascinating summer in 2022.