The good folks over at Copper and Blue, our sibling SB Nation blog that covers the Edmonton Oilers, reached out to ask five questions to preview this afternoon’s game. Naturally, we asked five questions of our own about the Oilers for Managing Editor Jeff Chapman to answer. Let’s jump right in.
1. Why do you think Cam Talbot didn’t work out for the Edmonton Oilers?
Cam Talbot was on fire for most of the 2016-17 season, a season that saw him lead the league in minutes played (nearly 4300) and saves (1946). His .919 save percentage was good enough to help carry the Oilers to the second round of the playoffs before losing in seven to the Ducks. ll of this is great. It’s also pretty difficult to replay over the course of a full season.
Unfortunately for the Oilers and Talbot, he’s come down pretty hard since. The 2017-18 season saw him finish with a .908 Sv% and a very bad 2018-19 saw him split time with Edmonton and Philadelphia. I think Talbot caught lightning in a bottle like the rest of the Oilers did for the 2016-17 season, and now Calgary will see if he’s able to grab that mojo again.
2. Which two forwards do you predict to spend the most 5-on-5 TOI with Connor McDavid by the end of the season?
This is a question with a lot of possible answers. Right now, the top line is cruising with Zack Kassian and Leon Draisaitl. If the Oilers continue to win games, you can expect that Draisaitl/McDavid/Kassian line to stick together like glue.
There was a time last season that saw Ryan Nugent-Hopkins play alongside McDavid, but after a 50 goal, 105 point season from Leon Draisaitl, it’s fair to argue that a McDavid/Draisaitl combo makes sense all around. You may see a guy like Alex Chiasson up top, or you could see James Neal get moved to the top line if the Oilers want to shake things up, but I’d think that Draisaitl/Kassian has a very good chance of being McDavid’s two most common linemates by the end of the year.
3. What the hell is going on with Jesse Puljujarvi and can we have him?
It’s a complete mess, from the top down. Frustrated (and rightly so) by being strapped on a line with Milan Lucic, Jesse Puljujarvi’s agent suggested that a fresh start may be what’s best for his client. Puljujarvi did not sign his qualifying offer and is playing for Karpat over in the Finnish league. You’re probably aware that he’s doing just fine in Finland right now.
The best case scenario for Oiler fans is that he plays lights out for Karpat and signs a deal with the Oilers, the most likely scenario is that he is part of a package deal that involves the return of a pick and a prospect of some sort.
4. What was your initial reaction to the trade that sent Milan Lucic to the Calgary Flames?
Joy. Elation. The moment I read that Milan Lucic had been traded for something that was not Milan Lucic, it was like finding a fifty dollar bill in that jacket you haven’t worn in a while. Like a giant weight had been lifted from our shoulders and placed on our provincial rivals down the highway.
Milan Lucic’s days as a top six forward is finished. He’s had a wonderful go at it, he was the player you wanted on your club for many years. He could crash, bang, fight, and score goals. The problem with all of that crashin’ and bangin’ is that it puts some heavy miles on your body, and it was all but over for him by the time he got traded to the Los Angeles Kings. The Oilers signed him with an immovable contract, but somehow were able to move it three years later. It also helps that James Neal is playing some of the best hockey in his life over the past week.
5. Which Oilers prospect who has yet to play an NHL game are you most excited for and why?
I’m a sucker for the goals, but I’m going to go with Philip Broberg.
Drafted eighth overall, Broberg is a Swedish defenceman who we hope to see on the big club in a couple of years. He’ll be in North America in a year, and it’s going to be exciting to watch him in a couple of years when he’s on the big club alongside other current defensive prospects like Evan Bouchard and Ethan Bear.