With the Arizona Coyotes and Edmonton Oilers playing later tonight, we got together with The Copper & Blue, SB Nation's Oilers affiliate, to get the latest on what is going on up in Alberta. Here's what we asked, and here's what they had to say:
1. Edmonton wins the Connor McDavid Sweepstakes, and then promptly breaks him less than a quarter of the way into the season. Is Rexall Place built on an ancient burial ground or something?
There has to be something down under there, because how else do you explain Connor McDavid catching a rut in the ice like he did? It certainly is disappointing to see McDavid go down for some extended period of time especially given how electric he has been. Despite the slow start in his first five or so games, he really picked up steam, found his stride and was starting to dominate games alongside Nail Yakupov and Benoit Pouliot.
Leon Draisaitl has since been called up from the AHL, and he has put on quite the show in his own right scoring four goals and six assists for ten points in only six games. Although it's only six games, he has also been a possession monster boasting a 59.5% CF.
2. Who is one Oiler that NHL fans should be paying attention to that typically doesn't get the limelight?
Oscar Klefbom. He is only 22 years old, but has been playing a first pairing role for the Oilers for two seasons now averaging over 20 minutes a game. After being drafted by the Oilers 19th overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, he was left to develop for two years back in the SEL. Following a 58 game stint over two season in the AHL he found himself a regular in the Oilers lineup last season.
This past offseason, the Oilers signed him to a 7-year deal that will pay him $4.167 million a year until he is 29. The move was questioned by many especially considering he only had 77 NHL games under his belt. None the less, Klefbom should be looked at as one of the better young defenders in the league. He has a calm, cool demeanor with the puck and does a great job contributing on scoring chances.
And with a $4.167M hit through 2022-23, I think Klefbom will be one of the better deals in the NHL soon enough.
3. What would you consider a successful 2015-16 to look like?
Great question. A successful season would obviously be the playoffs, but realistically I don't see that happening for the Oilers. My preseason predictions had them finishing 10th in the West which I feel is still realistic sans McDavid. The truth is that I am seeing things from this Oilers squad that I haven't seen in years and it comes right back to solid coaching from Todd McLellan and co.
Under Dallas Eakins, the Oilers often looked lost and never seemed to be playing strong systematic hockey but rather a much more hectic game. McLellan has settled this team down and the group has shown they are willing to fight to get back into games, scoring 18 (42%) of the team's 43 total goals in the third period.
What I would like to see from this Oilers group is improved on ice play throughout the season. While they may not make the playoffs, the realization that McLellan isn't going anywhere means the players won't have to learn a new system for a while. McLellan is the 6th Oilers coach since the late Pat Quinn manned the Oilers bench in 2009-2010.
Thanks to Copper and Blue for answering our questions; check out what they asked us about the Coyotes.