Tomorrow the Arizona Coyotes will face the Edmonton Oilers for the first time since February 4th, 2020. In an effort to catch up on how things have changed, we have checked in with Jeff Chapman of fellow SBNation site Copper and Blue.
Were fans excited to return to the Pacific Division this season, or did people enjoy the All Canada Division last season?
I think it was a mixed bag. There was lots to like; Edmonton played Calgary a whole lot and the Battle of Alberta was alive and well. The Oilers benefitted from playing Ottawa nine times (they went 9-0-0), but playing the same six teams got kind of old after a while. Seeing Anaheim come to Edmonton on Tuesday for the first time in what seemed like forever was a breath of fresh air.
Coyotes fans were surprised to see Kyle Turris and Dave Tippett together after everything that happened in Arizona. How has Turris been this season?
I don’t think any of the fallout that occurred between Tippett and Turris many years ago has translated to Edmonton. Once Turris was in Nashville and signed his 6x6 deal, the writing was on the wall. There’s no way he’d ever be able to live up to the deal, and was bought out just two years into it. Since he was brought on by the Oilers last year, Turris hasn’t quite fit into the lineup on a full time basis. There was lots of talk from the Oilers media about how he came to camp in the best shape of his life a few weeks ago. That’s encouraging, but rarely (if ever) does it translate to the scoresheet. If he plays against Arizona, he’s likely the fourth line right wing.
We don’t see a lot of 39-year-old goaltenders, what was the reaction to Smith re-signing for two years?
I hated it. I’ve got to preface this by saying that I wasn’t sold on Smith when he first came to the Oilers, and I was apprehensive last year when he was brought back. He didn’t have a good first year, but last year he played really, really well. He put up a .923 SV% last season, which is very good. I think Oilers GM Ken Holland tried to find a replacement for Mikko Koskinen last offseason but nothing turned up and he was forced to go with the Smith-Koskinen tandem for at least another year. Smith showed well in his first two games, but he was injured during last night’s game against the Ducks when Oilers forward Devin Shore fell on him. So, we’ll see where that leads us. I’m not wild on the deal, but if Smith can make magic happen for another year, you’ll take it every day of the deal.
Last season the Oilers were bounced from the first round in four games, do you think the front office made enough changes for a lengthier playoff push this season?
I think the Oilers ought to be able to win a round this year, but the offseason moves are a definite mixed bag. The Oilers did really well by getting Zach Hyman in free agency from the Maple Leafs, and Holland finally got his third line C when he signed former Flame Derek Ryan to a two year deal. On defence, the jury is out when it comes to Duncan Keith and Cody Ceci. Signing Tyson Barrie to a three year deal is already proving to be a questionable move after Evan Bouchard took his place on the top pair in Tuesday’s win over the Ducks. Nothing changed in net, so the Oilers would do best by scoring a lot of goals in a lot of games.
Connor McDavid has eight points in just three games, and he had 105 points in 56 games last season. Do you think he will crack 150 this year with a full 82-game season?
If there’s a player that can crack a 150 point line in the league, it’s Connor McDavid. He played at a 1.875 point per game pace in last year’s 56 game season, it would be absolutely wild if he could do that with a full slate of games. If he’s healthy, I think he finishes somewhere in the low 130s, only because it just seems outrageous that any one player can play at such a high level for 82 games. After the season is done, the low 130s might be entirely too low of a guess. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Connor McDavid, it’s that doubting him is a fool’s errand.
Now that you have seen Jeff's answers head over Copper and Blue to check out questions that they asked us.