The Edmonton Oilers have a chance to make the playoffs, but should they attempt to make a playoff run?
“I know there are people out there that believe this team can’t make the playoffs. We believe in the organization, and we believe in the dressing room that we can.”
That quote is from the Edmonton Oilers CEO and Vice Chair Bob Nicholson during a press conference the day after firing former general manager Peter Chiarelli.
Also, it was just three days after signing goalie Mikko Koskinen, he of only 32 NHL games, to a 3-year deal that carries a 4.5 million dollar average.
Now that brings me back to that quote to the top. The Edmonton Oilers front office believes that the players in the locker room can make the playoffs now, but SHOULD they make the playoffs?
Should The Oilers Acquire Rentals For A Playoff Run?
“We’ll make some trades at the deadline if they’re the right trades to get us in the playoffs, but we’re not giving away the future.”
Those are the words of Nicholson from that same press conference mentioned earlier.
With the trade deadline a month away, the Edmonton Oilers sit 7th in the Pacific with a 23-24-3 record with 49 points. The 2nd wildcard position sits at 52 points. Not that far behind some might say, but when you look closer the climb into the playoffs is a lot harder than it seems.
For the Oilers to get into the wildcard position they would need to jump 4 teams to get in and 6 teams to take the 1st wildcard. They would need to go on a run and hope the 6 teams in front of them hit a slump. It’s not the ideal situation for a Oilers team that has missed the playoffs 11 of the last 12 years. With arguably the best player in the game, Connor McDavid, you can’t burn any of his prime years. In a year where his Oilers are needing to skip over 6 teams, is this the year you retool with the draft with possibly an impact player with a higher draft choice? Or do you gun for a playoff spot, most likely missing or getting eliminated early, and end with a middle of the road draft position? I think the choice is obvious but this is the Oilers we are talking about and that obliviousness has seemed to be getting to McDavid.
McDavid’s Press Conference
McDavid recently let off some steam to the media early this week (day after a 7-4 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes) saying that “If you are in this locker room and you don’t believe then you can get out”. These games do happen to teams but it seems that these happen at least twice a week for these Oilers. So, it makes sense for McDavid to come out saying those kind of things. With a team that cant get its stuff together, should the Oilers make the playoffs in 2019?
The easy answer for me is no.
The Edmonton Oilers front office should trade assets for draft picks or cap relief and get ready for next season. The Oilers play in a highly competitive division with several teams that are well stocked for the playoffs. It makes more sense to have a higher draft pick and select a winger early on in the first round of the entry draft.
When you’ve fired your head coach, fired your GM and your Vice President says that there is “Something in the water”, maybe there isn’t much to salvage anyway. During the months following the trade deadline, you can search for a new GM, hire a coach, get rid of the players who “Don’t want to be here” and land a higher draft pick.
Is It Worth Making The Playoffs?
The much more difficult answer for the Edmonton Oilers on whether they should go for playoffs is that if it is worth making the Playoffs in 2019.
For the Oilers, it’s the third year of the team playing in Rogers Place. You read that and say “So what?” What makes that so interesting is the budding business catastrophe is that a large number of the suites and premium seating inventory are all up for renewal in this 3rd year. Not to mention all the season tickets are up as well. When the press conference came out after the firing of Chiarelli, the Oilers front office had to tread carefully in what they said to not only try not to anger the buyers with the word “Rebuild” or “Retool” to make it seem like everything is ok. But, the Oilers front office has another animal they have to deal with. Connor McDavid.
Put Yourself in McDavid’s Skates
For this segment, put yourself in the skates of Connor McDavid. You see that the team is only a couple of points out of the playoffs. You read social media. The tweets that you read from Oilers fans across the globe discuss whether or not your team is one of the most disappointing teams ever. In addition, YOU’VE watched Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle leave your team and you get players back who can’t help you offensively. YOU see that people are calling YOUR team a place where nobody wants to go and that YOU will never win a cup. Then you hear from the Vice Chair of your team that they aren’t going to mortgage the future to make this team better. You’ve been apart of a “Rebuilding” team for 2 of the 3 years you’ve been here and your Vice President doesn’t want to make trades that will immediately benefit your team? Kind of feels like the walls are closing in on you, right? For McDavid the pressure to get into the playoffs, even if it is just a 1st round appearance, is immense.
For a team without a “real” GM that is a month away from the trade deadline, this could possibly be the biggest month for the Oilers since the Wayne Gretzky trade. Between trying to keep the consumers and McDavid happy, this will be an interesting month for the Oilers.
Follow me on Twitter @NikoFromTheTO
Stats from: NHL.com, foxsports.com
Featured Image Photo Credit – Nikos Michals