Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers’ season shaping up as one to just enjoy the ride

The NHL trade deadline is eight days away and I cannot remember a season where the Edmonton Oilers have been involved in so many trade rumours as buyers. From Erik Karlsson, Patrick Kane, Jakob Chychrun, Vladislav Gavrikov, and Joel Edmundson, just to name a few. This is a good sign, especially when you consider previous deadlines where the Oilers were sellers and the only thing left to look forward to was the draft.

MoneyPuck currently has the Oilers with the second best odds to win the cup at 12.3%—only behind the Carolina Hurricanes and ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins! This is a special time for Oiler fans and we need to take a step back from any criticism and simply enjoy the ride the Oilers are about to take us on.

NHL trade deadline is nearing

Bob Stauffer stirred the pot two days ago during the first intermission when he, for possibly the first time, called out management and strongly suggested the Oilers need to make a big addition at the deadline. I believe this was in response to a bad stretch of games in which the Oilers blew a couple of leads and lost in overtime and the shootout. Unfortunately those games happen and every time it does occur, there is an overreaction from the fans.

It wasn’t that long ago just before the All-Star break where the Oilers were on a win streak and the fans were wondering if they should stand pat. It is interesting how winning or losing streaks create those narratives from both ends of the spectrum within a 30-day span. Can’t we just be thankful that the Oilers picked up points and that those blown leads happened in February and not Game 7?

If past deadlines have taught us anything it’s that Ken Holland is unlikely to give up the first round pick and will add a depth forward and a depth defenceman. That’s a boring take that won’t generate clicks or views but it’s probably the most accurate.

It has been said many times on mainstream media that due to the cap and no trade clauses, blockbuster trades occur in the summer. If trades do happen at the deadline, there usually is an overpayment to acquire the best player which is then followed by buyer’s remorse.

My argument against a blockbuster trade is that this roster is better than the one that went to the Conference Final last year. Moreover, the Western Conference—outside of a healthy Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights—is wide open. I am personally ready to ride or die with this team as constructed and see where the chips land. Any addition will be icing on the cake and the first-round pick will have more value at the draft than the deadline.

The Oilers also have an 87.7% chance of not winning the cup so standing pat makes sense statically speaking. I say that tongue in cheek to all those who love advanced stats, especially projections as I believe advanced stats are only a part of the equation and do not tell the entire story of a player.

The Oilers are a must watch on TV

During the Taylor Hall years, the Oilers were labeled as a young offensive team, yet every year they were middle of the pack or lower in goals for. This year the Oilers actually have the best offence in the league with 218 goals for and the best power play.

Do I even need to mention that the Oilers have the #1 and #2 points leaders in the entire NHL? The Oilers are a run and gun team that will sacrifice defence for offence and other than a few exceptions have been “in” most games. This team has a ton more moxie than previous iterations and rarely folds when things get tough. This has honestly been one of the most entertaining seasons of Oilers hockey in recent memory.

I can understand the impatience of Oiler fans who expect perfection but hockey is a game of mistakes, and again as someone who watched the entire decade of darkness, we need to take a step back and appreciate just how fun these Oilers are to watch.

Here is a prime example, Connor McDavid scored the game winner and empty netter yet this was the play of game.

Coach Jay Woodcroft heading the team in the right direction

Jay Woodcroft has been a breath of fresh air for a franchise that has had a revolving door at the head coach position. This is Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ tenth head coach for goodness sakes and he’s been in the league 12 years!

Woodcroft has worked his way up through the organization and went 26–9–3 with a 0.724 win percentage down the stretch last year. He recently coached his 82nd game for the Oilers and had a 55–27–8 record being number one in goals for and having the number one power play during that time!

The Oilers head coach has been able to get the most out of callups as he is familiar with them from his time in Bakersfield knowing their strengths and weaknesses. I have also been impressed with the deployment of the 11 forward–7 defencemen lineup strategy as it makes it difficult for opposing coaches to get their matchup against McDavid. It is comforting to know that the Oilers have a good if not great coach running the show and no matter what happens this year they will have stability heading into next season.

Many on-ice factors that fans can’t control

Marcus Aurelius was the last “good” emperor of Rome and was a stoic philosopher. One of the principles of stoicism is the realization that there are things in life that are out of our control and the only thing we can control is how we respond. As Oilers fans we cannot control what happens on the ice. We cannot stop the opposition coming back from a three-goal deficit. We cannot make San Jose trade Erik Karlsson for a first-rounder and a bag of pucks.

What we can do it is appreciate the team for what it is and allow the season to unfold before our eyes. We can enjoy the wins and as crazy as this sounds we can also enjoy the losses as well. I like to call them EGOL, Entertaining Game Oilers Lose. I’m not saying every game is entertaining, the last game against the Montreal Canadiens is a great example. That game was not entertaining and they lost, but we can remember that it was their third game in four days and they earned five out of a possible eight points on that road trip.

I came across a post on social media that suggested the Oilers need to make a big move at the deadline because they are one losing streak away from being out of the playoffs. The Oilers are also one win streak away from first in the division so should they stand pat? It’s the classic glass half full half empty idiom.

Another great example is all the hate directed towards Darnell Nurse, his contract, and his poor stretch of play. Has Nurse had a perfect season? Obviously not but he has been an absolute stud on the blueline for years and he also took pay cuts so McDavid and Leon Draisaitl could earn theirs. It was Nurse’s time to get paid and while it is an overpay, I’m glad he will be with the team going forward.

I also came across one of the worst takes on socials that I ever saw. According to one “fan”, Darnell Nurse will not develop any more now that he is 28-years-old and they need to trade him! There have been numerous defencemen who improved throughout their entire career well into their late 30’s and is this fan aware that Darnell has a full no-trade? I honestly don’t see how the Oilers are better with Nurse out of the lineup.

Haters gunna hate, I get it, but it is waaaaay more difficult to support and defend a player like Nurse who has struggled than to constantly moan and complain about every mistake. The haters are one reason I stopped reading other blogs because of the constant negativity and throwing players under the bus in the articles and comment section. If you want to take that approach fine, but I would suggest you hand in your “Die Hard Oilers Fan” card and accept that you are in fact a fairweather/bandwagon fan.

The Oilers have had many special eras

A long time ago before the internet and social media the best we could hope for was a trip to the playoffs. My best memory during the 90’s early 2000’s Copper and Blue Oilers was a ridiculous save by Curtis Joseph to keep the game going followed up by Todd Marchant scoring the overtime winner against our hated rivals the Dallas Stars! Only to be unceremoniously dumped out of the playoffs the next round in five games. The Oilers went 30–44–8 in the regular season that year, but oh boy that Marchant highlight still gives me chills!

This truly is a special time to be an Oilers fan and no matter what happens at the deadline and in the playoffs, I believe we should embrace and enjoy getting to watch the funnest team in the league!

Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire

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