The month of February has not been kind to the Edmonton Oilers. Since the All Star break, weaknesses and problems have been exposed. It’s worth noting that too much time off is a significant culprit for the Oilers woes, but the true root of their problems right now stems from a lack of goals being scored and experience in the lineup. In both cases, Edmonton could use some extra help.
One noticeable detail that stands out when looking at the Oilers forward lines is similarity. There is too much of the same thing within the team’s forward group. Basically, the Oilers have either big, tough and skilled guys or small, fast playmakers. My question to that is: Where are the snipers? Where are the shooters? Two years ago I would put Jordan Eberle in that category but his performance this season no longer qualifies him.
Of course the Oilers have two young phenoms that can rack up the points. Those two players are Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid. It’s fair to say that together they drive the Oilers offence. Draisaitl has 20 goals which is more than impressive and McDavid is atop of the league in points. Again though, this all falls back to players of similarity. Leon and Connor are both passers and playmakers. McDavid does not shoot enough or score goals consistently to be dubbed a sniper. Draisaitl does have an amazing wrister, but again, he is the type of player that will almost always look to pass first. Neither player is a true shooter.
Every team can go through dry spells and not score very much for a stretch of games. But the Oilers truly lack a shooter in their lineup. Patrick Maroon has found the back of the net a lot this year, but his scoring bursts are quite streaky. Truth be told, he is perfect with the way he is right now and how much more he contributes in other areas than just scoring.
The team’s lack of experience is showing as well. At this time in the season, every game is crucial and will be close to a playoff atmosphere every night. Adding more depth within the forward lines is a must for Peter Chiarelli. Upgrades in the top nine is necessary. People are frustrated that Milan Lucic isn’t scoring, but during this time of the season, the Oilers need more players like him. Guys that have won before, have tons of experience and can make a difference in hard playoff hockey.
There are a few notable veterans that are on the market and might be worth taking a look at come trade deadline day. The likes of Radim Vrbata, Jaromir Jagr, Patrick Sharp, Thomas Vanek and Jarome Iginla could provide useful experience for the Oilers and boost the team’s fire power in the top six. Intriguing depth options for the Oil include Patrick Eaves, Drew Stafford and Alexandre Burrows.
The common denominator among each of the veterans mentioned is that they all have considerable upside. Virtually every single one of them has a solid degree of playoff experience and have proven to produce during a time when it really matters. They are all known to have stepped up their games during the end of the season and in playoffs in the past.
For this team to become legitimate, there is still some work to be done and a few learning curves to endure. For the prospect of making playoffs, Chiarelli must add to the team’s depth, experience at forward and bring in players that will add an offensive punch, particularly in the goal category. Someone that can shoot the puck is an ideal asset to consider at the trade deadline this year. There is no need to panic and go on an expensive trading splurge, but Chiarelli must be aware of the weaknesses that linger on his team right now. Reinforcements will be needed for an aspiring playoff push.