Oilers radio colour analyst Bob Stauffer answers fans submitted by fans about the team.
- What are your thoughts on the play of Darnell Nurse and Leon Draisaitl so far and is it an automatic that they return to the minors when the lineup gets healthy?
— Geoff in Hinton
As we all know Darnell Nurse and Leon Draisaitl are both a big part of the Oilers future. And, when opportunity knocks a player has to rise to the occasion. Suffice to say, to date both Nurse and Draisaitl have done that.
Nurse and Draisaitl have been a part of an Oilers' youth brigade of 23 year-old and under players that has been directly involved in the last 17 goals that the Oilers have scored.
Darnell's athleticism has never been doubted, and he has provided a dynamic presence to the Oilers blue-line since being recalled from Bakersfield, averaging just under 19 minutes per game and chipping in with a goal and an assist.
Nurse can transport and transition the puck by both skating and passing it out of the Oilers zone. He also is strong enough to stop the cycle and has had really good gap control as well. If Darnell continues to play well at this level I don't see him going anywhere when Justin Schultz returns from injury.
Draisaitl now has seven points in his last three NHL games if you go back to his last NHL game in 2014-15 before he was sent to Kelowna (a two-assist performance in Calgary). Leon is really smart, and skilled and right now appears to be a perfect fit with Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, as that trio has been on fire over the Oilers last two games combining for 13 points as Hall has moved into the top 10 of NHL scoring.
Draisaitl doesn't have to have the puck all the time, and he has also showed the ability to finish when given the opportunity.
The automatic assumption is that Jordan Eberle will be reunited with Hall and RNH when he returns from injury, but if Hall-RNH-Draisaitl keep humming why screw up a good thing?
The fact that Leon can play all three forward positions, and that some others haven't knocked it out of the park in the Oilers bottom six may create more opportunities for Leon as well. Are you surprised at the impact that Connor McDavid has had on the team so far?
— Bill in High Level, AB
Connor is a special player, and it only takes about thirty seconds of watching him skate to realize how gifted he truly is. When players like Steven Stamkos and Sidney Crosby as well as retired greats like Wayne Gretzky are as effusive in their praise about McDavid as they have been, you know you are dealing with an elite level talent.
Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan has repeatedly spoken about how Connor is one question ahead when it comes to understanding systems and concepts. He appears to be a humble, understated guy around his teammates and he has done a good job handling the inevitable media crush that comes with being "the next one".
As for the performance on the ice, he has developed some chemistry with Benoit Pouliot and Nail Yakupov, and frankly has been unlucky to not have potted a few more goals in the Oilers first 12 games.
Once the Oilers get a little healthier, and as the team continues to mature, I fully expect that McDavid will grow with the group and excel, and it will not be a surprise!
What would you say are the biggest mistakes that most teams make in free agency?
— Mark in Edmonton, AB
The biggest mistake an organization can make in professional sport is relying too heavily on free agency.
Drafting and development are the way to go. Case in point, the Green Bay Packers who at the start of the NFL season had just three players on their 53-man roster that came from other NFL organizations.
While the Oilers were rebuilding and going through difficult times, veterans got moved and the organization needed "transitional veterans", to play as the Oilers developed what would be considered "secondary" prospects.
In a perfect world you pay for true quality in free agency.
If a defenceman has three or four year run as a productive top-four D-man and he is still in his late 20's then he is going to be paid accordingly, and likely be able to live up to the contract, at least in the first few years of a deal.
If a defenceman can't crack a top four by his late 20's it is unlikely that he will be able to live up to being paid like a top-four NHL defenceman elsewhere.
Player Agents also know how to apply pressure points to NHL organizations early in free agency when clubs are looking to make a splash in their respective markets, which is why often some of the best buys in free agency come later in the free agency period when players and agents get more desperate.
I think we saw a bit of a market correction this fall with some pretty decent NHL veterans having to play their way onto teams through PTOs, specifically with wingers.Bob Stauffer is Colour Analyst on the Oilers Radio Network and Hosts “Oilers Now” each day Noon to 2:00 PM Monday thru Friday on 630 CHED and you can follow him on Twitter at @Bob_Stauffer