Article content continued
The case can be made that the current Oilers have amassed a group of natural wingers who are at least the equals of the last half dozen guys listed here, who simply represent the normal comings and goings of rank-and-file depth players. Other than the unexpected renaissance of Lucic and to some degree Rieder, none of them are filling the net in the playoffs nor in the season that preceded them.
It’s that top three that stand out, men who were near the prime of their respective careers when they were moved along from Edmonton, for too little return in each case. The combined trade tree for the three shows the Oilers moving on from Hall, Eberle and Perron and adding three 2nd round picks for the modest return of Larsson and Athanasiou on the current roster. Wowsa.
Those three have combined for 9-10-19 in 22 playoff games this spring. By comparison, the Oilers iced 7 natural wingers who produced just 4-4-8 in a combined 27 games played. Lack of secondary scoring was a critical shortcoming for a team that so badly needed an extra goal somewhere in Games 3 or 4 against Chicago.
A decade ago, the Oilers were a team whose future was built around H.O.P.E., four rookie wingers named Hall, Omark, Paajarvi, Eberle. In retrospect it was likely a bad plan — or unfortunate circumstances — to have all of the club’s top young talent concentrated at the wing position. But during the Peter Chiarelli era in particular, the needle swung entirely the other way. It was as if scoring wingers would be the easiest pieces to replace so let’s move out the ones we’ve got to concentrate on other needs, or simply to cut corners on the salary cap.
The result? A team once bulging with legitimate prospects/players on the flanks and major needs elsewhere, is now one that is shy on proven scorers on the wings… even as the perfectly good wingers they flushed along the way have gone on to continued success in other NHL cities.
Recently at the Cult of Hockey
STAPLES: Oilers need to upgrade skill & speed on the blue line
LEAVINS: McD and Drai don’t deserve the heat
McCURDY: Connor McDavid downloads on the post-season that was
STAPLES: Do the Oilers need to trade a D?
McCURDY: Did Oilers deserve better in playoffs?
Follow me on Twitter @BruceMcCurdy