The Oilers are off to an impressive start. It is not really a surprise that McDavid and Eberle are leading the team in points. I think a lot of players are playing the way we expected. Strong start for Draisatl, Lucic and a bunch of players that really aren't surprising as the Oilers do have quality guys on their roster.
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The Defense have been... underwhelming as a whole and hanging Talbot out to dry on too many ocassions but we expected this. Talbot has played the way we hoped. He has emerged as a clear strong tender and he was worth what we traded for him.
I even think Russell was a great signing. Considering what he brings to the table he is worth the cap hit on a short term deal. I really don't see anything that would make him fit in the roster long term but he does improve the blue line this year. Not that Russel is bad, in fact he would be great as a 6-7 guy long term but the Oilers really have to do better than Russell if they are ever going to be a serious playoff team.
Which brings us to the big point. With the Oilers great start, there are still very few betting sites improving their odds on the Oilers doing good even if they make the playoffs. I think that makes sense. The Oilers have depth upfront but not enough. They have 3 of their top 6 (Leon, RNH and McDavid) often centering 3 different lines and they really only have two wingers of quality (Eberle and Lucic) unless Puljarvi plays the season and that doesn't stretch well across 3 lines.
Maroon hasn't been the player he appeared to be last year. Kassian has shown the skill we know he has but also the liability he is in terms of taking penalities. Which brings us to Pouliot who has been worse than Kassian at this. He doesn't bring enough to the table to offset his attacking zone penalites. The rest are okay but not enough. Players like Letestu are showing why they are bottom six players and really of no talent. Not the type of talent they parted with when they traded Nail, traded for Rienhart or traded Hall.
Which is still coming up in tons of blogs. One Oilers blogger recently posted that Larsson would be a top defender on most NHL rosters. He went so far as to imply that not only would he be on the top pairing but that this value is common knowledge with NHL teams. He listed a few teams where he is not the best RHD and sites that guys like Karlson, Letang, Seabrook, Byfuglian... and such were well established top dmen in the league and it is understandable that Larsson isn't in their class at this point in his career. That is one of the few things I agree with.
Larsson is still young. He is no where near his potential but his is also not a top 15 RHD in the league. The blogger left the Blues off the list of teams that have a better RHD. That is probably because they have 2 and arguably 3. I think if anyone thought Larsson was better than Pietralangelo then they are either dating Larsson or insane. In fact numerous lists on sites like NHL.com don't list him in their top 60 or even 100 defenders. Some sites do list Sekeras and the odd site has Klef but not Larsson.
Skip the fact that the Larsson trade is still being called one of the worst in NHL history, he just isn't enough to make the Oilers a playoff contender.
So despite the start I am sure the Oilers are still "sellers" this year rather than under the illusion they could rent players for a successful year. The Oilers will finish out of the playoffs again and we will see this called another step forward in the "rebuild" that saw us losing two of our 4 top draft picks this offseason. I think RNH will be traded as well in the offseason but in truth, he was the one that should have went this year... but not for Larsson. People say he is playing a great defensive game but his stats look average for a top player on a team that is winning. In fact Russel and Nurse both have looked better in most games.
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