The Oilers in March decided to finally put on a decent showing for it's fans, going 7-3-2 so far this month. Why the sudden change? Has it been the PK and PP finally clicking? No not really. Has it been Connor McDavid's one man show to try and earn his second straight Art Ross? Certainly hasn't hurt.
Some people are suggesting it is because of the new line combinations and the chemistry that has formed with Rattie playing alongside McDavid and Nuge and Aberg with Draisaitl.
I'm here to say to management (because I'm sure they read my blogs) that you need to take a couple deep breaths and really think.
Rattie and Aberg have been pleasant surprises. Rattie has done everything expected of him and more with Nuge and McDavid. The play has not died on his stick, he has the speed to keep up with his linemates, and he has contributed goals; greasy garbage ones as well as a couple nice shots.
Aberg, meanwhile since his late night bender in Florida (allegedly) has responded. In his last four games he has 2 goals and 4 assists, bringing his total to 2-6-8 in 12GP with Edmonton. Aberg likes to have the puck on his stick and shown good confidence playing with Leon Draisaitl.
Aberg is signed next season for $650,000 while Rattie is an RFA. In my opinion the Oilers should absolutely sign him for another year in the 900,000-1 million dollar range. These players both represent good depth signings that have shown they can step up if needed... but to assume they will both suddenly be 20+ goal scorers next season is a grave mistake.
It is the same mistake Chiarelli made last season when he left the right side barren, assuming Caggiula, Slepeshev, and Puljujarvi would take drastic steps forward. To look at Aberg and Rattie and assume the same thing would truly be the definition of insanity.
The same goes for Ethan Bear who scored a great 1st goal last night and had his best game yet. He has shown that his offensive game can translate to the NHL but he is still a young defenseman and the team should not be writing his name into next years roster in pen.
Though the cap looks to be going up to 80 million next season the Oilers still are going to have cap issues going forward. Players like Rattie, Aberg, Bear, Yamamoto, and potentially Benson represent the next group of young Oilers who could make an impact. For this team to have success these players need to be pushed and not have gravy minutes gifted to them.
Thanks for reading!