Thursday, January 16, 2014

Be Glad We Don't Have Edmonton's Problems

Chuck Fletcher has made more out of his drafts than Edmonton has. Photo:
Right now, the Wild have issues. They have several key players out with injury and have been having issues scoring goals. They have also been getting badly outplayed this month, in their seven games played. But somehow, the Wild have managed to win five of their seven games this month with their young prospects leading the way.

So if you thought the Wild had some bad problems, well, look no further than their opponent tonight for some severe issues. Ever since their trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006, the Edmonton Oilers have become the laughing stock of the league. The team declined so severely to the point where they have had a top 10 first round draft pick for the five most recent drafts (2009-2013), including three straight number one overall picks from 2010-2012. The last of those number one picks, Nail Yakupov, is a lovely -30 on the season.

During roughly the same time the Oilers have been inheriting number one overall picks, the Wild were also playing poor hockey and racking up high picks in the NHL Draft. From 2009-2012, the Wild have drafted the likes of Darcy Kuemper (2009), Erik Haula (2009), Mikael Granlund (2010), Brett Bulmer (2010), Jason Zucker (2010), Jonas Brodin (2011), and Matt Dumba (2012). All of those players have made contributions to the Wild this year.

The Oilers during that similar time, have only received big contributions from their three number one overall picks (Taylor Hall-2010, Ryan Nugent Hopkins-2011, and Nail Yakupov-2012). The rest of their draft picks have yet to play a significant role for the Oilers. They have not hit on players in the lower rounds of the draft like Minnesota has.

Another instability for Edmonton in recent years has been their goaltending. Since Dwayne Roloson left following the 2008-09 season, the Oilers have rolled out ten different goalies (Jeff Deslauriers, Nikolai Khabibulin, Devan Dubnyk, Martin Gerber, Yann Danis, Richard Bachmann, Jason Labarbera, and Ilya Bryzgalov), including tonight's starter Ben Scrivens who is making his Edmonton debut.

The Wild during that time have relied on the tandem of Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding for most of their starts, with the exception of the 2010-11 season when Harding missed the year with an ACL injury (the Wild have had seven goalies make a start in that time span, but it has not been a revolving door in net like the Oilers).

We can sit here and go through all the bad things about the Wild. But the list of problems Minnesota has is insignificant to the amount of issues Edmonton has. They have too many forwards who can score, but not play defense. Their defenseman would have issues keeping a beach ball out of the net. And they have turned to Ilya Bryzgalov to play goal.

Bottom line: Be glad Chuck Fletcher does his job well. Be glad the Wild are not the Oilers. Appreciate that fact tonight when the Wild host Edmonton.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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