In today's five questions, I had the opportunity to touch base with Jeff Chapman over at The Copper & Blue to trade off a few questions.
Kevin (LBC): You've been drafting really high the last few seasons. How much longer do you expect to wait before you see the team start to own the Western Conference?
Jeff (TCAB): It's not going to be this year, that's for sure. I don't know anyone who thought this year would start as disastrous as it has so far. Every time I think this team is about to turn a corner, they shoot me down by winning three of their first fifteen games of the season. Personally, I'm done being patient for this team to stop being a laughing stock. I don't think anyone realistically thought that this team would 'dominate' this year, but is 'compete' too much to ask? I can only hope for the team to 'compete' for the remainder of this year as the playoffs are already all but out of reach. Next year, the domination starts, or at least that's what this cue card that's been handed to me by Oilers management says.
Kevin: After a cursory glance at the team statistics, the glaring deficiency seems to be goaltending. In fact, after only 139 minutes on the ice, Richard Bachmanis the team leader in Goalie Point Shares. What's the answer between the pipes for Edmonton?
Jeff: I'm a pretty big fan of Devan Dubnyk, but he had an awful start to the season. He's looked better in recent performances, which is somewhat encouraging. Honestly, if Dubnyk's play falls back into the toilet, if Bachman or LaBarbera get hot for a couple of games, they could be "the guy". If Dubnyk's game gets to be better than average over the next 65 games, he might earn another contract for the team. Then again, they could crumple the whole thing and start fresh in July.
Kevin: Since their appearance in the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals, the Oilers haven't made a playoff appearance. Does this group have the ability to catch fire and maybe sneak into the playoffs this season? How about next season?
Jeff: If anything could catch fire, I wish it to be the fourth line. Literally, the fourth line should catch fire and it should be replaced with competent NHL players instead of the trio of "tries hard", "son of former Oiler" and "isn't hurting the team with his five minutes a night". I'd put this team's chances at making this year's playoffs at zero. Unless something major changes between now and next year, I don't put next year's odds very high either. Nothing has changed. This team is a team without direction, and more importantly, a team without enough good players. Unless this team is committed to putting the best possible players at the NHL level, this team will continue to suck in ways previously unimaginable.
Jeff: Ryan Hamilton started the season in the AHL, but he might be an NHL player. Goalteder Richard Bachman played lights out against the Kings and could hang around for longer than expected, but that's also in part to Jason LaBarbera playing less than adequate. Denis Grebeshkov is a tweener, and it seems like every other forward other than Linus Omark has been called up and sent down. The team should call up Linus Omark, and they should call him up now.
Kevin: Which of your lines present the biggest threat to Florida's backstop tonight, presumably Jacob Markstrom.
Jeff: The team hasn't scored a goal in the last two games, I'm hard pressed to suggest a line that could cause anyone trouble. If I had to pick one, I'd say to keep an eye out on Hemsky / Nugent-Hopkins / Eberle. Hemsky's a fantastic playmaker, Eberle can both set up and score some beauties, and Nugent-Hopkins' shoulder looks pretty good after a repaired labrum this offseason.
Many thanks to Jeff and The Copper & Blue for playing along. Stay tuned for the preview around 3PM and the GameThread at 7PM sharp.
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