Although it seems like forever…it was about 3 seasons ago I identified the Oilers major needs as:
1) An above average NHL goaltender.
2) TWO top pairing defensemen
3) A #1/#2 C
Well, here we are and the needs are exactly the same and the Oilers are no closer to getting this pieces than they were then.
The bet that Craig MacTavish made on the Scrivens/Fasth combo has turned out pretty much like then you go all in with a pair of 8s before the flop. Boom!
In similar fashion, MacT bet on a bevy of journeymen defensemen who didn’t really fill much of a need since the team was already chok a block with bottom 4 D…they just have more of them now.
I like Ryan Nugent Hopkins as a hockey player but anyone who is being honest with themselves would have to concede he does produce offence befitting a #1C taken 1st overall the draft…he just doesn’t.
Here’s a look at the production in year four of #1C’s taken 1st overall in the past 10 years:
2005 – Sidney Crosby – 1.34 PPG
2008 – Steven Stamkos – 1.18 PPG
2009 – John Tavares – .979
2010 – Tyler Seguin – 1.05 (Seguin wasn’t selected 1st overall but he should have been)
2011 – Ryan Nugent Hopkins – .736
There are those Hopkins apologists who will try and tell you that he can’t produce at a higher level because the Oilers are so bad or because they don’t have a D corp that can move the puck but that could also have been an excuse for some of the others noted above.
At this point in his career, Hopkins is an exceptional 2 way second line centre who may find another gear but if the Oilers are to be successful, he is going to have to score at the same rate as the other big centres in the Pacific Division and he has a very long way to go:
Seguin – 2.58
Schwartz – 2.58
Getzlaf – 2.50
Toews – 2.50
Carter – 2.39
Ribiero – 2.34
Backes – 2.34
Thornton – 2.30
Duchene – 2.27
Steen – 2.17
Wilson – 2.17
Bouma – 2.13
Bonino – 2.13
Fisher – 2.05
Couture – 2.01
Sedin – 2.00
Nugent Hopkins – 1.85
Can Hopkins improve on those number? Sure he can when the Oilers are a better team and he is sharing some of the load with another centre but it should also be remembered he is getting a huge Ozone push (63%) and is not currently delivering the goods based on his draft pedigree and 4 years experience.
For comparisons sake…Sean Monahan in Calgary is scoring slightly less than Hopkins at evens but he is only starting 46% of the time in the offensive zone. (and he just turned 20)
Craig MacTavish says he’s likely going to bring in a defenseman next season but I’m not sure he will get what the Oilers really need…at least one top pairing D. They just aren’t easily available and, unless you think Nurse or Klefbom is going to turn into one if the next 3 seasons, we may be having this same conversation in 2018.
The only answer is a trade of one of Hall, Hopkins or Eberle in a package to attain one and I don’t think he’s prepared to do that.