Welcome to Cucks in Deep, a weekly right-wing (hockey term!) hockey column about all of the conspiracies and news going on in the world of hockey that the NHL and other leagues don’t want you to know about and the lamestream media are too afraid to report on. But not us.
In the build-up to the 2017-18 NHL season there was one team that everyone had their all-seeing-eyes on, the Edmonton Oilers.
And why not, they were coming off a 103-point season, a trip to the second round of the playoffs, had the game’s most thrilling young star, as well as other young, talented players across the ice. It seemed like there was nowhere to go but up for the team, and many pegged them as their Stanley Cup champions in preseason predictions.
Needless to say, that has not been the case at all this season. Heading into this weekend’s action the Oilers sat at 43 points, 10 out of a playoff spot, and just four points above having the the third west record in the entire league, which is really the worst in the league when you factor in that Arizona and Buffalo aren’t technically NHL teams. Needless to say, it has been a bad year for the Oilers when they entered with such high hopes and expectations.
But why is that? Why is it that a team that nearly everything thought would be great, but is in fact terrible this year?
It’s simple, the Oilers systematically tank in years when they know there is a franchise-altering player available at the top of the draft, and play hard when there isn’t. Add in that they know they’re going to win the NHL Draft Lottery this summer (stay woke) and there is no reason to try and risk it all for a Cup when a player like Rasmus Dahlin is waiting at No. 1
It starts with the draft class for 2017. There were two players that scouts agreed were the top players, Nico Hischier and Nolan Patrick. Fine players to be sure, but teams and scouts weren’t wild about either player becoming #elite and turning around the hopes and dreams of a franchise on their own. So in the minds of the Peter Chiarelli and the rest of the Oilers brass, they may as well go all-in for the 2016-17 season and try to win the Cup, because there wasn’t anything in the draft that they felt was worth having.
Fast forward eight months after their playoff run ended and oh look, they’re right in the running for the 3rd of 4th best lottery odds, and there is Dahlin and a player some are calling the next Peter Forsberg, Andrei Svechnikov of the Barrie Colts. Either of which are 10 times the prospect that Hischier and Patrick are. Gee, what are the chances that the Oilers are “somehow” again bad when there are two studs at the top of the draft? It’s like Chiarelli and the rest of the Oilers are playing 8D chess while the rest of the league is playing Chinese Checkers, trying to expand the globally.
There hasn’t been much talk about the prospects that are available in 2019’s draft, but if they are again lousy, just imagine the damage an Oilers team with Connor McDavid and Dahlin or Svechnikov. It would be like Gretzky and Bobby Orr teaming up, or Gretzky and Phil Esposito. The rest of the league wouldn’t stand a chance. What’s even more amazing is the Oilers ability to flip the switch on or off, which really should put Todd McLellan in the running for the Jack Adams award for best coach.
So while the rest of the NHL and the hockey world may be fooled by the Oilers being “bad” this year, we are not. Brilliantly done Edmonton, just try not to be so obvious about it next time.