While Connor Brown has the hole in a donut through eight games with no points, he’s not alone. His linemates Ryan McLeod and Dylan Holloway have 28 shots and zip when it comes to goal cellys.
The Edmonton Oiler coach Jay Woodcroft has noticed.
Not just the fans, clamouring for more.
“It’s concerning, yeah, it is a concern. It would be less if the ice-time (for all three) was in the single digits but it’s not,” said Woodcroft.
‘Bottom line for us we want to be a team that comes at the opposition in waves. We want to maintain a level of momentum in terms of stacking a good shift on top of a good shift, on top of another. Part of that requires some production from unusual sources or not the typical sources,” said Woodcroft.
“Those players in our bottom six or really bottom five right now (dressing seven defencemen and 11 forwards) have to find a way to ensure they’re affecting games in different manners. It’s finishing checks, it’s winning face-offs, it’s contributing on face-offs. But finding a way to contribute on the scoreboard…that’s concerning,” he said.
While Brown is due a $3.25 million bonus for playing his 10th game on Saturday, when Nashville is here for an afternoon game, he’s not alone in that regard around the league, in terms of games played bonuses.
Former Oiler goalie Cam Talbot, now in his first year with Los Angeles Kings, is due $1 million when he plays his 10th game Nov. 11 against Philadelphia. Dallas forward Joe Pavelski gets an extra $1 million when he suits up against Vancouver Saturday. And Blake Wheeler in New York, gets a $100,000 sweetener from the Rangers Thursday.
WELCOME BACK SAM
The Oilers put Adam Erne on waivers Monday and have signed Sam Gagner to a one-year $775,000 NHL deal to take his spot on the fourth line. So, this will be the third different time Gagner, 34, has suited up for the Oilers. First as their first-round draft pick, then after the Oilers traded Ryan Spooner to Vancouver for Gagner when Keith Gretzky was interim GM and now this latest recall.
Gagner, who didn’t play any exhibitions as he rehabbed from two hip surgeries but was practising with the main group, had just signed an AHL contract in Bakersfield. He had five points (a goal and four helpers) in three minor-league games.
Erne had signed a two-way deal ($250,000 in the minors, $775,000 NHL) after coming to training camp on a tryout. He dressed for six Oiler games, averaging a little less than eight minutes but only played 3:34 (seven shifts, three hits) in the Heritage Classic Sunday. They want a different look in Gagner, who killed a lot of penalties while playing in Detroit after his trade there, before signing in Winnipeg, before his hip surgeries. He has more offensive upside. They might have considered centre Lane Pederson ($775,000 one-way) for a recall but he got hurt last weekend in a game against Tucson.
Meanwhile winger Raphael Lavoie, who had a good camp, is staying on the farm because they don’t want him as a role player now, on a fourth line, but higher up the line-up. If Holloway, say, continues to struggle in terms of offence, maybe he gets a third-line look.
Lavoie, who just won AHL Player of the Week, has seven points (four goals) in five games and 27 shots. If he has 35 points in, say, 25 games, he’ll be up with the Oilers. But not now. They want him to round out his game more, away from the puck, something Lavoie has bought into.
“I didn’t help Adam much last game. I didn’t play him much (three minutes) because of all the penalties, the two (early) five-on-threes took him out of the game,” said Woodcroft. “Some of the forwards at the bottom end of the lineup the ones who kept alive, were out there killing penalties.”
“So Adam is on waivers. We’re trying to build momentum in that part (bottom six) of the lineup. Let’s face it, it hasn’t lived up to expectations through eight games,” said Woodcroft.
NO REASON TO WORRY
Connor McDavid didn’t skate Tuesday, but, relax. He got through the Heritage Classic game just fine after missing two games with either a hip/oblique muscle issue. “Connor had dental surgery. It was a previously scheduled procedure. He’ll be on the ice tomorrow (Tuesday),” said Woodcroft, laughing off the suggestion he had some teeth issues from eating some Hallowe’en candy.
Evander Kane (six hits, six shots, a goal and an assist) in the 5-2 win over Calgary was also absent Tuesday from practice. “Just managing bumps and bruises,” said Woodcroft, who didn’t have third forward Mattias Janmark there either.
Janmark (possible shoulder problem) didn’t play outdoors Sunday after practising Saturday on the sheet. He had a sling on last Friday at a team function after being hurt against the New York Rangers last Thursday. Doctors thought it best if he sit out the Calgary game. Maybe he’ll give it a go Thursday when Dallas is in town. He may be going for tests to see where the ailment sits.
“I don’t see it as week-to-week or month to month. We just held him off today,” said Woodcroft.
This ‘n that: Oiler GM Ken Holland has now been involved in five outdoor games, and has old-style team jackets filling up his closet. He hasn’t lost in regulation, going 3-02 with Sunday’s resounding win over Calgary at Commonwealth Stadium. When he was the Detroit general manager, the Wings had a shootout loss to Toronto, before 100,000 plus at U of Michigan, and an OT loss to the Leafs at BMO Field in Toronto. There were wins over the Blackhawks at Wrigley Field and the Avalanche at Coors Field in Denver…In the wake of the shocking death of former NHL forward Adam Johnson’s death from a skate cut to his neck while playing in England last weekend, the NHL doesn’t mandate neck guards for their players. But, according to Philip Broberg, the SHL back home does. Players are given a warning if they don’t wear a neck guard and there can be a penalty called after that. The Quebec and Ontario Junior Leagues mandate players wear neck protection, but not the Western Hockey League right now…Don’t count on Oiler defenceman Vinny Desharnais making a habit of goals after he got his first in the NHL, in his 42nd regular-season game, vs. Calgary. He kidded Tuesday that he had scored both of his Providence College team goals in two weekend losses once while in school and the coach pointed out later how poorly the team had played if it was the shutdown defenceman as their their only goal-scorer. Hearty laugh from Desharnais at that memory…The Bakersfield team is hurting. Tyler Tullio hasn’t played a game yet and Drake Caggiula just one.