Taylor Hall #4 of the Edmonton Oilers awaits a face off against the Phoenix Coyotes during the NHL game at Jobing.com Arena on December 15, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Oilers 4-2.
(December 14, 2011 - Source: Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America)

It’s Edmonton Oilers day on PHT


Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Edmonton Oilers.

The Edmonton Oilers led off the 2012 NHL Entry Draft for the third consecutive year. It was a remarkable and simultaneously embarrassing feat. Over the past few years they had assembled an incredible core of talented young forwards — but had done so by enduring the worst stretch of failure in a generation.

Some of that could be forgiven because they were clearly in a rebuilding process, but eventually promise for the future needs to transition into success today. Going into the 2013 campaign, the Edmonton Oilers’ objective was to finally compete for a playoff spot.

Well, they were better, but still nowhere near good. On the positive side of things, Taylor Hall had his best season yet with 50 points in 45 games and Nail Yakupov had a respectable rookie season. Another player that entered the season as a potential Calder contender, defenseman Justin Schultz, excelled offensively, but also posted a team-worst minus-17 rating.

The Oilers finished with a 19-22-7 record, which put them a full 10 points shy of the playoffs.

Offseason recap

Edmonton’s failure to take a major step forward led to GM Steve Tambellini being replaced with Craig MacTavish. In his introductory press conference in April, MacTavish labeled himself as “impatient” and was ready to do “bold things.”

So what did he follow that statement up with? Well, for starters he fired Ralph Krueger after just 48 games as an NHL head coach and brought in Dallas Eakins to serve as the team’s new bench boss. Eakins enjoyed a great deal of success with the AHL Toronto Marlies, but he will also be the team’s fifth coach in just six seasons.

On the trade front, MacTavish was able to move forward Shawn Horcoff and his $5.5 million annual cap hit to the Dallas Stars in exchange for defenseman Philip Larsen and a 2016 seventh-round pick. He followed that up by shipping forward Magnus Paajarvi, 22, along with a second-round selection to St. Louis in exchange for David Perron.

Edmonton wasn’t terribly active on the free agent market, but they got some much needed defensive help by signing Andrew Ference to a four-year, $13 million deal.


Introducing: PHT’s ‘Team of the Day’ summer series

Stars to scratch Nichushkin after rough outing versus Avs?

Craig Anderson
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Looks as though slumping Dallas winger Valeri Nichushkin could be a healthy scratch tonight when the Stars host the Oilers at American Airlines.

Per the Morning-News, Nichushkin — who barely played in the second and third periods of Saturday’s 6-3 loss to Colorado — is likely to be replaced by Colton Sceviour in the lineup.

Stars head coach Lindy Ruff was fuming after the Avs defeat, calling it “embarrassing, worse than disappointing.” It didn’t take a genius to realize one of the players in his doghouse was Nichushkin, who had just 2:02 of ice time in the second period and 3:24 in the third.

Yesterday, Ruff dropped Nichushkin to the fourth line in practice.

“I’ve been trying to help him by shifting him around,” the head coach explained. “He had some struggles early in camp on right wing, so I put him on left, and he doesn’t seem real comfortable at left right now.

“His game, everything has got to get a little bit quicker.”

The 10th overall pick in 2013, Nichushkin has struggled to build on the form shown in his rookie campaign, when he scored 14 goals and 34 points in 79 contests.

He missed nearly all of last season with a linger hip ailment and has been a virtual non-factor through the first two games this year.

Report: Teams ‘screaming bloody murder’ about Richards settlement

Mike Richards
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When the Los Angeles Kings announced they’d settled with Mike Richards, it didn’t take long for the accusations of salary-cap circumvention to materialize.

And though NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly was adamant that the settlement was “far from” circumvention, apparently not everyone agrees with the league in that regard.

“Privately, other teams are screaming bloody murder and are threatening to make an issue about it at December’s Board of Governors’ meeting,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports.

Friedman goes into more detail in his story, so click the link to read more.

But remember how we wrote that the issue in this case was precedent, and that the “NHL and NHLPA can’t allow teams to escape onerous contracts through a back door”?

Well, one agent posed a good question to Friedman: “What’s to stop other teams from trying this?”