Tencer's Blog: Post-Season Plans
Dan Tencer blogs about the Oilers in the NHL Draft and NHL Awards
|The Oilers look to finish strong this season, going 4-0-2 in their last six games. (Photo by Getty Images).
So, where will they draft this year? A lottery team for sure, I think the Oilers are still likely to finish 28th or 29th. The Blue Jackets have 30th place sewn up and the Oilers are currently 2 points back each of the Canadiens and Islanders, but New York has a couple games in hand. In the West, the Oilers are just 3 back of Minnesota, but the Wild also have a couple games in hand. If Edmonton keeps it up, it's absolutely not out of the realm of possibility that they catch all of these teams, but the numbers lead me to guess that they'll probably just track down one of them and finish 28th. If that happens, they'll be slated to select third overall, but could end up as high as first overall or drop down a spot to fourth, depending on the lottery.
Before I head to the Draft this year, I'll have a brief stopover in Las Vegas for the NHL Awards on June 20th. The Oilers haven't had anybody nominated for anything in the last couple seasons, so I haven't attended the event. This year, I think we all expect that to change. Let's start with the Calder Trophy, for which Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will surely be nominated, and potentially be the favourite going in. With 47 points, RNH is tied with Adam Henrique (NJD) and Gabriel Landeskog (COL) for top spot in the rookie scoring race. Points-wise, it'll be a heck of a finish down the stretch in this race. The thing is, Nugent-Hopkins has played 12 fewer games than Henrique and 21 fewer than Landeskog. The math suggests that a healthy season for the Oilers rookie would have, likely, led to a 65-70 point output. His 0.85 point per game pace is signifcantly greater than either Henrique (0.70) or Landeskog (0.62), and he's done that with a lower average time on ice, too.
|Both Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle hold a chance of being nominated in the NHL Awards (Photo by Getty Images)|
The other trophy that I expect the Oilers to compete for is the Lady Byng Trophy, awarded to the "player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability". Since the lockout, the trophy has only been awarded to two players, Pavel Datsyuk and Martin St. Louis. St. Louis has won it the last two years straight, with point totals of 94 and 99, and PIM totals of 12 each year. Prior to that, Datsyuk won it four years straight and had PIM totals of 20+ each of those seasons, finishing outside the top 15 in scoring twice. I think Jordan Eberle's year stacks up against the standard very, very well, assuming the PHWA is able to recognize more than a couple names when filling in this ballot.
Today, Eberle's 71 points have him 12th in NHL scoring. His 8 PIM are half of the next lowest total of anybody above him in the scoring race and, as a 21 year old All Star this season, his conduct on the ice is exactly what the league ought to be embracing. He's an exciting player, never seen losing his temper or whining on the ice, and has expanded his presence in a meaningful way off the ice, an example being his video shoot to promote Patrick Burke's "You Can Play" initiative. I won't pretend to know all the players around the league as well as I know Jordan, but the description for this trophy suits him perfectly. If he's not at least nominated for it, I'll be stunned.
You can listen to Dan on Inside Sports weeknights from 6 to 9 on 630 CHED. Follow Dan on Twitter | @dantencer