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Lowetide
July 22 2016 09:01PM

reinhart nikitin williams

Since Charlie Huddy left for the Winnipeg rail yards, the Edmonton Oilers have been mostly unable to identify useful defensemen—in the draft, or at the NHL level. I think the Oilers are very high on Griffin Reinhart (photo by Mark Williams) and Darnell Nurse, but the gap between opening night 2016-17 and their ability to contribute to wins is a worry. A possible solution? Veteran UFAs, and they are an interesting group.

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Pacific Division preview: Can the Flames be in the top three?

Ari Yanover
July 22 2016 02:00PM

All the Flames need to do to return to the playoffs is be one of the top three teams in the Pacific Division. Just beat out any four of the Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, or Vancouver Canucks, and they're in.

It certainly worked in 2014-15: only the Canucks and Ducks had better records.

Well, it hasn't been just a busy off-season for the Flames; a lot of Pacific teams have seen turnovers as we transition between seasons. Let's take a look at what's gone on for the Flames' main opponents.

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Can Troy Brouwer play his game for four seasons?

Ryan Pike
July 22 2016 11:00AM

I'll be honest: when the Calgary Flames announced that they had signed Troy Brouwer to a four-year contract I didn't really see a lot of the downsides. In fact, my first reaction was, "Well, that makes sense."

You see, the Flames likely feel this signing solves two big problems: they were super-thin on their right side, and they were easy to play against. When I use the term "easy to play against," I refer you to the many games where Johnny Gaudreau was slashed on the wrists or hands (and the games he missed late in the season due to those slashes). Teams felt they could get away with it and let's be honest, they largely did; the Flames didn't have enough scoring depth to make them think twice (and their power-play was bad enough that they probably weren't worried abut taking slashing minors).

But let's not mince words: four years is a long time, and $4.5 million per season is pretty pricey. Once the Gaudreau and Sean Monahan extensions get done, he'll likely be the third-richest forward contract on the team – even if you factor in Sam Bennett's eventual extension. What has to happen to make that contract worthwhile?

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How Well Did Edmonton's Defencemen Play Against Top Opponents?

Jonathan Willis
July 22 2016 09:00AM

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The obvious answer is "not well enough," but the reality is a little more complicated. 

When we look only at how Edmonton Oilers defencemen performed against top opponents in 2015-16, we see some patterns, and a wide array of on-ice results. The Oilers' best defenceman against top lines actually finished in the positives, but by shot and goal totals, despite playing in Edmonton. The worst saw his team surrender 20 shots more per hour than it attempted. 

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Should the Canucks Trade Jannik Hansen?

J.D. Burke
July 22 2016 09:00AM

The Vancouver Canucks don't have any intention of engaging in a long-term rebuild. They're going to complete the playoffs, right to the bitter end, year in and year out. It's just that simple.

So Canucks general manager Jim Benning's aversion to dealing Jannik Hansen is a none too surprising revelation. Speaking to The Province's Ben Kuzma, Benning made as much perfectly clear, revealing that the club is "not moving Jannik". In the context of the Canucks stated goal, his follow up to that comment goes a long way towards explaining why.

“I thought he was excellent for us last year and with the way the game is going with speed and skill, he fits that description perfectly. And we have him under a good (cap) number the next couple of years, so we’re not looking to do anything.”

Benning is, in a vacuum, entirely correct. Hansen is fast, a proven scorer and on the cheap for this season and next. He's also on the other side of a career year, in which the Danish speedster lit the lamp a career high 22 times. Which is exactly why the Canucks should, if possible, find a way to trade Hansen.

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