We’re big fans of ESPN.com’s Forecaster column, written by Tristan Cockcroft. But this week, we respectfully beg to differ with the Forecaster’s indifference to the Week 27 schedule of the Edmonton Oilers. (Of course, we also wish Oilers D Tom Gilbert would update his blog more frequently.)
Why we disagree with The Forecaster: the Oilers are fighting for their playoff lives. Their upcoming opponents — the Los Angeles Kings (vs. 4/6) and Calgary Flames (vs. 4/10, @ 4/11) have much less on the line, and have been playing like ass besides.
Moreover, when the Kings visit the Oilers on Tuesday night, it will be a back-to-back game for the Kings. And while the Kings destroyed the Phoenix Coyotes 6-1 on Saturday night, that win broke a three game losing streak; in fact, in their last 12 games, the Kings have religiously followed this pattern: lose three, win one. They’ve done it three times. In other words, they’re not just 3-9 in their last 12. They are consistently on the losing end.
Then there are those Flames: They’ve lost four of their last six contests, most recently getting shut out 4-0 Saturday night at the Minnesota Wild. Tell you what else: That was the third time the Flames have been shut out in their last six games.
And all of that is why I’d load up on any free-floating Oilers in your league’s free agent pool. Specifically:
- C Sam Gagner (90.7 percent availability in ESPN leagues, 71 percent availability in Yahoo! leagues). He has two goals and three assists in his last five games, not to mention three power-play points. The sixth overall pick in 2007 is playing like he wants to make the playoffs.
- RW Ales Kotalik (68.6 percent available in ESPN, 78 percent in Yahoo!). Now playing on the first line with stud and namesake Ales Hemsky, Kotalik has six goals and four assists in his last 10 games.
- D Denis Grebeshkov (94 percent available in ESPN, 94 percent available in Yahoo!). His last four games: two goals, one assist, +4, six penalty minutes. That’s more productivity than you’d get from Gilbert.