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3 Questions With Copper & Blue's Derek Zona on the Edmonton Oilers

Ahead of tonight's contest at Bridgestone Arena, I reached out Derek Zone (@DerekZona on Twitter) the boss over at Copper & Blue, SB Nation's site covering the Edmonton Oilers, to get his perspective on their season.

Dale MacMillan

1) There's a discussion which comes up every year among Nashville fans, about whether coming up just short of the playoffs is much worse than completely going in the tank, because of the opportunity to draft the best talent in the world and get the franchise a star. So I have to ask - have the last several years of lousy Oilers teams been worth it, now that you have three #1 overall picks skating up front?

Derek Zona: No. The annual Edmonton death march is an awful way to run a team, an awful way to treat fans, and an awful way to treat your players. You're lucky as both a writer and a fan, your management team is doing everything they can given their constraints and won't give up until the end. Kevin Lowe used to do that. For the last six years, the Oilers have conditioned fans to be excited over hope and the next lottery show on TSN rather than NHL hockey. Is that something Nashville fans want?

2) What's your reaction to the proposed NHL realignment, and what it means for Edmonton?

DZ: I don't have a reaction to it, honestly. Look back at the history of conferences and divisions in the NHL. If you don't like this alignment, just wait a couple of years and it will change.

3) The Justin Schultz signing was talked about as a huge coup for the Oilers, so how is the rookie defenseman working out? Does he have top-pair potential?

DZ: Yes, the potential is certainly there, although he has some significant shortcomings he needs to work out. He may be hitting a wall, as Jonathan Willis suggests, or opponents might have a book on him now. He's a gifted offensive player - he can move the puck on his own by skating, or start the breakout with a pass. He has a bizarrely evasive wrist shot - he can get it on the net from nearly anywhere in the zone - and he has wonderful control of the puck in all zones. He's lacking in his own end, however. He is outmuscled pretty regularly in puck and positioning battles, and gets caught floating and watching the play when he's on the weak side of the ice. The latter will be eliminated with experience, but he needs to work on his strength and positioning to take care of the former. With the puck, in transition and in the offensive zone, he is very much like Roman Josi, if that gives you a reference point.

Justin Schultz

#19 / Defenseman / Edmonton Oilers



Jun 06, 1990

2012 - Justin Schultz 23 5 8 13 -9 4 4 0 1 48 10.4

Thanks to Derek for his insight, and make sure to head over to Copper & Blue for their take on tonight's action.