Oilers win division!

Jonathan Willis
August 05 2008 07:21PM

Well, this is a little bit late, given that ESPN’s Scott Burnside posted his Summer Power Rankings back on July 25th, but when I saw them this morning, I simply had to pass the word on—he has Edmonton winning the Northwest Division.

Now, every year I see ridiculous forecasts in various sports journals (I’m particularly hard on The Hockey News since they should presumably know better) and disregard them, knowing that these largely-Eastern based columnists have a difficult time getting a read on the West. Generally, however, those disregarded columnists are being negative about the Oilers, as opposed to positive.

Burnside ranks the Oilers 5th in the West, the Flames 7th, Minnesota 9th, Vancouver 12th and Colorado 13th. Regular readers will know that I personally have Minnesota figured as the divisional winner, but aside from that those are fairly realistic rankings (in terms of order, not necessarily final placement). Colorado has brutal goaltending, Vancouver’s brutal everywhere else, and after years of everyone (especially THN) overrating the Flames, perhaps journalists have come to realize that all they have is a middling team and Jarome Iginla.

In other divisional news, Jes Golbez picks up on an interview with Milan Hejduk on Paradubice HC’s website; in it, Hejduk describes severe problems with his knee, and says that (at least, according to the rough translation tools available) he is likely to retire at the end of his current contract with the Avalanche- in two years. While major surgery is an option, Hejduk would apparently need to spend an entire year rehabilitating the knee.

Hejduk has had a nice nine-year career, with his best season coming in 2002–03, where he scored 50 goals (with an unreal SH%) and 98 points. Since then he’s been a 25–35-goal scorer (a real one, not a 25-goal scorer who is constantly described as a 25–35 scorer) and a valuable asset to any team. Along with the departure of Forsberg, and the imminent retirement of Joe Sakic, the Avalanche look like they may be retooling for a while, even with Stasny/Wolski/Svatos waiting in the wings.

It’s nice to be an Oilers’ fan right now; I think it’s going to be even nicer in two to three years.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 mjsh
August 05 2008, 09:24PM
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No doubt this is going to be an interesting year. I would be extremely dissapointed with a non playoff team. First in the division could happen but so much depends upon the kids. If Souray and the big V stay healthy, we have one of the best defense core in the league. We have a middle of the road first line, a good second line and I have great faith in Pisani to anchor a third line. I guess that if one of the kid line falls back, we do have Shremp as a replacement. It would all have to come together for first in the division and if that happens, the Oilers could go a long way in the playoffs. I still remember the series with Montreal way back when.

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#2 Doogie2K
August 05 2008, 11:53PM
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I do find it amusing that the Habs and Oilers are the flavours of the month now, when a year ago, they were both sentenced to 17th place in the conference. I mean, out of all the teams in the middle of the pack, the Oilers are the best? Really? I wouldn't have said so, myself, but who am I to argue with the Worldwide Leader in Division II High School Cheerleading?

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#3 Doogie2K
August 05 2008, 11:54PM
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Also, isn't that CFP between Pisani and Samsonov? Shouldn't someone put a big-ass black box over his ugly mug?

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#4 Jonathan
August 06 2008, 10:02AM
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I mean, out of all the teams in the middle of the pack, the Oilers are the best? Really?

I think it's funny too. I don't think we'll know if the Oilers are even in the playoffs until after Game 80.

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#5 Dennis
August 06 2008, 10:41AM
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Speaking of the Canucks, I read a Ryder piece in the BGlobe where he said VAN offered him the same money that eventually lured him to Boston;)

Speaking of people with bad wheels, Raffi arrived in Colu last week and he's skated just once thus far this summer.

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#6 Jonathan
August 06 2008, 11:35AM
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Speaking of the Canucks, I read a Ryder piece in the BGlobe where he said VAN offered him the same money that eventually lured him to Boston;)

Silly Gillis. I guess it must have something to do with Vancouver's reputation- that team can never attract free agents ;)

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#7 Milli
August 06 2008, 01:19PM
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It'll all come down to goaltending. If Garon can be solid like last year, this is a team that should compete for the division. They will make the playoffs, but just like last year, there seem to be very few points between 3rd and 10th.

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#8 mAD~mOD
August 06 2008, 06:34PM
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So why do we even play the regular season games anyway, let the power rankings set the play-offs and have four rounds of best of 37.

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