September 30 2009 12:30PM
It's become a tradition: every year at OilersNation (and at our sister sites FlamesNation and CanucksArmy), our writers and commenters pick their stars — that one player who they will praise without end no matter what — and their goats — their yearly whipping-boy; he who can do no good for the season.
And this season is no exception.
Your stalwart writers running the ship this year, Robin Brownlee, Jason Gregor, Jonathan Willis, Amber McCormick, bingofuel, and Wanye Gretz (who has already picked his star and his goat), have submitted their goats and stars for the 2009-10 Oilers hockey season. Who will you pick?
Jonathan Willis' Star and Goat
Star: Lubomir Visnovsky.
Visnovsky was Edmonton's best defenseman last year whn healthy, and he's the kind of player Pat Quinn loves. If the powerplay turns around, Visnovsky will be a big part of it; if the team manages to score more goals five-on-five, Visnovsky will be a part of that too. He was a star last season, and with good health should be more than that.
Goat: Nikolai Khabibulin.
I hope this prediction doesn't come true. I really, really do. There's just too many danger signs to pick someone else, though. He's 36 years old. He's been consistently injured pretty much every season since the lockout. Last time he signed a four-year contract, he stunk up the joint for the first two years, was mediocre in the third year, and came on strong in the fourth year - after management had gone out and spent money on a replacement.
Maybe things will be different this time. For the team to have success, they'll need to be.
Jason Gregor's Star and Goat
Star: JF Jacques
Sure, I could have picked one of the smurf-like forwards, who will undoubtedly outscore Jacques, but they are supposed to do that. Jacques will play in 71 games this year, and that will guarantee the Oilers will dress four forwards who are six feet or taller every game. Regardless of what system they play, they aren’t big enough upfront and having Jacques contribute every night will make a difference. He will be one of the few Oiler forwards to set career highs in goals, assists and points this year. I can’t see many guys matching that, so how can Jacques not be a star.
Goat: Marc Pouliot
If he is on the team, then I can’t see the Oilers improving. He doesn’t hit, he doesn’t check, he doesn’t score and I don’t think he thinks the game well enough to help the Oilers. Sure, he might go to another organization and score nine goals, which will have some Poulioholics whining that the Oilers gave up on another young prospect, but I will say good riddance if it happens. If Pouliot is on this team, they aren’t good enough.
Robin Brownlee's Star and Goat
Star: Mike Comrie
While it's a toss-up for me between Comrie and Patrick O'Sullivan, I'm going with MC because he's got a way of shoving it up the backsides of people who doubt him.
With all the bittnerness that accompanied Comrie's departure in 2003, he's got something to prove this time around. While I'm guessing he'll face a smattering of boos when he returns, fans being what they are, it won't be long until they're saluting him again -- with more than one finger.
Goat: Nikolai Khabibulin
Just a hunch, but The Bulin Wall had more bad seasons than good during his last contract before signing on with the Oilers for the next 17 years. Khabibulin, 36, is on the downside of his career and if he slips and a breaks a hip, it could get ugly in a hurry. With JDD as the back-up plan, what could possibly go wrong?
Amber McCormick's Star and Goat
Star: Ales Hemsky
Ales Hemsky. Over the past couple seasons he has surprised me. In 2006-07 I was always worried he was going to vomit going in circles around the net. Every season he takes more chances. Some work and some don’t but the hunger is there. I really think this is the season that will make him a star.
Goat: Dustin Penner
Without a doubt, Dustin Penner will reside in my dog house (and no, that’s no a euphemism for anything). There was a time when I forgave him for everything due to his purdy eyes but those days are far behind me. It will take a miracle and him giving up donairs cold-turkey to make me care about him again.
*Sidebar* I hate to admit this but I have a feeling Mike Comrie is hell-bent on making Edmonton eat its words. A lot of time has passed since he left in his huff and now he’s back with the Duff. Hometown pride is a powerful thing no matter how much you’re booed.
bingofuel's Star and Goat
Star: Nikolai Khabibulin
Knowing what little I do about hockey, and the scant few things I know about the Oilers, I'm going with the Bulin Wall for my star. The Oilers are well known for relying on very little other than their goaltender to scrape through games. I don't expect this year will be any different. Also, I just want to see how many boos and hisses I get for this one.
Goat: Steve Staios
I like Steve Staios. I have nothing against the man personally. He has lots of heart. But old, old balls. Staios will be inconsistent at best this year. At worst, the poor man will bust a hip. Hopefully he'll take a few opposing players out in the process.
You can also read about the competition's goats and stars: