December 27 2011 09:03AM
Edmonton Oiler fans enjoyed an outstanding first game of the 10-11 season. Rookie Jordan Eberle scored the goal of the year and the Godless Flames fell in an epic moment of good vs. evil. This season, the team extended the feelgood through a dozen games before going back to the rebuild.
With the Oilers grabbing 13th slot in the western conference and looking like they aren't going to do much to address injury along the blue, it's important to keep certain dates in mind as the calendar turns over.
DATES TO REMEMBER 2012
- January 5, 2012: Gold medal game at the World Juniors. Oiler fans should watch players like Ryan Murray closely, as they look to be a lottery team again this season. If the season ended today, the Oilers would select 7th overall. Oiler fans would do well to read up on this season's top 10. Murray may be gone by that point, but Matt Dumba and others should still be on the board.
- February 27 or 28, 2012: Trade deadline (still some confusion on the date on the interwebs). Oilers will be sellers again, with Ales Hemsky the big name (depending on how much and how well he plays in the next 8 weeks) but there could be interest in men like Sam Gagner, Ryan Jones, Andy Sutton and Corey Potter.
- April 7, 2012: Oilers season ends.
- June 2012: Coach Tom Renney's contract expires. Unless I've missed a news story, Renney's original three year deal (signed May 2009 when they brought Quinn in to coach) expires in the summer. There has been no suggestion either way and the Oilers have plenty of time to re-sign him, but it's a date to keep in mind.
- June 22-23, 2012: NHL entry draft. Oilers have picked in the top 10 three straight seasons, including two #1's in a row. The chances of making it four top 10's in a row are extremely high at this time.
- July 1, 2012: First day of free agency. If the Oilers haven't addressed defense (and this includes the worries over Ryan Whitney's health) by that time then we should expect a major push to add a veteran 2-way defender. And not another Cam Barker type signing, the Oilers need someone who can play major minutes against good opponents.
THINGS TO LOOK FORWARD TO 11-12
- Jordan Eberle is on pace for 88 points.
- RNH is a strong Calder contender.
- Taylor Hall is on pace for 24 goals despite the injury.
- Ryan Smyth is having a wonderful season and is moving up the Oiler career list.
- Smid-Gilbert is a sublime pairing and they are having quality seasons. There's something to build on.
- Nikolai Khabibulin is a strong contender for comeback player of the year.
- The elevator shaft road trip added to the poor performance in December should ensure a strong pick for Stu "Magnificent Bastard" MacGregor. MBS is top drawer.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
The office tickets will be easier to get, the Hemsky trade will happen and we'll be able to talk about it and we can cheer for Winnipeg to beat Toronto for 8th in the east. It's another day in a town called Hope.