CAN THE OILERS MAKE THE PLAYOFFS?

Jason Gregor
May 24 2011 01:56PM

The Oilers are one month away from announcing their second consecutive first overall draft pick, but after that pick will they realistically be any closer to making the playoffs for the first time in six years? Another first overall pick will likely give the Oilers another solid prospect in the system, but a playoff appearance shouldn't, and likely won't, rest on his shoulders regardless of who they take on June 24th.

Can the Oilers go from 30th to a playoff spot? Surprisingly it might not be that far-fetched.

Before we look at what the post-lockout bottom feeders have done the year after finishing 30th, I took a quick peak to see what the Ottawa Senators did in 1997 after finishing 30th in 1995 and 1996. The Sens were awful in the strike-shortened 1995 season going 9-34-5, and then they followed that up with an equally inept  record of 18-34-5 in 1996. In 1997 the Sens shocked the league, and improved a whopping 36 points, going from 41 to 77 to finish 7th in the East.

If you do a quick glance you don't see many drastic changes player-wise. Their young offensive players had another year of experience, and scored more, while management made a few small moves that paid off. The Sens traded Trent McCleary and a 3rd rounder (Eric Naud) for Shawn McEachern;  who'd scored 24 goals in Boston in 1996. McEachern had a bit of an off-year in 1997, but he was a veteran presence in the room, and then scored 30+ in two of the next four seasons. Wade Redden tallied 6-30 (goals-points) as a rookie, and they signed unrestricted free agent Ron Tugnutt. Tugnutt was the backup for most of the year, but he got hot down the stretch and led them to the post-season where he played all seven games in their first round loss to Buffalo.

Here's a quick glance at the numbers of their top-five scorers and goalies.

1996                                                                              1997
Alfredsson         26-61                                               Yashin           35-75
Yashin                 15-39 (46GP)                                 Alfredsson   24-71
Cunneyworth     17-36                                              Daigle             26-51
Duchesne           12-36                                              Duchesne      19-47
Bonk                     16-35                                             Cunneyworth 12-36  

Rhodes was 10-22-4, .906 SV%, 2.77 GAA          Rhodes 14-20-14, 0.898 SV% and 2.72 GAA
                                                                                       Tugnutt 17-15-1, 0.895 SV% and 2.80 GAA

Their top-five scorers went from 86 goals to 116, while their goalie numbers weren't that much different from year-to-year. Outside of Tugnutt and McEachern they didn't add any other veterans, just some average players like Sergei Zholtok and Andreas Dackell. The Sens only had four players over 30, and most importantly they were fairly healthy with 15 players playing at least 65 games. In 1996, the Sens had 31 players play at least 10 games, and last year the Oilers had 30.

The Sens improved by 36 points, and if the Oilers come close to that they would be in the 90-point range and in the playoff hunt.

I should note that the Quebec Nordiques, who finished 30th three years in a row from 89-91, didn't make the playoffs in 1992, but they made a staggering improvement of 52 points jumping from 52 points in 1992 to 104 in 1993. So it possible for a last place team to make a significant improvement.

POST LOCKOUT COMPARISONS

The league has changed a lot since the Sens great turnaround in 1997, so I decided to look at the 28th-30th place teams since 2006 and see what kind of strides they made the following season.

2006

  • Chicago, 28th with 65 points
  • Pittsburgh, 29th with 58 
  • St. Louis, 30th with 57


The Blues drafted Erik Johnson, he didn't play, but they improved 24 points and finished 10th in the west.

Pittsburgh took Jordan Staal, he scored 29 goals, and they improved a mind-blowing 47 points to 105, and finished 5th in the East. Of course they had Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Ryan Whitney as sophomores.

The Hawks took Jonathon Toews, he didn't play, and they improved a mere six points and finished 26th. Of course they got lucky, won the draft lottery in 2007, and took Patrick Kane and then won the Cup in 2010. 

2007

  • LA, 28th with 68 points
  • Phoenix, 29th with 67 points
  • Philly 30th, with 56 points

Hawks won the lottery, so the Flyers drafted James Van Riemsdyk second, he didn't play, but the Flyers improved 39 points and finished 6th in the East with 95 points.  The Flyers made drastic moves that off-season though, trading for and signing Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen. They also signed Daniel Briere, dealt Joni Pitkanen to Edmonton for Joffrey Lupul and gave Martin Biron the starting job ahead of Antero Niittymaki. No other celler-dwellar has been able to sign as many big-names as the Flyers did that off-seasono they aren't fair comparable.

Phoenix took Kyle Turris third, he didn't play, and the Coyotes improved to 83 points in 2008, but that was only good enough for 12th in the West. The Coyotes couldn't spend any money and they never made the playoffs until 2010.

The Kings took a flyer on Thomas Hickey at number four, he didn't play, and the Kings only improved by three points in 2008, and actually dropped to 29th in the standings. The Kings had two more top-five picks before finally making the playoffs in 2010.

2008

  • Atlanta, 28th with 76 points
  • LA, 29th with 71 points
  • Tampa Bay, 30th with 71 points

The Lightning took Steven Stamkos, he tallied 23 goals, but the Lightning actually got worse dipping down to 66 points, and they ended up getting the 2nd overall pick again in 2009. The Lightning had the 6th pick in 2010 before finally making the playoffs this season.

The Kings gladly took Drew Doughty, he tallied 27 points, but the Kings only improved eight points and ended up with another top-five pick in 2009.

The Thrashers took Zach Bogosian, he only played 47 games, yet hescored nine goals and 19 points, but the Thrashers finished with exactly the same amount of points, 76, and ended up 27th. They've yet to make the playoffs since drafting Bogosian.

2009

  • Colorado, 28th with 69 points
  • Tampa, 29th with 66 points
  • NYI, 30th, with 61 points

The Islanders took John Tavares, he had a solid 24 goal-54 point campaign, and the Islanders improved by 18 points, but still finished 26th and got another top-five pick in 2010.  

The Lightning took rearguard Victor Hedman, and he had some growing pains as an 18-year-old D-man, while the Lightning saw some progress with him and Stamkos and jumped up to 80 points, which earned them the 6th pick in 2010.

The Avs took Matt Duchene and he surprised many with a solid 24 goals and 55 points, and the Avs improved by 26 points and made the playoffs in 2010. Duchene was a key cog, as was the addition of Craig Anderson, however, the Avs came back to reality in 2011 and finished 29th. 

2010

  • Florida, 28th with 77 points
  • Toronto, 29th with 74 points
  • Edmonton 30th, with 62 points
     

The Oilers took Taylor Hall and he tallied 42 points in 69 games, but the Oilers didn't improve in the standings and finished with the same 62 points. The Oilers lost in 2010 with a much younger group and they are hoping that getting some NHL experience for so many young kids will pay off in 2011.

The Leafs had traded their pick and the Bruins happily took Tyler Seguin. Seguin didn't play a lot as a rookie, but has been excellent in playoffs. The Bruins are the exception in this experiment, because they were a playoff team before getting hte 2nd pick and now  they are one game from the Stanley Cup finals. 

The Panthers took Erik Gudbranson, but they couldn't agree on a contract so he stayed in junior. The Panthers followed in the Oilers footsteps and lost with a young team and finished in 28th again. It will be interesting to see which team progresses quicker, the Oilers or the Panthers.

SUMMARY

While the Ottawa comparison proved it was possible to make a big jump after two consecutive 30th place finishes, the success, or lack thereof, of teams post-lockout makes it seem likely the Oilers are a year away from the playoffs. If they stay healthy they might be able to mirror the surprising Avs of 2010, but realistically I could see them making a 20-point improvement that sees them stay in the playoff hunt until late March.

***I know there are many variables to consider outside of just the top-pick, but it seems to take at least two, or sometimes, three years of getting top-seven picks before a team starts to see some improvement, unless you are the free-spending Philadelphia Flyers.** 

NEWEST ADDITION TO PACKAGE

I added the next prize to the Ultimate Sports Fan Package. A signed TAYLOR HALL stick. On June 11th,  I am riding in the 190km MS Bike Tour. To win the awesome package, CLICK HERE type in Jason Gregor and donate $100 and you will get an entry. We only have 45 entries left. If you donate $200 you two entries and so on. The winner will win a prize pack that includes:

  • Edmonton Eskimos season tickets
  • Edmonton Rush season tickets.
  • A beer fridge and beer for a year from Big Rock Brewery.
  • A man-date with Ryan Rishaug
  • You and two buddies golfing at the Ranch Golf and Country Club with BROWNLEE
  • Signed Taylor Hall stick.
  • More great prizes that will include Oiler home opener tickets, other sporting events, and other cool things. 

You can help find a cure for MS and win a great sports prize pack. Thanks for your donations to the cause.

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#51 Craig1981
May 24 2011, 03:55PM
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D-Man wrote:

I'm not really leaning on any one person on the draft, but I was concerned drafting RNH. Although he's the BPA, many say that he would most likely need to go back to junior, add some muscle to his frame so he'll be ready to play against men down the road.

I've never seen him play - is there any validity to this?? If there is - I wonder what the average Oiler fan will think if we draft him and send him back down to junior. Would a Landeskog or Larrson be the safer pick? Both sound that although they aren't nearly as skilled; are more NHL ready.

Then again, perhaps with Hall, Eberle and MPS coming back with a solid rookie campaign under their belts - we won't need RNH right away, whereas he won't be rushed - should he not be ready... Thoughts??

There hasn't been a 1st overall player who hasn't played in the NHL his draft year since 91. That player was Eric Lindros and that was a contract thing) I guess RNH would be the player that could break that but I wouldn't bank on it. RNH has been talked about as the 1st overall since he was 15 and maybe before that. I personally think he is the safer pick than Landeskog that came on huge his draft year. As for picking right for right now, I found it interesting that it seems teams that didn't have there pick play were about as likely to make make huge leaps. The blues in

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#52 Ender
May 24 2011, 04:08PM
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I love everything that Smytty did for the Oilers when he was here. Captain Canada was great for this team, there's no question.

That was then, this is now. You have to separate that. The guy is still doing ok, there's no question, but his stats are trending down and they're going to keep going that direction - likely at an accelerating rate. He plays a brutally physical game and Father Time is not kind to that sort of player. Injuries are likely to happen with increasing regularity.

To really examine your motivation and whether this is a good move for the Oilers, try this exercise. Look at the stats, look at the age, look at the cost, and then insert any other random surname (Jones, McDonald, whatever) and pretend you don't know the guy. Is he still a good signing?

Emotions make the game fun to watch, but they aren't a lot of help in evaluating team needs. Like all of you here, I want the Oilers to win the Cup in the next few years. A last hooray for Smytty before we (unofficially) retire his shirt might feel good, but I can't say I honestly think it moves us any closer to the real goal.

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#53 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
May 24 2011, 04:13PM
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D-Man wrote:

Not going to touch the Souray hornet's nest - ah, what the hell... Khabby has been a consumate professional at the rink - not so much outside of it... Souray wasn't very professional at all - no way he wears an Oiler jersey next year.. I won't be shocked if he's bought out... He's 34 and did not dominate in Hersey... He's done..

As much as I love Upshall and Hartnell - why would you want Smytty back? True - he'd be great in the dressing room and plays with a lot of heart, but the guy can barely skate now and his muffin of a shot is only getting worse... He's also a $5.0 million cap hit... He is a UFA after the 2011/12 season though.. I'd sign him for 2012/13 if a) it's a one year deal, b) less than $2.0 million and c) he's under the assumption that he's retiring after this season...

Always interesting. You wont take Smyth at 5 (actually 6.5) in a year cap space doesn't matter.

Also, that poor skating and muffin shot scored more points then anyone on our team last year.

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#54 T.C.
May 24 2011, 04:14PM
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Matt Henderson wrote:

And somewhere MacT reconsiders coaching in Europe.

I wish they hadnt taken down all those dubbed WWII movie clips with Hitler going apesh*t from youtube. The one where he's going off about MacT using Reddox on the PP/1st line is gold. GOLD.*

*that is my fondest memory of the MacT coached era in Oilerville

just checked youtube and it's there it's called hitler goes off on the oilers.sooooo funnny

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#55 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
May 24 2011, 04:15PM
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Ender wrote:

I love everything that Smytty did for the Oilers when he was here. Captain Canada was great for this team, there's no question.

That was then, this is now. You have to separate that. The guy is still doing ok, there's no question, but his stats are trending down and they're going to keep going that direction - likely at an accelerating rate. He plays a brutally physical game and Father Time is not kind to that sort of player. Injuries are likely to happen with increasing regularity.

To really examine your motivation and whether this is a good move for the Oilers, try this exercise. Look at the stats, look at the age, look at the cost, and then insert any other random surname (Jones, McDonald, whatever) and pretend you don't know the guy. Is he still a good signing?

Emotions make the game fun to watch, but they aren't a lot of help in evaluating team needs. Like all of you here, I want the Oilers to win the Cup in the next few years. A last hooray for Smytty before we (unofficially) retire his shirt might feel good, but I can't say I honestly think it moves us any closer to the real goal.

On a one year contract his age and downward trending stats are almost irrelavant.

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#56 Cru Jones
May 24 2011, 04:18PM
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Simply playing Dubnyk more would be like adding another goalie, and cut down on a good chunk of that -70 goal differential.

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#57 geoilersgist
May 24 2011, 04:23PM
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Watching that video was a great use of 4minutes of my life. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ss1JTK7JUts

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#58 Dman09
May 24 2011, 04:26PM
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@Matt Henderson

I have to agree with you and I was just thinking with Smyth in the line up we could have a couple decent looking PPs.

Hemsky - Hall - Eberle

Smyth - Horcoff - MPS

Foster(I think he'll have a better season) and Whitney

Gilbert and Me still need another decent offensive blue liner that can take shots.

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#59 Quicksilver ballet
May 24 2011, 04:28PM
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Chris. wrote:

Memo to Steve: even if you only make one single move...get a goalie.

Fixed!

Memo to Steve, if you only make one move this summer....get us into that top 6 again.

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#60 Chris.
May 24 2011, 04:28PM
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Cru Jones wrote:

Simply playing Dubnyk more would be like adding another goalie, and cut down on a good chunk of that -70 goal differential.

Except that you are not adding another goalie.

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#61 Chris.
May 24 2011, 04:36PM
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My issue with Tambellini is that he'd read my memo and then sign Turco or Giguere to bloated long term contracts and referr to them as the Team MVP despite all available evidence.

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#62 Ender
May 24 2011, 04:37PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

On a one year contract his age and downward trending stats are almost irrelavant.

It's not irrelevent though. There's more to consider here than just salary and whether Ryan might score some points or not.

Last season, everybody bitched and moaned about Khabi being in goal for two reasons. The first was that he sucked, but the second and almost as important was that he was taking up starts while Dubnyk racked up some valuable staring-vacantly-into-space experience. Every shift that Smyth is on the ice, it means that some important member of the Oilers Cup-winning team isn't. It means that someone like Harski is sitting while a feel-good blast-from-the-past is eating his minutes. We're totally talking about sitting down and quaffing a 40-pounder of Sambuca here; you can argue about how good a time it is while you're doing it, but you know that it's not in your best interest come tomorrow.

Smyth's contribution in Edmonton is over. Yes, he could likely put a few points up on this team next year if he were here, but if and when we win the Cup again it won't be because of anything he'd likely have done in a final season as an Oiler. Some of the young prospects or free-agent talent that could skating those minutes instead, though, might well be laying the foundation for their future success here. What's more important to you - hanging onto the past or looking for the fastest way to building a future winner?

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#63 Dman09
May 24 2011, 04:38PM
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Chris. wrote:

My issue with Tambellini is that he'd read my memo and then sign Turco or Giguere to bloated long term contracts and referr to them as the Team MVP despite all available evidence.

Funny thing is thats not even a joke. He would do that.

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#64 Dman09
May 24 2011, 04:45PM
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@Ender

I think that your view is understood but at the same time a team needs Veterans in the lineup to help those young guys grow and become better. I think what people are saying is that if Salary isn't an issue and we need an good accomplished vet to teach the young guys why not let it be Smyth even if it does cost more for the first year. And there is nothing to say that he won't be able to put up 40+ point season for the next 3 to 4 years either. There are a lot of players that have been able to do it at the same age and even older. Also these young guys grew up seeing Smyth in Oiler silks and I think that might be another boost for them.

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#65 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
May 24 2011, 04:46PM
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Ender wrote:

It's not irrelevent though. There's more to consider here than just salary and whether Ryan might score some points or not.

Last season, everybody bitched and moaned about Khabi being in goal for two reasons. The first was that he sucked, but the second and almost as important was that he was taking up starts while Dubnyk racked up some valuable staring-vacantly-into-space experience. Every shift that Smyth is on the ice, it means that some important member of the Oilers Cup-winning team isn't. It means that someone like Harski is sitting while a feel-good blast-from-the-past is eating his minutes. We're totally talking about sitting down and quaffing a 40-pounder of Sambuca here; you can argue about how good a time it is while you're doing it, but you know that it's not in your best interest come tomorrow.

Smyth's contribution in Edmonton is over. Yes, he could likely put a few points up on this team next year if he were here, but if and when we win the Cup again it won't be because of anything he'd likely have done in a final season as an Oiler. Some of the young prospects or free-agent talent that could skating those minutes instead, though, might well be laying the foundation for their future success here. What's more important to you - hanging onto the past or looking for the fastest way to building a future winner?

I'm not overly worried about a JFJ, Jones or even Omark missing a few minutes of playing time.

If you actually think we have 8 wingers on the current team that will be important members of this team 2-3 years from now then I'd agree with you, however I think that number is closer to 3 so I'm not overly concerned.

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#66 Wax Man Riley
May 24 2011, 04:46PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

I'm going to top Obbies bid of 4 players to land the Oilers a playoff spot this coming season. I'll offer up 2 vet forwards and one defenceman to go with adding Sheldon Souray to that dressing room. That requires only bringing in 3 players.

2 of either Hartnell/Upshall/Ryan Smyth to go with Brewer and Souray on the back end, and hockey that matters is back.

If the Oilers will chase a player convicted of vehicular homicide 2 summers ago, it's not too much a stretch they bring Souray back. Just sayin....

Lets bring in Ryan Smyth, Jerret Stoll, Eric Brewer, and just for good measure, Janne Niinima.

We can be a hybrid between 1998/2011 Oilers. That would be pure awesome.

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#67 Quicksilver ballet
May 24 2011, 04:47PM
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Maybe the answer is having 8-10 players netting 40-60 points a season. Thats worked wonders for the Bruins this year, not even one point a game player on their roster.

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#68 Stone Hands McOsta
May 24 2011, 04:48PM
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My concern is - how would Paajarvi's development be altered if we bring in a burnt out Smyth for a couple seasons? I'd be okay with bringing Smytty back as long as its on the 3rd behind Magnus. But that contrast would be almost laughable.

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#69 Dman09
May 24 2011, 04:51PM
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@Quicksilver ballet

Well I would like to agree with you but I think the biggest reason the Bruins are where they are is Thomas if it wasn't for him they either wouldn't have made to the playoffs or would have been eliminated by Montreal.

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#70 Bucknuck
May 24 2011, 04:52PM
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@Matt Henderson

Would love to see Smyth in Oiler silks again. I think he could teach the kids about work ethic and playing like it matters every shift.

Having said that, I would not want to pay him too many millions, because his contribution on the ice is bound to diminish as he ages.

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#71 Trent
May 24 2011, 04:56PM
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There weren't 30 teams in the NHL when Ottawa did it.

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#72 Quicksilver ballet
May 24 2011, 05:01PM
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Ryan Smyth is tough as nails as well. Word has it he passed a kidney stone the size of a cantelope last season without medical assistance.

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#73 Stone Hands McOsta
May 24 2011, 05:01PM
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@Dman09

No I'm saying the difference between Paajarvi's skills and Smyth's skills are laughable (skating/shooting)...I never said having Smyth on the 3rd was a bad thing, I'd love to have him there.

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#74 Mike Krushelnyski
May 24 2011, 05:13PM
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Ender wrote:

Complete speculation here, but if I was the guy who had to revise the divisions in 2012-2013 to move the Winnipeg and Detroit teams, I might do something like this.

SE Div
FLA
TB
CAR
PHI
WAS

ATL Div
BOS
PIT
NJ
NYR
NYI

NE Div
DET
BUF
MON
OTT
TOR

CENT Div
STL
CHI
CBJ
NSH
DAL

NW Div
EDM
CAL
WPG
MIN
COL

PAC Div
VAN
SJ
LA
ANA
PHO

I recognize that this breaks up some current divisional rivals, but long-term this might make some sense.

I don't see why they don't just swap Winnipeg with Nashville. It makes sense geographically for Winnipeg to be in the Central and for Nashville to be in the Southeast, plus you're only marginally disrupting any rivalries and the power structure of the divisions. The SE gets a little stronger too which is probably a good thing.

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#75 a lg dubl dubl
May 24 2011, 05:32PM
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if anybody wants another youtube video to laugh at other than the hitler bashes the oilers, check out suicidal leafs fan ill LMAO on that all summer

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#76 Ender
May 24 2011, 05:45PM
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Mike Krushelnyski wrote:

I don't see why they don't just swap Winnipeg with Nashville. It makes sense geographically for Winnipeg to be in the Central and for Nashville to be in the Southeast, plus you're only marginally disrupting any rivalries and the power structure of the divisions. The SE gets a little stronger too which is probably a good thing.

Well . . .

For years, it has been rumored that Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch had always been promised a move to East when it was feasible in exchange for being a good soldier in previous realignment fights. The Red Wings have long hated the travel in the West, and the fact that playing in the West means their road games are often played too late for fans to watch them. That affects local television revenue.
Kevin Allen, USA Today

Detroit has two things working in its favor: Ilitch's pull with the league and their storied history. Ilitch is extremely influential with the NHL's Board of Governors and could easily axe a move by Columbus or Nashville to the East. According to John Niyo of the Detroit News, Ilitch has been promised first dibs on the East should the stars align accordingly. Detroit has a bunch of history with Eastern Conference teams like Toronto and Montreal and has been around substantially longer than the Nashville and Columbus franchises.
Ryan Weiss, SB*Nation

Geographically, Nashville has a case as I already mentioned earlier. The kind of statements like the two above, though, are absolutely everywhere in the media. If a team moves to the East and that team isn't Detroit, you can bet Detroit ownership is going to be very unhappy. That's why I (and many others) think the smart money is on Detroit making the move instead of the Predators.

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#77 Hemmertime
May 24 2011, 05:46PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Chris Phillips didn't play in 1997 after being picked first in 1996. Erik Johnson didn't play until 2007 season.

K, change that to hasnt been a forward.

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#78 Craig1981
May 24 2011, 05:54PM
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Thanks that is what I meant to type.

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#79 Hemmertime
May 24 2011, 05:57PM
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Didnt see it said. Reddox is going to SEL http://tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=366747

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#80 DSF
May 24 2011, 06:00PM
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justDOit wrote:

Well, the Wings have wanted into the East for a while now, so that's why I was going with that. But even trading the Preds for the Jets in the West could have a positive impact on next season's point totals.

As for Zamboni Driver, we are counting on the Oilers being a little better next year, aren't we?

And the argument could be made for a depressed bunch of millionaires, formerly of the Hotlanta ZIP code, now plugging away at a dreary living in Winterpeg, putting in even less effort for next seaon.

So no hairs harmed during this scenario.

You do realize that every other team vying for a WC playoff spot will also be playing the Jets, right?

I'm not convinced that the Jets are that far away from being a playoff t4eam themselves butyou need to bear in mind that, they there are weak, the Central teams play them more often than the NW teams so, in fact the biggest beneficiaries of a weak Jets team would be CHI, STL, CLB and NSH.

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#81 DonDon
May 24 2011, 06:01PM
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Will the Oilers realistically be any closer to making the playoffs for the first time in six years?

I believe this is dubious for a number of reasons:

1) Incompetency of double-headed hockey management group of Lowe/Tamblinni. Can they recruit the necessary NHL-calibre replacements? Haven't so far. 2) Ineffective coaching group (maybe Renney is capable, but what of the assistants?) 3) Missing a first and second line NHL centre. 4) Defence has been a disaster (the addition of Souray would be a miracle, but not for the wrong reasons). 5) Khabibulin, seen as team's MVP by Tamblinni.

8 of 15 teams make the playoffs in each conference. The Oilers would have to beat out 6 bottom feeders to make it to 8th place. Unless a miracle happens and water is turned into wine, very unlikely with the present usual suspects.

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#82 Chris.
May 24 2011, 07:12PM
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Can the Oilers make the playoffs?

Hmmmmm. Well, last year the Hawks backed into 8th spot on the last day of the regular season. Are the Oilers going to be better than the Hawks?

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#83 Clyde Frog
May 24 2011, 08:35PM
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There is so much that goes into a season beyond the simple players on the ice.

To highlight the two that comes to my mind:

Can they stay healthy? The healthy Oilers team of the past 2 seasons has been much different than the injury riddled one...

Will the players buy into the system? Most of the teams still playing have pretty defined systems and roles for everyone on the ice.

If the answer to the above questions is yes, I would give us a better than 50% chance to be right in the playoff mix come next February.

Add in someone to set a veteran tone with this team and I think that chance only goes up. But really getting the injury bug out of the dressing room will go a long way to icing a "new" team.

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#84 Matt Henderson
May 24 2011, 08:55PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Theirs nothing emotional about it for me, I would feel the same way if Smyth spent 10 years with the Flames.

How anyone can look at our current roster without seeing a glaring need for a vetran leader that could concievably lead the team in scoring is beyond me.

Now consider the added benifit that we'd actually be *adding* depth, forcing our prospects to *earn* a spot on the roster, or *allowing* them the *luxury* of bringing the non-elite prospects along slowly, rather then *stripping away* the depth, *handing* spots to *unproven player*, or *forcing* the team to rush prospects which has worked so well for the past 5 years leads me to believe the question we should be asking is if we are willing to give up what the Kings would want for him, not whether we should accept him back or not.

THIS

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#85 @Oilanderp
May 24 2011, 08:56PM
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@Ender

"Like the real-life experience of licking chocolate frosting off of a beautiful young lady, it's just really not as enjoyable in practice as it first sounds."

It all depends on where you put it. Smitty on the 3rd line with PP time! I've never ever heard the sentence, "what a mistake it was to lick frosting off of that beautiful young lady". Most importantly, we could probably pry him from L.A. for close to nothing seeing as how they are dying for cap space. Team scoring leader for 3rd round pick anyone?

P.S. The Oil aren't making the playoffs. Not even close.

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#86 jeetz
May 24 2011, 10:39PM
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1 of 2 senarios need to happen next year.

First the Oilers get a top 3 pick in 2012, look good doing it and then never look back...playoffs 2013.

Second...the Oilers do make the payoffs for 2012, our young guns get a round of playoff hockey. RNH plays the next season building on 2012 and the future never looked so bright.

Anything in-between would feel like kissing your cousin (hypotheticaly...lol).

I think the Oiler management has made losing deliberately an art. We will be able to tell 1 month in how they plan to end the season.

Personally though, I am hoping against hope the Hall puts this team on his shoulders in his softmore season and beats the Oiler's management, dragging us to the trade deadline in contention for a playoff run and forces Tambi's hand to make some trades that get us there this season.

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#87 knobby
May 24 2011, 11:13PM
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The only way the Oil make the playoffs with their current crop of assets is if they make a course correction and get a GM in here with some balls and creativity. That is the organization's Achilles Heel in my opinion and will continue to be with the toxic combination of KLowe and Tamponelli at the helm.

All of these high draft picks will go to waste without a solid supporting cast. Tamponelli has shown virtually no aptitude for trading, signing and adding players so far. Maybe some of this years late signings will have an NHL future but we need some solid veterans who can play like they have a pair.

Tampo's strategy seems to be to rely way to heavily on the jr. draft and is a total flop at doing his job on the pro side.

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#88 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
May 24 2011, 11:48PM
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Ender wrote:

@ OB1 & Arch

I agree that adding some depth through free-agents or trades is a good plan. Rookies winning positions because they're ready is absolutely a superior strategy than forcing them onto the ice before they're ready.

We completely agree that bringing in some outside talent is a good plan. We just disagree on who that talent should be. I suggest that you can buy some pretty damn fine hockey players for $5M and that quite a few could be young enough to be around for some Oilers playoff hockey in the bargain. You're looking to pay a premium for memories in my view. If I'm putting in that kind of investment, I want some long-term results for my money and not a one-season stand for old-times sake.

Ah their it is, you're hung up on the salary.

When we discuss trades, UFA's and various other transactions I think it's safe to say the specific topic of the day is placed in a vacumm, essentially disscussing if we'd do that deal on its own, yet I'm pretty confident all of us realize the big picture would need to be looked at when it actually came time to pull the trigger.

Hey, if we somehow can land Hartnell without sending too much over to the Flyers AND convince Upshall to sign on without giving him a massively inflated contract, then sure pass on Smyth.

Now I don't buy into the "no one will sign here" rhetoric when excuses for Tambillini start flying, however I am well aware that we are one of many teams looking for these types of players, I'm also well aware that we are probably near the bottom of those players lists of places to go.

So with that said, IF we were able to land Smyth (which is the basis of this whole discussion) it would be pretty silly to pass on him just because we HOPE we can land someone better/cheaper/a longer term fix, when reality is the odds of that happening probably comes in under 1%.

Get over the $$$'s, it isn't your money. If Katz is willing to spend it then let the man spend.

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#89 Oilcruzer
May 24 2011, 11:58PM
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I would rather see Smyth go to Pens or Caps. He deserves another shot.

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#90 Mantastic
May 25 2011, 12:58AM
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@Ender

on thing that i think that will change on your list is van and colorado in the NW and PAC division.

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#91 hamtundra
May 25 2011, 06:52AM
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Trent wrote:

There weren't 30 teams in the NHL when Ottawa did it.

Nor did the Nords finish "30th" from 89-91 for the same reason.

In the same paragraph, Ottawa's 1996 isn't right, either.

Not to be a complete ingrate, but those types of errors submarine the whole article's analysis.

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#92 hamtundra
May 25 2011, 06:57AM
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As for contributing to the actual discussion.....I'll be shocked if the Oilers even contend, let alone secure, a playoff spot next season.

Oh, and WPG to the Smythe, er, NW; MIN to the Norris; and NSH to the Southeast. Do the right thing for once, NHL. If you're going to keep WPG in the SE temporarily, no reason why you can't put NSH there for one year instead. Just financially, it makes sense.

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#93 TrentonL
May 25 2011, 07:07AM
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The Oil will have to overpay for legit NHL vets/grinders to have any hope of making the playoffs next season. Three forwards and probably 1-2 d-man. NK will need to be in jail instead of the nets as well.

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#94 Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"
May 25 2011, 08:25AM
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Mike Krushelnyski wrote:

I don't see why they don't just swap Winnipeg with Nashville. It makes sense geographically for Winnipeg to be in the Central and for Nashville to be in the Southeast, plus you're only marginally disrupting any rivalries and the power structure of the divisions. The SE gets a little stronger too which is probably a good thing.

In an effort to make travel more fair in the east and west I have often wished they would make the divisions run east west. Like a Canadian Division or two. In stripes across the country. I know it would never happen but seeing an equal amount of long travel would be interesting in its effect on the league. I would also like to see the eastern Canadian teams more that 1 time a year or so.

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#95 Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"
May 25 2011, 08:30AM
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jeanshorts wrote:

Taylor Hall > Dany Heatley.

Will someone PLEASE stop the Canucks??

I waffle between both sides feeling sorry for them and wishing they would win. Then "I feel shame"(See Slapshot) and wish that they would run in to the Big Bad Bruins and get swept.

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#96 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
May 25 2011, 09:01AM
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VMR wrote:

I agree with Ender and it's not about salary. I dont give up any prospect or draft pick for Smyth if I can get him a year later as a UFA. Why the rush to bring Smyth in for this season and give up assets we could use to build a team?

We've got plenty of holes to fill yet, Smyth doesnt really fill any. He's a veteran but he's not a physical guy and not great defensively. He'll go to the wall for you and take a licking to stay in front of the net and deflect shots, some nice skills but I think we have bigger fish to fry.

He fills a pile of holes

Crappy PP - check

No one to stand in front of the net - check

Vetran leader - check

20+ goal scorer - check

The rush would be:

- We need that type of player for next year

- If we didn't secure him now he'd again have access to any team in the league

Again, like I said the question is: What would it cost to get him out of LA. If it's a major prospect who is in the long term plans then you nix the deal. That's the beauty of Smyth though, being that overpayed means he likely would cost very little in a trade.

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#97 thebiggestmanintheworld
May 25 2011, 09:28AM
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We need capable, veteran NHL players on our team and last I checked, Ryan Smyth falls into that category. No complaints from me if the mullet returns

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#98 D-Man
May 25 2011, 10:18AM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Ryan could probably still lead the Oilers in scoring next season, would still be good for around 45-50 pts, may not be all that bad for a 2nd/3rd line winger. If LA wants that cap space, the Oilers could give them back that 3rd rounder they received in the Penner deal. His cap hit isn't an issue at all, maybe even extend him for 2 yrs. 3 yrs of Ryan Smyth for around 10 million over the duration of that deal isn't out of the question.

You might be right - Smytty would definitely be in the top 3 in scoring on this team... I cannot deny what Smytty brings to the table... He goes into the tough areas, battles hard along the boards and leads by example... And if he were a center - I might even consider that trade... But I cherish our cap space when we need to sign Hemsky next year and all three kids the year after that... Smytty wouldn't be in our top six either - as Hall and MPS would be #1 and #2 on our LW depth chart... Smytty doesn't have the wheels to be on a forechecking 3rd line and how many teams would pay anyone over $2.0 million to play 3rd/4th line minutes??

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#99 D-Man
May 25 2011, 10:23AM
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Dman09 wrote:

I think that your view is understood but at the same time a team needs Veterans in the lineup to help those young guys grow and become better. I think what people are saying is that if Salary isn't an issue and we need an good accomplished vet to teach the young guys why not let it be Smyth even if it does cost more for the first year. And there is nothing to say that he won't be able to put up 40+ point season for the next 3 to 4 years either. There are a lot of players that have been able to do it at the same age and even older. Also these young guys grew up seeing Smyth in Oiler silks and I think that might be another boost for them.

Good point - but you forget about some of the vets we already have... Horcoff (even with his bloated contract) is the hardest worker on the team, Whitney - who has stepped up and deservedly taken an 'A', Jones - has chipped in 20 goals and also has a solid work ethic.. I also think we need the Hall's and Eberle's to also step up and take on some of the leadership responsibilities this year... They won't be rookies this year and as they will be the foundation of our core - give them some space to step up...

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#100 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
May 25 2011, 10:33AM
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@D-Man

"and how many teams would pay anyone over $2.0 million to play 3rd/4th line minutes??"

I haven't looked, but i'd bet the answer is "lots" (3rd line anyways)

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