THN: OILERS FINISH LAST AGAIN?

Robin Brownlee
August 15 2011 01:39PM

For those of you who care what The Hockey News thinks, the scribes over there are picking the Edmonton Oilers to finish dead-last in the Western Conference in 2011-12.

While that doesn't necessarily mean the staff at THN is predicting a third consecutive 30th place finish for the Oilers -- we don't get a breakdown of overall NHL standings in their predictions in the item -- writers at the publication, at one time considered the Hockey Bible, obviously don't see Edmonton improving enough to escape the conference basement.

The item reads:

"Why: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was added to the exciting core of youth in Edmonton, but like the Senators, the Oilers still have a couple years of bumps and bruises ahead of them. While the prospects should have fans giddy with excitement, the fact is Edmonton is buried in a deep conference full of Stanley Cup contenders, so expectations have to be tempered. Once their prospects earn some experience, the Oilers will be off and running."

There's also a link highlighting off-season changes forecaster.thehockeynews.com/hockeynews/hockey/teamhome.cgi

LONG WAY DOWN

Truth be told, I have difficulty mustering much outrage regarding THN's prediction, probably because I don't think they're far off in terms of how the Western Conference stacks up.

At 25-42-12 for 62 points last season, the Oilers obviously have a long way to climb. Last season, Colorado was 14th with 68 points and Columbus finished 13th with 81 points.

So, even allowing for a 20-point improvement in the standings, and that's hardly a given, realistically, how many teams in the West are the Oilers likely to pass in the pecking order? One? Two?

While I think a 20-point improvement is possible -- if Ryan Whitney and Ales Hemsky play something approaching full seasons and if Ryan Smyth, Cam Barker, Ben Eager and Eric Belanger represent the upgrades I think they do -- it's not going to vault the Oilers many places up the standings.

My best guess is the Oilers will overtake more teams from the Eastern Conference in overall standings, bottom-feeders like Ottawa, the New York Islanders and Florida Panthers, than they do teams from the West.

Still weeks from training camp, my first inclination is they finish right on the cusp of a third straight lottery pick, or 24-26th overall.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
Avatar
#1 DieHard
August 15 2011, 10:06PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
4
props

All I want for this year is a healthy and exciting team that finishes ahead of Calgary.

Avatar
#2 pelhem grenville
August 15 2011, 01:42PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
2
props

chain sufficiently yanked

Avatar
#3 rickyp
August 15 2011, 04:02PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
2
props

Plan for failure and we shall surely find it. Can we all quit rubbing our hands in glee as we plan for another top pick that might not even make the NHL. Let's turn it around with the draft picks we got, the free agents we can get and the players who figure in the plans. Screw blowing for another year

Avatar
#4 Archaeologuy
August 15 2011, 01:51PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
1
props

All depends on goaltending. Put Khabi in for another 50 games and we'll be talking about 1st overall again.

Avatar
#5 @NateInVegas
August 15 2011, 04:51PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
1
props
NickDynasty wrote:

while the Oilers have improved slightly this offseason, the phoenix coyotes have gotten significantly worse. between losing bryzgalov, belanger, and upshall that's nearly 30 goals and a lot of wins that just disappeared from that roster. i could see them plummet in the standings and end up below the Oil.

Phoenix should finish with about 36 wins.

- Dave Tippett is still a solid coach.

- Shane Doan is in a UFA season.

- Eckman-Larsson, Boedker, and Turris should be better.

Will the Oilers be 12 wins better than last season?

The Over/Under for Oiler wins should be 31.5 (not that I'm a math guy)

Avatar
#6 Mason Storm
August 15 2011, 05:57PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
1
props

@Woodguy

How do you see Winnipeg in the bottom 5? If you look at their roster, they should be pushing for a playoff spot. The travel won't be an issue early in the year, but might make them tail off towards the end of the season. Still good enough to be outside the top ten.

Avatar
#7 @Oilanderp
August 15 2011, 08:48PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
1
props

What's funny is everyone is talking about passing Colorado in the standings..... but they traded their first round pick!

Avatar
#8 DSF
August 15 2011, 10:14PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
1
props

It's all about goal differential.

You need a positive goal differential to make the playoffs.

The Ducks were the worst GD team in the WC last season with a +4.

The Oilers were -76 and finished 37 points behind the Ducks.

Since the Oilers defense is almost as putrid as it was a year ago, the Oilers would need to score an additional 80 goals to squeak into the playoffs.

Given that they traded away their leading point producer, it's unlikely they can score a significant amount more than they did a year ago even with the progression of the youngsters.

Avatar
#9 Feynman
August 15 2011, 11:59PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
1
props

Oilers will finish 6th in the West in 2011-12; a 37 point improvement over last year! Islanders also crack the top eight in the east

Avatar
#10 shau_co
August 16 2011, 12:44PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
1
props

I think often people don't appreciate how much things can swing from season to season.

In my opinion it is unfair to look at last year's wins or goal differential and draw a conclusion based on how much they have improved from that marker. What if last year's result was below "what they should have obtained"?

Momentum can be huge in any sport throughout the season.

Take a minute to compare this year's roster to the Oiler's roster in 07-08 and 08-09. There are some differences but I don't see us being that far off of two Oiler teams that were within 3 and 6 points of making the playoffs.

I expect them to finish anywhere between 8th and 14th in the West this year.

Avatar
#11 OILERSORDEATH
August 16 2011, 05:02PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
1
props

I dont think for one bit that the Oilers will finish last. Unless the same bunch get injured again but highly unlikely. I really believe the hockey Gods will show us a little mercy this year. With the exception of LA, Vancouver, Detroit, Chicago and maybe San Jose I think the Oil can skate with rest of the pack in the West. The Oilers are not the only team that has holes to fill.

Avatar
#12 Talbot17
August 15 2011, 01:48PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Still feel if they hadn't had so many injuries they would have done a lot better. the Leastern conference will for sure have picks 1 through 4 this year i believe

Avatar
#13 Bank Shot
August 15 2011, 01:55PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Your Edmonton Oilers: Setting low standards and failing to achieve them.

Last in the Western Conference seems pretty reasonable. But, man it sure would be nice if the Oilers exceeded expectations for the first time since the Cup run.

Avatar
#14 Champski
August 15 2011, 02:08PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Don't you think with the grit we added, teams will be a little less inclined to take liberties at our young guns. As well can Horcoff and Hemmers really have another injury riddled season?

Last.... I don't think so.

Avatar
#15 stevezie
August 15 2011, 02:22PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

After Tambellini's bold, televised proclamation that we won't be a lottery team again this year, to what degree does his job security rely on making good on that promise?

Avatar
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
Archaeologuy wrote:

All depends on goaltending. Put Khabi in for another 50 games and we'll be talking about 1st overall again.

Truest words!

Avatar
#17 book¡e
August 15 2011, 02:38PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
stevezie wrote:

After Tambellini's bold, televised proclamation that we won't be a lottery team again this year, to what degree does his job security rely on making good on that promise?

It depends what he told Katz - it may well be different than the 'Khabibulin is our MVP' stuff that he spouts to the general public.

Avatar
#18 Dubai Guy
August 15 2011, 02:40PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Robin,

I think you're right Robin, and in all honesty, I think it would be for the best in terms of the long term rebuild that they do finish in the bottom 5. I hate the losing too, but the rebuild is not over and their are a lot of holes to fill and development needed for most of our young studs. We need a stud D-man (either by trade or draft). I hope major progress is made, but am not overly confident with this crew. Much depends on the play of Duby. They are not there yet, but I love the direction the team is headed. Let's hope contracts (once the entry-levels have expired)don't effect this group. Trading Hemmer for a bonfied young D-man is on my wish list right now.

Avatar
#19 Team Hall
August 15 2011, 02:41PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Ya, you're pretty much right on in my estimation Rubin. It's hard to muster much angst at naysayers these days. Improvement for sure, but overtaking anyone other than Colorado will take a miracle on ice, and Herb Brooks is long gone. Reaonable Expectations. Sounds like a very boring movie title, hahahaha.

Avatar
#20 geoilersgist
August 15 2011, 02:54PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I hate to admit it because I dream of playoff hockey at night, but for this season not finishing last is all that really matters.

Avatar
#21 NickDynasty
August 15 2011, 03:01PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

while the Oilers have improved slightly this offseason, the phoenix coyotes have gotten significantly worse. between losing bryzgalov, belanger, and upshall that's nearly 30 goals and a lot of wins that just disappeared from that roster. i could see them plummet in the standings and end up below the Oil.

Avatar
#22 Walter Sobchak
August 15 2011, 03:09PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@NickDynasty

Ya, Thats the one or two teams RB was talking about I think.

Arch also has it right playing Khabby more will put the Oilers right at the bottom.

As an Oiler fan the THN item sucks, but it's hard to argue it, not to mention the upgrades on the back end might not be any better then last year.

Prediction-Oilers are a lotto pick again.

Avatar
#23 Woodguy
August 15 2011, 03:48PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

My prognostication for the bottom 5 in the NHL:

30th - COL 29th - EDM 28th - WIN 27th - OTT 26th - NYI

Book it!

Like Archie Oogly says, if Khabby plays north of 40 shine up the 30th place spot again.

The biggest weaknesses on the Oilers are G and Top 4 D and they did nothing to address this.

If they add a top 4 dman through trade and Khabby hits the IR early then all bets are off.

Avatar
#24 druds
August 15 2011, 04:49PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

We are forgetting that we had a terrible injury situation last year which helped immensly in our quest for the first draft pick, If we have a relatively injury-free year I should think our standings will be around 21-23 area. There is no way if our team had been healthy last year we would have finished last.

Avatar
#25 Quicksilver ballet
August 15 2011, 05:07PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

[quote] Oilers still have a couple years of bumps and bruises ahead of them. While the prospects should have fans giddy with excitement, the fact is Edmonton is buried in a deep conference full of Stanley Cup contenders, so expectations have to be tempered. Once their prospects earn some experience, the Oilers will be off and running. [quote]

Doesn't say much for the veterans on this hockey club when THN speaks of only the kids progressing. After 3 difficult lottery seasons our basket only has 3 players in which to build around. Tambellini needs to pick up the pace so this doesn't continue to emulate an Infinity rebuild.

Avatar
#26 michael
August 15 2011, 05:15PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

The Hockey News. Are they even still relavant? I for one never read that NHL propaganda rag.As far as the Oilers finishing last in the Western conference. We'll see.Alot of things have changed in the Western Conference this past offseason. Have the Flames really gotten any better? Pheonix? Has Columbus found a goaltender yet? How is L.A. going to be with the addition of Penner? Colorado has a giant elephant in the room in the guise of Stastny. Is he going to play his way out of town or is he going to buy into the new rebuild strategy. There are alot of what ifs going into this season. I won't be holding my breath waiting for the Oilers to make the playoffs but again we'll see where the chips fall.Gonna be a incredible camp with the return of Smyth and the addition of Barker and the rest. This should be a team that will be more willing to get dirty than lasts years squad. Penticton is going to be fun. Are you going to Penticton for the camp Robin? and great job on Saturday. what a way to start a show. SMB. Wow.

Avatar
#27 Bar Qu
August 15 2011, 05:37PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Careful RB. If you keep saying things outside the Oiler management party line, you could end up blacklisted! ;-)

And those of you 'hoping' for another lottery placement, consider that as RB pointed out adding 20 points on top of what they did last season is a big job. Imagine pushing that improvement back another year! There is no way the Oilers go from lottery pick to playoff contender in one season. I personally hope they pick up the pace by 15-20 points this season, end up in 13th (20-24th overall), but I'm not sure how they do it (maybe Petry emerges? Dubnyk outperforms?).

The bright side of not accomplishing this feat is it probably costs ST his job.

Avatar
#28 Dodd
August 15 2011, 05:37PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Wow how creative and in-depth do you gotta be to predict that? A better idea than publishing "Guess what? The sky is blue" would be that they shut down over the summer.

I'm not necessarily in disagreement with them, but seriously I would rather read a feature on any player or team than a "prediction" that the shaky teams last year will be the shaky teams this year.

Thanks for coming out, THN.

Stay tuned for their next article: "Detroit and San Jose should do well in the standings next season."

Avatar
#29 David S
August 15 2011, 05:48PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
rickyp wrote:

Plan for failure and we shall surely find it. Can we all quit rubbing our hands in glee as we plan for another top pick that might not even make the NHL. Let's turn it around with the draft picks we got, the free agents we can get and the players who figure in the plans. Screw blowing for another year

^ This.

Avatar
#30 Quicksilver ballet
August 15 2011, 06:27PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Bogosian to Montreal?

Avatar
#31 Woodguy
August 15 2011, 06:44PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
Mason Storm wrote:

How do you see Winnipeg in the bottom 5? If you look at their roster, they should be pushing for a playoff spot. The travel won't be an issue early in the year, but might make them tail off towards the end of the season. Still good enough to be outside the top ten.

They finished 25th last year and did not make any significant improvements on the team.

NYI have improved somewhat and will have Okposo, Streit and Wishart for a full year. If they didn't have Dipetro I think they might be a dark horse for the playoffs.

FLA has also improved considerably.

Anderson is enough to make OTT finish ahead of them...maybe..

I still have them finishing ahead of EDM and COL.

Avatar
#32 Fisher
August 15 2011, 06:57PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Hey now, i don't think the Islanders will be that bad. Panthers, yes, Oilers, depends on how many freak injuries decimate us. For the third straight year.

Avatar
#33 HardestTaco
August 15 2011, 07:03PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Now that the Boozin-wall has his time in the clink behind him he could have a bounce back year. Not that he was playing well before the DUI. I doubt it will happen but one less distraction might be just what it takes for him to get it together. The power of Positive thinking!

Avatar
#34 oilerfan1981
August 15 2011, 07:23PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

sad news in the hockey world and for Southern Alberta. As per James Mirtle, Rick Ripken was found dead in his Alberta home. Condolences to the Ripken family.

Avatar
#35 pelhem grenville
August 15 2011, 07:24PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Bogosian to Montreal?

...dunno Q nobody MSM worldly enuf is saying anything...

...

Avatar
#36 Quicksilver ballet
August 15 2011, 07:38PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
pelhem grenville wrote:

...dunno Q nobody MSM worldly enuf is saying anything...

...

MacKenzie at TSN tweeted that Rypien and Bogosian were traded to Montreal in exchange for Kostitsyn and Tinordi but has since been pulled down.....is it even possible to pull a tweet down?

Avatar
#37 pelhem grenville
August 15 2011, 07:43PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
Quicksilver ballet wrote:

MacKenzie at TSN tweeted that Rypien and Bogosian were traded to Montreal in exchange for Kostitsyn and Tinordi but has since been pulled down.....is it even possible to pull a tweet down?

..i guess Bob can do anything ...

Avatar
#38 pelhem grenville
August 15 2011, 07:46PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

...Bogosian and Rypien in a trade? again never saw any of this ...we want Bogosian don't we?

Avatar
#39 Quicksilver ballet
August 15 2011, 07:48PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
pelhem grenville wrote:

...Bogosian and Rypien in a trade? again never saw any of this ...we want Bogosian don't we?

Weber and Bogosian would have been nice in time for the 2012-2013 season.

Avatar
#40 Quicksilver ballet
August 15 2011, 07:54PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
oilerfan1981 wrote:

sad news in the hockey world and for Southern Alberta. As per James Mirtle, Rick Ripken was found dead in his Alberta home. Condolences to the Ripken family.

It's Rick Rypien, not R.Ripken.

Avatar
#41 kristian
August 15 2011, 07:57PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I don't think that the people at THN really watch or follow hockey. I think with the additions and with a healty Hemsky and Whitney we could fight for 8th in west. Now realistically I see the Oilers finishing 22nd in the league and 10 in the west. First off in the east I see us being better than Isles, Sens, and Panthers that puts us at 27th right there. In the west I see us being better than Phx, Calgary, Columbus, Colorado, and the Blues. That puts us to 22nd in league and 10 in west.

Now in the East the teams that can go either way for me are NJ and Carolina. Carolina seems to do really well one year then bad the next so who knows with them and what will happen with the departure of Cole. NJ I just don't think adding Larsson will propell them to playoff contenders. If anything Marty B is one more year older and who knows what will happen with Parise this season.

In the west there are question marks for some teams. Flames, yeah they just missed the playoffs BUT haven't done anything to make their team better. Columbus yeah they got Wiz and Carter BUT what about in net? Will Steve Mason regain form or play similar to last year? Landeskog was a good Jr player but who knows how he'll be in the NHL. Also I don't see him propelling the Avs to a playoff spot. Yotes will not make the playoffs this year. They lost Bryz, JOVO, Fiddler, and Belanger. So in other words they lost their number one goalie and key figure in why they were in the playoffs past two seasons, They also lost top 4 dman, two of their best PK, faceoff men, and defensive forwards in Fiddler and Belanger.

Post getting kinda long and I think you get where I am heading.

Avatar
#42 kristian
August 15 2011, 08:12PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Now as for us I think we've done a whole heck of a lot. We've added to every problem that we've lacked. Needed faceoff and a defensive centre. We get Belanger who is a 50% faceoff guy, who can get you 15-20 goals and up to 40 points. Also he's a battler and will go to the dirty areas also VERY reliable in his end. He opens up Horc to get to where he once was in the dot and in his end. Hors was simply a victim of being over worked. Eager, Hordy, and Sutton improve our grittyness and toughness without sacrificing playing time.

Adding Smyth improves overall team attitude. Also adds scoring, improves PK, PP and is also reliable in his end. Barker is a wildcard as he can go either way. But he is an upgrade on the blueline. He's a top 4 dman that should be able to regain his form he has all the tools to.

Adding to that are hopefull healthy seasons from Hemsky and Whitney should help. Also I don't see the kids having major sophmore slumps like Gagner, Cogs, Nilsson, and O'Sullivan had. Lets face it those players aren't on the same level as Hall, Ebs, and Pajaarvi. Hall, and Ebs have already shown what they're made of. Not only do Ebs and Hall have the skill, talent, and speed, but they also have the heart and hockey smarts and plain determination to not want to fail. As for Pajarvii he's got all the raw ability just not sure where his mind is at. We saw glimpses of what he can be. I think for him it will be him just geting used to a new life here.

The biggest question mark for us is in goal. To be honest I like what i see on the blueline going forward.

Avatar
#43 justDOit
August 15 2011, 08:23PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Well, THN might not be far off, as others have suggested. The western conference teams have done much to improve, with Phoenix and Calgary being the exceptions.

I still think the 'core' of the Flames is quite good, and if coach Sutter can get them going like they finished last season, they will compete for the post season.

And never rule out a Tippet team.

So that will mean another tough season - but that's to be expected. I'll be happy if we suffer fewer injuries, and I can actually watch this team compete for a season. If we still happen to end up in the bottom five, then lets all cross our fingers for a third-straight fist overall!

Avatar
#44 Mason Storm
August 15 2011, 08:29PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@Woodguy

With Florida minus Vokoun they are toast. Toronto are relying on Reimer far too much and will implode. The Islanders always screw everything up. Phoenix is finished without Bryzgalov. New Jersey will continue their decline, especially after they trade Parise. Ottawa are in the midst of a re-build and plan look like they'll bottom out. Dallas minus Richards can't compete in the Pacific. Calgary are a year older and a year worse. Throw in Edmonton and Colorado and that's how I see Winnipeg out of the bottom ten.

Avatar
#45 russ99
August 15 2011, 08:57PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I see the Oilers starting slow, but putting on a late charge and coming close to a playoff spot if they can remain relatively healthy and don't sell off veterans at the deadline (especially Hemsky on both counts)

The funny thing about the Western Conference is while you can make a case for a bunch of teams to be good, one or two teams usually backslides.

Preseason standings picks are for suckers, they sell magazines, but are totally unreliable.

Avatar
#46 Death Metal Nightmare
August 15 2011, 09:04PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

as long as their main horses get solid/long seasons - they wont finish last. if theres injuries in the top 6 again - yeah.

Avatar
#47 dawgtoy
August 15 2011, 09:10PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

RIP Rick Rypien. Found dead in his Alberta home. Another far too young joins the 27 club. Condolences to his family and friends....too young.

Avatar
#48 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
August 15 2011, 09:19PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I doubt they come in 30th... Close though... And the more I think of it, I'd say there's a good shot of 15th in the west.

Avatar
#49 jimmycrackcorn
August 15 2011, 09:45PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Prediction: All the way to the second round. Lose in 6 to the Canucks. We are all happy but the hate for Vancouver boils over into the streets. 79 arrests, 13 injured!

Book it! Pack of gloomy guses! For shame!

Avatar
#50 Mantastic
August 15 2011, 10:03PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@Mason Storm

problem is that WPG plays in the eastern conference and didn't sign any players to improve

Comments are closed for this article.