ABOUT THEO

Lowetide
June 17 2012 09:11AM

Playing defense is a tough damn job, with risk of injury, exposure and public humiliation on every sortie. The development of a successful defenseman should be timed by sundial, and there's an enormous risk in dealing away a defenseman during his development time. Trade him too soon and he haunts you for a decade.

In the beginning, the Edmonton Oilers liked Theo Peckham very much. They actually traded up for him at the 2006 entry draft, sending the 80th overall pick and the 200th overall pick in the 2006 entry draft to move up 5 slots and take the roughouse defender from Richmond Hill, Ontario at 75th overall in 2006.

Peckham's development through junior and into pro hockey progressed quickly enough for us to recognize him as a legit NHL prospect. The Oilers loved his size, grit, mean streak and a few months after he turned pro there were good arrows:

  • Springfield coach Jeff Truitt, winter 2008: “Theo’s still a young player, but he shows a well-rounded game. He’s physical, a guy his team can count on. He’s relied upon for penalty-killing and the power play. On the power play, he has a knack for getting a shot through traffic.”

Peckham played a game with the big club in 08-09, 15 the following year and was at the 15 game mark in the 09-10 season when Peckham took a hit from Sharks defender Doug Murray (who took a penalty on the play) in their March 22nd game. We've talked many times about defensemen and injury; it impacts their effectiveness and shortens their careers. A player like Peckham--who I've never seen back down from a challenge--is doubly vulnerable to injury.

ROOKIE MAKES THE GRADE

In 10-11, the Oilers not only played Peckham at the NHL level, but they played him a lot with Tom Gilbert and against tougher than expected competition. Peckham and Gilbert played 48% of their seasons together in 10-11 and they also had the toughest zone start available. For a rookie to face those minutes--even with a quality veteran like Gilbert--and emerge with a CorsiRel or -6 and a plus minus of -5 is worthy of notice. Even if we add luck into the equation, and he certainly got a push from playing with Gilbert, there were some things to build on.

This past season was not successful. He took a puck to the face in early February and was used sparingly after that; he also suffered another concussion (his 2nd in two years) toward the end of the season. However, injury wasn't the only problem.

In an article written just before the trade deadline, Jonathan Willis gave a nice summary of the situation at that time:

  • Peckham has some positives.  He’s a ruffian, adding the physical edge so many teams are looking for to any lineup.  He can kill penalties.  However, he’s also a bottom-pairing guy on one of the weakest teams in the league, a player with minimal puck skills at the NHL level and a guy that hasn’t shown the ability to shut down his opposition – despite the fact he usually draws weak opponents and starts more in the offensive zone than most Oilers.  Beyond that, he takes penalties roughly three times as often as he draws them.

That's about where Peckham was at that time and about where he is today. The Oilers have to make a decision on Peckham this summer; trade him away, qualify him and then sign him and include Peckham as part of the solution moving forward, or walk away from the qualifier.

WHAT TO DO?

I think the best plan is to qualify Peckham, sign him and give him at least another year to cut back on the penalties, improve his positioning and find those calm feet required for the position. He is 24 years old, the Oilers have invested 156 NHL games (and much of that on the Gilbert pairing) to a young man with many of the things this club lacks: a mean streak, toughness, a man in every battle.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Defense is a bloody tough position. If NHL teams had the option (and they did in the original 6) I imagine we'd see a lot of 28-year old rookies who spent close to a decade learning the trade in the AHL. Modern teams don't have that luxury, and the Oilers can't afford to be wrong on Peckham.

Flush him? Sure. But you better be right, and we should have no doubts about whether or not he'd get a contract from another NHL team. Theo Peckham had a tough year, battled injury and I think coach Renney likely tired of the penalties and the positioning. NHL history is crowded with men who were in Peckham's position today and then went on to play a decade of effective defense. It is not a position that lends itself to straight line progress or performance.

Theo Peckham is worthy of another contract, because the story is still unfolding.

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on Team 1260.
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#1 Dino
June 17 2012, 09:18AM
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I hope Theo can take that elusive next step this year. The Oilers need defenders like him to play well and play consistently. I for one, am rooting for Theo this year.

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#2 dawgtoy
June 17 2012, 09:34AM
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Agreed LT. I think a great example of giving up too early on a Dman would be Jason Smith. We all know how that story ended. Similar skill sets and truculence. Thanks TML

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#3 Aitch
June 17 2012, 09:37AM
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I'm not convinced that keeping Peckham is the right choice. If the Oilers D are going to get better than the bottom rung guys need to get out of town one way or another. We can't keep 'em all and expect that natural progression will be the key to blueline improvements.

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#4 Darcy
June 17 2012, 09:37AM
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I like the idea of dressing seven defensemen every game with Peckham getting a fourth line assignment and then extra minutes on the PK. The Oilers could use forwards with his skill set.

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#5 speeds
June 17 2012, 09:38AM
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If you keep him, where does he play? If you keep him, how comfortable are you with the possibility he files for arb and gets 1.5 mil, just below the walkaway point?

It's hard to figure out what to with Peckham in a vacuum, we just don't know what other moves they might be making on D. Say they draft Murray and sign Schultz or another D. Where do you fit Peckham in?

Personally, I would consider bringing him back if you could get him to accept a paycut to 700-800K, in the situation where there is roster room for him. Otherwise, I would probably decide to non-qualify him depending how the draft goes and how successful I am in finding a top 4 D by the time I have to send decide on sending out a QO.

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#8 Jimmer
June 17 2012, 09:48AM
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We were patient with Smid because he was a first round pick that needed a lot of time to learn the position. You unfortunately cannot wait on later round picks because the odds are they will not elevate their game. Peckham should get a one year deal and if he doesn't improve his spot should be taken by guys like Klefbom, Musil, etc.

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#9 speeds
June 17 2012, 09:52AM
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I definitely think the Oilers should go with 8 D this year. More teams should consider going with 8 D, but the Oilers in particular with Whitney's ankle, Sutton's history plus suspension risk.

I'm not as sure that means Peckham stays, it depends on other moves and what they want to do with Potter.

Petry, Schultz, Sutton, Smid, Whitney, and Potter are already on one-ways. If you draft Murray, there's 7. Can Peckham be your 8th, if the idea is that they are looking to improve the D externally, is one roster spot enough? And that's if they carry 8, who knows if they will?

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#10 Gret99zky
June 17 2012, 09:55AM
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First thing Teddy needs to do is go back to wearing #49.

Troubles began when he started wearing #24.

Make the switch Theo.

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#12 speeds
June 17 2012, 09:55AM
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What's the danger, LT? That they get completely shut out the UFA bidding and can't even replace Peckham? I would put that pretty far down the list of concerns, most Augusts there is some vet D kicking around, looking for a 1 year 1 mil contract. Is that player likely to be significantly worse than Peckham?

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#13 a lg dubl dubl
June 17 2012, 09:58AM
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Ann Hathaway....all types of yum, good call LT good call.

Like dawgtoy said, I see alot of Smith in Peckham when Smith got here, Id give Theo a 2 yr deal just to let him know that theres still faith in his development, but still easy enough to trade just incase he falls on his face, and with a 1 yr deal he might just put to much pressure on himself to perform that it will hinder what he needs to do.

Peckham should go back to #49, imo 24 was a jinx.

EDIT: I forgot to say the Oilers should keep him because with Suton off the books after next yr and who knows what the other d prospects will do to push for a roster spot the Oilers need the depth.

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#14 MVParkerknox
June 17 2012, 09:58AM
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Toouch of a liability....defensive defenseman should know how to play defense. Especially with the offensive guys we have up front. Let him walk.

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#15 MVParkerknox
June 17 2012, 09:59AM
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*too much of a liability

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#17 speeds
June 17 2012, 10:03AM
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But how do you improve the D while keeping Peckham? His roster spot is the one you need for a better D.

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#18 The Soup Fascist
June 17 2012, 10:08AM
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The scuttlebut on Theo in the past has benn a lack of commitment to off season conditiong and some bad on ice decisions. If that is lack of maturity that could "come around"?

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#19 speeds
June 17 2012, 10:10AM
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I guess there's always trades, or demoting Potter (although he's currently one of your only 2 RH shots).

No guarantees, but likely Schultz, Smid, Petry, and Whitney are seen as part of the top 6. They just signed Sutton, so I'd imagine he's seen as a 6/7 guy, that's 5. If they carry 7, I'm not sure one of them can be Peckham if you're looking to seriously upgrade your D. If you're willing to carry 8, and demote Potter, maybe.

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#22 RexLibris
June 17 2012, 10:14AM
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Peckham needs to be better than Sutton, and right now his ceiling looks to be about the same, minus the size.

With all of the defenseman coming, I would be inclined to move Peckham at the draft more than Omark. Sutton will be gone at the deadline, I think, and the replacement for him should be Plante (another short-term solution, I believe). I'm normally very risk-averse when it comes to trading young players, but in Peckham's case I think we've seen what we need to see.

Also, it may come down to simple math and at this point who would we rather see the Oilers invest more time in: Peckham or Plante?

Potter and Sutton need to be the 7th defensemen on this roster. Keeping Peckham likely eventually raises their minutes beyond that of which I believe them to be sustainably capable.

Too bad Gauthier isn't still in Montreal, Tambellini might have been able to get Calgary's 2013 2nd rounder for him. ;-)

Also, the Oilers need to sign Ms. Hathaway. When games get out of hand they could just switch the television feed to footage of her. *sigh*

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#23 DSF
June 17 2012, 10:22AM
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Lowetide wrote:

Let's say the Oilers sign Barrett Jackman and draft Ryan Murray. So, the depth chart might be Smid, Petry, Jackman, Schultz, Whitney, Sutton and Murray (not in that order).

Peckham or Potter are your #8 until injury hits. Because after that it's Teubert and I don't think he's a guy who can help with a playoff push this coming season.

Did you actually say "playoff push"?

This coming season?

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#24 Metal&Oil
June 17 2012, 10:23AM
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The path to becoming an NHL Dman is never a straight line, It is filled with plenty of ups and downs (especially for a player picked 75th overall) Teddy is the type of player who if traded by Oilers that will shine on a better team (as we hope to become) when used more effectively with better support on the back end. Hopefully we have learned from our past mistakes in trading young players before they hit their prime?

Another thing to remember is that Theo will always be a relatively cheap option for our bottom pairing and that will surly come in handy when our top end talents prices start to skyrocket. I also suspect that Theo will have that x-factor in playoff years and will raise his game when it matters. He has playoff performer written all over him.

I agree though.........Get him back to forty-nine

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#26 DoubleJ
June 17 2012, 10:32AM
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I like Peckham, he had a hard year last year. Smid was the complete opposite last year. I think Peckham might be able to bounce back. I also think Smid could slip from where he was last year. I hope not, but it could happen.

I would keep Peckham. I think he'll be just fine next year.

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#27 The 'Real' Ron Burgundy
June 17 2012, 10:41AM
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With no coach, zero roster changes and only adding yet again another 18 year old kid, this club will not push for anything. Especially next year. This club goes nowhere with ST and Lowe at the helm; they have more than proven that in their management careers.

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#28 justDOit
June 17 2012, 11:01AM
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Lowetide wrote:

Yeah. I'm a fan. It's summer. Best of luck to the Vancouver Canucks next hockey season. :-)

Props to that. I find that it's just too heavy to concentrate on the negatives all the time - and when (if) the puck drops in October, it's one Cup and 30 teams.

I agree with others who have mentioned it: drop the #24 Theo - it doesn't work!

Might the perfect partner for Peckham be N Schultz? A calm, steady defender who isn't too flashy or physical might allow Theo to stay focused and allow him the occasional opportunity to throw some hits without giving up chances against.

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#29 DSF
June 17 2012, 11:09AM
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Lowetide wrote:

Yeah. I'm a fan. It's summer. Best of luck to the Vancouver Canucks next hockey season. :-)

I guess hope springs eternal.

Maybe Detroit doesn't make any moves in the offseason and opens up an opportunity for one of the second division tens.

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#30 madjam
June 17 2012, 11:15AM
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Peckhams lack of speed and lateral mobility sub NHL level and thats unlikely to ever change . Sutton replaces him with Teubert more apt to pass him this year . Chorney was much better , but physically challenged in comparison . The only way he stays is if he finds a way to move laterally without being clumsy and also find a higher level of speed - both unlikely to happen .

Marincin , Teubert , Musil , Klefbom , Fedun more likely to be our future than a slow Peckham . What might this years draft bring in defencesively ? Trade bait for Peckham , and open more space for those who probably will be more of our future . Save on a contract and cut him loose if they can't trade him .

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#31 Oiler Al
June 17 2012, 11:16AM
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It all depends totally on what they do during the summer.. so its difficult to say what to do with him at this point. I think he;s ahead of someone like Plante. You also have Fedun in the wings, probably an OKC canidate this fall.

There's only a handful of " Stud" D-men in the NHL: Chara, Letang, Karrlson[?], Keith, Boyle Pronger, Weber, Sutter, Doughty. The next level are good solid players, who play team systems to a T and are able to get the puck moving out of their zone effectively.Gilbert and Whitney drove me nuts, taking forever to decide what to do with the puck... while forwards up front are standing still waiting for a pass, the D men dick around in their own end. Part of it is they cannot handle aggressive forecheckers. Maybe is the system... I dont have a lot of faith in Steve Smith.

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#32 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
June 17 2012, 11:17AM
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Not sure things are going to work out for Theo here in Edmonton. He's having a tough time making the grade while the shelves (Oilers blueline) are perceived as empty here in Edmonton. The cavalry won't arrive for another yr or two (Klefbom,Musil,Gernat) and he still hasn't made a niche for himself here.

I would move him upto the left wing and see if he can re-invent himself. Stranger things have happened, they could have a Lucic type player banging and crashing on the left side. Be great to see a more violent version of Ben Eager on this team. We could use plenty more ill will up front.

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#33 steelymac
June 17 2012, 11:27AM
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Lots of reasons to get rid of Peckam BUT he is one guy that will straighten out the opposition when they take a cheap shot at our young guns.Im on the fence on this one If we can trade for better D than do it,I just hope Dithers remembers to leave some grit on the team.How far is Teubert behind Peckam?I think Teuby can be pretty nasty if he is ready for the Bigs.It sounded like Plante really improved playing under Nelson last year.Atleast when we do go down with injuries to our defense our call ups will have alot more excperience than they had the last few years.Geez there are still posts of taking Murry and my fingers are crossed that doesnt happen.

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#34 Fresh Mess
June 17 2012, 11:34AM
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I think he's a better player than Teubert will be.

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#35 russ99
June 17 2012, 11:35AM
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For all the development time we've put into Peckham, it would be a mistake, akin to trading Matt Greene.

He'd be a good player to keep, but with the idea that he only has a spot as an extra unless his play improves.

Also this would end an annoying practice by the Oilers, ditching guys who could help just because they get to RFA status.

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#36 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
June 17 2012, 11:42AM
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Jim Matheson has Yakupov and Murray neck and neck at 50/50 as of today. How can they be so far off track this late in the proceedings.

This if anything must tell us Stu MacGregor is no better than the rest of those bunyaks who've come through town. What a gongshow.

Outside of Eberle, what has MacGregor brought to the table?

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#37 misfit
June 17 2012, 11:55AM
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I don't think Peckham is anywhere near being a reliable top 4 NHL defenseman, but he's also been a guy who has shown it's never a good idea to count him out.

Depending on what we do in free agency, or whether or not we're able to add to the defense through trade, I would probably try to keep him and carry 8 defnensemen for a lot of the reasons you listed. I would see him filling the Sutton role once he's gone.

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#38 Metal&Oil
June 17 2012, 11:57AM
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@Next up, is Connor McJesus.

A steady stream of good, desperately needed defensive prospects currently working their way up to the big club.

Nothing happens overnight, unless your a # 1 pick but Stu should not be judged on those easy picks. It's the mid-late 1st round picks(Klefbomb) & the early 2nd rounders (Lander, Pitlick & Musil) that I will judge Stu on at the appropriate time.

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#39 mlcsellil
June 17 2012, 12:08PM
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I think it's time to be taken seriously in this league, and guys like Peckman won't get it done. Improvements by addition need to be made to the blue line. I like Peckman, but I think he needs to go back to the AHL. By my eye, this last season, he's been playing with what appeared to be a lack of confidence and discipline. These are two things the Oilers don't need to project on the ice. As far as Peckman goes, I'm in the kiss him good-bye line.

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#40 David S
June 17 2012, 12:13PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

Not sure things are going to work out for Theo here in Edmonton. He's having a tough time making the grade while the shelves (Oilers blueline) are perceived as empty here in Edmonton. The cavalry won't arrive for another yr or two (Klefbom,Musil,Gernat) and he still hasn't made a niche for himself here.

I would move him upto the left wing and see if he can re-invent himself. Stranger things have happened, they could have a Lucic type player banging and crashing on the left side. Be great to see a more violent version of Ben Eager on this team. We could use plenty more ill will up front.

You don't really believe Klefbom, Musil and Gernat will be instant NHL caliber D-man do you? Even if they all make the team next year (barf), they're still two-three years away from being serviceable, yet alone "studs".

It kills me how some fans think it's as easy as NHL12. Just plug 'em in and BAM! Stanley Cup.

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#41 vetinari
June 17 2012, 12:15PM
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Peckham is one of those players that could go either way; you could keep him for one more year as a depth player and hope that he steps forward in his game (frankly, I'd pair him with Schultz to learn the defensive aspects of the game better) or you could pair him with some other assets (Omark, Plante, whoever) and try to trade for a more reliable defensive option.

At this point, he's an unreliable "tweener"- he's not disciplined enough to use his physicality without taking a penalty, and he's not defensively responsible enough to overlook his other shortcomings.

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#43 justDOit
June 17 2012, 12:25PM
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DSF wrote:

I guess hope springs eternal.

Maybe Detroit doesn't make any moves in the offseason and opens up an opportunity for one of the second division tens.

I hear you, even though I try not to think about how difficult it is in the west to improve. And now LA has to be considered 'first division'. Sigh.

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#44 DSF
June 17 2012, 12:52PM
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justDOit wrote:

I hear you, even though I try not to think about how difficult it is in the west to improve. And now LA has to be considered 'first division'. Sigh.

Very early days to be sure but, based on what we know right now, I would think both Minnesota and Anaheim look to be much improved next season.

Minnesota will have Koivu back healthy (55 games last season) and are about to add a large wave of high end prospects.

Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Zack Phillips, Brett Bulmer and Nick Palmieri all look ready for the show and it appears they are going to go hard after Minnesota native Zach Parise.

Haven't heard if Jonas Brodin is coming over.

Minny is also drafting 7th and may end up taking Teuvo Teravainen to play with their other Finns, Koivu and Granlund.

Of course, no guarantee that all of these guys will thrive but we could be looking at a much better Wild next season.

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#45 DSF
June 17 2012, 12:54PM
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Lowetide wrote:

For those who don't believe Peckham is part of the top 7, what about week 2 of the regular season? If we've learned anything from wandering through loss after loss it should be the blueline depth is vital.

The question is...could you find a better defenseman or two or three on the free agent market this summer rather than continue "developing" Peckham?

I expect you could.

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#46 justDOit
June 17 2012, 01:13PM
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@DSF

The Ducks should be much improved, but only because that team should not have been as bad as it was last year. So there still exists the possibility of whatever went wrong last season to happen again, but yeah - I doubt it.

As for your Minnie projections, even though they have all these pieces in place doesn't mean it's all going to come together next season. LA has boasted some good prospects for a few years now, and yet they too have had a few seasons of October optimism that spiralled into April attrition.

But you make a good point. Improving your team doesn't happen in a vacuum - simply getting better doesn't mean improvement in the conference standings.

As a fan of the Oilers, I want to see playoff hockey - plain and simple. But after 3 seasons of conditioning, I'm now at a point where I will be happy to see them battle for 8th deep into the spring.

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#47 justDOit
June 17 2012, 01:45PM
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DSF wrote:

The question is...could you find a better defenseman or two or three on the free agent market this summer rather than continue "developing" Peckham?

I expect you could.

Yes you could, given that Peckham plays exactly as he's played in the last year. But as others have already pointed out, D-men don't develop linearly, and IF other aspects get sorted out with him (off season conditioning, staying healthy) he could play a bigger role IF the Oilers can play better defensively as a team.

I know - two big IFs in there, but if those things happen, Teddy could play a bigger role than most straggling UFA dmen. Couple that with the 'we just traded Jason Smith for nothing' feeling that the Leafs got in 1999, and I feel that he warrants a little more time.

The immediate problem is managing the limited roster while continuing to bring along a player who can't be considered much more than a prospect right now. The big mistake that brought this on is having Peckham play in the NHL before he was ready, and now he can't be sent down because of waiver concerns.

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#48 @Oilanderp
June 17 2012, 02:00PM
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Don't give up on Peckman yet. Do whatever you have to do to keep him in the system somewhere, be it AHL (pretty sure he'd be picked off the waiver wire though) or even throwing him up on the wing on the fourth line.

Answer me this: who has worse puck skills and positional play, Peckham on the wing or Hordichuk on the wing?

One more year, do whatever it takes.

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#49 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
June 17 2012, 02:01PM
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@Metal&oil

Prospects don't sell tickets and entertain patrons seated in NHL arenas. With the fail rate being so high when drafting these kids, the Oilers will be fortunate if one or even two of those kids develope into legitimate NHL players. 30th, 30th and 29th only comfirms the term prospect has been abused considerably by the Oilers spanning the last 20 yrs.

Many here have seen alot of duds come and go here over that time. Outside of the lotto picks, the 3 lotto yummies, the song remains much the same to date.

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#50 DSF
June 17 2012, 02:12PM
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justDOit wrote:

The Ducks should be much improved, but only because that team should not have been as bad as it was last year. So there still exists the possibility of whatever went wrong last season to happen again, but yeah - I doubt it.

As for your Minnie projections, even though they have all these pieces in place doesn't mean it's all going to come together next season. LA has boasted some good prospects for a few years now, and yet they too have had a few seasons of October optimism that spiralled into April attrition.

But you make a good point. Improving your team doesn't happen in a vacuum - simply getting better doesn't mean improvement in the conference standings.

As a fan of the Oilers, I want to see playoff hockey - plain and simple. But after 3 seasons of conditioning, I'm now at a point where I will be happy to see them battle for 8th deep into the spring.

That's exactly my point.

You just don't need to improve...you need to improve more than the teams you're competing with.

For the Oilers, coming out of the 14th hole in the WC, they need to improve more than 5 other teams and hope one of the playoff teams falters.

I agree that Anaheim should have been better last season so I can see that rebounding a bit but they also have some nice additions on the way.

The just signed Max Friberg (WJC All Star) to an ELC, and have Peter Holland, Emerson Etem and Brandon McMillan ready to go.

Should remind you that Lombardi brought his team from the basement to the playoffs in three seasons after blowing up the Kings so, while Minny's young stars may not produce an immediate playoff success, they sure seem like a good bet to take a big step forward.

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