THN: RESIGNATION AND OILERSNATION

Robin Brownlee
August 10 2012 08:39AM

Remember the indignation at hockey websites like this one when The Hockey News projected the Edmonton Oilers to finish dead-last in the Western Conference a few seasons ago? Me, too. And today?

For all the howls of protest by a passionate fan base that, at the time, wasn't ready to accept the Oilers would have to hit bottom before drafting kids like Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov and begin scripting an ascent back to playoff contention, THN has pegged the Oilers just about right for many seasons now.

That's likely why THN's latest annual prediction, released this week, picking the Oilers to finish 13th in the Western Conference, hasn't drawn the same kind of venom and protest this time around. Here's THN's take:

13. EDMONTON OILERS

"Why: There were a couple of voices in the THN office making a case for the Oilers to be a playoff team, but in the end, the majority decided it was still too soon. We do believe the Oilers will improve from recent showings and maybe even move out of the draft lottery. Nail Yakupov is dynamic, but first-year expectations should be tempered. Defense and goaltending is still a big question mark and in a loaded Western Conference those are debilitating shortfalls. Sure, Justin Schultz was added to the blue line, but he's far from a difference-maker at this point. Can Ryan Whitney stay healthy? Can Devan Dubnyk be a legit No. 1? Until these questions become solid answers, Edmonton is still on the outside looking in."

No playoffs AGAIN? No sniff? Eastern bias? Bunch of THN knuckleheads? No. That's so 2011.

LONG WAY DOWN

If the final standings in the Western Conference over the past three seasons are any indication, it's going to take about 95 points for the Oilers to take a run at a playoff spot in 2012-13 (assuming an 82-game season).

2011-12

8 Los Angeles 40 27 15 95

9 Calgary 37 29 16 90

10 Dallas 42 35 5 89

11 Colorado 41 35 6 88

12 Minnesota 35 36 11 81

13 Anaheim 34 36 12 80

14 Edmonton 32 40 10 74

15 Columbus 29 46 7 65

2010-11

8 Chicago 44 29 9 97

9 Dallas 42 29 11 95

10 Calgary 41 29 12 94

11 St Louis 38 33 11 87

12 Minnesota 39 35 8 86

13 Columbus 34 35 13 81

14 Colorado 30 44 8 68

15 Edmonton 25 45 12 62

2009-10

8 Colorado 43 30 9 95

9 St Louis 40 32 10 90

10 Calgary 40 32 10 90

11 Anaheim 39 32 11 89

12 Dallas 37 31 14 88

13 Minnesota 38 36 8 84

14 Columbus 32 35 15 79

15 Edmonton 27 47 8 62

HOW MUCH BETTER?

The Oilers improved by 12 points from 2010-11 to 2011-12, going from 62-74, but moved up just one place in the standings. While I have think that they're capable of improving by another dozen or so points this season, again, assuming a full schedule, that likely won’t make them a playoff team.

If you tack 12 points on to the 74 the Oilers are coming off, that gives them 86, which puts them 13th in 2009-10, 12th in 2010-11 and 12th last season. Improving by 24 points in two seasons is nothing to sneeze at, but when you're coming from as far back as the Oilers are, it doesn't translate to a playoff spot.

Might THN be off by a place or two? Sure. Might the Oilers improve by as much as 15 points? Yes. That still doesn't translate to putting an end to a playoff drought that's reached six straight seasons.

Link to THN item is here.

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
#51 Walter Sobchak
August 10 2012, 07:07PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I’ve been saying for awhile now the Oilers are still a lottery team and I’m ok with it as long as the Oilers don’t trade any of the fab 5.

The Oilers are still rebuilding, this is year 3 going into year 4 of a 5 year plan, and what did we expect? Playoffs?

The Oilers came from ZERO, they had nothing! No prospects, no organizational depth, No AHL affiliate, and only a few good NHL players.

Give them some credit for recognizing there failure and doing something about it, but this was a ground up re-build, scorched earth rebuild and nothing really compares to it, this isn’t even close to a Chicago or Pittsburg.

The Oilers have to find out about Whitney, They need to know were Schultz is, need to find out if Dubnyk can be consistent enough, have to shelter Yakupov a little, then there is the question of Hemsky health.

Do you go out and get a top pairing defenseman only to find out your starting goalie is a sieve and cant stay consistent, one of your top defensemen will never be able to turn, your top 6 forward cant celebrate a goal cause he can’t lift his arms in the air, and the new defensemen you got from free agency is at least another year or two away?

There is a lot left to do, if the Oilers want to model after Chicago-Pittsburg then the Oilers need a lot more players you just don’t get via trade unless you give up something the Oilers can’t afford to give up right now. Patients, Wait it out this year, get another elite player via the draft, and see where the greatest needs are, there might be a good chance that defense may NOT be our biggest need after all.

Oilers 25th overall. 5th pick in the 2013 NHL draft.

Avatar
#52 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
August 10 2012, 07:20PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
Walter Sobchak wrote:

I’ve been saying for awhile now the Oilers are still a lottery team and I’m ok with it as long as the Oilers don’t trade any of the fab 5.

The Oilers are still rebuilding, this is year 3 going into year 4 of a 5 year plan, and what did we expect? Playoffs?

The Oilers came from ZERO, they had nothing! No prospects, no organizational depth, No AHL affiliate, and only a few good NHL players.

Give them some credit for recognizing there failure and doing something about it, but this was a ground up re-build, scorched earth rebuild and nothing really compares to it, this isn’t even close to a Chicago or Pittsburg.

The Oilers have to find out about Whitney, They need to know were Schultz is, need to find out if Dubnyk can be consistent enough, have to shelter Yakupov a little, then there is the question of Hemsky health.

Do you go out and get a top pairing defenseman only to find out your starting goalie is a sieve and cant stay consistent, one of your top defensemen will never be able to turn, your top 6 forward cant celebrate a goal cause he can’t lift his arms in the air, and the new defensemen you got from free agency is at least another year or two away?

There is a lot left to do, if the Oilers want to model after Chicago-Pittsburg then the Oilers need a lot more players you just don’t get via trade unless you give up something the Oilers can’t afford to give up right now. Patients, Wait it out this year, get another elite player via the draft, and see where the greatest needs are, there might be a good chance that defense may NOT be our biggest need after all.

Oilers 25th overall. 5th pick in the 2013 NHL draft.

Gotta say Wes, I'm a little disappointed with this post, the "we need to see what we have and give it another year" lines have been trotted out for 3 years now.

I've got a bad feeling a lot of fans would be posting the same thing you just did...this time next year.

We aren't that far off from being competitive, top 3 forwards and top 2 Dmen are really the only hard spots to fill. Looks like we've got 5 top 3 forwards.

Avatar
#53 David S
August 10 2012, 08:04PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Yeah. Screw getting into the playoffs. I mean, we don't need to toughen up our young guys with playoff experience. They are all super duper winners already! Just a few more high draft picks is all we need, then...BAM! STANLEY CUP!

Avatar
#54 Walter Sobchak
August 10 2012, 09:19PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

Yes, it has been trotted out for three years already, no argument here. From management to media to us fans, including myself, it’s been let’s see next year.

I had an epiphany this summer though, or at least a moment of clarity; I noticed that a lot of us (including myself) had started to get that old mentality back again, like let’s go after the big whale “Now” go get our shinning star! The next Heatly! Doan!Weber! Garrison! So on and so forth.

Isn’t this how it all really started in the first place?

I just want them to do things right NOW, even if it does take five years; I’ve gone from please re-build, to how can this take so bloody long! To finally seeing what the finish product might look like, and I can see a span of 10 years as one of the elite teams.

No, I don’t foresee many people saying the same thing next year, just like you mentioned we are not that far off, but ask yourself what do we have to trade with NOW? Gagner? Hemsky?

A healthy lineup over this calendar year gives the Oilers more options moving forward.

Avatar
#55 oilfan_79
August 10 2012, 10:22PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I said this at the start at last season, and I will say it at the beginning of this season. If the Oilers continue to improve on the ice and increase their point totals by 10-15 this season I will be happy.

I have to agree with THN, the Oilers need to improve too much in too many areas in one season to be considered a playoff team right now. If they finish at about 85 points the are still going in the right direction!

Avatar
#56 DSF
August 10 2012, 10:37PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
Walter Sobchak wrote:

Yes, it has been trotted out for three years already, no argument here. From management to media to us fans, including myself, it’s been let’s see next year.

I had an epiphany this summer though, or at least a moment of clarity; I noticed that a lot of us (including myself) had started to get that old mentality back again, like let’s go after the big whale “Now” go get our shinning star! The next Heatly! Doan!Weber! Garrison! So on and so forth.

Isn’t this how it all really started in the first place?

I just want them to do things right NOW, even if it does take five years; I’ve gone from please re-build, to how can this take so bloody long! To finally seeing what the finish product might look like, and I can see a span of 10 years as one of the elite teams.

No, I don’t foresee many people saying the same thing next year, just like you mentioned we are not that far off, but ask yourself what do we have to trade with NOW? Gagner? Hemsky?

A healthy lineup over this calendar year gives the Oilers more options moving forward.

So, another year of evaluating.

In the meantime, the Oilers are burning through ELCs like there is no tomorrow.

You CAN'T win that way.

Avatar
#57 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
August 10 2012, 11:34PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
Walter Sobchak wrote:

Yes, it has been trotted out for three years already, no argument here. From management to media to us fans, including myself, it’s been let’s see next year.

I had an epiphany this summer though, or at least a moment of clarity; I noticed that a lot of us (including myself) had started to get that old mentality back again, like let’s go after the big whale “Now” go get our shinning star! The next Heatly! Doan!Weber! Garrison! So on and so forth.

Isn’t this how it all really started in the first place?

I just want them to do things right NOW, even if it does take five years; I’ve gone from please re-build, to how can this take so bloody long! To finally seeing what the finish product might look like, and I can see a span of 10 years as one of the elite teams.

No, I don’t foresee many people saying the same thing next year, just like you mentioned we are not that far off, but ask yourself what do we have to trade with NOW? Gagner? Hemsky?

A healthy lineup over this calendar year gives the Oilers more options moving forward.

We didn't sink to the bottom of the league because they were chasing stars, they sunk because they weren't able to land the stars... And then to a lesser extent because management was incapable of spotting sub NHL talent and replacing it with NHL takent (JFJ, Stone ect) unfortunately this deficiency still exists today (Barker, Petrell ect).

That said, who's talking big fish anyways? I want to bring in 2nd pairing Dmen, platoon goalie and 3rd line defensive winger.... Those are tough jobs to task our management with.... Obviously the one big fish we could use is that elite Dman, but theirs nothing foolish about trying to acquire that, any team in the league would happily take an elite defender, you can never have too many. just ask the Ducks.

Avatar
#58 Walter Sobchak
August 11 2012, 12:00AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
DSF wrote:

So, another year of evaluating.

In the meantime, the Oilers are burning through ELCs like there is no tomorrow.

You CAN'T win that way.

ELC's are 3 years, the Oilers had a scorch earth rebuild, and you think it’s just going to take 3 years to rebuild a complete organization? Pittsburg had 5 top 5 first round picks!

From 2004 to 2008 the Black Hawks had 4 top 10 picks and 2 more in the 10th and 14th spot, which makes that from 2003 to 2009 for a total of 6 years!

The L.A kings from 2004 to 2009 draft in the top 11 spots 3 of those years in the top 5

You think the Oilers honestly care about the ELC that much? You can’t foresee long term contracts?

You cant see players being moved for redundancy and filling spots for need?

Cap space an issue? Well why don’t you astonish us with the DSF formula? You know sooooooo much more then NHL managers, tell us oh wise one!

Is that the same as the Tallon formula?

Ya! You CAN win that way!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJtMNSZ5ZfY

Avatar
#59 Walter Sobchak
August 11 2012, 12:34AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

I understand your point of view, I get it. I also agree with everything you say about management, they are/did make mistakes that are still having effects, I will give them credit for recognizing the mistakes, Tambellini recognized/acknowledged those mistakes this year.

We have a platoon goalie in Denis, right now the question is Dubnyk, we won’t know until at least January if he can run with it.

So who are you going to trade in order to bring in that 2nd pairing defenseman? That 3rd line defensive winger that is valuable to all teams?

I would also like to add a Clowe type player in there too, but how?

Your right, there is nothing, absolutely nothing wrong with getting an elite defensemen as long as it doesn’t take away from the 5.

But consider this; every single phone call Tambellini or Lowe or Mac-T make start’s with one of the top 5.

No top UFA wants to come here yet as the Oilers are still not a contender.

So that’s not getting them anywhere, and the asking price for a trade is just too high, so what option do the Oilers have?

Stay the course; draft another elite player, a very strong draft, the top ten is very strong and the Oilers might get a great season out of Hemsky and Whitney enough to be able to make a quality trade.

That and Klefbom should be more then ready to take someone’s spot in the line up as well.

Avatar
#60 Oilcruzer
August 11 2012, 07:58AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

A variable that many teams can't match (that I predict) is a sick W/L ratio for the Oil in shootouts. Tha could give 6 pts that most other teams wouldn't hope of getting.

Enough to get to the magic number of 95? Probably not, but maybe enough to trade for a playoff push.

Avatar
#61 Oilcruzer
August 11 2012, 07:59AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

A variable that many teams can't match (that I predict) is a sick W/L ratio for the Oil in shootouts. Tha could yield a bonus of 6 pts that most other teams wouldn't hope of getting.

Enough to get to the magic number of 95? Probably not, but maybe enough to trade for a playoff push.

Avatar
#62 Big Cap
August 11 2012, 08:50AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

We gained 12 points last year from the year before.

Had 93 and 4 not been injured for 20 games is it not fair to believe that we would have picked up extra 10-16 points with them in the line up??

Its not such a far strectch to believe that we could have had a 20 point improvement.

Is that so far off from this year as well???

Avatar
#63 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
August 11 2012, 09:05AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@Walter Sobchak

PRV, next years first and guys like pitlick and marincin should all be available for 2nd pairing Dman. Hemsky and Gagner can come into the picture if it's a solid #2. But theirs really no reason to remove any of the current top9/tip4 in a trade when you can use futures.

Platoon goalies and bottom 6 wingers are easily found in free agency.

I'm not asking management to get Webers and Parises, that IS very difficult. I'm asking them to get Michaleks and Higgens, that ISN'T hard and doesn't cost the team much.

Comments are closed for this article.