OilersNation 2013 Year-End Awards

Jonathan Willis
April 30 2013 09:42AM

Starting this year, the Nation will hold end-of-season awards, so put on your best tuxedo t-shirt and click “Read Article” for this year’s choices.

Most Valuable Player

Nominees: Devan Dubnyk, Taylor Hall, Justin Schultz, Ladislav Smid, Nail Yakupov

Writers’ pick: Taylor Hall (unanimous).

Robin Brownlee: Taylor Hall.

Jason Gregor: Taylor Hall. He was the Oilers most consistent player and he finished 9th in NHL scoring. His competitiveness and intensity was visible in the majority of their games, and next year he’ll need more of his teammates to play with the same passion.

Wanye Gretz: Taylor Hall. It's hard to assign the most valuable player on a team that has missed expectations by as wide a margin as the Oilers but Taylor Hall has emerged as a next level forward in the NHL. On many nights he seemed to be one of a handful of Oilers who seemed to care. This will need to get contagious over the summer if the Oil are going to compete next season.

Lowetide: Taylor Hall.

Jason Strudwick: Taylor Hall. This season he was the emotional leader of this team on the ice. Most nights he was the most noticeable player on the ice.

Jonathan Willis: Taylor Hall. For me, insofar as there’s a choice it’s between Taylor Hall and Devan Dubnyk, and Hall just did too much to ignore. Patrick Kane was the only Western Conference forward with more points than Hall, who passed names like Datsyuk and Getzlaf and Toews along the way. The only question is whether Hall is a first or second-team NHL all-star at left wing.

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Best Defenceman

Nominees: Mark Fistric, Jeff Petry, Justin Schultz, Nick Schultz, Ladislav Smid

Writers’ pick: No consensus; two votes each for Jeff Petry, Justin Schultz and Ladislav Smid.

Robin Brownlee: Justin Schultz.

Jason Gregor: Justin Schultz. He played 21:26/game and was their only offensive threat. He looked fatigued down the stretch, and even with a -17 rating, I’d give him the nod because of his offensive production. If he can get stronger this summer his overall game should improve.

Wanye Gretz: Ladislav Smid. Smid continued to prove that he is a shot blocking, cross checking, defensively sound Oilers defenseman. As a man expected to skate all over the ice the fact Smid has nearly as many saves as either Oilers goaltender this season is extra amazing. Even when the season was toast, Smid still put himself in mortal danger blocking shots each and every night.

Lowetide: Jeff Petry. Petry is my pick on blue because, despite being asked to play too much and playing with a struggling partner, he was able to shake off the early season rust and represent. He's a helluva player.

Jason Strudwick: Ladislav Smid. He was the steadiest defenceman this year. It is not a flashy player but he was consistent for most of the year.

Jonathan Willis: Jeff Petry. There isn’t really a good choice here. Of the three most obvious names, Ladislav Smid is a good soldier but lacks offensive upside, Justin Schultz is an offensive great who was a significant defensive liability over the last half of the season, and Jeff Petry lacks the defensive steadiness of Smid or the offensive ability of Schultz. Ralph Krueger showed his view by playing Petry more at even-strength, short-handed and overall than any other defender on the team; I agree with the coach.

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Best Forward

Nominees: Jordan Eberle, Sam Gagner, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov

Writers’ pick: Taylor Hall (unanimous).

Robin Brownlee: Taylor Hall.

Jason Gregor: Taylor Hall. He emerged as one of their leaders on and off the ice, and I think next year he’ll mature even more and hopefully encourage and challenge his teammates to be more consistent.

Lowetide: Taylor Hall.

Jason Strudwick: Taylor Hall. Top scorer.

Jonathan Willis: Taylor Hall. He was head-and-shoulders above the rest of the forwards on the team.

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Unsung Hero

Nominees: Devan Dubnyk, Sam Gagner, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nick Schultz, Ladislav Smid

Writers’ pick: Devan Dubnyk (four votes).

Robin Brownlee: Devan Dubnyk.

Jason Gregor: Devan Dubnyk. He finished the season with a very respectable .920 SV% and 2.57 GAA. His numbers were identical to Brian Holtby in Washington, yet Holtby has received lots of praise for his play, while many questioned Dubnyk’s. He isn’t a top-ten starting goalie yet, but I felt he was one of the Oilers better players most nights.

Lowetide: Devan Dubnyk. Because our eyes see the softies, we tend to discount his contributions. He's posting solid numbers for a terrible defensive team and doing it was chaos all around. The softies and rebounds are there, but I think he's a good goalie

Jason Strudwick: Devan Dubnyk. He took big steps into making me a believer. He played behind a week team and still has good numbers. Goaltending is not an area of concern for this group.

Wanye Gretz: Sam Gagner. Gagner had a great season this year finishing second on team scoring amidst overwhelming mediocrity. And this seemed to be lost on many Oilers fans who were puzzlingly calling for #89 to be traded during many of his best performances of the season.

Jonathan Willis: Sam Gagner. I think most who follow the Oilers recognize Dubnyk’s value, but I don’t think the same is true of Gagner. In the early going he was the Oilers’ best offensive option, and his value as a second-line centre is under recognized.

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Rookie of the Year

Nominees: Mark Arcobello, Justin Schultz, Chris VandeVelde, Nail Yakupov

Writers’ pick: Nail Yakupov (five votes).

Robin Brownlee: Nail Yakupov.

Jason Gregor: Nail Yakupov. This was a two-horse race. Nail Yakupov was excellent in the final half of the season, while Schultz started strong, but struggled in the 2nd half. I’ll give the nod to Yakupov. He ended up leading the team in goals, but I’m sure many will point out that his 21.0% SH is unattainable. It likely is, but I suspect he’ll also shoot way more next year. Of the top 60 goal scorers in the league, only one, Patrick Berglund, had fewer shots (74) than Yakupov’s 81. In fact, only 5 others had fewer than 100 shots. He has a great shot and when he starts to use it more often, he will likely score more often.

Wanye Gretz: Nail Yakupov. Tough call against Justin Schultz who won the AHL Defenseman of the Year award despite the notable handicap of missing half the season. You have enough accolades for year one Justin. It's Nail's turn. Plus that massive goal celly. OOOOWHEEE

Lowetide: Nail Yakupov.

Jonathan Willis: Nail Yakupov. It’s a two-horse battle here, but Yakupov led all rookies in goals, tied for the lead in points and got better with each passing game.

Jason Strudwick: Justin Schultz. The ability to run the PP is evident. Smooth skater and calm. Needs to work on the defensive side of the game but that should come in the next three years.

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Goat of the Year

Nominees: Eric Belanger, Ben Eager, Jeff Petry, Ryan Smyth, Ryan Whitney

Writers’ pick: Ryan Whitney (two votes).

Wanye Gretz: Ryan Whitney. Damn you Whitney. I don't know what you did to piss off Kreuger so badly that you didn't get to play at all really down the stretch but whatever it is - you fell the farthest short of expectations on a team full of players that fell short of expectations. I really wanted to like you.

Jason Gregor: Multiple. There are too many to choose from, but I will say that collectively the veterans were the most disappointing. Horcoff, Smyth, Whitney, Belanger and Hemsky weren’t good enough leaders. They all could have been better, as could have some of the young players, but the vets should know how to play consistent, and too often this season that didn’t happen.

Robin Brownlee: Jeff Petry.

Lowetide: Steve Tambellini. Tambellini is the goat because he left those kids out there alone so long. It’s a crime.

Jonathan Willis: Ben Eager. There was no shortage of choices here, but Eager played his way off the NHL roster in a year where the team was crying for a player with his skillset to take on a bigger role.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 TayLordBalls
April 30 2013, 09:51AM
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see - they should have kept Tambo until after the draft selection. Then get rid of him after he got us #1 again.

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#2 carson
April 30 2013, 10:02AM
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Goat of the Year

Brownlee - Jeff Petry

What??

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#3 oilfan in yyc
April 30 2013, 10:04AM
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Robin, how did you come up with Petry as goat of the year?

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#4 Archaeologuy
April 30 2013, 10:06AM
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MVP-Hall BD-Smid BF-Hall UH-Gagner RoY-Yak Goat-Whitney

How can you not pick Whitney after throwing a hissy at the end of the year? Eager was always terrible. Belanger was always terrible. The team actually needed Whitney to be better.

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#5 jonny94
April 30 2013, 10:09AM
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MVP: Taylor Hall bar none.

Best D: Ladislav Smid

Best Forward: Taylor Hall

Unsung Hero: Devan Dubnyk

Rookie of the Year: For both the Oilers and the NHL its gotta be Nail Yakupov.

Goat of the Year: Eric Belanger

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#6 Pajamah
April 30 2013, 10:11AM
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I only understand Petry as the goat if you are looking at the back-to-back games where he scored on his own goal and caused us 2 painful losses as a result.

2 wins instead, and we're looking being in the race that much longer, likely no tank job the last 7-8 games (excluding the sh*t kickings we gave Minny and Vancouver)

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#7 Smokey
April 30 2013, 10:11AM
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carson wrote:

Goat of the Year

Brownlee - Jeff Petry

What??

Brownlee usually got a good take, but I think I'd still be shaking my head if he gave an explaination. Many nights Petry was the Oilers best dman. The only knock I see was that the offence did not come to fast. He had a struggling partner the earlier part of the year, he struggled a bit moving the puck, but really he emerged as a top consensus top four defender. I think a rival fan would pick Petry after Schultz as the Oilers dman they most covet.

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#8 vince
April 30 2013, 10:12AM
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good call on Eager for goat, interesting to see what happens after his buyout....

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#9 Gary
April 30 2013, 10:14AM
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Don't personally insult the writers. KTHXBYE - ed.

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#10 TeeVee
April 30 2013, 10:18AM
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MVP - Hall Best Defenceman - Petry Best Forward - Hall Unsung Hero - Dubnyk Rookie - Yak Goat - Whitney

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#11 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
April 30 2013, 10:19AM
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Things will get back to normal draft wise for the Oilers now. Out of the limelight in that 7th position, they'll be free to do things their way again, the old fashioned Oiler way. I'm afraid we'll be reminded of what got us in this mess to begin with.

Somehow seems fitting this new facility appears to be getting washed down the drain with these guys still running things around here. Same old, same old after all the BS hockey fans have been through in this market. Max out with the positive spin, sit back and witness the harvest of all that cash. Lowe has taught MacT well.

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#12 Will
April 30 2013, 10:22AM
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IN the same way Hall alone won't win us a cup, players want Gagner traded so the Oilers are better as a team. Sure the guy who replaces him might not get as many points, but if he wins more draws, can stay hard on the puck, and maybe cycle and create some space for his wingers, collectively the second line will score more goals while allowing fewer and that makes the team better.

Nice to see we have two rookie studs again this year, I can only imagine how good they are both going to be.

I would have liked to have seen a biggest welcome surprise category. I know it's similar to unsung hero, but I think Paajarvi did really well to change his game, and play his way back into the top six. If they can get a gritty vetran with some speed and passing ability to play with Yak and Paajarvi, that could be a very deadly line next year. Or if Paajarvi has to go down to third line wing and do his work on the PK, then jump up in the line up when needed, that is fine too. He is becoming a great utility player.

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#13 John Chambers
April 30 2013, 10:34AM
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Who has criticized Dubnyk? That's insanity.

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#14 michael
April 30 2013, 10:41AM
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How about the bone head play of the year? Mark Fistric for that check he put on the player who wasn't his guy. Shoots and scores.

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#15 russ99
April 30 2013, 10:41AM
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What, no Hartikainen in Goat of the Year voting?

The most hyped player before the season with the worst results during the season: 23gp, 1g 2a -8.

Whitney, Petry, Smyth and Belanger all had a better season.

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#16 oilers2k10
April 30 2013, 10:52AM
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Goat of the year:

The Yakupov for David Clarkson trade proposal.

Runner Up:

The Galchenyuk first overall proposal.

Ultimate Goat of the Year.

Eric Belanger. Sorry dude, hope things work out better for you in Pheonix.

Unwarranted Goat:

Idiotic fans who still think that Dubnyk can't be a great number one goalie.

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#17 carson
April 30 2013, 10:58AM
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oilers2k10 wrote:

Goat of the year:

The Yakupov for David Clarkson trade proposal.

Runner Up:

The Galchenyuk first overall proposal.

Ultimate Goat of the Year.

Eric Belanger. Sorry dude, hope things work out better for you in Pheonix.

Unwarranted Goat:

Idiotic fans who still think that Dubnyk can't be a great number one goalie.

Boom. Nailed it.

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#18 106 and 106
April 30 2013, 10:59AM
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What about the Magnus?

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#19 Harlie
April 30 2013, 11:01AM
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Goat of the Year - Peckham tied with Jasmine

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#20 Dan Tencer
April 30 2013, 11:04AM
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Your forgetting Best Sports Radio Host: Dan Tencer.

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#21 Racki
April 30 2013, 11:06AM
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Harlie wrote:

Goat of the Year - Peckham tied with Jasmine

I would certainly vote that as the disappoinment, surprise or "what the f???" of the year. I always had hopes for him. But hey, he blew it. He knows that. I wish it could have worked out.

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#22 Ducey
April 30 2013, 11:07AM
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Worst trade of the year:

Smithson for a 4th rounder. 1 goal and 7 shots and 2 PIM's in 10 games. Won't be back as he fits MacT's description of a player who at BEST won't make a difference.

Absolutely HATED that trade then, and even more now. Wasn't necessary given the state of the team and could have been avoided had they just claimed one of a number of C's on waivers in the two weeks before.

Thanks Tambo

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#23 Ducey
April 30 2013, 11:11AM
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michael wrote:

How about the bone head play of the year? Mark Fistric for that check he put on the player who wasn't his guy. Shoots and scores.

A lot of competition for that. We had Petry shoot it in his net and Dubnyk let one in from center. And thats just off the top of my head.

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#24 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
April 30 2013, 11:12AM
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MVP: Taylor Hall PERIOD

Best D: Jeff Petry. Reason: Willis is bang on. Best all around defenseman the Oilers have. In only his second full year in the league, Petry was relied on in every situation.

Best Forward: Taylor Hall PERIOD

Unsung Hero: Ladi Smid. Reason: Hall and Ladi are the two emotional leaders on this team that will do whatever it takes to win. And although Dubs had a very good year, I'm just not sure how the Unsung Hero award can go to anyone but the guy who sacrificed his body on a nightly basis with little praise from the score sheet.

Rookie of the Year: Yakupov. Reason: both J-Schu and Yak showed their talent levels this year. But the two highlights for me are: 1. Yak led a NHL team (debatable, I know) in goals as a 19 year old rookie, 2. J-Schu was -17 on the year.

Goat of the Year: Eric Belanger. Reason: at least Whitney tried. And that's saying a lot compared to Belanger.

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#25 Will
April 30 2013, 11:12AM
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Ducey wrote:

Worst trade of the year:

Smithson for a 4th rounder. 1 goal and 7 shots and 2 PIM's in 10 games. Won't be back as he fits MacT's description of a player who at BEST won't make a difference.

Absolutely HATED that trade then, and even more now. Wasn't necessary given the state of the team and could have been avoided had they just claimed one of a number of C's on waivers in the two weeks before.

Thanks Tambo

But unlike one of the waiver guys, we're not stuck with a contract.

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#26 Vaclav
April 30 2013, 11:15AM
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Dan Tencer wrote:

Your forgetting Best Sports Radio Host: Dan Tencer.

You've got a radio show?

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#27 judgedrude
April 30 2013, 11:24AM
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Jason: "I’m sure many will point out that his 21.0% SH is unattainable"

I'm pretty sure it is attainable...as he did it.

Whether it's sustainable is another topic of discussion....

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#28 Butters
April 30 2013, 11:27AM
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Speaking of radio shows. LT is on the Team. No more Jim Rome wahoo!

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#29 carson
April 30 2013, 11:29AM
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judgedrude wrote:

Jason: "I’m sure many will point out that his 21.0% SH is unattainable"

I'm pretty sure it is attainable...as he did it.

Whether it's sustainable is another topic of discussion....

My favorite grammar policing of the year.

"Look what he just did" "Yes, but it can't be done" "But he JUST did it" "Nope. Unattainable!"

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#30 Rob...
April 30 2013, 11:33AM
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Ryan Smyth has to be the goat. A true goat should be given every opportunity to work themselves out of that position, not have injury or injury recovery as an excuse. A true goat should also absolutely tank in comparison to any pre-season expectations for their performance. The most I saw for Whitney pre-season was: 'IF Whitney is able to come back and play well this team might succeed'. Ryan Smyth on the other hand was still expected to compete, parking his arse in front of the net, racking up garbage goals and goalie interference penalties. He was an offensive non-factor this year.

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#31 gcw_rocks
April 30 2013, 11:44AM
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John Chambers wrote:

Who has criticized Dubnyk? That's insanity.

The new GM

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#32 John Chambers
April 30 2013, 11:53AM
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@gcw_rocks

It's like a goalie can't be considered a success unless he's standing in his head while facing 40 shots Cujo-style night after night.

If Dubnyk was injured during that 9-game roadie, we'd be picking top-3.

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#33 Jasmine
April 30 2013, 12:30PM
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@Archaeologuy

Belanger and Eager didn't throw team under the bus like Whitney. Oilers still have plans for Eager.

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#34 Jasmine
April 30 2013, 12:34PM
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@Next up, is Connor McJesus.

And Oilers fans will still bash like you will still bash the Oilers non-stop 24/7 because Slats isn't the GM and you hate Lowe.

Heck Lowe got death threats for a trade and fans wanted him fired the day he got hired. No wonder players don't sign in Edmonton when you got fans like that.

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#35 Jasmine
April 30 2013, 12:37PM
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@Ducey

Oilers fans will bash any trade the Oilers make because Slats is no longer the GM.

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#36 Jasmine
April 30 2013, 12:41PM
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@gcw_rocks

He didn't really criticize him. He said he needs to be better. There's a difference. What about fans bashing Khabby for the same goals that Dubnyk got a free ride and the defense was blamed.

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#38 Rob...
April 30 2013, 12:55PM
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@Jasmine

Coming to a team centric hockey blog and complaining that fans are too critical and mean is like walking into a McDonalds and complaining about the lack of organic vegan dishes.

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#39 Mike Krushelnyski
April 30 2013, 01:11PM
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No Hemsky option for goat voting? I guess our expectations of Hemsky have fallen so low that being a 0.5 ppg player at $5M a year is just par for the course.

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#40 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
April 30 2013, 01:20PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Brownlee can defend himself, but the criteria for "goat of the year" was most disappointing player. Depending on your expectations for Jeff Petry, I can understand the choice, even if it's not the one I made.

Only way this comes even remotely close to a logical explanation is if RB's expectations for Petry were nothing short of a Norris nomination.

Now I get it..............................

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#41 toprightcorner
April 30 2013, 01:22PM
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I agree with Brownlee's choice. I seen Petry give up way too often in his own zone; and not willing to do what it takes to stop a player from going to the net. I was expecting him to take a step forward this year and I don't even think he reached last years level.

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#42 Yak Attack
April 30 2013, 01:23PM
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@Jasmine

Cut and paste artist ! Been reading the exact same post's for how long ?

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#43 Archaeologuy
April 30 2013, 01:24PM
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Jasmine wrote:

Belanger and Eager didn't throw team under the bus like Whitney. Oilers still have plans for Eager.

To throw him under the bus before he can do it to them, I hope.

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#44 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
April 30 2013, 01:26PM
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Also, Nick "The Sh*tty" Schultz was an option in far too many categories. Best defenseman? Unsung hero? NICK EFFIN SCHULTZ??

The only category he wasn't in, was the one he suits the most - A USELESS EFFING GOAT!

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#45 Reg Dunlop
April 30 2013, 01:50PM
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@Jasmine

Hey Jazzy, try some new words: blast, blister, carp, chide, condemn, disparage, fustigate, lambaste, roast, scorch, slam or slog. Or better yet, go make me a sandwich and do the damn dishes.

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#46 dougtheslug
April 30 2013, 01:51PM
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Yak Attack wrote:

Cut and paste artist ! Been reading the exact same post's for how long ?

All that is left to complete this thread is an poster who must not be named writing that the Oilers should have drafted Seguin instead of Hall, Landeskog instead of RNH, and Galchenyuk instead of Yak.

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#48 oilers2k10
April 30 2013, 02:25PM
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I think Kevin Lowe did a fantastic job with the Pronger trade, that was a tough circumstance to make a trade in and he still managed to get us Smid and Eberle (draft pick that got him)..long term it was a great trade..just wish Lupol would've panned out better here.

My favorite gritty moment of the year: Taylor Halls hit on Cal Clutterbuck

Runner Up: Taylor Hall's slash.

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#49 Cody anderson
April 30 2013, 03:58PM
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MVP: Hall, and that is a no brainer

Best D: Smid, but also understand Petry

Best forward: Hall

Unsung: I would go with Dubnyk, but understand Smid or Gagner here as well.

Rookie of the Year:Yak (Schultz had it until he burnt out. May have the most future impact)

Goat: Smyth, as his performace dropped the most year over year.

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#50 Cody anderson
April 30 2013, 04:02PM
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russ99 wrote:

What, no Hartikainen in Goat of the Year voting?

The most hyped player before the season with the worst results during the season: 23gp, 1g 2a -8.

Whitney, Petry, Smyth and Belanger all had a better season.

Hard to see Hartikainan as the goat since he was a borderline AHL/NHL player last year and many still thought he needed another year.

If healthy, I would have preferred him to Smyth the entire season.

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