April 11 2014 05:43PM
Edmonton Oilers fans are used to disappointment. Every day since 2006 summer has been a death march into the abyss, with the Entry Draft (once a hopeful time) serving as a reminder that progress is for other cities, other teams. This weekend, as we say goodbye to Ryan Smyth, it might be time to ask a question: WHEN do the good times roll?
ABOUT LOSS, LOSS AND MORE LOSS
Since the beginning of the 2013-14 season, the Oilers have chased away veterans Ladislav Smid, Ales Hemsky and now Ryan Smyth retires. These are veteran men, who were here for the losses but also contributed mightily to protecting the kids these years.
Replacing them? Youth (Klefbom, Marincin, others) veterans who bring more grit but less actual ability (Hendricks, Fraser) and some AHL prospects/suspects.
Right now the Oilers look like a dog's breakfast, but that's not unusual for losing teams at this time of year. The question I have is: who are these men—Smid, Hemsky, Smyth, soon Gagner—going to be replaced by?
If we assume that the Oilers consider themselves set in certain areas (1line, Perron, Gordon, Hendricks) up front and at least comfortable entering next season with a lot of youth on the blue (Marincin, Klefbom, Schultz to go with Ference and Petry) and the current goalies (Scrivens, Fasth) what can we reasonably expect them to add?
Well, I think the list goes like this:
- A veteran two-way center. We'll call him Martin Hanzal for lack of a better example.
- At least one veteran winger to go with Gordon-Hendricks. I'm thinking Winnik or Moss, but both would be just fine.
- A legit top 4 defenseman for the current group. If he ends up being Ron Hainsey instead of Andrei Markov, then so be it. However, this team needs a veteran hand to help Ference with all these youngsters learning the game.
IS THAT ENOUGH?
That's another question I'd like answered. Seems to me the organization is fairly happy to progress slowly, spending another season developing. Craig MacTavish has been interviewed a couple of times this week, including one time on national television, and the sense I'm getting is that they may be willing to roll with Marincin-Petry, Klefbom-Schultz next year as two of their three pairings.
If that's the case, this team MUST improve depth at center—by a lot! If you're bringing in Stastny or Hanzal then Arcobello might be fine at 4line C, but if the add is a more questionable two-way type then we're dancing the same damn jig next winter.
If we're about to see a summer of Josh Bailey, Matt Greene, Aaron Ekblad and Daniel Winnik, that's not going to be enough. I'm thinking a word from last summer—bold—sounds even better this season.
The Edmonton Oilers said goodbye to Ryan Smyth today. Let's make this the day we insist Edmonton's management make a concerted effort to turn north, find balance and work for a better day.
If Taylor Hall ends up spending his career in the second division like Ryan Smyth, it'll be a damn crime and that's for sure.