UPDATED: It’s lonely at the bottom

“It is possible to fail in many ways… while to succeed is possible only in one way.”

The legendary Greek philosopher, Aristotle, uttered these words well before hockey was played, but today they seem fitting in Oilerville.

A few months ago many felt the Dive for Five was the only way the Oilers could begin the long trek back to the top of the NHL standings. But not even the most optimistic Oiler fan felt the Copper and Blue could give themselves a 48.1% chance to get the first overall pick in 2010.

Well all of you doubting Thomases, this morning the Oilers sit in 30th place and they are 32 games away from having the best chance of being the first team to step up to the microphone on June 25th in Los Angeles.

Before you get too excited let’s look at the hurdles they face between before June.

They can’t keep losing every game. It just won’t happen, especially when you consider that their last two games have been two of their best in the past month. Losing streaks normally come to an end when a team loses a few games that they deserved to win.

Toronto is only six points behind the Oilers, and the Oilers have three games in hand on the centre of the universe. Only Chicago has a longer Stanley Cup drought than the Leafs’ 42-year stretch, so very few teams are better at being losers than the Leafs.

The Oilers have only gained three points on the Leafs in the past ten games, and they didn’t even win a game. How bad will the Oilers have to be if they want to fend of the hard-diving Leafs?

Carolina is playing better, but Jim Rutherford is an expert at overseeing his team fluctuate from contender to pretender season-to-season, so the Oilers can’t underestimate the Canes’ ability to lose games.

The good news for the Oilers is that 17 of the Leafs’ final 29 games are at home. They are 9-10-5 at home, compared to their horrendous 8-16-5 road record. The Oilers have 18 road games remaining and with only seven wins in 21 road games the THIRST for FIRST is realistic.

Gagner improving

Sam Gagner might derail the train to #1 if he keeps playing like he has in the past ten games. He has four goals and nine points in the last ten games and it looks like he’s found his offensive game again.

Gagner had ten points in the first ten games this season, but only had eleven in the next 30 before getting hot again. Ideally for Oiler fans Gagner will keep playing well and gain more confidence, but the Oilers will keep losing.

The Oilers will need more than the first overall pick to turn their fortunes around, so young players like Gagner, Gilbert Brule and Andrew Cogliano need to keep improving if fans expect to see the playoffs before 2015.

Who would you keep?

With Mike Comrie set to return to the lineup this week I wonder who the Oilers will bring back next season out of Robert Nilsson, Patrick O’Sullivan or Comrie.

If you could only bring one player back who would you keep?

O’Sullivan at $2.9 million, Nilsson at $2 million or Comrie at $1.5 million?

Souray gives his list

Sheldon Souray has given the Oilers a list of teams he’d be willing to go to. I will say this about the situation. I spoke with Souray about the family angle and moving closer to his kids. He said that Edmonton was great because his children get to see their grandma, aunts and cousins when they come to Edmonton and no other city can match that.

He said he understand the situation and would be happy to stay in Edmonton, but also that a move could make sense for both sides. I think this is more of a hockey decision than a family one for Souray. His kids live in Las Vegas, and yes LA and San Jose are closer, but there is no extended family there.

Souray is not a dumb guy. He sees the landscape of this team, and considering he has a no movement clause until July 2nd (remember last year we learned that July 1st isn’t the actual day) why wouldn’t he submit a list?

I still say the Kings are the front runner and I know they are on the list. San Jose and Anaheim would be some other obvious destinations. And don’t rule out an Eastern based team. When you consider that you have to be at the airport two hours earlier, then clear customs for his kids to come to Canada, would the entire trip be much longer if they had to fly out east to see him? Probably very close.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    I'd take Comrie at $1.5M. He was playing well until he got the kissing disease. If he can stay healthy, I think he'll have a bigger, consistant impact than either of Nilsson or O'Sullivan. Yes, he's older, but we still need some veteran presence here. Plus he was one of few guys who looked like an NHLer before he went down.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    That's not Gregor – there's hair in that picture.

    And, I believe this is also one of the ways you can contract Hepatitis while vacationing in tropical areas….Contaminated Ice Cubes, Licking Urinals, …..

  • Zamboni Driver

    Lose all 3, we need some turnover, and I'd rather keep Cogliano than any of those 3, so to keep Cogliano and give him more of an offensive role, all 3 should go.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Note on Nilsson: I think most would agree we've seen "the good Nilsson" since he's been back from his concusion and "by eye" he's certainly looked flashy the last 6 weeks or so.

    That said, in the past 25 games, he still only has 13 points and he's 25 now so he's not even young.

    Hopefully his highlight reel moves and flashes of talent will be enough to get a GM to pony up a 2nd rounder or a middling prospect for him.

  • Ender

    Despite the fact that Comrie signed at $1.5M this year, that was supposed to be a one-time sweetheart deal to get a fresh chance. You could argue that he hasn't done much to solidify his chances, but I can't see Mikey signing that deal over again. Mono or no, he'll want more to stay again next season.

      • Ender

        Last season, he scored 7 points in 22 games with Ottawa and that hurt his value a lot. Even then, he took until September 10 when all other options were extinguished before rolling the dice on the Oilers. I'm not saying he absolutely wouldn't come back here next season for $1.5M, but I doubt he'd do it on an extension; he's already, even playing several games with mono, done much better point-wise than last year so I'm guessing he'd want to test free agency again with these improved point totals before commiting to another 'sweetheart deal'. Maybe September 10, 2010 sees another $1.5M 1-yr deal, but I doubt it.

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

          Assuming another flat cap, their will be even less $$'s available this summer then thier was last summer.

          Comrie might luck out, but their will be a pile of guys just like him on the outside looking in.

  • BBOil

    Jason, where do you get these pictures? Too funny.

    I would keep Nillson. I think he more upside if he can be consistent and play with the grit he has displayed recently.

    • Jason Gregor

      Credit Bingofuel…I've given him one or two but most are his brainchild.

      @Rusty Duggan

      I'm pretty sure that's one of Gregor's pics from Costa Rica no?

      I laughed hard when I read that. But not from Costa Rica…ten years ago when I was in Cancun probably.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    I really like POS potential and his quick release. He just seems like he has that potential to be a 30 goal scorer. But his 2.9mil is a tough contract to swallow.

    Don't want Nilsson back as he is too up and down and really doesn't bring that much to a healthy club.

    I'd like to see what Comrie does when he comes back, but he is another injury prone player. I'm thinking we need to stay away from guys like him, although if he could be had for the same amount as this year then keep him.

    O'Sullivan is my pick if it has to be one.

    • I'm not sure if "injury prone" is what I'd use to describe Comrie. Mono isn't exactly like having a glass groin or bad shoulder. it is just one of those freaky things that happens from time to time.

      Comrie looked great early on and with the price being right I'd hang onto Comrie.

  • BBOil

    Comrie. Price is right for a veteran presence we are going to need, especially for an offensive veteran presence.

    Although Nilsson and Sully may not be at the top of many teams wish list, their age and potential to provide secondary scoring may at least get us a decent return.

  • Dyckster

    "If you could only bring one player back who would you keep? O’Sullivan at $2.9 million, Nilsson at $2 million or Comrie at $1.5 million?"

    That's a tough one for a Monday morning. Haven't seen enough of Comrie (version 2.0) to judge, but the play of POS and RN has been up and down more than a hooker's skirt. If I had to decide right this instant….I think I take Patty, has shown some grit of late, he likes to shoot from all over the ice (a MUCH lesser version of a guy in Washington who's pretty good). A lot of Oiler fans have been wishing for a guy like that. I'm banking on him being a late bloomer.

    JG when do we get the answer to the ethics thingy you posed 10 days ago or so? We're all dying out here!

  • It depends what the market is for the three of them, but given that the Oilers probably want to break in Omark and Eberle, plus they already have Gagner and Cogliano, I'd suggest moving all three of O'Sullivan, Comrie and Nilsson.

    • Reggie

      My bet is even if Comrie is making $1.25M this season, if they Oilers are looking to have him back he would be looking for a 2 year deal for sure and possibly closer to the $2M mark. But definitely +1.5M+ for 2 years.

  • Bucknuck

    I figure you could lose O'sully and Nilsson and the heart of this team wouldn't miss a beat.

    I think Comrie could teach Gagner and Brule a few tricks… keep him.