Ah Citizen Gerald Ford. Your photoshop genius has provided us with another picture for the ages. We can’t help but identify with this tuckered out fella on the couch. He must be a present day Oilers fan.
As the dust settles on the 2010-11 Oilers season it seems that most folks are content to soothe their tattered nerves with the knowledge that this 30th place, 62 point collecting Oilers lineup is way better than last year’s 30th place, 62 point team.
In so much as that can be considered a win – the Oilers have won.
The season certainly started on a more positive note than a 30th place finish would suggest. Back in early October, 48% of the OilersNation – absolutely crushed on the off season Koolaid and a blistering preseason performance – confidently stated that the Oilers would finish above .500 on the year.*
But then the injury bug started biting the Oilers left and right, holes in the lineup were exposed and the losses began piling up.
THE BIG TWO
As expectant fans began to come to grips with the sobering reality that the Oilers probably weren’t going to be growing playoff beards any time soon, the play of the rookies became the salvation for the rest of the season.
Jordan Eberle scored the TSN goal of the year against the Flames in the first game of the year and played that early season all world goal into leading the Oilers in scoring with 43 points despite losing 13 games to injury.
Taylor Hall found his footing and banked the first season of a rise to NHL stardom. He put up 22 goals and 20 assists – including a hat trick that fluttered many a heart in the Nation – before falling victim to injury himself.
Limited to 65 games in his inaugural campaign, Hall has been exactly as advertised in the 2010 Entry Draft hype and both Brownlee and Gregor are already calling for him to be the 14th Captain of the Edmonton Oilers down the road.
NOT TO BE OUTDONE
Not to be overshadowed by 4 and 14, Magnus Pajaarvi dropped the Svensson and proved to be a dynamic rookie in his own right posting 15 goals and 19 assists in his first 80 games in the NHL. In an alternate universe Oilers squad, he may have fallen short of the expectations of some and may have felt the pressure that comes with that for most players in an Oilers jersey.
But with more than enough rookie love and pressure to go around 91 has been left to his own devices and development schedule. He came on down the stretch with increased ice time as a result of injuries to Horcoff, Hemsky et al and his rookie season can only be considered a positive campaign.
Finally, the late addition to Team Rookie Blue: Forward Corps was Linus Omark. He too benefited from the injuries up front to the Oilers and was able to make the most of his NHL shot in 2010-11. In addition to being a shootout wizard and virtually impossible to knock off the puck in the corners, Omark scored 5 goals and added 22 assists in 51 games.
For a guy who started the year as this season’s Rob Schremp – sick hands and stuck in the minors to start the year despite the calls of many Oilers fans – 23 has answered the bell and should be a lock for a roster spot next season.
Next up – judging the remainder of the forward corps
DRAFT LOTTERY TONIGHT
Ah the 2011 Entry Draft lottery. Not quite the Stanley Cup playoffs, but certainly the next best thing around these parts of late. The Oilers have a 48.2% chance of landing the first pick overall, followed by the Avs (18.8%) the Panthers (14.2%) the Islanders (10.7%) and finally the Ottawa Senators (8.1%)
We aren’t quite sure about draft lottery protocol. Does one make confident predictions about the way the balls will drop? That’s what she said. We won’t in the interests of remaining jinx free.
We can however all watch live coverage of the 2011 NHL Draft Lottery at 6 PM MST on TSN. We will be tuning in for sure, for no other reason than we need something Oilers related to cheer about after the regular season ends.
*Mind you 89% of us back in October also considered the 2 year $3.7 million dollar contract awarded to Gilbert Brule to be "just right" so what the hell do any of us know right?