I’m flattered the question I put to Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini Wednesday produced all that quotable stuff about expecting to make the playoffs next season, but that’s not what I was asking about.

The end of, I’ll admit, my rather rambling question — OK, it bordered on a Bryan Hall query in terms of duration — went like this: "Progress without playoffs is still a possibility?" The question coaxed a 40-second answer from Tambellini that included, but wasn’t limited to, the following:

"There’s no thought, and I know speaking to Tom (Renney), that we don’t want to make the playoffs next year. Of course we do," Tambellini said.

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"There’s no one that was told inside that dressing room that our goal was not to make the playoffs. There should be that pressure every year, every night, every season regardless of new players, veteran players. There’s no excuses in the NHL to think you can’t make the playoffs.

"I expect our team to make the playoffs next year . . ." On and on went Tambellini. Fine. Good. Sound bite delivered. Now, about the progress part . . .


In terms of points totals and placing in the Western Conference, I believe the Oilers can make substantial progress without making the playoffs next season. At 25-45-12 for 62 points, the 15th-place Oilers finished 35 points behind eighth-place Chicago.

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With that as a starting point, next year’s team can improve by 30 points — good luck with that — and still not get a real sniff of the post-season. A 30-point increase this season would have left them 11th.

Tambellini never did answer my question about progress, so perhaps our readers can take up that train of thought here. In your opinion, how much improvement in points and placing represents reasonable progress?

Is it playoffs or bust after five straight years out of the post-season? Does playing meaningful games in late-March get it? You tell me. I get into games for free. When the story is done, I hit the send button and get a cheque, win or lose. People who buy tickets, the fans who pay the freight, have a different stake in this.

Is there a placing or a points total that triggers it for you? What will it take to make you to say, "OK, this thing is on the right track?"


Progress, obviously, involves more than a specific points total or placing in X-spot. It could be argued Tambellini could do nothing with this roster and have the team improve by 20 points, no?

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Take away, or at least limit, injuries that ended the seasons of Taylor Hall, Ryan Whitney, Ales Hemsky and Sam Gagner. Might Kurtis Foster and Colin Fraser have better years? Could they be worse?

What will a season of NHL experience mean to the likes of Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi, Devan Dubnyk and Theo Peckham? Will any of them be better. How about Teemu Hartikainen and Linus Omark?

I’m not advocating Tambellini stand pat after he calls the name Ryan Nugent-Hopkins June 24. Not by any stretch. I’m just saying Tambellini could dither all summer and this team could improve by 20 points.

He won’t, of course. Tambellini has Ryan Jones to sign. He has Sheldon Souray to jettison. Tambellini recognizes, as he pointed out Wednesday, the need to add depth on defence and down the middle. Find a face-off guy, please. Free agents to pursue, etc etc.

What represents suitable progress? You tell me.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

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  • Ender

    Mitch wrote:

    Souray will not be picked up by another team, can he fit in Edmonton?

    Listen to your own question for a second. You freely recognize that the other 29 teams in the NHL don’t want him. You probably understand that’s because he’s just taken an entire season to prove that he’s old, slow, fragile, and incapable of generating any outstanding contribution even in the sheltered environs of the AHL. Plante and Petiot produced similar numbers in OKC; I don’t see anyone begging that they be brought up to play next season.

    For those who didn’t get the memo, Souray v.11 is not the same as Souray v.07. He wasn’t even the best defenseman this season on his minor-league team. You’re wishing for a ghost to play on the 11-12 Oilers, and as long as you’re doing that you may as well go whole hog and ask Lowe if he’ll take a run on the blueline next season; he’s still under contract too.

  • Pilgor09

    If the Oilers finish in the bottom 3 next year it is a failure. I have them finishing in 10th next year. That’s a high standard but that’s what I expect. There would be major progress if they finished in 10th and have a sniff at the playoffs. It would be way better for the team as a whole than getting another lottery pick.

  • Ducey

    Most of you sound like Flames fans: “if we can just make the playoffs everything will be great”.

    How’s that quick rebuild working in COL?

    Of course the GM is going to say we are trying for the playoffs. He has tickets to sell and expectations to impart on his players.

    The more important message he gave was that they are going to stay the course.

    How would I measure progress?

    Another good draft in June

    40 – 50 starts by DD with a sv% above .910

    A healthy season from most of their core players

    Further positive development of HOPE, Peckham, Petry, Smid, Gagner.

    The further patient development of prospects like Lander, Hamilton, Pitlick, Marincin, Hartikanen, Tuebert, Bunz, Blain, Roy etc, etc.

    I couldn’t care where they finish in the standings. I want this team to win a Cup. If anything, another poor result in the standings next year is going to put them in a position to be a contender for a long time.

    Whether you like or not, this team just is not ready to make the playoffs yet. Adding a few no cost vets to helpout is fine, but trading prospects just to make the playoffs would be shortsighted and wrong.

    • Hemmertime

      Depends on who we’re trading and why, with 10 picks in this years draft I wouldn’t mind seeing Cogs packaged with a pick for a large move up. However, I wouldn’t be pleased with us dealing for 2-5th round picks with our players. I’d much rather see them deal some prospects or players for a definitive third line C or players to help our young players along. Can’t have just all youth. Will O’marra or Vande Velde (sp?) be able to take a C spot and free up Brule or Cogs. Plenty of time to mull it over though, can’t wait for July 1st. Or at least the weather of July 1 for gods sake.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      Patiences is great, and I see the merit in dipping into lottery territory to try and land elite players (especially for a team that has trouble aquiring them through other methods).

      But three years in last place (or even close to that) is pathetic.

  • 5cups7years

    Source Dict-shun-airy….

    Prog·ress (prgrs, -rs, prgrs)
    1. Movement, as toward a goal; advance.
    2. Development or growth: students who show progress.
    3. Steady improvement, as of a society or civilization: a believer in human progress. See Synonyms at development.
    4. A ceremonial journey made by a sovereign through his or her realm.
    intr.v. pro·gress (pr-grs) pro·gressed, pro·gress·ing, pro·gress·es
    1. To advance; proceed: Work on the new building progressed at a rapid rate.
    2. To advance toward a higher or better stage; improve steadily: as medical technology progresses.
    3. To increase in scope or severity, as a disease taking an unfavorable course.

    So to assimilate this into OilSpeak…
    1 Making the playoffs gets closer to the Goal which is to polish Lord Stanleys mug .
    2 Team would be to finish with more points next year — I know Duh! But individually Id expect to see players with better season stats…again probably a Duh!
    3. Steady improvement — maybe measure by how one sees the “Process”
    4. Ceremonial Journey — isnt the first, second, third and fourth round of the playoffs after compiling 16W ceremonial?

  • admiralmark

    Whats with the way Tambi answers direct questions? by asking himself a slightly different question and then answering himself… Hey Tambi how are you going to address the glaring need for a center that can win faceoffs?

    Tambi:”Do we feel that we could improve as a team when it comes to winning FO’s”? Of course we do. “Is the level of success that we’ve had so far been where we would of liked it to be in regards to winning faceoffs”? I don’t think there is a man in the room that would say that.

    Sometimes i think he should be running for election.

  • NastyNate

    Please no offer sheets! You can bet your ass if we make an offer on Weber someone will come knocking for Eberle, Pajaarvi or Hall when they’re all RFAs. Stay the course! I think 2 of these three need to be gone: Brule, Cogs or Fraser. With Strudwick gone (hopefully stays with the team in some compacity).I think Smac can be our 10th forward. If Hemsky and LAs pick can bring back some immediate returns (Bogosian & Stewart or little maybe or a 2nd?) i’m all for it. As much as i love the guy, I’ve lost faith in Hemsky’s ability to stay healthy. I think the jury is still out on Duby, until they are willing to give him starter minutes it’s hard to tell if he will be the future starter here. I think Kelly Buchburger drawing up our PP is something that needs to be addressed as well.

  • smiliegirl15

    As long as Mr. Dithers is assessing the situation, there will be no progress. I think his non-answer to your question, Robin proves that. He’s probably still trying to decide if the moves he made last summer are still good ones.

  • Bucknuck

    I am at the point where I do not care about a draft pick anymore. Make the games mean something. I want a win or a loss to mean more than draft position next season. If they miss the playoffs I am OK with that, but they damn well better keep it interesting right to the end, just like Gagner and company did back in 2008.

    If they keep it interesting, they will keep me happy.