Crystal Ball

The best part of my summer is the annual road trip with the family. Ten years ago the music of the trip was Fred Penner and "are we there yet?" but these days it’s a trip through the lush rock and roll of my childhood. Who knew? 

The funny thing about your kids is that things you know very well are new to them. When they develop a hobby or area of interest, it often causes a flood of memories. Case in point: Classic rock. I haven’t thought about Clapton, Cash or Perkins in forever but the kids are addicted to the old timey music these days (and their back stories) so over the next few weeks we’ll be driving parts of America and listening to its timeless music. Fun times.

Around this time of year, as we’re all motorvatin’ over the hill, I like to deliver 10 predictions for the following months (mostly about roster makeup for opening night). Last July I did okay (post is here):

  1. The Oilers will find a way to get all three phenom’s onto the opening night roster.
  2. Linus Omark will start the season in Oklahoma City, but rip it up in the minors and force a decision through his fine play by the end of December.
  3. The Oilers will start the season with 3 goalies.
  4. Jason Strudwick will retire at the end of training camp, taking on a coaching role.
  5. Chris Vande Velde will have a very strong training camp, and be one of the last players sent to the minor leagues.
  6. The Oilers will invite at least two former roster players to training camp.
  7. The Oilers will sign Mike Comrie, late summer.
  8. JF Jacques will start the season on IR.
  9. We will be shocked by Gilbert Brule’s contract.
  10. Tom Renney will drive many Oiler fans crazy with his systems and emphasis on disciplined play. MacT 2.0 is going to win some hockey games with an undermanned group because of it though, and he may turn some of these kids into actual NHL players (just like MacT did with Ales Hemsky).

Some of those came true, others did not. That’s not really the point; it’s a good time to kick back and enjoy the summer, blue sky a little, enjoy some of the food and drink we’re blessed with and cherish the time we get to spend with the ones we love by lying to them about the past. 🙂

Crystal ball, 2011 summer:

  1. Theo Peckham will surprise with his year over year progress and emerge as a legit EV and PK defender this season. By year’s end, he’ll be a clear top 4 option for coach Renney.
  2. Taylor Hall will score 35 goals in 2010-11.
  3. The Oilers will trade Linus Omark for defensive help in the next 12 months.
  4. The Oilers will sign Ales Hemsky to a long term contract.
  5. Nikolai Khabibulin will play in Oklahoma City this season.
  6. Gilbert Brule will play in Oklahoma City this season.
  7. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will make the Oilers out of training camp and play at the World Juniors.
  8. Anton Lander will play more than 50 games with the Oilers this season and impress with his wide range of skills.
  9. David Musil will impress in training camp and be the last junior eligible cut from the roster.
  10. The Oilers will pick 6th overall at the 2012 NHL entry draft.


Nation Radio hits the air at Noon today Edmonton time on Team 1260. Guests scheduled to appear include:

  • Tyler Dellow from MC79 Hockey.  We’ll discuss the Arena debate, Steve Tambellini’s summer and possible outcomes of the Ryan Smyth trade.
  • David Staples from Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal. I’ll ask David about several articles he’s written recently, including Arena updates, Nikolai Khabibulin and Andrew Cogliano.
  • Bob Stauffer from across the universe. I’m interested in Bob’s take on the Ryan Smyth trade and possible outcomes, the Hemsky to the Jackets discussions that broke this week and we’ll argue over line combinations (only in Edmonton can you find people willing to spend part of their Saturday mulling the top 12F’s on the Oilers).
  • Jonathan Willis from The Score, the Nation Network, Hockey Prospectus, ESPN Insider and God knows what he’s added this week. I’m mostly interested in discussing his outstanding article in Hockey Prospectus a month ago about how to fix the Oilers bottom six. We’ll talk about how Steve Tambellini addressed these issues and then spend some time on the Cogliano deal.

I’m not sure the order for these guests (my producer Connor–who is excellent, they didn’t have producers when I was on air in my 20’s and 30’s; maybe they just want to help the old guy a little–usually waits until just before the show starts because there is often shuffling the morning of the broadcast) and would very much like your input into the show. So when you get a chance please drop an email to and I’ll ask as many as I can given our time limitations.

  • What would a lawyer from Toronto know about the real estate market in downtown Edmonton?

    The Arena District is not really about a hockey arena or hockey at all. It is about how to turn underused, ugly, non-tax reveunue producing downtown wasteland into a booming commercial real estate and condo market to fill the cities coffers with property tax dollars.

    Edmonton is likely never going to get another chance to have a private partners willing to contribute up to $1 billion dollars to the effort to make the downtown wasteland revenue-producing for the city, a place where people live, and not an eyesore.

    It is a public private partnership where everyone should come out ahead int he end. It is basically just a complicated negotiation about allocating revenue streams and risk management.

    Somehow, I doubt that is what the lawyer from Toronto will be talking about. He will just be bashing Edmonton again.

  • justDOit

    Of all your crystal ball calls, the one that I most hope for is that Khabby gets dropped to the farm if his play continues to be subpar. Obviously it would be great for him to regain form which a maturing D might help. However, if you’re planning on teaching these kids to win, how do you expect them to learn anything about competing when the GM and coach are setting them up for failure from the start by dressing a subpar NK?

    Also, I’m away on holidays so I didn’t hear any Hemsky trade rumors this week. What were the rumors and who was the source? My first thought when I read that Huselius’ injury was announced was that Howson is going to have to pull something else off if he wants to stay employed and his prior relationship with Hemsky makes him a prime target. What would the return have to be?

  • Lowetide

    gongshow: It was more conjecture than rumor, just some media folks putting two and two together. I want to push the subject with Bob because he always knows more about this stuff than he lets on.

  • Lowetide

    My crystal ball for 2011-2012 season:

    1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Anton Lander and Chris Vande Velde will have a strong TC with two of the three on the roster at the start of the season.
    2. Sam Gagner will be replaced at C coming out of TC and get traded as part of a package for a D.
    3. Gilbert Brule will go on LTD.
    4. Theo Peckham will struggle on D.
    5. Cam Barker will be a welcome surprise while Andy Sutton will be a disappointment.
    6. One of the rookie goalies will perform well in TC and be a backup as part of a three goalie set with Nikolai Khabibulin moved to OKC.
    7. Oilers won’t experience the same high level of injuries.
    8. Signing Ryan Jones will prove to be a mistake.
    9. Taylor Chorney won’t make the big team.
    10.With an improved D over the season, the high performance of the young guns and being a tougher team to play against, the Oilers will pick 10th overall at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

  • sofarsogood

    PREDICTION: Ben Eager spends alot of time the chateau de’ bow-wow in Vancouver hoping to see his dream girl one more time and is replaced with Darcy Hordichuk who instantly chases down Kevin Bieksa and makes him cry. Book it…

  • Lowetide

    Wow, you really seem to have a hate on for Khabi these days. I don’t see any great motivation for the Oil to send him down. It’s not like he is in the way of any young prospect who need playing time here. In OKC he might be.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    @ godot10, He may be a lawyer but what he has over you is perspective.

    Maybe he can see things a little more objectively than most of the pro or anti arena posters because he doesn’t have any emotional investment in it?

    God help us if Stauffer gets on another one of his sycophantic rants about how stupid some Edmontonians are for not siding with his boss. LOL

    @ Lowetide, promise you won’t let him talk arena? 🙂

  • Quicksilver ballet

    2, 3 and 10 I disagree with. I can see Hall getting 30 possibly but 35 is too much too fast. Omark will depend on his play if he can show to be two way they will keep him. And if all the other things happen as you predict then 6th overall is not reflecting that. If Hall gets 30 goals (35 by your count), no Khabibulin, Peckham improves, Lander playing, etc. the number of games won will increase by more than 10.

  • justDOit

    Hemsky to CLB? Are you making this up? On another note i would like to see Omark and Smyth together. I realize foot speed is an issue however they’re both incredible on the cycle.

  • Hemmertime

    As much of a band-aid as he is, I can’t see Brule passing through waivers. He’s too talented, and a talent starved team (Cgy?) would snatch him up, especially if injuries piled up amongst someone’s forward ranks.

  • sofarsogood

    Every single prediction for Bullin page wire fence is OKC, buyout or something negative. Murphy’s law now predicts .915-.920 save % for a span of 10 games, then back to .900-.905. This will keep management in limbo of what to do and set back DD, All in all makes thing worse overall than you guys thought.

    • One could argue that the best thing that could happen for the Oilers would be Khabi posting a 910 sv%, something that would make him moveable next summer, and Dubnyk regressing a bit statistically (not in real terms, though), so EDM can sign him for cheaper next summer.

      The problem is, if that actually happens, the Oilers may be tempted to go with Khabi next season as well.

  • Remember the powerhouse teams of the last 4 seasons – Bye ! Bye ! Those glorious teams that flew fast around the periphery of the rink until they ran out of breath/gas before passing the puck over to the other team ? You know , the teams that used to pass the puck more to the other team than their own players . The good old days when we struggled mightily just to get a shot on the oppositions goal . Ah , the good old days when we played so soft and physical from the seats of their pants we were thought to be Scotties little softies . Gonso , looks like those days are finally gone . R.I.P..

    This season brings lots of power to a sleeping giant in the making . On top of a newly formed bonafide NHL talented core comes another promising new developing base with emerging new talents on top of last years rookies . Musil and Teubert being better than expected . University sensation H. Tremblay pushing the roster envelop . I’ll be quite surprised if Tremblay (superior talent at all aspects of the game ) does not make our roster . Hopkins fighting Musil for top pick of this years draft . Hamilton , Hartekainen , Vandevelde making strong case for team with Landers . We have far more than just hope this year .

    Measuring stick for this season looks like it will be S.Jose out West . The rest i feel we have a legitimate shot at overtaking once we gel . Sure beats having to write us off early like last few years .

    Seeing as this season we will have a team that can actually do something with the puck when we gain possession should do wonders for our goaltenders as well , Khabby included . The team now has some decent tools to work with , and the results should soon show that !

  • Dan the Man

    If CBJ is looking for someone to replace Huselius temporarily I think it makes more sense for them to make a pitch for someone like Omark as opposed to Hemsky. The cost would be significantly less.

  • Lowetide

    Ottawa has the National Capital Commission for funnelling federal tax dollars into Ottawa quietly.

    Toronto and Montreal have port authorities for funnelling federal tax dollars into Toronto and Montreal downtown real estate development quietly.

    The new Toronto International Film Festival headquarters received federal tax dollars.

    Union Station in Toronto, which is attached to the Air Canada Centre is receiving federal tax dollars to be redeveloped.

  • That’s a Great list of Predictions LT.

    I would agree with most of your calls except for Omark being traded. It was evident there is chemistry with Paajarvi, those two could really step it up and dominate after their rookie year of playing on a new team in a new league.

    Picking 6th overall??? I hope that reflects a trade we make to substantially move up in the draft. I’m calling a mid first round pick (aka, the Calgary Flames location of picks over the past 10 years)


    Living in Vancouver, there are very few people out here wanting to talk Oilers hockey 24/7.
    I have just started a new Blackberry BBM Oilers group. If you wanna join in with the rest of us, hit me up. My pin is: 23363199.

    Go Oil Go!!

  • 1. If the Oilers are competitive in 1st periods and remotely healthy on defense Khabibulin will have a rebound season. (.901%)

    2. Taylor Hall will score 33 goals and think he’s the funniest thing since Dane Cook on twitter.

    3. RNH will live with Jason Strudwick.

    4. Ryan Whitney continues to have foot problems after playing 26+mins a night to start the season.

    5. The heroin beer will go up in price and I’ll consume it with a bitter smile.

    30 win season and a 3rd overall draft pick please.

  • I sure hope some of those predictions come true, especially resigning Hemsky. He is so fabulous!!

    But not sure the Nuge makes the Oilers out of training camp. I still think he goes to junior.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Can’t see the Oilers loaning Ryan and risk Hopkins getting injured at the World Juniors. The only way i see him participating in that tourney is if he’s returned to Red Deer.

    Dubnyk will spend time in the AHL this year, not Khabibulin. Don’t see any reason why Olivier Roy can’t play 25-40 games in Oklahoma this season. If he’s not ready for that step at 20yrs old then he’s not much of a prospect. The Oilers don’t need to sign another goaltender, put the pressure on Roys shoulders and see if he sinks or swims.

  • Lowetide

    Hemsky WILL NOT RESIGN….actually he may sign a deal, but he will be gone by next Summer. Hemsky told Tambo at the end of this season that he does love Edmonton, but he (and his Girlfriend….) would like to play out his career in a Warm Climate. He does not want this to get out and go public, and is totally willing to play out this season… But he and his Girlfriend just want a change from the Cold Edmonton Winters.

    Personally I hope they can get him to stay.

    I’m telling You…Hemmer wants out…scratch that, Hemmer wants Warmth in January. His Girlfriend is leading the charge… Can’t say I blame him.

    • I know better than to ask but I guess I have to: source? I don’t really like it when someone presents their own personal guesswork as some sort of fact. You can’t go around spouting garbage like this without giving a source. Well, I guess you can since you did, but I consider it bad form.

      • Not Guesswork… I can not give names. But I can say my source is friends with Hemmers girl friend. I’m not trying to spread garbage at all. I hate it when people make up random crap too. I hope it’s not true. I just know what I’ve been told. But these two are good friends and my source is’nt even a fan of Hockey or the Oilers. She’s just a little thrown off that her good friend is probably moving sometime in the next year far far away.

        I’m still holding out hope that this chick is just spouting off to her friends, in a “Wishfull Thinking” sort of way…and that really, Hemsky is hoping to re-up for another 3-4 years…I personally have never met Mr. Hemsky or his Girl Friend. But I do know my source has been friends with both of them for the better part of the last 5 years…I have every reason to believe this person is credible. I’f I’m wrong and nothing happens…Then I say great! But don’t be surprised WHEN Hemsky is playing some place with Sand Sun and Ocean…If the Oilers start doing a little more winning, Who knows?

        But this chick is certain. Hemsky (and his girl)have never lived somewhere warm, and feel like they want to do that while they are young. My source is very matter of fact about it, and I’ve known them long enough to believe.
        Sorry For being vague on the source, I wish I could tell you more.

        I Speak the Truth…but either way, you’ll live.

  • I like those predictions.

    I have my doubts on Pecks stepping up a level this year (as great as that would be). I think his maturity and dedication needs to level up if he is to take that step. It would be nice if Sutton is able to mentor him properly.

    The show sounds great today, take Stauffer to task!

  • @ The Beaker,

    If Khabibulin let’s in 12-15 fewer goals this season that probably equates to at least 3 or 4 more wins..

    He’s 38, if he can go 16-21-3 .901sv% and keep the Oilers in more games I’d consider that a rebound season. Anything better than that would be a bonus but can’t be expected.

  • 1. I think Theo Peckham will be a top 4 Dman at years end, and it will be at the expense of Smid.

    2. Taylor Hall will score 30+ Gs (if he plays 65+ games).

    3. I agree. Omark is filling space until something better and more versatile comes along.

    4. One of Sam Gagner or Ales Hemsky will not be back for 2012-2013 season.

    5. I agree, I think Khabibulin is done. He is coming from a long way back to even become passable.

    6. As long as Brule isn’t injured all year. Even if he hits waivers, I think someone will take a low risk shot at him. Brule will have to buy into his role of being an extra forward this year.

    7. I agree, I think the Oilers let him go to play in the WJHC, it would be good for him to attend that.

    8. I agree, Lander will force his way onto this lineup.

    9. Musil will be an early cut. The Oilers have a lot of Dmen to look at this TC.

    10. The Oilers will pick 6th in the 2012 draft? I can go with that.