When I was a kid, the Oakland Seals had a new crop of good looking rookies every year. The following year, most or all of those would fall out of favor and there would be a new group of hopefuls. From Stan Gilbertson to Bobby Sheehan to Joey Johnston to Dave Hrechkosy and on it went. After awhile–and I was young, this may not have occured to me until years later–the smart man stops questioning the rookies and begins to suspect the organization.
The players Edmonton drafted during the Kevin Lowe-Kevin Prendergast-Craig MacTavish era have pretty much established themselves as NHL players (or not) by this time. Beginning with Ales Hemsky and including Jarret Stoll, Matt Greene, Kyle Brodziak and Andrew Cogliano among those who are clearly NHL players.
As we sit at the edge of 2012, it’s interesting to see just how many of those listed were deemed expendable before they emerged as complete talents at the NHL level. I also find it worth noting the Edmonton Oilers have offloaded many player-types they could use right now during this rebuild, and further find it interesting that some of the players being mentioned as "not developing" or "stalling" seem to fit the list mentioned here.
There are a group of Edmonton media people who (to me, anyway) can be reasonably be counted on to deliver "hints" about the Oilers management and what they’re thinking at any given time. Jim Matheson appears to be jotting notes in the actual meetings, and when someone like Robin Brownlee says the following about Sam Gagner:
- The prudent approach, as always, is patience. We already know that runs thin with a sizeable segment of Oiler fans. What I’m wondering is if that’s becoming an issue with team management.
History tells us that Robin Brownlee has a reason to have placed two and two together. Never mind that Gagner is a young player who can help a team when healthy and used with skill players, never mind that the mistakes bought and paid for by Oiler fans will give way to a more mature, capable player–history tells us that too.
Sometimes teams lose because they’re rebuilding, and sometimes they lose because they’re run by people who are not good at their jobs.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
A few things: someone is probably going to get a very good NHL forward for less than 100 cents on the dollar. One hopes it’s a better return than the Brodziak windfall and for crying out loud lets make sure he’s healthy and posting numbers before sending him away in order to get good value.
However, I think it’s reasonable to suggest that somewhere in the bowels of the Edmonton Oilers offices, they’ve become so found of the shiny new dimes and quarters that the older ones may be put aside without the organization realizing their value.
In this way, the Edmonton Oilers are in danger of becoming the modern Oakland Seals: in love with this year’s girl, and last year’s model–who can help–lost in the flood.
It could be a different kind of Groundhog day in Edmonton for Oiler fans. Different from finishing 30th overall but Groundhog Day just the same.
Heaven forbid Taylor Hall lose his shine.