Tomorrow Is Such A Long Time

One thing Oiler history can tell us this morning: growing pains are real. This weekend has been full of signs about the future–Magnus Paajarvi sent down, the spectacular Eberle and the impact players in waiting Hall and RNH. Some signs are so good it’s enough to make you giddy, and others remind us of just how long a day can be.


One minute you’re shooting pool with a pretty girl and the next minute you’re thinking about retirement. Time slips away so quickly on one hand and on the other it takes forever to reach a goal. Life is funny that way.

Watching the game last night, I was struck by just how many outstanding young talents are playing pro hockey in Edmonton and Oklahoma City this winter. You know, we talk about "when Hartikainen arrives" or "the day Pitlick can provide a physical edge to the top 9" but the truth is not all of these young men will find their way to the NHL and the Oilers.

The problem is obvious: not enough slots for the players available. We’ll be having the same discussion in a couple of seasons about the defensemen–Marincin, Klefbom, Gernat and others. For now, the available forwards under 25 represent an exceptional amount of talent at forward:

  • 18 year old: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
  • 19 year old: Taylor Hall, Tyler Pitlick, Curtis Hamilton, Ryan Martindale
  • 20 year old: Magnus Paajarvi, Anton Lander
  • 21 year old: Jordan Eberle, Teemu Hartikainen
  • 22 year old: Sam Gagner
  • 24 year old: Linus Omark, Chris VandeVelde

That’s the pro level, there are players bubbling under too and maybe someone like Cornet has sustain and joins the group. I count five or six very skilled players and some nice 2-way types who could post 20 goal seasons. There’s some grit and some grease in there, although a Lucic enforcer for the skill lines would be a welcome addition.

How many of these kids will turn out? How many will be long term Oilers? It’s blowing in the wind, but history can help.


I have no idea how smart Darcy Regier is but his quote on skill players is golden:

  • "with young players there’s a window of opportunity, especially ones with skill. You don’t know if you’ll be able to help them find the switch in time before the window closes. Some make it, some don’t … some just squeeze through and that’s the game we all play."

Man, that’s it right there. What a tremendous insight into procurement and development. Does anyone really think the Oilers weren’t trying to help Paajarvi get his groove this season? Of course not. And the demotion also tells us that just as a year ago we talked about the trio that included Paajarvi, the trio we now talk about includes RNH and excludes the Swede.

Some make it, some don’t, some just squeeze through and that’s the game we all play.

The 1995-96 season had a major impact on the decade that would follow for the Oilers. Ron Low, Glen Sather, Bruce MacGregor, Barry Fraser and the others involved in procurement and evaluation had managed to gather a lot of young talent. The key of course is to keep the right people, send away players who don’t make it for useful parts and move the battle forward.

Let’s list the forwards on the major league roster who were 24 and under:

  1. Doug Weight (24) 82gp, 25-79-104
  2. Jason Arnott (20) 64gp, 28-31-59
  3. David Oliver (24) 80gp, 20-19-39
  4. Todd Marchant (22) 81gp, 19-19-38
  5. Miro Satan (20) 62gp, 18-17-35
  6. Dean McAmmond (22) 53gp, 15-15-30
  7. Marius Czerkawski (23) 37gp, 12-17-29
  8. Scott Thornton (24) 77gp, 9-9-18
  9. Ryan Smyth (19) 48gp, 2-9-11
  10. Kent Manderville (24) 37gp, 3-5-8
  11. Louie DeBrusk (24) 38gp, 1-3-4
  12. Ralph Intranuovo (21) 13gp, 1-2-3
  13. Jason Bonsignore (19) 20gp, 0-2-2
  14. Tyler Wright (22) 23gp, 1-0-1
  15. Dennis Bonvie (22) 8gp, 0-0-0

I count Weight, Arnott, Satan, Czerkawski, Smyth and Oliver among the skill forwards, and Marchant, McAmmond, Thornton, Manderville and the others among the worker bees. Among those 15 young men there were an incredible 6 quality careers on the horizon. That’s a very good number.

The key is to identify the pure quality in the group and to make sure Satan doesn’t get sent away before he becomes Satan.

  • Ron Low about a year after Satan was traded: "He could always score but he was a very streaky scorer. We’ve got streaky scorers here too, but they’re all streaking the wrong way. Miro’s become a lot more complete player there than here, like a lot of young players."

Some make it, some don’t, some just squeeze through and that’s the game we all play. 


Magnus Paajarvi isn’t going to be Miro Satan, we knew that some time ago. Still, there’s all kinds of talent there and developing it is a major item for these Edmonton Oilers.

Some make it, some don’t, some just squeeze through and that’s the game we all play.


  • Stocc
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  • Stocc

    I can’t help but think in terms of 2006 and The Human Rake. It seemed like a hell of a lot of misery before he arrived, the amazing run (which to me stands as the greatest hockey related time of my life despite being a fan of the Oil when they were finishing up winning all those cups), then a hell of a lot more misery afterward. So where does the next Rake come from? Is he somewhere in the system already? One of the “Marincin, Klefbom, Gernat and others” from MBS that we won’t have enough slots for in a couple of seasons? Or will Lowe, Tambo and their team of Pakleds have to go far from home to “look for things”?

    Also: Thanks for the compliments, LT and burner.

    • Chris.

      Great young defencemen to compliment Hall, RNH, and Eberle are not going to arrive in time via the draft. Let’s look at Ladislav Smid: a top ten pick from 2004… 2004!?!!…and just now looking like a legit NHL defender. If Stu the Oilers use their first overall pick this summer to select a top defensive prospect don’t expect that player to be a capable, and consistant contributer on a contending team untill the fall of 2019. Marincin, Gernat, Klefbom and others are going to need another 5-7 years to make mistakes and cost us games before they can realistically be counted on to play tough minutes. Can the Oilers afford to wait another 5 years to contend? Will Hall and others bolt to free agency? Sigh…

      Chicago had their top defencemen in the system BEFORE drafting Kane and Toews…and even then Tallon had to throw a ridiculous contract at Campbell to bring home Stanley.

      This is going to be a real problem moving forward.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    With all the up and coming talent the Oilers have right now is why it wouldn’t hurt my feelings to see this yrs 1st rounder get packaged in a trade to get a top 3 dman. Let’s see how the prospects we have right now turn out over the next couple yrs, it is nice to have full cupboards but if you don’t use what u have it could go stale sooner than you think.

  • Wanyes bastard child

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  • Magnus Paajarvi’s been missing something all year, maybe he’ll reinvent himself in OKC as Magnus Svensson?

    Any concern the blueline prospects are mostly Euro? I don’t see Barker or Peckham with Edmonton long term, leaving the team with 0 Canadian defenseman. (Teubert if he makes it)

    The Oiler forwards are softer than my cashmere Christmas sweater, I don’t want the blueline loading up that way also. We’ve talked about moving up in recent drafts, I wonder if Edmonton would do it and pick two defenseman?

  • Wanyes bastard child

    My Satan jersey still hangs in the closet. I remember hearing the news, dumbfounded that Oiler brass couldnt see what I did. Barry Moore and Craig Miller hey?

    • Wanyes bastard child

      My Satan jersey’s in my closet too.

      Maybe I should get an Omark one to match. 🙂

      I just hope this organization is making decisions on talent and not where a player is from. Coincidence that the Swedish kids are getting the short straw? I hope so.

    • Maybe you’re smarter than them, but I doubt it. This was not a case of the Oilers not knowing Satan might turn out to be a pretty good player, but one of priorities.

      Miro wanted more money than the Oilers wanted or were able to pay — Peter Pocklington’s house of cards was collapsing — in a new contract and Satan was behind other key players during the 1996-97 season in the payroll pecking order.

      Doug Weight was on the way to an 82-point season, Ryan Smyth was on the way to 39 goals and Andrei Kovalenko (32 goals) and Jason Arnott were ahead of him. At that point in his career, Miro had one full NHL season on his resume, he scored 18 goals in 62 games in 95-96. He wanted to be paid like a proven scorer, which he was not at that point in his career.

      Satan later blossomed and that made the decision to let him go look bad, especially given the lousy return the Oilers got for him, but there’s way more to it than the “I knew he’d be good, what were they thinking?” perspective you are offering.

      • John Chambers

        Fair enough, sometimes I forget this is a business. I was 16 at the time, and had just bought my first ever Oilers number 18 ” pro ” jersey. It set me back 3 bills, which was a months worth of summer work at the time. Moving Miro stung. I dont claim to be smarter than the people getting paid to make decisions, however in this case, I was. He was a beauty with a great pair of hands. I just wished things turned out different.

      • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

        Aren’t we one of the only teams in the new era that has finished dead last two years running! Add that to a decade of mediocre success and I’m thinking justincider is a lot closer to the truth then you are.

        Doug Weight and Smyth both are vastly overrated by Edmonton’s media, Satan career was probably as good as either one of those guys and many fans around the league wouldn’t recognize Satan name….. doesn’t say much for Weight or Smyth imo.

        Our core veterans are possibly the weakest group in the NHL – I’m sick of the media praising these guys! Our kids and goal-tending isn’t the problem here. One last comment is lets get rid of the American born players, I prefer the Canadian and Euro players

  • John Chambers

    Yes, Lowetide. It does take a long time. I remember two years ago at this time I was excited because Hemsky just got injured and we were sitting in 12th place. I thought, “maybe we’ll finally do something remarkable and lose like champions and hopefully draft this Hall kid”.

    A couple of years later I’m glad we chose the route we did. It’s been tough for fans but tempered by the occasional burst of genius from the kids showcasing the future. The early part of this season was a fantastic tease.

    Watching San Jose last night I thought to myself about how they’ve been an elite team forever. This upcoming excellent version of the Oilers is taking some time to get off the ground, but once it does it will provide a good decade or more of entertainment.

    Our place in the standings is miserably identical to where it was last year, but the goal differential is far better. The losses keep happening, but the beatings aren’t nearly as bad.

  • Wanyes bastard child

    Question for you LT, how do I find your new site?

    I always use the link to the right on ON and it takes me to the old site (maybe get Wanye to change that?) and I can’t find a link in your old site. Thanks.

  • Ravo

    Last night a lightbulb went off in my head i grabbed my beer soaked Hemsky jersey and started to unstitch the 3 #8’s then the M,S,K & Y were next. I grabbed the K cut it twice to make 3 pieces and fashioned the letter L,sewing the L then M BINGO!!!! HELM. Abruptly my better half who was already laughing at me said (with a tone of wow i have a 2 year old daughter with him and we share a bed)”Good luck making that 8 into a 4″. I tell my wife who is reaching for her nerdified Skyrim video game “i love you” with a slight i hate you tone, as i sulked out to the garage to have a smoke and beat my brain in with a hammer for making it so easy for her. I sit there enjoying my smoke looking at dusty cd’s that are still in there faux wood cd towers which i still have to get rid of over 6 years ago as she reminds me after every shopping trip. I notice old video game cases The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion !!! Hallelujah. I light another smoke and swill down the rest of my Boddingtons cream ale. VICTORY by roman numerials. I walk into the house my head hung low like the disciplined mutt with poop on it’s nose grab my jersey, the 12″ # 8 patch , Scissors , needle and thread. Voilà a brand spanking new # IV3 (43) DARREN HELM jersey who in my NHL 12 world yes the one i just started after ejecting Skyrim without saving as the wife screams something or other about an ice dragon, i trade for in a package with BRENDAN SMITH and a 3rd draft pick for ALES HEMSKY , ERIC BELANGER and a 5rd round draft pick. Imagine what Tambi could do if he applied himself. (my vision of Tambi trying to make a deal)
    *This story probably contains false statements*

    • a lg dubl dubl

      He would assess the situation, tank the season for a 3rd straight #1 pick all the while sayin “we will make the playoffs”.

      In my season Columbus offered me Steve Mason, and Derrick Brassard for Ryan Whitney( who ironically was day to day), I assessed the situation and quickly said yes, put belanger on waivers and sat Khabby( who in my season has a worse average than last yr).

      See Tamby trades aren’t that hard to do lol 😉

  • Ravo

    I want meaningful games in April. Yet looking at the team right now were not good enough. Tambo needs to do something. Don’t tell me we can’t. Mr.Dithers needs to ensure we nip this losing streak in the butt. A trade “needs” to happen. Hemsky,Gagne,and Belanger are all struggling offensiely. You can’t have 25-30% of your team not performing night in and night out. If you had 3 out of 12 guys not pulling thier weight at a jobsite the pinkslips would be coming faster than Hall rushing up the wing.

    The Oilers 5-5 are dreadful. Special teams have improved. RNH has improved the pp.The PK has improved with the addition of Belanger. But Smyth,Jones,Lander and Petrell have also shown thier skills in this area. Eager has been a disappointment.

    We less excuses for losing and more reasons for winning.

    • Oilerbill

      The problem with handing out pink slips at the jobsite? IF you can find more help there is nothing saying that any people you bring in are going to be better than what you let go.

      Just because a trade “needs” to happen doesn’t mean that you make a trade that doesn’t make sense for the team. Not too many people want the spare parts from a bad team. Hemsky and Gagner are not worth much on the trade market. Certainly not a top 4 D-man.

      ST is working within his means. Trading for the sake of trading doesn’t make for good hockey business.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Just how long are we going to play this broken record? We all know that this team lacks size and defense.

    The look of the team is squarely the responsibility of the GM. The only problem we have is a GM that lacks the courage to make a deal. If Tallon can bring in 14 new players, surely we can bring in a defenseman?

    I categorically reject the notion that a deal has to be made at the deadline, to ensure we get the maximum.

    Time for Tamby to learn how to ” make a deal”!