2010-11 OILERS: BOTTOM OF THE BARREL

What the Edmonton Oilers might do in the future or what they could’ve accomplished this season had an already thin and raw roster not been riddled by injuries is up to debate. That this edition of the Oilers will set several franchise records for ineptitude and futility is not.

With a 23-42-11 record, a 10-game losing streak on the go after a 2-0 loss to Los Angeles Tuesday and six games remaining, the 2010-11 Oilers will re-write several dubious entries in the team record book.

Unless the Oilers win two of their final six games, this team will end up with fewer wins than a team so devoid of depth a lumbering farmer from Irma named Gord Mark played 12 games on defence. Mark is the worst NHL player I have ever seen.

Unless the Oilers pick up three points from their last half-dozen games, they will finish with fewer points than a team that featured a blue line loaded with the likes of Greg Hawgood, Geoff Smith, Brian Glynn and Brad Werenka. Not the Cape Breton Oilers. The Edmonton Oilers.

Of course those teams did not have the potential and could not sell hope the way this one can . . .

TAKING STOCK

Two years — or is it three? — into a rebuild that will see the team contend in another four to six years, according to the calculations of president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe, the Oilers have set, will set or are flirting with several franchise lows.

— The franchise low for wins in a full season is 25, set by the 1993-94 juggernaut that featured Mark ankling around his own end of the rink and a 33-goal rookie named Jason Arnott.

— The franchise low for points is 60, set a season earlier in 1992-93 by a team whose leading scorer, Petr Klima, managed 48 points with a goofy candy-cane tape job on the shaft of his stick.

— The franchise low for goals in a season is 195, set in 2006-07. The Oilers will need to score 15 goals in their final six games to match that. They’ve scored 11 goals during the 10-game losing streak.

— With just two home games remaining, the Oilers will set a new standard for fewest home wins in a single season. They have 12. The record, set in 1995-96, is 15.

— The franchise record for consecutive losses in one season is 11, set in October and November of the 1993-94 season, the one in which Ted Green got bounced after a 3-18-3 start. They will tie that when they lose for the 17th straight time in Minnesota Thursday.

— By the way, leading scorer Jordan Eberle will need nine points in the last six games to match Klima’s whopping 48. Eberle will be lucky to match the 42 put up by Taylor Hall, Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky, all out for the season.

WAIT UNTIL NEXT YEAR

Those entries aside, there’s back-to-back 30th-place finishes. Five straight years out of the playoffs is a franchise first. The old record for missing the post-season is four years, a feat done twice.

As for what could have been without all the injuries this season, where would the Oilers have finished had they not lost Ryan Whitney after 35 games and Hall, Hemsky, Gagner and Shawn Horcoff for big chunks of time? Twelfth in the Western Conference, maybe 13th?

As for what might be next season and beyond, are fans expecting Hall, Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi to build on their rookie seasons or are you allowing for the possibility that one or two of them will take a sophomore step back?

Will the Oilers get anybody with a 2011 lottery pick who can match the impact Hall made this season? Will they even land a prospect who can make the roster out of training camp?

What of Gagner and Andrew Cogliano? As good as it gets? Can Hemsky and Horcoff stay healthy? Will GM Steve Tambellini acquire veterans who will give the kids a fighting chance?

I can’t help but think of that 1992-93 team, and how a talented, young player and future captain named Doug Weight insisted better days were ahead. Then came the 1993-94 team and the 1994-95 team and . . .

There is no question Oilers fans are in for better days because, at least by the numbers, it can’t get much worse. The question is how long the pay off, if it actually comes, will take.

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

  • ClosetGM

    If its 5-6 years seriously Tambellini should be let go right now. I am not the guy who yells fire klowe or fire Tambi at the drop of a hat! But this is riduculous, there is no way that is should take 5 yrs to rebuild this club a lot of the pieces are here or were here. We need to start running this team properly. IE Ryan Jones sign him you idiots. Who cares if he turns out to be nothing. What have we got to lose? Remember Glencross? Lost him for a couple hundred thousand, bad choice. I can see the same thing happening to Jones. We are not at the cap( not even close)overspending to make this a better team now and in the future is a wise investment. It shows the players that you are committed to making the playoffs and to winning. Lets get our heads out of our asses and figure out a way to make this team competitive sooner rather than later. But what do i know i am just a stupid fan that shells out over ten thousand dollars a year to the Oilers with season seats jerseys oilers soothers for the baby, and lets not forget the amount of beer me and my friends drink at rexhall. That in itself probably pays for Jones’ raise. Get it together boys or guys like me might start spending their hard earned money elsewhere.

  • I think the thing is that you can expect the guys at the top of the draft to emerge eventually as very good players, very quickly. Tavares is flirting with thirty goals, Stamkos has emerged as a perennial Rocket Richard trophy candidate, Crosby and Ovechkin became 100+ point players immediately, Kane has been a high end winger since year one… these guys adapt quickly. Only Erik Johnson didn’t step in and dominate quickly, and that could be attributed to his position, in part. I think it’s reasonable to expect Hall to break at least thirty goals next year, and possibly do more than that. Eberle they don’t need to do much more than tread water next year, as they already have Hemsky ahead of him, but it would be nice if Gagner took a step forward; his even strength production went up, but they very much need powerplay production from him… if he adds that, 60-65 points is not unreasonable. Paajarvi can just continue to develop quietly deeper down the roster, until he’s ready to light it up. Same goes for Omark, though a few more goals would be nice.

    If Hall scores you thirty goals, if Eberle produces 20-30-50, Horcoff gives you two-way play and scores fifty points, and Gagner can break sixty points, then the team is at least approaching respectability.

    Don’t get me wrong, if this team starts the season with Omark, Peckham, Petry, Paajarvi and Hartikainen in prominent roles, they aren’t going to be a playoff team. But maybe there’s enough talent to start edging towards respectability. My hope and belief is modest; that the playoffs are still a reasonable possibility by January.

  • Wax Man Riley

    “Two years — or is it three? — into a rebuild that will see the team contend in another four to six years, according to the calculations of president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe, the Oilers have set, will set or are flirting with several franchise lows.”

    Sorry, what?!? This team better not actually be shooting for Stanley Cup glory in 2017-18. The fans may be patient, but if we’re only half way through the bad times, this ‘rebuild’ is on the never-never plan.

    The fact of the matter is, in today’s NHL you are constantly dealing with free agency. If the horizon that Lowe and Tambellini are aiming for is in six more years, everyone on the team now, other than Hall, Eberle and Paajarvi will have reached unrestricted free agency before the Oilers are contenders. More players at UFA age are going to look for a place where they’ve got an excellent and immediate chance to drink from the Stanley Cup…not something looking way out in to the horizon.

    As it is, Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano, and Tom Gilbert are now four years in to their NHL careers…they’ve never played a second of post-season hockey. You can only lose so long before you become like the Atlanta Thrashers or Florida Panthers…basically feeder systems for the rest of the league. Your players get comfortable and complacent about losing, although they find they’re not particularly happy. In the end, they either ask for a trade, or leave as free agents.

    I was upset to see the Oilers trade Penner for nothing that helps this team this year or (likely) next, because how long can we keep losing and not have that affect the fanbase and the players? Is there any chance if we’re in lottery pick position next season that Hemsky has any inkling of re-signing with the team? If #83 goes, is there any chance that Ryan Whitney’s going to stay the season after that as the Oilers lose their top scorer and likely miss the playoffs again? If Whitney goes too…who’s the next to demand a trade out of town?

    If Lowe is shooting for six years from now, he’s missing the mark completely. This team needs to at least contend for a playoff spot next year. They need to be winning a round or two within a couple, and if they aren’t contenders in three years, then things are going to start falling apart.

    In the article above, the 90s Oilers are mentioned…there always seemed to be so much hope around the team back then too, although maybe some of that was youthful enthusiasm on my part. Still, every time someone started to do well, they moved to another team, and the Oilers stayed mired where they were seemingly forever. And they only missed the playoffs four times…we’re already at five now…this team can’t afford to languish at the bottom any longer.

  • Wax Man Riley

    Robin,

    You know what scares me most about your article? The real possiblilty of the #1 overall pick not being an impact player or franchise type player like is and will be. Is the draft really that weak? Over the past few years there was major hype over Stamkos, Tavares, Hedman, Hall, Seguin,etc and their potential to be cornerstone players. But this year, that type of chatter is non-existent. You hear this name or that name, but is there really not one single player that is the front runner? Are we about to draft the next Legwand? Damn! What a waste!

  • Horcsky

    Yup, the team needs some vets for next season. The problem is that our idea of acquiring veterans to shoulder the load includes the likes of Jim Vandermeer, Jason Strudwick, and Kurtis Foster.

    We need some veteran depth at forward dammit!

  • Wax Man Riley

    Hey Robin,

    I think that Hall proved all his naysayers wrong this season but “who can match the impact Hall made this season” I’d argue that he really didn’t make that big of an impact.

    The Oilers are still finishing last place.

    Hall IS an impact player but his impact THIS season may not have been any greater than Eberle, or Omark, or even Peckham (relatively, not talking about goal-scoring any stat column in particular).

    So if we draft Adam Larsson, or RNH, or whoever, and they might not even make the NHL this season, it shouldn’t be fair to think of it in terms of Hall or whomever else.

  • Wax Man Riley

    Um… yeah. The sheer Jenna Jameson-esque suckage of this team laid out as plainly as could be. Brownlee, how the hell can ownership continue to support this management team?