CAN THE OILERS MAKE THE PLAYOFFS?

The Oilers are one month away from announcing their second consecutive first overall draft pick, but after that pick will they realistically be any closer to making the playoffs for the first time in six years? Another first overall pick will likely give the Oilers another solid prospect in the system, but a playoff appearance shouldn’t, and likely won’t, rest on his shoulders regardless of who they take on June 24th.

Can the Oilers go from 30th to a playoff spot? Surprisingly it might not be that far-fetched.

Before we look at what the post-lockout bottom feeders have done the year after finishing 30th, I took a quick peak to see what the Ottawa Senators did in 1997 after finishing 30th in 1995 and 1996. The Sens were awful in the strike-shortened 1995 season going 9-34-5, and then they followed that up with an equally inept  record of 18-34-5 in 1996. In 1997 the Sens shocked the league, and improved a whopping 36 points, going from 41 to 77 to finish 7th in the East.

If you do a quick glance you don’t see many drastic changes player-wise. Their young offensive players had another year of experience, and scored more, while management made a few small moves that paid off. The Sens traded Trent McCleary and a 3rd rounder (Eric Naud) for Shawn McEachern;  who’d scored 24 goals in Boston in 1996. McEachern had a bit of an off-year in 1997, but he was a veteran presence in the room, and then scored 30+ in two of the next four seasons. Wade Redden tallied 6-30 (goals-points) as a rookie, and they signed unrestricted free agent Ron Tugnutt. Tugnutt was the backup for most of the year, but he got hot down the stretch and led them to the post-season where he played all seven games in their first round loss to Buffalo.

Here’s a quick glance at the numbers of their top-five scorers and goalies.

1996                                                                              1997
Alfredsson         26-61                                               Yashin           35-75
Yashin                 15-39 (46GP)                                 Alfredsson   24-71
Cunneyworth     17-36                                              Daigle             26-51
Duchesne           12-36                                              Duchesne      19-47
Bonk                     16-35                                             Cunneyworth 12-36  

Rhodes was 10-22-4, .906 SV%, 2.77 GAA          Rhodes 14-20-14, 0.898 SV% and 2.72 GAA
                                                                                       Tugnutt 17-15-1, 0.895 SV% and 2.80 GAA

Their top-five scorers went from 86 goals to 116, while their goalie numbers weren’t that much different from year-to-year. Outside of Tugnutt and McEachern they didn’t add any other veterans, just some average players like Sergei Zholtok and Andreas Dackell. The Sens only had four players over 30, and most importantly they were fairly healthy with 15 players playing at least 65 games. In 1996, the Sens had 31 players play at least 10 games, and last year the Oilers had 30.

The Sens improved by 36 points, and if the Oilers come close to that they would be in the 90-point range and in the playoff hunt.

I should note that the Quebec Nordiques, who finished 30th three years in a row from 89-91, didn’t make the playoffs in 1992, but they made a staggering improvement of 52 points jumping from 52 points in 1992 to 104 in 1993. So it possible for a last place team to make a significant improvement.

POST LOCKOUT COMPARISONS

The league has changed a lot since the Sens great turnaround in 1997, so I decided to look at the 28th-30th place teams since 2006 and see what kind of strides they made the following season.

2006

  • Chicago, 28th with 65 points
  • Pittsburgh, 29th with 58 
  • St. Louis, 30th with 57

The Blues drafted Erik Johnson, he didn’t play, but they improved 24 points and finished 10th in the west.

Pittsburgh took Jordan Staal, he scored 29 goals, and they improved a mind-blowing 47 points to 105, and finished 5th in the East. Of course they had Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Ryan Whitney as sophomores.

The Hawks took Jonathon Toews, he didn’t play, and they improved a mere six points and finished 26th. Of course they got lucky, won the draft lottery in 2007, and took Patrick Kane and then won the Cup in 2010. 

2007

  • LA, 28th with 68 points
  • Phoenix, 29th with 67 points
  • Philly 30th, with 56 points

Hawks won the lottery, so the Flyers drafted James Van Riemsdyk second, he didn’t play, but the Flyers improved 39 points and finished 6th in the East with 95 points.  The Flyers made drastic moves that off-season though, trading for and signing Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen. They also signed Daniel Briere, dealt Joni Pitkanen to Edmonton for Joffrey Lupul and gave Martin Biron the starting job ahead of Antero Niittymaki. No other celler-dwellar has been able to sign as many big-names as the Flyers did that off-seasono they aren’t fair comparable.

Phoenix took Kyle Turris third, he didn’t play, and the Coyotes improved to 83 points in 2008, but that was only good enough for 12th in the West. The Coyotes couldn’t spend any money and they never made the playoffs until 2010.

The Kings took a flyer on Thomas Hickey at number four, he didn’t play, and the Kings only improved by three points in 2008, and actually dropped to 29th in the standings. The Kings had two more top-five picks before finally making the playoffs in 2010.

2008

  • Atlanta, 28th with 76 points
  • LA, 29th with 71 points
  • Tampa Bay, 30th with 71 points

The Lightning took Steven Stamkos, he tallied 23 goals, but the Lightning actually got worse dipping down to 66 points, and they ended up getting the 2nd overall pick again in 2009. The Lightning had the 6th pick in 2010 before finally making the playoffs this season.

The Kings gladly took Drew Doughty, he tallied 27 points, but the Kings only improved eight points and ended up with another top-five pick in 2009.

The Thrashers took Zach Bogosian, he only played 47 games, yet hescored nine goals and 19 points, but the Thrashers finished with exactly the same amount of points, 76, and ended up 27th. They’ve yet to make the playoffs since drafting Bogosian.

2009

  • Colorado, 28th with 69 points
  • Tampa, 29th with 66 points
  • NYI, 30th, with 61 points

The Islanders took John Tavares, he had a solid 24 goal-54 point campaign, and the Islanders improved by 18 points, but still finished 26th and got another top-five pick in 2010.  

The Lightning took rearguard Victor Hedman, and he had some growing pains as an 18-year-old D-man, while the Lightning saw some progress with him and Stamkos and jumped up to 80 points, which earned them the 6th pick in 2010.

The Avs took Matt Duchene and he surprised many with a solid 24 goals and 55 points, and the Avs improved by 26 points and made the playoffs in 2010. Duchene was a key cog, as was the addition of Craig Anderson, however, the Avs came back to reality in 2011 and finished 29th. 

2010

  • Florida, 28th with 77 points
  • Toronto, 29th with 74 points
  • Edmonton 30th, with 62 points
     

The Oilers took Taylor Hall and he tallied 42 points in 69 games, but the Oilers didn’t improve in the standings and finished with the same 62 points. The Oilers lost in 2010 with a much younger group and they are hoping that getting some NHL experience for so many young kids will pay off in 2011.

The Leafs had traded their pick and the Bruins happily took Tyler Seguin. Seguin didn’t play a lot as a rookie, but has been excellent in playoffs. The Bruins are the exception in this experiment, because they were a playoff team before getting hte 2nd pick and now  they are one game from the Stanley Cup finals. 

The Panthers took Erik Gudbranson, but they couldn’t agree on a contract so he stayed in junior. The Panthers followed in the Oilers footsteps and lost with a young team and finished in 28th again. It will be interesting to see which team progresses quicker, the Oilers or the Panthers.

SUMMARY

While the Ottawa comparison proved it was possible to make a big jump after two consecutive 30th place finishes, the success, or lack thereof, of teams post-lockout makes it seem likely the Oilers are a year away from the playoffs. If they stay healthy they might be able to mirror the surprising Avs of 2010, but realistically I could see them making a 20-point improvement that sees them stay in the playoff hunt until late March.

***I know there are many variables to consider outside of just the top-pick, but it seems to take at least two, or sometimes, three years of getting top-seven picks before a team starts to see some improvement, unless you are the free-spending Philadelphia Flyers.** 

NEWEST ADDITION TO PACKAGE

I added the next prize to the Ultimate Sports Fan Package. A signed TAYLOR HALL stick. On June 11th,  I am riding in the 190km MS Bike Tour. To win the awesome package, CLICK HERE type in Jason Gregor and donate $100 and you will get an entry. We only have 45 entries left. If you donate $200 you two entries and so on. The winner will win a prize pack that includes:

  • Edmonton Eskimos season tickets
  • Edmonton Rush season tickets.
  • A beer fridge and beer for a year from Big Rock Brewery.
  • A man-date with Ryan Rishaug
  • You and two buddies golfing at the Ranch Golf and Country Club with BROWNLEE
  • Signed Taylor Hall stick.
  • More great prizes that will include Oiler home opener tickets, other sporting events, and other cool things. 

You can help find a cure for MS and win a great sports prize pack. Thanks for your donations to the cause.

  • Chris.

    My issue with Tambellini is that he’d read my memo and then sign Turco or Giguere to bloated long term contracts and referr to them as the Team MVP despite all available evidence.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Wow – A while back there was an article asking us what we wanted to see in terms of subjects during the OIL off season, and my suggestion was taking a look at the teams that were at the bottom, and how they climbed out (or not). Great work. Forget getting (decent) free agents, at this point no good ones are coming to Edmonton, mainly becasue we aren’t close to winning anything. Free Age

  • Ender

    I love everything that Smytty did for the Oilers when he was here. Captain Canada was great for this team, there’s no question.

    That was then, this is now. You have to separate that. The guy is still doing ok, there’s no question, but his stats are trending down and they’re going to keep going that direction – likely at an accelerating rate. He plays a brutally physical game and Father Time is not kind to that sort of player. Injuries are likely to happen with increasing regularity.

    To really examine your motivation and whether this is a good move for the Oilers, try this exercise. Look at the stats, look at the age, look at the cost, and then insert any other random surname (Jones, McDonald, whatever) and pretend you don’t know the guy. Is he still a good signing?

    Emotions make the game fun to watch, but they aren’t a lot of help in evaluating team needs. Like all of you here, I want the Oilers to win the Cup in the next few years. A last hooray for Smytty before we (unofficially) retire his shirt might feel good, but I can’t say I honestly think it moves us any closer to the real goal.

    • Here are the benefits that I see:

      1) Still scores enough to be considered useful

      2) Is a PowerPlay specialist of sorts

      3) Is a true professional

      4) Has strong ties to the community

      5) Would love wearing the sweater as much or more than anyone on the planet.

      His best days are well behind him, and you’re right, the physical play will take its toll. Still though, I think he belongs in Oiler silks. Even if that decision is made with my heart, it’s still right.

      • Bucknuck

        Would love to see Smyth in Oiler silks again. I think he could teach the kids about work ethic and playing like it matters every shift.

        Having said that, I would not want to pay him too many millions, because his contribution on the ice is bound to diminish as he ages.

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        I have to agree with you and I was just thinking with Smyth in the line up we could have a couple decent looking PPs.

        Hemsky – Hall – Eberle

        Smyth – Horcoff – MPS

        Foster(I think he’ll have a better season) and Whitney

        Gilbert and Me still need another decent offensive blue liner that can take shots.

      • Ender

        It’s not irrelevent though. There’s more to consider here than just salary and whether Ryan might score some points or not.

        Last season, everybody bitched and moaned about Khabi being in goal for two reasons. The first was that he sucked, but the second and almost as important was that he was taking up starts while Dubnyk racked up some valuable staring-vacantly-into-space experience. Every shift that Smyth is on the ice, it means that some important member of the Oilers Cup-winning team isn’t. It means that someone like Harski is sitting while a feel-good blast-from-the-past is eating his minutes. We’re totally talking about sitting down and quaffing a 40-pounder of Sambuca here; you can argue about how good a time it is while you’re doing it, but you know that it’s not in your best interest come tomorrow.

        Smyth’s contribution in Edmonton is over. Yes, he could likely put a few points up on this team next year if he were here, but if and when we win the Cup again it won’t be because of anything he’d likely have done in a final season as an Oiler. Some of the young prospects or free-agent talent that could skating those minutes instead, though, might well be laying the foundation for their future success here. What’s more important to you – hanging onto the past or looking for the fastest way to building a future winner?

        • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

          I’m not overly worried about a JFJ, Jones or even Omark missing a few minutes of playing time.

          If you actually think we have 8 wingers on the current team that will be important members of this team 2-3 years from now then I’d agree with you, however I think that number is closer to 3 so I’m not overly concerned.

        • Chris.

          I think that your view is understood but at the same time a team needs Veterans in the lineup to help those young guys grow and become better. I think what people are saying is that if Salary isn’t an issue and we need an good accomplished vet to teach the young guys why not let it be Smyth even if it does cost more for the first year. And there is nothing to say that he won’t be able to put up 40+ point season for the next 3 to 4 years either. There are a lot of players that have been able to do it at the same age and even older. Also these young guys grew up seeing Smyth in Oiler silks and I think that might be another boost for them.

          • D-Man

            Good point – but you forget about some of the vets we already have… Horcoff (even with his bloated contract) is the hardest worker on the team, Whitney – who has stepped up and deservedly taken an ‘A’, Jones – has chipped in 20 goals and also has a solid work ethic.. I also think we need the Hall’s and Eberle’s to also step up and take on some of the leadership responsibilities this year… They won’t be rookies this year and as they will be the foundation of our core – give them some space to step up…

          • Ender

            I think I’m going to reply to your point, D-Man, because it’s one of the most logical responses to my post and then I’m going to let the matter drop and let others hash it out.

            In the summer of 2005, the Oilers made a couple of memorable acquisitions. One turned out to have a huge impact on the Cup run that year, but the one that excited me more when I heard about it was the acquisition of Mr. Michael Peca. He was 31, he was a 2-time Selke winner, he was a face-off ace, and he played with all kinds of fire and gravel. I figured that if anyone could be a good influence on our crop of forwards, it would be him.

            I don’t think I could make a solid argument that Peca influenced that team much one way or the other. I know there were a lot of factors involved in that, but Peca’s unremarkable season was almost as big a dissapointment to me as Pronger’s poor judgement. I don’t discount the importance of veterans on the roster, but I do believe that experience and ice-time can be much better teachers than watching that same vet from the press-box or the AHL.

            Smyth might be a source of inspiration to the guys he’s actually on the ice with but if we just need a guy who tries 100% on every shift we could have that at a fraction of the cost with any number of our current prospects. There isn’t, I believe, any kind of magic aura that emanates from Smyth that would permanently flavour and improve our current young Oilers. Especially not the one that doesn’t make the team because Ryan does.

            This is an emotional issue. There are always going to be a lot of people who want Smyth to come home and there will be a lot of reasons trotted out why it makes sense. While people might be able to successfully justify why it wouldn’t be a complete disaster, I just don’t think anyone is going to convince me that such a move makes us a better hockey club in 2013. Ryan Smyth can play on my X-BOX Oilers team any time. In real life, though, I fear he’s just another Mike Peca waiting for a chance to disappoint a bunch of fans with unrealistic expectations while stunting the development of a bubble-rookie at the same time. Like the real-life experience of licking chocolate frosting off of a beautiful young lady, it’s just really not as enjoyable in practice as it first sounds.

          • “Like the real-life experience of licking chocolate frosting off of a beautiful young lady, it’s just really not as enjoyable in practice as it first sounds.”

            It all depends on where you put it. Smitty on the 3rd line with PP time! I’ve never ever heard the sentence, “what a mistake it was to lick frosting off of that beautiful young lady”. Most importantly, we could probably pry him from L.A. for close to nothing seeing as how they are dying for cap space. Team scoring leader for 3rd round pick anyone?

            P.S. The Oil aren’t making the playoffs. Not even close.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Theirs nothing emotional about it for me, I would feel the same way if Smyth spent 10 years with the Flames.

            How anyone can look at our current roster without seeing a glaring need for a vetran leader that could concievably lead the team in scoring is beyond me.

            Now consider the added benifit that we’d actually be *adding* depth, forcing our prospects to *earn* a spot on the roster, or *allowing* them the *luxury* of bringing the non-elite prospects along slowly, rather then *stripping away* the depth, *handing* spots to *unproven player*, or *forcing* the team to rush prospects which has worked so well for the past 5 years leads me to believe the question we should be asking is if we are willing to give up what the Kings would want for him, not whether we should accept him back or not.

    • Zamboni Driver

      More when you consider all of their top guys pretty much where the ones injured. I would estimate 15-20 points. Whitney had a great season until he got injured and I think that could be one of the biggest difference makers. With him in the line up it should bring the GA down and the GF up.

  • Ender

    Complete speculation here, but if I was the guy who had to revise the divisions in 2012-2013 to move the Winnipeg and Detroit teams, I might do something like this.

    SE Div
    FLA
    TB
    CAR
    PHI
    WAS

    ATL Div
    BOS
    PIT
    NJ
    NYR
    NYI

    NE Div
    DET
    BUF
    MON
    OTT
    TOR

    CENT Div
    STL
    CHI
    CBJ
    NSH
    DAL

    NW Div
    EDM
    CAL
    WPG
    MIN
    COL

    PAC Div
    VAN
    SJ
    LA
    ANA
    PHO

    I recognize that this breaks up some current divisional rivals, but long-term this might make some sense.

    • Mike Krushelnyski

      I don’t see why they don’t just swap Winnipeg with Nashville. It makes sense geographically for Winnipeg to be in the Central and for Nashville to be in the Southeast, plus you’re only marginally disrupting any rivalries and the power structure of the divisions. The SE gets a little stronger too which is probably a good thing.

      • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

        In an effort to make travel more fair in the east and west I have often wished they would make the divisions run east west. Like a Canadian Division or two. In stripes across the country. I know it would never happen but seeing an equal amount of long travel would be interesting in its effect on the league. I would also like to see the eastern Canadian teams more that 1 time a year or so.

      • Ender

        Well . . .

        For years, it has been rumored that Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch had always been promised a move to East when it was feasible in exchange for being a good soldier in previous realignment fights. The Red Wings have long hated the travel in the West, and the fact that playing in the West means their road games are often played too late for fans to watch them. That affects local television revenue.
        Kevin Allen, USA Today

        Detroit has two things working in its favor: Ilitch’s pull with the league and their storied history. Ilitch is extremely influential with the NHL’s Board of Governors and could easily axe a move by Columbus or Nashville to the East. According to John Niyo of the Detroit News, Ilitch has been promised first dibs on the East should the stars align accordingly. Detroit has a bunch of history with Eastern Conference teams like Toronto and Montreal and has been around substantially longer than the Nashville and Columbus franchises.
        Ryan Weiss, SB*Nation

        Geographically, Nashville has a case as I already mentioned earlier. The kind of statements like the two above, though, are absolutely everywhere in the media. If a team moves to the East and that team isn’t Detroit, you can bet Detroit ownership is going to be very unhappy. That’s why I (and many others) think the smart money is on Detroit making the move instead of the Predators.

  • Bucknuck

    I would say that the Oil’s playoff hopes are reliant on Whitney, Hemsky, Horcoff, Gagner, Hall, and Eberle staying healthy. All of whom were out last season for extended stretches.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I’m going to top Obbies bid of 4 players to land the Oilers a playoff spot this coming season. I’ll offer up 2 vet forwards and one defenceman to go with adding Sheldon Souray to that dressing room. That requires only bringing in 3 players.

    2 of either Hartnell/Upshall/Ryan Smyth to go with Brewer and Souray on the back end, and hockey that matters is back.

    If the Oilers will chase a player convicted of vehicular homicide 2 summers ago, it’s not too much a stretch they bring Souray back. Just sayin….

    • Wax Man Riley

      Lets bring in Ryan Smyth, Jerret Stoll, Eric Brewer, and just for good measure, Janne Niinima.

      We can be a hybrid between 1998/2011 Oilers. That would be pure awesome.

    • D-Man

      Not going to touch the Souray hornet’s nest – ah, what the hell… Khabby has been a consumate professional at the rink – not so much outside of it… Souray wasn’t very professional at all – no way he wears an Oiler jersey next year.. I won’t be shocked if he’s bought out… He’s 34 and did not dominate in Hersey… He’s done..

      As much as I love Upshall and Hartnell – why would you want Smytty back? True – he’d be great in the dressing room and plays with a lot of heart, but the guy can barely skate now and his muffin of a shot is only getting worse… He’s also a $5.0 million cap hit… He is a UFA after the 2011/12 season though.. I’d sign him for 2012/13 if a) it’s a one year deal, b) less than $2.0 million and c) he’s under the assumption that he’s retiring after this season…

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        Always interesting. You wont take Smyth at 5 (actually 6.5) in a year cap space doesn’t matter.

        Also, that poor skating and muffin shot scored more points then anyone on our team last year.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Ryan could probably still lead the Oilers in scoring next season, would still be good for around 45-50 pts, may not be all that bad for a 2nd/3rd line winger. If LA wants that cap space, the Oilers could give them back that 3rd rounder they received in the Penner deal. His cap hit isn’t an issue at all, maybe even extend him for 2 yrs. 3 yrs of Ryan Smyth for around 10 million over the duration of that deal isn’t out of the question.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Even better then. The Oilers have two 3rd rounders this year. Give then the 61st or the Flamers one, still leaves the Oilers with two first rounders along with 2 second round picks.

            Smyth for a third rounder is too much you figure?

        • D-Man

          You might be right – Smytty would definitely be in the top 3 in scoring on this team… I cannot deny what Smytty brings to the table… He goes into the tough areas, battles hard along the boards and leads by example… And if he were a center – I might even consider that trade… But I cherish our cap space when we need to sign Hemsky next year and all three kids the year after that… Smytty wouldn’t be in our top six either – as Hall and MPS would be #1 and #2 on our LW depth chart… Smytty doesn’t have the wheels to be on a forechecking 3rd line and how many teams would pay anyone over $2.0 million to play 3rd/4th line minutes??

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            “and how many teams would pay anyone over $2.0 million to play 3rd/4th line minutes??”

            I haven’t looked, but i’d bet the answer is “lots” (3rd line anyways)

          • D-Man

            I suppose you’re right about 3rd line minutes – but Smytty isn’t a 3rd line player; not with the likes of Hall and MPS ahead of him… As much as I love Ryan Smyth, and for the sacrifices he’s made for the Oil – he simply doesn’t fit what we need for this rebuild… If he were a hard-nosed shutdown defensemen or a faceoff winning, PK-killing centerman – then sign me up…

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            1. He’s still a long way ahead of MPS.

            2. Why wouldn’t Smyth be a 3rd line player because Hall and MPS are ahead of him.

            We certainly do need a hard nosed Dman and a PK’ing centerman…. but those aren’t our only needs.

          • D-Man

            Yes – he’s ahead of MPS, but he won’t be here when we’re (hopefully) Cup contending… If we’re rebuilding, MPS should be the one getting the ice time (assuming he continues to work hard and earns it). MPS is by far a better skater with a better shot, he doesn’t have the savvy and NHL smarts Smytty has… He’ll get that over time; let’s say two years.

            IMO – a 3rd line player is somewhat similar to Ryan Jones or a Curtis Glencross… He can skate, isn’t afraid to bang and get involved physically (chipping in 10 to 15 goals/season)… Sure, Smytty might get 10 to 20 goals on the Oil – but that won’t be without 2nd PP unit time. Face it – Smytty is great along the boards but doesn’t have the same sort of speed to fit this role.. He’s by no means afraid of getting involved with hitting – but that’s not his style of game… He would have been an asset to this team – if we decided to rebuild after the cup run… Simply put – his price tag is too high for what he still has to offer…

          • D-Man

            Sure – they could do that… But I’d rather see Hall and MPS playing 18 – 20 minutes/game… My point is that Smyth is a good player but not at his current cap hit. He also won’t fit the 3rd line role he’d need to play behind MPS and Hall… He doesn’t have the wheels or the aggression we’d need…

            We don’t just need ‘good players’… We need good players who can fit the roles that we need… And Smytty doesn’t fit any of those roles..

          • D-Man

            First – no guarantee that Smyth gets us 20+ on the worst team in the league. Second – our 3rd line has the likes of Cogs (assuming Gagner/Horcoff are 1 and 2), Hartikainen, Jones, maybe Anton Lander, maybe Gilbert Brule, maybe Linus Omark, maybe a Horcoff (assuming we draft RNH)… That leaves our top six forwards as follows… Gagner, Hall, Eberle, MPS, Hemsky and a RNH or Horcoff…

            Where do you put Smytty?? Do you take ice time away from the kids on the top two?? Do you ask him to crash and bang with a Jones or Hartikainen? I think we can agree that he won’t be a 4th line player on this team (or any other in the NHL)…

            For his price – no thanks… Now, should Smytty want to come back next year after his current contract is up for $1.5 million – sure I’d sign him…

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Ah, I so we slot in inferior players just because they are already here.

            Once again, it’s simply a case of a guy blinded by $$$’s

            We wont need the cap space next year and it isn’t you cutting the cheques so get off the $$$’s.

          • D-Man

            You probably aren’t cutting the cheques either – and last time, I checked Katz was in the business of making money, not signing players of old and overpaying them… But I digress…

            If we sign Smytty – where do you put him?? Where does he fit in our line up?? I’d like you to show me where he fits on this team.. Here’s my lineup (assuming we draft RNH and he makes the team).

            Hall – Horcoff – Eberle

            MPS – Gagner – Hemksy

            Hartikainen – RNH – Jones

            Brule – COGS – Fraser (with SMAC up in the press box – with Omark)

            And even if you find a spot for Smyth – how much better does he truly make us this year? Instead of 25th overall (which I’m predicting), what 23rd? 24th??

            We’re in a rebuild – we should not be signing aging veterans past their prime.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            You honestly look at the line up you just posted and can’t find a home for Smyth?

            In order:

            Bye bye Fraser/Brule/Cogs

            And then slide one of Jones or Hartikainen to the 4th line.

          • D-Man

            Not at a $6.25 million cap hit… Besides, I would still take Cogs over Smyth as Cogs is significantly faster and engages physically… I’d also give Brule a long look too – as he also has more of a physical edge (when he’s healthy – and that’s a huge IF)… No argument that Smyth is a better player than Fraser, but again – can Smyth win a faceoff?? Not likely any better than Fraser can now…

            I can’t disagree that a ‘Ryan Smyth’ on the wing of a RNH wouldn’t help him learn to be a professional, but there are still a lot more younger, stronger players than come less expensive and more of cache than Ryan Smyth…

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Maybe you can give me a logical, rational explination as to how taking on a 6.25 cap hit for one year hurts a team with 10+ million in cap space, no key players to resign and about a .001% chance of attracting a big ticket from elsewhere.

            I’ve yet to see anyone do it, maybe you can be the first?

          • D-Man

            You’re right – I can’t… But you can’t give me a logical explanation on why you’d bring in a 35 year old veteran who’s well beyond his prime and expect him to significantly make any sort of difference to a team who’s finished last two years in row.. Give me a logical explanation on how Smytty would signficantly help the rebuild? Don’t give me the veteran leadership explanation… We already have a significant leadership core in Horcoff, Whitney and Jones… Gilbert is emerging as a leader and Hall/Eberle will probably take on more responsibilities as well…

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            I’ve explained it logically 4-5 times throught the thread.

            – Depth

            – PP prescence

            – Net prescence

            – Would likely be a top 5 scoring player on the team

            – He probably has 3-4 more decent years in him, which would be more then enough to be a decent role player into PO years

            – Don’t belive me that the team needs more leaders? Ask some of the local media that see’s the team behind the scenes, they’ll tell you the same thing

            Smyth on his own doesn’t make a significant difference to the team…. however thier probably isn’t more then a half dozen or so guys league wide that would… that doesn’t mean you don’t try to improve.

            Their you go, logical, rational reasons as to why he’d be a good addition.

          • D-Man

            I’ll agree with you about net/PP presence – there’s no one better than Smytty at going to the net… But that’s about it – he’s 35 years old… He does not have 3 to 4 years left in him… He had the luxury of playing with Anze Kopitar the last two years on the PP, his 20 goals there would equate to maybe 10 to 15 goals here… If we want our kids to improve on special teams, Smytty should only get second unit power play time… Giving an aging veteran more ice time in a rebuilding organization does not make any sense.

            IMO – If I’m a GM of a rebuilding organization – I’m trying to a) make the on-ice product better by winning hockey games and b) make the owner some money in the process. You said it yourself – he wouldn’t make a significant difference to this team. So then why would I want to take $6.25 million against my cap, and add a $4.5 million dollar expense to my books – and not improve this team. Wouldn’t it make more sense to find a younger developing player or a younger free agent at less money??

            Smytty might help our PP and add a bit more leadership in our dressing room; but so would Hall, MPS and Eberle coming into this season with each a good rookie season under their belt. We could also resign Struds at the league minimum and save $3.5 million, and get another leader to our dressing room… I’m sorry – I appreciate your viewpoint but adding a Smyth or for example, a Jagr does not make any sense at this point of our rebuild…

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            What I said was that their is likely only a handful of players who would make a significant in the standings.

            That doesn’t mean we don’t add anyone because that person alone wouldn’t make a huge difference in the standings.

            Face it, all you’ve got is an infatuation with the $$$’s which in this case is irrelavant.

          • D-Man

            Last time, I checked $$$ was extremely relevant for any and all of us… I sure Mr. Katz didn’t buy this team, looking to lose money… I’m sure he doesn’t want to spend $100 million of his own money (along with the $100 million he had previously invested in land) and not make any sort of return on this investment…

            An effective business gets results at the lowest cost possible. The business is ‘in tune’ with its culture and moves as one in a unified direction. Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t add bodies to improve our situation. We all know we are riddled with holes. But this organization has also indicated through its trades and buyouts over the last two years that it’s going to improve by building from within and through the draft. Bringing in a 35 year old veteran who won’t significantly impact the on ice product goes against everything this organization has tried to accomplish. That argument alone is only accentuated when you take Smytty’s price tag into consideration.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            The funniest part is that Smyth’s actual salary next year is 4.5 million which is basicaly what 20 – 25 goals 45 – 50 points cost you on the UFA market.

            Odds are we can’t realistically attract a more productive player for less $$’s in the UFA market.

            I also find this line especially humourous:

            “Bringing in a 35 year old veteran who won’t significantly impact the on ice product goes against everything this organization has tried to accomplish”

            Gee, should we switch directions a little and try to win some games???

          • D-Man

            Good catch on my line – too funny when I re-read that… The point is we will change direction via youth improvement. I truly believe that if Tambo does nothing for FA’s or trades that we’ll improve this year winning another 5 games to last years 25… The improvement we’ll see in the kids alone will add those wins…

            But back to Smyth’s $4.5 million – you’re right about what his salary is worth – that’s about a 50 point player… You forget that those last two years he had the luxury of getting his 40 to 50 points with Kopitar, Brown, Doughty, Johnson, Justin Williams.. Asides from Whitney and maybe Hemsky – we don’t have that talent pool yet. Perhaps we’ll be close after another season of Hall/Eberle/MPS – but do you truly believe Smyth will have the same talent to play with to generate that level of offense? If I were to guess, he’d be lucky to get 25 to 30 points on our current team.

            Call me pessimistic but I don’t see a 40 to 50 point player – hence Smytty becomes another old, overpaid veteran that goes against this rebuilding project.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            You’ve got to prove to me that the quality of his linemates really affected his production.

            I’ve got lots of proof that would state quality of linemates (within reason) has little to no affect on a players numbers.

            Oh and just so you know he spent way more time with Stoll and Williams, decent but not spectacular offenisve players

        • geoilersgist

          Well he is 35. I think it would be better to see if he would do year to year until he decides to retire. I would also like to see Smyth as a special teams coach or similar role with the team when he does retire. How about Fraser and a 4th for Smyth. Gets rid of Fraser, open a Center position for RNH and we get Captian Canada back.

      • You know Smyth would have led the Oilers in Goals and Points this past season. Not that the Oilers need too many more LWs, but the guy still knows how to get to the front of the net on the PP and he’d be the perfect vet to have (IMO).

        He does get paid too much, but the Oil have the cap space for a couple seasons.

  • Peterborough

    I’m not sure if the brass are interesting in making the playoffs but if they are they have a lot of work to do and a few pieces to add.

    I can see there being a decent improvement because our kids are real talents but the D’s a bit of a mess – or maybe a lot of a mess – and we need a real tough min centre as well.

    I remember that ’97 Sens season, BTW. I was in a bar watching the Oilers game when Steve Duchense scored a big goal for them to officially put them in the playoffs.

  • justDOit

    Well, the Wings have wanted into the East for a while now, so that’s why I was going with that. But even trading the Preds for the Jets in the West could have a positive impact on next season’s point totals.

    As for Zamboni Driver, we are counting on the Oilers being a little better next year, aren’t we?

    And the argument could be made for a depressed bunch of millionaires, formerly of the Hotlanta ZIP code, now plugging away at a dreary living in Winterpeg, putting in even less effort for next seaon.

    So no hairs harmed during this scenario.

    • raceguy

      You do realize that every other team vying for a WC playoff spot will also be playing the Jets, right?

      I’m not convinced that the Jets are that far away from being a playoff t4eam themselves butyou need to bear in mind that, they there are weak, the Central teams play them more often than the NW teams so, in fact the biggest beneficiaries of a weak Jets team would be CHI, STL, CLB and NSH.

  • Ender

    Stone Hands McOsta wrote:

    wouldn’t it make more sense for the Preds to be sliding to the (south)East over the Wings?

    Geographically, yes. Politically, no.

    Chicago and Detroit have both apparently been given some kind of unwritten priority if an opening in the East comes available. Columbus and Nashville are probably both out of luck for awhile yet.

  • Ducey

    Good analysis Gregor,

    And perhaps a bit of reality for those that think the Oilers are going to make the playoffs next year.

    You could also look at goal differential. Every team that made the playoffs this season (and two that didn’t) scored more goals than they gave up. The Oilers were -70! That means next year they would have to erase this and be into the + to make the playoffs. (so basically one more goal for or one less GA each game next year).

    The plan should be for the Oilers to continue to develop players this year and not worry about the standings.

    If the goal is to build a yearly contender for the Cup and not just hover around the playoffs each year, like Calgary, then they need to have good drafts (ie lottery) this year (2011) and next year (2012).

    • OR they could designate a core group of talent, jettison the marginal players and trade/buy actual NHL talent. Then they could grow the core group, add through adept drafting and player acquisition, grow talent in the minors and supplement with decent veteran players. You know, pretty much what every good team does.

      Versus what we have now (as you advocate)which is called “suck for a half dozen years and wait for the magic”.

      And please. Let’s get off this “yearly contender for a cup” thing because it just doesn’t exist. The new cap system pretty much prevents this from happening (see Detroit, Chicago). The most you should hope for would be “solid playoff team”. Past that, it’s up to the hockey gods.

  • Ender

    justDOit wrote:

    It also might help if the Jets come back for next season. That scenario would probably move Detroit into the East, which would make any playoff hopes all the more plausible. That should also give the Oilers some gravy points handed out from the former Thrashers.

    Those signs are pointing to 2013 then; rumour has it that the Winnipeg team would play in the East for this season before the switch was made. That means Detroit gets to beat up on us for one more year before cutting their travel budget in half.

  • D-Man

    I think a lot of what happens next year is really on the shoulders of Tambo. If he signs strudwick to another year there is no way in hell we are anywhere near the playoffs. but if he starts adding useful pieces and makes some good trades, maybe a buyout of Bulin’s contract and the acquistion of a decent younger goalie that has a good season or get hot down the stretch then I could see the team flirting with the last playoff spot next season.

  • D-Man

    I’m not really leaning on any one person on the draft, but I was concerned drafting RNH. Although he’s the BPA, many say that he would most likely need to go back to junior, add some muscle to his frame so he’ll be ready to play against men down the road.

    I’ve never seen him play – is there any validity to this?? If there is – I wonder what the average Oiler fan will think if we draft him and send him back down to junior. Would a Landeskog or Larrson be the safer pick? Both sound that although they aren’t nearly as skilled; are more NHL ready.

    Then again, perhaps with Hall, Eberle and MPS coming back with a solid rookie campaign under their belts – we won’t need RNH right away, whereas he won’t be rushed – should he not be ready… Thoughts??

    • Craig1981

      There hasn’t been a 1st overall player who hasn’t played in the NHL his draft year since 91. That player was Eric Lindros and that was a contract thing) I guess RNH would be the player that could break that but I wouldn’t bank on it.
      RNH has been talked about as the 1st overall since he was 15 and maybe before that. I personally think he is the safer pick than Landeskog that came on huge his draft year.
      As for picking right for right now, I found it interesting that it seems teams that didn’t have there pick play were about as likely to make make huge leaps. The blues in

  • justDOit

    It seems that any major improvement from one season to the next of cellar-dwellers happened in the East. It would more difficult to accomplish that feat in the West, because it takes more points to get into the playoffs.

    Our only hope is to stay healthy, get some surprise seasons out of the sophomores and hope that a few western teams all upon hard times.

    It also might help if the Jets come back for next season. That scenario would probably move Detroit into the East, which would make any playoff hopes all the more plausible. That should also give the Oilers some gravy points handed out from the former Thrashers.

    • Stone Hands McOsta

      From what I’ve heard, scheduling would stay the same meaning Winnipeg would play in the Southeast this year….and also, wouldn’t it make more sense for the Preds to be sliding to the (south)East over the Wings?

    • Zamboni Driver

      Uhmmm….

      Not to either split hairs, or overstate the obvious, but…

      The Oilers finished last, right?

      Gravy points = Edmonton Oilers. Last two years (at least) running.

  • Zamboni Driver

    “Unable to come to terms”…

    That would be Reddox’ agent giving the abridged version of the letter that likely read:

    “Dear Liam,

    P. F. O.

    Love,

    The Tambi Man
    General Manager (Seriously I AM! Just ask Kev.)”

  • Zamboni Driver

    As if there is a snowballs chance now!

    @TSNRyanRishaug
    Liam Reddox signs with Vaxjo In SEL, unable to come to terms with Oil. 2 years. Oil weren’t offering one way deal Reddox camp wanted.

  • Mantastic

    20 point improvement doesn’t seem too far fetched. hopefully the oilers will be able to pull it off next season, and i would call it a success if we can.

  • Ender

    It’s going to happen, Baby! Playoffs 2012! Plan the parade!

    [swigs back biiiiiig gulp of Kool-Aid]

    Woot!!!

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled Tuesday already in progress.

    Edit: Oh, wait . . . the Rapture and Official End of the World has been rescheduled to Oct. 21, 2011. That means we get to see training camp and watch the rookies roll over a few teams for a month, but still no Playoffs. Buzzkill.

    • raceguy

      i do think that if we had the 85 yr old prophet doing the math for the NHL next season we could defintely have a “chance” at making the playoffs next year.

      all “world blowing up” aside, with a few alterations to the lineup and the dreaded sophmore slump eluding ebs and hall we should be able to hit 8-10 in the standings.

      myself i would not stray too far from the plan. 2 new dmen (4-5 roles), konopka on the fourth and a quality likable vet.