Hard Times Come Again No More

 I am here to tell you that the only way the Edmonton Oilers pick first is in a "Chicago gets Kane" style lottery upset.


Back in October, I suggested that the Oilers would finish 13th in the west, 27th overall in the NHL standings for 11-12. Currently Edmonton is 14th in the conference and 29th overall:

  • 30th Columbus 32 points in 49 games
  • 29th Edmonton 41 points in 49 games
  • 28th Anaheim 43 points in 48 games
  • 27th Carolina 45 points in 51 games
  • 26th Buffalo 45 points in 49 games
  • 25th NYI 45 points in 48 games
  • 24th TBay 46 points in 48 games
  • 23rd Montreal 47 points in 49 games

The Oilers are a team that has battled major injuries for the last month, but unlike previous seasons their injured guys are coming back. Jordan Eberle is already back in action, Taylor Hall is wheeling again, RNH is soon off the IR and Ryan Whitney–80% of Ryan Whitney–is helping on the back end. Perhaps as important as anyone based on depth, Tom Gilbert’s time away has had a major impact on this team.

I do a lot of driving in my job, and Jason Gregor keeps me company with his terrific show. This week, I damn near drove off the road when hearing that Carolina plans on trading every useful defensemen they employ.

Which is my point. 


My point is that the Oilers have a lot of reasons to compete after the deadline and that the Hurricanes (and others) are going to be offloading talent. Edmonton may or may not trade Ales Hemsky, but either way should be more competitive than they were during January.

I stand by my prediction (13th/27th) and the Oilers could win the lottery, but my guess is that Steve Tambellini and Tom Renney will want to push through last season’s 62 points and 25-45-12 overall record. They are currently 18-26-5 and on a 69 point trajectory. I think they’ll want to push that number north, and some of the basement teams are likely going to make it possible with their deadline deals.


I’d bet the Oilers will be picking outside the top 2 and will select one of Ryan Murray, Matt Dumba or Griffin Reinhart. PS, Chris Cuthbert has a nice article up on the 11-12 rookies and has some nice things to say about RNH here. 


  • I’m not so convinced this team will be doing so hot post deadline. If the Oilers do in fact move Hemsky (Which seems inevbitable) and possibly Gagner, I really dont see how they will make up for that lost offense. They have such a terrible time scoring as it is, and taking out 2 vets from the top 6 wont help all that much.

    The Goaltending will still be Average on good days, even if the Defense gets marginally better. I am also skeptical as to how healthy this group can remain. It would be a small miracle if the Oilers didnt lose somebody else to injury. I dont even know why the Oilers are letting Whitney play at 80% when they could easily justify shutting him down completely this year. Personally, I dont think Whitney will make it another 15 games.

    So yeah, the Oil might be able to tread water while Carolina tanks it, but I’m not counting on these Edmonton Oilers actually being better.

  • The Farmer

    I would like to think its quite possible for the oil to go 500 at least the rest of the way. With returning injuries, combined with teams taking them lightly, and probably seeing backup goalies down the stretch,the odds are they will pick up a few more wins.

  • I cant see Edmonton ending up 13th in the west. Anahiem has found a stride and Pheonix is 11 points up.

    14th in the west almost seems inevitable.

    Then we pass who in the east? Carolina probably for sure if they do clean house. But I could also see us passing Buffalo or NYI.

    So 14th in West, at most 25th overall in the league. I really hope we dont end up that high at this point.

  • Talbot17

    Im sorry but Yakupov or Gor at 1 and 2 are too good to pass up and really hope the oilers grab one of them. I could see the Oilers finishing 27th and winning the lottery. that would be hilarious

  • The Farmer

    If the Oilers show Khabibulin the door like it’s being floated in the media, then that could be a move equal Carolina moving all their D.

    No matter how poor he was coming into this season, without him the Oiler fans would be dreaming of the days they are finally as good as Columbus.

    That’s not even considering other possible moves like Hemsky and the such. It’s not just teh likes of Carolina, there is still a little rug left for Tambellini to pull out from under this team as well.

  • I think they will be above .500 for the rest of the year. Important players are coming back or just came back and Hall is going to drag everyone else along with him.

    Defensive help when Gagner is traded and most likely a happy Hemsky fresh off an extension.

    BOOK.. ah don’t book it.

  • Talbot17

    The oilers will be seLlers at the deadline. They may pick up a young dman but that will do little to help if we move pieces that are rumored like gagner hemsky smyth sutton and Khabby. Sellers rarely get better right after selling.

    I will say 29 even 30th again depending on what Columbus does. The fact is the last two games aside the Oilers have clearly been the worst team in the league again.

  • D'oh-ilers

    Coming into the season, I was looking at a 13-23 point improvement over the past two seasons. With a healthy Nuge, Whitney, Gilbert and Barker, they have a chance of putting up 34 points over their remaining 33 games to reach the low end of my prediction. That should put them anywhere between 25th-28th. At least with the way Columbus have sucked and blown their way through the season, there’s no chance of finishing dead last.

    • Souby

      I agree with you. I too was hoping for around a 20pt upswing this year to get the Oil in the 22nd to 25th overall range. While it would not have gotten them close to the playoffs, it would have been a nice positive step forward for the club.

  • LT:

    I have to agree with almost everything @Archaeologuy said. I’ll go as far as saying the Oilers will be lucky to win 2 game’s by Feb 25th. Let alone being competitive after the deadline.

    Why would management all of a sudden want to get better? Oilers will be 29th overall.

    Whitney is not going to help, in fact if he plays the way he did prior to going down this year count on more quality chances at the Oilers goalies.

    Any chance the Oilers make a play for Carter? He does have a NMC I think.

  • vetinari

    Let’s focus on the important thing here which is: Scarlett Johansson, smokin’ hot or what? God bless you, Lowetide…

    As for the team’s performance, I think we’ll end up with a pick in the 3-7 range unless the hockey gods strike and reward us with another 1st overall.

    If the Oil end up with a #1 or #2 pick, although Nail and a few of the other forwards would be awesome additions, I think we have our first line for the next ten years or so in development (Nuge, Hall and Eberle) and would be very tempted to trade down a couple of places for a top 1/2 defenceman and select another defenceman in that 3-7 range.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    A defenceman with the first pick, looks like a recipe for disaster to me. Outside of Murray the other two don’t even make the club in the fall. We’re stuck with the same cast of characters again next yr. That booby prize isn’t enough of a reward after what the Oilers have been through.

    Is it too much to ask your club make the playoffs more than once every 10 yrs. This surely must be what an Infinibuild looks like.

    Have a great weekend everyone.

  • LT

    I know a lot of the media (television and print) have been saying the Oilers require a top defenseman and we should draft as such. To me is that not going back to our old ways of drafting for need instead of drafting best player available?

    Murray is a very good player, but he’s not the best in the top 3 IMO.

      • Ok, I should have rephrased it better then that, and said off the board or player type which would have been what the organization thought they needed or wanted.

        The Oilers have a lot of holes to fill; the talk that drafting for Murray, Dumba or a defenseman right now is an organizational need and might not necessarily be the best player available. To me it doesn’t make sense.


    • D'oh-ilers

      In a trade, he’s a second pairing defenseman who becomes a UFA at the end of the year. Carolina will more than likely get a return similar to what the Panthers got for McCabe & Wideman or St. Louis got for Brewer last February (low end player/prospect + 3rd rounder).

      Either way, the Oilers could get him now if they wanted to give up a draft pick. They could probably get him for LA’s 3rd (from the Penner trade) and one of Rajala, Czerwonka, O’Marra, Kytnar or Chorney.

      As a free agent he’ll likely get a deal in the 2-4 year range, around $2.5-3m/year. He’s no top pairing guy, just a solid, defensive defenseman.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    If the chance is there, the Oil need to take Gore. Nail might be a Red dynamo, but the “Joe Thornton with offense” description I’ve heard applied to Grigorenko is exactly the kind of player we need up front.

    If Dithers could swing another top 10-15 pick, we’d also get another solid D prospect. Isn’t this draft supposed to be 2 Russians and 28 WHL defensemen?

  • DoubleJ

    I believe the Oilers will not end up with the first overall pick this year. This team will end up playing a ton of young guys during the final 30 games. They will win a bunch of games that mean nothing. Simular to when Gagner and Cogliano went on their run.

    I predict Horcoff missing 10 to 20 games soon as well as Khabi (if not traded). Belanger will step in and not miss a beat. Proving Horcoff is very expendable, but unmoveable.

    Hemsky will also get hurt four days before trade deadline. Meaning Tambi panics and trades Gagner to Phx for Klesla and second round pick.

    The Oilers then poop the bed in the summer and are short a secondline center for next season.

    A never ending circle of making a hole to fill a hole in the lineup.

  • misfit

    I’m less concerned about what the Oilers do at the draft than I am about what they do from July 1 to training camp.

    Atlanta had 2 1st overall picks and 2 2nd overall picks in 4 straight years (plus two more top 10 picks in the next 2), but an inability to add quality in free agency or via trade as well as the constant selling off of NHLers at the deadline kept them in the gutter until the city eventually lost interest.

  • John Chambers

    G Rhienhart at 3 and it will be a happy day. Lottery win and its grigorenko at 1. This draft more than any other is the draft that Tambo needs to step up and get SMB picks in the later rounds. The quality of talent this year is to good to pass by. If Hemsky can get us a package of picks I say trade him. The buyers will be plentiful. The Rangers will be buyers. They have a legitimate chance at a Cup if they can improve thier 2cd line scoring and thier backend. A Hemsky-Sutton deal might be the trick.Chicago may take a flyer on Bulin. The Leafs could use some scoring depth. A guy like Hemsky may be what the Burke ordered. An expiring contract for a minimal price. Get TO’s fist pick next year and a 2cd this year. Make the trade deadline his day and Tambo might see another season.

  • Chris.

    Gagner for Schenn, Hemsky for a first, draft Grigorenko to replace Gagner as future #2 center, draft another fine D of the Klefbom family with the Hemsky pick, sign a legit top four PMD and a goalie. Break in two more rookies out of camp and hope to hell the team is relevent past Christmas. This isn’t a dream scenario, but based on Tambi’s body of work… something like this wouldn’t be too bad.

  • Time Travelling Sean

    The impact of losing Gilbert is at least debateable.

    They lost Gilbert and RNH the same game. Since they both went out, Goals For per Game has cratered, whereas Goals Against Per Game has actually improved. This at least suggests the Oilers are missing RNH more than Gilbert.

    Thanks to DOuble DD for running the numbers.

    Goals For
    Pre-Injury: 2.74
    Post-Injury: 1.44
    Diff: -1.30

    Goals Against
    Pre-Injury: 2.84
    Post-Injury: 3.11
    Diff: +0.27

    And if you look at without the hot streak at the beginning of the season, the goals against has actually improved without Gilbert (and those other guys).

    Goals For
    Pre-Injury: 2.96
    Post-Injury: 1.44
    Diff: -1.52

    Goals Against
    Pre-Injury: 3.52
    Post-Injury: 3.11
    Diff: -0.41

    • Chris.

      Goals for, goals against, how a team is trending… many of these stats are a poorer measures than we imagine because there is a false underlying assumption that the preparation and performance of the opposition is consistant. Do the Canucks prepare, or get up for the Oilers the same way they do when playing Boston? Simmilarly, are we really better defensively with Gilbert out… or does our lineup simply become so recognizably poor that the opposition will simply flex their muscle for a ten minute stretch, win the game right then and there, and then switch it to glide knowing that they can turn it back on at will?

      I love hearing the local media laud the Oilers for playing up against quality opposition… we get so excited about nearly winning games against Sandford, or or barely beating Greiss… isn’t it much more likely that the phenominia has more to do with the opposition playing down to the Oilers? How can we quantify improvement or regression mathmatically under these conditions?