THN: RESIGNATION AND OILERSNATION

Remember the indignation at hockey websites like this one when The Hockey News projected the Edmonton Oilers to finish dead-last in the Western Conference a few seasons ago? Me, too. And today?

For all the howls of protest by a passionate fan base that, at the time, wasn’t ready to accept the Oilers would have to hit bottom before drafting kids like Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov and begin scripting an ascent back to playoff contention, THN has pegged the Oilers just about right for many seasons now.

That’s likely why THN’s latest annual prediction, released this week, picking the Oilers to finish 13th in the Western Conference, hasn’t drawn the same kind of venom and protest this time around. Here’s THN’s take:

13. EDMONTON OILERS

"Why: There were a couple of voices in the THN office making a case for the Oilers to be a playoff team, but in the end, the majority decided it was still too soon. We do believe the Oilers will improve from recent showings and maybe even move out of the draft lottery. Nail Yakupov is dynamic, but first-year expectations should be tempered. Defense and goaltending is still a big question mark and in a loaded Western Conference those are debilitating shortfalls. Sure, Justin Schultz was added to the blue line, but he’s far from a difference-maker at this point. Can Ryan Whitney stay healthy? Can Devan Dubnyk be a legit No. 1? Until these questions become solid answers, Edmonton is still on the outside looking in."

No playoffs AGAIN? No sniff? Eastern bias? Bunch of THN knuckleheads? No. That’s so 2011.

LONG WAY DOWN

If the final standings in the Western Conference over the past three seasons are any indication, it’s going to take about 95 points for the Oilers to take a run at a playoff spot in 2012-13 (assuming an 82-game season).

2011-12

8 Los Angeles 40 27 15 95

9 Calgary 37 29 16 90

10 Dallas 42 35 5 89

11 Colorado 41 35 6 88

12 Minnesota 35 36 11 81

13 Anaheim 34 36 12 80

14 Edmonton 32 40 10 74

15 Columbus 29 46 7 65

2010-11

8 Chicago 44 29 9 97

9 Dallas 42 29 11 95

10 Calgary 41 29 12 94

11 St Louis 38 33 11 87

12 Minnesota 39 35 8 86

13 Columbus 34 35 13 81

14 Colorado 30 44 8 68

15 Edmonton 25 45 12 62

2009-10

8 Colorado 43 30 9 95

9 St Louis 40 32 10 90

10 Calgary 40 32 10 90

11 Anaheim 39 32 11 89

12 Dallas 37 31 14 88

13 Minnesota 38 36 8 84

14 Columbus 32 35 15 79

15 Edmonton 27 47 8 62

HOW MUCH BETTER?

The Oilers improved by 12 points from 2010-11 to 2011-12, going from 62-74, but moved up just one place in the standings. While I have think that they’re capable of improving by another dozen or so points this season, again, assuming a full schedule, that likely won’t make them a playoff team.

If you tack 12 points on to the 74 the Oilers are coming off, that gives them 86, which puts them 13th in 2009-10, 12th in 2010-11 and 12th last season. Improving by 24 points in two seasons is nothing to sneeze at, but when you’re coming from as far back as the Oilers are, it doesn’t translate to a playoff spot.

Might THN be off by a place or two? Sure. Might the Oilers improve by as much as 15 points? Yes. That still doesn’t translate to putting an end to a playoff drought that’s reached six straight seasons.

Link to THN item is here.

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

  • O.C.

    A variable that many teams can’t match (that I predict) is a sick W/L ratio for the Oil in shootouts. Tha could give 6 pts that most other teams wouldn’t hope of getting.

    Enough to get to the magic number of 95? Probably not, but maybe enough to trade for a playoff push.

  • O.C.

    A variable that many teams can’t match (that I predict) is a sick W/L ratio for the Oil in shootouts. Tha could yield a bonus of 6 pts that most other teams wouldn’t hope of getting.

    Enough to get to the magic number of 95? Probably not, but maybe enough to trade for a playoff push.

  • Big Cap

    We gained 12 points last year from the year before.

    Had 93 and 4 not been injured for 20 games is it not fair to believe that we would have picked up extra 10-16 points with them in the line up??

    Its not such a far strectch to believe that we could have had a 20 point improvement.

    Is that so far off from this year as well???