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.

  • Lexi

    At the end of the season I was thinking they would finish 10th, but the four teams I thought they would pass; Minnesota, Ananheim, Dallas and Calgary, all did enough additions to stay ahead of the Oilers. I also believe these additions are the ultimate short term gain, long term pain so these moves will keep these teams from contending with the Oilers in a couple of years, with the possible exception of Minny.

    I also feel the addition of J Schultz, changed the need for a vet Dman, which kept the Oilers from going for Wideman/Carle/Rosival, who might have improved their projections for this year.

    The middle of the West is a crapshoot this year with the teams most on the downside the perennial playoff teams (Det, Phx, Nash, SJ) and most of the non-playoff teams making significant additions. I would say Van, StL, LA, Chi, and Minn are for sure playoff teams, but the rest (including the Oilers) could finish anywhere from 6th to 14th (CBJ should finish 15th).

    I think Detroit is getting the benefit of the doubt, because of who they are, but their D is worse than the Oilers right now and I really think they will miss the playoffs without some major move. Phoenix, even with Doan, needs Smith to play as well as last year and OEL to become Lidstrom or else I can’t see them making the playoffs. San Jose is going fall off a cliff soon, but I suspect it won’t be for a year or two.

    The other problem for the Oilers passing Dall, Ana and Cal is how good Lehtonen, Hiller and Kipper can be. I guess it still comes down to how DD plays in relation to these guys and injuries deciding on the standings.

    I am okay with 12th as long as they show that the org is going in the right direction and get Hall/Eberle signed to reasonable long-term deals.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Another 12 points are a very RE for 2012-13. Yakupov, J. Schultz and Dubynk’s increases workload alone can account for those 12 pts. For me we’ve be dealing with a few years of ELPH, when it was more tongue in cheek then reality. Now the team is exciting and as fans wwe can finally see playoffs on the horizon. Sure there are a ton of question marks, a bunch of “ifs”: IF Dubynk can step in an be a solid #1 goalie; IF J.Schultz can adjust to the NHL and be an impactfull offensive d-man; IF Yakupov can step in and be as successfull as E-H-R did in their first years; IF E-H-R can grow further and start to dominate against the toughs as well as the softies; IF Whitney/Hemsky can bounce back from injury and get back to where they were before the were hurt; IF Petry can step up and prove he’s a #2 d-man and not just a good #4-5; IF Smid can continue to dominate at the shutdown role.

    So many ifs make it near impossible Oilers to have them all to align in 1 year and thus make the playoffs in 2012-13. But the team is improving and is one of the most exciting teams to watch in the NHL. The odds are definitely stack against them, but who would have thought the Oil would have made it to the finals in ’06?

    But first things first: SIGN THE DAMN CBA SO THERE’S HOCKEY!!! Don’t rob the fans of a season they so desparately want to see. GAME ON!!!

  • The biggest problem for people on the outside looking in (and rightfully so) is that the only additions are rookies. All other changes are internal. A few guys come back healthy (maybe), a few guys are sent to the minors, a few guys build on their previous seasons, the new Coach is the old Coach.

    The club is for the most part EXACTLY THE SAME as it was last year when they came in 29th in the league.

    Tambellini didnt trade for a top pairing D-man. He didnt move Hemsky + for the fabled 2C with size, speed, and scoring touch that every Oiler fan thinks exists. Khabibulin isnt driving the Curiosity drunk on Mars where he belongs. Nothing.

    The Oilers selected 1st overall and signed a rookie free agent. Thus concludes all Oiler roster changes.

    How could anybody who isnt a fan suggest, with all certainty, that the laundry list of things that need to go right for the Oil to play games in Spring will actually happen? They cant.

  • book¡e

    Those knuckleheads at THN don’t understand the Krueger effet. Chuck will get them into the playoffs and expose the editors of THN as the Eastern clowns that they are!

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Third line is old and slow, and the fourth energy line has very limited talent. There lies your biggest problem. Still a question mark in goal as well.
    If lucky will finish 9 or 10 th.

  • OilDoug

    Robin,

    All of us want the Oil to return to the playoffs ASAP but its still a process and if Tambi isn’t going to move prospects for a top 4 defenceman than all of us fans have to continue to be patient and watch this team continue to develop.

    I am enjoying the process, as much as it frustrates the heck out of me, because I know when this team figures it out and develops its going to be scary good for 5+ seasons.

    If the Oil improve by 12 to 20 points next season it puts the team right on track to be a playoff team the following season and a contender not too long after.

    GO OIL!

      • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

        This is hilarious!

        OilDoug spoke from the hart and you’re talking about a garbage can.

        However; why an office garbage can? Is it because you put sh*t in it every day yet somehow it always empties “itself” over night and is ready for more sh*t in the morning?

        • Well it was a light-hearted reply to alot of fans who IMO have given far too much rope to management, who can basically say and do whatever they want as a result. Tank the team and give fans garbage hockey for two years? No problem.

          As far as the garbage can goes, I was thinking about a Taylor Hall autographed lunchbox (and who wouldn’t want one of those beauties?), but an office garbage can could be hidden under your desk, avoiding the inevitable lunch room ribbing from Flames, Canucks and Bieber fans.

      • I think the only question that needs to be answered by the Management team is “What are your expectations?”

        Last year they stated them and failed miserably. As a result NOBODY that had a say in player acquisition was fired. They were extended against all logic.

        I think it’s time to ask again, and this time when they fail miserably the fans and the media need to hold them accountable.

  • The Oilers are at best 4 players away from competing for a playoff spot on a regular basis. Unless current players step up and fill these roles I suspect the Oilers will be as the Hockey News states a 13 place team. If as you say they improve by 12 points this season I will be pleased. Rome wasn’t built in a day. The Oil are on the right track. There will be still points this season by the lack of immediate success. But I can live that. I enjoy watching the development of the team. If this team was like what we had the late 90″s I would probably stop watching the team. Its not and that is why I enjoy this team.

      • This is what I don’t get. Even 2 solid additions might make us competitive, which is all you really want at this point. Maybe we’re not full-on tanking but it’s getting harder for me to believe we’ll actually be going after wins whole-heartedly this season.

        We’re blowing through the ELC’s of some pretty good hockey players. They’ll cost a freaking fortune by the time we’re regular playoff attendees. You’d think the plan would be to get them some playoff experience asap, even if we got wiped in the first round.