The misery fans have endured since the Edmonton Oilers lost Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup final to the Carolina Hurricanes has included seeing their team hopelessly out of playoff contention more often than not by the time the first day of spring rolls around.

Not so during this lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign as the Oilers host San Jose Wednesday, the official first day of spring, with a 11-11-6 record for 28 points and in the hunt for a post-season spot in the Western Conference.

Yes, there’s a great big asterisk beside that because this season, of course, is just 48 games, but I’m guessing that, after six years out of the post-season fun with the stretch drive providing lots of bitching and precious little intrigue, fans will happy look the other way on that front.

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Jump back one year to last season and the Oilers were 28-36-8 on March 18 and out of the playoff picture. In 2010-11, they were 23-39-10 on March 19. In 2009-10, they were 22-42-7 on March 19. The only question as spring arrived these past three years was where the Oilers would finish in the draft lottery – the answers we know.

So, a bonafide playoff race, even allowing for special circumstances, beats the hell out of the alternatives Oilers fans have had in recent years. That said, let’s keep our eyes on the prize – seeing the Oilers again become legit Stanley Cup contenders, not sneak-under-the-wire playoff pretenders.


You don’t have to look far on message boards and fan forums to see that a big segment of Oiler fans are pumped at the prospect of having something to yell about heading into the stretch drive. Fine. It’s completely understandable. I get the sentiment.

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It’s a fine line between that possibility, though, and falling into the tempting trap that goes something like this: "Man, if Steve Tambellini would only get off his backside and trade fill-in-name-of-player-here for a puck-moving defenseman or a big winger who can score . . ."

Despite a decent run over the last eight games that’s built some optimism, this is a flawed roster in need of more than one or two pieces to make it whole in terms of building a team that can contend over the long haul. And that, even with the excitement of a possible run at the playoffs in the air, is the real prize and where the focus of Tambellini has to stay.

It’s a cliché for a GM to vow he won’t mortgage the future for the present, and it’s a cliché for a reason – some GMs can’t help themselves at times like this. "If we just got this-or-that we could make a run . . ." Given the possibility Tambellini gets a can tied to his tail if this team falls flat again, I can see how short-term fixes might be tempting. Tempting? Yes. Smart? No.


Might Tambellini be presented with a trade opportunity between now and April 3 that would help the Oilers get into the playoffs? Sure. Should he make that deal? Depends what the asking price is. If it means giving up a young core player – definitions on that will vary depending who you talk to – or a player who can play an important part with this team two years from now, I say no.

Forget the no-brainers – Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov aren’t going anywhere. Beyond that, it gets trickier. Should Tambellini, for example, move Sam Gagner or Ales Hemsky for a better shot at seventh or eighth-place now?

Again, if the player you’re giving up can and likely will be an important part of the team two years from now, then no – unless you can say "yes" to the question plugging in the player coming back. If that’s the case, then you have to take a look at it. Seems obvious enough. It’s seldom that simple.

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It’s one thing for fans jacked about a playoff push to take it all in, live for the day and concoct trades that might put the Oilers over the top here and now without an eye to tomorrow. It’s quite another matter for Tambellini to take his eyes off the prize in the name of one playoff run. Been there. Done that.

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

  • Bucknuck

    Playoff run?

    You cant be serious.

    To get to 56pts the oil would need to finish 12-4-4

    No way that happens.

    The quicker oilers fans pull the pipe from their mouths and realize that trades should only be made with future seasons in mind, the better. They should be pressuring K,L&T to move the quality spare parts that they have – Hemsky and Gagner ASAP before their value depreciates even further.

    Making moves to improve the team in the here and now is idiocy – an idiocy outranked only by fans urging management to do so.

    • Klima's Mullet

      We’re two points out of a spot with the same number of games played as the team ahead of us. They have to go 11-5-4 to make the playoffs? Your logic is flawed. 53 points is easily as likely as 56 to be the playoff cut line. I would say they have a 1 in 3 chance to finish 8th. A win tomorrow and they’re in at least a tie for 8th and have the most home games left of any of their rivals.

      • The Oilers Shot Clock

        Okay let’s look at it a couple of other ways. Though I don’t think in the history of the current conference playoff format it has ever gotten below 55 pts on a pro-rated basis.

        Their are 5 other teams in eight of below that have better or similar records than the oil: San Jose,Phoenix, Dallas, Nashville, and Columbus. Calgary is also on that list but if you listen to the media in that city they already have largely come to terms that the team has no chance. Columbus has the same pt ttl as the oil but has played one more game. But they are on fire – 6-0-4 compared to the oil.


        If we only had one team to play better than that would be one thing, but we have to outplay 5 or 6.

        2. Look at the sched: we play ANA 3X; Van 2X; Min 2X and CGY 3X. Even if we lose just once to each of them we can’t lose any others – and we have to play LA and CHI and PHX.

        Mathematically the oil are long way from being eliminated, but for practical, hardheaded, winning-the-cup-is-the-goal purposes the oil’s interest in contending for eighth died somewhere out on the road…

        • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

          you can take your practical common sense “math” elsewhere mister.

          the oilers are highly unlikely to make the playoffs, but for gods sake, can we not sit back and maybe enjoy a few weeks of somewhat meaningful games, even if they dont make it?

          gimmie a 5% chance and a case of beer. its way better than the yearly kick in the bag we usually get.

          p.s. unless tanking gets tambo fired, then im game for that

          • Quicksilver ballet

            53.27 in 07-08, 08-09.

            And when it comes to qualifications like this you only round up to the next integer (IMO, but also – if my stats course memory is correct – that is the mathematical fact)

            And thus most prognosticators are saying 54-56 will be needed. The avg after the lost season is 54.52 (55).

            as a commentor on this site posted a few days ago and it meshes what i heard somewhere in the radio universe, most of the contenders that the oil would have to beat to get in they will have to beat by a clear margin – a single point – because of the number of OTLs the ols likely will have(?). thus 56 is the number. But even at 54 the oil would have to go 11 – 5 – 4 or 12 – 6 – 2.

        • Ryan14

          Whoa…wait a sec. You mean to tell me the Oilers need to win games to get into the playoffs. Teams that have proven themselves to challenge for a playoff spot for the last few years?

          C’mon man…of course the Oil need to beat them. So what? That’s what hockey is about. This team when it’s focused can beat any team…inconsistency is our biggest issue, but over a short schedule we can get hot like any other team. Calgary is the only team that has our number, but Iggy is the one that fires them up, and he’ll be gone for most of those games. We’ve proven we can beat Vancouver, who might seem like a top notch team for winning all those presidents’ trophy’s, but they’ve been letting everyone else walk all over them. LA can’t score, Phx is even worse, and we’ve proven to be a real challenge for the might Blackhawks (seems to be a good matchup) over the last 6 games or so. That leaves Minnesota and Anaheim…while Chicago is a good matchup, Minnesota is a bad one…and Anaheim is unknown.

          2 pts out is enough hope for me. A lot of the teams above us are falling flat while the Oil are just getting charged. If Nuge and Shultz find a 2nd wind, we’re golden. If not we ride the coat tails of Dubnyk, Hall, Gagner and Horcoff.

          No need to sell anything to get us a little farther up the playoffs, but just battling for a playoff spot feels good to me. I see them making a strong case.

          Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that there are more home games than away down the stretch. We have a legit shot, I know that it’s scary to let your hopes up, but it’s ok to feel good every now and then.

          This is a much better team than last year.

      • DSF

        They actually have a 1 in 5 chance to make the playoffs.

        And they would only be in a tie for 8th if:

        Phoenix loses in regulation tonight in LA.

        Dallas loses in regulation tomorrow night in Colorado

        If the Oilers are to get back into real contention, they need to win their next 4 straight.

    • Why so serious, Gord?

      Nice guess on the record the Oilers will need, but it’s a guess — based on ???? The record needed will be heavily impacted by success or lack of same head-to-head against teams in the wanna-be playoff pack, no?

      Not saying the Oilers make the playoffs. Not saying they won’t. You, on the other hand, appear to be sure. That’s based on what, aside from sounding like somebody sour over the futility of the past several seasons? Don’t confuse being pissed off with having a crystal ball.

      • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

        Just looking at the numbers needed to get into the playoffs in past years Robin…

        And that there as so many teams in contention that most are far better configured than the oil to make a serious run if they do get in.

        And I’m being serious because i think that this is a critically important opportunity for the future of the oil. Because things are so tight this trade period is going to be a huge sellers market. We could get very good – top-of-the-market value for hemsky and gagner. More than a few GMS and coaches butts are on the line to boot.

        Fan attitude is a critical determinant in this as well. Just look south to calgary and you will see thatthe fan pressure on Feaster and Iginla et al is make a move – to blow it up and start the rebuild in earnest.

        And judging by the scouts at calgary games something seems to be afoot (iginla? Boumeester?).

        That oil fans are all atwitter hoping to make a run only encourages the feeble-hearted K,L &T to hang onto the well-performing spare parts (H&G) to keep the run alive.

        And an epic opportunity – one that might cost us a cup one day – will have been lost.

  • The Oilers Shot Clock

    Trade as in rent-a-player, no. But if its a trade that addresses one of our many needs for years to come then yes. Why are the 4 kids untouchable? They should be the most in play. If the return is good and it fills a hole then why shouldnt one of them go? Tambellini hasn’t had to make a hard decision yet. I wont fault him for it but he gets no credit for it either.

  • TayLordBalls

    with the league in parity now, what matters more is how the players mesh together.

    I saw it long time ago, when a lesser Calgary team beat the dynasty Oilers.

    Although I will never forget the feeling after the infamous Smith goal, it came down to a better bonded team that beat the Oilers.

    As the Oilers are now, it’s not parts that are missing, but rather parts that have not yet meshed together.

    • The Oilers Shot Clock

      That Calgary team was in no way lesser. If it wasnt for the Oilers they would have won atleast three cups themselves. They were giants and owned us a few years in the regular season. We just had their number in the playoffs. Im surprised they only beat us once actually.

  • The Oilers Shot Clock

    I totally agree with Robin.

    Why are the 4 kids untouchable? Because the Oilers are building their team around them. They are highly skilled and exciting and pro hockey is all about entertainment, besides winning. I wish it was possible to have added PK Subban to the roster as he would fit in perfectly today and in two years time with the 4 kids.

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    Get serious Brownlee you homer. We are nowhere near close to competing for the playoffs.

    To suggest Tambo makes a short term trade just to make the playoffs this year is just plain harmful to the long term health of the team. Even if we get in the playoffs, what are we expected to achieve? It’s way more practical to make short term rentals when the team actually has something to gain.

    It is nice to see this blog still employs someone stuck in the 1980s. You are the Don Cherry of Oilersnation.

      • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

        How so, he doesn’t take a stand against making a rental now.

        “Should he make that deal? Depends what the asking price is. If it means giving up a young core player.”

        So he is saying not to trade one of our young stars, but he is open to other players. Giving up any asset with value for a rental this year is a HUGE mistake. We should be the ones selling our rentals this year, not the other way around.

        • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

          I can see how short-term fixes might be tempting. Tempting? Yes. Smart? No.

          i could be wrong. it has happened once (or several hundreds of times) before

    • First, I’m not a homer.

      Second, I’m not suggesting Tambellini make a trade to make the playoffs this year at the expense of the long-term “health” of the team. The entire slant of the whole item is that HE SHOULD NOT. That you didn’t, or couldn’t, comprehend this before commenting makes you look like a buffoon.

      Third, your last paragraph in concert with your complete and utter failure to comprehend the point of the item — or your decision to ignore it so you could take a poke at me, which you’ve done before — gets you gone.