See What You Want In These Edmonton Oilers

What order the wins and losses came in really doesn’t matter. The Oilers went 4-2-1 in January, and optimism abounded; so far they’ve gone 2-4-2 in February and consequently optimism is in short supply. What matters is that the team is 6-6-3 on the season, sits 11th in the Western Conference, and is just one win out of either the final playoff spot or second-last.

And that means whatever viewpoint one subscribes to – the ‘yes, they’ll make the playoffs’ or ‘Draft Lottery IV: This Time It’s Personal’, there’s something there to back it.

The Amazing 2005-06 Oilers!

The 2005-06 edition of the Edmonton Oilers – also known as the most successful playoff team iced by the franchise since the glory years – started the post-lockout era in mediocre fashion. With a nasty, seven-game road-trip coming up in November, getting off to a good start was important but the Oilers flopped, going 6-6-1 in their first 13 games.

There was a lot of hype entering the season with a pair of high-profile additions – Chris Pronger and Michael Peca – having joined the team. Unfortuantely, in the early going that hype was difficult to justify, particularly with Peca struggling, and the Oilers looked much like the same team they were before the lockout – a team that was life and death for the playoffs and bound for at best a plucky first round victory followed by a quick second round defeat.

The road trip turned out to be not so bad – the Oilers went 4-and-3, hung around until the deadline when Kevin Lowe was able to add Dwayne Roloson from Minnesota and finally solidify the goaltending. The Oilers were a greatly underrated team entering the playoffs – far better than their eighth seed would suggest – and ultimately made it to the Stanley Cup finals, where the loss of Roloson to injury likely cost Kevin Lowe a Cup ring as general manager.

The ‘Worst In Franchise History’ 2009-10 Oilers!

The 2009-10 edition of the Edmonton Oilers – a team that sunk to previously unknown depths, arguably the worst-constructed team in club history – started off in mediocre fashion. With a five-game road-trip on the horizon, the Oilers went 7-7-1 over their first 15 contests, cooling after a 6-2-1 start.

There was a lot of hype entering the season, as Steve Tambellini had his first real chance to put a stamp on the franchise and recruited two high-profile additions – legendary head coach Pat Quinn and new starting goaltender Nikolai Kahbibulin. Fan opinion had drifted downward somewhat after the hot start, and this team seemed like a decent bet to finish in more or less the same place previous editions had – either barely in or barely out of the post-season.

The Oilers went 1-2-2 on the road-trip; not a strong record but not an awful one either, and then Khabibulin hit his first major injury as an Oiler (the last game he played that season was the final one of the road-trip). Replacement Jeff Deslauriers would keep the Oilers competitive for a while, but by the new year it was clear the team was doomed and management decided that ‘rebuild through the draft’ would be the club’s new mantra.

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This Before…

The 2013 edition of the Edmonton Oilers have started their season in mediocre fashion. With a brutal, nine-game road-trip coming up the team has a 6-6-3 record, having cooled after a 4-2-1 start. There was a lot of hype entering the season, given the expected maturation of the young core as well as a pair of high-profile additions in free agent defenceman Justin Schultz and first overall pick Nail Yakupov but the optimistic talk has died down of late given their recent troubles.

The outcome of the road trip, as well as of the season, are yet to be determined. I expected this edition of the team to finish just outside the playoffs, with some potential to rise or fall depending on things like injury. I still feel comfortable with that prediction; this team’s performance this year hasn’t been especially surprising to me.

With that said, the examples of the 2005-06 and 2009-10 teams show that this is one of those things that could still take a ‘Crazy Ivan’ and change dramatically. Could they make the playoffs? Absolutely they could. Could they end up in the bottom five for the fourth consecutive year? That too is a possibility. The fate of the 2013 Oilers is yet to be determined, and it’s not that hard to look one way and see a playoff team, or look the other and see another wasted season.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

  • Toro

    Truly I’m sick of them losing and not being in the playoffs but the fact that its a shortened season , wouldn’t bother me too too much if we brought in another top prospect through the draft but this is the final season I’m willing to do that!

  • MarcusBillius

    Hardly unpopular, its the truth. He was in his prime with the Oilers and arguably the best player in the world at the time. You are right, he made a lot of coaches look brilliant.

  • MarcusBillius

    Unpopular opinion here, but I think Chris Pronger took the Oilers to the Finals. Best defenceman in the world at that time. The next year he put Anaheim over the top against a very skilled Ottawa squad, and a couple of years later he helped lead Philly in a losing effort against a stacked, young, fast Chicago team.

    All due respect to MacT, but the subsequent seasons of failure suggest that it wasn’t him carrying the Oil to the promised land.

  • Lofty

    So the reason the Oilers didn’t win the cup was because of MacT? He took a mediocre team to the finals and you blame him for not taking the ship?

    He did a good job and got a lot out of his line-ups. Something the Oilers haven’t enjoyed since Sathers 2nd stint with a stacked line-up. Krueger hasn’t had enough games to be weighed in the Oilers coaching history.

    In my opinion, at this point Oiler fans should applaud MacT’s decisions rather than ridicule them. He most often challenged for a playoff spot with a budget team. The blender may not have been pretty but it won games the line-up shouldn’t have.

  • Oilers21

    Yeah, small and fast, no grit no team toughness and trust me I did not have high expectations going into the year because you take a look at the other teams in the west, you know the ones who are playoff contenders and they all have a mix of everything. Patience is one thing but with the veteran group we have and the similar players in the system, this team is not going to be successful. Has Tambi made a whole lot of sense in his press conferences about his vision. Its easy to say how they are doing it like Pittsburgh and Chicago but there is a time when you have to make the tough decisions and follow suit. Patience will end up costing the team salary cap space and then plugging the holes will be the motto. The Oilers have money and look at how they were trying to spend it when Katz took over. They had no plan just trying to land a star player to play with Hemsky at a $9 million cap hit. Yeah bring Heatley into the picture and this team would have been even worse in the long run. A smart business model my ass.

  • Ducey

    Yes, lets riot! The Oilers are are at .500 after 15 games! Lets hire Burke! He will talk about truculance and make us feel tough while trading away our future for mediocrity!

    I guess you don’t see the irony of “sheep” like you who have high expectations for the team based on the presence of Hall, Nuge, and Yak, but can’t seem to remember how the team got them.

    You can’t tank for a few years in order to build up a bunch of good prospects and then get rid of them in favour of some vets just before they are about to develop.

  • MarcusBillius

    I gotta disagree here. Our scouting staff, and development system are so much better off since Tambi took over. Unfortunately those things need to be in place before beginning to start building a perennial contender like Detroit. Also, they don’t bear fruit right away. This process takes a long time, and even the best success stories of the rebuild phase took a while as noted by several articles that outline successful rebuilds.

    Think of how long both Chicago and Pittsburgh were terrible for before they went for the rebuild. As for Katz, ya he’s a business man, but having someone with deep pockets willing to spend is so much better then our previous decade of ownership that could barely keep the players we had. Why do you think the Oilers just let Glencross walk? because the ownership couldn’t afford him.

    I agree that now that we have the money, and we can’t get those players to build a team is frustrating, but I’d much rather have the talented core we got through the draft, to build around. No player will come to a city like ours without the players we now have. Was it easy? No. Are we there yet? no. But a team projecting upwards is so much better than a team that constantly finished outside of the playoffs then wasted draft picks for years and years and years.