The Oilers playoff drought is now eight seasons, tying them for the 2nd longest playoff drought in one city with Boston, 1960-1967, and Washington, 1975-1982. Florida fans hold the record for enduring the longest heartache after watching the Panthers miss for ten consecutive seasons.

Can the Oilers improve by 25 points and be in playoff contention next season?

The Oilers finished 24 points behind 8th place Dallas, so not only do they need to improve by 25 points, they also need to leap frog six teams in the process. It is possible — Colorado did it this season — but highly unlikely. General manager Craig MacTavish will need to change a good portion of his lineup, and the players who do return will need to play much smarter and more consistent.

There is no magic fix for the Oilers. It is unrealistic to expect MacTavish to acquire a top pairing D-man, a 2nd line centre, a big, skilled top-six winger and a veteran top-five defender. I’m sure he’ll try, but I don’t see how he can fill all the holes in one off-season.


  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins should be better next season. He should be able to improve his strength and gain some weight over the summer. Last summer, due to shoulder surgery, he wasn’t able to work out to the level necessary to compete against top line centres. He was physically worn down at times this season, and I expect a full summer of training will help him improve next year. He has to get stronger if the Oilers plan to play him against the top lines in the Pacific division.
  • Justin Schultz and Jeff Petry need to be more consistent. I understand the argument they aren’t top-pairing D-men yet, and might never be, but they need to be more consistent regardless of which pairing they play on. The Oilers don’t have any other right-handed D-men who are ready to contribute, unless they draft Aaron Ekblad, but he’d be a rookie. You can’t expect the coach to improve the players, they need to improve themselves. One of Schultz or Petry has to take a big step next season.
  • It is fair to expect 80 points from Taylor Hall. He has scored 130 points in his previous 120 games over the past two seasons. Hall was the first Oiler to finish in the top-ten in scoring in consecutive seasons since Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky in 1987-1988. Hall is one of the best point producers in the league, and over the past 25 games he improved his neutral and defensive zone play. I highly doubt you see him with a 44% Corsi next year, mainly because I expect the blueline to be better, and if he continues to develop his two-way game Hall will be able to win 8-10 games himself.


  • Can MacTavish acquire a proven NHL D-man? Who are realistic trade options?

    I don’t see the Predators trading Shea Weber, but they need offence. Would they trade Roman Josi? He has an outstanding contract, six more years at $4 million, but if they are going to acquire some scoring they need to move one of Weber, Jones or Josi.

    Would an Eberle or Yakupov for Josi deal happen? Sam Gagner is not enough to get Josi.

  • Some other names that could be available. Dustin Byfuglien. Paul Maurice wants to play him as a winger, but big Buff prefers defence. If Maurice comes back and Byfuglien really wants to play D he would be available.

    Paul Martin is 33. The Pens have Matt Niskanen, Kris Letang and Olli Maatta. Martin has a limited no-trade clause. He shoots left. You can’t trade Eberle or Yakupov for a 33-year-old, so I’m not sure I see a deal that works for both sides.

    Washington will likely have a new GM and that team needs a shake up. Mike Green played 70+ games for the 4th time in his career. The right shot D-man will shoot the puck on the PP, but he’s not great defensively. Would Gagner for Green work? Green has one year left on his $6,083 mill deal. He does have a NMC, but he’s from Alberta and might want a change. Neither player lived up to his contract, this past season, and the Caps need some secondary scoring….

  • The Sabres have a new GM and handful of draft picks. They have Tyler Myers, Mark Pysyk, Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov in their stable of D-men. They were the lowest scoring team in the last 15 years (157 goals), and they desperately need some offence. Would they move Tyler Myers for Eberle or Yakupov and something else? Myers could be like Erik Johnson, who finally became a bonafide #1 D-man in his 6th season. It likely would take Eberle for Buffalo to move him. Would MacTavish make that deal? Would you? I wouldn’t move Eberle, but if you want to acquire a good young D-man is he likely the player the opposing team wants.


face palm

  • The Habs won’t let P.K Subban walk. I’ve seen much speculation about an offer sheet or a trade, but neither will happen. Subban and Therrien have had their battles, but the young, star player will always win out. The Habs won’t lose him.
  • MacTavish needs to find some secondary scoring. Ryan Smyth was 7th on the team in goals and 8th in points. You’d hope Tyler Pitlick or Anton Lander could score ten goals next season, but neither of those two have shown any offensive consistency at the NHL level just yet. They also lose Smyth on the PK and he knows how to compete every night.
  • One thing I don’t understand is why people want to replace Gagner with Mark Arcobello? I believe Gagner does get moved, but replacing him with an unproven, smaller centre is a massive risk. I’d rather risk Arcobello as a 3rd line centre, but if he is the 2nd line guy to start the season the Oilers are taking a huge gamble.
  • Today it looks unlikely the Oilers can make that big of a jump next season, but MacTavish has six months to revamp his lineup and make them more competitive. It will be another interesting off-season in Edmonton, and one that needs to be more productive than the previous seven have been.
  • MacTavish will speak to the media tomorrow, and the draft lottery goes tomorrow night. The Oilers have a 14.2% of winning. They have won in the #1 and #2 slot and will try to win out the #3 hole.
  • Barry Trotz  is out in Nashville. He won’t be out of work long if he decides he wants to be back in the NHL, and I expect we see him to go a team that is close to competing. I doubt he’d want to go to another rebuilding team. I could see the Predators promoting their AHL coach, Dean Evason. He has experience and would have a slightly different approach. 
  • How awesome was Saturday night? It was great to see Smyth and the fans get to say goodbye. That doesn’t happen very often, and it was great to see his teammates send him off with a victory. Good luck in retirement Ryan.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • Jason:

    Explain to me how Calgary can claim to be in a Rebuild.

    A standard career of a top 3 Forward is drafted Age 17 play to age 36.

    So 1st 1/3 of Caeer is age 18 to 23

    The mid 1/3 of Career is 24 to 30

    the last 1/3 31 to 36.

    The Calgary flames top 9 scoring Forwards.
    Age next year

    1.Hudler 17G 54P 30 yr

    2. Cammalleri 26G 45P 32 yr (ufa)

    3. Backlund 18G 39P 25yr

    4. Monohan 22G 34P 20yr

    5. Stajan 14G 33P 31yr

    6. Colburne 10G 28P 24yr

    7. Glencross 12G 24P 32yr likely 25G 45P

    8. Byron 7G 21P 25 yr

    9. D. jones 9G 17P 30 yr

    Top 4 Dmen

    Giordano 14G 47P 31yr

    Brodie 4G 31P 24yr

    Russell 7G 29P 26yr

    Smid 2G 8P 28yr

    There is 3 player under 25 2fwd 1 D.

    The oilers:
    Hall 23; Eberle 24; Perron 26;RNH 21; Gagner 25; Yak 21;

    Petry 27; Marincin 23; Klefbom 21;Schultz 24

    There are minimum 7 players U25 4 fwd and 3 D.
    Calgary is just a real bad veteran team!

    • The Last Big Bear

      Everything about your post is flawed, in many ways:

      1) You’re judging Calgary’s rebuild based on what the Oilers are doing. Edmonton’s rebuild has been a complete failure and disgrace. It is not a good baseline for evaluating other teams’ rebuilds.

      2) Congrats on being forced to rely on teenagers for top-6 minutes and key defensive slots. How’s that working out for you? Since the Oilers have decidedto short-cut their development and put them into clutch roles, they must be drive some kinda results, eh? No? Worst in the conference you say?

      3) Well them how are your young players developing? Consistent year-on-year progres? Yakupov, RNH, Eberle, Schultz, all showing clear improvement and signs of being well-managed? No?

      4) Here’s an example: Sven Baertschi and Nail Yakupov are pretty much equally skilled offensive players. They are one year apart in age, have put up almost identical PPG numbers in juniors (1.8ppg ish), and in the NHL (just a hair under 0.5ppg). Neither of them are NHL-ready defensively. In Calgary, this is just another way of saying “not NHL-ready”, and so Sven is in Abbotsford. In Edmonton, Yakupov gets his head bashed in as he’s force fed top-6 minutes despite being nowhere near ready for that role. Everybody remember that time Baertschi’s agent publically threatened to have him renege on his contract and go back to the Swiss A league? No?

      5) While we’re on that note, how many people think Max Reinhart would be in the AHL if he was Oilers property? Or how about Markus Granlund, who led AHL rookies in goals-per-game (plus a few extra goals in the NHL during his call-up)? Other players like Johnny Gaudreau, Tyler Wotherspoon, Emile Poirier, Joni Ortio, have all been developing very nicely in their respective leagues, and look poised to be quality NHLers. The fact that they weren’t thrust into NHL roles for which they weren’t prepared doesn’t mean that Calgary isn’t rebuilding.

      • Wow the BS brigade is in full force, I love how the Oilers rebuild was a failure and a disgrace lets see they drafted high in 10,11,12,13, and 14 Pittsburgh drafed high in 02,03,04,05,06, while Chicago did it in 04, 05, 06, and 07 but yes the Oilers are a disgrace because they did not rebuild in 2 year I know right.

        I am trying to decipher what you are even saying in your second point, but if you are whining about RNH and Hall like it is so unheard of, maybe check your facts, RNH was not the first line centre, they put Horcoff out against the tough competition and yeah it worked so bad for Hall I mean all it did was establish him as a top left winger. I would like to also point out Eberle was returned to the junior twice, the ONLY argument you could make is Yakapov and tell me what would dominating junior and not learning defense do for another year ?

        For all the ham and eggers you claim Calgary is doing so well with I can put a list of players that are not likely nhl players and claim the oilers are “developing” them as well so do not try you know what in the wind and tell me it is raining.

      • You make some good points, but I would disagree with a few others as well.

        Agree that other than Hall the Oilers young guns haven’t progressed as well as might be expected for highly touted prospects. Especially RNH and Yak as No 1s.

        I would also add that Eberle’s might just be what he is. He may not get any better under any circumstance and this far from a failure for the Oil. A player that can pot close to 30 goals and 70 points for the next 8 years would be quiet an asset.

        I don’t think one could claim that other teams would have done much different with RNH. Although with a team with true top line NHL center he wouldn’t have been had the same baptism by fire as this year. I don’t think any NHL team would have sent RNH to junior or the AHL at any time over the last 2 years (other than the lock out period of course).

        I would disagree with your statement about Yak and Baertschi having similar skill level, there is a reason why Yak was BPA in his draft year.

        Agree that the Oil management was weak kneed in not sending Yak to AHL when he was coming off the rails in October/November. The wailing that would have come from this site and others would have been severe, but it might have qualified as a “bold” move. This year was a lost year in Yak’s development.

        Agree that the Oil’s “rebuild” has embarrassed their fans and their city. Surely not even the most ardent Oil fan (and I am one of them)could disagree with this.

        Having said all that another, lesson that has been learned is that success in the AHL does mean you will succeed in the NHL. Case in point in Anton Lander, a ppg player in the AHL gets I assist in 50 plus games with the big boys. So don’t count your AHL chickens before they hatch.

      • The Real Scuba Steve

        By your explanation of the Flames rebuild I guess LA is in a rebuild with the few young players that are in the lineup because they have prospects in the AHL and so does Detroit, how about Chicago and Pittsburgh? All these teams have a few younger players and prospects playing in the minors. this does not make them a rebuilding team. I’ll give you that Edmonton stripped down too far and are having a much harder rebuild because of it but right now Calgary really is just a bad veteran team with some good prospects in the minors.

        • The Last Big Bear

          This whole discussion is ridiculous.

          A team trades away their best forward for picks and prospects, trades their best defenceman for picks and prospects, their best goalie retires, they take 3 first round picks, and then trade off further veteran players for picks, all the while openly declaring that they are rebuilding… this has happened in ONE calendar year.

          And yet people say “How are they rebuilding?”

          All of the above is what makes them different from other NHL teams who have some good prospects.

          Rebuilding doesn’t just mean throwing teenagers into key positions, and hoping their grow into the role.

          Flames fans are quite happy with how their season has gone vis-a-vis the rebuild. They feel there is a good leadership group in place to help mentor the young players, the captain has visibly stepped up to a whole new level to lead the team, and everybody wearing a letter has raised their game. Everyone is impressed with the coaching, and there is an undeniable culture of hard work on the team. There is also no question that the young players who have made the roster deserve to be in the NHL.

          Not only are the Flames rebuilding, but their fans are generally quite happy about how it’s going, even though the team has not won much.

          How do Oilers fans feel their rebuild is going?

    • Jason Gregor

      I’m not sure why Calgary is basing their rebuild success on being better than Edmonton. I don’t think the Oilers should be the measuring stick for success. If they are then the bar is low right now.

      Calgary seems to have an unhealthy infatuation with Edmonton. They talk about the Oilers on air in Calgary quite often. Finishing ahead of the Oilers has many Flames fans thinking their season wasn’t that bad, when it fact it was brutal, just like the Oilers.

      • The Last Big Bear

        The reason Flames fans feel our rebuild is going well (and certainly better than Edmonton’s) has nothing to do with the standings.

        And I’d argue there is no such thing as an unhealthy infatuation with your rivals. Rivalry is pretty much what all of sports is all about.

        • Zarny

          Flames fans are also delusional.

          Giordano is the one key piece Cgy has that Edm lacks. Brodie is ok but wouldn’t be a top-pair D without an all-star like Gio.

          Monahan had a nice rookie season but still only managed 34 pts and was -20. At best he’s a 2C.

          Otherwise the Flames have nothing to build around.

          Backlund was drafted 7 years and has never hit 40 pts despite the fact 25 is statistically the best year for the average NHLer. Baertschi is a complete bust. 3 years after being drafted he still hasn’t played more than 26 games in an NHL season. Neither will ever be more than 3rd line players on a playoff team. You certainly aren’t going to build anything around them.

          Hudler and Stajan are 30; Cammalleri, Glencross and Wideman are all 31. All good vets that helped Cgy avoid a top 5 draft pick this year but all are on the down slope of their career. None will be part of any nucleus to build around.

          In net the Flames have Karri Ramo and his 2.65 GAA and 0.911 SV%. Last year Dubnyk had a 2.57 GAA and a 0.921 SV%. In fact, Dubnyk had never had a SV% as low as 0.911% outside his first year in Edm and this year. That should tell you how set the Flames are in net…or rather how not set they are.

          Gio, Monahan and maybe Brodie…that’s what the Flames have to build around. Otherwise the Flames have nothing and will be lucky if any of their other young players end up being equal to Cogliano or Gagner.

  • Jason Gregor

    It would be pretty hard to be worse next season. Our core is at an age where they should still be improving. We won’t have to adjust to a new coach at the start of the season. We should have better goaltending. I still don’t see us as a playoff team.

    We have 4 top six guys in Hall, RNH, Eberle and Perron. Our second and third lines need to be re-made. The top part of our defensive depth chart needs to be upgraded. Lots of work to do, not enough time, not enough assets that we can afford to part with.

    I agree that we are in trouble if Arcobello is our #2 centre next season. Arcobello is versatile and that’s what will make him valuable but he should not be counted on in an offensive role all season. I’m also opposed to having our #1 pick play in the NHL next season regardless of who it is. That’s why Lander’s lack of production during his trial run this season was so disappointing, we are low on internal candidates for top 9 forward roles.

  • Eberle for Meyers? Huge overpay.

    Here are some good deals that make sense:

    Gagner for Erhhoff
    Gagner for Gardiner
    Gagner for Edler
    Gagner for Meyers
    Gagner for Bailey

    Those trades make sense, trading a scorer from a team needing more goals is dumb dumb.

    Kind of like trading Yakupov for Clarkson. Dumb.

  • Jason Gregor

    How can it get worse? easy, 9 years out of the playoffs. Oilers have lots of holes to fill and who out there, except for extreme optimists, actually think the Oilers will make the playoffs in 2014-15. MacT will have to pull more then a few rabbits out of his hat to come close to the playoffs. 10 to 11 in the Western Conference at the best.

  • Jason Gregor

    It is hard to believe that it was said it would take five years for the re build…but here We are heading into year five. If we do stay somewhat patient..I know..its hard..we will be drafting a possible 1st overall pick no matter where we draft. Ekblad, Reinhart,Draisaitl, and Bennett. Depending on who you talk to any one of these players could go number one overall. That means we should be getting a good player. So if we are getting what I consider another Number 1 pick Then I think MacT is going to try and trade Yak in a package for a big defensemen or forward. I am thinking Myers or Coutourier type player. I am optimistic MacT rights the ship this off season and don’t see him trading the pick.

  • The Last Big Bear

    How about acquiring a young center for the 3rd overall pick. Philly could be in cap trouble depending on what happens with the salary cap. Or maybe you keep the 3rd overall pick and look to trade Yakupov. Holmgren is a gm that takes risks. I think he’d be a good trading partner.

    Couturier + for Yakupov

    Draft Ekbald.

    Move young dman and Gagner for veteran dman.

  • The Last Big Bear

    The Number 1, agenda for the Oilers for next season has to be improving on their GA. This year they are in 30th place with 267 goals against..putting them against the Number 1 team , the LA Kings with
    168 Ga. Thats almost 100 goal differential.

    Its not just on the D Men and Goal tending, but the forwards have to improve their defensive game big time.

    There isnt a single team [ maybe Philly ] in the play off this year that have a minus GF/GA number.
    Its that simple.

  • The Last Big Bear

    If MacT can turn Gagner into Mike Green straight up I would do a triple back flip into a pile of marshmallows. I cant see it happening but i know i’d love to be proven wrong.

  • The Real Scuba Steve

    I remember reading last year how the Avs were in for a long rebuild……..apparently the new coach did not care to hear this and they are now considered a very good team.

    Conversely the Canucks went from being division champions to nothing this year……..in no part thanks to their defensive minded coach.

    Yea coaching plays no part in determining a teams outcome according to JG. I’m not saying we need to change our coach but it’s hard to argue that sometimes coaching plays a big part in a teams success.

    All I have to say is that Dallas better not practice his uber intellectual retarded line combinations next year!! He cost us at least 10 to 15 games because he did not know who to play where and everybody know that.

  • The last big Bear:

    Playing a whole collection of Aged Players is not a rebuild!
    it is a bad veteran team.

    Oh wait!
    The chicago Blackhawks were in a rebuild last year.
    A 1 year rebuild!
    they added Shaw; Saad; Leddy.

    The blackhawks missed playoffs fro 9 years.
    Chicago started to build there base from picks starting in 1998.
    they assembled 14 players. drafted tows and Kane. then signed
    there cup winning goalie Niemi and 3 of the top 6 +/- players in the playoffs (campbell; Sopel; Hossa) in free agency.

    oilers were owned by pocklington and EIG until 2007.
    the assets we have left from those drafts.
    Larsen for Horcoff.

    Katz from 2008
    draft picks and assets tom picks; UDFA: waiver claim



    with hall in the line-up we were
    14-8-4 .615% versus East

    1-5 witout hall; perron; gagner

    wewere 6-2-3 .682% versus CGY; NSH; WPG.

    0-18-2 versus west best.
    with DUbnyk; Labarbera; Bryz.

    6-8 with Scrivens and Fasth

    pretty obvious were we lost.
    but we suffer from 32 games against unlike the weak east that has 16.

  • Jason Gregor

    That “it’s going to get worse before it gets better” sportsnet quote seemed like b.s. to me too, just a cliche said without much forethought. It can’t get any worse than this season. Next season we will start with better goaltending, and we won’t be learning a new system.

  • Zarny

    Fun fact: 4 of the teams who finished 28th over the last 5 years have rebounded to make the playoffs the following year.

    The Oilers season was tainted by starting 4-15-2. Putrid goal-tending and injuries easily cost them 10 pts; low-hanging fruit which should be a given next year. 15 pts is probably closer to what the current roster needs to improve by to make the playoffs.

    I agree it will be difficult to address all of the roster deficiencies by next season but MacT doesn’t need to. They need the laundry list to win the Cup; not make the playoffs.

    There seems to be a silly misconception by many that players are not available despite evidence to the contrary. Phi moved Carter and Richards. Bos traded Seguin. Van traded Schneider.

    ALL for the equivalent of assets that the Oilers have. And yes that means potentially trading players like Eberle, Yakupov, Gagner, Petry, Schultz, Klefbom, Marincin or the 1st round picks from this year or next.

    It’s time the Oilers turn the corner. If Ekblad is on the board the Oilers should be talking to Chi about Keith and Seabrook. Josi should be the back-up plan after pitching Jones and Ekblad to Poile. Phx has OEL and Yandle. 5 years after being drafted Schenn’s high-water mark is 41 pts in a full 82 games. Couturier still hasn’t hit 40 pts. Gagner does that in his sleep. A shot at Reinhart or Bennett to play behind Giroux has to be enticing.

    Most options will end with a “no”. Doesn’t matter. You only need one yes.