NO CIGAR: THE DIRTY DOZEN

GoodNews

If most of the cards fall their way, I won’t be shocked if the Edmonton Oilers improve by 20 points this season. I will be surprised, however, if they end an eight-year playoff drought and make it to the post-season in the Western Conference for the first time since reaching the Stanley Cup final in 2006.

Twenty points is a considerable increase over the 67 the Oilers managed last season with a record of 29-44-9, but it’s one that’s attainable if they can take advantage of a favorable schedule to start the season — one which sees them play eight of their first 11 games at home – build some confidence and avoid the terrible start they had a year ago.

The Oilers were face down after 21 games in 2013-14 when they staggered to a 4-15-2 start thanks, in large part, to abysmal goaltending from Devan Dubnyk and Jason LaBarbera. They were in chase mode the rest of the way and never did catch up because they didn’t score enough goals (especially five-on-five), and dug the puck out of their net far too often.

The good news is the Oilers, who open the season against the Calgary Flames Thursday, would be hard-pressed to duplicate such a miserable start and that they appear to have improved to some degree in goal, on defense and up front. A 20-point improvement isn’t out of the question.

The bad news is that while that would represent a quantum leap and a more-than-reasonable gain, history tells us it’ll leave them short of a playoff spot. The Dallas Stars finished eighth in the conference last season with 91 points and it’ll take at least as many this season. Points aside, the Oilers have to vault six teams in the standings.

THE POSITIVES

positives

Even with questions about the lack of experience at centre and depth on the blue line, I think most observers believe the Oilers are going to be better than they were last season. The bar, after all, has been set low. That caveat aside, I see some definite positives.

  • While Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth have yet to establish themselves as bona fide starters capable of keeping the crease for 60-plus games a season, they should push each other as a tandem and will provide an upgrade on Dubnyk, LaBarbera and Ilya Bryzgalov. The Oilers allowed 270 goals last season, dead-last in the NHL.
  • There were plenty of bumps in the road, especially early, a year ago as Dallas Eakins took over from Ralph Krueger as head coach. Eakins’ swarm defensive scheme was a disaster. His power play alignment was a shorthanded goal waiting to happen. Eakins was at odds with sophomore Nail Yakupov. We saw a willingness to adapt from Eakins late last season and he has made an attempt to get on the same page as Yakupov this off-season. The growing pains should be out of the way. The addition of Craig Ramsay is a plus.
  • GM Craig MacTavish addressed the lack of size up front by bringing in Benoit Pouliot and Teddy Purcell. While neither are big bangers, especially Purcell, they are seasoned veterans. Pouliot fits the bill in the puck possession game Eakins wants to play. Add rookie centre Leon Draisaitl and the forwards are bigger and a reasonably skilled group. Pouliot is starting the season with a tender hip-flexor
  • While Taylor Hall scored 27-53-80 in 72 games last season, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, coming off shoulder surgery, had a so-so season with 19-37-56 in 80 games. I fully expect Nugent-Hopkins to have a bounce back campaign. If RNH is more productive, I expect the same from Jordan Eberle, who scored 28-37-65 in 80 games.
  • The blue line. Paired or not, acquisitions Mark Fayne and Nikita Nikitin, who is nicked with a twisted ankle, add size and experience to a group that needed both. They’ll eat some tough minutes previously force-fed to Jeff Petry, Andrew Ference and Justin Schultz.

THE QUESTIONS

Questions

With this much turnover on the roster as we’re seeing, there’s bound to be some questions and the Oilers line-up as it stands now presents many.

  • Men in the middle. No breaking news here, but there’s a big question down the middle below RNH and above reliable face-off man Boyd Gordon in Draisaitl and Mark Arcobello. As impressive as he was during the pre-season, Draisaitl will face a step up in competition and we won’t know how he’ll handle it until he actually faces real NHL line-ups. Arcobello has 41 games on his NHL resume. If either one of them falters, the option, at least right now, is Will Acton. What could go wrong?
  • The kids. Draisaitl aside, are Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom ready for primetime? Keith Aulie did nothing during pre-season and has been sent to OKC of the AHL. Aulie was supposed to be the seventh man, the guy who split time between the ice and the press box. Instead, Nurse and Klefbom start the season here. Brad Hunt is also in the mix. It makes no sense to have Nurse or Klefbom sitting.
  • If Draisaitl and Yakupov can find some chemistry and avoid being a defensive liability – they’ll get help from Pouliot on left wing – the Oilers could have two decent scoring lines. That’s a big “if.” Yakupov needs to rebound after a difficult second season and Draisaitl has to feel his way into the league at the same time. David Perron is coming off a career year with 28 goals. Encore?
  • Special teams. The Oilers power play compounded mediocre production (it was ranked 21st with 46 goals) by allowing an NHL-worst 13 shorthanded goals against. It has to be better. Will Eakins tweak his approach? Will he better utilize Yakupov? Will Nikitin add a shot from the point the Oilers haven’t had in a while? The penalty kill was ranked 15th last season and it can’t slide. With better goaltending and the addition of Fayne, I don’t expect it will.
  • Getting the pieces to fit. Oddly, Eakins didn’t use his last couple of pre-season games to roll out his starting line-up, so the Oilers are going to have to find out who fits with whom in terms of lines, defensive pairings and special teams at the start of the season. At the same time, if the Oilers are going to take advantage of that favourable early schedule, they’ll have to find the right mix quickly.

THE BOTTOM LINE

bottomline

The non-playoff teams in the Western Conference last season where Arizona (89 points), Nashville (88), Winnipeg (84), Vancouver (83), Calgary (77) and Edmonton (67). Even if Arizona and Nashville slide a bit, there’s a lot of ground for the Oilers to make up to catch them. The Canucks, with the John Tortorella era over and done in one season, should be better.

If the Oilers make some hay in those first 11 games of the season while settling in their line-up, I can see them overtaking the Flames and the Jets. Anything beyond that seems a very hopeful reach. I see the Oilers finishing 12th and missing the playoffs for the ninth straight season.

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

  • "Frank the dog"

    1) If we’re going to pile on Eakins let’s pile on MacT for his last year coaching, and Quinn, and Renney, and Krueger. All has dismal results.
    Not everything is as it seems. Sometimes you need to dig a little deeper to see the problem.
    One way to find the problem, i.e. the driving cause of the issues, is to eliminate the variables until finally the constant at the core of the problem is revealed. You don’t need savant like powers to do this.
    I believe there were several issues that brought us to this point, both situational and organizational, that took us to this point, that have been well covered by people a lot more expert in hockey than myself. This includes the inability of the ownership group that saved the Oilers for Edmonton, to finance a farm system; and Lowe’s mortgaging of the future for that magical Stanley Cup run.
    Those two factors pretty much guaranteed a sub-par roster for years to come, we lost our draft picks, and we didn’t have a farm system anyway.
    But there’s more. In a circumstance like this, you absolutely need a strong coaching team in order to at least get workmanlike performance from a sub-par group of players. there are a few teams around the league tat have done this well, Phoenix and Dallas come to mind as recent examples.
    I don’t hold Steve Tambellini completely accountable for the hire of Bucky in 2008 and Steve Smith in 2009. Both are “Boys on the bus”, and those two hires have Lowe’s fingerprints all over them. Neither hire was appropriate for the situation, and the Oilers have paid a bitter price for not only hiring but keeping them long after the error became apparent.
    Bucky coached the woeful Springfield Falcons and got a “Betmann” .500 season, losing more games than he won. That got him promoted to Oilers Assistant Coach with Oilers HC aspirations. An Assistant Coach with more political clout than the GM. No more clout than the Coach at the time, but MacT may have seen the writing on the wall when he quit/was relieved of his duties after publicly declaring that there was nothing more he could do with the players on his team – i.e. the roster.
    Quinn came in, and inherited Bucky, and the stage was set.
    1)Bucky did not have the skill set or maturity to successfully fulfill his role. That would already have become apparent under MacT’s coaching era.
    2)Bucky was better connected politically than Quinn or any of his successors, and better connected politically than Tambellini as well. Bucky was, and is, well liked in the organization and among many of the fans for his plucky performances during his time with the Oilers. He was the epitome of the Oilers work ethic.
    So it’s pretty obvious that if Bucky had something to say about Quinn, Lowe would listen. So when the team failed, out went Quinn. And Renney. And Krueger, and, almost, Eakins. Each one had stellar prior careers. Each one had the same Assistant/s thrust upon them, Bucky from 2008, Steve Smith, who also had a big fat zero next to his coaching experience, asked to get the best out of a gutted and incompetently re-assembled roster, an impossible task.
    I maintain that those two would ruin even a good roster, witness the players they ruined, almost ruined, or gave up and left. So no, I do not think any of Quinn, Renney, Krueger or Eakins are or were incompetent. I think all except Eakins had increasingly gutted rosters as either Tambo traded or Bucky drove players away, but all would have done a lot better had they been allowed to bring in their own assistants.
    We may even have stopped the slide at Renney, let alone Krueger.
    What happened, is for whatever reason, MacT finally threw his weight and influence behind Eakins instead of his prior teammate. Neither Bucky nor Smith were fired as I feel they should have been, but I’m just a Tier 3 fan chirping on the sidelines.

    The point of all this is that I feel that the departure of the two assistants should prove to be transformational. This will finally be a unified coaching team, with proven aptitude and experience in the most important spots.
    Eakins may be a prick, but then you need to acknowledge that so were Quinn, Renney, and Krueger, as opposed to the situation I have described above.
    I believe that having a unified, somewhat competent coaching team has the potential to make this team quite a lot more than the sum of its parts, the good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise as LT says.

  • Serious Gord

    Of non playoff teams Arizona (89 points), Nashville (88), Winnipeg (84), Vancouver (83), Calgary (77) I think all are worse this season. That doesn’t mean we’re better, just that we have a chance to catch them. The problem is that 8th seed Dallas improved substantially in the off-season. Catching them is a distant bell and will be highly unlikely. This means we have to catch and pass team 6 or 7 from last year. Which happened to be The Stanley Cup Champion Kings and the Wild who finished 31 points ahead of us. Ready the PLAYOFFS?? PLAYOFFS???? Jets Football sound bite. We will be much better this year, but playoffs are not likely in the cards.

    • Serious Gord

      Calgary and van and Nashville all look to be better this season.

      Arizona and WPG may be worse – and Robin rightly looks to the oil to pass one of them. And that’s about it.

        • Armchair_Gm

          Vancouver had a terrible coach last season, they also had the usual goaltending controversy that they addressed by bringing in miller. They also added radim vrbata a 30.goal scorer. So I dont see how they got worse, at all. Calgary added Jonas hiller and Raymond and guess what guys Gaudreau looks deadly. And Nashville didn’t have pekka rinne all season so theyre instantly better

          • Mike Wazowski

            While Miller is an upgrade on last years gong show in Van last season, he hasn’t been a lights-out great goalie in a few years and Vrbata has scored around 30 goals only twice in a decade-long span. Not exactly the huge add you describe

            Jonas Hiller is almost as much of a question mark as Scrivens/Fasth and has struggled in the last few years. Behind a weak Flames team he may not improve his play by much. Mason Raymond is a decent add for Calgary but is a 2nd line winger at best. They have as weak or weaker a line-up as last season.

            The Oils depth and skill has improved on the wings, defense and in goal. However, centre is a big question mark. While the team should improve they will likely be outside of the playoffs.

          • Just a Fan

            I see Vancouver Improving, their fist line is deadly, Vbarta didnt score more because he was in PHX, a defensive team, he will do good, however hes getting older.

            The only problem they have is they no longer have Ryan kesler…

          • Armchair_Gm

            Straight bull about miller, he was keeping buffalo at least mildly respectable last year. And is an Olympian. And vrbata has scored 30 playing on defensive minded teams and now he’s with the sedins? Come on buddy he’s guaranteed 30 next season.

            And I’m not saying Calgary is à good team, but did Edmonton do enough to.surpass them? They somehow finished with a better record despite having karri ramo and reto berra. Hiller and Raymond only make that group better. And I’m telling you guys Gaudreau is the real.deal, hes so shifty and smart he has à legit chance at winning the Calder.

          • Mike Wazowski

            Really? Over the last several seasons he’s had his own performance issues. He was a starting Olympian over a decade ago and St. Louis let him walk even though they were desperate for goaltending. He’s a good goalie but he has a lot to prove that he can be a “great” goalie again.

            Vrbata’s NHL point totals since ’01 (GP, G, A, P)

            2001-02 Colorado Avalanche 52 18 12 30
            2002-03 Colorado Avalanche 66 11 19 30
            2002-03 Carolina Hurricanes 10 5 0 5
            2003-04 Carolina Hurricanes 80 12 13 25
            2005-06 Carolina Hurricanes 16 2 3 5
            2005-06 Chicago Blackhawks 45 13 21 34
            2006-07 Chicago Blackhawks 77 14 27 41
            2007-08 Phoenix Coyotes 76 27 29 56
            2008-09 Tampa Bay Lightning 18 3 3 6
            2009-10 Phoenix Coyotes 82 24 19 43
            2010-11 Phoenix Coyotes 79 19 29 48
            2011-12 Phoenix Coyotes 77 35 27 62
            2012-13 Phoenix Coyotes 34 12 16 28
            2013-14 Phoenix Coyotes 80 20 31 51

            One 35 goal season and one 27 goal season. He wasn’t exactly playing with slugs in COL, CAR, CHI or TBL and is now on the down side of his career. It’s quite a jump to go from an average of 15 goals to 30 goals.

            Hiller is an upgrade on the Flames previous two goalies but has struggled the last couple of season too. He lost out the starting job last year to two rookie goalies.

            Arguing Gaudreau is ‘the real deal’ holds the same weight as any rookie. How did Monahan do after his fast start? Struggled badly. Those with a love/hate with the Oilers use the inexperience of our players as a negative. How is that any different with Gaudreau? What supporting players can he play with on the Flames?

          • Just a Fan

            Hey Zarny, is that you? It is hard to recognize you with those rose coloured glasses on.

            Seriously, did read that Vancouver traded their second line center for magic beans? How about the fact that Gaudreau would not be the biggest player on a peewee team and they are asking him to replace a real NHL player. Yes on paper both Vancouver and Calgary have regressed.

          • pkam

            Even under the goaltending controversy, Luongo still outperformed Miller. The Blues have arguably the better defense and play a more defensive system than the Canucks, yet Luongo’s SV% is better than Miller’s. Luongo’s SV% at Florida was also better than Miller’s in Buffalo. So what improvement do you expect in goaltending?

            Vrbata is a 30 goal scorer? He is 33 now and only scored 30 goals once. This is like calling Horcoff a 70 pts player.

            And no mention of the loss of Kesler, one of the best 2C in the league and Garrison, their
            number 1 offensive defenseman?

            I realize that the Sedins and Edler had an exceptional bad year, but even they bounce back this year it will hard to imagine that the team will be much better than last year. The Sedins will not be a ppg player anymore at 34 years old. And Vrbata will never score 30 goals again.

          • Armchair_Gm

            Miller played poorly in the playoffs, I agree. But Luongo had à dark cloud over his head because of his own playoff misfortunes. Miller will have a bounce back season, good training camp and we will see him win 30 games this season.

            And to call kesler a top second line center is like saying horcoff is à 70 point guy. He’s always hurt, and wildly inconsistent. And as far as their d goes, they still have edler and beiksa who are both better than anybody the oilers have. I mean burrows didn’t score a goal for like 50 games last season. You guys are dreaming if you think Edmonton improved enough to surpass them

          • pkam

            Luongo had a dark cloud over his head, so what? He still outperformed Millers. What if he didn’t? So how is Miller an improvement over Luongo? I see, Miller will have a bounce back season. How can anyone argue with that? I certainly can’t as I don’t have a crystal ball like you do.

            Kesler is not a top second line centre and is wildly inconsistent? He is consistently the 3rd best ppg player in the Canucks roster in the past 5-6 years, just after the Sedins. And he, not the Sedins, was the main reason the Canucks made it to the cup final in 2010. Are you telling me that the Canucks are better with Bonino than Kesler? I guess he was a top 2C when he was a Canucks and won’t be when he left.

            Did I say Edler and Beiksa are not better than anybody the Oilers have? I just said the Canucks lost their best offensive defenseman Garrison and they have done nothing to replace him. So how is this year defense better than last year?

            I’ll give you that, Vrbata is better than Booth but Vrbata is more a 20 goal scorer than 30 goal scorer. With Sedins as his linemate, he may do better and score 25 goals.

            So how is the Canucks better this year than last year?

            And where did I say the Oilers has improved enough to surpass the Canucks? All I said is the Canucks roster is not better but worse than the year before.

            The goaltending is not any better, the centre depth is definitely worse and so is the defense group. Coaching change is a question mark. The only improvement is replacing David Booth with Vrbata. Not sure how you come to conclusion that the Canucks are better this year than the year before.

  • Leon Nugent McEberle

    I’m not sure if you have seen Mark Fayne up close and personal Robin, but I was wondering if he looks as big in peerson as he does on the ice.

    Also it’s so hard to guage him on one game, that was televised, but he looked solid. Ir remember another time not so long ago when we acquired a big, mean defenceman, and it totally changed our team.

    I’m not saying he is close to being that type of player, but you never know?

  • Armchair_Gm

    I am hoping for meaningful hockey in March and beating the Flames, and summoning the spirit of Tambo’s tie to ride our 4 percent chance of landing Connor McDavid in June.

  • vetinari

    Normally a 20 point improvement would be considered a successful year for most teams but it feels like we are about two years past the point of being in that range and should be pushing for playoff spots instead– at least based on the time it has taken to do this rebuild and the fact that MacT has had to rebuild Tambellini’s original rebuild.

    I guess where I am the angriest is why was Tambellini allowed to drive this team into the ground so badly for so long?

  • Zarny

    Last year was skewed by starting 4-15-2. Had they started 9-10-2 matching their win % over the final 61 games they would have finished tied with Calgary @ 77 PT. So an additional 5 wins (10 points) should be low hanging fruit.

    Beyond that gains will be tough though. Cgy, Van and a few other teams appear to have taken a step back, but other teams like Ana, Dal and StL loaded up this summer. An improved blueline and additional depth on W should help and 5 more wins on top of the easy gains are reasonable expectations.

    Just like every team in the bottom half of the league though the Oilers are susceptible to injury. Nuge is literally the only C who can play against players like Getzlaf, Kopitar and Toews. If he goes down the Oilers are in for a world of hurt. The 2nd and 3rd lines are reliant upon a rookie and an undrafted hobbit who has played all of 42 NHL games and looked terrible in pre-season. You can argue Arcobello was better than Gagner’s worst season ever last year; but he wasn’t better than Gagner’s previous seasons where the Oilers still finished at the bottom.

    Depending on your expectations Oiler fans should be cautiously optimistic. The roster is where most probably thought they were last year. Playoffs are a pipe dream but we should see more steps forward than backwards.

    • Just a Fan

      I dont believe the canucks will be better. Quite the opposite to be honest. Second coach in two years sound fimiliar? Miller is shaky mentally and now under a microscope and everyone assumes the Sedins will return to form but there’s no guarantee. It might happen but I personally doubt it.

  • Everyone is worried about Nuge, as in our depth if he gets hurt. Personally, I see a big season for him, and don’t think injury will hit the guy, but crazier things have happened.

    The scarier thing for me is; what if Gordon gets hurt? That’s all the d-zone draws…that injury alone could at 5-10 shots on goal against per game.

  • Serious Gord

    O/T Listening to brad treliving on the radio – sounds like a GM – head and shoulders better than MacT.

    Time will tell whether that is really the case.

    • pkam

      I listened to him yesterday. He really likes Burke’s team.

      But you should in your shots while you can Gord. I have hopes for the new commenting system. Time will tell.

  • pkam

    The good news is the Oilers, who open the season against the Calgary Flames Thursday, would be hard-pressed to duplicate such a miserable start and that they appear to have improved to some degree in goal, on defense and up front. A 20-point improvement isn’t out of the question.

    The bad news is that while that would represent a quantum leap and a more-than-reasonable gain, history tells us it’ll leave them short of a playoff spot. The Dallas Stars finished eighth in the conference last season with 91 points and it’ll take at least as many this season. Points aside, the Oilers have to vault six teams in the standings.
    ——————————————
    This Oiler team would be hard-pressed to duplicate last years start, but a 20 point improvement isn’t out of the question?

    Also, when have the Oilers convinced you they were capable of quantum leaps and more than reasonable gains? If anything, they have proved that starts like last year are more than likely….

    Until the Oilers prove otherwise, I will not be giving them the benefit of doubt.

    20 point improvement?

    Fool me once, shame on me.
    Fool me four times, I’m an Oilers fan and I’ll hope for next year….

    • Hard-pressed to duplicate last season’s start means I think they’ll be better than 4-15-2 after 21 games.

      I didn’t say the Oilers had convinced me they would make quantum leap. I said 20 points would be a quantum leap and that I think it’s attainable “if most of the cards fall their way.” Not the same.

  • S cottV

    The first 10 games will be a major indicator.

    7 and 3 and we may get some interesting games late into the season.

    3 and 7 and its not going to be much different than last year.

    While the team is probably better, so are most of the teams that need to be surpassed.

    The Drei / Yak combination on the second line has 3 and 7 mode written all over it. Rookie centreman playing with the worst plus minues player in the league? Yak might take a few baby steps toward being a more complete player but no where near enough, while in the support of a rookie centreman. Not good – for either of them.

    Who to play with Yak, will probably create another distracting circus of trial and error screwing around.

    • Serious Gord

      The oil have arguably the easiest early schedule in the league. They only play one of the big five teams in the west once (LA) in the first TWENTY games.

      If they arent 5-5 in the first ten they will potentially be even worse than they were last year.

      And the second twenty game segment will be the real test:

      Chi – once
      San Jose – 3 times
      Stars – twice
      Blues once
      Ducks twice
      Rangers – once

      • Mike Wazowski

        You could also look at the other side of that same 20 game segment you’re so negatively focused on…

        NJD – 1 ARI – 3 CGY – 2 NAS – 1 WPG – 1

        All very winnable games. As usual it all comes down to what happens on the ice. The Oil have both beaten very good teams and lost to very bad teams.

  • Armchair_Gm

    Im going to remain blindly optimistic here and say that the Oilers finsish in 9th spot in the west, just out of the playoffs as PHX was last season. It could happen if the kids step up, stay healthy and the defense and goaltending doesnt let us down as it did last year.

    9th spot in the west and meaningful games all season long. Its not the playoffs, but its a huge step forward and one that would leave the team and its fans with a whole lot to build on and look forward to.

  • Serious Gord

    I’ve never liked starting the season against a team that already has a game under its belt. Hope the Oilers find their legs early.

    Like last year, the top 6 playoffs spots are virtually spoken for. There will be 5 or 6 teams slugging it out for the two wild card spots. If the Oilers have a winning record against these other bubble teams, I like our chances.

  • Lowe But Now High Expectations

    Fair assessment Robin. My feeling is most people want to see an improvement that’s noticeable (not obscure corsi stats etc). More energy, higher compete levels & more wins. I’m looking for 82 points, anything above is a bonus & anything below 77 is a disappointment.

  • Reg Dunlop

    It seems most fans here see at least a 10 point improvement on the horizon, some as much as 20 points. I’ll go the other way. The oil will be fortunate to equal last year’s point total for the first 20 games.2 wins in Oct. followed by a 10 game skid in Nov. and a coaching change. Only a bunch of wins in mop-up time in March/April will allow them to reach last year’s 67 points. 29th place and a karma-induced lotto loss so they pick 3rd and lose out on the McDavid/Eichel sweepstakes.

    Will we ever stop paying for the ’80s success?

  • Zarny

    Nope, not getting the hopes up. I agree goal tending is better (Fasth has looked amazing),and defence is better (you better not Ryan Whitney us Nikitin!), but there are still too many question marks and similar problems with the line up.

    I really do not believe the Management thinks play offs are realistic, so I am measuring progress in a few ways:

    GF and GA. If they can improve the differential between goals for and against, I will take that as a clear sign of progress in the team’s commitment to defence.

    I also want to see the grittiness of pre season carry on. I want Vancouver to have a difficult night against us, I want to see Edmonton stop being the easy team to play against.

    Those are what I want to see out of the year.

    Obviously I hope Yak, Drai, Poulliot, Arco, Nikitin, Schultz, and others have banner years, but the NHL never runs in a straight line like that.

  • Just a Fan

    Did anyone catch the MacKinnon and Hamelin race ? Can you imagine travelling that fast and having someone going the same speed the opposite way , and blind siding you with a hit ? No wonder so many get hurt .

  • paul wodehouse

    …Shredder…I get all that no one guy makes a team … Kane and Toews are two and do make the team but that’s a one off … if McDavid comes to this Oiler team (first off wtf are the chances as we chew the fat here) …and recognize that what I said is actually Q’s red meat ration …he’s counting on lady luck bringing the 1st overall pick to us again …I wanted to know how much it would cost compared to what Kevin would be prepared to give up…

  • paul wodehouse

    …I haven’t even said I like Brownlee’s take on those 20 points he hopes to see come this squad’s way this year … if these boys stay healthy it could be doable !

  • Last year’s start

    Smyth-Hall-Hemsky
    Perron-Arcobello-Eberle
    Joensuu-Gordon-Yakupov
    Eager-Acton-Brown

    my goodness…. if our current roster can’t play better than that piece of garbage we are lost.

    Hall-Nuge-Ebs
    Pouliot-Draisaitl-Yakupov
    Perron-Arcobello-Purcell
    Hendricks-Gordon-Joensuu

    This team should be able to muster something more than 77pts

    • pkam

      And you didn’t compare the defense, which is also improved than the year before.

      I guess they should be able to muster another 5 pts.

      Can the improvement in goalies muster another 5 pts? I think likely.

      Then there is also improvement in our depth and our coaching.

  • pkam

    If the Oilers can score 87 points like Brownlee speculates, then these points have to come from somewhere.

    Calgary can’t get any worse, can they? I expect them to finish somewhere around 75 pts.

    The jets may lose a few points to say 80 pts.

    If we get 5 pts from this two teams and a few more from the East, the Canucks, Coyotes, Preds have to lose some points or we won’t go up 20 pts.

    So if we can make 87 pts, we won’t finish 12th, should be 9-10th.

  • pkam

    Canucks will return to form under Desjardin and so will the Sedins with Vrbata . Predict score tonight to be a 4-1 Canuck win , seeing as Gaudreau just getting over the flu , and Monohan may be out as he appears to have it now .

  • Cowbell_Feva

    I hate the Canucks too, but to say they haven’t improved is rediculous.

    Kesler has been in and out of the lineup more every season. I personally think Anaheim gave up too much for him. Bonino is a great young player. Sbisa is an average dman, and a first rounder?

    Vrbata playing with the sisters is going to work if they stay healthy. He will score 30 this year unfortunately. Again, barring injury.

    Better goaltending without the circus surrounding Luongo, and a better coach. I dont forsee any monumental runs, but they should be able to challenge for a wildcard spot.

    Look at their blueline, and then look at Edmontons…..

    • Mike Wazowski

      The ‘Nucks being improved from last year is far from obvious to me.

      Bonino is 26 years olds and has 89 points in about 190 games. I wouldn’t consider this great and 26 is not “young” by NHL standards. At 26 most likely what you have seen has been is as good as it gets. I would say, however, that Bonino might be as effective as Kesler was last year, although I don’t think he has the edge or nastiness of Kesler.

      There is always the nagging question about 33, 34 year old players coming off a year in which production has dropped. Was it an blip on the radar, or is it a start of the inevitable downward trend. I don’t think it is a given that the Sedin’s drop off was only due to the way Tort’s used them.

      Despite the soap opera Luongo played well last year, probably as well as Miler. So there is not much room for improvement.

      Torts seemed more of a distraction than a help, but then how well did the Oil’s rookie coach do last year?

      Like a lot of teams, if things fall into place the Nucks could be better, but I don’t think things could go either way.

  • Leon Nugent McEberle

    The question I have is what if they don’t improve? Which wouldn’t surprise me as much as a 20pt improvement would? What if they at the end of the season were talking about McDavid vs Eichel?? What changes would be made then?

  • pkam

    It is not feasable for one to make educated guesses without first being EDUCATED.

    For 8 years everyone has tried to solve this Oilers Puzzle with no sucess,NO ONE knows how or why the team ended up where they are now.

    If you havent left a trail of Popcorn to retrace your steps how do you find your way back to safety?

    “Someone” has went to extreme lengths to eat all of the Popcorn trail up when no one was looking as they went along.For 8 years straight.

    How many people have this type of juice?Was it destruction of evidence by a stakeholder group?

    This Train is headed for the same cliff the last 8 Trains slipped over.

    If there is nothing you can remove or add to cure the problem then the problem is not physical and tangible it is philisophical and process based.

    Translation = the problems originate from the Defensive Mindset…System…Stats influences…in that order.

    Notice there are no Players or Coaches named on that list? NO ONE is named or blamed on that list.This problem is a core value structural pocess issue,not a Coach or Player asset issue,this is clear.

    It is fair to ask who represents the Defensive Mindset,who reps the System and who reps the stats inputs,so yes you can head-hunt OR you can find a better overall management philosophy and strategy that KEEPS the PEOPLE but tosses out the defunct processes they represent.

    Y’all keep blaming each other for bringing the rain instead of finding a dry spot together man.The rain will never stop, 8 years of being drowned by it shows this to be fact so going into survival mode immediatly and Sticking together in a huddle defensively does not a dry spot make, if you do not TRUST your instincts and intuition and move in an organised formation as a single unified group somewhere else how can you expect things to change?