“Welcome back,

To that same old place that you laughed about.

Well the names have all changed since you hung around,

But those dreams have remained and they’re turned around.”

I loved Welcome Back Kotter. Epstein was my favourite, although all the Sweathogs were beauties. I miss that show, and despite sitting in 29th place again most of the diehard Oilers fans miss watching their team.

Edmonton hasn’t played a home game since Ben Scrivens set an NHL record for most saves in a shutout with 59. It was a memorable night, and even though it has only been 28 days since the Sharks peppered Scrivens it seems like forever that you were watching the Oilers with equal amounts of anger (for the skaters) and awe (for Scrivens).

Welcome back Oil fans, I’m sure the final 22 games will provide you with a wide array of emotions.
The Oilers went into the Olympic break on a high, going 5-1-1 and outscoring the opposition 18-12. The Oilers were outshot 266-195 in those games, but Scrivens and Ilya Bryzgalov only allowed 12 goals for a spectacular .954 SV%.

Great goaltending can cover up a lot of weaknesses, and while the Oilers played well in victories over Nashville, Vancouver and New York, it is clear they still have significant room to improve. Winning does give you confidence and the Oilers are feeling much better about their overall game today than at any other point this season.

Clearly they need to cut down on shots against, but at this point they will take a win regardless of how ugly or pretty it is.

The Oilers have had the luxury of having almost the entire team practicing for a week, and they have been able to have a mini training camp and work on improving their system play. The Wild have not had one practice with their entire team, and we’ll see if that is a factor tonight.

The Oilers have played the fewest home games of any team thus far, 26, and one of their goals is to try and become a competitive team on home ice during their final 15 games at Rexall Place.

Tonight presents a good opportunity to start their modest two-game home winning streak when they face the Wild, who are one of the worst road teams in the NHL. The Wild are tied with the Flames, Oilers, Capitals and Coyotes for 2nd fewest road wins in the league, but only Buffalo has scored fewer goals on the road than the Wild’s 59.

The Wild are outstanding at home 21-7-2, but they are a measly 10-14-5 on the road. The Oilers need to take advantage of a team that can’t score when they don’t have last change. The Wild have scored more than 2 goals only 8 times in 29 road games.

The Oilers haven’t been world beaters at home, however, with only 10 wins in 26 games, but if they want to eventually become competitive they have to make Rexall Place less inviting. They play 15 of their final 22 games at home, so they will have ample opportunity to get comfortable at home.





Hemsky has been moved up to the 2nd line and he’ll play the left wing. He hasn’t spent much time on the left side, but he is excited to be in more of an offensive role. I see this as a final week showcase for Hemsky and Craig MacTavish must be hoping Hemsky can get a boost from his Olympic production. I doubt three or four good games will change things that much, but you never know. Right now I bet there are 10-12 GMs who firmly believe their team could win the Cup, and another 8 or so who think with a lucky bounce and a smart addition they too could be in the hunt.

Nick Schultz is also in showcase mode playing alongside they younger Schultz. I suspect the elder Schultz will be moved before Wednesday and when he is gone, I’d put Belov with J.Schultz for 5-10 games and see how he does. Belov needs to play better, but he skates well and is strong enough to defend big, top-six forwards. He needs to be more consistent, but I think it would be wise to play him top-four minutes and see how he does.



  • Hemsky would fit nicely in Ottawa. They need another top-six winger and some speed. The Oilers would probably love to get forward Matt Puempel, but that won’t happen. D-man Fredrik Claesson is a nice prospect, but he shoots left. Nurse, Klefbom, Gernat, Simpson and Musil all shoot left. Ideally if the Oilers acquire a D-man prospect he should be a right-handed shot.
  • If the Oilers are able to acquire a prospect instead of draft picks, I think it should be a forward. Right now the Oilers have more quality defence prospects than forwards. A centre would be ideal, but if MacTavish can somehow get a 20-22 year old prospect I’d try for a forward, and not a small, skilled one.
  • Most fans and media felt the Islanders overpaid to get Tomas Vanek, but it looks even worse now. He gave up Moulson AND a 2014 or 2015 first rounder and a 2015 2nd rounder. Vanek won’t re-sign so he’ll be traded before Wednesday. If Snow gets a first rounder back, it isn’t going to be a top-five pick this year and likely not even a top-ten next year. Snow either gives up a top-five, likely a top-three pick this year, or he rolls the dice and hopes that somehow his team will improve next season.

    The Islanders will be without Moulson or Vanek and they are on the verge of trading away the D-man who plays the most minutes, Andy MacDonald. It will be a massive task to avoid giving up a top-ten pick next year. If the Islanders struggle next year, they could give up two top-35 picks for a player who played 45 games for them. Ouch.

  • Ryan Kesler’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, told Adrian Dater the report from TVA Sports that Kesler asked for a trade “is B.S.” If Kesler did want out there would be a long list of teams interested in acquiring him. He is a very good player. The Oilers desperately need a guy like Kesler. He is a high-end #2 centre, who is a good defensively, can produce offence and plays with an edge. However, there is no way the Canucks trade him within the division. None.
  • The Oilers will be a seller, but if I was them I’d look at trying to find a gem like the Ducks did last year with Ben Lovejoy. The Ducks gave up a measly 5th rounder for him and now he’s playing 20 minutes a night for them. The Oilers desperately need some 25-30 year old players. Guys with experience, but not a lot of miles. It will be difficult to pull off, because teams want depth, especially on the blueline, but their pro scouting has to be better and find steals like Lovejoy.

    The Rangers want to make a splash and could be looking to get extra cap space. Maybe Justin Falk.
    The Coyotes have a lot of D-men — Could David Rundblad be had, altheven though he is 23 and not that experienced? It is difficult to find a Lovejoy, but I can’t recall the last time the Oilers traded away nothing for a player who blossomed in Edmonton.

    Spacek, I guess, but that was short term. Ryan Jones on waivers for nothing had two solid 17 and 18 goal seasons, but their overall lack of finding quality veteran NHL players the past eight years is extremely alarming. It is the biggest off-ice issue in the organization in my opinion.



**Anna Sidorova… Russia’s curling skip at the Olympics. She is very good, and I suspect she is likely to become one of the most popular curlers in the world. Gotta love the Olympics.**

GAME DAY PREDICTION: If you can’t beat the pop gun offence of the Wild at home, then who can the Oilers beat? The Oilers start the final quarter of the season much better than they did the first quarter with a ~riveting~ 3-1 win.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Kyle Brodziak scores. Brodziak has 5 goals in his last 8 games in Edmonton and he has 47 career goals on the road compared to 38 on home ice.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hemsky scores two goals. It will be only the 11th multiple goal game of his career. He hasn’t scored a pair of goals in a game since February 16th, 2013. His two goals adds fuel to the trade rumours and sets up the inevitable, “the Oilers didn’t get enough for him,” talk for next week.


  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    “I’d put Belov with J.Schultz for 5-10 games and see how he does.”

    Schultz has been Belov’s most common D partner and they’ve played pretty well together. I’d happily put them back together on the middle or 3rd pairing.

  • Hemsky – Gagner – Eberle. That’s one small line of forwards, no matter how skilled. It’s like using all small forwards on Nintendo’s ice hockey, you need at least one medium or large forward to win battles. But hey, that only works on nintendo.

  • vetinari

    Curling has never looked so… interesting…

    As for the game, please let the Oilers show up tonight with effort, structure, confidence and control, and send the Wild out of town with a loss…

    GDP: Oilers 2 Wild 1 (SO)

    OGDP: The pre-game will be all about the Olympics but after that, it will be all about the trade deadline next week.

    NSOGDP: On a scrambled line change, Hemsky collides with Gagner who is coming off the bench, with both going down in a heap. The trainers carry them off the ice, dazed and confused, and from somewhere up in the rafters, you can hear MacT scream “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

    • Zamboni Driver

      “OGDP: The pre-game will be all about the Olympics but after that, it will be all about the trade deadline next week.”

      Don’t want to nitpick, but the pregame will be about the Olympics….why?

      Unless it’s not hockey, I suppose.

      Actually I take that back. Shannon Szabados should be there. Plus….errr….Also playing in the Olympics were the Russians and Czechs. They took away wonderful memories. Let’s hear it for what Hemsky remembers, Oilers fans!

  • Perron for Lazar and Puempel would be an overpayment by Ottawa. However if the trade was Perron and Hemsky for Puempel and Lazar I think it would be more balanced. Lazar is a very highly rated prospect and so is Puempel. By offering both Hemsky and Perron we give Ottawa considerable talentfor this year (which they need) and the opportunity to work a reasonable deal for Hemsky going forward.

  • Serious Gord

    OnlyJohn Travolta is still alive. Time moves on.

    Would you move Perron for a bigger forward? Matt Peumpel and Lazar for Perron would be nice.

    Perron would certainly command a nice return.I really do not see MacT moving Ebs .Hemsky and Perron is more likely.

    In your opinion is Justin Shultz untouchable? Could the Oilers move him for a center?

    The Islanders are in a rock and a hard place.They are so screwed. Snow has painted them into a corner.Could you see a deal between the Oilers and the Islanders? the Islanders need a player to fill in for the loss of Vanek.They need a shooter. Would you give up Yakupov for the Islanders pick this year?
    The Islanders cannot give up atop 5 pick to Buffalo next year.Well you can but you can almost be assured that if it happens Garth Snow won’t be around. The Isles aremoving into Barclays next year are they not? Ouch.

    • Serious Gord

      Lawrence Hilton Jacobs is still alive as well. Thus only two of the four main sweathogs are gone – Epstein and Horshack – both from heart attacks.
      And mr Kotter is still going – now just as famous and certainly wealthier being a pro poker player.

    • O.C.

      Only two died, not inc supporting casts. Epstein and Horshak both of heart attacks in 2012.

      For me, Freddie Boom Boom Washington was awesome.

      Oil are playing tonite? When are they calling up farm team members? Oh ya, after showcasing trade bait.

      • A-Mc

        Thanks for the clarification.

        Gregor your point regarding J Shultz is valid. Here is my question for you. How much is he going to have to sign for this off season.3.4-4.2 million? What about term? 3 years?

        I still think you deal Perron for a bigger winger. Or a shot at another top pick.

        I really think the Oilers have to come out of this years draft with Eckblad and one of Leon Draisatl and/or another big center.

        Its really going to be an interesting offseason.And next week.

    • Zamboni Driver

      While Yaks hasnt exactly “blossomed” into a real player, we simply cant give up actual skill and NHL ready players, for more picks – no matter how high in the draft. If anything, id want to trade our top 3 pick for another proven player. But Ekblad, if available, is an absolute no brainer.

      NO MORE PICKS!!! Lets get some actual players to fill the massive holes in the line-up intead of bringing back players like garbagekov temporarily. We need to improve immediately – not worry about more development.

    • Jason Gregor

      I don’t think J.Schultz is untouchable, but the Oilers blueline is very thin and he is their best D prospect right now, so trading him woudln’t make much sense.

      Until this team improves defensively they won’t win. They forwards and D need to be better defensively.

      I think Schultz has progressed quite nicely, especially in his own end.

      No way I give up Yakupov for NYI pick. Why would you? Oilers get younger again. If I trade Yakupov it is for established NHL talent.

        • Jason Gregor

          I’d move him for a D-man, but I don’t see his value as high as some. He won’t get you a proven, veteran #2 at this point.

          The only teams who would move him now for a D-man are teams out of the playoffs, so that is only 4 options… Cgy, Flo, NYI and Buff.

          Of those teams Myers would be the only D-man I’d look at. He is still developing, and he does have a big ticket, but I’d make that trade. Better to talk trade talk about Yak in summer when every team is in play.

          • Serious Gord

            Here’s the rub, Jason and his sidekick are on the air right now saying that Hemsky is worth the 21st pick overall and up all day long.

            These same guys will come back and value Yak at about half his worth. Either of them imo opinion are ever ahead of the curve valuing any of the Oilers.

            I think Jason has Gagner and Yak valued similarly. It gets better they’re now bumping Smyth’s tires.

            There’s the insanity…….

          • Holy cow man…I listened all day at work and all Gregor said was that he thinks it is dumb people think Hemsky is only worth a 3rd. Used Dom Moore as example…he was traded for 2nd three times.

            Never did I hear him say Hemsky was worth a first rounder…

            And he said Smyth could help a team on PK and PP and they wouldn’t have to give up anything.

            Did you hear him compare Smyth stats to Yak?

            I’m not sure on exact numbers but your man crush Yakupov has only 3 or 4 more points than Smyth in basically the same minutes.

            It would seem you are the one overvaluing Yakupov. He is the most overrated Oiler right now. I think he is okay, but he isn’t close to as good as you think…everyone hopes he will be great, but he isn’t yet…

          • Serious Gord

            I got a far as your 2nd point..

            Brownlee made the comment and Jason stated “all day long”. You inferred I have a man-crush Yak, I’m old enough to be your father. Go have a discussion with someone else.

          • Serious Gord

            You only got to my 2nd point, but then commented on the 4th paragraph. Good one.

            I just listened to the podcast (that is where people can listen to the entire conversation, and double check things), and guess what there was not one mention of the 21st pick.

            Might want to turn up your hearing aid before falsely accusing people. Nice attempt at sewering someone by making up things. Have a nice day.

          • Alsker

            If it was false Jason or Brownlee would be calling me on it.

            The last ten picks in the first round starts with pick 21, next pick 22, after that 23. Are you getting the idea?


          • Serious Gord

            I recall that Dick Button suggested in season that the Oil might be a 3rd rounder for Hemsky. Many of the Oiler faithful were shocked, dismayed and trashed Button accordingly. It will be interesting to see how things turn out.

            P.S. I think Hemsky’s value may have gone up since mid season since his boat anchor contract is now less objectionable.

          • pkam

            I have to agree with Jason regarding Hemsky’s value. Hemsky should worth a late 1st rounder, or a 2nd rounder plus a prospect.

            3 years ago we got a 1st, a 2nd and a D prospect for Penner, didn’t we? If I remember correctly, LA was more interested in Hemsky but he was injured so they settled for Penner.

            Last year, Ryan Clowe get a 2nd, a 3rd, and a conditional 2nd. Derek Roy got a 2nd and a D prospect. Jagr got a 2nd and 2 F prospects. Even Doug Murray got 2 2nd. So you think Hemsky is worse than all of them?

    • vetinari

      If we’re talking about moving a smaller forward for a bigger one I would move Eberle over Perron. Perron is one of the only top forwards that actually plays with some size. Personally I wouldn’t call Schulz untouchable. I hope he can become the offensive PP quarterback we hope him to be but if another option came by I wouldn’t lose sleep over trading him.

      On a different note, what do people here think about turning J Schulz into a Brent Burns and move him to forward. He could still take point on the PP. He’s a big body who plays way more offense than he does defense.

    • pkam

      I don’t think J. Schultz is untouchable but close, probably just behind Hall and RNH.

      Unless the return is too sweet to refuse, I will not move him. How often does a young player with his calibre choose Edmonton over the other 29 teams? What kind of message do we send to the league if we trade him away? How likely will be able to attract another young quality player to come here?

  • Randaman

    My sources in Nashville tell me Shea Weber has requested a trade. He would like to live in western Canada. Apparently Edmonton is near the top of his list.

    Indications are Poile is targeting a package that includes Gagner, Pitlick and Anton Lander.

  • Dodd

    I’ve been lukewarm on our pro scouting ever since we had a run of acquiring guys with nagging injuries/ downright big problems. Souray was hurt when we got him. Whitney’s foot ultimately looks to have ended his career. We were aware of these things when we signed these guys.