First, Ales Hemsky. He’s been flying during pre-season, playing with the usual ridiculous skill plus some added determination. He’s still going to turn the puck over in the damndest places and at some point in his career will acquire the nickname “SHOOT” but this guy is poised to make one giant leap forward in his career. You can see it on pretty much every shift. Dustin Penner could not be luckier even if his wife was Jessica Alba. Seriously.
Second, Save Percentage and GAA. The Oilers will have a better save percentage than a year ago but will give up more goals. This is due entirely to the “chaos” lineup on the blueline and all that youth up front.
Third, several of the young guns will struggle mightily. This is one of those “HF truths” that we can predict as easily as the swallows arriving at Mission San Juan Capistrano. If we make a list of young players who are not clearly established as NHL players, let’s say Cogliano, Gagner, Pouliot, Nilsson, Brodziak, Jacques, Gilbert (who have I missed?) then the ratio is going to be well below 1/1 in terms of success. Some of these kids will get traction, others will fall by the wayside. An example: Raimo Summanen was once as highly regarded (or moreso) than Esa Tikkanen.
Fourth: Matt Greene is going to struggle. He’s in the deep end now, top 4 minutes with a guy who the organization will not throw under the bus and have 5.4M reasons to say nice things about so he’s the Fall Guy. -28 is my target, I can’t decide if I’m being mean or nice with that number.
Fifth: It’s going to be fun to watch these kids find their way. Not like it was with the 80s Oilers “Boys on the Bus” or the way it is in Pittsburgh now, more like that scene in the Godfather where Moe Green puts on his glasses to see who is coming to visit.
Folks, the 07-08 Edmonton Oilers are Sonny on the causeway.