Oilers at Canucks, G38, 09-10

The Vancouver Canucks do not have the rich history of a team like the Edmonton Oilers, but their present is much stronger. The Canucks problem is that for all the strong teams they’ve had over the last decade there is very little to show for it.

Since the turn of the century the Canucks have won exactly three playoff series (2003 under Marc Crawford, 2007 and 2009 under Alain Vigneault), and their two pennants (1982 and 1994) are a distant bell.

For all of their dominance over the Oilers in the final standings each spring, the two teams have won exactly the same number of playoff series since 2000 spring. The Oilers have also won three playoff series this decade (all in 2007) and have one pennant to show for their efforts.

The problem for the Canucks is that there’s always some kind of denver boot on even their best teams. The 1982 edition was horribly outmanned in the finals and the 1994 group wasted a stunning goaltending effort because they lacked secondary scoring.

The current Canucks problem? Their blue needs a workhorse type to eat minutes and once again their depth is questionable. I do think the team has done a lot of improving (Mason Raymond appears to be on track and is eating Andrew Cogliano’s lunch on the development curve) and the piss-cutter Sedins are splendid hockey players. Add in that man Kesler plus wingers Bernier, Burrows and Samuelsson and the Vancouver Canucks have about 7 forwards who could pop 20 goals. Their expected GF/GA for this 82 game season is around 253-208 (+45) which would be a nice improvement over last season (+26).

The Canucks need to add some defense at the deadline and Sutter in Calgary has done a better job filling in the lower part of the batting order but this team has Jesus of Montreal in net and that could take them deep into the playoffs if they have balanced scoring.

The Edmonton Oilers are a professional ice hockey team based in Edmonton, Alberta. Fans in that city are about 2.5 hours away from a contender, and the Oilers management is a good three years away from being able to get this thing back on the rails.

Unless.

Unless they get downright vicious this summer. Give Steve Staios and Ethan Moreau the Jason Smith handshake, allow “Game 5 OT” Fernando Pisani to walk and trade Sheldon Souray during the summer. Those moves would give the GM (at this point I have no idea who that might be, but we’ll call him Kevin Lowe until we see evidence) about 12M in leeway.

The problem is that Oilers management hasn’t figured out how to spend money. They’re the Clampetts of NHL management, out by the cement pond and ciphering how to get vittles on the fancy eatin’ table.

I leave you with a quote from Jimmy Devellano’s book “Hockeytown.”

  • Boy, was there a lot of work to do there. First item on the agenda was to buy out some contracts that we just had to get rid of if we were going to move forward. Peter Mahovlich’s contract was one of them, Vaclav Nedomansky’s was another. They were both fine hockey players in their day, but both had contracts that were weighing us down financially and had to be bought out at that stage of their careers. Contracts like that were just crazy for a team that was trying to rebuild.
  • I inherited a Red Wings roster that had a handfull of serviceable NHL players on it. Danny Gare, Willie Huber, Reed Larson, John Ogrodnick, Mark Osborne. But there really wasn’t a great deal to work with beyond that. We’d have to make sure we made the right choices at the draft, that’s all there was to it, and I was determined to do just that.

Jim Devellano was hired by Mike Ilitch in the summer of 1982. Detroit won their next Stanley in 1997. The Oilers have more to work with and conduct business in an era of extremely loose free agency.

It doesn’t seem to be helping.

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