Oilers fans have plenty to look forward to in the next 10 seasons. Dustin Penner might be a consistent 30 goal left winger, Sam Gagner is getting better and we’ll have Ales Hemsky for a few more years. Shawn Horcoff will continue to play the tough minutes and maybe even be completely healthy doing it.
It looks like Stu Macgregor (Magnificent Bastard) is going to be a joy in the procurement department, having hit a big fly with each of his first round picks. We’re seeing the team draft players with a variety of skills and we’re seeing them develop well. Good signs all.
In the next few months we’ll be saying goodbye to some old friends–Fernando, Ethan, Steady Steve. There will be some smaller forwards heading out too, as the team begins the long process of making decisions on the players Kevin Lowe signed in the wake of the 2006 Stanley run.
The lesson of 2006 summer through today is this one: when you turn back the median age on the talent cluster you’re in danger of stepping into an elevator shaft. Instead of 2006-2010 being about sustain after the 2006 run and taking full advantage of the Hemsky contract, it was about development and watching Samwise grow up on a big league stage.
I suspect Steve Tambellini will be charged with the housecleaning duties, although it isn’t certain. Pat Quinn’s impact on the organization could grow, and we need always remember that Kevin Lowe touches every piece of business and that has a major impact. Because of the ongoing Lowe influence, we should be prepared for many stops and starts along the way, and perhaps another General Manager and Coach.
The big event we’re waiting for is the day Daryl Katz tires of the basement. We’ll know it is happening when the team begins to look balanced, when the club has quality and depth up the middle, when the organization stops chasing big names and finds effective ones. For this Oiler fan, the 80′s were epic, the 90s were maddening and this past decade has been split evenly between interesting and galling with a thrill ride for the ages in the middle.
What’s up next? It depends completely on Daryl Katz and how many years he wants to spend in the second division.