It seems to me the Edmonton Oilers portion of the internet has gotten itself into a spot of bother. We’ve reached a point where some fans would like to smile, to dream, to imagine something better. Those thoughts are rarely expressed for fear of wrath from those who have miles of math, a mountain of history and a gift for pushing back on their side.
David Staples had an article at Cult of Hockey that asked if the Oilers will make the playoffs next season. About 55% of the respondents clicked yes; I have no idea if it was 4000 kids who were 12-15 or if it was guys my age who believe Edmonton has a shot.
My issue is this: it seems to me that we’ve lost the ability to have a conversation that involves any real kind of improvement. And I think that’s bad, very poor. It limits us, leaves us with something resembling shouting across the room and that results in frustration on both ends.
I don’t know if the Edmonton Oilers will make the playoffs this coming season. I’m looking at that now, as a matter of fact. My RE series shows Edmonton will improve (by my estimation) substantially in terms of offense (substantial being 20+ goals) and improve a little in GA too.
- Oilers 10-11: 193-269 (avg: 229-229)
- Oilers 11-12: 212-239 (avg: 224-224)
This is hockey-reference so your numbers may not jive, but it gives an indication of what’s happening with the hockey club. The other issue that seems to be out there is that the Oilers have not improved enough; I agree, but that is different than not improving at all.
Edmonton’s gifted youth is a year older and of course there’s one more #1 overall selection. The defense has flushed Cam Barker and added Justin Schultz, and the new coach appears to have the charisma of a Baptist minister. The items I felt needed to be addressed entering summer were:
- A top pairing defenseman capable of delivering big minutes at evens and at least one of PK and PP. 20+ overall. Edmonton has not acquired this player, and reports of Marc Methot being a target suggests there’s a gap between what Oiler fans might expect and the player management is pursuing at this time.
- A better Renney. I have been amazed by the verbal from players in regard to Ralph Krueger. Initially, I felt this hiring was not a positive, but at this point am prepared to believe it could end up being quality.
- Justin Schultz or similar. They got the guy I had ranked as the #1 free agent target and that’s a huge positive. I understand growing pains and that he’ll make mistakes, but this is a splendid addition.
- A reasonable goaltending option for the Khabibulin free fall. I believe the Yann Danis signing qualifies, his .924SP in OKC was among the best in the AHL.
- An established 2-way winger to mentor the young players who will compete for bottom 6 roles (Lander, Hartikainen, Pitlick, etc). Management didn’t acquire this player and I expect they’ll use a combination of Ryan Jones and Lennart Petrell in the role. I think this is a big item, but haven’t read too much elsewhere.
- Ryan Smyth or similar. Smyth signed at a reasonable number. I think it was a major item over the summer, but as with Schultz has been obscured as the weeks of inactivity rolled out.
- Get the rfa’s signed. Done. I’m not sure any of the contracts agreed with what we were thinking going in, but Gagner, Petry and Dubnyk are signed and ready to go for 12-13.
So, new coach plus Justin Schultz, Ryan Smyth and the rfa’s are onside with Yann Danis waiting in the wings.
Not yet done? Top 4D, two-way veteran from the Pisani tree.
In conclusion, I believe the Oilers will be better in 12-13. Reasons include a year older for the gifted kids, the emergence of the Smid-Petry tandem, signing Justin Schultz and Ales Hemsky’s health.
Will they make the playoffs? Without looking at it–and I haven’t examined the rest of the west because it feels like there is more work to do–my guess is somewhere between 9th and 12th.
However, I hope you consider this corner of the Al Gore as a place where you are free to express your views, even if it involves Edmonton in the playoffs this coming season. Prepare for dissenting opinion and have some reasoning to back up your claims.
I would encourage those who feel Edmonton will finish 29th or 30th again to express those views too.
And as with all of these things, I ask you do it in the spirit of Kim Gernack, who taught me a great thing about the internet: when clarity of thought and respect for others holds sway, the conversation is alive.