Edmonton’s Dirty Little Secret



The following is a Public Service Announcement from the fans of the Calgary Flames… “EDMONTON is the worst thing since Hepatitis!” Wow…That’s kind of harsh isn’t it? But… that is what I read the other day. And, it came from a fairly respected source. However, just to be fair, let’s take an in depth look and see if indeed the Oilers are worthy of the reference.

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Rexallitis A: Oilers’ Goaltending

The Oilers’ goaltending has been a position of contention, arguably since the days of Bill Ranford. Going into this season, Edmonton is going to face a gruelling learning curve that might turn out in their favour, but is more likely yet another source of frustration for the young club. Devan Dubnyk increased his work load by 84% from the 2009-10 season, but made little impact on the team considering he is going to carry the majority of the mail this year. 

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Player GP GA GAA W L SOL Svs Pct
Devan Dubnyk 35 93 2.71 12 13 8 1010 0.916
Nikolai Khabibulin 47 153 3.40 10 32 4 1236 0.890

Despite Dubnyk playing 12 less games than Khabibulin, he actually boasted a decent GAA and Sv%, especially for a second year goalie. It was actually his best numbers since 2006-07, when he posted a 2.56 GAA and 0.921 Sv% in 43 games with the ECHL Stocton Thunder. Then again, is there any real reason for optimism with this guy? The numbers seem fine until you come to the realization that he only played 35 games. Can Dubnyk pull out these same kinds of numbers when he is playing 60 + games? Despite the high aspirations the Oilers had in bringing Nikolai over from Chicago, he has been more of a liability for the team, than the asset he was once known as. Add to the fact that he is most likely one more back spasm away from Margaritaville, and the writing is pretty much all over the “Bulin Wall”. Was he too old to play the style he was known for and praised for on highlight reels? Maybe Nik was struck with a little bit of Rexallitis B?…What’s that?

Rexallitis B: Oilers’ Defence

Hey, don’t laugh. These ladies might have distracted opposition enough to have prevented more goals than the Oilers defence corps. Flat out, the Oilers D-men were brutal last year… and the year before that too. No doubt losing Ryan Whitney to injury was significant. He was the only D-man to have a positive +/-, at +13. Of course that may be misleading in that he only played in 35 games. Here is how the back end looked.

Player GP G A Pts +/- Corsi/60 GVT 2011 Sal
Ryan Whitney 35 2 25 27 13 -11.86 7.6 4 M
Tom Gilbert 79 6 20 26 -14 -3.36 3.4 4 M
Kurtis Foster 74 8 14 22 -12 -7.55 1.3 N/A
Jim Vandermeer 62 2 12 14 -15 -4.63 3 N/A
Theo Peckham 71 3 10 13 -5 -12.18 1.7 1.075 M
Ladislav Smid 78 0 10 10 -10 -6.03 -0.4 2.25 M
Jeff Petry 35 1 4 5 -12 0.11 -0.2 1 M
Jason Strudwick 43 0 2 2 -16 -19.37 -1.9 UFA
Taylor Chorney 12 1 3 4 -5 -15.02 0.3 735 K
*Cam Barker 51 1 4 5 -11 -14.12 -1 2.25 M

Hmmm, maybe it was the Edmonton defence that was distracted by the “flag bearers” above, because these are the kind of numbers that get your hockey card shoved into the spoke of some kid’s bike tire. As their Corsi shows, they were completely inept at driving the play north while on the ice. They were marginally significant offensively, and as their GVT rating shows, it wasn’t a stretch to replace these guys if need or want be. The addition of *Cam Barker to this squad leaves little hope to solve this issue either. Even though he wasn’t on the squad last year, I have included his numbers in the chart above, to show the Oilers lack of progression in this area. Barker becomes an RFA next season, so clearly this is an audition year to see if Barker can get his career going in the right direction.

Rexallitis C: Oilers’ Remission

Obviously the big white elephant here is the omission of the fab five of Hall, Paajarvi, Eberle, Omark and RNH. It’s the topic that has Oil fans dancing in the street. It’s the justification and vindication they’ve needed in light of the Oilers last place finishing over the past two years and the 10th worst team in the 2008-09 season. It is also going to be the strife and letdown for the future of the Oilers.

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The way I see it, the Oilers took a dramatic step backwards in the 2011 draft. Many will say that is an absurd comment, but before you do… there is a method to my madness! There was no doubt that RNH was going to go first overall. Any team with the first pick would have been out right stupid to not draft Hopkins. So how did the Oilers make a miscalculation in indeed taking Hopkins first overall? They never should have drafted first overall. If the Oilers had taken off the RNH blinders and considered what an asset he could have been to their future, they would have traded the first overall pick.

The Oilers have a very formidable set of young forward prospects now. Why add another one, when the team is so desperate for help on the back end? Had the Oilers traded the first pick, they could have had extreme leverage over any team that came inquiring. They would have had teams lined up around Rexall to get that first pick. Basically, the Oilers could have used the availability of the pick to fix what was wrong with the team now and save what they will be in a few years.

I once heard that teams should never draft defensemen. The reason is that by the time they develop into their full potential, they are finished their entry level contracts, end up costing a fortune to re-sign and are usually lost to free agency. I agree with this and I don’t think the Oilers made a mistake in not drafting Larsson for this exact reason. Instead they drafted Klefbom later in the first round and they still get a solid defensive prospect they develop over time. However, if they had traded the first pick? They could have landed an established high-end #1 D-man. As we saw from the chart above, the Oil don’t have the luxury to develop a #1 D-man, they need help ASAP. With all of the moves made during free agency, the Oilers could have landed themselves immediate help on the back end, and that includes the possibility of landing Shea Webber.

Rexallitis D: Oilers’ Future

What happens when these entry level contracts all expire and these young superstars want to start seeing some real money? There are going to be a lot of tough decisions because the Oilers are not going to be able to sign and keep all these forwards. As I stated before, Edmonton doesn’t have the luxury of time to develop a #1 or #2 D-man. So if the goal is to fill this void immediately, they are going to have to buy them through free agency. According to CapGeek, the Oilers have four players signed through the 2013-14and just under $52 Million in cap space. Those four players are not Hall, Eberle, Omark or Paajarvi. Going by the chart above, the Oilers will have to fork out for probably two high end defensemen, to even give the corps a chance. That is going to run them somewhere in the neighbourhood of $10-15 Million for the pair, depending on who they try to sign.

If Dubnyk can’t carry the load of a 60+ game season, they also are going to have to look, once again, for a goaltender. Before anyone attributes Edmonton to the latest trend of signing goalies for cheap, keep in mind Edmonton is not Washington. They are not going to get Tomas Vokoun for $1.25 million. They are not Stanley Cup contenders; they are going to have to lure a top end goalie with money, not potential and opportunity. Teams like Chicago made successful runs with cheap goalies like Niemi, because they had the defence to keep the pressure off. Edmonton lacks this, and goalies know it. Look for a decent goaltending option to run them $4-5 million per.

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Edmonton’s cap space now reduces to $38-32 Million. This number is reduced again because Omark actually becomes an RFA the previous year. Say Omark signs for even $2 Million? You also have to account for Hopkins being a full time player on the team; his entry level contract is $3.775 M, but becomes an RFA the next year. That leaves the Oilers an average of $30 Million to sign Hall, Eberle, Paajarvi.. and now factor in Klefbom.. Not to mention 13-15 more roster positions. Now there is no way to predict what these kids are going be offered or what they will expect. It will largely depend on their performance over the next couple of seasons.

However this leads to the conclusion of the Oilers’ problems. If the kids are a bust, then so will be the team and they will remain amongst the basement dwellers of the NHL. BUT… If the kids are “nice”, then there can be little doubt that they will want to be paid as such, and Katz and Lowe will find themselves in a severe Cap strain, with some tough decisions. Who will stay and who will go elsewhere Time will tell.

In the meantime Oilers fans; keep dancing in the streets. After all, ignorance is bliss… and well, its happy hour and that city is blissed out of its mind.

  • 24% body fat

    I agree with phaneufblows.

    How can Flames fans not see the trouble their team is in over the next few years? Sure they can compete for a playoff spot right now, mainly because of Iggy and Kipper, but this team will be a disaster in 2-3 years.

    “But we have lots of cap space next year”

    Yeah, that’s exactly how playoff teams are built these days. It’s been proven over the last 5 years that a team needs good, young talent to step in and produce right away. Something the Flames do not have.

    Ducks (Getzlaf, Perry, Penner)
    Red Wings (Zetterberg, Datsyuk)
    Penguins (Crosby, Malkin, Letang)
    Blackhawks (Kane, Toews, Keith, Seabrook)
    Bruins (Lucic, Bergeron, Marchand)

    I also like how mr. Kent Wilson bashes the Oilers Management over the last few years. I guess Tambo should have given out 13 NTC’s and signed ridiculous contracts to Jokinen, Stajan, Bourque, and Bouwmeester.

    Not to mention that Flames Management has made the 3 worst trades in the NHL over the last 5 years. 1) Phaneuf trade 2) Jokinen trade and 3) Regher trade

    To not even get 1 good player, prospect or draft pick back in any of those trades makes Flames Management the laughing stock of the league.

    “In Sutter we Rust” What ever happened to that great line? Oh yeah, it happened.

  • 24% body fat

    I also never said that the flames fans were dilussional, i called out the media. Thankfully the flames fans were smart enought to see that sutter needed to be fired. Also you want the oilers to be as good as the flames to have a good rivalry. The battle of Alberta wasnt great because they were two tenth place teams battleing every night, they were both top teams.

    So please Flames rebuild your whole team and we will be in the top 5 in the conference in a few years, how long it takes you to get there after us is up to you guys to accept what your team is.

  • Wow. Of course I wonder why VF puts so much effort into trying to take shots at the Oil on a Flames blog. Could it be because taking shots at someone else is an easy way to distract away from the fact that your own team’s future looks pretty bleak.

    The Oil aren’t going to make the playoffs unti they get someone to bolster the D (Barker isn’t it but neither is Hannan for that matter), a real goalie, and RNH is ready for the NHL. Obviously that isn’t going to happen this year.

    I also admit that if anyone can screw up the bounty of young players that the Oil currently have it is Steve Tambelini. He is the worst (employed) GM (Daryl Sutter, Waddell and McLean no longer being in their respective positions).

    The Flames have an outside shot of making the postseason if everything falls into place but they also have everyone in the world with a NTC/NMC, a rapidly aging core, and Backlund as the “hope for the future.

    Advantage Edmonton. At least until Tamblowe screws it up.

  • Vintage Flame

    Pretty biased article…keep bashing the Oilers, we’ll see what happens in a couple years. If I’m not mistaken, the Oilers were constantly on the cusp of the playoffs for years, sometimes making it sometimes not. When they missed 2 years in a row (and they had a big run at the end of one of their seasons too) Flames fans were quick to make fun. It continued downhill for the Oilers despite making signings like Souray (the Oilers equivalent to Kotalik) to bolster the team. The Flames have zero optimism for the future right now, except that they plan on bringing back old has-beens at cheap prices to fill roster spots. The only good thing they have over last year is better chemistry since the team will have been together longer. I wouldn’t get too high and mighty on the last place team the last 2 years…and whatever you guys think of the Oilers, remember the Canucks are saying the same thing about you. Way to bolster your (bad) karma. I will rue the day when it comes to bite you in the ass.

  • Vintage Flame

    Oh…and I have to say that Whitney, when healthy is a top notch dman, I would take him over any dman on the Flames…I do admit there is more depth on the Flames though. And while Iggy is a true superstar, and a great leader, the talent up front drops off really fast after that. Kipper is a great tender, but the flames won’t be a contender for the cup for as long as his contract goes…it will take too long to fix the Flames contract problems. The oilers have a lot of talent up front, and taking RNH with the #1 overall pick was the right move (and I ready probably over 100 blogs and articles about it). Trading the #1 overall pick is like the Leafs trading for Kessel…that wasn’t exactly the most brilliant move. A top notch centreman is tough to acquire, whether by trade or by draft, and you’d think a Flames fan would understand that (unsuccessful trying to get one for years to set up Iggy). But way to get everyone in a huff to gain some popularity for your article.

  • Marshall Law

    As much as I hate the team and the organization, I still see a higher upside for the Oilers than for the Flames over the next five years.

    Their problem is too many top young players, ours is that we have none. Its easier to solve their problem than it is ours.

  • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

    Wow, brutal article. Seems like you’re reaching a little too far to bad mouth the Oilers as opposed to maybe, say, educate people on your thoughts.

    Do you really think they should have traded their #1 overall and draft based on need? ‘Cause virtually all the managers interviewed at the draft said you should draft BPA. Whatever.

    Do you really believe the Oilers’ future is bleak beyond the “fab five”? They’ve got prospects like Petry, Hartikainnen and Lander who appear to be ready to step in. The Oilers prospect list is about 10 times better than it was 4 or 5 years ago.

    I can appreciate a good writer or a good article, but you’re only trying to get a cheap laugh.

  • Marshall Law

    Yikes. This article reads like a TMZ news bulletin.

    It has been said that Edmonton has an inferiority complex when it comes to the esthetic qualities of the city. That’s probably accurate. However, Vintage Flame seems to be expressing a similar sentiment that some Calgary fans may be feeling with regards to the dwindling talent pool of their hockey club. This article is dripping with insecurity.

    Trading a #1 overall pick doesn’t jive with the Oilers’ current direction. They are not one d-man away from becoming a contender, regardless of which d-man that turns out to be. Getting rid of picks and prospects is what has landed the flames in their current situation. It would be a massive mistake for the Oilers to adapt this strategy at this point of the rebuild.

    An underwhelming and irrational first article.
    Nice photo shops. Glad to see you make the most of your free time.

  • Vintage Flame

    A lot of heat but Fire?I really would rather have to many good forwards in the bank than a Number 1 D-man about to become a Free-agent in 1 -2 years. If we have a great year the D men will want to come. Time will tell! First one to the third round of play offs! Wins!!!

  • Drew - Team no more tanking

    Wow….what a peice of biased crap that was. Thats the thing about the internet, any wank-off can get on here and spew venom at a rival. Wank-Off being You Vintage Flamer. Good Lawyers control the argument better than the other guy, right or wrong, thats all you are doing here. And really your not even controlling it, you are just the guy in charge who is trying to irk a few Oiler fans. I’ll be sure to check back in 2 years when things really start to cook in Edmonton and You guys are making your 7th-12th Overall Pick for the… 4th, 5th time? I can’t remember, and it does’nt matter.

    Sarcasm is cool when your 19…You are just a loser fan/blogger of a loser team doing the typical LOSER thing that losers do when the thing they love is starting to Suck…Really Suck…”Lets sling Verbal Poop at someone that we think is weaker than we are, and that will actually care…this way attention is deflected for a moment, from how dire things are in our own backyard”…Only Edmonton Fans, Media, and anyone outside of the city knows that Edmonton has the most promising crop of talent in the league. Hockey News and NHL.com both list Edmontons Young Guys as the leagues best by a mile. And Calgary is in Dead Last.

    While Your Post did stir up a hornets nest, Lets see if you can keep up this kind of interest for Years to come…I doubt it.

    Yeah, really worried that the Oilers are totally screwed because some schmuck from Cowtown thinks so….pfffffffft!?

  • Drew - Team no more tanking

    the only guy who fell faster than Ivanens was “Old Balls Kipper” when Eberle set the pace for things to come…Oilers Goals and Speed, And Calgary…..umm, uhh….nothing

  • Drew - Team no more tanking

    Quick Quiz:

    Of the Flames, Canucks, and Oilers fans; which ones were successful with how their season ended? Oilers fans have seen their team come in dead last, and we feel sorry for Flames fans. Welcome to where we were in 2007…enjoy!