Although we all may remember the humiliating loss Edmonton served Calgary in the first game of the year, that performance failed to portend better days for the Oilers. They’ve since fallen to the bottom of the Western Conference and are only spared the league’s basement by the terrible fortunes of the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders (both of whom I expect to recover some semblance of respectability before the end of the year).
No doubt some Oilers fans will show up to remind me of the exciting future promised by guys like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus such-and-such et al. And, admittedly, it’s nice to have exciting young players in the pipeline. But the future isn’t now for Edmonton and there’s no guarantee all the youngsters will turn out. They remain one of the very worst teams in the league at all game states currently: they are 30th in terms of possession at ES, their PP is 26th in the league (right behind CGY at 25th) and they have a PK so epically bad that the folks over at Copper ‘n Blue have spent a lot of virtual ink trying to explain just how and why it is so inept.
Like just about any team, it’s not all bad for EDM. Penner and Hemsky remain players worth worrying about. Taylor Hall is already starting to show signs of taking a step or two forward. So, yeah…there’s that. Ryan Whitney was showing signs of being a legit top-pairing defender for the club this year, but he’s sidelined for an extended period of time thanks to a recent leg injury.
The Flames may be embarking on their own rebuild here in the very near future and I think their challenge will be to try to find a happy medium between grabbing some nice future assets and…well…what the Oilers are doing, which is playing kids during their entry level deals on a team that can’t possibly hope to win anything. It makes a lot more sense to me to leverage the first three, artificially cheap years of a rookies deal on team that can do something with that value, but that’s just me. And Tyler Dellow.