I don’t imagine the Calgary Flames are very happy about getting waxed 6-1 by the Edmonton Oilers in Cowtown tonight, but they’d better get used to it because my guess is there’s plenty more to come.

Now, I get it the above paragraph sounds like the giddy bravado of a fan boy with a Jordan Eberle namebar on the back of his pajamas, but I am neither residing in momma’s basement, nor am I one Wanye Gretz, who has taken a break from worshipping at the Alter of Eberle in favor of some fun and frolic in Asia. Not so. No cheerleading here.

I’m just of the mind that what unfolded at the Saddledome tonight marks a milepost in the Battle of Alberta, an intersection of one team that’s on the rise and another in decline and headed the opposite direction. That what we just saw tonight is the shape of things to come.

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I know, get your head out of your backside, Brownlee. It’s just one win and the Flames won the previous nine games. The BOA has been a one-sided beatdown for years. The Oilers don’t have a hope in Hades of finishing within single digits of Calgary in Western Conference standings this season. The Oilers are again a lottery lock after back-to-back 30th-place finishes. They will miss the playoffs for the sixth straight season.

All that is true, of course, but I’d rather be walking in Steve Tambellini’s shoes – even with all the miss-steps we’ve seen and will see — than those of Calgary counterpart Jay Feaster when I look down the road at how the next several seasons are shaping up for the Oilers and Flames.

It isn’t even close.


I had some fun with David Staples over The Journal’s Cult of Hockey during the pre-season when he wondered out loud if the Oilers might overtake the Flames in the standings this season after finishing 32 points behind them in the 2010-11 season.

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The Oilers won’t make up all that ground between now and April 7, of course. That’s a conclusion the always optimistic Staples reluctantly came to after parsing the numbers, even if he was no doubt wondering if he’d had it right after his men jumped out to an 8-2-2 start.

After what we saw tonight, I’m convinced Staples wasn’t as much wrong as premature, a season early. I wouldn’t bet even a dollar that the Flames will finish ahead of the Oilers in the standings next season. Not one buck.

Feaster’s two best players are Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff. Both are 34. Alex Tanguay, 31, Mike Cammalleri, 29, and former Oiler Curtis Glencross, 28, still have something in the tank. So does overpaid Jay Bouwmeester. After that? I don’t see a lot coming down the pipe, Grade A prospects, to take the torch.

Feaster also has pending UFAs in Olli Jokinen, Lee Stempniak, David Moss, Tom Kostopoulos, Tim Jackman, Cory Sarich and Scott Hannan. Simply put, a big chunk of Feaster’s roster is aging, old or on the way out. They’re more than good enough to finish ahead of the Oilers this season. Then what?


Even with the flaws in the roster Tambellini has put together the past three seasons, he has pieces to the big rebuild picture Feaster has not assembled – Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, for starters. Who will the Oilers get with the second or third pick in June?

Tambellini’s oldest players are transitional players – Andy Sutton, Darcy Hordichuk, Eric Belanger and Nikolai Khabibulin. Ryan Smyth, who just celebrated his 36th birthday and will be no better than a third-liner next season, if Tambellini puts this team together right, is also in that group.

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Yes, holes remain. And there are also obvious questions about Tambellini’s ability to make the right personnel moves to lift this team out of lottery territory and move it along into playoff contention in 2012-13 and beyond.

Tambellini has not provided overwhelming evidence, or anything close to it, to suggest confidence is in order. A bona fide starting goaltender, please and thank-you. Another real NHL defenseman or two would come in handy. Who will be Tambellini’s second-line right winger? Etc.

All that said, it looked more obvious than ever — even allowing for a Calgary line-up thinned by injuries — what fans in both cities saw tonight was a telling glimpse of one team on the up escalator and another headed the other way, with no doubt remaining which is which.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

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  • Gange

    Don’t see where I made that comparison.

    However they are very good prospects (Baertschi is lighting up the W but who knows what that’ll translate into). There’s no point comparing them at this time.

    The point is the cupboards are far from bare.

    • Do you actually consider Baertschi (13th overall), Arnold (108th) and Gaudreau (104th) to be comparable prospects to Hall, Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins?

      If so, I suggest you take another look. If not, then what separates them from the host of second-tier prospects that have come and gone with the Oilers in past seasons — Riley Nash, Andrew Cogliano, Danny Syvret etc, etc? Who fills the void as Iginla and Kiprusoff decline?

      The Flames are repeating the mistakes the Oilers made after the 2006 Cup run. That did not go well here. It’s going on three years since the Oilers finally dropped the “we can win now” charade and started the tear-down and there’s still a lot of room for improvement before the Oilers truly contend.

      That said, there is room for improvement, which is something I don’t see when I look at Calgary’s roster now, even if ALL the players you list turn out well. Is there another Iginla there? A truly special player? Is there a core of elite talent to build around? A trio like Hall, Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins (which in itself doesn’t guarantee success unless Tambellini does a better job acquiring veterans and role players)? I don’t see it.

      What I see when I look at the Flames is a team headed the wrong way. You don’t have to agree, but, like I said, come back in a year and tell me I’m wrong.

      • Gange

        As I stated earlier, I didn’t say they were comparable. We don’t know what Baertschi will be at the NHL level. We don’t know what Arnold and Gaudreau will be at the NHL level or if they will make the NHL jump. They are impressive young talent though, not to be overlooked.

        The mistakes of Darryl Sutter are many, most fans wanted to part ways with him long before they did. However the best thing that happened is allowing someone, who knows he isn’t a hockey person, take the reigns and hire many hockey people around him. Shake up and then bolster the scouting staff.

        As far as Iginla, how do you replace a future HHoF player? That’s a HUGE order to fill, and no, there isn’t a replacement. Kiprusoff? That’s a tall order as well. Leyland looks like he will eventually be a good goaltender, but he’s still young and it’s too hard to say. Karri Ramo? Perhaps he got over being thrown to the wolves in Tampa?

        I believe that Baertschi will be a special player though saying he is a future HHoF’er? Something would have to change for him.

        I disagree, the Flames are starting to turn the ship around. Had you made this comment last year I would have had to agree with you. The mindset in the organization has changed though. While they’re not where they need to be, they’re on the slow path.

        They won’t fall off the cliff next year, that I’m sure of.

      • Copperblueandwhite

        So your telling me Baertschi currently playing at a 2 ppg clip with a +9 is shit? I guarantee you would gladly take Irving or T.J. Brodie and for that matter probably even Horak. No one is saying that we are some colossus but there are prospects weather you want to admit it or not.

      • SmellOfVictory

        That’s because the only really good ones, aside from potentially Nemisz, have been called up to the big club. There’s also the dude Calgary got from Chicago, who could end up being anywhere from very good to completely incapable at the NHL level.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Glad to see a little restraint on the Baertschi bromance in Cowtown. He is a flashy little guy (emphasis on “little”) playing on one the best lines on one the best teams in the WHL. Concussed early in the WJC which doesn’t bode well. In Switzerland, he is mentioned in the same breath as Nino Niedereiter, currently struggling with the Islanders (1 goal in 37 games), and a lot of people think Niedereiter is the better prospect.If he evovles into an Andrew Cogliano I’d be surprised and happy for you.

  • Gange

    Whoa, Grange.
    I apologize. I didn’t realize that the flames had The Bill Arnold as one of their prospects. They are calling him The Next One down in the ECHL or wherever he is playing I’m sure. Hahahahaha, Bill Arnold, oh that is priceless.
    And John Gaudawful.

  • Oiler fans have a right to gloat. They kicked the teeth out of their bitter rivals who had dominated them for the past 4 years. That being said, don’t get too far ahead of yourselves Oiler fans. The team you played tonight could’ve been beaten by the Lethbridge Hurricanes for Christ sakes (2nd last team in the WHL). the Flames came out with no effort and the Oilers came out with an effort. Good on ’em.

    Also, it’s ridiculous to say the Flames cupboards are bare. Sven Baertschi, Max Reinhart and Michael Ferland are all among the leading scorers in the WHL. Bill Arnold was the MVP of Team USA at the World Juniors and John Gaudreau was the MVP of the recent Beanpot tournament, a prestigious college tournament, as a freshman. Now obviously, they’re not full by any stretch of the imagination. However, they are in a lot better shape then they were a few years ago.

    • The Beanpot is a helluva tournament. Here’s the MVPs from the past 10 seasons.

      2003 Sean Fields Boston U. G
      2004 Sean Fields Boston U. G
      2005 Chris Bourque Boston U. F
      2006 Peter MacArthur Boston U. F
      2007 John Curry Boston U. G
      2008 Brian Gibbons Boston College F
      2009 Nick Bonino Boston U. F
      2010 John Muse Boston College G
      2011 Chris Kreider Boston College F
      2012 Johnny Gaudreau Boston College F

      While the BP has also produced MVPs who turned into NHLers like Chris Drury, Tom Poti and Rick DiPietro, Gaudreau is going to need a lot more on his resume than that to make a splash.

      • O.C.

        By no means am I saying Gaudreau’s gonna be a stud just because he was the MVP of the Beanpot. However, I’m willing to say it’s animprovement from past Flames picks such as Chucko, Pelech, etc.

    • Souby

      You make some good points. I don’t believe the Flames cupboards are bare. Those young players may turn out to be good players after all. Only time will tell, but truly, we are talking about 3-5 years from now.

      The biggest comparison between the Oil and Flames is how many young players are either in the NHL, or are NHL ready; not to mention that they are mostly top-6 calibre players. If we make that our focus, then we can see why Robin is saying that the Oil are on the upswing and Calgary is heading down.

      Sure the Flames have great players in Iggy and Kipper, but unless those guys find the fountain of youth, the Flames will be left with no one to replace them. The Oilers on the other hand have some great building blocks in place that will make them successful sooner rather than later.

      Just my 2 cents….

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Robin, do you think Yzermans actions this week signal he’s throwing in the towel on this season, only 6 pts out of 8th with still 23 games to go?

    If this were to occur in the western conference, a club would surely still be in the race for atleast another 2 weeks.

    • A-Mc

      I know you asked Robin but i’d like to comment too:

      I don’t think it necessarily means he’s throwing in the towel. Someone on Team1260 made the point yesterday that Yzerman might be planning to USE that 1st round pick as trade leverage to snag a player from someone before or AT the deadline (which is this next Monday).

      If his plan is to flip the pick to a selling team in an attempt to sweeten a player trade, maybe Yzerman is going after someone significant?

      Only Time will Tell! =D

      I Believe it was Spector that brought up that point on the Gregor show.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        That’s a good point. I thought it was a little too early to be calling it a year. With the Oilers usually being done by the New Year, never thought they’d (Tampa) still be doing something to try and salvage this season.

        Khabibulin to Tampa for one of those second rounders?

  • justDOit

    After the 1st period, I could see the writing on the wall: the Flames ‘bend but don’t break’ strategy, combined with a cheap goal here and there, and it’ll be another difficult game to watch.

    But the Flames failed to muster any gumption in the remaining 2 frames, and my goodness, even Kipper couldn’t hold off the onslaught provided by the Oilers.

    About the only thing better than the Beatdown of Alberta (as it has come to be known lately…) last night, was seeing the Kings and ‘Yotes play a 3-pointer! Nine place in the conference and picking around 15th in June will look good on a GM who talks trash in the media.

    Edit: ‘Yotes just picked up Vermette from the BJs. Ba da ba ba ba…

  • Whoa. A lot of mudslinging here.

    I completely understand the arguments coming from both sides but as I’m a Flames fan, I choose to take my side. I’m just letting it be known.

    Gange brings up some very valid points that you Oilers fans seem to be overlooking. While they have yet to be unproven, there are some guys coming up in Abbotsford that could have the potential to do well.

    Robin, your argument of “Do you actually consider Baertschi (13th overall), Arnold (108th) and Gaudreau (104th) to be comparable prospects to Hall, Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins?” is *somewhat* moot, considering Henrik Zetterberg went 210 overall. NOW before you climb down my throat: I’m NOT saying that Gaudreau WILL be Zetterberg. Not by a long shot. I’m simply stating that draft placement sometimes has nothing to do with a player’s ability in the NHL. Need I remind you of Alexandre Daigle or Pavel Brendl? You can’t predict what a player will do in the bigs. Sometimes there are surprises. (Again, I’m not comparing any of our prospects to H.Z. I’d kill for the scouting that the Red Wings have)

    @Roadrunner: Phaneuf? Really? Have you seen him play? He plateaued in his sophomore year. Granted, the Flames still need D-men but I’m much happier without his lazy play and gigantic ego. When he was here, I thought the Flames should have stripped him of the ‘A’ and yet he gets traded to Toronto and becomes the Captain. What a joke. Anyway, I’m not here to talk about the Loaf’s woes.

    finally, @Wes Mantooth; Yes it’s all about the cap structure. Yes, the Penguins have re-signed their 5 first round picks year in and year out. But look at the Blackhawks: the summer immediately following their cup win they had to re-sign players. So they made sure to re-sign all their elite players, letting their other players fall by the wayside. And now look at them. In 6th place, still in the playoffs but is anybody really expecting them to go places? Sometimes you can keep your great players but you need to round out that team with some character guys in order to do something real. Even if the Oilers do re-sign RNH, JE, TH and whomever they draft 1st, 2nd or 3rd this year, it doesn’t mean they’ll be able to keep all the other guys necessary to do something.

    Look; we’re ALL opinionated and as Flames fans, we’re feeling the sting of last night. Both teams are approaching a rebuild from opposite ends of the spectrum. Will one work better than the other? Probably. Does that mean that Flames fans can’t be optimistic? Hell no. We’ve gone this many years without a playoff berth but we’ve at least given it our all. I’d rather be cheering for a team to at least push for the playoffs than sit back and wait for the playoffs to come to us.

    • just heard him talking this week on radio, and was surprised because I am aware of how he was previously talking. Don’t know if it is in print anywhere, but it caught my attention because i was thinking along your lines until i heard this. Anyway it was enough to send me back to look at the final of the WJHC that I had pvrd just to focus on him. Sweden of course totally shut the Russians down but I started to see some things that had me second guessing.

  • Franko J

    @ Robin Brownlee
    Good article on the state of the two franchises.

    I must agree Hall (Calgary boy), Eberle (Iginla fan), RHN, are the future of Oilers franchise, and are fun to watch. As I mentioned after the game on a previous blog, for the past couple of years this battle has been dominated by Flames players born and hockey developed in Edmonton. Finally it takes a player from Calgary to get the battle going again. Can’t wait for the next game between the two.

    The only thing I must play devils advocate to is this:

    Over the past three seasons the Oilers haven’t provided that much excitement for their fans outside of winning draft lotteries. The other night my brother in law took his wife and two girls to the game against the Canucks @ $ 250.00 a seat. I love watching hockey period, but at a cost for one nights entertainment of a $1000.00, even with who the Oilers have in the lineup, I would say money well wasted.
    Although one team appears to be on the upswing and the other on the downslide, both teams still have to figure out how to consistently play against the Canucks. Until then it doesn’t matter who each team has as prospects, future star, or past their prime stars, the Canucks are the measuring stick to go by.
    In the next year or two, if the Oilers aren’t ahead or competing against the Canucks, with all the high draft picks and great prospects coming down the pipeline my brother in law $250.00 investment in future hope would be all for not.
    As a Flames fan I know the future is not as bright as the Oilers, however, at least for this year there is another flirtation with the playoffs. As for the Oilers the excitement comes in a draft lottery form again.

    • 5 Cups

      I like how you tossed in that the Hall and Ebs have CGY connections.

      Any Edmonton connections on the Flames? Let me answer that; yes.

      Iginla – St. Albert
      JayBo – Edmonton

      Do you think that perhaps growing up in the prime time of the Oilers that they weren’t Cheering on the Oil?

  • For that I completly agree! Baertschi = overrated.

    No worries bro, I’m already sold on him, cant stand to see Horcoff play on that second line, it’s killing me!!! For the Oilers to pass on him would be terrible! Thats why you will hear me cheer for ELPH! No more wins dang it!

  • RKD

    I agree the Oilers have a lot of pieces but they still haven’t completed the puzzle by any means.

    After their cup run in 2006, they have not made the playoffs. In fact, once this season ends that will be 6 consecutive years of no playoff hockey.

    After the Flames cup run in 04′, there was a lockout but the season after the Flames won the NW division title. Which was followed by a first round exit.

    Then came three more seasons of making the playoffs but three more first round exits.

    In the past two years the Flames have missed the playoffs and are in danger again this season. Either it could go two ways the Flames could miss it again this season and possibly have another long drought before the young prospects pan out and they make the playoffs. The other way would be to retool like Ottawa who had a blip on season but rebounded nicely this year.

    However, Alfie has Spezza to carry the load while Jarome has ???, Iggy is the having to carry the load.

    • RexLibris

      I understand the idea of making the playoffs in order to “roll the dice and see what happens” but at some point treading water has to be considered unacceptable and a genuine reach for something better is called for.

      I had this discussion here on FN earlier this season about the relative success of these two teams between now and 2020. But what would constitute success? Would six first round exits trump two conference championships? We’ll have to wait and see.

      One very big positive about the trends of these two teams is that the Battle of Alberta is perhaps only a few months away from being relevant for the first time in perhaps twenty years.

  • RexLibris

    This is a long one, so I apologize in advance…

    I’ll start here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWxvbHB5DYA

    It’s a little refresher on *things* Edmontonians say, featuring our very own RNH, Eberle and Gene Principe. Very funny stuff.

    Now, about the Flames/Oilers: great read Robin. Very good stuff and much appreciated for the balance it provides in this often-hyperbolized forum.

    I wouldn’t trade one day of the Flames present for the Oilers future. The Flames have a dominant Right winger, one of the best goaltenders in the league over the past ten years, and a competent defensive group with some average to above-average bottom six players. Good for them. They might have enough talent to squeeze a few million dollars out of a playoff round, maybe two. That is the focus of the ownership and they are likely to succeed in that endeavour.

    I get that Flames fans want Iginla to stay in Calgary and I support that. I have watched talented and beloved players leave Edmonton, so it’s hard not to empathize a little, even if it is Calgary.

    The Oilers tried to do what the Flames have done but we didn’t have the same pieces in place and eventually it all went south anyway, so fate shut all the other doors and thankfully circumstances combined to give us an opportunity to build something special.

    Flames fans who want to criticize that and argue that we’ve been building for over a decade are only speaking generalizations so broad that they are essentially fallacies. Efforts prior to the 2009 season were not rebuilds, they were the desperate retooling efforts of a management and ownership structure that was too cowardly to face losing.

    I have said that there are many paths to rebuilding, or restructuring, or whatever politically correct term a person wants to use, and this is the one that best fit the Oiler’s circumstances.

    Attempts to favourably compare the prospect pool of the Flames to the Oilers only happen amongst Flames apologists. Outside observers, media, and most insiders connected with the NHL would come to the same conclusion: Calgary has improved it’s prospect depth from last season, but that only means moving frmo 29th overall to perhaps 26th overall (Hockey’s Future, last updated Nov, 2011). The Oilers rank 4th overall on that same scale.

    It’s apples and oranges at this point.

    The Flames have Arnold, Baertschi, Gaudreau, Reinhart, and Irving as their most notable prospects at this time. Taking a one-out-of-three attrition rate as an average that means that of the Flames prospects, an above average turnout would mean that two of those five players turn out to be 250-game career NHLers. Maybe Baertschi becomes good, say Logan Couture good. Maybe not. Irving might be as good as Tomas Vokoun or Tommy Salo. Maybe better. Time will tell.

    The Oilers have in their development system Klefbom, Marincin, Gernat, Omark, Pitlick, Hamilton, Musil, Hartikainen, Bunz, and Teubert all as equivalent or higher rated prospects to those of the Flames. Given that same ratio of success for prospects, the Oilers are likely to have between three and four solid NHLers. Perhaps more with their higher draft pedigree, improved development infrastructure, and better standing in the scouting community.

    Flames fans are understandably defensive about criticisms of their prospect pool. Darryl Sutter pillaged their future for the present (now the past) and left scorched earth in his wake. On top of that, their top prospect, Tim Erixon, forced Feaster to trade him for what was a marginal return given his market value at the time. But fans in Calgary would be best served not to try and contrast their development system and futures with the Oilers. You won’t be doing yourselves any favours in the eyes of most outsiders.

    I agree with Robin that there are holes in the Oiler’s lineup and those will be addressed, but not at the cost of the future. Racing to mediocrity is a well-worn path, one whose results are on display for all to see right now in L.A., Calgary, and Buffalo. A disastrous example can be seen in Columbus.

    Patience, however, has its rewards. So maybe this rebuild doesn’t snag a championship, but it will be, unequivocally, a better ride than the one Oiler fans have watched play out for the better part of this young century.

    As for Grigorenko, I wonder if the Oilers might trade down a place or two and gamble on Galchenyuk. Either way, whomever is taken this year needs to go back to junior. Nothing to be gained by rushing another young player and the focus ought to be on finding one more defenceman. Khabibulin will be traded either this summer or at the 2013 deadline at which time a goaltending upgrade will become, not a requirement, but an absolute necessity.

    Again, sorry for the length, and as an Oiler fan, while I loved (LOVED!) seeing such a dominant win last night, let’s not let it go to our heads and act like Canuck fans.

    Glad to read that story about the Oiler fans kicking in for the disadvantaged kids. I always glad to see Oiler fan brethren carrying themselves with (at least some sort of) dignity.

  • This is all very funny to me. All this ‘the future is so bright I gotta wear shades’ talk is starting to sound quite unintelligent. Any team in any sport that is horrible for a long period of time no matter how badly mismanaged will improve and get better. They finished at the bottom every year, of course they are going to get better!! Washington, Florida,Columbus and even Colorado were bottom feeders for some time and haven’t made it past 2 rounds of the playoffs in the last number of years. What makes the great hockey nation of Edmonton believe that a hockey genius like Kevin Lowe or Steve Tambellini has a cure for the basement cellar blues? Many teams that don’t cellar dwell are continuous playoff threats year after year. Keep these articles and posts from your loyal followers coming. It’s good readin for those not dwellin in oil country. yee hah!!!

  • RexLibris

    Do the Oilers have a better prospect pool than the Flames? Absolutely, I won’t argue that one. But the Flames system is improving, and I would say the 2011 draft was their best draft in a long time. Also, even though they had to trade Erixon, they got Horak from that trade, who has exceeded all expectations in his rookie season. Remember, he was a 5th round pick, so to be in the NHL at 20 is impressive. Backlund is another good young player. Yes, he has struggled to put up counting numbers, but if any of you look at the advanced stats Backlund has arguably been the Flames best forward, he drives the play up ice and creates chances. It’s only a matter of time before he starts putting up some numbers.

    All in all, I don’t expect the Oilers to consistently beat down the Flames, and I don’t think the system is as bare as some of you may think. I guess we’ll find out soon enough

  • Gange

    Some points:

    – I tire of this Flames are old and washed up talk. They have more youth than people who want to parrot what the east coast media are saying.

    – We can only guess the future so there is no point talking about what is “going to happen”.

    – Taylor Hall plays a reckless game, he is very skilled but he’d scare me as an Oilers fan. It only takes on David Steckel and…well all your championship dreams are on hold.

    – Currently the Oilers have better prospects, and they better have with their draft positions.

    – There is no proof that the Oilers development system is better than the Flames. You’ll need to back that up because as I see it there are not a glut of home developed talented players playing on the team (Hall, Eberle, and RNH do not count)

    – The only player I truly could covet on that team is Jordan Eberle. While Hall and RNH are very good I think Eberle is a different level.

    – Finally, I’m sure that there are 22 guys in Calgary right now that have March 16th circled. I know I would.

    • Oilers89

      Why doesn’t Eberle count? The oilers didn’t draft him and throw him directly into the NHL. They drafted him, developed him, and played him in the NHL. Ebs might be the one example of the oilers developing a player SUCCESSFULLY in a long time. I agree that fellow oil fans may be jumping the gun but, keep in mind that we have seen our team in the state that the flames are in, we know the warning signs of failure, and we can see it hitting the flames. In actuality it does not matter if the oilers rebuild works, the oilers could pass the flames just by being as good as they are now, the flames are most likely at some point going to fall flat on their face and finish last. P.S. Hall and RNH are players putting up basically elite numbers at in their 2nd and 1st respectively, I would hope that you would covet players that put up numbers that really only one flame or few players on each team can achieve.

    • RexLibris

      Regarding the Oiler’s prospects relative to their draft position: the prospects that are eliciting some of the most excitement over the past two years are ones that every team, even the Flames, had chances to take. They were later round picks like Omark (4th) or Marincin (2nd) or even Pelss (7th). I will never argue that we have had the fortune of drafting 1st overall, and 31st overall is also a very enviable position to have in selecting players. But the depth picks that the scouting staff has turned into decent prospects is where much of the prospect excitement, and unfortunately but understandably boasting, comes from.

      As for proof of the Oilers development system being a shade better than the Flames I would compare graduates of the Oilers farm system from 2004 to 2010 to the Flames in that same timespan.

      Oilers: Reddox, Schremp, Syvret, Petry, Greene, Brodziak, Gilbert, Peckham, Chorney, Cogliano and Dubnyk. Those are all players that were drafted or developed by the Oilers as prospects and spent time in the NCAA or AHL before suiting up for the Oilers. They all have a minimum of 49 games played in the NHL. Four of them are still with the Oilers and seven of the eleven are still in the NHL.

      Flames: Prust, Boyd, Pardy, Brett Sutter, Irving, Backlund, Aulie, Brodie. I lowered the number of games required because Irving is just getting his first opportunity now and goaltenders take longer to develop. Also, Sutter is only at 34 games but appears to have the makings of a career ahead of him. That leaves eight drafted and developed prospects that spend time in a minor league before playing in the NHL. All eight have NHL careers, one more than the Oilers, however some in more marginal roles than Cogliano, Dubnyk, Petry, Gilbert, or Brodziak. Also, of those eight there are only three remaining within the Flames organization.

      So while I would never ever argue that the Oilers were doing things right during this period when it came to developing prospects, their level of success is slightly better. The development of draft picks since 2009 (the year of ownership change and fundamental organizational shift) is still in progress, but thus far the returns would appear to be promising. The Barons are at the top of the AHL and are providing an excellent teaching environment for players just out of junior. The prospects that are in junior are all posting numbers on par with, or in excess of, expectations based on draft position. And our only overseas prospect in Oscar Klefbom was named to the WJC All-Star team after helping lead Sweden to a gold medal.

      The Flames have a collection of young, junior level prospects (Kent has a good article up on them right now at FN) that Flames fans should be excited about. They are all offensive forces that are posting good numbers and are either leading or keeping pace with their respective peer groups. It has been a very long time since Flames fans had anything in junior worth talking about.

      So the cupboard isn’t bare, entirely, nor is the roster full of Social Security recipients. But what Flames fans need to understand, and I say this because I see in their defensiveness the same responses that Oiler fans recited for years (and I know that comparison is really going to tick some people off) is that your franchise is actually returning to a state that most franchises operate in normally.

      That’s how bad it was.

      Sutter just used his bullying manner and the city’s love for Iginla to cry “traitor” whenever someone questioned his moves to paper over the absolutely glaring deficiencies and faults in the team.

      After the ’06 cup run Oiler fans were fed the same load. We didn’t have players like Iginla and Kiprusoff for the management to hide behind, so the bottom fell out and here we are.

      Finally, Eberle, Hall and Nugent Hopkins do count as home grown talent if only because for the last three years we have heard outsiders and fans on numerous nation sites telling us we need to trade a 1st overall pick for help right now, as though going from 30th to 23rd overall is some kind of desired improvement.

      But I understand your point about not including them as developed talent because they were drafted and then put into the roster as plug-and-play talents.

      Sorry about the length, and I, too, look forward to March 16th. I hope it’s a good one and if it means a Calgary win equals the post-season it’ll only make it all the more exciting for both cities.

      Good luck against the Coyotes and Flyers.

      • SmellOfVictory

        In your comparison of Flames/Oilers draftees from 04-10, did you take into account the number of picks each team had? I haven’t looked at Edmonton’s, but Calgary was missing at least two 2nd round picks and a 1st rounder in that time period due to Sutter’s apparent hatred of drafting.

        • RexLibris

          Good question. I touched on that when I mentioned that Sutter kept moving the future in favour of the present (more detail on that below).

          Also, between 2004 and 2010 the Flames had 50 picks, the Oilers 52. In actual fact, the Oilers had fewer picks up until 2010, the year the rebuild began (in spite of what many critics argue) when they had eleven picks in seven rounds.

          Here are the totals per year:
          2004 – Calgary had 10 picks, so did Edmonton.
          2005 – Calgary had 8 picks, so did Edmonton.
          2006 – Calgary had 8 picks, Edmonton had 5.
          2007 – Calgary had 5 picks, Edmonton had 6.
          2008 – Calgary had 7 picks, Edmonton had 5.
          2009 – Calgary had 6 picks, Edmonton had 7.
          2010 – Calgary had 6 picks, Edmonton had 11.

          Even a cursory glance at those numbers tells the story that Edmonton routinely traded away their picks for players in an attempt to temporarily improve their team and make the playoffs.

          2008 is a prime example. That year the Oilers drafted 22nd overall with the Anaheim Ducks first round pick that we received as part of the Pronger trade that converted when they won the Cup (without that Cup, we don’t have that pick). The Oilers took Eberle. They didn’t have another selection in the draft until the 4th round where they took Johan Motin.

          If the Oilers were really rebuilding for the last six to eight years (as critics in both Edmonton and elsewhere seem to suggest) then why were they trading away picks or losing them in compensation for RFA offer sheets? Sorry, I’m not directing this rant at you, just trying to make a point against a recurring argument.

          About the range of those picks: Calgary had 6 1st rounders to Edmonton’s 9 (three of those 1st rounders came in 2007, Gagner, Plante and Nash). Calgary had only one 2nd rounder in that time (Sutter’s handiwork, again) to Edmonton’s 8. Calgary did have 11 3rd rounders to Edmonton’s 6, while they also had 10 4th round picks to Edmonton’s 7. 5th round picks has Calgary with 6 and Edmonton with 8. 6th round is Calgary 6, Edmonton 6. 7th round and later is Calgary with 10 and Edmonton with 8.

          The bulk of the difference is in the top two rounds, specifically the 2nd round picks. Sutter traded only 1 first round pick in that time (the Jokinen one to Phoenix that became Brandon Gormley), but moved out 2nd round picks like they were vegetarian beatniks.

          The Oilers were without a first round pick in 2006 (traded to Minnesota for Dwayne Roloson and was used by L.A. to take Trevor Lewis).

          So over the period spanning 2004 to 2010, when both teams were trying to make the playoffs and each team had a SCF run both teams had more or less the same number of picks with Edmonton only slightly ahead in terms of draft position, and that only appears to be so because of the inclusion of the first year of the Oilers rebuild in 2010.

          Without that year included, a look at the draft rate of the two clubs would suggest that the Flames held on to their draft picks more often than Edmonton.

          One thing to take away from this, as a Flames fan, is that these numbers would suggest that the draft for Calgary was not only a poor showing, but that the team acutally underperformed by even the most generous terms, and that the to-date-improvement of the draft prospects of the Flames, while modest by league standards, is something about which to be excited, and relieved.

          • Gange

            As a flames fan, I am relieved and excited about the shift in scouting and draft.

            As Oiler fans, there is real reason to be excited about the future. However the Flames will not fall off a cliff. You will see that. When the schedule format changes you’ll see that all too much.

            To be perfectly honest, it’s about time the Oilers had some form of team. As good as it feels to beat up on them, I long for a return to the old days of jersey shredding rage in the penalty box.

  • I was blown away at how terrible Calgary was last night. Their own media pointing out that their record is due to Kipper putting up a Vezina quality performance so far this year. Their vets looked tired, and slow, and their AHL guys were just plain brutal. I think we will see the wheels fall off on Calgary soon enough. What I am wanting to see is if Peter Griffin goes scortched earth and trades his picks to aquire a couple of rentals to get them in the playoffs. I think he knows that this is possibly the last run. Interesting times in Cowville

  • I get why the Oiler fans are gloating. They deserve to for this game. A little early to say that this is what WILL happen in the future consistently don’t ya think? The paragraph that needs to be highlighted a little more that Browner wrote is:

    “I know, get your head out of your backside, Brownlee. It’s just one win and the Flames won the previous nine games. The BOA has been a one-sided beatdown for years. The Oilers don’t have a hope in Hades of finishing within single digits of Calgary in Western Conference standings this season. The Oilers are again a lottery lock after back-to-back 30th-place finishes. They will miss the playoffs for the sixth straight season.”

    Truer words have never been spoken. Let’s also remember, most Oiler fans (many of you on this forum) were saying that this year was the year that the Oil were going to make the big jump. Let’s not count our chickens…

  • Franko J

    I never seen Feaster from that angle.
    Good one Smokey.
    Does this mean Tambellini is also known as Quagmire.

    Thanks Orange-in-Blue for the reference.
    Good laugh.

  • FIRE

    I would agree that the Oilers have a bright future. What Edmonton fans should realize is, that there are very few teams that pull off a Chicago Blackhawks ride to success and the Stanley Cup. Tambellini is not a great GM and my grandmother could of selected Hall and Nugent-Hopkins as obvious selections in the Draft. He will face the music when he gets fired next year for not being able to shore up his defence and goaltending. Hemsky is not worth what Tambellini thinks he is worth.
    As hard as it has become, to attract unrestricted players to Alberta, the Flames at least attract players to come here. It’s no secret both Hall and Seguin were hoping to get picked by the Bruins.
    By the time that the Oilers young talent become mature; they will be close to becoming restricted free agents with an eye on how much time they will have to spend in Edmonton.
    The Flames will probably not be an elite team for many years and the Oilers, although much more talented will never be the Chicago Blackhawks and win a Stanley Cup with a team full of young superstars.
    Oilers beat the Flames for the first time in 10 games and they are on cloud Nine. Big deal!!

    • D-Man

      Ah yes – the bitter Flames fan who has nothing better to do but troll an Oiler fan website… What proof do you have that Hall/Seguin didn’t want to get drafted first?? If you had watched Oil Change – you’d note that both pleaded their case to be the starting point of our rebuild…

      Also – who have the Flames attracted via free agency?? Olli Jokinen?? They traded him away only to ask him to come back?? Alex Tanguay?? Please…

      You might be right about Tambo though… He’s had as many misses as he’s had hits with drafting and free agency, but I’m pretty confident that the Flames will start their decline beginning next year… Enjoy your 9th place finish and your mid-tier draft pick…

  • Oilers4ever

    Yep… gotta agree.. so long as the Flames keep trading 1st and 2nd round picks for 30 plus year old players they will continue to be the Calgary Geriatrics… I agree with Robin.. they have this season, but it will be THE last for a long number of years.. I give Feaster one, maybe two more seasons in Cowtown before he fesses up and admits Geriatrics is not the solution to building a successful hockey team and we’ll be laughing at him when in 3 years time that ole Silver Stanley is back in the City of Champs where it belongs!