From Champs to Chumps?
Both the franchises of the New York Islanders and Edmonton Oilers dominated the NHL in the late 70's and throughout the 80's. Amazing how the mighty have fallen and it appears they can not get back up. The Islanders have been struggling for years with high draft picks but signing bad contracts, awful managing of the team has probably been the largest criticism. The Oilers have had some bad press for their management ability but in large part, it has been blamed on players in the organization. There comes a point where management has to step up and take some responsibility.
I am of the belief that a 18th-22nd place finish may be better but if were not good enough yet, there are some incredible players in the top 6 of the coming 2012 NHL draft. Yes, I know, there comes a point where you have to move forward but since the season has pretty much gone the way down the crapper, I say let it continue to be about development and start making changes to see what our future holds.
I love Anton Lander, but let's face it, like Paajarvi, he needs development time and lots of icetime to improve on his game. He has some offensive ability and is getting it stifled playing consistently on the 4th line. Let him round out and improve his game at the AHL level. Also it may be time to trade off Eager and either Gagner or Hemsky by the trade deadline. Its not the players themselves, it's the make up of the team that is more the problem IMO.
O'Marra is a good fit for that 4th line role and can win faceoffs. Let's see what we have in him for a longer spell before we decide if he is worth keeping into next year. With some good talent in OKC we can afford to bring up a Ryan Keller and really see what he can deliver on a 3rd or 4th line role. Also once O'Mark and Hartikanen are ready, I say it's time for the big show. On defence? Well they are doing exactly the same as I am suggesting with the forwards already. Young guys are getting some experience, the Oilers are seeing what they got in some older prospects in Plante and Teubert and I am sure evaluating their future as the season continues on.
Why do this you say? Why not? Do we really believe we can attain a playoff spot now? For the Oilers to do so, they would be the talk of the NHL should they come back to make the playoffs. At least if the Oilers don't win as many games, they are evaluating for the future and developing.
I am sure some of you will think I am crazy for thinking the Oilers should continue this season the way I just suggested but let me ask you. Is not Tamby and Lowe already following this process with our defence? We all knew no defence help was coming in. We knew it was a evaluation year on defence and in goal. Sure they started the year well, but in hockey it's what have you done for me lately. Fair or not fair, circumstances changes game plans. This coming 2012 NHL Draft, top end talent has either that potential 1-3 defencemen we need or 1 more top centre. Should we falter, the consolation prize? A Generational talent as scouts say in Nail Yakupov. Personally, I think the Oilers finish the year anywhere between 20th at best to as low as 26th.
(A tribute to the beginnings of a great team and another era of Incredible hockey)
Gametime 11:00 am CHED630am/Sportsnet-West
For Oiler and Baron news and 2012/13 NHL draft watch www.twitter.com/revingev