Not much has gone right for Oiler fans since 2006. Don’t know if anyone knows this, but Chris Pronger asked for a trade. I’m sure most Oiler fans forgot about that. Then Ryan Smyth got traded, and I’m sure that has slipped their mind as well. They haven’t made the playoffs since 06, they’ve finished 30th, 30th and 29th the last 3 seasons, the proposed arena deal is taking a ridiculous amount of time to get done, and now there is a lockout. But that last little piece might not be so bad for the Oilers.
Most teams in the NHL have their players really spread out. Lots are at home training but obviously not playing. Some are over sea’s (over 100 I believe). And then you have the kids that are in the AHL. Well this is where the benefit for the Oilers comes into play.
No other team in the NHL has their 3 top players playing together right now, but once Taylor Hall gets cleared to play the Oilers will. More beneficial than that for the Oilers, Justin Schultz gets to be eased into pro hockey. My concern for this kid no matter where he was going to sign was that he would be rushed into the league. Coming out of college, it’s a drastic change going straight to the NHL. It’s good, especially for a d-man, to get in time in the AHL. And the kid looks like the real deal thus far. 4 goals and 5 assists in 9 games for Schultz and was named AHL player of the week last week.
Oh and let’s not forget about 1st overall pick Nail Yakupov. While he isn’t getting time in the AHL, getting time in the KHL is the next best thing. It’s so much easier for both these kids to enter pro hockey without the big expectations. They can work on their games and don’t have to face any scrutiny. And Yakupov is doing just fine as well with 6 goals in 10 games. Neither guy is playing at a level that will hurt them, unlike Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano, Magnus Paajarvi, etc. This team has a nasty recent history of rushing their young guys and this lockout has forced them to avoid doing that.
Add to this, and I know nobody wants to think about this being a possibility (nor do I believe it will happen), but SHOULD the season be cancelled the Oilers would have another great shot at landing the 1st overall pick. The way it worked in 2005 with the lottery, it was based off teams performances over the previous 3 seasons. You got balls for everyone of those seasons you had missed the playoffs. So this would put the Oilers alongside the Leafs, Flames, Jets, Wild, Canes, Stars, and the Islanders as having the best chance of winning the lottery. None of us want that, I know even Oiler fans wouldn’t want that trade off, but it could be a silver lining. WHEN the season does start up, I would guess the Oilers will be closer to a playoff spot than the basement that they haven’t just rented, but were the landlords of the last 3 seasons.
It’s painful to have to listen to the NHLPA and the owners bicker back and forth when there is clearly a deal to be made here and all of us are fully aware that it’s more about ego then anything. Add to that, Oiler fans have to listen to the same sort of thing from city council and the Katz group as they fight over getting a deal done for the downtown arena. But if there is something to take out of this, its that this should help the Oilers out much more than any other organization.
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