Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Worst Team In Hockey

I spend quite a bit of time worrying about which team is the best in the NHL (and thus most likely to win the Stanley Cup). For the record, at this point in the season I would pick the Detroit Red Wings as the best team in the league right now. Today, I want to take a look at the bottom of the standings and pick out the worst team in the league.

I think the worst team in the league so far this year has been the Edmonton Oilers. They currently sit in 29th place in the 30 team NHL (Washington has a worse record) with a 7-13 record (one loss counts as a regulation tie. They have the world goal differential in the league. They score a league worst 2.00 goals per game while allowing 3.15. This is a differential of -1.15 goals per game (for comparison the Washington Capitals may be below Edmonton in the standings but have a goal differential of -0.65 per game)).

Edmonton's biggest problem is a lack of skilled forwards. Lowetide addresses this when he points out that Edmonton only has four impact forwards playing right now with more than 150 NHL games played in their careers. This problem exists in part because Ethan Moreau and Fernando Pisani are both injured for long periods of time. Even with Moreau and Pisani playing (both are competent NHLers but neither are stars) the Oilers forward unit would be a weakness.

Their defence has also been hit by injury with Sheldon Souray and Joni Pitkanen out. This unit has some depth. Veteran NHLer Dick Tarnstrom has been a healthy scratch at times, but it lacks any proven defensive stalwart. Steve Staios might be the closest to this on the roster.

In goal, both Mathieu Garon and Dwayne Roloson are capable, but neither is all star calibre. Roloson is 38 years old and might be starting to show his age.

Edmonton is an example of a team without strengths. A team with no strengths is a bad team. They are far worse than a team with strengths and also clear weaknesses (for example Tampa Bay - LeCavalier, Richards and St Louis are clear strengths and their goaltending a clear weakness).

The biggest problem with the Oilers is that they won't have a first round pick this year. It was given up to sign Dustin Penner as a restricted free agent. This pick will almost certainly be in the lottery and could be the first pick in the draft. This is a bad situation. For this, Kevin Lowe should be fired. It's a serious mistake. Instead, the Oilers resigned Lowe for four years.

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