Monday, March 31, 2008

Edmonton Oilers: Restoring Hope

The Edmonton Oilers fell very quickly from their 2006 Stanley Cup final appearance. They were forced to trade Chris Pronger and then traded Ryan Smyth and then fell into a tailspin where they were arguably the worst team in the NHL. Things didn't look any better at the beginning of this season. It was hard to be an Edmonton Oiler fan.

However, things have looked better lately. Surprisingly, the Oilers are still in the West Conference playoff race. Likely, they will wind up missing the playoffs and even if they do make them, they would be the worst playoff bound team. What has changed is that some of their young talent is starting to succeed at the NHL level. Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano, Tom Gilbert, Kyle Brodziak and Denis Grebeshkov all look like NHL players. Gagner looks like a future star. This could be a big part of the core that finally leads the Oilers to better things in the future.

The Oilers managed one important goal this season. The draft pick given up this year in return for the signing of Dustin Penner will not be a lottery pick. It is still possible that some of the other three picks given up will be if things do not go well, but that counts as a success. Of course, if your success is that you played well enough that your stupid off season move does not really stupid yet, you have low standards. Such was the case in Edmonton at the beginning this year.

Edmonton is a great hockey city. I don't think there is any other city in the world with more NHL fans per capita (of course there are bigger cities with more total fans). It is nice that the Oiler fans are starting to have hope that their team is on a good path. This hope can be seen in Oiler blog posts such as this one.

1) As we mentioned on our blog last week the Oilers to their credit were not among the teams 'mailing it in'
2) We, and many others wrote them off before the season, and McTavish and his players deserve full credit!
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