Oilers fans need to be patient for a couple of years. As the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Chicago Blackhawks have proved the past couple of years, you win Stanley Cups by sucking eggs for a few years, getting good draft picks, and building through the youth movement.
The Oilers will be a better team, but they’re still not ready to make the playoffs yet. But with their young talent, they’ll be a powerhouse in a few years.
Best offseason move: Drafting Taylor Hall. Hall will be a true superstar. Just look at the success #1 picks have had since 2001: Ilya Kovalchuk, Rick Nash, Marc-Andre Fleury, Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Erik Johnson, Patrick Kane, Steven Stamkos and John Tavares. The only one on that list that doesn’t belong is Johnson. As for the rest? Multiple Stanley Cup winners in there. A few 50-goal scorers. Some exciting players to watch. If Hall keeps up the tradition, then Oiler fans are in for a great couple of years.
Worst offseason move: Not making a splash on the free agent market. I don’t know if it was for a lack of trying though. In years past, they’ve gone after free agents such as Marian Hossa, Tomas Vanek and Michael Nylander, but ended up getting stuck with Sheldon Souray, Dustin Penner and Nikolai Khabibulin. As of this writing, they have more than $3 million to play with. Not a lot, but if they combined it with the money they used to sign a couple of free agents, the probably could have made more of a splash. Of course, they may be saving the space to bring on more money when they trade Sheldon Souray. Who knows?
Dark horse trophy candidate: Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson for the Calder.
Pool pick: Sheldon Souray. Yes, he wasn’t invited to training camp. But Souray has a great year, followed by an injury-plagued season. In 06-07, he had 64 points in 81 games, followed by 10 points in 26 games. That was followed by 53 points in 81 games, and then 13 points in 37 games. He may be traded to a contender. But the smart money would be on an 81-game, 57-point season. Who to stay away from: Taylor Hall. Sure, this may sound crazy, but someone is going to overvalue Hall. They’ll look at the success Stamkos had this past season, and will jump on Hall, probably by the third or fourth round. But Stamkos only had 46 points as a rookie the year before. Tavares had only 54 points as a rookie last year. And they had more support than Hall does. Look for Hall to finish around 45 points.
Best hall of fame choice: Nikolai Khabibulin. He may not seem like the greatest choice, but just picture this. He’s 37 years old, so he probably had four years of hockey left in him. If he average 25 wins a season (more than likely as a #1 starter), he’ll finish with more than 400 wins. He’s won gold at the world junior championships, gold at the Olympics and a bronze at the Olympics. He has a Stanley Cup ring (only five other #1 goalies can boast that claim right now), and a cool nickname. Not a guarantee to make it, but not outside the realm of possibility either.
Blog to follow: Lowetide
My Prediction: Fourth in the Northwest, 13th in the West.
Famous celebrity from that city: Jill Hennessy