The Refinery

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The Oilers Future is Set in Stone

Oilers future

Oilers future

Yeah, not being in the playoffs sucks. But there is much to look forward to Oilers fans.I don’t know what it is about Jeff DesLauriers and Theo Peckham, but I am way more excited about their debuts during this season as full-time Oilers than I have been with other prospects in the past. Something about them… makes them more interesting than the Robert Nilssons, Ryan Potulnys, and Dany Sabourins. No offense to them, but there’s something about this Peckham fellow.

Hell, it might just be because they came up through the Oilers system and strutted their stuff. With specific emphasis on DesLauriers, who has endured worse than Dubnyk or Fisher, and has the battle wounds to show it. Peckham is a special player and his intensity is much welcomed. And heck, even Samwise “Gamgee” Gagner is starting to look like a real leader too.

The major change I’d say in the Oilers dynamic over the past few years was from low expectations to high expectations. This started as the Oilers’ cinderella story danced its way to a Game 7 heartbreak in 2006. And yet, its not just the fans who are getting sick of the disappointments with 3 straight seasons out of the playoffs. Heck, even the players are starting to show the frustration too.

The one main difference I see in the younger players coming up is a willingness to play through adversity. Sam Gagner, I was hard on him all season, and now he’s emerged a real leader on the team. Andrew Cogliano, has taken a reduced role to center a third line vacancy and has even asked Shawn Horcoff for help on faceoffs. Theo Peckham, will not backdown from the Evgeni Malkins or the Claude Lemieuxs of the league: save the respect for off-ice situations, please. And don’t forget Jeff DesLauriers, who sat through 36 Dwayne Roloson starts before he had a chance to guard the crease.

I think combined with the players’ higher expectations, a renewed willingness to battle through adversity, and a forward-thinking perspective, the next Oilers season will be much more fun to watch.

A few points to consider for next season:

  • There’s no question: Ales Hemsky is a heckuva player. But Ales Hemsky disappears for too long of stretches during the season. The only reason he isn’t given the same doghouse treatment as Dustin Penner is because his name is Ales Hemsky. There’s nobody on the net spreading rumours about his “fatness.” Consider Hemsky’s stats, Penner’s stats, and the fact that one of them has substantial playing time on the PP and one of them has had substantial playing time on the PK, 3rd line, 4th line, and not to discount time in the press box. I suggest the Oilers treating everyone with equality next season. I’ve heard enough about Hemsky’s frustration with linemates and as a fan I’m no longer statisfied with giving Hemksy the preferential treatment. He’s one of my favorite players but he needs to understand that the time is ticking on how long Oilers fans can expect him to become the elite player everyone expects him to be. If it turns out he’s not going to be that guy, then it’s time to turn the team in a new direction. Hemsky is a part of the plan, but making him happy is not the end goal – it should instead be building a team that can win the cup. Does Hemsky really make the players around him better? I’m starting to wonder about the answer to that question.
  • Dwayne Roloson played amiably during the stretch run. He will make a great tutor to DesLaurier – but as a backup.
  • Under Visnovsky’s tutelage, Taylor Chorney can become a pretty useful defenseman. He is the kind of defenseman who makes smart decisions with the puck but sometimes suffers brain lapses. Right now I think its obvious he’s just getting a taste of NHL hockey until the season winds down. Before he can play full time in Edmonton, he needs to either (a) prove that he’s a leader in Springfield or (b) show that he can replace Grebeshkov, who can potentially be dealt this summer. No special treatment for anyone, not for Schremp, Hemsky, or for Chorney.
  • So what is the deal with having Brule, Potulny, Trukhno, Omark, Eberle, Kytnar, and Schremp? We already have Gagner, Nilsson, Cogliano, and O’Sullivan. Somebody’s gonna lose out this off season – or else Springfield better compete for the Calder Cup.
  • Speaking of the Calder Cup: another season for the Falcons without playoffs. The Oilers have to renew the affiliation with Springfield which expires this off season. With limited success in their time together, I’m sure both sides are considering ways to make the partnership work better if its going to work in the long run.
  • The Oilers gotta hire a better PR staff. Jen Sharpe has a drier personality than a used up marker. A dried out Sharpie – to be exact. On top of that, when faced with the Oilogosphere’s “negativity” was antagonistic to the fans. The fans live and die with the Oilers season, we don’t need a middle man – or woman – to make things worse. PR is supposed to make things better – aren’t then?



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