I'm not expecting the 2007-2008 Oilers to win the Stanley Cup this year. I won't predict that since the team is not good enough. However, there are elements of the 'good enough' already on this team. Obviously, there needs to be more of the 'good enough' and we all hope Kevin Lowe evens out the situation. We have obviously too many defensemen and not enough scoring up front. I like the addition of the rookies, giving them the minutes to develop but Kevin Lowe is confusing. Are we rebuilding or going for it all? Gagner in the lineup is a rebuild but the Souray signing is not. Kevin Lowe has confused us and himself. Check out an article in the Edm Journal today where he says, "What happened was, all of a sudden, we got a lot of defencemen...Then, I'm thinking, 'Holy mackerel, we've got a lot of guys here." I'm hoping you were keeping track of all the deals Kevin and just didn't forget how many d-men you had.
So even though the team does not have a clear direction, I still like the make-up of this team. The new additions have fit in easily and things are on the up-swing. So here are the newbies and the goners!
New players: Sheldon "Chaos" Souray, Joni Pitkanen, Dick "Tricky" Tarnstrom, Dustin Penner, Geoff Sanderson, Denis Grebeshkov, Mathieu Garon.
Younglings: Sam Gagner, Andrew Coligano, Kyle Brodziak, Marc Pouliot, JF Jacques, Robert Nilsson.
Gone: Joffrey "atrocious" Lupul, Jason Smith, Petr Sykora, Jan Hedja, Ryan Smyth, MA Bergeron, Jussi Markkanen, Brad Winchester, Toby Peterson, Daniel Tjarnqvist.
So we begin the year with a huge turnover of players. They seem to be meshing well during pre-season so that is a good sign. Gagner has made the team, but will probably get his 9 game try-out before being sent back down to the minors. I think he has an outside chance to stay up, but the man to watch on this team is Coligano! If he can continue the momentum from the pre-season, the Oilers may actually have a player in the mix for the Calder. But really, that isn't important. It's important to get the rookies and young players in the mix, give them some minutes and let them develop. I can take a development year, if it gives the team a better chance the following year. So I say let the rookies play and play often!!!
Hemsky, will this be your breakout year? Will Penner live up to expectations? Will Greene ever be traded or thrown over the train tracks?? I vote for tracks. Hell, I will help tie him down myself. I despise him with every fiber of my being. The fact that he's in the lineup instead of Smid or even Grebeshkov is atrocious. Lowe/MacT refuse to admit they've made a mistake with this player. He's not developing, he's regressing. Time to cut him loose!!!
With several sports publications picking the Oilers to finish 13th, I have to politely disagree and call them retards! This team has solid goaltending, great PK and now a PP but give up defensively 5 on 5. The forwards may not be better than last year (yes we'll miss Smyth and Sykora's goals) but the point is, they will be in a year or two. I'd rather have a good Oilers team two years from now with Hemmer, Cogliano and Gagner, than a mediocre team with Smyth on it now.
I pick the Oilers to be their usual self: fighting for the 8th playoff spot up until the last week of the regular season. If Kevin Lowe fixes the unbalance between defense-offense (aka: trading defense for a top 6 forward), this team makes the playoffs. Otherwise, this team is working towards next year which I am okay with! I
TSN has a story up about the Oilers and this was the practice lines according to TSN:
Penner - Horcoff - Hemsky
Torres - Stoll - Nilsson
Jacques - Cogliano - Gagner
Greene - Souray
Staios - Pitkanen
Tarnstrom - Gilbert