I knew the Edmonton Oilers would not be a good hockey team this season. Did I think they could end up with the worst record in the NHL? Nope! Is that going to happen. The answer appears to be yes! Another one-sided loss last night--this one to Colorado by a count of 6-0, leaves Edmonton two points ahead of the last place Carolina Hurricanes in the NHL standings. (Didn't these two teams play in the Cup final just a few short years ago?)
Last week, TSN's Bob McKenzie said it would not be easy for the Oilers to overhaul everything and it won't because of their payroll situation. Can it be done? Yeah, but there are going to have be some decisions made---decisions that have to be made now.
First, it is obvious new blood is needed. Jordan Eberle should provide some spark to a listless offence next year as should a guy like Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson and either a Taylor Hall, a Tyler Seguin or a Cam Fowler. One has to think whoever Edmonton drafts high in the first round will make the team.
Second, it is time to start chopping off the fat now to get some additional draft picks. Guys like Shawn Horcoff and his 5 and a half million dollar deal must go. Horcoff has been a disaster the past two years and needs a new start somewhere. There are playoff teams that can afford to make a deal for Horcoff involving players and picks. He isn't the only one that can go. Ethan Moreau can be sent packing while he still has some value, the same goes for Andrew Cogliano who has been disappointing, Lubomir Visnovsky who is too expensive and Steve Staios who is near the end.
Its time to see if a guy like Taylor Chorney can play. Its time to find some younger, less expensive talent. Guys that can grow with one another and play with one another for a number of years. Guys like Ales Hemsky, Sam Gagner, Sheldon Souray, Dustin Penner and Patrick O'Sullivan are a start.
Chicago took its lumps, but by adding players through the draft or trades like Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook, etc. etc., they are now at the top of the NHL ladder and are a serious threat to compete for the Cup not only this year but many years down the line.
Its not going to get better in Edmonton overnight which is something fans of this team, like me must realize. It can get better though if the right approach is taken. Don't look for someone like a Heatley to fill the building because one superstar does not guarantee success. The seeds of youth are in place. Let those seeds grow and see what happens.
The Hawks have given teams like Edmonton the formula. The Oilers have the players....now its left to be seen if they can work the same magic the Hawks have. In the meantime, we have to continue suffering through more of what we did last night. If short term pain equals a long term gain, fine. If not, look for the Oiler fanbase to start eroding and when that starts to happen in Canada, its not good news.