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05-15-2013, 04:29 AM
The Perfect Human*
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Edmonton
Country: Canada
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Keeping in mind the division the Oilers are headed into the season, the outlook looks bleak given the core management has assembled. I'm not doubting the superstar potential of Hall/RNH/Eberle/Yakupov, but I just don't feel they are playing in a division where they'll be able to thrive.

If those 4 were in the East you could probably add 5-10pt over an 82 game season to their point totals. The style, system, and scoring in that conference is ridiculously different than the West.

When you have Hall/RNH/Yakupov/Eberle (avg weight 185) as your core forwards heading forward up against other teams' cores in Getzlaf/Perry/Etem/Ryan (avg weight 210), Thornton/Marleau/Couture/Pavelski (avg weight 209), and Kopitar-Brown-Carter-Richards (avg weight 212), you're bound to lose the match-up. These players are every bit as skilled and talented as our stars, and in some cases just as fast (Marleau/Richards/Brown). On top of it all they're taller, heavier, and stronger. It's why the Oilers struggled so poorly vs those California teams earlier this season.

You can add all the size and physicality you want to the bottom-2 lines, but the fact is in today's NHL people aren't using 3rd line checkers to play against top lines anymore. Top players are going head-to-head against top players, and the stronger, more complete C's are winning the matchup. RNH already had some exposure to it this year, and seemed to struggle with it as the season wore on. Gagner is dead meat - he is a player that will get CREAMED in this division. He needs to be shipped East ASAP. Hall's heart, RNH's unique style, and Yakupov's compact tough frame could withstand this division. MPS/Gagner/Eberle likely can't.

Even if you fill those spots with big, physical forwards, you're going to need much of the same (albeit with less offensive potential) in your bottom-6. Horcoff likely has to go.

And let's not forget the Oilers' #1 need, and perhaps the most unfixable issue for NHL teams right now, a #1 defenseman. I'm not even going to address that like it's a possibility. I'd be happy with a strong top-4 (SJS/VAN follow this model). But when Beauchemin, Doughty, and OEL are all in your division, you're already in trouble. On top of the hulking forwards our scoring F's have to deal with, you have Norris-quality defensemen being matched up against them in shut-down roles. Their versatility allows them to turn any mistakes into instant transition offense. Let's not forget the steady crop of #2-level Dmen in the division. Fowler, Hamhuis, Edler, Garrison, Voynov, and Mitchell are all better than any defenseman the Oilers have to offer.

And I'm a big pro-Dubnyk guy - but Niemi/Quick/Hiller are 3 significantly better goaltenders than him as well.

The outlook's bleak. I know Mac-T said he was looking to introduce 6-8 new players for this upcoming season but that may not be enough. And I can't think of a time in the past where a team was able to turn-over about 10-11 players in an off-season.

But that's what it's going to take this team to be successful. I don't see SJS/LAK dropping out of contention anytime soon. VAN with whatever changes it makes is likely going to be ahead of the Oilers as well. ANA has an uncertain future here with Selanne headed to potential retirement, but has assets and money to re-tool (Sbisa on the 3rd pairing, ).

Oiler fans have gone through a lot already, landing in this division is the worst news possible for a rebuild that has already been geared to follow the PIT/CHI model...

Last edited by The Perfect Human*: 05-15-2013 at 04:46 AM.
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