Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Oilers are the NHL's biggest question mark

Ah, September.

Training camp is ready to begin, rookies are trying their best to crack the roster and there are stacks of NHL preview magazines to read through.

And I just picked up the Sporting News preview and where do they rank the Copper and Blue? Twenty-third in the league? What the fuck?

OK. Settle down. Oiler fans go through this every year. While we’re optimistic about a new season, we need to be reminded about what we have on paper before we’re disappointed in April.

There are good reasons why the Oilers won’t make the playoffs this year on paper because of a dismal off-season.

Nikolai Khabibulin is in, Dwayne Roloson is out and so is Ales Kotalik, as well as the team’s second best faceoff guy in Kyle Brodziak.

Then there’s that two-month Dany Heatley ass-sucking saga and now there are rumours about Mike Comrie coming back to Edmonton.

And since the Oilers are so close to the cap thanks to some very large contracts this season, Comrie will not become an Oiler again, at least not this season.

Lubomir Visnovsky is set to make $7 million this season, and so is Shawn Horcoff. Sheldon Souray is set to make $5.5 million and Dustin Penner will continue to make $4.25 million.

On paper, this is the same team as last year with one or two subtractions, but there’s a much larger payroll. That doesn’t make sense.

The only thing that could turn into a positive for the Oilers is the revamped coaching staff, which really makes this team very unpredictable going into this season.

Pat Quinn and company could bring new life to a team that played with little emotion on the ice last season, or you could see the same players (Penner, Robert Nilsson) create problems for Quinn’s staff.

When it comes to predicting the season outcome for the Oilers, NHL preview publications are bang on to rank them near the bottom of the barrel.

But with a new coaching staff, the Oilers are currently the NHL’s biggest question mark other than what team Heatley will play for.

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