Someone needs to find out just what the Edmonton Oilers think they are doing these days.
The Oilers, who are now in the midst of a well-publicized rebuild led by the likes of rookies Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Magnus Paajarvi, are starting to make some noise in the Western Conference standings.
Yes, they are still at the bottom of the standings with just 29 points, but they are also only nine points out of a playoff spot.
And listening to the coaches and players speak these days, it seems making the post-season dance at the end of the regular season is the goal this club is hoping to reach.
This past summer, Edmonton took Hall, a two time Memorial Cup champion with Windsor, with the first overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft, due in large part to one of the worst seasons in franchise history.
So that’s it?
They add one star player from junior and the rebuild is done?
I would seriously hope not, especially when you look at the amount of time teams like Chicago and Pittsburgh spent at the bottom of the standings before elevating themselves to championship status.
The Oilers already have Eberle and Paajarvi, thanks to previous seasons where the club failed to make the playoffs, so you could argue when they drafted Hall, they grabbed the final piece they needed to compete with the Blackhawks, the Red Wings, and the Sharks of the league.
But the Oilers are still woefully inept at centre, they lack a “franchise” defenseman, they can’t kill off a penalty to save their life and outside of the big three, they still lack bona fide scoring, at this level or in the minors.
What the Oilers need is more pieces to the puzzle.
And the only way to get those is, unfortunately, another bottom of the heap finish.
I mean, I cheer just as loud as every other Oilers fan out there when they win, but after watching this team not make the playoffs for the last four seasons, and wiffle in the post season when they do, save for the magical run to the Stanley Cup in 2006, I’m willing to sacrifice another season if it means this team will be a player in the upper echelon of the league for years to come.
I want this Oilers team to become the newest edition of the Detroit Red Wings.
After not having much success, regular season or otherwise, through the late 80’s and early 90’s, Detroit has transformed itself into the blueprint every team in the NHL should follow.
The Red Wings are the closest thing we have to a dynasty, having not missed the playoffs in the last 15 years and winning four Stanley Cups in that time.
If you’re an Oilers fan, ask yourself this: Would you be willing to sacrifice another season without the playoffs if it meant years of contending not just for a playoff spot, but for a championship?
I know I am.
I was recently engaged in a heated debate with some fellow Oilers’ fans, who thought my wanting the team to finish with another lottery pick this year was akin to cheering for the Calgary Flames.
It’s not that at all.
The Oilers could finish dead last for the next 20 years, and I would still follow them with the same energy and dedication that I have over the previous 20.
But Edmonton has a chance to do this rebuild right, and with prizes like Drummondville forward Sean Couturier, Red Deer Rebels centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Swedish defenseman Adam Larsson awaiting the first teams to book April tee times, is another year with post season hockey really that big of a pill to swallow?
I didn’t think so.