Ramblings – Oilers taking off; most improved teams so far; more (July 4)




Rambling about the Oilers (ready to take off?); most improved teams so far; and much more …


The Edmonton Oilers have arrived.

You’ll tell me that I say this every year, but that’s not actually the case. In the past I’ve used words like “could” and “should”.  This year I’m saying it, and I know I’m probably alone.

Last year the Oilers got 70 points. This year – and you can bookmark this – they will get between 87 and 93 points. Last year 88 was enough to get into the playoffs but usually you need 92. Edmonton will make it close: 87 to 93 points. You can accept it in advance and get ahead of the competition. Or you can wait until December and then start to react to it, probably too late. And the reasons for this are not exactly what you think. But I’ll be acting now, and I won’t be holding back. And in hindsight, I’m glad that they took three years longer than we all thought. Because those owners who built around the Oilers are loosening their grip on the players.

Here is my reasoning, in order:

1. Cam Talbot

Perhaps the No.1 (or at worst No.2) reason cited by the unbelievers (which is pretty much everybody) is Edmonton’s lack of goaltending. Luckily I’m here to set you straight. Talbot was among the league leaders in goaltending stats in the second half. He joined a brand new team that was young and very weak defensively. Excuse him for stumbling for the first nine weeks or so. Here are Cam Talbot’s statistics from December 14th onwards:

43 GP 18-19-4, 2.37 GAA, 0.924 SV%

Provided he’s healthy, the Oilers are a lock for the postseason. I’m putting myself out there by saying it, because I believe it. Again, you’re thinking: “Bah, Dobber’s said this before”. But no I honestly haven’t. Prior to this, I had always used words like “could” and “might”.

2. Forward Size

Let’s say that some of you are right and that Milan Lucic is a terrible skater and not worth the contract he was given. That does not take from the fact that he’s a top power forward in this league with Cup experience. He fills a need that you cannot doubt the Oilers had. Since last February, the Oilers have added the following big forwards:

Lucic, Patrick Maroon, Jesse Puljujarvi, Zack Kassian

That’s a 6-3 (or more), 215-pound (or more) forward added to each line. Puljujarvi is 203 pounds, but you get the point.

3. Forward Talent

The Oilers lost Taylor Hall and Oilers’ fans are nuts over it. Hall for Lucic? Terrible! But I got news for you. This is Hall for Puljujarvi – and you’ll see soon enough that it’s an even swap. Pul