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12 April 2007

How the Edmonton Oilers went from the Stanley Cup finals to a sad, sad season...

Chris Pronger (left) and Ryan Smyth (right) stand next to Oilers GM Kevin Lowe (centre). The pair proved to be invaluable to the Oilers, and after their departures, the once respectable franchise became a sad mockery.

The Edmonton Oilers were a bad team in 2006-2007.

Face it, it's not pretty, but it's the truth.

This team went from making the playoffs on the last day of the season and coming oh-so-close to winning the Stanley Cup to a sad bunch who seem like they've lost all interest in playing hockey.

Let us evaluate what the players brought to the table.

Petr Sykora, signed to a 1-year deal late in the free agency period, has proved to be this team's top scorer after a previously miserable season with the Ducks and Rangers.
He finished with 53 points, and had the inversed stats of the departed Ryan Smyth, who equally had 53 points but he put that up in 53 contests while battling injuries and then eventually being dealt to the New York Islanders on Trade Deadline Day.
Sykora had 22 goals and 31 assists while Smyth put up those numbers...but inversed, 31 goals and 22 assists.

The young Ales Hemsky is set for a great career and is taking it one step at a time, he finished with 53 points as well and put up 40 assists in 64 games, he could've scored more, he has a great shot, but nevertheless, he would've beat out Sykora had it not been for injuries too.
The pair were argurably the only Oilers to have a strong season, if you want to call a measly 53 points as your team lead "strong", go ahead, but that's not good enough for most GM's and Kevin Lowe acknowledged that.

Lowe told the media yesterday, that they should expect 6 to 8 new faces this offseason in Edmonton.
When asked which positions, Lowe said practically all of them, and it's true.

The Oilers struggled on defence; Ladislav Smid, Matt Greene and Jan Hejda were not enough to compensate for the losses of Chris Pronger, Jaroslav Spacek and even the belated Dick Tarnstrom.

Injuries to Jan Hejda (shoulder), Daniel Tjarnqvist (inflamed pubic bone) and Steve Staios (kneecap) thrust many unproven minor-league players and prospects into the Oilers lineup.

Marc-Andre Bergeron was let go by the Oilers, he traded to the New York Islanders, and went off to have a superb second half which saw the young defenceman score 6 goals and add 15 assists for a total of 21 points in just 23 contests with the Islanders. The Oilers got a lost prospect back in Denis Grebeshkov, who hopefully, will return and play for Edmonton next season.
With Edmonton, however, he was not the Bergeron that the organisation saw last season, he struggled on defence and his offensive side was inconsistent.
He eventually was stuck in Craig McTavish's doghouse and then sent to the New York Islanders.

Bergeron was a steal for Snow, Pronger's flourishing in Anaheim, Spacek is a secondary powerplay quarterback for the Sabres and Dick Tarnstrom's putting up 29 points in 44 games so far with Lugano of the Swiss League.

The Oilers' defence was non-existant on offense, Steve Staios managed to get 17 points in 58 games after going down with surgery.

Other than that, only Daniel Tjarnqvist hit the 15 point plateau, the rest were stuck in mediocrity.

Tjarnqvist was also amazingly the only Oilers point man with a +/- rating above 0 (3), and he only played in 37 games, you could argue he's their best blueliner now.
Other than that, the Oilers combined for a horrific -83 +/- rating and managed to score a mere 15 goals and Tjarnqvist was the only one with a powerplay goal (he had 2).
And ironically, he missed more than half the season with multiple injuries.

Geez, this is already giving me a headache, and worse, the Oilers used 6 rookies on their blue-line throughout the course of the season, more importantly in their second half.

And to top it all off, the Oilers finished last in the league with a miniscule 2.34 GF per game, this stat was hugely affected after the Oilers lost Ryan Smyth on Trade Deadline Day.

They had already lost Ethan Moreau to shoulder surgery for the season, forward Jarett Stoll possibly forever with a devastating concussion, and they just didn't get anything from Fernando Pisani after a magical playoff run last year, Shawn Horcoff was invisible after Smyth was traded and after scoring 27 times last season, Raffi Torres dissapeared into the wind along with the non-existant Joffrey Lupul.

Yup, and here's the stat that mattered most: 2-18.
What's this? It's just the record the Oilers put up without Ryan Smyth after he was dealt, which ultimately cost them a chance to make the playoffs but gave them the oppertunity to go golfing in the month of March.

Jean-Francois Jacques, a promising player in Hamilton, was thrust between Wilkes/Barre and Edmonton 12 times throughout the season and he put up nothing on the scoresheet; he was pointless in 37 games.
Danny Syvret, one of the many rookie defencemen used by Craig McTavish and a promising point man, showed limited talent with only one assists and a -10 rating in 16 contests.
Zach Stortini scored 1 goal in 27 games and showed scouts why he will be destined for fourth line duty at best.
Tom Gilbert had a decent year, and averaged half a point per game (better than Sergei Samsonov) for the 12 contests.
Bryan Young, a defenceman, was equally a no-show in his rookie campaign and didn't put up a point in 15 games with the Oilers and managed only 2 shots on goal.

I know I'm not an Oilers insider, but it doesn't take a genius to see why the Oilers struggled last season, especially when they lacked talent and offensive production from their forwards, and stability on the back-end.

Dwayne Roloson had an OK season, and he was the reason the Oilers weren't worse than their 32-47-7 record.

I hope Lowe's right when he says there will be changes, as this team is desperate for some.

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge

1 fanatics have replied:

Chris said...

It doesn't take a genius to see why they struggled, and yet you seem to dwell on thinking the players weren't very good to start with. In December/January they were leading their division, then the injuries started to mount.

Take two top 4 defensemen, a key third line player, the second line center out for most of the season. Then sprinkle in injuries that kept two thirds of the top line out for stretches of the year, have the top centre playing hurt the entire year, have another vetran playing hurt. Have the best defensemen you can call up from the minors experience concussions forcing you to scrounge around for spair players.

Try having the Habs experience that and see how well they cope.

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