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Lockout’s end might mark start of new Oilers’ era

Dec 9, 2012, 8:14 PM EDT

Chicago Blackhawks  v Edmonton Oilers Getty Images

When this lockout finally ends, all eyes will turn to the fans to see how they react to the second lengthy lockout in eight seasons. Will they flock back or will a noticeable segment of them stay away from the NHL?

Ultimately, the answer to that question might be different depending on the city. The Edmonton Sun’s Terry Jones thinks the Oilers are likely to enjoy plenty of fan enthusiasm when this work stoppage ends.

Among NHL teams, the Oilers are a bit of a unique case. Their fans have endured an arguably unprecedented recent run of on-ice failures, but that has also allowed them to dramatically improve their team via the draft. On top of that, the off-season acquisition of free agent defensive prospect Justin Schultz might prove to be a huge win for them.

During the lockout, Oilers fans have seen Schultz and several other members of their core excel together in the AHL instead of being scattered throughout Europe. Although the Edmonton Oilers still have some major areas of concern and a lot to prove, the end of this lockout could mark the beginning of a new era for the team.

The Edmonton Oilers fans have been patiently waiting for their team to flourish since long before this CBA expired. When this lockout ends, they might finally start to reap the rewards.

  1. AlabamaFanRollTide - Dec 9, 2012 at 8:25 PM

    Like there’s anything else to do up there? do they still have mines?

  2. id4joey - Dec 9, 2012 at 8:51 PM

    The “baby Oilers” will be a team to reckon with in the very near future. The question mark is behind the bench. Will a rookie head coach in his 50s be able to lead this pack of new age hockey players?

    • ucaneverscorenoughgoals - Dec 10, 2012 at 9:24 AM

      I’m not sure how to evaluate them Joey. Justin Shultz has been a man amoung boys in the AHL, but he’s also playing with the likes of Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, and Hall. All first round picks and two of which are first overall picks.

      No other AHL team has that kind of talent on its top line or the powerplay. Now, Justin Schultz is a real good player. But I think sub par competition, and talented teammates have inflated all their numbers a bit.

  3. csilojohnson - Dec 9, 2012 at 9:35 PM

    If not when

  4. ravenscaps48 - Dec 9, 2012 at 10:00 PM

    This team makes the Playoffs this season if they return

  5. solador78 - Dec 9, 2012 at 11:51 PM

    Not likely. The team is cursed with Katz’s bad karma and freak injuries.

  6. atwatercrushesokoye - Dec 10, 2012 at 1:08 AM

    As a biased Flames fan here’s my take on where the Oilers are:

    They’re certainly getting closer to being a playoff team and should be in the mix for the 8th spot this year, they still are 1-2 defenseman (even after getting a healthy Klefbom) a number 1 goalie and some depth away from being a contender for the division and then ultimately the Stanley Cup. They also lack experience, HOWEVER, getting into the playoffs this year would provide that experience to the core, getting in the playoffs would also make the team more attractive to the pieces they need and if Dubnyk doesn’t mature they certainly have pieces to trade for the goalie and defensemen they need.

    The positive thing for the Oilers is that their window is just starting to open while one could reasonably assume that the Canucks are due to start having their window close in the next season or two, so if everything comes together they’ll time it just perfectly.

    Now with all that being said who knows what happens with Minnesota (2 vastly overpaid players and a bunch of rookies with 0 NHL experience being counted on here) Calgary (an aging team that hasn’t achieved much of anything and 3 key young players with limited NHL experience) and Colorado (I don’t even know what to say about them!)

    • davebabychreturns - Dec 10, 2012 at 12:06 PM

      Oilers fans have a lot to look forward to, and if I was a fan of that team I’d be a lot happier knowing they should improve than I would have been watching them bottom out over the past few years.

      That being said… I don’t buy the hype personally. I don’t think that franchise is being run the right way and I think they will end up less than the sum of their parts. They could still be a playoff contender in that case but I think the fears of other Western Conference fans than the 1980s Oilers are returning (I’m not saying you think this) are totally overblown.

      They’ve rushed a couple of players who were clearly not physically ready for the NHL into the lineup – Hall has already suffered multiple major injuries and RNH (a 160 lb kid they put up against men last year) is already feeling the effects of chronic shoulder injury. They’ll do the same with Justin Schultz who is offensively gifted but still listed at under 170 lbs and will be getting pulverized down low against 220 lb forecheckers. At least Nail Yakupov is a bulky kid but again ready or not he’ll be in the show.

      These kids are going to put up good numbers win or lose and within a few years the Oilers will be spending well over half their cap on a group of kids with a lot of growing to do.. and will struggle for enough cap room to bring in an effective second line center, a starting goaltender, at least three defensemen who can play big minutes, and so on.

      That team is going to be a lot better than they have been the last three seasons, but to be at the top end of the league you either need the exact right mix of a small handful of elite players or you need excellent NHL depth. I’m not sure the skinny high end offensive players the Oilers have built around will be enough, and I have zero faith their management group can make up the difference with shrewd trades and free agent signings.

      The Avs and the Wild will be very interesting to watch, both have great young groups of players and the Wild obviously have implanted a couple of high end veterans at the top who come from organizations that win with what they’ve got. I wouldn’t count the Canucks out either, they may not have any media darlings on the farm team but Mike Gillis has a knack for finding the right pieces to fill out the NHL roster – although he would be very hard pressed to replace any of their top three forwards if he had to.

  7. sunderlanding - Dec 10, 2012 at 1:53 AM

    “Their fans have endured an arguably unprecedented recent run of on-ice failures”…really? They might want to ask Leaf fans if that run of on-ice failures is unprecedented.

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