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Poll: What is the biggest reason for optimism in Edmonton?

Aug 14, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

Colorado Avalanche v Edmonton Oilers Getty Images

The Edmonton Oilers have missed the playoffs eight times in a row. Understandably, their fans are getting a little tired of the whole rebuilding thing.

But even though a ninth straight missed postseason seems likely in the tough Western Conference, there are still reasons for optimism. After all, in sports, there are always reasons for optimism.

Edmonton’s goaltending, for starters, couldn’t possibly be worse this season than it was in 2013-14, when Devan Dubnyk‘s early-season struggles helped put the Oilers in a deep hole right off the bat. Now they’ve got Viktor Fasth and Ben Scrivens between the pipes. Fasth has a .915 career save percentage in the NHL; Scrivens is at .917. At least one of them should be reliable. Right?

Edmonton’s blue line, meanwhile, added a couple of experienced defenders in Nikita Nikitin and Mark Fayne. The Oilers had the worst goals-against in the league last season. Obviously, not all of that was on the defense (we already mentioned the goaltending, and the forwards share responsibility too), but clearly changes were needed.

The hiring of analytics expert Tyler Dellow (a.k.a. the Oilers’ “biggest critic”) has been seen as a positive by many who felt the club had been overly reliant on old-school ideas to build its roster. The signing of Benoit Pouliot to a five-year, $20 million deal may have been evidence of a willingness to look deeper into the numbers.

And, of course, the Oilers still have their trio of first overall picks — Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Nail Yakupov — plus other talented youngsters like Jordan Eberle, Justin Schultz, and David Perron. Eventually, all that talent has to amount to something good. Right?

Finally, the Oilers will start the 2014-15 season with the same head coach. Which is notable, because Edmonton fired Tom Renney in 2012 and Ralph Krueger in 2013, before hiring Dallas Eakins last summer. Not that Eakins had a dream rookie season behind an NHL bench — far from it — but at least the players won’t have to get used to another new guy.

OK, time to vote. Feel free to add your own reason for optimism in the comments section.

  1. flyboystransport - Aug 14, 2014 at 1:51 PM

    A bona-fide leader wouldn’t hurt

  2. 19to77 - Aug 14, 2014 at 1:55 PM

    Connor McDavid. Vive la liberté!

  3. vancouversportsbro - Aug 14, 2014 at 2:01 PM

    Nothing really.

  4. vancouversportsbro - Aug 14, 2014 at 2:05 PM

    The move to Seattle will be awesome

    • endusersolutions2013 - Aug 15, 2014 at 1:01 AM

      Would that not be for teams in cities that fail to support them? Looking back 5 years, Oilers are 20th on average. Phoenix and Florida are the move candidates .

    • trmallen - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:42 AM

      Vancouver Canuckesque comment.

      Oilers are locked into Edmonton for 35 years now with the new arena.

      Better luck next time.

  5. cordellanderson - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:11 PM

    I’m happy the poll wasn’t “Who is the greatest player in Oilers history?”

    • bullwinkle88 - Aug 14, 2014 at 4:01 PM

      There is no reason to even have a poll in Edmonton’s case.

  6. malinpaul - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:48 PM

    The biggest reason for optimism is that in 3 years we will have NHL versions of Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom to go with an improved Marincin and Schultz and (possibly Petry if we sign him). plus Hall Nuge and Yak will be peaking out, Draisaitl and our 2015 will be chipping in. Chase has been invited to the WJC this year, Khaira/Simpson/Yakimov are bubbling up…

    finally with MacT making moves like Purcell for Gags and Perron for Paajarvi, I sincerely believe we will be a contender.

    of course all of that talent could just turn out to suck…

    • malinpaul - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:49 PM

      oh ya, and Ebs

  7. govtminion - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:57 PM

    A goalie who doesn’t come apart like cardboard in the rain will be a huge improvement. Dubnyk was terrible last year, and it sank the Oilers early on. (Not that there weren’t other problems, mind you, but that one was a killer). Fasth or Scrivens, it hardly matters- either is a huge upgrade. That’s enormous- it doesn’t fix everything, but it sure will help a ton.

  8. oquintero99 - Aug 14, 2014 at 4:39 PM

    I’m not sure if I call it optimism. I would call it “hope”.

    That front office needs to go. They have failed miserably in getting the players and right coaches for this group.

    • elrock7 - Aug 14, 2014 at 10:56 PM

      Reason for optimism? I hear kevin Lowe is getting ready to sign a lifetime extension!

  9. atwatercrushesokoye - Aug 14, 2014 at 4:44 PM

    The most positive thing in Edmonton is at the south city limit when you realize that you’ll be in Calgary in less than 2.5 hours. Other than that there’s no sense optimism in that city.

  10. hockeyflow33 - Aug 14, 2014 at 5:15 PM

    Because there’s not much else going on?

  11. bruins4ever - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:17 PM

    It has to be very reassuring that Kevin Lowe knows how to build a winner (remember that sad day when he told most Oiler fans that he doesn’t care about them unless they buy a ticket). He knows what it takes to win, pointing at his rings. He may be close too, if they finish last again for three more years, he just may do it. Then Kats will build a statue of Kevin to put outside the new arena. What a joke Lowe is, how can he still be employed by this team is beyond amazing.

  12. rmccleary97 - Aug 15, 2014 at 1:10 AM

    Biggest reasons for optimism in Edmonton:
    1. There will be a new arena at some point.
    2. The owner isn’t also the GM like in Dallas with the Cowboys. (Yet?)
    3. All that talent has to finally pay off with a Cup at some point, right?
    4. None of the top picks have gone Alexandre Daigle or Patrik Stefan yet.
    5. No one can ever take away those 5 Stanley Cups.

    On the flip side,
    1. New arenas don’t fix terrible play on the ice.
    2. Kevin Lowe is still around, which makes having an owner/GM look vaguely appealing.
    3. See: Senators, Ottawa – first 4 years or so of existence and the lack of Cups that followed.
    4. Nail Yakupov is showing more than a few signs of it.
    5. Leafs fans say the same thing about their 13 Cups.

  13. rainyday56 - Aug 15, 2014 at 2:50 AM

    HEY young Oilers, Gretz & the boys made the playoffs and knocked off the mighty Lafleur/Gainey/Robinson led Habs in their 2nd season. Giddyap!

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