The Edmonton Oilers will make the playoffs in 2011

Max Jenkins | September 14, 2010 
Now we come to the first round pick, Taylor Hall.  He’s 18 and do I really have to talk about what he has accomplished? He just came from a team that started out similar to the Oilers and he took them to back to back memorial cups and he in turn was the back to back MVP as well.  Now did Gagner have that resume before jumping in at 18? He was close but not as close to all the things Hall has done.  I think its safe to say that he too should reach that Gagner number of 49, probably more.  When you look at adding these men to the mix along with the possiblity of some big numbers from the rest of the team, the combination should equal success in Edmonton?
Now taking all of that into consideration lets look at this year. O’Sullivan and Moreau had the most goals against on the whole team. They are gone. Nillson and Grebeshkov had way too many turnovers. They are also skating on new ice. Pisani was good defensively but couldn’t stay healthy. His departure makes room for young talent coming up. They have a healthy Hemsky anxious and ready to go. Gagner and Cogliano start there 4th season, usually a breakout season for players of their caliber. Penner scored 32 goals last year without Hemsky or Horcoff. With both players back healthy they stand a good chance of scoring the same or more. Horcoff was having his dream season a couple of years back before going out for half the season. He was named an all star and showed that he is capable of putting up the numbers that match his contract. The injury held him back but I feel this year will be his comeback due to the atmosphere surrounding a young and exciting team. 
They started the year strong with Hemsky scoring a point a game while Penner lost weight and became refocused. Khabibulin was facing 30 plus shots a game and still managed to keep his percentage at .901. Jacques somehow was healthy and played quality first line minutes and Brule had a sudden burst of slap shot accuracy. Sam Gagner was proving himself on the 4th line for a new Coach. The Oilers went 10-7 before Khabibulin went out with a devastating injury that handicapped the Oilers defense. The list of players that missed games for the Oilers last season was extrodinary. 
Yeah I said it, the Edmonton oilers will make the playoffs in 2011. All the bloggers, haters and sports writers have the Oilers pegged for 15th in the west or finishing with a chance of landing a high draft choice. On the other hand I am more of a realist. Lets turn back the clock and try to remember a couple of seasons ago. The Oilers finished the year strong. With only a few points out of the playoffs the Oilers had key injuries at crucial times during the season. Definitely not the personel of a last place team but a team looking for a cure. With that said lets look at the disappointment of last year and the reason all these sports writers have it wrong in 2011.
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Hemsky, Souray, Comrie, Jaques, Stone, Nillson, Smid, Horcoff, Brule and Pisani got either an injury, swine flu, or mono. Before this misfortune in Edmonton sports writers said the Oilers were going to be a tough team and be a serious contender for a playoff spot. Try to add up all of these players and the problems that kept them from playing and you would only have a partial NHL roster competing night after night in the City of Champions. That was the recipe for a 1st round pick. The team failing as a whole was the lack of an NHL team capable of competing at an NHL level.
Brule had a good year last year and showed off an aggressive slap shot and an obvious scoring touch on the right line. He should get 20 goals. Colin Fraser comes in to toughen up the team and is a gritty center Edmonton had been lacking for some time. Jones played hard and will match good with Fraser and Stortini. Alexander Giroux was the MVP of the AHL last year scoring 103 pts in 69 games. That sounds like a pretty good insurance player that has been signed to the team just in case there is an injury or a young player doesn’t pan out. A good chance in Edmonton.
Now feast your eyes on three young guys everyone is getting excited about in Edmonton. Sam Gagner came in at 18 and put up 49pts. This is Eberle's 2nd camp. A 20 year old prospect and the CHL Player of the year.  He came up to the AHL and scored on his first shift. This guy is clutch and is likely to get that Gagner number of 49. I predict more than that.  Magnus Paarvi is 19 and has been playing among Men since 17. Played for Sweden in the world tourney and was the leading scorer.  Hemsky said he has friends that have played with him and thinks he is the most ready to make an impact immediatly. He is 6’3" and over 200 pounds. He’s a younger, faster and slimmer version of Dustin Penner. I also think he’ll get that Gagner number of 49 or maybe more.  Did Gagner play 2 seasons among men before jumping in at 18? Hmmmm? 
I haven’t even started talking about the defense or Linus Omark and I won't because looking at the NW Division, Calgary took a step back and Minnesota is Minnesota.  The competition lies in Vancouver and Colorado.  If Edmonton rubs out Vancouver in enough games this year then it's really between Colorado and Edmonton for 1st place in the NW.  I predict Edmonton comes in between 5th and 7th place in the west and 2nd in the NW division.  Edmonton has signed the right players to allow them to develop young guys and have depth in case of injury. Trust me when you read this after Christmas. It will make even more sense, and no I’m not a Psychic.
They had call ups competing all season that lacked the scoring punch of a playoff contender. There was no chance of skating in the Stanley Cup playoffs, especially when you don’t have your number 1 goalie who looked to improve every game. It was the lack of defense that made his record look bad and not the man  himself. O'Sullivan gave up and didn’t even try.  The Captain took the dumbest penalties out of pure frustration and Nillson couldn’t stop throwing blind passes across the ice when he was struggling  to play defense. Horcoff had a nagging injury that held him scoreless for most of the season which destroyed his confidence. Chorney needed more experience on defense and Strudwick didn’t help him too much either.
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