The Edmonton Oilers haven't made a playoff appearance since losing in the 2006 Stanley Cup final to Carolina. (Getty Images)
Adam Proteau is on vacation, but the mailbag lives on. This week THN staffers answer questions about the Edmonton Oilers’ playoff chances, advertisements on the glass at games and the Montreal Canadiens’ number retirement policy.
Hi Adam, do you think the Oilers are a real threat to make the playoffs with their young lineup boosted with Justin Schultz, Nail Yakupov and Oscar Klefbom? (if he makes the roster).
Carson Toane, Spruce Grove, Alta.
Hey Carson. Though few of my fellow THNers agree, I think the Oilers will be a big surprise and are easily a playoff team. With Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and now Nail Yakupov, there's no doubt this team will be able to score. Plus, Devan Dubnyk is a capable keeper whose numbers will only improve behind a more stable defense.
That defense is the big knock on Edmonton, but while it's nothing to salivate over, it's not nearly as dire as many make it out to be. Expectations on Justin Shultz are too high (it will take the highly-touted free agent a couple years to adjust to the grind of pro hockey) but he'll be a solid No. 3 or 4 guy out of gate and help on special teams. Nick Schultz, no relation to Justin, is underrated, as is youngster Jeff Petry, who I believe is primed for a breakout. Of course, it all falls apart if Ryan Whitney can't stay healthy. The key here is the Oilers now own a puck-moving D-unit that can transition to their wealth of skilled forwards.
And don't sleep on Magnus Paajarvi. Though his sophomore slump was epic, he'll have enough talent on the second line to put up some substantial numbers if he plays his way back up the depth chart. New coach Ralph Krueger, promoted from associate over the summer, is going to foster a positive environment for a young squad that will be a ton of fun to watch, win or lose. My bet is they win more often than lose.
I'll be talking more about the Oilers on the THN Radio Show on XM/Sirius Radio's NHL Home Ice today at 4 p.m. EST. Calgary Flames GM Jay Feaster will join me to open the show to discuss his summer moves and the team's expectations for the upcoming year. – EF
Hey Adam, I've noticed big advertisement decals on the glass behind the nets in some arenas for the last year. What's with that? Is the NHL becoming more like NASCAR and the NFL with more advertisements?
Eric Dunay, Franklin, Tenn.
These advertisements actually aren’t decals, they’re superimposed images for the TV viewer. Don’t worry, these ads aren’t obstructing the view of fans and don’t actually show up at the arena.
That said, you can’t underestimate the power of advertisement revenue in the future of North American sports. European soccer teams, of course, are dressed up in sponsorships and though that has largely been avoided on this side of the pond, it looks as though the NBA will go down this path with small, two-inch-by-two-inch sponsorship decals next season. Thankfully the NHL isn’t at that point yet, but you have to imagine this is something they’d pursue at some point in the future. -RB
I am a huge Habs fan and love everything about their rich history, and that includes the jerseys that are hanging from the rafters. I am, however, starting to not like the jersey numbers that the new players have to wear because all the desirable numbers have been retired. Do you think that management would ever consider just honoring the numbers and the player that wore them to allow a new generation of future Habs stars to wear them?
Jeremy Giraudier, Calgary
Jeremy, I’m a bigger fan of honoring than retiring jerseys so that you can keep the more desirable numbers in circulation, but I can’t see the Habs changing their philosophy on this anytime soon.
This franchise is known for the way it embraces and honors its past, so it’s not about to allow someone else to wear Jean Beliveau’s No. 4. Some would see that as blasphemy. I agree with you that the high numbers aren’t the best for fans, but there’s something to be said about a franchise that still honors its rich history in this way. -RB