It's hard being an Oilers fan where losing to win seems to be the new school of thought. Where the present doesn't matter it's the belief that better days are coming. This past year has been no different, it's the same management in control of the same losing record. Let's take a look at some of the changes which occured in this past calendar year.
January 1st 2011 saw the Oilers sitting 28th in the league and last place in the west. Even with a "culture change" by moving out some older vets and with the addition of Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Magnus Paajarvi the team was still at the bottom of the standings. On February 28th, 2011 the rebuild would continue and In an attempt to cash in when the value was high the Oilers sent Dustin Penner to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Colten Teubert, a first round draft pick in 2011 (Oscar Klefbom), as well as a conditional third round pick in 2012.
At the end of the season, the Oilers allowed the Islanders and Devils out of the basement and in return the Oilers hit rock bottom and received the right to choose first overall in the upcoming Entry Draft. The Oilers selected Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with the 1st overall selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft along with several other "blue chip" prospects.
During the 2011 off-season, the team again made several moves to bolster the offence and defence. With the media getting a hold of Ryan Smyth's desire to come back to Edmonton it forced the Oilers to persue the 35 year old. The original offer was believed to be Gilbert Brule in exchange for Ryan Smyth, but with concussion like symptoms still side lining Brule the trade was not allowed to go through. With the help of Ryan Smyth's no movement clause, and lack of willingness to accept a trade anywhere else but Edmonton, the Los Angeles Kings were forced to take centre Colin Fraser and a 7th round draft pick for Smyth. Once Fraser was deemed not healthy a battle between the two teams errupted which ultimately led to the Oilers paying a small sum to cover Fraser's medical costs.
The team also traded with the Anaheim Ducks to acquire Andy Sutton for Kurtis Foster. Sheldon Souray, who had played the entire 2010–11 season in the AHL with the Hershey Bears, was bought out of the last year of his contract and he later signed with the Dallas Stars. These moves, coupled with the signings of Eric Belanger, Cam Barker, Ben Eager, and Darcy Hordichuk as free agents, were meant to fill the obvious holes which plagued the Edmonton Oilers. Team toughness, faceoff depth, and offensive help on the blue line.
However, with the Oilers still toiling in the bottom of the standings – the additions, subtractions and changes hasn't been enough to put the Oilers in playoff conversation. They currently sit 24th in league standings and 13th in the west. A farcry from their early season success which saw the Oilers as one of the hottest teams in the league thanks to the vezina play of Nikolai Khabibulin, Ryan Smyth, and the trio of kids (Hall, Eberle and Nugent Hopkins).
However, despite the fantastic play of a select few the supporting cast hasn't come through. The team looked promising to start the season as many fans had high hopes for the new additions. Could Cam Barker justify his high draft selection, would Belanger prove to be the missing component to the third line, would Smyth bring back the heart and soul to a team that desperately needed it and would the new additions of Hordichuk, Eager and Sutton put the scare in opposing teams? It was positive thinking by fans no doubt but reality wasn't too far away to kick it to the curb.
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