The Edmonton Oilers are in a familiar position; a lineup decimated by injury, in the middle of a losing streak, and all the while the playoffs appear to be getting further and further away.
Missing their top line centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Shawn Horcoff, Eric Belanger and now Anton Lander the Oilers are desperately low on centermen. And while playing Ryan Smyth at center will work in the short term, it's certainly not a long term solution.
Listening to Don Cherry on CBC's coach's corner Saturday, you would think that Nail Yakupov committed sports biggest foul. But looking at the source, that reaction was to be expected. Mr. Cherry is old school and while he can be quite outspoken, he prefers his hockey players to be quiet and demure small town Canadian boys.
As we all know, Yakupov is very Russian, and he has a strong passion for the game and everything he does, including celebrating.
The NHL’s rookie of the year trophy, the Calder Memorial, has been handed out 79 times to date. Unsurprisingly the trophy has touched the hands of more forwards than any other position. The totals are 53 forwards - 25 centres, 10 left wingers and 18 right wingers, 16 goaltenders, and only 10 defencemen.
Those 79 recipients have come from 21 of the current 30 NHL teams, and yet with all of the young rookies that have played for the Oilers at one time or another, not one of the recipients has been an Oiler.
The battle of Alberta is not yet what it once was. Slowly, that's changing. No longer are these the fighting days of Dave Semenko and Tim Hunter. Instead these have been the years of a one sided battle where the outcome was known before the initial puck drop. But as I have already mentioned, slowly things are changing.
If you blinked you might have missed it, but in Tuesday night's horrific loss to the San Jose Sharks the Edmonton Oilers pulled out a play made famous by Emilio Estevez's Mighty Ducks movies. That's right, the flying V took flight. It was only briefly, and perhaps because it didn't lead to a goal, wasn't used again that game. But after photos have made their twitter rounds, we finally have video evidence.
Mitch Moroz wasn’t the name fans expected. No, many expected pretty much any name but with the second pick of the second round at the 2013 NHL entry draft. But the Oilers had their man with Nail Yakupov, they missed out on Henrik Samuelsson and didn’t intend to miss out on Mitch Moroz. You see, Tambellini was adamant that he was after character players, and filling needs with all remaining picks of the entry draft. With Moroz, the team took strength, skills and a personality that can at times be larger than life.
Only two rookies in the opening game of the 2013 Edmonton Oilers season. Two rookies, but still a plethora of youth.
Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz would see their first NHL minutes in Vancouver, looking for their first goals against elite netminder Roberto Luongo. These are the things memories are made of.
The plight of the fans is what has been most discussed in Edmonton during the lockout. In the NHL's northermost city, where the winter is long and the hours of daylight are short, the winter blues are a reality. For some, the blues are combated with the obsession over the home team, that and beer consumption that just seems to make everything seem a little less important even if just for the time being.
Knowing just how badly the city of Edmonton wanted the NHL back, the Oilers got a little creative and played their first game outdoors, in the park. And didn't sell a single ticket.
In an odd turn of events, the Oilers may have too many defencemen. But by too many defencemen, I mean one too many defenceman. But that’s a welcome change from past seasons and scrambling to put warm bodies, including Cam Barker into the lineup every night. And of course, the injury bug has already struck the Oilers, and the team may have just enough players at this given moment thanks to GM Steve Tambellini’s efforts.
The draft rankings can get a little murky once you pass the top five. Even after the top three one tends to see a lot of variation from scout to scout, and so for many teams it becomes a matter of what they value and need the most that will lead them to pick one player over another.
For Edmonton Oil King centre Curtis Lazar bouncing around first round draft ranking has been something everyone constantly reminds him of this season, but somehow remains something he claims he never thinks about.
About Oil Patch
Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.
You can subscribe to the RSS feed here
Follow on Twitter @lisamcritchie
Or contact directly email@example.com