Hope for the Best, Expect the Worst.

This phrase has been a bit of a mantra to me for a long time. Some have called me a pessimist, but to me a pessimist has no hope, and I always have hope, though I sometimes keep it hidden within myself. Now that the season is a quarter done what is the best that we can reasonable hope for? Alternatively what is the worst that we can reasonably expect? First off there is the injury to Hall. I hope that it’s not serious at all and he’s back right away. Alternatively if we expect the worst then we expect that he’s gone for the year and will have a career similar to Hemsky’s (injury wise). But what about the rest of the team?

My Hopes:

  • Khabibulin continues his unbelievable performance until the season ends or the Oilers trade him (which I still hope for)
  • Gilbert and Smid continue playing like a top pairing, and even improve a bit as the season goes on
  • The Oilers are able to trade for another top 4 dman without losing too much
  • Dubnyk improves his consistency to the point that he makes Khabby expendable, and leading to the Oilers netminders winning the William M. Jennings Trophy
  • The top 2 lines continue to light up the opposition, with multiple Oilers ending the season with better than point-per-game stats
  • Paajarvi and Gagner finally start scoring and thus create a third line for opponents to be afraid of
  • Eager starts hitting and becomes the agitator that he was signed to be
  • The PK and PP units continue to improve
  • Injuries don’t decimate the team, and though they are inevitable, the key players either don’t get injured or when they do others step up to seamlessly take their place
  • RNH wins rookie of the year
  • Smytty wins the Hart trophy and resigns for a reasonable price-tag in the summer
  • The Oilers make the playoffs (definitely possible) and go on to win the cup (ok maybe not that reasonable, but that’s my hope every year)

My expectations (remember that I expect the worst, so this is my opinion of the worst that could happen, and hopefully you can look at this lightheartedly):

  • Khabibulin falters and makes his play last season look good
  • Gilbert and Smid tire and can no longer hold the fort on their own
  • The Oilers trade too much for a top 4 dman who gets hurt in his first game and misses the rest of the season only to leave as a free agent in the summer
  • Dubnyk is forced to take over as the starter when Khabby falters and he isn’t ready
  • The opposition finds a way to stop the top 2 lines (or alternatively they stop themselves through injury or dry spells)
  • Paajarvi and Gagner never start scoring and while Paajarvi spends over half the season as a healthy scratch, Gagner gets traded for nothing
  • Eager starts hitting but only makes dirty hits in his first shift of any game he plays, getting suspended for longer and longer terms
  • The PK and PP units return to the form they showed last year
  • Injuries decimate the team both on offence and defence
  • RNH gets crushed with a hit that ends his season, and puts his career in jeopardy
  • Smytty continues to play his heart out, but it isn’t enough with all the injuries, and he signs in Calgary as a free agent in the summer (I would cry for a very long time)
  • The Oilers are out of the playoffs before the trade deadline, finishing twentieth overall. A team just above us in the standings wins the lottery pushing us down another spot in the draft rankings. The scouting staff appear to make a great pick only to have the player get an injury that ends his career before the season starts

I could go on, but…

Realistically things will fall in the middle. The Oilers will get decent to good goaltending, we will score goals in bunches, but injuries will be an issue (they already are), and the defence will weaken. What actually happens will determine whether we are in the playoffs or looking at another lottery pick or somewhere in between. Feel free to comment on what you think are the best and worst outcomes that are possible for the year.

Tags: Ales Hemsky Devan Dubnyk Ladislav Smid Magnus Paajarvi Nikolai Khabibulin Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Ryan Smyth Sam Gagner Taylor Hall Tom Gilbert

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