With the return of the NHL’s regular season comes the return of the TSN Power Rankings courtesy of Scott Cullen. Love him or hate him for his columns in the past, Cullen has again put out his team power rankings as the NHL gets set to kick off another season tomorrow night which includes the Edmonton Oilers hosting the Winnipeg Jets. The same Oilers that Cullen dumps on with his latest rankings prior to the season starting.
To be honest, the system that Cullen uses is confusing and if you wish to try and understand it you can find it here. For the purpose of this post however, let’s examine Cullen’s rationale for putting the Oilers at number 24, the second worst ranking among Canadian teams. Only the Calgary Flames came in lower at number 28.
Cullen lists both Sam Gagner and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as the key injuries to this team and that’s no shocker. The lack of depth at centre could be the Oilers Achilles heal this year and at least for the month of October could prove to be costly.
Cullen does mention that this Oilers squad should compete for a playoff spot but only when they are completely healthy. He also mentions that if Denis Grebeshkov, Anton Belov and Andrew Ference can upgrade the blue line to go along with the expected improvement courtesy of forwards David Perron and Jesse Joensuu up front, then the Oilers may be able to “tread water” until they get their top two centreman back.
Sure there are plenty of question marks and the loss of Gagner and RNH for an extended period of time will hurt the Oilers more than their replacements will help them. But to be sitting at 24th out of 30 teams is a difficult ranking to accept. Teams like the Winnipeg Jets, Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning are ahead of the Oilers and it’s safe to say that neither of those teams have the talent that the Oilers core group provides. Aside from Cam Ward, neither the Jets or Lightning have a stellar goaltender that you can ride all season long to the playoffs.
An article on Bleacher Report that breaks down their team rankings has the Oilers coming in at number 18. Sure it’s outside the top 16 which would mean another year of no playoff hockey, but it’s a hell of a lot better than 24th. According to Cullen he has the Oilers in the same spot as last year, meaning they would once again be in the running to win the NHL Draft Lottery (albeit a slim percentage).
Am I missing something or is the Oilers future truly that bleak? Or has Cullen completely missed the boat on this one and botched his power rankings before the season has even started? Either way, do the Oilers deserve to be at number 24 entering the year?
Leave your comments below and let us know what you think of the power rankings and where the Edmonton Oilers ended up.