What The Final Twelve Games Mean


Not at whole hell of a lot. Post finished.

…okay wait, not only would that be lazier than a Cam Barker giveaway, it’s also an unfair assessment. From an organizational point of view, the Oilers are simply playing out the clock. There isn’t going to be a sudden revelation to Steve Tambellini about the type of club this is (hint: begins with a t and ends with -errible) in the last dozen games. We’re unlikely to leapfrog past Montreal, Carolina or the Islanders for 28th, and Columbus sits very securely in 30th; it’s almost a given that we finish 29th. So while 12 games won’t mean much to the organization, they do matter to the individuals within it. Let’s start from the very top.

Steve Tambellini – It might be the last 12 games with Mr. Dithers at the helm. After word got out in January that a contract extension was in the works, all talk on that front has been completely silent. Now it could just be stuck on details like term and money, or it could have been signed months ago and the Oilers are simply waiting for some positives to occur on the ice to help mitigate some of the backlash when they announce it. Or there is still the faint hope pipe dream chance that the Oilers let Tambellini go at the end of the year. As was pointed out in this article on Oilers Nation, the Oilers have yet to open talks with Ryan Smyth about an extension.  Could this be a sign that Tambellini is now a lame duck GM? Possibly, though waiting forever to re-sign players does not exactly deviate from his M.O. Just look back to February where Hemsky had to go on the airwaves and basically state (paraphrased) “Offer me a contract, hajzlové!” So while a long shot, one can hope. (EDIT: According to this article by Jason Gregor, the two sides are working on the extension. s/t to reader MatthewMginnis for bringing it to my attention.)

Tom Renney – Has 12 games to prove he hasn’t completely lost the locker room and is capable of getting the team to execute disciplined, smooth line-changes. The latter being extremely important with word coming from the GM meetings that GM want to see the NHL crackdown on “loose” line changes. Unlike many others, I haven’t disagreed with his handling of the kids icetime, but that’s about the only positive I see in him. Nice knowing you, Tom.

Devan Dubnyk – In his last year of a contract, Devan has 12 games to show enough consistency for the Oilers to consider him to be the solution in net until if/when they can get a starter. I like Dubnyk, I think he’s a great guy, but it’s clear he’s a longshot to ever be a reliable starter in the league. Reliable backup? Maybe.

Nikolai Khabibulin – Forget the last 12 games, the entire remainder of his contract is meaningless. For a old, injury prone goaltender; the games remaining until he retires is simply a paycheque.

Cam Barker – It’s hopefully the last dozen games where I’ll ever have to think about Cam Barker in an Oilers uniform. Hope you’ve been looking for a house in Europe, Cam.

Sam Gagner –  Is 5 goals away from hitting 20 for the first time in his career, and is 8 points away from 50 which would beat his previous best of 49 set in his rookie year. This would go a long away in silencing his detractors and strengthen his position when he becomes an RFA in the summer.

Linus Omark – Like Sam, is headed into RFA status in the off-season, he needs to show that he’s a more productive option for 2nd/3rd line winger than Ryan Smyth, Ryan Jones, and Ben Eager. I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest he is/can be. If he can work on bringing a two-way game to supplement any offence he can contribute, then I’d love to see him stay in Oiler silks for a very long time.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – 12 games to take back the lead in the race for the Calder and become the first Oiler ever to the land the award. Would be a bright spot on a dull, dismal year. It’s not of the question for him to hit 20 goals on the year either.

Ryan Smyth – More than enough time in the season to get one last greasy garbage goal and hit 20 goals in four straight seasons (and hit that mark for 8th time in the past 10 seasons.) Probably the unlikeliest consistent 20 goal man in the NHL. Look for a long standing ovation when it happens, too.

Taylor Hall – 3 goals down the stretch will net him 30 for the first time in his career, and should have him beat Tyler Seguin to that milestone. It won’t end the Taylor/Tyler debate for anyone who hasn’t already made up their mind yet.

Jordan Eberle – As Jeff alluded to his latest post, Jordan Eberle has a good shot at being the first Oiler to hit 70 points since Hemsky in 07-08′, and the first PPG Oiler since Doug Weight in 00-01′, 11 years ago. That’s a pretty big deal for a bad club.

Sure, the season is a write-off, and we’ll all be watching Bill Daly’s incredibly bald head display the draft lottery results come June, but there’s still the chance to celebrate the individual victories that might take place in the remainder of the year, and give us hope in the future.

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