Dueling Predictions...

I waited. Well at least as long as was possible and with little else left to talk about before I decided it not a bad idea to make some bold predictions about the upcoming season.

I suppose I could have talked about the rediculous attempt by the Edmonton Oilers to woo one Dany Heatley from his summer home in Kelowna with a DVD/Video about the complete awesomeness of Edmonton and what it's like to be a player here. I've reserved doing that for the time being, because I just don't feel the need to keep piling the poop on top of an already crappy situation.

Instead, the "Prof" who writes for us on a regular basis and I decided we'd compare some bold predictions. I'll let him make his, I'll comment and then finish with some of my own. We welcome you to agree or disagree.

Prof's Prediction #1 : Dustin Penner will have his highest goal-scoring season. He will score at least 30 goals and have 25 assists as a plus hockey player. Penner scored 29 goals with the Ducks, but he will top that this season. Perhaps, he will not be an Oiler – but wherever he goes, here or away, he will score at least 30 goals.

Oilers Insider Prediction #1: Penner will score more goals this year than he has yet as an Oiler but won't reach 30. He won't be relegated to the fourth line as a punishment for looking lazy or disinterested, in fact he'll come out to a strong start with a new attitude under new coaching and be a go to guy for Quinn. The trade rumours won't bother him. He's dealt with worse from the fans already.

Prof's Prediction #2: Robert Nilsson is another young player who is ready to explode. Nilsson will have a break out season under the new coaching staff – and will have at least 50 points. He will be the scorer that he has shown signs of being and, while he will not be a vocal leader, he will be one of the Oilers’ scoring leaders.

Oilers Insider Prediction #2:Nilsson won't be an Oiler if the team is able to make a trade prior to opening night. Whether he's traded for a forward who fits better in the depth charts that he does who knows; but Nilsson finds himself the odd man out when Cogliano is discovered as the new wonder kid on the wing.

Prof's Prediction #3: Ryan Smyth will be back with the Oilers for the playoff run. He will be picked up at the trade deadline and will finish his season off with the Oilers. He will go on to play at least three more seasons and will have his number retired as an Oiler. He will become the next Oiler captain after Ethan Moreau who, sadly, will have another injury-plagued season.

Oilers Insider Predicition #3: That is some out of the box thinking, possibly wishful thinking, but a real stretch. With the trade to L.A. I think Ryan Smyth has found the home for which he will retire. It is my guess that Smyth has the injury plagued season and that while the Oilers could use a player of his style, they'll be glad they didn't spend $6 million plus to bring him back. Ryan Smyth will do wonders for a young team in L.A. as a leader even if he's hurt.

Prof's Prediction #4: The Oiler goaltending will take an unexpected turn, but will turn out better than expected at the present. This is a holding year, but one of the Oiler youngsters – and I am thinking it will be Devan Dubnyk – who will turn out to be one of the great NHL
goalies. Khababulin will be strong this year, and his play will keep the Oilers in games, but will give way to Deslauries toward the end of the season. Khababulin will turn out to be more of a leader than expected – and will show himself to have a great sense of humor. Roloson will labor in obscurity in New York and will himself move again at the trade deadline.

Oilers Insider Prediction #4: The best part about the Prof's above prediction here is that he made it prior to the Biron trade. He's bang on about Roloson, although I think Biron is the one who gets traded. I'll reserve judgement on Devan Dubnyk until next season when I think he gets his chance. It won't happen this year. Khabibulin will play well.

Prof's Prediction #5: Dany Heatley will NOT become an Oiler. In a fit of pique, Murray won’t trade Heatley until after the start of the season. Then, Ottawa will almost give him away after the season starts. With Heatley no longer in the picture, the Oilers will go with a youth movement, which will give many of the young players time to play. They will start off the season quickly, will fall on hard times, but will make a run and squeak into the playoffs.

Oilers Prediction #5: I agree that Heatley stays in Ottawa. I don't see how if they don't trade him to Edmonton, they can find another home for him -- especially in San Jose where he wants to play. I think Ottawa keeps him, he plays with Kovalev, gets 45 goals and all is forgotten in Senator's world. I do think the Oilers trade for a forward who once again isn't necessarily a top 3 (Zherdev) and he's moved in and out of that role.

Prof's Prediction #6: Oilers’ hockey – which has been more speed than skill – will be re-defined. The new coaching staff will put more priority on skill, which will allow some players who might have not yet shown themselves yet – say Lubomir Visnovsky or Tom Gilbert – to take different roles. Other players who will have much better seasons include Patrick O’Sullivan (who will come out of last year’s shell and will end up a fixture on the Oilers’ second line), Zack Stortini (who will become a fan favorite), Fernando Pisani (who will score 20 goals), and Gilbert Brule (who will score at least 12 goals and will start off the season strong).

Oilers Prediction #6: I think we too see some surprising performances from Oilers we didn't expect. O'Sullivan will lead the team in shots taken (assuming there is no Dany Heatley) and score 23 - 25 goals. Pisani, who is playing for another contract will stay healthy and score 20 and Visnovsky, playing the whole season will have 50 points plus. I say look for big things from Stortini, maybe as many as 12-15 garbage style goals and tons of penalty minutes.

Prof's Prediction #7: Robbie Schremp and Jordan Eberle will also make the big team. Eberle will struggle, ala Sam Gagner has for two years, but Schremp will be reborn under new coaching and will become a leader on the Power Play – which will improve dramatically. This will be Steve Staios’ last season as an Oiler. He will retire after this year – if he makes the year – and become an Oiler scout.

Oilers Insider Prediction #7: Schremp does alright, but not here. He'll not be re-signed and get moved as part of a package deal to another team where he will play, but never to the potential everyone was expecting. Eberle is one more year from making the team and we'll know more where he fits once Gagner's and Cogliano's contracts are either completed or they are moved. I agree regarding Staois, and will be surprised if he's not traded part way through the season to clear cap space.


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