Old Faces Making Oilers Losing Streak Even More Painful

The Oilers lose another one on Tuesday to the Nashville Predators. Apparently, a four-day mini-camp isn't enough to change the fortunes of this Oilers team for this season.

For many fans, that might be considered good news as a Oiler team that all of a sudden starts to win a few games in a row, takes the Oilers ever further away from a lottery pick in this coming NHL entry draft.

What hurts though, is when former players, who could have easily been current Oilers remind us that the Edmonton Oilers may be chalked full of more than just on-ice mistakes.

Take Rob Schremp and Dwayne Roloson for example. If you look at the Islanders game on Tuesday, you see a couple interesting stats staring back at you. Former Oilers cast-offs (and that really is the best term to describe them) are once again making Edmonton look like they may be on the wrong end of a welcome back or goodbye decision from the past.

Nikolai Khabibulin was brought in to replace the aging Roloson, who wanted to stay in Edmonton for two more years. The Oilers, in their infinite wisdom, decided Roloson was too old and instead of offering a very fair (and likely lower than value)contract, which Roloson would accepted, overpaid for an almost equally as old Khabibulin for four years. Khabibulin, as we all know is now likely done for the year and the Oilers as a result are in salary cap hell.

To boot, Roloson has a shut-out, is by far the best of three proven NHL goalies in New York and has a healthy 2.77 GAA on a still unproven Islanders team. To me and even more impressive Roloson continues to show his hockey smarts.

In a recent NYI game against Phoenix, how much veteran presence he brings to a team becomes quite evident. Did anyone else notice the over eight minutes he kept Phoenix short-handed when they chose to not put a player in the penalty box to start the period?

In NHL rules, if the time on the penalty expires, but no player is in the box, the team must continue short until a whistle. Roloson made about three great plays to keep the referee from calling icing, which would then allow Phoenix to bring a man back on the ice. Talk about hockey smarts from a player who didn't need a coach to let him know the situation presenting itself.

Hindsight is of course 20/20, and no one could have forseen Khabibulin's injury (well, maybe we could have considering his age and history of injuries), but Roloson has made a career of being just a tad smarter than most goalies. A team like Edmonton could have used that this season.

Meanwhile, Rob Schremp has 14 points in 25 games for the Isles. He scored two on Tuesday and is on pace for 33 points. Sadly, he's going to out-produce a player like Andrew Cogliano in a fraction of the time and likely tie the production of a Robert Nilsson. Both players of course are making much more money than Schremp, who simply wanted a chance in an Oiler uniform for more than five games to show what he could do.

To the Oilers defence, Schremp started slow in NYI, but has since found a groove this season. The Oilers gave those opportunities to other players, yet for some reason not to Schremp, who if successful will have stuck it to the Oilers as many players have done before him.

Curtis Glencross, Raffi Torres, Jarret Stoll, Matt Greene and Joni Pitkanen to name a few are all having better seasons after leaving Edmonton than they have in some time.

What is it about leaving that makes these players better?

I'd suggest that on every coin, there are two sides, but how many players can you name currently with the Oilers that are having a better season in Edmonton than they have anywhere else they've played?

Perhaps only Dustin Penner and Gilbert Brule. Penner's production versus his break-out year in Anaheim, could be a marginal improvement and Brule was touted as a hopeful reboot after leaving Columbus. No one knew if Brule was going to ever make a NHL career of his potential and he's yet to prove he's anything more than a third liner.

For me, it's not the losing that bothers me. I can see the silver lining on the cloud with a top three draft pick. What bothers me, is that this losing could have been avoided if the Oilers had made some different decisions.

Are Schremp and Roloson the answer to all of Edmonton's problems? Of course not. But a long history of over-evaluating what never turns out and under-evaluating what has real potential, haunts this Oilers team.

It makes a losing streak like this, at a time I watch of lot of hockey besides Edmonton losing, even more unbareable.


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