Thursday, July 28, 2011

On Two Franchises Headed Down the Same Path

In the 1980's, both the Edmonton Oilers and the New York Islanders were on top of the hockey world. Of the 10 Stanley Cups awarded that decade, 8 of them were won by these two teams, forming two of the great dynasties in NHL history. Fast forward to today and these same two teams find themselves in the NHL's basement, with the Oilers and Islanders having missed the playoffs for the last 5 and 4 seasons respectively. Earlier this year, Hockey Night in Canada and the NHLPA conducted an NHL player survey and one question asked was what team would you least like to play on? Perhaps not surprisingly, the overwhealming majority of players answered with the New York Islanders and the Edmonton Oilers, combing for 47% of responses. So just as they were in the 80's, the Oilers and Islanders again find themselves in the same position, only this time rather than hockey supremacy, it's respectability they're after, as they both try to rebuild their franchises and get back to the top.

The Oilers and the Islanders had similar beginnings with both franchises finding success relatively early, winning multiple championships within the first decade of their existence in the NHL. Both teams established themselves as NHL superpowers by building rosters littered with future Hall of Famers, 14 of them to be exact. But over the years as these players moved on, both teams found limited post season success. In the case of the Oilers it was poor drafting and poor development, and for the Islanders it was poor asset management. These factors combined with tight budgets in both cities ultimately landed the Oilers and Islanders in the rebuilding state they find themselves today.

While fans in Edmonton and Long Island have had to endure a number of tough seasons in recent history, they are now beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The Oilers have built up a strong core of young skill over the last few years via the NHL entry draft, and have now begun adding established NHLers to help fill specific roles to support the roster. Meanwhile the Islanders have also built a roster with a number of talented young players, including 2009 1st overall pick John Tavares, recent 30 goals scorers Matt Moulson and Michael Grabner, top-10 draft picks Josh Bailey and Kyle Okposo, and not to mention top prospects such as Nino Niederreiter, Travis Hamonic, Calvin de Haan, and Ryan Strome. While both rosters are still lacking in some areas, the depth on offense is clearly beginning to show. Though they may not be competing head to head for Stanley Cups again in the near future, it is obvious that better days are on the horizon for both clubs. So given their current state of affairs, which team do you think is better poised for success?

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1 comment:

  1. First of all I want to say that I am a huge fan! Your inside knowledge of the Edmonton Oilers is amazing. Clearly you are the next Bob Mackenzie (hopefully TSN talent scouts are reading).

    As for your recent post; I think the Oilers are in a better position to improve their "respectability" compared to the Islanders. The young kids on the Oilers may not turn out to be all stars, but they seem to buy in to the team first mentality. Unless you have amazing players like Crosby or Ovechkin, you can't win a cup in today's NHL without team play.

    I look forward to reading your next post! Here is a suggestion for you. The Oilers or not?