Views on the Oilers from CHED's Dan Tencer

The Edmonton Oilers make their lone regular season visit to the Bell Centre tonight, to face the Montreal Canadiens.

While the Canadiens sit third in the Eastern Conference, the Oilers find themselves in some familiar territory, last in the Western Conference.

With an abundance of young talent on their roster, and in their system, GM Steve Tambellini and coach Tom Renney look to rebuild the franchise back to it's glory years, which have passed them by for two decades.

Their first overall pick in the 2010 Entry Draft, Taylor Hall, was still 17 months from being born when Mark Messier last raised the Stanley Cup for the Oilers.

To give us a better perspective on the team's progress, we called on Dan Tencer, host of CHED's "Inside Sports" and the Oilers Radio Network, to give us his insight.

Mr. Tencer was kind enough to provide his grades on the current squad, his forecasts on the team's future, and comment son a certain defenceman who once played for the Bleu -Blanc et Rouge.



Five on Five - 0.75 F/A  (27th in NHL)

(5) -  "There have been plenty of positive signs for the future, but it has been pretty inconsistent so far. Lots of turnovers and a little bit of stubbornness to adhere to the coaches game plan."

Power Play - 14.8% (23rd)

(6) - "They have certainly missed Ales Hemsky in the last few games and have missed the weapon of Sheldon Souray all season. That said, they're middle of the pack and the Hall-Horcoff-Eberle line has been giving teams fits of late."

Penalty Kill - 68.5 % (30th)

(1) -  "The PK has been getting better of late but was an absolute killer through the first 15 games of the season. They were giving up almost one PP goal every first period, let alone every game. Still 30th in the league, but showing signs of improvement."

Goaltending 3.74 GA/G (30th)

(8) - "The most consistent strength of the team so far, Khabibulin, Dubnyk & Gerber have combined to give the team a chance to win almost every night and have stolen at least a couple of the 7 wins that the team has."


(10) - "Renney, Krueger, Smith & Buchberger haven't once deviated from the plan to ride the young players this year and they continually show great opportunity to Hall, Eberle and Peckham in particular.

"Magnus Paajarvi has struggled recently, but is still playing north of 10 minutes almost every night."

Where do you see the Oilers over their next 20 games?

"Better than the first 20. In the last 6 games, save for a blowout loss in Phoenix, the team has show signs of being much more cohesive.

"There's a tremendous amount of talent that will emerge at different paces, and the blueline is still a weakness for sure, but I expect a young group like this to improve in each 20 game segment of the year."

This is an extremely young Oilers team. with a lot of cap room. In a realistic timeline setting, how far along to do you see the Oilers until they become a playoff contender and legitimate contender to the Stanley Cup?

"I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility to see them in the playoffs sometime in the next couple of years, but I'd expect it'll be 4 or 5 years before a Stanley Cup is realistic."

In a cap-era NHL, the basic winning formula mastered by Detroit and attempted, to some or no success elsewhere, is to build around a key set of players and add from there.

Who would your core 4-5 players be in Edmonton right now?

"Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi, Ales Hemsky and Sam Gagner. Honorable mention to Ryan Whitney."

If the Oilers have a chance to contend sooner than expected, do you feel management will be willing to spend on the key acquisitions to finish the puzzle, as the Blackhawks did, and risk the cap and roster issues that followed?

"I'd like to think that all the NHL teams learned from some of the mistakes that the Blackhawks made along the way to their Cup.

"You simply can't afford to give out bad contracts, as the Hawks did with Cristobal Huet and Brian Campbell. The Oilers will be willing to spend, yes, and hopefully when the time comes they'll do it wisely."

Seeing that he came to Edmonton via free agency form Montreal, and injuries aside, where did things go wrong for Sheldon Souray with the Oilers?

"That's a question for Sheldon. He was extremely well-liked by his teammates and, when he was healthy, had a phenomenal year in 2008-09.

"To hear him tell it, it went south early. As a mid-30's player with a heavy contract and a bad attitude, not too many people around here have hurt feelings knowing that he's riding the bus in the minors this year."

During the pre-season, which player, who didn't make the big club, do you feel will be a prominent part of the 2011-12 Oilers?

"Linus Omark is the obvious answer, currently 3rd in AHL scoring.

"The young Swede has phenomenal skill and plays a reasonably tenacious game in comparison to a fellow Swede like Robert Nilsson who ended up being a complete NHL bust."

We would like to thank Mr. Tencer for taking his time to answer our questions on the Oilers. You can listen live, as well as find previous PodCasts to Inside Sports and his Oilers Podcasts, by clicking on this link.

You can also follow him, as the Oilers' season progresses, on Twitter.

Also worth checking out, is TSN's "Oil Change", a documentary following the team through the 2010-11 season.

The Canadiens appear to be making no lineup changes, heading into tonight's game. Carey Price gets the start for Montreal, and is a career 1-2-0 (4.32 GAA, .833 SvPct) against the Oilers.

More on the Oilers from our SBNation counterparts at The Copper & Blue

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