It’s easy to be down on the Edmonton Oilers. They’ve been so bad for so long that it borders on historic. With 46 games in the books, it seems safe to say that they’ll miss the playoffs for an eighth straight campaign and have a real shot of getting their fourth first overall pick in five years.
Still, the Oilers have their supporters and Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby is one of them. He likes that many of their young, skilled players are in key roles and he thinks that will eventually pay off.
“I don’t think they’re too far away at all,” Crosby told the Edmonton Sun.
“They’re fast and skilled and pretty fun to watch. They have pretty creative players.”
He also compared the Oilers recent struggles to the Penguins’ failings in 2005-06. Fresh off of drafting Crosby and with Mario Lemieux looking to stage a comeback, they were able to lure some free agents like defenseman Sergei Gonchar. Expectations were high, but the team ultimately failed to make the playoffs.
The difference is that the Penguins secured a postseason spot the following season and Crosby was a Stanley Cup champion in his fourth campaign. Edmonton’s situation is different, but a lot of that has to do with the fact that they haven’t assembled a complete team.
After all, when Pittsburgh won it all, they didn’t do it solely on the strength of Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. They had Jordan Staal, who was regarded as one of the best defensive forwards in the game, some solid shutdown defensemen in Rob Scuderi and Brooks Orpik, and veteran leadership from guys like Bill Guerin.
The Oilers have plenty of work to do if they want to emulate the Penguins. Perhaps they’ll take a step in that direction before the trade deadline.