OK, we know the Edmonton Oilers haven’t been much this season, and we know it’d be miraculous at this point if they were able to qualify for the post-season, but, hey, these guys look like they could be for real next season.
The Oilers have an impressive bevy of players, four of whom had their seasons ruined by injuries – Sheldon Souray, Shawn Horcoff, Ethan Moreau and Raffi Torres.
Combine them with Dustin Penner, who is enjoying his best NHL season, and youngsters Andrew Cogliano, Sam Gagner, Robert Nilsson, Kyle Brodziak and Tom Gilbert, and you’re looking at perhaps the most promising nucleus in the league.
Fifteen of the Oilers' 18 skaters are 25 or younger, and five of those are 22 or younger.
Gagner is all of 18 and here’s what he told Canadian Press the other day: "Being here at a young age is pretty special.”
•Cogliano, 20, set an NHL record this week with overtime winners in three consecutive games.
His teammates have been giving him the gears.
“I carried Cogs into the restaurant the other night,” Oilers centre Jarret Stollsaid.
Cogliano’s roommate is Gagner, but Stoll was suggesting he should have his own room.
“Usually, you can’t get rid of your roommate in the NHL until you put in 10 years and have 600 games under your belt,” Stoll said, “but Cogs should get private suites now. Look at what he’s doing.”
Cogliano himself is at a loss for words.
“I don't know what to say anymore,” he said. “I've been getting a lot of phone calls and I don’t know what to say to anybody.”
Cogliano can't recall scoring a single overtime winner in his two years at the University of Michigan.
•From reader Brent Ruttan:
The Vancouver Canucks have never made the playoffs in a year ending with the number 8.
Their expansion cousins, the Buffalo Sabres, have never missed the playoffs in a year ending in 8.
Looks like the trend ends this season.
•Is Olaf Kolzig a Hall of Famer?
Olie the Goalie recorded his 300th victory this week. At 37, he’s nearing the end of his career.
•For a relatively long time this season, it looked as if the Chicago Blackhawks would reach the playoffs.
But they’ve been lousy lately. Wednesday's 3-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes was their fourth in a row, putting them on the verge of missing the playoffs for the ninth time in 10 seasons.
"The last two games, I don't think the effort's really been there and the results, obviously, haven't been there, either," forward Patrick Kanesaid.
And if he’s right, you have to wonder why in the world the Hawks wouldn’t have put forth their best possible effort when it mattered most.
•It was nice of the Hawks, by the way, to finally recognize a couple of their greats the other night.
The pre-game tributes to Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita were long overdue.
•Speaking of ex-NHL stars, more and more are agreeing to appear on the hit Canadian comedy show, Rent-A-Goalie.
Mike Palmateer and Paul Coffey were on the set this week. Phil Esposito will be on Friday, with Bob Probert scheduled for March 24 and Darryl Sittler, March 27.
•And how would you react if I told you Cliff Fletcher, interim general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, might just wind up being hired as the club’s permanent bossman?