According to the Oilers twitter feed the teams new retro themed white jerseys will be going on sale today, exclusively at the Oilers Store. Personally I'm a big fan of the 1980's era colours and even though I already own nine (
eight) Oiler jerseys, not counting two signed jerseys that I don't wear, I will surely be getting one of these as well and I doubt that I'm alone.
But these days jerseys are anything but cheap. A blank jersey starts at $135 and if you want it crested that will run you another $55. Now if you're going to lay out that kind of coin you want to make sure that you're spending your money wisely and preferably on a player that's going to be around for a while. And so to help you out I've developed this handy guide to purchasing a new jersey for the 2011/12 season. (A hat tip to Pension Plan Puppets and raskofalltrades for this story idea)
Before I get to breaking down the Pros and Cons of each player let's address a couple of basic jersey rules. First, don't ever put your own name on a jersey. I highly doubt that you are in fact the world's #1 Dad, but even if you are, you shouldn't be wearing that jersey. If you share a last name with an Oiler then of course this doesn't apply to you provided you get the correct number on the jersey. I don't want to see any number 18 - Hemsky jerseys in the crowd.
Secondly, only crest your jersey with the names of players who have worn that style of jersey. Yes Wayne Gretzky once wore a jersey with the same colours but it's not the same jersey so don't do it. This was more important when the Oilers were wearing cooper and blue every night (side note we might need to change the name of this blog now that they're not) but I feel the rule still applies today.
With that out of the way let's break down your jersey options.
#4 - Taylor Hall
Pros: The first overall pick just a season ago, Hall looked excellent in his rookie season until his season was cut short by an ankle injury. There is really no reason to think Hall won't be a part of this team for a very long time so you should get plenty of seasons of use out of this jersey.
Cons: There isn't much in the way of cons with a Hall jersey but since there are already plenty of Hall jerseys around Rexall Place, if you're sporting a new white jersey you might be seen by some as the guy who didn't have faith in Hall right for the get-go.
#5 - Ladislav Smid
Pros: A steady top four defenseman. Doesn't do anything flashy but is consistently solid. At 25 years old Smid could be around for plenty of years to come.
Cons: If you're looking for the guy who is going to score the big goal, you'll want to look somewhere else; Smid has just one goal in the last four seasons.
#6 - Ryan Whitney
Pros: The team's best defenseman now, and realistically, will be for a while as well. Whitney is also, for my money at least, the best tweeter on the Oilers.
Cons: In a word, injuries. When he's healthy Whitney is fantastic (just look at his numbers last season for proof). The problem is that he just isn't healthy often enough.
#10 - Shawn Horcoff
Pros: Going with the team captain is never a bad choice. The years and dollars remaining on his contract also makes Horcoff moving along in the near future unlikely so you should get years of use out of this jersey.
Cons: You might have to listen to the occasional mouth-breather tell you all about how Horcoff is overpaid, completely useless, and should be traded immediately. And of course he'll never be as great as Esa Tikkanaen, the best player to ever wear #10 for the Oilers.
#13 - Cam Barker
Pros: If Barker recaptures his form from 2008/09 with the Blackhawks when he scored 40 points in 68 games you'll be the guy who believed in Barker all along.
Cons: When he turns out to be the four-point wonder who played with the Wild you'll be out $190 as soon as the season ends and Barker moves on to his next stop.
#14 - Jordan Eberle
Pros: Like Hall, Eberle is the flashy rookie with, hopefully, a long productive career ahead of him. He also has a knack for scoring goals often enough to make you believe that clutch play actually exists.
Cons: All signs point to very good but he could easily end up a step or two behind Hall for his entire career. Not necessarily a bad place to be but worth considering if you don't want to be wearing the jersey of a sidekick.
#16 - Darcy Hordichuk
Pros: Decently good at punching people.
Cons: Only good a punching people.
#20 - Eric Belanger
Pros: After what seemed like forty years lost in the desert the Oilers finally acquired the third line centre we so desperately needed. Belanger should be good on the dot and on the penalty kill if you're into that kind of thing.
Cons: There is a ton of young talent down the middle on the Oilers so I don't see how Belanger will be here beyond the end of his current contract.
#23 - Linus Omark
Pros: He did this in his first NHL game.
Cons: I'm not sure the Oilers are committed to Omark long term. Given his offensive skill and his youth it's nigh inconceivable that he could be traded in the next year or two.
#24 - Theo Peckham
Pros: Don Cherry calls him Teddy Peckman; that's almost enough reason right there. He also likes to throw his body around and isn't afraid to drop the gloves if need be.
Cons: All that banging and crashing doesn't actually make him a better hockey player. Right now Peckham is a bottom pairing player who could have already reached his potential.
#25 - Andy Sutton
Pros: He's an improvement over Jason Strudwick.
Cons: That all I could come up with for a pro was, "He's an improvement over Strudwick" should tell you everything you need to know.
#28 - Ryan Jones
Pros: Jones is a blue collar player, the kind of guy that Edmontonians love. He's got some grit to his game and he works hard. Last season that hard work paid off with a career season and a brand new two-year deal.
Cons: He's not nearly as good as last season would suggest and likely won't get near last year's numbers again during his time in Edmonton.
#35 - Nikolai Khabibulin
Pros: He once won a Stanley Cup. If that's good enough for Steve Tambellini it should be good enough for you.
Cons: He's old, often injured, and not very good anymore.
#40 - Devan Dubnyk
Pros: He's young and has shown flashes of ability, which make some think he could be a starting goalie in the NHL. He could easily be the Oilers number one goalie by the end of the season.
Cons: Dubnyk could be a starter or he could just as easily be a career backup. There just isn't enough evidence either way to know for sure.
#41 - Taylor Chorney
Pros: Chorney is running out of time to establish himself as an NHL defenseman in Edmonton, which could be just the type of motivation he needs.
Cons: If he makes the team out of training camp he will almost certainly be watching from the press-box waiting for a chance.
#55 - Ben Eager
Pros: Based on what we've seen of Eager elsewhere he appears to be another hard working fourth line "energy" player, supposedly a step up from the now departed Zack Stortini.
Cons: Has in the past been know to take a stupid penalty or two in the name of being physical.
#56 - Teemu Hartikainen
Pros: In his short time in Edmonton near the end of last year Hartikainen made believers out of a number of fans. He's a stretch to make the team to start the season but getting on board early has it's benefits.
Cons: Drunk fans may think that you're Derek Zona and could accuse you of hating their favourite prospects.
#58 - Jeff Petry
Pros: Looked very good on a bad Oilers blueline last season. His high end is on the top pairing but even if he doesn't make that projection, the middle pair looks like a safe bet.
Cons: Being exempt from waivers, Petry is likely to start the season in Oklahoma City but will probably be the first defenseman called up when an injury occurs.
#67 - Gilbert Brule
Pros: He's a genuinely good person, a nice quality but not a requirement in a hockey player. Having missed significant time with some off-ice problems Brule is now looking at what might be his last chance here in Edmonton. Who doesn't want to root for him to make it back?
Cons: With his contract expiring at the end of the season Brule might not be around these parts for the long haul even if he can get his game back to where it was just a couple of seasons ago.
#77 - Tom Gilbert
Pros: Although he has been in Edmonton for a long time Gilbert is still relatively young at 28 years old. He's one of the Oilers best defensemen and is entering the prime years of his career.
Cons: Gilbert's detractors say that he's soft and that he doesn't hit often enough. In other words he's the anti-Peckham.
#83 - Ales Hemsky
Pros: Hall could lay claim to the title of best Oilers forward in the near future but for now that title still belongs to Hemsky. In the post-lockout era Hemsky has been the Oiler most likely to lift you out of your seat with an amazing play.
Cons: Hemsky has had problems with injuries over the last few seasons. His contract also expires at the end of the season and if he's healthy he could be a rental player target for a playoff contender.
#89 - Sam Gagner
Pros: Four years into his pro career Gagner may never turn out to be the first line centre some hoped he would be but he can still be a solid number two for a very long time. Gagner's got plenty of offensive flair and with a consistent coaching system could easily become a regular 55-60 point player starting this season.
Cons: He has yet to match his rookie season point total and there is a feeling in some circles that Gagner will never be more than what we see right now. For this reason and because his contract expires at the end of the season and because the Oilers recently drafted their future first line centre, if he fails to take a step forward this season there is the very small chance that he could be traded.
#91 - Magnus Paajarvi
Pros: The third of the rookie trifecta that took Edmonton by storm last season. After a slow start Paajarvi seems to have adjusted to the NHL game and was generating more and more scoring chances as the season wore on. Like Hall and Eberle, his fellow rookies from last season, Paajarvi looks like he will have a good long career ahead of him here in Edmonton.
Cons: Paajarvi seems to have found himself behind Hall on the Oilers depth chart. If last season was any indication Hall will get the choice minutes going forward with Paajarvi picking up what's left.
#93 - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Pros: Going with the jersey of the first overall pick, and the man who put the jersey on before any other Oiler, wouldn't be a bad choice. Granted we don't know what kind of player he'll be just yet but it's worth being optimistic at this point.
Cons: Right now the only con is that Nugent-Hopkins could be returned to Red Deer for another year in the WHL. This isn't normal with the first overall pick but in this case I think there is a slight chance it could happen.
#94 - Ryan Smyth
Pros: Last but not least we have Smyth. Nubmer 94 in your program but number one in your heart. He never should have left and now he's back. And maybe best of all, he asked to be here. A new jersey for the same old Smyth seems like an okay idea to me.
Cons: There is a chance he only stays here for the final year of his contract. If the first time Smyth left almost killed you, you might not want to tempt fate twice.