In our search to determine the worst Oilers season of the last decade we saw a small upset in the first match-up as the eighth seeded 2012/13 season fell to the Rise of Tambellini and the 2008/09 season. Now we've got to decide whether it'll be the 2011/12 season or 2007/08 season that grabs the final spot in the Elite Eight.
One other housekeeping item before we get to that though, as you might have noticed the title of this series has changed to March Sadness because that name is to perfect no to use. I wish I could say that I came up with that myself but I'm not nearly creative enough to have thought up something like that. No, all the credit for the name belongs to Dennis King.
And now onto today's matchup.
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#7 -- 2011-12 - 74 points (32-40-10)
Goal Differential: -27 (23rd)
Power Play: 7.15 GF/60 (2nd)
Penalty Kill: 5.74 GA/60 (13th)
This was the year that the rebuild was supposed to turn a corner. The Oilers had not one but two first overall draft picks in their roster, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and the team had added Cam Barker, Eric Belanger, Ben Eager, and Darcy Hordichuk during free agency. The distraction of Sheldon Souray playing in the AHL instead of with the Oilers was now a thing of the past, this was the year that things would be different. Things weren't different.
Devan Dubnyk assumed the role of the team's number one goalie, playing in 47 games; Nikolai Khabibulin would see action in 40 games. Between them they provided the Oilers with goaltending near the league average: 0.912, the league average was 0.914. But average goaltending wasn't enough to propel the Oilers up the standings, with 74 points the Oilers still missed the playoffs by 21 points. 74 points was an improvement for the Oilers though. It was 12 more than the team had accumulated in each of the previous two seasons and was enough for them to finish nine points ahead of the last place Columbus Blue Jackets.
Speaking of the Blue Jackets, they would be the unlucky team that would fall to the second spot on the draft after the Oilers won the lottery for a third time after the season ended. The Oilers would select Nail Yakupov with the first overall pick at the draft in June. This was also the draft where the Oilers used a second round pick to select Mitch Moroz.
#10 -- 2007-08 - 88 points (41-35-6)
Goal Differential: -16 (22nd)
Power Play: 5.62 GF/60 (18th)
Penalty Kill: 4.89 GA/60 (5th)
In terms of points, this is as good as it's gotten for the Oilers over in the last decade. The team won as many games as they lost and finished above the NHL's fake version of 0.500. With 88 points the Oilers missed the playoffs by only three points after going 14-5-1 in their final 20 games. This was the beginning of something great with Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano, and Robert Nilsson, Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff were nearly point per game players, this team was going somewhere. The record was a mirage though, bolstered in large part by an NHL record 15 shootout wins; the Oilers went 15-4 in the shootout this season.
Before the season started the Oilers made a couple of splashes in free agency, first signing Thomas Vanek to an offer sheet - seven years and $50M - but the Buffalo Sabres matched the deal. Then the Oilers signed free agent defenceman Sheldon Souray to a five-year, $27M deal. Before going the offer sheet route once agin, this time successfully, landing Dustin Penner with a deal wort $21.25M over five years. The Oilers also thought that they'd signed Michael Nylander to a contract but he ended up in Washington. It was a busy summer.
At the draft the Oilers used the second of two first round picks acquired from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Chris Pronger to select Jordan Eberle. The Oilers other first round pick was sent to Ananheim after the Ducks declined to match the Penner offer sheet. Without a pick in the second or third rounds of the draft, the Oilers didn't pick again until the fourth round of the draft when the took Johan Motin. In the sixth round the found Teemu Hartikainen.