That '80s show again

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

Entertaining. And exciting.

The Edmonton Oilers may or may not be a lot of things this season. But those two elements ought to be guaranteed.

And isn't that Oilers hockey the way it's supposed to be?

One year you get to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final. The next year you win two of your last 20 games and miss the playoffs by a couple dozen points.

The 2007-2008 Oilers are too young to likely be able to match the team from two years ago and too talented to be as bad as that team ended up last year.

But they should be a tonne of fun to follow.

HIGH-END YOUNG TALENT

For the first time since the first team the Oilers took into the NHL, fans here are about to watch a club with a great deal of high-end young talent begin to grow together.

There's no suggestion here that it will grow into anything resembling that great team of the past - the most entertaining, exciting team in the history of hockey - but it beats boring.

A lot of teams in this league are built to be boring. Not this team. Not this year.

"Before training camp, I thought we'd have to tinker. But having seen what I've seen, I expect we're going to score enough goals," said Kevin Lowe.

The GM believing that is one thing. The coach and the players believing it is the key to what we're about to watch.

"If a team is confident of scoring goals, the more relaxed that team is going to play, especially on the power play," said Lowe.

Craig Simpson is no longer here to kick around for the lack of success of the Oilers' power play.

Now we're looking at Sheldon Souray's big shot from the point, play-maker Ales Hemsky moving into prime time of his career, goal-scorer Dustin Penner on the property and a collection of kids with youthful enthusiasm and high-end upside. And there's no way the Edmonton power play is going to end up 27th in the league again this season.

That should be the most dramatic difference with this team this year. It's going to have a first-rate, top-10 type of power play.

The goaltending is OK and the defence is improved with depth. But it's up front - where this team looked to be in deep doo doo back on July 1 - where it might turn out to be fun.

One thing about the way it appears to have worked out with this team is that the tinkering Lowe thought he was going to have to do can wait.

It's obvious that the Oilers have too many certified NHL calibre defencemen.

"We've got nine that can play," he said.

You'd have figured at the start of training camp that Lowe would be spending the last days before the start of the season working on doing a deal to trade one of them for some talent up front.

Now he doesn't have to do it. And when he does he can do it from a position of strength with an idea of dealing two or three for whatever is determined to be the Oilers' biggest missing link later in the season.

"Teams are starting to call, but it might be some time," said Lowe of waiting to do the deal that's going to be there to be done.

THINGS LOOKING UP

With Edmonton now a cap team and with about $5-6 million still available in cap room, this team should be better later than it will be to start the season. And on paper, I think the Oilers start the season smack dab in the middle of the division.

One thing for sure. It's a whole lot better hockey club than you watched at the end of last season and than the team it looked like you might be going to watch back in early July when Lowe was striking out every time he stepped to the plate.

"I think we've climbed that mountain pretty good," said Lowe. "This team in no way, shape or form is anything close to what it was at the end of the season last year. We've got weapons. We're going to be an exciting team."


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