While HFNHL Oilers fans may be concerned heading into the play-offs with two key defenseman and their top goalie out for at least the first few games this is not the time to bemoan this. Now is the time to look back at the regular season and celebrate some successes. Organizational Objectives: 2017/18 was a season of transition. At the time of management change late in 2016/17 the team was veteran laden and spending to the cap which almost saw the team go bankrupt. Additionally the team had very few draft picks and a very weak prospect pipeline. Therefore 2017/18 was the first year of a multi-year transition meant to slowly rebuild the finances and the team skill but there would be no scorched earth policy. The team made some hard decisions over the summer letting many players go and bringing in some cost effective bridging players but still committed to its fans to fight for the play-offs. The outcomes were as follows: OBJECTIVESUCCESSESMISSESMake the Play-offsSurpassed Expectations finishing 7th OV in the leagueOvershot objective which will hurt draft position and quality of prospectsFinancial StabilitySlashed expenses and operated with a $57M cap hit near the floor and yet produced 3 more points than in 2016/17Fans did not show up. Some poor trade and signing decisions resulted in the team spending $6M more than the cap hit (worst in the league)Prospect DepthNoneNo big deals and so the small additions and subtractions were largely a wash - still worst prospoect list in the leaguePlayer Accomplishments: The biggest story for the Oilers was Troy Grosenick who at 28 years of age finally broke into the HFNHL in a big way and will be the team’s nominee for the Bill Masterton Trophy. At the start of the year, when the team was struggling both with injuries and just to find some line chemistry, Grosenick stood out and would go on to supplant Chad Johnson as the starter. He went on to post the 2nd best say% and tied for the 3rd best GAA in the league thereby earning the team two endorsements … yes the Oilers were the only team in the league to bet on those two endorsements Unfortunately, never having played this much, Grosenick’s Achilles heel was conditioning that saw him easily fatigue or fall to injury which limited the number of games he could play. Sometimes the best moves are the ones that don’t happen and that was the case with Paul Stastny. Originally exposed at the waiver draft and then the subject of much trade speculation he channeled his frustration into his game. Stastny led the team in points with 92 which was 21 better than the next best on the team despite having missed some games due to injury. Additionally he had a team him 14 game point streak and finished tied for 6th in assists (2nd if you normalize for games played). Dennis Seidenberg’s contributions were also key to the team’s success. He was the only defenseman to play all 82 games for the season despite being among the most targeted players in the league absorbing 154 hits and blocking 114 shots. All the while he kept his cool only taking 8 minutes in penalties all season. Additionally Dennis tied for 5th in the league with 74 takeaways while he only turned the puck over 10 times himself. Tyler Johnson was “Mr Clutch” as 7 of his 24 goals were game tying (5) or game winning (2) Patrick Sharp was the sniper finishing among the leaders in PP goals (14) and shoot-out/penalty shots (5) Finally Greg McKegg was the super sub. Never having a starting position he got into nearly half the games as an injury replacement. While that isn’t alone unique what was was the fact he so frequently played out of position having played all three forward positions and on defense where he was surprisingly capable. The Team: To be cliché the team was clearly better than the sum of its parts. Among play-off teams the HFNHL Oilers had one of the lowest goals for records as well as higher than average goals against. The only team metric the Oilers rated well was on the PK but despite the middle of the road stats the team somehow managed to eke out some victories in close games. Motivation is likely the intangible that allowed the HFNHL Oilers to overachieve. Almost all of the team is playing for something with several looking to go out with a bang in what is likely their last HFNHL season (Wideman, Michalek, Korpikoski, etc.), several others trying to prove they can play in the league (Megan, Grosenick, Bennett, etc.), and most of all a large number of veterans are on expiring contracts (Stastny, Johnson, Seidenberg, etc.). Regardless of what happens in the play-offs, be in being bounced in 4 games or making it through a round or two, the Oilers fans have had some things to celebrate this season.