It's hard to believe, but the last time the Pittsburgh Penguins played a game up in Edmonton, it was October 2011. Jordan Staal and Brent Johnson were Penguins and Sidney Crosby was still in concussion limbo. It really seems so long ago at this point. We were lucky enough to get Jeff from Copper and Blue to give us some dirt on the Oil.
1. Halfway into the season, what's your general feel about the Oilers? Are they close to breaking out of the basement and competing for the playoffs or is the rebuilding process still going to take more time? Are the right people making the decisions? What's the biggest thing that they erred on?
2. Who's been the best surprise player this season? And biggest disappointment?
3. The Penguins could use some depth forwards - especially one who could add speed, size, physicality and maybe some penalty killing for their bottom 6. I floated Ryan Jones' name, since he's an impending UFA and is sort of the type of role Pittsburgh could use. Do you think Edmonton would look to deal him? Would would a realistic return be?
4. As a Western observer, who do you see as the top contenders to make it to the Western Conference finals? There are obviously several very strong teams playing well, does anyone have what it takes to dethrone Chicago?
5. Even Art Ross winner and 50-goal scorer Evgeni Malkin gets some flak from certain elements of the Pittsburgh media and fanbase, so we certainly know the type of microscope Nail Yakupov is under. Does he have what it takes to be an All-Star caliber NHLer and, more importantly, do you see him finding success and growing into a role in Edmonton or do you think it's already reached the point where the best choice for both parties may be parting ways in the near future?