The NHL wants the Edmonton Oilers to go to Europe. They aren't the only ones but they are one of the teams who could start next season overseas instead of in North America. Sounds like a great idea, that does have complications, but would be a novel way for the Oilers to sell and spread their brand to nations of others around the world.
Europe isn't a tiny place so the league would have to choose where they would play. I think the answer is an obvious one. There are no Finns on the team so it's pretty easy to cross off Finland. It certainly would be nice to play in Prague. Not only is it one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but it's also part of Ales Hemsky
and Ladislav Smid
's home country. No disrespect to them but it's pretty clear that Sweden is the place to go.
Okay let's take a look at the evidence to make this argument. You have Magnus Paajarvi
and Linus Omark
. Both are from Sweden, both are young, well known, have served their countries and have a big following back home even though they now play in Canada. Then there's Anton Lander
- another Swedish product who is an Oilers pick from the second round of the 2009 draft. He may not be as well known as the previous two but he's no slouch considering he was Team Sweden's captain at the recent World Junior Championships.
Now to keep the Swedish theme going, Edmonton looks like they will be drafting in a lottery position this summer. That being the case they will have a real good chance of taking... you guessed it, another Swede. The choice could be between two. There is Adam Larsson, who is projected to be a top five pick or Gabriel Landeskog who in the mid-season rankings is listed at #1. With all that possible there is no reason to go elsewhere but Sweden.
Apart from the what the birth certificates say the Oilers do have some non Swedish content and there would also be some knowledge of a couple Canadian kids like Taylor Hall
and Jordan Eberle
. There would be some worldwide familiarity with those two, especially Eberle, thanks to his storied world junior career. As Edmonton looks to the future so does the NHL realizing that the Oilers could one day soon be an elite team and so why not expose them to the overseas market both now and maybe later.
This is a wonderful opportunity for the organization to show the rest of the world who they are. It's a lot of travel, it's a lot of inconvenience and more complicated than simply staying home but the NHL would do its best to make this as pain free as possible. It would be a great chance for a young team to spend time together and for those young players to make even more fans that aren't based in North America. As long as the Griswolds aren't traveling with them how can this European vacation not be a good one.