Last season – 14th in the Western Conference
The Edmonton Oilers once again had a rough time last season, but McDavid weren’t playing the whole season and now they have added pieces that should see them move several spots up from that bottom position.
GM – Peter Chiarelli
Chiarelli moves into the second season as a guy not being afraid of making some moves, and that might light an ignition in the Oilers players who are still there. By trading Hall, Chiarelli showed that no one is safe, and he’s willing to take some hit for it short term, in hoped that Larsson turns out like the defenseman the Oilers desperately need. And, we’re not even talking a 1st defenseman here.
The important factor for Chiarelli this season would be not to go completely overboard if the season doesn’t turn out as well midway as they might hope, but let them continue to find their way and make minor adjustments in terms of potentially moving pieces.
Head Coach – Todd McLellan
McLellan also heading into his second season, still lead the Oilers to the last place in the Western Conference last season, but we saw more flashes of what they could become than the previous year.
For McLellan the most important factor would be to find the correct solutions for the middle six forwards, as the 1st line is going to be alright, and finding a positive traction for the defense, so their goalies doesn’t get shelled. Because, I think their goalies are good enough, they just need more support.
Milan Lucic (LW), Adam Larsson (D), Kris Russell (D), Eric Gryba (D), Jonas Gustavsson (G), Jesse Puljujarvi (RW), Drake Caggiula (F), Zach Pochiro (LW), Mark Fraser (D), Taylor Beck (LW),
3rd round pick 2017 (conditional)
Taylor Hall (LW), Nail Yakupov (RW), Adam Cracknell (RW), Adam Clendening (D)
Even with what some say was a terrible trade by the Oilers, in regards to giving Hall away for Larsson (I’m not one of them, it was a win-win), the Oilers just looks so much better on paper. Now, the Yakupov trade was a bit bad, as they could have afforded to wait trading him for something better than a potential 3rd and Pochiro.
But, the additions of Larsson and Russell in the defense, and with Lucic and Puljujarvi up-front, this look like a more well-organized roster than in a long time.
Goaltending – 6/10
Two backup goalies who are looking to really find their way in the NHL. Both of them have the potential to be scary good, as both as shown through several stints with other teams. There are a lot of hopes and at the same time concerns with whether Cam Talbot will be their go-to guy. I believe he will be, they just need to gain that confidence and get more help from their D.
Defense – 6/10
The blueline looks better than it has done in a long time. It isn’t going to be flashy, but the best they can hope for is that it’s going to be effective and gain confidence in the ability to play a high paced game that can compete with the best of the best in this league.
They are a couple of development years from that, but we should see some improvement this year, and all the Oilers-fans should hope for now, is consistency.
Klefbom – A. Larsson
K. Russell – Sekera
Nurse – Davidson
Gryba – Fayne
Forwards – 8/10
That 1st line just looks like it could create a lot of damage, but on opposition players and on the scoreboard. The big question for this lineup, is whether or not their middle six can find their way into a far more consistent streak of solid performances, if their newly added youngsters provide that much needed improvement, and if their energy line can provide just that.
I’m not completely sold on their depth yet, but they do have a solid shot of being the new young guns in the NHL. Question is if this season comes to soon or not.
Lucic – McDavid – Eberle
B. Pouliot – Nugent-Hopkins – Draisatl
Maroon – Caggiula – Puljujarvi
Pitlick – Letestu – Kassian
Slepyshev – Hendricks
Team Composition – 6/10
Project build the Oilers is finally taking a step forward. They still lack some veteran presence in their defense, and there are question marks in regards to how well their goalies will do behind a better defense, how the 2nd line will be compared to the others in the league and if their bottom six is good enough to push them up the standings.
Leadership presence – 2/10
There isn’t a lot of proven veteran presence in this roster. Lucic, Kassian and Letestu are their best, if we look outside the new captain and those other previous 1st rounders who haven’t been able to make this franchise move forward. It might improve, and it might even be better than we put, but it needs to be proven.
Skill Value – 7/10
The high end skill is absolutely present. And there is much raw skill that will be added to the roster and possibly be proven among some of the roster over the coming or coming seasons. But, there are still question marks, however I think we will see a definitive improvement over this and the next season, which should bump this grade upwards.