NHL Season Preview: Edmonton Oilers

While the Oilers ought to be praised for recognizing a bad situation, opting for a full rebuild, and being patient with young players, by any means of evaluating it last year was a disappointment. Edmonton showed life in 2011-2012 earning 74 points, their best total in three years. During the lockout shortened 2012-2013 campaign they continued solid but not spectacular play earning 45 points in 48 games. However, last season the Oilers tallied just 67 points, by a wide margin the lowest total in the Western Conference.

While the Oilers ought to be praised for recognizing a bad situation, opting for a full rebuild, and being patient with young players, by any means of evaluating it last year was a disappointment. Edmonton showed life in 2011-2012 earning 74 points, their best total in three years. During the lockout shortened 2012-2013 campaign they continued solid but not spectacular play earning 45 points in 48 games. However, last season the Oilers tallied just 67 points, by a wide margin the lowest total in the Western Conference.

In reality, the development of youngsters Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Nail Yakupov will determine how good the Oilers are in the long-term. The quartet is among the best young groups in the NHL though Yakupov had a very poor second season in the league and must take big strides forward in 2014-2015. Edmonton’s young stars are offensive standouts, but must become two-way threats to help the team succeed.

During the off-season Edmonton traded Sam Gagner for Teddy Purcell and signed free agent Benoit Pouilot. Rookie Leon Draisaitl should see plenty of ice time immediately. Defensively, the Oilers added Mark Fayne and Nikita Nikitin. The tandem of Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth will handle goaltending duties.

The Oilers were 29-53 last year going 16-25 at home and 13-28 on the road. Their games went over 43 times, under on 36 occasions, and pushed three times. They are listed as 9-1 to capture a division title and 50-1 to win it all. With more consistent goaltending, the addition of a couple defenders, and an insistence on young forwards getting back to help defensively, the Oilers should give up fewer goals. That being said, they need young stars to become superstars and improved depth in order to compete for a playoff birth.