Regular Season: The emergence of Taylor Hall as a top-end forward created optimism, but it wasn’t enough to propel the Oilers to the post-season, and it cost Ralph Kruger his job as head coach. They scored more goals than 5 playoff teams in the West, but their own end continued to be the Achilles’ heel of the young squad.
Playoffs: They finished 12th in the Western Conference, 10 points out of the playoffs.
Ready To Make The Jump: D Anton Belov
BIG 3 FACTORS
1. Deeper D: The Oilers went to great lengths to bolster the blueline. First they signed veteran Andrew Ference to a rather larger contract, and then they brought former NHLers Grebeshkov and Larsen back to the league from Europe They continued to add, signing 27 year old free agent defenseman Belov from the KHL. This re-vamping could mean that they do not need to rush first round pick Darnell Nurse to the league, and he can continue a solid development in the OHL.
2. Upgraded O: Bringing in Perron makes the Oilers top 6 truly deep, and the veteran presence of Gordon solidifies the checking lines. Horcoff was a good soldier but had a terrible contract that he couldn’t live up to. Nugent-Hopkins, Hall, Eberle, Yakupov, Gagner, Perron, Hemsky is a pretty dynamic group.
3. Structure: Dallas Eakins will bring some much needed accountability to the young group, as long as he can earn their respect. It is his first NHL coaching gig, but the core is young enough that they should buy into what he is selling. That structure might bring some growing pains to start, but will be good in the long run.
PROGNOSIS: The Oilers have a new look, and they should be a much more solid team through coaching changes as well as maturation. They are still going to be in a battle for their playoff lives and it may come down to how goalie Devan Dubnyk performs in the crease.
PREDICTION: 5th Pacific Division, but will be in a dogfight for the playoffs either within the new look division or, more likely, via the crossover.
We will be previewing every NHL team ahead of Training Camp which for most teams will begin on Sept 11th. As a twist, we will be unveiling our teams in reverse order to how I predict they will finish in the standings. Here is the schedule (you can click on a team name to see the preview for that team):
|1||Sept 9||Sept 8||Sept 7||Sept 6|
|2||Sept 5||Sept 4||Sept 3||Sept 2|
|3||Sept 1||Aug 31||Aug 30||Aug 29|
|4||Aug 28||Aug 27||Aug 26||Aug 25|
|5||Aug 24||Aug 23||Aug 22||Oilers|
Razorgator has tickets available for the first meeting between these two teams on Saturday, October 19th at the Canadian Tire Centre. The average ticket price is $103 with a get-in price of only $28.