We continue our climb up the standings with our team-by-team season recap, turning out attention to one of the most disappointing teams this season, one that may have underachieved more than any other, the Edmonton Oilers.
The Edmonton Oilers finished 28th in the NHL, with a record of 29-44-9 for 67 points. They ended up 7th in the Pacific Division and 14th in the 14 team Western Conference.
This was the year that the Oilers were going to step up and challenge for a playoff spot as their young core matured to the point where they could carry the team to a competitive level.
- Ben Scrivens played well after coming over from the L.A. Kings in a mid-season trade
- Taylor Hall cracked the 80 point plateu for the first time in his career.
- The send-off for veteran Ryan Smyth was a rare good news event in a dreadful season
- Devan Dubnyk‘s inability to stop the puck put the Edmonton Oilers in a hole early that they couldn’t get out of, resulting in a revolving door in goal.
- Dallas Eakins‘ system and philosophy either will not work has shown it will not take hold quickly
- Nail Yakupov‘s lack of development at either end of the ice
- Gave up a league high 270 goals
PROGNOSIS FOR NEXT SEASON
It can’t really get much worse. The Edmonton Oilers need to make a move and become a team that at least competes for a playoff spot. They used 6 different goalies this season and I am still not sure they have a legitimate starter. although Scrivens was adequate, he was not a difference maker on most nights. The Oilers need to get some NHL quality defensemen, as their strategy of bringing in European defensemen and reclamation projects to fill the gaps didn’t work. Darnell Nurse, are you ready yet? They might want to consider trying to trade up, even if it costs a big asset (like Yakupov), to make sure they get Aaron Ekblad in the draft. He won’t be there when they draft at #3.
5 QUESTIONS WITH OIL ON WHYTE
We asked the editor of oilonwhyte.com, David Mallett a few questions about the Edmonton Oilers’ season. Here are his responses:
1) What was the biggest surprise for your team?
Mark Arcobello. After fledgling center Sam Gagner broke his jaw, Arcobello stepped up in a major way. With 18 points in 41 games, Arcobello showed acumen in the faceoff circle, coupled with a tenacity that belied his small stature. Leading the team in hits at one point in the season, the career AHL’er continued to thrive in Oklahoma City, posting 28 points in 15 games. Signed to a one-way, one year contract, with Gagner likely on the way out, his time is now.
Devan Dubnyk. The Oilers may not have been destined for the post season this year, but the atrocious play of Dubnyk was an unexpected failure. Oilers GM Craig Mactavish gave him one more shot at the starter’s position, seeing as his numbers were in line with other starter’s in the NHL. What a debacle. With only 4 wins in the first twenty games, the Oilers had fallen behind to the point where the postseason was in the rear-view mirror before people had dusted off their beer can hats. Not only was the lanky netminders season an implosion of the first order, it also jettisoned the enthusiasm of an expectant fan base.
Defense! The Oilers need bigger bodies throughout the line-up, but the blue line is the greatest area of need for the Copper and Blue. Ironically, the Oilers greatest area of depth is on defense, but most of that depth is raw and young. The Oilers need one Top 2 d-man, and one more journeyman blue liner. There needs to be a voice of experience and a dominant top-tier player (or two) that can guide the defense and set a standard for effort and intensity. Oilers fans can look forward to great prospects like Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse and Taylor Fedun blossoming in the future, but in the here and now? They need experience, size and skill and need it yesterday.
Taylor Hall. There is little debate on this. After racking up 80 points in 2013-14, Hall ended up 7th in league scoring, and became the first Oiler since Doug Weight to score 80 or more points. But its not just all that offense that I like. Hall became more responsible defensively, backchecked with greater effort and led the team emotionally. His next season could be electric especially if the team adds important parts to the roster that create more space for his explosive skill. Hall is the team’s top player and deserves the title.
5) What #hashtag would you use to describe your team’s season or state of the team?
Thanks to Dave for taking the time to answer a few questions. I would take issue with his use of the term “unexpected” when it came to the performance of Dubnyk. I don’t know many people outside of Edmonton who expected anything different from him.