After tanking miserably for the better part of the last five years, the Edmonton Oilers are beginning to enjoy the rewards of failure. One of the NHL’s brightest young collections of talent is ready to make a statement this season, and it starts now.
The Oilers had a very productive off season. They hired AHL prodigy Dallas Eakins as head coach. Eakins is one of hockey’s brightest young minds, making him the perfect candidate to strategize behind the bench of Canada’s most exciting hockey team.
The acquisition of Blues forward David Perron ensures MacTavish’s club will be deeper up front and more offensively potent. Plus, the signing of Andrew Ference instills the knowledge and leadership of a recent Stanley Cup winner into a locker room of young impressionable minds. As you can see, there is clearly a plan in place here.
No one is expecting the Edmonton Oilers to win the Stanley Cup this season, however, given the recent run of 1st overall picks and the franchises’ glorious history of winning, a championship is expected at some point soon from this current Oilers group. Before they can attempt to win hockey’s ultimate prize, they have to qualify for the post season first. Anything less than a birth in the 1st round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs will be considered a failure for this on-the-rise franchise ready to take the next step.
Just like every other NHL franchise, the Oilers will have to adjust to the NHL Realignment division structure and playoff format. The Oilers are in a pretty strong division. In fact, member clubs of the newly formed Pacific accounted for 3 of the top 8 records in the National Hockey League last season, something no other new division can boast. That does not include the San Jose Sharks who were one of only 8 NHL teams to advance beyond the 1st round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2013. The Oilers ambitions to make the playoffs will be tested greatly as they compete in arguably the toughest division in the league.
The current identity of Alberta’s Northern NHL team is that of a run and gun, youthful squad with a high powered offence waiting to explode. At times, they have already shown signs of meeting that criteria, although, not consistently enough. The Edmonton Oilers finished 20th in goals scored last season. Perhaps the young stars who dawn Wayne Gretzky’s uniform were unable to breakthrough for goals against tougher teams last year, or maybe they weren’t ready to load up the scoresheet on a nightly basis. Whatever the case, in order to make the playoffs next Spring, Edmonton’s young core of future stars will need to become current stars during the 2013-14 NHL season.
Taylor Hall made monumental strides as one of the game’s top guns a season ago. The 2010 1st overall draft pick finished 7th in NHL scoring last season. Hall has arrived, and he’ll only get better from here on out. However, other than the Oilers’ #4, the rest of the core need to find another gear this season and maintain it or Hall’s Oilers will likely miss the post season again, for the 8th straight year.