The Edmonton Oilers are next up on Pro Hockey Talk’s daily team series and Jason Brough identifies summer signing Milan Lucic as the Oiler under pressure for 2016-17. Considering the large contract given to Lucic and the expectation he will assume the first-line left wing spot vacated following the trade of former #1 overall pick Taylor Hall, there is certainly plenty of pressure on the menacing forward.
One could argue that Adam Larsson, the defenseman the Oilers dealt Hall for and who is expected to be a viable top pair blue liner for a team desperate to improve on the back end, is under even more pressure than Lucic. Lucic is already a finished product for all intents and purposes, and with four 20-goal seasons on his resume already, Lucic needs only perform at the level he has been over the last several seasons.
On the other hand, Larsson has yet to fulfill his potential completely, and needs to take the next step in his development in order to meet expectations. If the Oilers are going to push for a playoff spot this season they need Larsson to become the player they believe he can be.
More on the Oilers…..
- In another piece on Pro Hockey Talk, Brough talks about the up-and-down season Cam Talbot had in his first year as a starter in the league. As Brough notes, Talbot got off to a slow start through November but rebounded in December and January posting save percentages of 93.4% and 93.2% respectively during those months. Given the somewhat inconsistent nature of Talbot’s performance and his relative lack of starting experience, Brough feels the goaltending situation is still uncertain in Edmonton. It appears Edmonton will go into the season with journeyman backstop Jonas Gustavsson as Talbot’s backup between the pipes (all team depth charts can be found at Roster Resource). Given that likelihood, Edmonton will need Talbot to play at the level he did in the latter part of last season if they want to compete for a playoff spot.
- Bruce McCurdy, writing for the Edmonton Journal, discusses the progress of Edmonton defense prospect William Lagesson. Lagesson, the Oilers 4th round pick in 2014, played last season as a freshman for a U-Mass program that struggled to a 8-24-4 mark and was outscored by 62 goals. The Swedish rearguard led the teams defense corps recording a -6 plus-minus rating. Edmonton obviously needs all the good defense prospects they can accumulate and it appears Lagesson is developing into one.
- Meanwhile, David Staples, also covering the Oilers for the Edmonton Journal, penned a piece on how one publication, hockey prognosticator The Hockey Forecaster, is projecting Connor McDavid to have a Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin-like impact on his team’s offensive output. In their rookie campaigns, Crosby and Ovechkin helped their teams score 53 and 44 more goals respectively than they potted the previous season. The Oilers are predicted to tally a total of 237 goals, which would be an increase of 38 markers over their 2015-16 season total. The Hockey Forecaster also predicts career seasons from Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl and Oscar Klefbom, among others. Staples writes that those projections might be a stretch but recognizes that an elite talent such as McDavid, Crosby and Ovechkin can have that type of impact for a team. Assuming the predictions even come close to fruition then Edmonton might be able to outscore their way to postseason contention.