With the NHL season just weeks away, PHR is taking an in-depth look at each team. Today: the Edmonton Oilers.
Last Season: 31-43-8 (70 points), 7th place in the Pacific Division. Did not qualify for the playoffs.
Cap Space Remaining: $8.92MM via CapFriendly.
Professional Tryouts: Kris Versteeg (RW)
Player to Watch: Connor McDavid – Who else? The most hotly anticipated prospect since Sidney Crosby didn’t disappoint on the ice, scoring 48 points in 45 games. Unfortunately for McDavid and the Oilers, a broken collarbone kept him out of the lineup from November to February, and when he returned the Oilers were too far out of the playoffs for him to make a real difference in the standings. His effect on his line-mates is remarkable; Patrick Maroon scored 14 points in 16 games with McDavid, surpassing his 56-game total with the Anaheim Ducks. McDavid has had a transcendent effect on the organization, and is widely expected to be one of the top scorers in the NHL this season.
Key Storylines: Will GM Peter Chiarelli’s bold summer pay off? Trading the third-best left winger in the NHL for Larsson represents a major overpayment, but it also gives the Oilers a long-term fix with a young top pairing of Oscar Klefbom and Larsson playing 24 minutes per night. Adding Larsson and a healthy Klefbom allows Andrej Sekera, Brandon Davidson, Darnell Nurse, and Mark Fayne to play more effective minutes. Chiarelli is also heavily rumored to be looking at adding an offensive-minded defenseman, like Cody Franson, to the mix.
Can McDavid play 70-plus games? McDavid’s health will be a major factor in how the Oilers do this season. He’s already one of the top players in the league, so he’ll be counted on to take the next step and lead the Oilers to the playoffs. Look for him to boost the offensive numbers of Lucic and Jordan Eberle on the top line, and allow Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl, and rookie Puljujärvi to see less of other team’s top pairings.