The Edmonton Oilers have a real shot at being a competitive team this season. If they can stay healthy and ensure that their key players are not having a bad season, they could make some noise in the playoffs.
One of the best single-season turnarounds in NHL history occurred with the ’80-81 Edmonton Oilers. This team started out abysmal and ended the season as the league’s best regular-season team.
1. Team Health
One of the most important things for any team is that every player is healthy and playing at a high level. The Oilers have a lot of players that are in this category, with only Adam Larsson (an acquired for Taylor Hall) and Nail Yakupov struggling a bit.
The team is much healthier than they were at the start of the season, and this has been a big contributor to their improved play. The likes of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Mattias Janmark and Philip Broberg are all looking better than ever on both ends of the ice.
Other key members of the roster such as Cam Barker, Ben Eager and Sheldon Souray are also playing a lot better than they were at the beginning of the year. The Oilers are hoping that this trend continues and they can keep building on their recent success. As a result, the team has a great chance of making the playoffs once again. This would be the first time that Edmonton has qualified for the playoffs since their last trip in 2006. It would also mark a decade since their last Stanley Cup Final appearance.
2. A Better Defensive Group
There are times when a defense suffers from bad luck and has a off year. Other times, a team will invest in the right pieces on the defensive side of the puck and have them excel. Having players like Mattias Ekholm and Adam Larsson that can play the A-gap and B-gap for the Oilers is crucial to success this season.
Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are going to be great again, but they will need help from the rest of the lineup. The Oilers need solid secondary scoring, improved goaltending and a top 6 that can provide consistent production.
The Oilers have some big, tough players on the defence. Zack Kassian was acquired from the Rangers for Ben Scrivens and he is a big, physical player who can take a hit. They also have a couple of good puck moving defencemen in Andrej Sekera and Darnell Nurse. They just need a few more pieces on the back end to make them one of the best groups in the league. Adding a reliable backup is crucial as well. It could be the difference between a playoff appearance and another early exit. Jack Campbell struggled last season and the Oilers need to get him firing again.
3. No Players Regress
The Oilers have a few marquee names in the lineup and several others who were drafted with high-first-round picks. Those players, combined with some depth signings, gave the team the opportunity to stay competitive this season. However, there’s a chance that some of them could start to decline.
The 2022-23 Oilers started the season slow and it was a bit alarming to see them lose 2 of their first 5 games. But after a few slow weeks they began to rebound and won 7 of their next 10 games. Check the upcoming 2023 – 2024 Edmonton Oilers Schedule.
Connor McDavid is the star of this Edmonton squad and he’s performing at an elite level. But his teammates have to be able to produce when he’s not on the ice.
The Oilers have to ensure that none of their big-name players regress this season. They can’t afford to lose their scoring touch or their defensive game. It’s important that the Oilers get better performances from their supporting cast, especially their bottom-6 defencemen. This will be key to the team’s success this season. If the Oilers can avoid regression from their top stars they’ll be a dangerous team in the NHL this year. Hopefully, the team can put up a good fight this year and make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.