The time for the Oilers is right now. They have rebuilt this franchise from the ground up over the past years and the time to win is now. Edmonton improved last season but there was still way too much distance between them and a playoff birth. Patience is wearing thin in Edmonton and you can't blame the Oilers fans for getting a bit frustrated but this youthful Oilers club certainly has the potential to be great for the next decade. The moves which Edmonton made this off season signal an end to the win later mentality and we will examine those changes in this write-up.
The Oilers had another shake up, this time in management. They hired head coach Dallas Eakins who was a highly regarded coach in the AHL. He was being recruited by the likes of the Canucks and the Rangers but in the end the Oilers got him. Coaches in their first NHL year tend to have a slow start out of the gate so give the Oilers a few weeks before throwing in the towel on them this season.
The biggest move the Oilers made this season was trading for first line winger David Perron from the St. Louis Blues. The Oilers had to give up Magnus Paajarvi and a draft pick for Perron. Paajarvi is currently sitting on the Blues' fourth line so it looks like the Oilers got the better of the trade. Perron is 25 and still has plenty of time to develop but he makes many mistakes on the ice. He takes dumb penalties which I think the Blues just got tired of, the fans were certainly becoming restless with Perron. Nevertheless, Perron has a ton of untapped potential and could easily have the best season of his career in Edmonton. Perron will likely be happier playing in Canada anyways. This move signifies that the Edmonton Oilers want to win now. No more holding onto draft picks, the time is now.
Andrew Ference was added from the Bruins and he will be a solid addition on a struggling defensive core. The veteran defenseman has 193 points in 760 NHL games. The Oilers also drafted Darnell Nurse who could make an appearance on the Edmonton blueline this season. Edmonton also signed veteran center Boyd Gordan who is a solid depth addition.
On offense, the Oilers have an incredibly talented group of players. Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall make up the first line. Nugent-Hopkins regressed last season, putting up just 20 points in 40 games but we expect him to bounce back and have a better year. Eberle and Hall are great players and they should continue their success during this season. Nail Yakupov burst onto the scene last year as a rookie and scored 17 goals with 14 assists. Ales Hemsky is still around and he's on the third line right now, which shows the talent that the Oilers possess.
Defense has been a big question mark for Edmonton. Justin Schultz will begin his second year as the Oilers top defenseman and there are incredibly high expectations for the 22 year old. Schultz with likely be paired with the newly acquired Ference. Other then Schultz and Ference it's a rag tag group of grinders including Nick Schultz, Jeff Pietry and Ladislav Smid. In net, Devan Dubnyk solidifed himself as the Oilers legitimate number one starter. He posted a .920 SV% last season and has a career .913 SV%. Dubnyk should benefit from the improvements made defensively and we expect him to have another solid season.
This is a team with more talent and skill then they have expierence. If they can pull it all together under Dallas Eakins then this might be a playoff team. We saw flashes of brillance last year from this club and they should at the very least be an entertaining team to watch. Fun time is over though; it's time for them to win a playoff birth.
Odds to win Stanley Cup: 30/1