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The Rig Roundtable: 2017-18 Season Preview

It’s that time of year again…. the leaves are falling, the snow is ready to fly and the Oilers are getting ready to take the ice for their first game of the 2017-18 NHL season.

This offseason has been marked by departures, arrivals and overpays, both real and potential.

Oiler fans have said goodbye to Jordan Eberle and hello to Ryan Strome for reasons that not everyone is certain about. Benoit Pouliot was bought out, and Jussi Jokinen was signed ostensibly to help the recently assigned Jesse Puljujarvi transition to the NHL. 2017 first-rounder Kailer Yamamoto surprised everyone by making the team out of training camp; his 5’7″ frame may be small but so far it looks like he’ll hang with the big boys at least for a while.

With all of the changes around the team, it’s time to take a look into the future and predict the Oilers’ success.

The question posed to Rig writers was this:

What’s your prediction for the Oilers this year (points, place in the division, playoff success), and what is the one thing that needs to happen in order for your prediction to come true?

 

Sullivan Larson

Ideally, my expectation for this is team to compete for a division title and win at least two playoff rounds. The Oilers came within two points of winning the Pacific last year and had the most regulation wins in the division. They should absolutely be aiming to improve upon that success in the upcoming campaign. I’m not so sure that any of the moves made this summer will improve the team significantly compared to last year, but this team does have room to take a step forward internally, especially with a transcendent talent like McDavid.

For the Oilers to make a deep playoff run this year, the team has to get lucky with injuries again. The key players on the team hardly missed any time in 2016-17, and if any of McDavid, Klefbom, Talbot or even Draisaitl miss an extended period of time due to injury, the Oilers suddenly look a lot weaker on paper.

 

Alex Thomas

A lot of people believe that the Oilers window to win the Stanley Cup is now open. I am one of those people but I’m not sure this year is the year. I think the Calgary Flames did enough to jump ahead of the Oilers at this point and I still believe that the Ducks are better. While Edmonton is better than San Jose and LA, both of those teams did good things this summer and will be tough competition for the Oilers.

I have Edmonton finishing third place in the Pacific Division at 96 points, behind both Anaheim and Calgary. This gets Edmonton back into the playoffs and I think accurately predicts where this current roster sits.

I do believe that the Oilers will get better as the year goes along and I do think they could add a big piece or two at the deadline, but I can’t predict that they will add and that’s why I have them in 3rd. Playoff wise I think the Oilers find away to win a round but fall in the second round for the second spring in a row. I just don’t think the Oilers have the depth, as it currently stands, to take down the Ducks.
In order for my prediction to become true, the Oilers will need Andrej Sekera back by December and playing at a high level again by the New Year.

Rex Libris

“In my preseason prediction I had estimated the Oilers would finish 4th in the Western Conference and 2nd in the Pacific division – with the caveat that the Flames would finish just behind Edmonton in the division and that those positions would likely be reversed in the event that the Flames sign Jagr *sigh*. To that end, I think Edmonton finishes 3rd in the division and somewhere between 4th and 6th in the Western Conference. I’d say somewhere around 98 points, give or take a win, is reasonable at this point.”

“The crucial factor, or really factors in this case, is health. The Oilers were healthy last season and while a few players had career highs others had career lows, those peaks and valley more or less even out, but the important thing was that the bodies were all in the lineup at the right spot night in and night out. Luck changes, bounces come and go, but you have to actually be on the ice for either one to occur and if the Oilers can maintain a relatively healthy roster throughout the season they should have the depth and skill to manage this. There are of course greater and less crucial roles when it comes to injury – losing McDavid, Klefbom or Talbot for any length of time would more or less spell disaster for the season.”
“So my take on it is 98 points if everyone stays healthy.”

Bret Litke

I am thinking that the Oilers have a very similar season as last year. With Sekera out, I believe that the defence is going to have some wobble (at times, serious wobble) for the first couple months of the season. This will hopefully be balanced out by strong play from Talbot, and another firepowered start by McDavid and Draisaitl.

Similar to last year, this will get them to the new year at around .500. From there, with a healthy Sekera returned, and a strong addition at the trade deadline, they will catch fire once again and close the season strong, finishing with 101 points.I think this should be good enough for 2nd in the Division, behind the Ducks, but just barely ahead of the Flames (Mike Smith lets in a muffin of a shot against the Golden Knights in the final game of the season, to cost Calgary second place).
In the postseason, the Oilers carry on to the Western Conference Final but unfortunately lose in a grueling series. I’d like to pick them to carry on the Stanley Cup Final, but I am weary considering the strength of Nashville in the Central. Doesn’t mean I won’t cheer like hell for it to happen, but for now I will say they improve on last year’s playoff run, but fall just a tad short.
In order for any of this to happen though, the Oilers will need another brilliant year from Talbot. Not only to help stabilize the team as it fights on without Sekera, but also remain consistent in the playoffs when goaltending matters the most. As Talbot goes, so will the Oilers this year.

Supernova

Oilers get 98 Points, good for 3rd place in the Pacific Division. They will need to add veteran depth as they have a lot of unproven talent.
If they do they could beat the 98 point mark.

Preston Hodgkinson

Lots of optimism is being thrown around when it comes to the Oilers.

I personally think the team will do very well…but similar to last year. They’ll get about 100 or so points and contend for the division. McDavid will secure the Art Ross and Hart once again while Draisaitl breaches the 80pt mark. Talbot will be on the ballot for the Vezina. Klefbom will not make the Norris ballot but will get more consideration.

The playoffs will be the real game-changer for this team. I’m predicting at least a Western Conference Final Game 7 exit, if not a Stanley Cup Final berth.

It’s a big year in Oil Country and I can’t wait to get it going!

One thought on “The Rig Roundtable: 2017-18 Season Preview

  1. So many hockey pundits have put Calgary ahead of Edmonton. I remember when Edmonton placed third during the Cup run, and everyone gave the series to Calgary because they had 6, or was it 9, 20 goal scorers. Four game Oiler sweep later, it turned out that widespread mediocrity does not overcome individual excellence.
    Edmonton tops Pacific; Anaheim and San Jose are second and third; Calgary struggles to get a wild card spot over the tough competition in the Central.

    Like

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