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.
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?
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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!