Welcome to a new year, a new decade. Happy New Year Edmonton Oilers fans! As we kick off 2020, I wanted to take a minute to do my annual predictions for the upcoming year. 2019 was a roller-coaster for the Oilers and their fans. Will 2020 be better? I think it will be.
1. Ken Holland Trades For a Top Six Winger Prior To The Deadline: Brandon Saad is a player both on the block and who the club has shown interest in. Ditto Tyler Toffoli. I also believe the club has real interest in Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers. Ken Holland has been looking for a top six winger, and I’ll wager that he finds one prior to the deadline. In fact, don’t be surprised if it comes in January.
2. The Edmonton Oilers Make The Playoffs: The Oilers aren’t as good as their early season record indicates. They also are not as bad as their recent stretch would show. Once the club acquires a top six winger and regresses a little bit more to the mean, the Oilers should be good enough to get a wild card spot. It won’t be a lengthy playoff appearance, but the club will get in the dance this April as the first wild card.
3. Taylor Hall Signs On July 1st: The Oilers went after Hall but were not willing to meet Arizona’s package for him. Hall has interest in returning and I’d be shocked if he re-signed with the Coyotes. After making the playoffs, the Oilers look to improve and take a step forward next year. Enter Hall, who comes home to help push the Oilers to that next level.
4. Darnell Nurse Is Traded: With Hall coming in, the Oilers elect to save money by moving Nurse at the draft. In search of a major pay increase, Holland elects to deal the RFA. Nurse is a good player, but has not played at the level he expects to be paid. He’s a second pairing defenseman looking to be paid like a top pairing guy. Nurse will end up back in Ontario with the Maple Leafs. Kasperi Kapanen and a 3rd will be the return.
5. Kailer Yamamoto Never Returns To Bakersfield: Recently recalled, Yamamoto finally sticks in the NHL this time. His speed, grit, penalty killing ability and shot keep him with the big club through the rest of the season. Yamamoto will cement his NHL future during the recall and give the Oilers a much needed top nine forward. He never sees the sunny city of Bakersfield again.
6. Kris Russell Is Replaced By William Lagesson: Another recent recall will make his mark in Edmonton and stick around moving forward. William Lagesson also cements himself as an NHL defenseman, allowing Holland to ship out Russell and his hefty $4,000,000 price tag. Russell is moved to Chicago prior to the coming trade deadline.
7. Jay Woodcroft Leaves Bakersfield: After last year’s successful run and the promotion of players like Yamamoto, Lagesson, Ethan Bear and Caleb Jones, Jay Woodcroft’s tenure with the Condors comes to a close. The young coach gets hired by a rebuilding New Jersey Devils team to be their head coach. He is tasked with developing some of the great young talent on that NHL roster.
8. Philip Broberg Comes To North America: Broberg will be in Bakersfield next fall, and will get a lengthy look at main camp next September. He’s played well in Sweden and look good at the World Junior Championship. The Oilers keep bringing him along slowly, however. Broberg will not play any NHL games in 2020, instead playing only in the SHL and AHL.
9. Bob Nicholson Moves On: Bob Nicholson’s tenure with the Edmonton Oilers has not been what he or owner Daryl Katz envisioned when Nicholson joined the club from Hockey Canada. Quietly, Nicholson will move on after the season and take a job with the IIHF. It’s the right decision for both he and the organization.
10. Oilers Host Outdoor Game: The organization is looking to get back outdoors. It would be the third outdoor game in franchise history and second in Edmonton. I’ll say the Heritage Classic returns home in November 2020 with the Oilers hosting the Vancouver Canucks.