On New Year’s Day, I posted ten bold predictions for the Edmonton Oilers in the coming calendar year. I revisited them about halfway through in July, and this morning I take a final look at my bold predictions for the year. Early next week, I’ll have my 2019 bold predictions for the club, but this week we spend time reflecting on the year that was.
Let’s get right to it, shall we?
10.) The Edmonton Oilers will miss the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs: The Oilers had reached Christmas with a 17-17-6 record, but stumbled a bit in the week between Christmas and New Year’s. They never recovered, and as a result never came close to a playoff spot in 2018. This one was an easy pick, and Edmonton’s position today resembles their spot last year quite closely standings wise.
9.) The Oilers will fire Peter Chiarelli after the season: Sadly, I was wrong here. Chiarelli kept his job, with Bob Nicholson talking proudly about a “plan” to get the Oilers back to the playoffs. Chiarelli fared better in free agency in 2018, but never moved the needle with this team. He’s certainly gone in 2019 if he fails to produce a playoff team for the third time in four tries.
8.) The Oilers will name Ken Holland their new General Manager: Chiarelli stayed, so this was a swing and a miss. Wouldn’t shock me if Holland ended up with the Seattle expansion team as early as next fall with Steve Yzerman taking over the Red Wings.
7.) Todd McLellan WILL return as coach next season: Todd did return for the start of the season, but saw his entire coaching staff fired in April. McLellan did not make it to American Thanksgiving however, obviously being replaced by Ken Hitchcock with another season circling the drain.
6.) Patrick Maroon will be traded at the 2018 trade deadline: An easy hit on this list, as Maroon was shipped to the Devils for a third-round pick and prospect JD Dudek. That third rounder turned into Cooper Marody, who is closing in on NHL time. I wouldn’t be shocked if Maroon made a return in 2019.
5.) Edmonton will actually win a late June trade involving a big name: It is my belief that the Oilers came close to making a deal that would have sent Oscar Klefbom to Boston at the NHL Entry Draft with part of the return being Torey Krug. That didn’t happen, and the Oil stood pat, thus making this prediction a miss. I’ll settle for a summer without a crippling trade though.
4.) Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be an Oiler on opening night next season: Another hit, and RNH has been terrific so far this season for the Oilers. He’s shown well as both McDavid’s left winger and as the second line center. Nuge is such a fun player to watch and such an important part of this organization. Never let him go please.
3.) Edmonton will add a goalie to challenge Cam Talbot: In July I marked this as a miss because I did not believe in Mikko Koskinen. Clearly I was wrong about Koskinen and right about the Oil adding a goalie to challenge Talbot. Koskinen has done that and then some, a terrific get by Chiarelli.
2.) Ralph Krueger returns to the Oiler bench: Yeah, no. That said, Krueger did generate NHL interest for a second straight off-season and I wouldn’t be shocked if summer 2019 is when he makes his return. He’s a sought after commodity on the coaching market.
1.) The Oilers will sign Joe Thornton on July 1st: In some alternate universe, Thornton plays the ‘Patrick Marleau-role’ with the Oilers, being a high-paid veteran that actually does stuff on the ice. This is not that universe.