Another Long Season Ahead for the Oilers
By Patrick Hoffman
The Edmonton Oilers have been disappointing fans for years.
Can you blame the fans for being disappointed? Certainly not when your team has missed the playoffs a ton, have made a lot of questionable deals/free agent signings, have wasted the talents of their best two players, and as of right now, it's hard to define what direction they are heading in.
Ken Holland, a long time Stanley Cup-winning general manager of the Detroit Red Wings, was brought in to turn this franchise around. While that might happen in the long-term, the short-term outlook for this club, mainly this season, does not look good.
For starters, besides Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, this team has no real supporting offensive cast. Last season, McDavid (116 points), Draisaitl (105 points), and Nugent-Hopkins (69 points) put up great numbers but the rest of the team's offense was essentially non-existent.
What should also worry fans is that the team believes that Jame Neal, who the team acquired from the Calgary Flames for Milan Lucic, can regain his offense touch. Neal had just 19 points (seven goals and 12 assists) in 63 games last season and has not scored more than 50 points since the 2015-16 season when he had 58 with the Nashville Predators.
The club's goaltending probably won't inspire much confidence this season. Former general manager Peter Chiarelli gave netminder Mikko Koskinen a multi-year extension in the middle of last season, which to me at least was a very puzzling move.
Koskinen is already 30-years-old, has only played in 59 games in his NHL career, and was not exactly great last year. Sure, he had 25 wins, but a goals-against average of 2.93 and a save percentage of .906 save percentage don't exactly scream starting goaltender.
Because of the factors mentioned above, the team went out and signed netminder Mike Smith to a one-year $2 million contract. In 42 games last season, Smith went 23-16-2 with a 2.73 goals-against average, a .898 save percentage, and two shutouts.
While those numbers are not terrible by any means, we need to remember that he is 37-years-old and is someone who has had several injuries over the past several seasons. Based on the way the club's defense looks, Smith might end up being under siege whenever he gets between the pipes this season.
Speaking of the team's defense, it is one that is very young and one that will more than likely struggle this season. Last year, the club gave up 271 goals in 82 games and was 25th in the league in that category.
It may be nice to have guys like McDavid and Draisaitl as guys who will produce a ton for the team this season, but those guys will more than likely be the only bright spots for this team this season. Other than that, this team is going nowhere this season.
Patrick covers the NHL for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave.
He has previously covered the league for WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.