2014-2015 Edmonton Oilers Season Preview
Okay so today I am going to shed some light on the dreadful Oilers, yes I am going as far as to call them dreadful. So many teams in the early to mid 2000's grew their teams through the draft after being god awful for years, after all this is a cheaper and more modest way to develop your team into a powerhouse, it takes time, but in the long run it pays dividends. The Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins built their teams through several high picks and are now cup favorites nearly every year. The Edmonton Oilers however have had a top 10 pick in the last 6 drafts, 3 straight years those picks were the number 1 pick in the draft! yes, 3 straight years as the worst or second worst team in the league (they got first pick through the lottery in '12.) Every year it's, oh this is the oilers take that step! yet each year that does not come to fruition. Last season was much of the same and the oilers were the 3rd worst team in the league, and it's not good when being 7th in the league is an improvement which they were two seasons ago. Management has changed in the last couple of years because, well, it was god awful. In 2012-2013, the Oilers were pretty good for the first half of their season then fell apart at the end and got the 7th pick, The Gm, Steve Tambellini was fired and they brought in former coach, Craig MacTavish. Ralph Kruger was the coach during the oilers' "improvement" but was fired because MacT wanted his own guy. This to me is stupid because a team needs to have structure and stability, The Oilers have had a different coach each year for the past 3 seasons, these players must feel like the kids of untrustworthy dads who are always walking out on their families.
Honestly I can't say much that is good about the Oilers, they have 2 VERY good....... backup goaltenders. Viktor Fasth was awesome for the Ducks when he platooned with Jonas Hiller and filled in when need be, but Fasth ran into injuries last year with Anaheim and looked god awful against them after being traded to Edmonton. Ben Scrivens had a legendary 50+ save performance last year and, like Fasth, was good when he filled in for Quick in Los Angeles. One highlight for the Oilers is that their captain is Andrew Ference, he is an older veteran who has won a Stanley cup with Boston and has loads of playoff experience, the problem is that Edmonton has to get to the playoffs for him to show that. Another bright spot is that Taylor Hall, one of their first line wingers, is probably one of the best players in the league. Hall is fast, large, and puts up point per game numbers, of course there is a downside with him too, he catches the injury bug quite often, never playing a full schedule in his first 4 NHL seasons. Edmonton's other skilled players, Yakupov, RNH, and Eberle are all inconsistent guys who will look like highlight reels one game, and then no shows the next. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle are 70+ calibre players who show flashes of that but with inconsistent play and injury issues, it's hard to trust those guys. Yakupov had a promising, and sometimes electrifying rookie campaign, scoring 31 points in 48 games of the shortened '13 season, however, his sophomore season was horrid, he put up 11 goals and a total of 24 points in 63 games and it became questionable whether Yakupov was a serious competitor and if he wanted to be in the NHL. Another supremely offensively talented player is Justin Schultz, who is of course a both a scum bag and idiot for spurning the Anaheim Ducks who drafted him and signing with Edmonton as a free agent out of college, the issue with Schultz is that he is a defenseman, who is god awful at Defense. Schultz has nice offensive numbers but is a minus player. Seriously, this guy chose to sign with the Oilers...... meanwhile the Ducks have been and will be contenders for years to come, good job dude, you're doing great. The tiny positive note is that the Oilers have talent, and with the recent addition of vets, David Perron and Benoit Pouliot up front, and rookie 2 way dmen Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse (Donovan McNabb's nephew) these guys might be able to stitch things together.
Basically the Oilers need to build a trust in each other, management, and their head Coach Dallas Eakins. With the stockpile of offensive talent and now more reliable veterans, this team needs to put in the hard work so talent can be more than just that. This organization is run in the worst way with a glaring incompetence. Edmonton had a rich tradition of excellence in the 70's and 80's so it would be nice for them to make the playoffs, but in a division with the California teams and at least one more team better than they are, I just don't see that happening this year.