Hockey World Blog

2015-16 Edmonton Oilers Season Preview

Four No. 1 overall draft picks in six seasons. And they still haven’t turned into a championship team. While they have the roster of a championship junior team, this is the professional level and they still have work to do.

I still believe this is a part of Gary Bettman’s secret plan to make small-market Edmonton a contender like they were in the 80’s when they had Gretzky and Messier.

The Oilers have undergone another extreme makeover with the roster, bench and front office. Enter Connor McDavid, Todd McLellan, and Peter Chiarelli. McDavid is the prized prospect that everyone had been coveting since he broke out in the OHL with Erie. McLellan comes from San Jose, who largely underachieved in San Jose. He will have his work cut out for him in Edmonton as this roster is younger and not necessarily better than the one he had in San Jose. Chiarelli has started to put some pieces in place but don’t expect them to contend for any playoff spots this year.

One of the improvements Chiarelli made was in goal. He brought in Cam Talbot from New York, who has the ability to be a No. 1 goalie but you don’t know if he can handle the workload considering he backed up workhorse Henrik Lundqvist for two seasons. His 57 games of experience has shown promise and he can grow with the rest of the roster in the future. Backing up him is Ben Scrivens, who struggled being a No. 1 on a bad club last year.

Talbot won’t have the defense that he had in New York and this is where the Oilers need improvement. Andrej Sekera is a great signing, but he’s signed for one season in what could be considered a season-long tryout. He’s expected to give Justin Shultz some help on the top line and special teams units. Oscar Klefboom and Andrew Ference is expected to play on the second unit, with newcomer Eric Gryba expected to take positive steps in his development in a new environment.

The forwards is their strongest points. McDavid is expected to start on the second line with Nail Yakupov and Benoit Pouliot. The top line Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle are young, explosive and should be able to score often. The addition of Mark Letestu and Lauri Korpikoski will give the bottom six forwards added depth.

As for an outlook, they aren’t winning the Stanley Cup this season. They aren’t winning the Stanley Cup next year. But their best case scenario is managing to make the playoffs with all the top forward talent they have. Talbot can hold his own as a starting goalie and the defense can put together a solid campaign. Their worse case scenario is McDavid falling in line with Hall, Nugent-Hopkins and Yakupov and not being able to save the franchise. Another worse case scenario is team showing no signs of progress despite Chiarelli trying to overhaul the team piece by piece.

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