As part of our summer series previewing the 2014-15 NHL season, CSNwashington.com is analyzing all 30 NHL teams, division by division. This week, we take a look at the Western Conference’s Pacific Division. Today, the Edmonton Oilers.
2012-13 record: 29-44-9, 67 points
Where they finished: 7th in the Pacific; 14th in the West; 28th in the NHL
Coach: Dallas Eakins (2nd season)
Key additions: LW Benoit Pouliot, RW Teddy Purcell, D Mark Fayne, D Keith Aulie, D Nikita Nikitin, assistant coaches Craig Ramsay, Rocky Thompson
Key subtractions: C Sam Gagner, RW Ales Hemsky, LW Ryan Smyth, D Anton Belov, G Devan Dubnyk, assistant coach Steve Smith
Projected cap space: $8.8 million
Taylor Hall – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Benoit Pouliot – Leon Draisaitl – Teddy Purcell
David Perron – Boyd Gordon – Nail Yakupov
Luke Gazdic – Matt Hendricks – Jesse Joensuu
Extras: Anton Lander, Will Acton
Andrew Ference – Justin Schultz
Nikita Nikitin - Mark Fayne
Keith Aulie – RD Jeff Petry
Extra: Martin Marincin
Ben Scrivens – Viktor Fasth
Our take: The Oilers finished with the fewest points in the Western Conference last season but saw tremendous growth in young stars Taylor Hall [team-high 80 points in 75 games] and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins [56 points in 80 games].
However, the Oilers were top-heavy with their offensive production, with 102 of their 203 goals coming from their top four scorers, Hall, Jordan Eberle, Sam Gagner and Nugent-Hopkins while allowing a league-worst 3.3 goals per game.
With that in mind, general manager Craig MacTavish addressed both sides of the puck this summer. He added offensive depth by trading Gagner to the Tampa Bay Lightning for right wing Teddy Purcell [12 goals, 30 assists last season] and signing free-agent left wing Benoit Pouliot [15 goals, 21 assists with the Rangers]. Both could play on a second line with rookie center Leon Draisaitl, the Oilers’ reward for finishing with the NHL’s third-worst record last season.
On the back end, the Oilers added some much-needed experience with the free-agent signings of Mark Fayne [4 goals, 7 assists in 72 games for the Devils] and Nikita Nikitin [2 goals, 13 assists in 66 games for the Columbus Blue Jackets]. They’ll join incumbents Andrew Ference and Justin Schultz to give the Oilers a competent, if not awe-inspiring, blue line.
Goaltenders Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth should give the Oilers some stability between the pipes after a tumultuous season in which six different netminders, including Ilya Bryzgalov and Devan Dubnyk, played for Edmonton.
That all should make for an improvement in the standings, but not enough to get the Oilers into the post-season for the first time in nine years. If the improvement is slow to take hold, head coach Dallas Eakins is sure to be on the hot seat.
Offseason Grade: B-minus
Will they make the playoffs in 2014-15? No.