Edmonton Oilers 2014-15: SEASON PREVIEW
2013-14 Regular Season Record: 29-44-9 – 67 Points (7th in Pacific Division)
2014-15 LITU Regular Season Prediction: 6th in Pacific Division
2015 LITU Playoff Prediction: No Playoffs
In what could be their 400th year rebuilding, the Edmonton Oilers have and will continue to struggle. They finished with the third-worst record last year (29-44-9: only Buffalo and Florida were worse) and missed the playoffs for the eighth straight season.
Make it nine when this season ends.
The Oilers had a top-10 pick for the seventh time in the last eight seasons. They used it to draft Leon Draisaitl from Germany who had a monster of a season in the WHL, posting 105 points, (38G/67A) in 64 games. Given the state of the Oilers, he’ll be pushing for a roster spot.
The Oilers were a busy team as they try to get out of this slump. Gone are the glory days of the Battle of Alberta, it’s now the Battle of ‘Who can Make Playoffs First from Alberta!’
Mark Fayne, Nikita Nikitin and Keith Aulie were brought into Oil Country, but those are hardly names that will get your eye popping. Add captain Andrew Ference to that list and there is some decency on the blueline. Perhaps Mark Fayne would join ‘Fernuckle’ on the back end in steadying an otherwise young back-end.
Sam Gagner is gone. The Oilers parted ways with him for Teddy Purcell from Tampa Bay. Purcell had two good years, culminating in the lockout shortened 2012/13 season – but struggled on a high-flying Tampa team last season. The Oilers also brought in Benoit Pouliot on a five-year, $20 million deal – so you’d think Edmonton will demand more than the 36 points he put up last season in New York with the Rangers.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. Taylor Hall is ultra-talented, but he needs a squad around him to tackle the extremely competitive Pacific Division. Hall put up 80 points in 75 games, tying him with Phil Kessel for sixth spot. He’s just 22 and he could be on his way to his first 30-goal season either this season or next.
Jordan Eberle is another talent on the Oilers, ranking in the top-3 with goals for the past four seasons. Joining him is David Perron who had 28 last season and of course Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – another first overall pick.
The ‘Nuge’ has 56 points last year, and he definitely racks up more assists than goals. Fans expect more from him this season – around the 20-goal, 40-assist mark you’d think. Then there’s Nail Yakupov – who yes, is another first overall pick. He had a strong rookie season and then was non-existent last year. Maybe this is a bounce back season for Yakupov, he knows he needs one quick.
But given the talent up front, the Oilers aren’t scoring enough goals. There’s just no team-play in Oil Country and that has to change.
What killed the Oilers though is the goals against. It was a league worst 3.26 last season – the defence was ugly, which is why you see the abundance of additions on the blueline to try and improve things.
Justin Schultz is 24 years old and already has 60 points in 122 career games. Heading into 2014-15, his 33 points from last year should be the expectation out of him this year.
Where the Oilers can be happy is goaltending. There should be a fantastic battle in the crease with Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth. Scrivens’ highlight of the year being that monster 59-save shutout against San Jose. Fasth on the other hand, started just seven games, with a 3-3-1 record and a 2.73 GAA with a .914 SV%.
This is one battle Oil County can be thankful for.
But given that, they’ll likely finish sixth in the Pacific Division and miss the playoffs for the ninth straight year.
The rebuild continues.
|Teddy Purcell – RW||Sam Gagner – C|
|Benoit Pouliot – LW||Taylor Fedun – D|
|Mark Fayne – D|
|Nikita Nikitin – D|
|Keith Aulie – D|