The Edmonton Oilers took a big hit to their term after losing their second-best player in Leon Draisaitl after last Mondays game against the Winnipeg Jets. Draisaitl may be out of the Oilers line-up for the foreseeable future as the Oilers have just Placed him in the Injured reserve. Leon proved how important he is to the Oilers last post season where he out shown team captain Connor McDavid throughout the Oilers playoff run which resulted in him receiving a long-term contract extension. His loss will be a big shot to the team as it takes away one of the most dangerous weapons that the team has and may lead to the exposure of the weak depth that the oilers have after their top line. The Oilers were able to hide this flaw in their line-up last season because they are the benefices of having Connor McDavid in their line-up and the 100 points that he provided last season were enough for him to receive the heat trophy for league MVP last season, but now with Leon gone from his wing McDavid’s numbers may dip a bit not much but a bit as he already has 5 points in the first 4 games of the season.
McDavid is not the problem that the team is having. The main problem that the Oilers are having is finding out that they are not the power house that they tried to show in last year’s great season, already starting the season out slow with just 2 points in their first 4 games, a sight the fans in Edmonton are far too familiar with seeing. The Oilers start it does look pretty concerning because other than the top line the Oilers have been disappointing in almost every category and with Draisaitl out that top line may be a bit shaky as well. They are last in penalty kill, 29th in goals for and in the bottom 10 in power play and goals against. Starting goaltender Cam Talbot has not looked good so far, this season posting a .880 save percentage through his fist 4 starts including getting run out of the net by the Ottawa senators on Saturday night. The numbers are showing that so far Talbot has been up and down because in his one win on the season he posted a shutout and in the other games he has allowed 4 goals each this is not the performance that the Oilers can afford to have from a team the many predict will go all the way to the promised land this spring. Now don’t fret Talbot’s numbers from last season point towards that he will bounce back but, to do so he will need some help from his defence, a position of concern for the Oilers yet again this season.
The Team does have a few strong players on the back end in Larsson, Klefbom and Nurse but no one has stepped up to be the big number one that the teams needs. Of all the defence that the team has only one of them has a positive plus minus this season in Darnell nurse who is just plus -1 the rest are all in the negative or at even. Last season Adam Larsson showed Flashes That he could be that stalwart defender that the team need but his play hasn’t showed that so far, this season. The all-around defensive strategy has to change for this team to succeed, to do this the whole team needs to step up and play more sound defence in their own zone by putting more pressure on the puck carrier and minimizing the risky plays made in the offensive zone because ether mistake made there by the defence more often than not lead to odd man ruses going the other was and more pressure on a goalie that is struggling to get on his feet at the start of this season. If the team can solidify their play in their own zone this will be able to help out Talbot get back on his feet and to get the team back in the win category.
These changes will need to happen sooner rather than later because with the way the pacific is shaping up, its going to be harder to climb your way back from a point deficit than in previous years because the pacific division is looking like it could be a tough battle to get one of those top three spots. The Calgary Flames and Anaheim Ducks are both looking strong to start the season, The Los Angeles Kings with a returning Jonathan Quick are a team looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2017 season and the Vegas Golden Knights are shocking teams left and right with a strong start thanks to strong goaltending and timely goal scoring from James Neil, not to mention the sharks who are bringing back almost their entire team from last season with the big exception being Patrick Marleau. The Oilers depth may be exposed during this time without Leon Draisaitl but if Cam Talbot can get back on his feet and with Connor McDavid leading the charge the oilers should be able to stay afloat until he gets back in the line-up, if the defence cannot pick up the pace or if Talbot continues to struggle The Oilers could put themselves in a very scary position.