It still feels like the season just ended, but with the draft and free agency already behind us, it's time to look forward to the 2016-17 season. We will preview every team in the NHL throughout August and take a look at what the new season may hold.
Team: Edmonton Oilers
How they did last season: 31-43-8 (70 points) 7th in the Pacific, 14th in the Western Conference. Did not make the playoffs.
Notable acquisitions: G Jonas Gustavsson, LW Milan Lucic, D Adam Larsson, RW Jesse Puljujarvi
Notable departures: LW Taylor Hall
When they will play the Caps: Oct. 26 in Edmonton; Feb. 24 in Washington
Analysis: The Edmonton Oilers have a star in Connor McDavid. They have a coach in Todd McLellan. They have a goalie in Cam Talbot. And yet, they finished the 2015-16 season with the second worst record in the NHL, dead last in the Western Conference.
Still, after many years of futility in Edmonton, last season felt different. The fourth time was the charm for the Oilers as they finally got a chance to draft a franchise player in McDavid. Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov are all very good, but they are not the franchise player McDavid is and he now has the team on the right track.
But McDavid can’t do it alone.
Edmonton's lack of defenseman has been well documented. They tried to address it by trading for Adam Larsson, but general manager Peter Chiarelli was fleeced by New Jersey into giving up the team’s leading scorer in Taylor Hall in a straight player for player trade. Sure, they got a very good defesneman which they desperately needed, but they gave up far too much to get him. A Hall trade should have netted much more in return.
And it’s not as if the Oilers were were lights out offensively either. McDavid's injury certainly didn't help, but Edmonton finished 26th in the NHL in goals per game and now they must make up for the loss of Hall’s 65 points. The signing of Milan Lucic and the further development of McDavid will help mitigate that loss, but Edmonton needed to improve offensively and you could argue they failed to do that this offseason.
Season prediction: In two or three years, McDavid will be considered one of if not the best player in the NHL. It’s easy to say that as he goes, so go the Oilers, but Edmonton has to put more pieces around him. You can see the groundwork being laid out for this team to build, but the roster is very much incomplete at this point. Larsson is a good pick up, but he is just one defenseman on a team that had little talent on the blue line.
The Oilers underperformed offensively last season and responded by trading away their leading scorer. Just as Larsson is not enough to fix Edmonton’s defensive woes, Lucic and a more seasoned McDavid are not enough to solve their offensive problems either. At least not yet.
Edmonton is certainly on the right track, but their roster remains very much a work in progress. The Edmonton McDavids are another year away from reaching the playoffs, but they should at least climb out of the basement this season.
MORE HOCKEY: DO THE CAPS HAVE A BACK-UP PLAN WITHOUT ORLOV?
See other team previews:
— Boston Bruins
— Buffalo Sabres
— Detroit Red Wings
— Florida Panthers
Montreal Canadiens (coming Aug. 19)
Ottawa Senators (coming Aug. 20)
Tampa Bay Lightning (coming Aug. 21)
Toronto Maple Leafs (coming Aug. 22)
Carolina Hurricanes (coming Aug. 23)
Columbus Blue Jackets (coming Aug. 24)
New Jersey Devils (coming Aug. 25)
New York Islanders (coming Aug. 26)
New York Rangers (coming Aug. 27)
Philadelphia Flyers (coming Aug. 28)
Pittsburgh Penguins (coming Aug. 29)
Washington Capitals (coming Aug. 30)