The Oilers had a miraculous playoff run in the 2016-17 season bouncing back into the playoffs for the first time in 10 years. But then the same old Oilers came around this year and they ranked 23rd overall in the NHL, finishing 6th in the division and posting a 36-40-6 record this season.
The Oilers had a list of things that went wrong with them this year, and without the lord and savior of this franchise Connor McDavid, they would be a laughing stock of the NHL still. The Oilers did not have the same and healthy Cam Talbot in net, lacked depth scoring GREATLY, and their defense was playing at an AHL level or lower.
What went wrong?
- No Talbot, well not a healthy and consistent Talbot. This season Talbot started in 67 games, which is still a lot but he was not himself certainly as he was battling some injuries and a rough patch of play. At one point after the All-Star break Talbot said the Oilers would bounce back and make the playoffs, unfortunately, that did not happen. Talbot posted a 31-31-3 record with 3.02 goals against and a .908 save percentage. Comparing this to the year(16-17) the Oilers made the playoffs Talbot’s numbers were 42-22-8 with a 2.39 GAA and .919 SV percentage, that is a playoff contending type goalie, as you can tell when Talbot is off so were the Oilers.
- Depth scoring was non-existent. After McDavid’s 108 points and 41 goals the next top scorer was Leon Draisaitl produced 7 fewer points this year and 4 fewer goals not substantial but still, he was supposed to be producing at least more than what he did last year. On top of the Milan Lucic’s 34 points in 82 games, Ryan Strome’s 34 points also, who was traded for Jordan Eberle(who potted 25 goals and 59 points this year with NYI). To add to the misery, Patrick Maroon scored 30 points in 57 games before he was traded and the Oilers never found anyone to mix in with McDavid and actually produce with him. The Oilers had two players with 50 points or more this season compared to five 20 plus goal scorers and five players with 45 points or more.
- Their defense was absolutely terrible, points wise and defensively as well. The Oilers top defenseman Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse, and Adam Larsson were horrific this past season. Klefbom went from 38 to 21 points and Larsson 19 to 13 points and overall the Oilers defense did not produce the way they were supposed to. In 2016-17 the Oilers backend combined for 131 points between six of them, compared to 110 between the six of them. The big key to the Oilers defensive failures was Andrej Sereka producing 35 points in 16-17 to 8 points this year, he missed 46 games this year and that was a huge blow to the Oilers defense.
Can things get better?
Well, the Oilers made the first move towards getting rid of Lucic’s awful 6 million for 5 more years contract, as they are actively shopping the struggling and aging 30-year-old power forward. They also have about 10 million in cap space with only 5 must sign back players and who will all come at a cheap price. They hold the 10th overall pick and a pick in every round except the 4th. They have Conor McDavid, so that is a huge plus and they can only go up from here as they had a mediocre 17-18 season and with sights set on a better season the Oilers are hoping to bounce back. They have a ton of youth who are developing and will play a larger role in the team’s success next year. But the problem is they sit in a tough Anaheim, Calgary, San Jose, Vegas and L.A. the playoffs are doable but it will not be easy for the hopeful 18-19 Oilers. I think we can expect a 4th place finish from the Oilers and a possible wild-card playoff spot, but would not be surprised one bit if they miss the playoffs again next season.