The only thing good that came out of this season for the Edmonton Oilers is the fact that they are virtually guaranteed to be coming away from this summer’s entry draft with either Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin. The Oilers were far and away the worst team in the NHL this year, finishing with only 27 wins and 62 points.
About the only bright spot on the Oilers this year was Dustin Penner, the only Oiler with more than 30 goals and 60 points. Youngsters Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano showed promise, and with Jordan Eberle and either Hall or Seguin in the fold, there will be plenty of room for improvement in the coming seasons. Veteran Shawn Horcoff had a disappointing season, finishing with just 13 goals and a -28 rating. Ales Hemsky is still a very talented scorer, and scored at a point per game pace in the 22 games he played in. His injury problems, coupled with those of Fernando Pisani and Mike Comrie are as a big a reason as any for the Oilers’ struggles this year.
Despite their offensive struggles, the Oilers’ worst problems lay on defense. Edmonton gave up a league high 277 goals, and only Ladislav Smid and late arrival Ryan Whiney finished with positive ratings. Sheldon Souray may be on the way out the door, as rumors circulated at the deadline regarding the veteran defenseman with the booming shot, but nothing came to fruition. Souray may be a piece the Oilers use to get younger, faster and more effective in their own end.
The big contract Edmonton gave Nikolai Khabibulin after his impressive year in Chicago last season is looking more and more like a deadweight anchor around the Oilers’ necks. Khabibulin played in only 18 games this year, and posted very mediocre numbers in those starts. Jeff Deslauriers looked as much like a reliable number one goalie could under the circumstances he was playing in, and young Devan Dubnyk also showed signs of promise.
Special Teams: D
The Oilers’ struggles weren’t limited to even strength play this year, as they were among the worst in the league on their penalty kill. They surrendered more powerplay goals than 24 of the league’s 30 teams. They weren’t much better with the man advantage, converting on just over 17% of their own powerplays, and finishing with only 51 powerplay goals. While there are more important things to fix in Edmonton, fixing the special teams play would be a major step in the right direction.