Fansided Off-Season Q&A : Edmonton Oilers

Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Edmonton Oilers were the third great dynasty the league saw following the Montreal Canadiens and New York Islanders championship teams. Back then it was a plethora of talent that just could not be rivaled by any opposition.

Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, Kevin Lowe, Grant Fuhr…the list goes on and on.

Today, Edmonton is trying to re-capture some of that offensive mojo that led them to glory in the mid 1980s. Make no mistake, it was not the defensive gems or stellar goaltending by Fuhr that allowed the Oil to dominate. In an era where shooting percentages were through the roof, it was all about the snipers they possessed.

Buoyed by the draft in recent seasons, today’s reincarnation finds the Oilers again stocked up on prime, young, extremely gifted offensive talent. Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins along with newcomer Nail Yakupov are expected to fill opposition nets and give goaltenders fits for years to come. To add to that impressive stable, they went out and acquired enigmatic David Perron from the St.Louis Blues in the hopes he turns his game around on the slick ice in Edmonton.

But as with the changing seasons, so does the league itself. Edmonton has not been able to get its defensive situation sorted out and is relying on Devan Dubnyk to become a star between the pipes and to be brutally honest, the jury is still very much out on that theory. After Justin Schultz, there just is not enough defensive depth to tighten up enough to keep the team challenging for the playoffs as they finished ten points off the pace in 2013 despite having a top 10 rated power play and penalty kill.

The good news is that the light might finally be shining on management, as this summer they took positive steps to rectify what everyone knows are the main stumbling blocks from seeing them back in the playoffs. Bringing in Andrew Ference from the Boston Bruins will add a ton of experience to the back-line and a guy who knows how to win. Boyd Gordon will be much better defensively at forward than the recently departed and oft-injured Shawn Horcoff. Future franchise defenseman Darnell Nurse is still more than likely two years away from making an impact but could be a future captain of this squad.

We had an opportunity to catch up quickly with Derek Stykalo, editorial director here at Fansided and editor of Oil on White, an excellent page dedicated to everything you need to know about the Oilers, and ask him 3 quick questions on his thoughts about where the club is heading…

 

1. Edmonton finished 10 points out of a playoff spot with a very talented offensive lineup. What is their greatest need in the off-season and how do they accomplish it?

It’s hard to believe but this talented roster is in need of three key pieces.

The first is a top-two defenseman bug this could be easier said than done. There are some options in free agency but the one I’d love to see them trade for is Michael del zotto of the rangers. A young mobile defenseman who can help control the power play while relieving Justin Schultz of some heavy minutes would be a nice asset. While he may not be a top two blue liner he would easily replace the departed Ryan Whitney.

The second and most important in my opinion is the Oil need some size and grit up front; some role players if you will. Ben eager is nothing more than a fourth line player and now the team is need of adding some players who can bang and crash to creat room for yhe likes of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and ryan nugent-Hopkins. Players like David clarkson of the devils leads my wish list while others such as Viktor Stalberg and Bryan bikcell are appealing.

Finally, the Oilers goaltending situation is far from perfect and needs to be addressed. Many Oiler fans don’t have faith that devan dubnyk is the guy to lead this to team on a Stanley cup run. The team just missed out on Antti Raanta from Finland but others who could become free agents would help solidify the Oilers goal. Mike Smith will receive a healthy raise but makes sense to me for Edmonton.

2. Are there any lingering concerns from Oil country regarding the torn labrum surgery performed on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins?

I think the best thing for Oiler fans is to compare RNH injury to that of Halls from two years ago. Hall bounced back this past season and emerged as the leader on this team. So far nothing has been said that Nuge won’t be ready for the start of the season and a healthy RNH will be a huge shot in the arm for this club up front.

 3. The heart and soul of the Oilers, Ryan Smyth, showed clear and sharp decline last season (2 goals in 47 games) – Where does he go from here? Could this be the end of the line?

I’m a huge Ryan Smyth fan and maybe it’s me being a little bias but I think Edmonton needs to keep him. He has one year left on his deal and while his game has diminished he brings invaluable experience in the form if leadership. It is exactly that that the Oilers are in need of with this young team and keeping Smyth for one more year to serve as a mentor makes sense. Plus this team traded him once which ripped the heart and soul from this club. Sending him off with a nice swan song is something he so richly deserves.

 

Go check out Derek’s page and share with anyone you know who might be interested in reading about the Oilers on a daily basis.

 

-AG (@tazman19)

 

Topics: Edmonton Oilers, Fansided, Off-season, Q&A

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