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The burning questions heading into Edmonton Oilers camp

After dropping to the eventual Stanley Cup champions two years in a row the Edmonton Oilers are maturing into the workforce they wish to be

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Coaching camp is simply days away and the Edmonton Oilers are gearing up as soon as once more for what they hope is one other deep playoff run.

After dropping to the eventual Stanley Cup champions two years in a row and giving the Las Vegas Golden Knights their hardest check of the post-season final spring, the Oilers are maturing into the workforce they wish to be.

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Are they there but? It’s unattainable to inform. The final steps on the street to a championship are at all times the toughest and the solutions don’t come till the bullets are flying in Could.

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Within the meantime, there are many questions relating to Edmonton’s probabilities of snapping that 34-year Stanley Cup drought.

Listed below are a few of them:


That is the apparent one, largely as a result of goaltending alone can imply the distinction between going 4 rounds deep and being upset within the first spherical.

In Edmonton’s case, each of their goalies have some rebounding to do. Stuart Skinner had an amazing common season (.914 save share and a rookie of the yr nomination) however ran out of steam within the playoffs (5 wins, six losses and an .883 save share). Jack Campbell had a tough common season (.888) however posted a .961 save share (two targets on 51 pictures) over 4 reduction appearances within the playoffs.

Jack Campbell Stuart Skinner
Goalie Jack Campbell (36)of the Edmonton Oilers, replaces goalie Stuart Skinner (74) within the second interval towards the Las Vegas Golden Knights at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Could 8, 2023. Picture by Shaughn Butts /Postmedia

So, what the Oilers get from Skinner and Campbell this yr is anybody’s guess. Can Campbell rediscover his type and grow to be an efficient 30-start man? Or was final season the start of the top? Does Skinner return because the man who made the all-star workforce or the man who struggled when the season was on the road?

As a lot as Oilers followers wish to consider all the pieces will probably be OK in web, goaltending is a wierd fowl topic to wild temper swings. Loads of high-end goaltenders have taken deep dips in recent times and who anticipated Sergei Bobrovsky to placed on the Superman cape and get Florida to the Cup ultimate?

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There’s a number of room to spare on this entrance. There at all times is when a workforce simply posted one of the best numbers in league historical past. The Oilers energy play share might drop 5 factors they usually’d in all probability nonetheless lead the league.

So, whereas it’s not crucial, and even real looking, that they attain final yr’s gaudy totals once more, they do must be close to the highest of the league. The facility play is woven into the material of this workforce. It stays their best asset.

It counted for a league-leading 86 targets (subsequent finest was Ottawa at 69) and compelled Edmonton’s opponents to maintain their palms to themselves. It’s simple to take it as a right given how profitable it’s been through the years (highest share within the NHL three of the final 4 seasons at 32.4, 26.0, 27.6 and 29.5) however nothing lasts eternally.

To this point, the Oilers haven’t confirmed they’re adequate five-on-five that they might have the ability to survive an influence play that ranked center of the pack. So they should make the ability play magic occur yet again.

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Brown represents the most important personnel transfer of the low season and will present a serious spark on an offence that was already firing higher than any workforce within the league.

Connor Brown
Washington Capitals proper wing Connor Brown (28) celebrates his purpose along with his teammates within the third interval of a preseason NHL hockey sport towards the Detroit Purple Wings, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022, in Washington. Picture by Alex Brandon /AP

For the previous couple of years Edmonton didn’t have a high six proper winger able to producing like he ought to on certainly one of Edmonton’s high two strains. Regardless of having the golden ticket, taking part in subsequent to both Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl, each Kailer Yamamoto and Jesse Puljujarvi failed offensively. Brown is perhaps the man they’ve been searching for.

Described as Zach Hyman-like, his tenacity, work ethic and 200-foot sport might be an ideal match. If his numbers spike in Edmonton the identical manner Hyman’s did (from a 40-point man with the Leafs to an 80-point man with the Oilers) the highest six turns into much more harmful than it already is, and that’s saying one thing.

However, after spending all of final season on long run injured reserve, the primary query on the agenda is how effectively he and his knee have recovered.


Previous to his grotesque wrist harm Evander Kane was the heartbeat of the hockey workforce, pumping in targets, imposing his will bodily and making life troublesome for opponents on nearly each stage. Match his power along with his talent and his elite gamesmanship and he was precisely what the Oilers wanted.

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So, it damage the Oilers as a lot because it damage Kane when a grotesque wrist harm in November sidelined him for 2 months and left him behind the pack when he returned.

Evander Kane
Evander Kane (91) of the Edmonton Oilers, celebrates his first interval purpose towards the Los Angles Kings at Rogers Place in Edmonton on March 30, 2023. Picture by Shaughn Butts /Postmedia

Kane scored in simply 4 of Edmonton’s final 16 video games (though he did get a hat trick towards Seattle in March) and had three targets in 12 playoff video games. It’s completely comprehensible, each bodily and psychologically, after such a brutal harm.

Will a full summer time to recuperate and practice have him again to his outdated menacing self? The Oilers hope so as a result of they want the outdated Evander Kane again.


We get it, the Oilers are solely going to be so good defensively. These are veteran guys who’re established of their methods and taking part in to the strengths of among the finest offensive gamers on the earth makes excellent sense.

However tightening issues up within the playoffs is one thing all good groups can, and should, do. Vegas was twelfth within the league in five-on-five targets towards within the common season, with simply 10 fewer 5v5 targets towards over 82 video games than Edmonton. Within the playoffs, nevertheless, Vegas shot as much as fourth (2.59) whereas Edmonton plummeted to eleventh out of 16 groups (3.50). And that was the distinction.

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The Oilers vow each season to be extra dedicated to workforce defence and at occasions throughout the season they dug in and floor out these sorts of wins (throughout the ultimate seven video games of the season they gave up simply six targets).

However within the playoffs it must be one thing you reside and breathe. As a substitute, the Oilers had been outscored 30 to 24 at even power over 12 video games, surviving so long as they did on an influence play that outscored its opponents energy performs 18-9.

You’ll by no means win a Cup that manner.


There are three PTOs (Sam Gagner, Brandon Sutter and Adam Erne), a few rookies (Dylan Holloway and Raphael Lavoie) a handful of incumbents (Warren Foegele, Mattias Janmark, Ryan McLeod, Derek Ryan) and veteran addition Lane Pederson in camp to fill out the underside six.

Edmonton Oilers Ryan McLeod (71) battles fore the puck with San Jose SharksThomas Bordeleau (17) throughout first interval NHL motion on Thursday, April 13, 2023 in Edmonton . Picture by Greg Southam /Postmedia

The Oilers had respectable scoring depth final yr with 5 gamers from the underside six scoring 10 or extra targets. That’s a begin however, because the Oilers realized from Vegas, if a workforce goes deep within the playoffs it wants a backside six that makes an influence, persistently, over the two-month push — not simply with the odd purpose, however with the power to alter momentum and take a bodily toll.

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Can this group fill that position?


The Oilers didn’t deliver Jeff Jackson in and put him answerable for hockey operations to sit down on the sidelines and cross his fingers. After scrutinizing the Oilers because the day McDavid was drafted in 2015, the captain’s former agent is now in a spot the place he can act on his opinions.

It’s a high-pressure state of affairs he’s been thrust into — the highest energy place on a workforce that believes it’s on the verge of a Stanley Cup bid. One transfer can tip the stability both manner.

You need to assume there’s going to be a splash of some type, however what it’s and when it occurs stay to be seen.


As soon as once more, cap area will probably be certainly one of Edmonton’s greatest opponents. Proper out of the gate they are going to be certainly one of a number of groups that may’t afford a full 23-man roster, so all the pieces they do, commerce discussions, call-ups and harm replacements, will probably be cash based mostly.

That’s going to be a sufficiently big ache throughout the common season, however the place it issues most will probably be nearer to the commerce deadline when Edmonton will wish to load up for one more push. It’s going to take some arduous and artistic strikes alongside the best way to make these additions potential.

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