Moving on to the Western Conference, it’s time to take a look at the Edmonton Oilers. The once proud franchise has fallen on hard times.
The St. Louis Blues have a surprising amount of success against the Edmonton Oilers considering the teams the Oilers once featured. It has not been just recent years that the Blues have taken down Edmonton either.
St. Louis is trying to accomplish what those former Oiler teams did while also keeping this current Oilers crew down. No easy feat with some of the talent Edmonton has accrued over the past few years.
However, that has been the Oilers problem. They draft incredible players only to end up drafting more incredible players.
Nobody seems to gel in the right spots or make the necessary strides to not have to draft more top names. This is all despite having three consecutive number one overall picks and a pick in the top seven every year since 2007.
For whatever reason, the Oilers can’t manage to turn the corner. They’ve drafted very well. Nobody seems to be a bust, but the team has not acquired the pieces to form a solid squad yet.
Edmonton has not made the playoffs since they made the Stanley Cup Finals in 2005-06. They have not even finished above .500 since 2006-09.
That’s a long time for fans to wait. Wait they have, with hope springing up each season only to be crushed by the realities of the NHL.
Perhaps this will be the year they make their surge. Lunging from the depths of the basement into the light.
Recent history tells us otherwise.
The Oilers were quite busy in the 2016 offseason. Free agency and trade were quite good to them.
Larsson is a solid, young defender with the capabilities to play well over 20 minutes per game. He won’t provide a ton of offense, but at this stage offense is not what Edmonton needs to worry about.
St. Louis Blues fans are still hoping for an eventual deal with Edmonton. Fans were incredibly disappointed when the deal for Larsson was made since so many had hoped something could be worked out on the Kevin Shattenkirk front.
Needless to say, it never got as serious as many had hoped. The Oilers would still like to add another top defenseman, so the door is still cracked, but for now they are going ahead with what they have.
Gustavsson’s role will almost surely be as a backup. Like the Blues, the Oilers have a stable full of young goaltenders, but none seem ready to unseat Cam Talbot or Gustavsson.
Gustavsson has likely been brought in to give Talbot a little nudge, but he has not played anything more than a typical backup’s share of games since 2011-12. Playing more than 20-25 games seems unlikely here.
Puljujarvi, unlike other draftees, has not put up other-worldly numbers. It’s his overall game and evenly spread offensive abilities that make him such a draw though.
Additionally, he won’t have the pressure of previous Oilers’ picks. Conner McDavid is still the man for the Oilers now, which gives Puljujarvi plenty of space to grow and get accustomed to the North American game.
Last, but not least, Lucic was a rather shrewd pick up. Nobody expected the Oilers to be in the running at first, but he should fit in well.
Lucic has not put up the numbers of his past, but he’s still a strong body, hard to get off the puck and a decent scorer. Placing him with the speed and talent he will be with could either reignite his game or at least provide a different look.
Lucic is being brought in to provide a veteran presence. Having won a title in Boston, he will bring the knowledge of what it takes to win.
He’s only 27, so don’t expect sage wisdom as to what the Oilers have been doing wrong. Still, Lucic will be able to slip into the background of the bigger names and still provide that little something they have not had.
The major one here is clearly Hall. Hall was very emotional when dealt away as he had built a connection with the city.
Unfortunately for him, it was just part of the business. Like the Blues severing ties with names like Oshie, Backes and Perron (until his return), Edmonton reached the point where hard choices had to be made.
They could no longer sit on their hands and keep saying the team would make the necessary advancements in the offseason. Too many years had passed and the Oilers were always drafting in the lottery.
The addition of Larsson and Lucic might not get them out of the lottery for sure, but it does not hurt.
In reality, as talented as Hall is – any person would want him on their team – he’s not as huge a loss as one might think.
He’s never scored 30 goals in his six seasons. That’s not to downplay his offensive abilities, but there does need to be a point where we stop rewarding mediocrity across the league and handing out multi-million dollar deals for 20 goals.
Hall is going to do well in New Jersey. He’ll be more of a focal point for the offense and will improve an offense that did not come close to scoring 200 goals.
Edmonton should be better off because of this deal though. It always stinks to lose a player, but if the team prospers it will be worth it.
The Oilers have made some very good improvements. That won’t be enough though.
It’s not as though it has never been done, but it’s very hard to go from worst in the conference to a playoff team right away. Edmonton is going to need plenty of things to help them along the way for that to occur.
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They’d need outstanding defense – the likes of which has not been seen from this crew. The team would need Talbot to play out of his head and also stay healthy.
They would need Lucic to replace all of Hall’s points and also provide leadership. They also need a healthy McDavid and for him to wow people in a full season the way he did in half a year in 2015-16.
That’s a lot to hope for and depend on when you don’t have control over such things.
Edmonton is going to be improved. I have a hard time not seeing them being better.
They are likely still a season or two away from being in the playoffs though. Right now, the best they can hope for is to be in contention for that eighth spot in the last month or so of the season.
That would be significant improvement. Like in golf, there are just too many to hurdle over at the moment.
As mentioned before, it is somewhat surprising how well the Blues have done against Edmonton considering how great they once were. It was only in those 1980’s that the Blues did not have a winning record against the Oilers though.
Since then, the Blues have all but dominated. The Note has a 64-53-11 overall record against Edmonton.
St. Louis has won 50% or more of their games both at home and on the road vs. the Oilers as well. The last time the Blues lost more to Edmonton in a season than they won was 2008-09.
The Blues went 2-1 against the Oilers last season. They won at home 3-1. The teams then split two games in Edmonton with the Blues winning 4-2, but losing 6-4.
The split will reverse this season. The Blues will have two home games and one on the road.
The teams first play in Edmonton on Thursday, October 20. The Blues will then be home Monday, December 19 and Tuesday, February 28.
The Blues are trying to change to a more speed team. The Oilers will be a solid test to see how well the Blues have switched their style.