2018-19 Record (35-38-9) 79 Pts
The Edmonton Oilers had another down year and may have wasted another prime year of superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Despite the two uber centermen putting up over 100 points each, the team could still not find a way to make the playoffs. Suspect goaltending and defence along with a lack of depth reared their ugly heads again for a team who should be on the rise. Realistically any team who has McDavid and Draisaitl on their roster should be making the playoffs every year. But alas that has not happened. Veteran coach Ken Hitchcock couldn’t even get the Oilers to play a more competitive style. In the end, this season cost both coach and general manager their jobs.
Now in the hands of former Redwings GM Ken Holland and former Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett, the Oilers will attempt to turn things around in 2019-20. If they can’t, cue the rumors of the McDavid and Draisaitl exodus out of Oil Town.
Season MVP – Connor McDavid/Leon Draisaitl
In my opinion, the Oilers had two MVPs on their team this past season. The twin towers that are McDavid and Draisaitl once again carried the team. They both eclipsed the 100 point plateau and were dominant almost every night. If the team could just defend and score goals apart from them, the Oilers would make the playoffs every year.
Most Improved Player – Darnell Nurse
Darnell Nurse, the former seventh overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft took a major step forward this past season. Almost doubling his point total from last season from 26 points to 41 points. He also hit the double digits in goals scored with ten. He played in all situations and became a threat on the powerplay scoring eight goals. Look for him to improve even more in 2019-20 and solidify his place as a first pairing defenseman in the NHL.
Disappointment – Milan Lucic
Hulking winger Milan Lucic had another disappointing season in Oil country. Once a perennial 20 goal scorer, Lucic regressed to a career-low six goals on the season. When you are on a $5.25 million contract, that’s not good enough. Now a shadow of his former self, the Oilers finally decided to move on, as he was traded for another disappointing winger in James Neal of the Calgary Flames.
Highlight of the Year
Depth Chart (As of July 21)
Top Three Prospects
Evan Bouchard – DEmbed from Getty Images
Selected tenth overall in the 2018 NHL Draft, Evan Bouchard played this past season in the NHL, Ontario Hockey League, and American Hockey League. Starting the season with the Oilers, he played nine games and then was sent back to the London Knights of the OHL, where he proceeded to post 53 points (16 goals, 37 assists) in 45 games.
After the Knights were eliminated in the OHL playoffs, he joined the Bakersfield Condors in the playoffs where he impressed Oilers brass with eight points (three goals, five assists) in eight games. I fully believe he will be in the conversation for one of the defense spots in training camp this coming season.
Philip Broberg – DEmbed from Getty Images
Selected eighth overall in the 2019 NHL Draft, Philip Broberg will add speed and skill to a defence core that badly needs it. The Oilers are finally drafting based on need. In order for this team to move forward, they need blueliners that can transition the puck up the ice with fluidity. Broberg will definitely help with this.
He’s one of the absolute best skaters in his draft class, with great balance, acceleration and a blazing top-gear.EPrinkside.com 2019
Tyler Benson – RW
Drafted in the second round in 2016, Tyler Benson spent the 2018-19 season with the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL. It was a roaring success, as he posted impressive totals (66 points in 68 games) in his first season as a pro. Expect him to push for a spot on a team that needs scoring beyond McDavid and Draisaitl.
Players Primed For a Breakout Season
Jesse Puljujarvi, Evan Bouchard
Depth, depth, and more depth. If Neal can bounce back and become the player he was for the Vegas Golden Knights, the Oilers have already helped to address this need. However, they still need more from either in the system or via another trade or free-agent pickup.
I fully expect the Oilers to be better in 2019-20. With McDavid and Draisaitl, anything is possible. If Bouchard, Broberg, and Nurse can transform the defence core into a mobile, quick transition unit, the two superstars of the Oilers will have more room to create their magic. The goaltending seems to have been solidified by the free-agent acquisition of Smith, so that will be better as well.
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