2011-2012 Preview: Edmonton Oilers

Posted: September 11, 2011 by Realdeal in Edmonton Oilers, Season Preview
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Last season: 25-45-12, 62 points. 5th Northwest, missed playoffs.

Additions: D Cam Barker, C Eric Belanger, RW Ben Eager, LW Darcy Hordichuk, C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, LW Ryan Smyth, D Andy Sutton

Losses: C Andrew Cogliano, D Kurtis Foster, C Colin Fraser, LW J.F. Jacques, LW Steve MacIntyre, D Sheldon Souray, RW Zack Stortini, D Jim Vandermeer

Offense:  The offense is led by three straight first round picks.  Taylor Hall (2010 #1), Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson (2009 #10) and Jordan Eberle (2008 #22) all debuted last year.  The rookie trio combined for 55 goals, 119 points.  They’re joined by 2007’s first rounder, Sam Gagner, who’s had four straight 40+ point seasons.  This season’s first round pick, #1 overall Ryan Nugent-Hopkins may join the Oilers if the team deems him ready during training camp.  Edmonton is hoping two long time Oilers, Ales Hemsky (42 points in 47 games) and Captain Shawn Horcoff, (Oiler since 2000) are healthy this season.  Veteran Ryan Smyth was acquired from the Kings, who he had 23 goals, 47 points for last season.  He’ll provide some leadership to this inexperienced group of forwards.  Ryan Jones came out of nowhere to score 18 goals.  Rookie Linus Omark only scored five goals, but showed off his skills (and made headlines) when he scored a shootout winner in his debut.  The team also added Belanger, Hordichuk and Eager for toughness and leadership.

Defense: As exciting as the offense will be, the defense might be the opposite for Oil fans. Mainstays Ladislav Smid and Tom Gilbert are a solid top pairing, and have both been with the club for the last five seasons.  Ryan Whitney missed half of last season, but hasn’t come close to the 59 points he put up with Pittsburgh in 2006-07.  Cam Barker, like Whitney, played well a couple years ago (with Chicago), but has fallen off since, bought out by the Wild last season.   Andy Sutton is a solid addition, while a physical presence, can also be a veteran leader to the youthful team.  In his first full season, Theo Peckham led the team in PIM (198) and hits (196) but struggled throughout the year.

Goaltending:  Nikolai Khabibulin played in the majority of Edmonton’s games last year, but was awful, going 10-32-4.  The 38 year old posted his worst goals against average (3.39) since his rookie season (1995 with the Jets).  He was dealing with an ongoing DUI case, which he finally served time for this offseason.  Devyn Dubnyk was a bit better winning 12 games with a 2.71 goals against average.  Unfortunately, neither goalie is going to be a guy that can put a team on his back.

Standout Player: Taylor Hall
Hall was having a fine rookie year (42 points in 65 games) until an ankle injury derailed his Calder trophy hopes. He led Edmonton in goals despite missing 17 games.  A full healthy season by the 2010 #1 pick could net somewhere close to 30 goals, 60 points.

Prediction: 5th Northwest, 14th West
The Oil will be exciting to watch but that excitement won’t translate into wins…yet.  The team will improve this season, although there is plenty of promise for the future.

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