As confirmed by the NHL website, the league is moving to a four-conference structure next season.
The Oilers, along with Calgary, Vancouver and Colorado, will join Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose and Phoenix in an as-yet unnamed conference. Of those eight teams, the top four will make the playoffs at the end of the season. Or in other words, Vancouver, San Jose, and two other teams will make the playoffs.
The Oilers will play each team within their new conference either 5 times (four teams) or 6 times (three teams) during the regular season, for a total of 38 intra-conference games. The grouping of opponents into 5-game and 6-game groups will rotate from season to season.
The team will play the remaining 22 teams in the league twice in the regular season (once at home, once away) for a total of 44 games. The total number of regular-season games will remain at 82.
The first two rounds of the playoffs will be held within each conference (1st seed vs 4th seed, 2nd seed vs 3rd seed, winners face off in round 2). A decision has not yet been made regarding how the third round of the playoffs will be structured, but common sense suggests that the final four teams will be reseeded.
The largest point of contention for Oilers fans will likely be the fact that both Western conferences are made up of 8 teams, while both Eastern conferences are made up of 7 teams, giving Eastern teams a better chance to make the playoffs.
With that said, I don't think anyone's going to be too sorry to say goodbye to competing against Detroit and Chicago for playoff spots.