A new season full of (hypothetically) new possibilities! The Oilers have the same head coach for a 2nd season (for the first time in a few years), all new assistant coaches, they added 4 actual NHL players over the off-season and have yet another shiny new lottery pick to play in the NHL at 18 years old. The fans like them for 9th overall in the conference.
Will any of that matter?
We asked our writing staff: Where Will The Oilers Finish in 2014-15?
Ben Massey: I haven't actually figured out what division we're in yet.
Alan Hull: Heading into the season, you've got to think the three California teams are locks to make the playoffs. San Jose had an awful summer, but they resisted (or were prevented from) trading Marleau or Thornton, so they should still hang in there. That means its likely wild-card or nothing for the Oilers. From that standpoint, Vancouver can't possibly be worse than they were late last year, though I don't think they are a great or even very good team again yet. Arizona will always hang around the playoff conversation and Calgary should be awful. I could see the Oilers sneak up to 5th in the division this year, but I'll still say 6th with 82 points, beating only Calgary. I think they may also reach 12th in the conference, edging out Winnipeg and Nashville from the Central.
Derek Zona: I laid out the best-case scenario in our NHL Preview here, but I think the chances of that are beyond slim. They're missing too many key components and have too many bad players to be competitive. The betting money has them 13th in the conference and I think the betting money is smart money in this case. I'll go with 13th.
Ryan Batty: I'll say 12th. They've got to be better than Calgary, they just have to be. After that though there is a long way to go before the club can be considered just bad instead of truly terrible. There have been improvements on the blue line and the goaltending will be better this season, but that is only going to translate into five or six more wins. The wildcard is Draisaitl, if he can punch above his weight class for an entire season I could see them finishing a couple spots higher, maybe as high as 10th, but I won't be betting my house on that happening, and the playoff drought will be at nine seasons when all is said and done.
Curtis LeBlanc: It seems like every year I fall into the trap of optimism, so why should this season be any different? I wrote a post on this and had the Oilers finishing around 90-94 points. That was based on a projected goal differential that I arrived at by combining Ryan's goals against and Young Willis' goals for projections. So I'm going to say the Oilers finish in 4th in the Pacific in 2014-2015, ahead of Vancouver, Calgary, and Phoenix, and challenge for the final Wildcard spot. How's that for optimism?
Jeff Chapman: Sixth in the Pacific, Twelfth in the conference. They're going to finish ahead of Calgary, but I fear that's where the good times end. I hope I'm wrong, but I'm finally out of optimism. Now's the time on Sprockets when we dance.
Zsolt Munoz: This years rendition of the team has a lot of question marks. Most of the question marks aren't the WTFs of previous seasons but are question marks nonetheless. The obvious one is centre, no matter how hard I squint I just can't see 3 legitimate NHL centres let alone 4. The other question mark surrounds goaltending, neither Scrivens not Fasth have enough games under their belts to prove that either is a starting goalie in the NHL even if Scrivens stopped a million shots against SJS once. On the other hand this is the first time in a while I haven't started sobbing uncontrollably when I look at the Oilers defence although Nurse & Klefbom still worry me a bit. As for within the division the best the Oilers can hope for, for years to come, is the last wild card spot in the west. Even after some of the bone head moves SJS made this offseason they are still a favourite in the Pacific. The Pacific division is just too strong and I see it as 1. LAK, 2. SJS, 3. ANA, 4. VAN, 5. EDM, 6. PHX, 7. CGY. The separation between VAN & EDM is going to be greater than the separation between EDM, PHX & CGY.
Pessimistic or realistic? Still two years away?. Are we off-base? Let us know in the comments, or if you've got a particularly wordy (and worthwhile) response, write a FanPost.