The Oilers opened up the 2017-18 NHL season with a resounding 3-0 victory over their provincial rivals in Calgary. How much more of that can we look forward to? Here to talk all things Oilers, we’ve got Shona, Sunil, Ryan and Patrick.
This is the latter half of our two-part series which began Wednesday.
1) Does Patrick Maroon make it past the trade deadline as a member of the Edmonton Oilers?
Shona: No, he does not. The Oilers won't have the money to resign him so they might as well get something for all the effort McDavid has put into making him look great.
Sunil: I’m going to guess that he does. The agent made it public that Maroon wants to stay. And he’s also McDavid’s linemate, so he’ll probably get a vote of confidence from the Oilers franchise player.
Ryan: If the Oilers were going to look seriously at making a trade the time to do so was in June or July. At this point, I'd be very shocked if he didn't finish the season with the Oilers. They might well see him walk as an unrestricted free agent next summer, but I don't see them making a move to get something for the asset at the deadline.
Patrick: Yep. He might even have a bad contract by then. This team isn't looking to replace productive players with futures right now. Ideally they let him walk in the summer but I don't think that's going to happen unless he really wants to go to St. Louis. Peter Chiarelli will try to ask for his current address and send the Brinks truck over.
2) What's the biggest threat to the Oilers' chances to finish atop the Pacific Division this year?
Shona: Injuries. Honestly, if the Oilers suffer one or two key injuries their chances are shot. McDavid and Talbot come to mind as players that the Oilers can't afford to sit out injured.
Sunil: Combination of health, lack of secondary offence. Benning and Nurse struggling. And additional competition from the rest of the teams.
Ryan: Their second line. McDavid is amazing but I don't think that the Oilers can win the division if the team is just one line, they're going to need their second line to be a legitimate threat night in and night out, if that happens then the Oilers should be considered a legitimate contender for the division title.
Patrick: Realistically it's injuries. An injury to 77, 97 or 33 would ruin everything. Beyond that, the Ducks still seem to think that Ryan Kesler is capable of shutting down top players and he's not, so that keeps them at bay. Calgary will be a great team with terrible goaltending and the Kings will be in the lottery conversation. I guess the Sharks could have a good year? Beyond injuries the Oilers look clear for take off.
3) Finally, Las Vegas Sportsbooks like the Oilers as the team to emerge from the Western Conference. Is this the year?
Shona: I sure hope this is the year because I don't know if we have the depth for it to be next year. Sadly, I don't think the defense is strong enough yet to be a Stanley Cup winning team. Maybe we can shore that up as the season starts and be a serious contender as the season draws to a close. Also, we should probably split goaltending duties a bit more so Talbot doesn't break.
Sunil: I hope they do, but I don’t think enough was done this offseason to push them over the edge. The key thing will be the secondary offence at even-strength when McDavid is on the bench. If the team can outscore and outshoot opponents with and without their captain, they’ll improve their chances. With the roster they've built today, they’re just not quite there yet.
Rather than emerging from the West, the Oilers appear to be more focussed on assessing their younger players and hoping that guys like Caggiula, Slepyshev, Strome, Nurse and Benning can make an impact.
Ryan: I wouldn't be betting my money on it. All improvement is based on the assumption/hope that the team's younger players will be better this year than last. A few might, a few might also take a step back. Player development is rarely a straight line and I would assume that all Oilers fans know this by now.
Patrick: Whether it's the year or not, I'm not sure. It takes a lot more than good players and coaching to reach a Stanley Cup final. Lots of things can go wrong in short tournaments like the playoffs. I can tell you that this year's version of the Oilers is the best one that has been put together in the the 27 years I've been alive. It's never surprising when a team doesn't win a cup, it's really hard to do and probability isn't on your side. However, for the first time in a very, very long time, a win is expected every time this team takes the ice and losses are nothing short of warranted disappointment.
Thanks to Shona, Sunil, Ryan and Patrick for their time. See the Oilers as they take on the Canucks tomorrow night in Vancouver.