DO YOU SMELL THAT?
The logo is painted. The ice is fresh. The 2017-18 regular season is just over a month away, and it can’t get here any sooner. With the naissance of a new season so close, expectations for the Edmonton Oilers will no doubt be higher than previous years. Players like Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Cam Talbot will be asked to turn in repeat performances of last season, but the Oilers will benefit greatly from players who might not have been relied upon so much last year. The Oilers will need certain players to take a big step in 2017-18.
Which Oiler will take the biggest step forward in 2017-18? Here’s a short list.
It’s a contract year for Anton Slepyshev, and he could make some serious waves this season on a right side that’s largely not set going forward. Slepyshev potted three goals in the playoffs this year (still feels weird to write the word playoffs unironically) though he’s been limited to just eleven career points in just fifty-two career games. I’ve got him pencilled in the bottom six on whichever line Zack Kassian isn’t on. His chances of getting into the top six are multiplied if Jesse Puljujarvi starts the season out in Bakersfield.
It’s a contract year for Drake Caggiula, and Caggiula’s eighteen points (7-11-18) in 60 games is no doubt a marker we’d all like to see improve in 2017-18. Like his teammate Anton Slepyshev, Caggiula can skate like the wind. Like his teammate Anton Slepyshev, he had three tallies in the second season, and a limited point total in a couple handfuls of NHL contests. Like Slepyshev, Caggiula can play around the lineup as well. Some big money minutes with Leon Draisaitl will likely help his point totals.
I’m not sure if Jesse Puljujarvi is ready for prime time, but I’d bet a nickel today that we’ll see him on opening night. The number 4 draft pick in the 2016 NHL Draft began last season in Edmonton, but was shuttled to Bakersfield after eight points in 28 NHL games. Puljujarvi would post 28 points (12-16-28) in 39 games with Bakersfield, and he’s got a real shot at finding a second line role with the team this year. I think we see him on opening night and will be given ample opportunity to crack the top six, and a lot of that stems from the fact that the right wing is a juggler’s paradise right now.
It’s a contract year for Darnell Nurse, and this is a very good time to find out if Nurse is a viable top four option. With Andrej Sekera out for months after a torn ACL, your top four looks something like 77-6 and 4-83. Russell has played a fair bit on the right side, look for Nurse to get a bump up the lineup when this happens.
It’d be great for the club if all four of these players took big steps forward. Might not be so good for the cap, but that’s another conversation we’ve had a few times already.
Which Oiler is most likely to have a breakout season?
This poll is closed
Someone else (leave comment)