The Edmonton Oil Kings made considerable changes to their staff and roster this off season. They are hoping that these changes yield better results in 2018-2019 than the last place finish in the WHL they recorded in 2017-2018.
In the front office, Kirt Hill replaces Randy Hansch as General Manager as Hansch moves on to new opportunities. Behind the bench, Brad Lauer will step into the Head Coach role. Interestingly enough, former Head Coach Steve Hamilton has moved just down the QEII to coach the Calgary Hitmen. This will certain lead to some interesting Battle of Alberta games.
These changes are significant on their own, but have also contributed to an Oil Kings Roster that looks much different than last season. The Oil Kings traded multiple players and prospects over the summer. Brayden Gorda, Kobe Mohr, Matthew Culling, Nick Bowman, and Davis Murray were all traded away while Jacson Alexander, Quinn Benjafield, and Vince Loschiavo were all acquired by the Oil Kings. Combined with the young players making their mark in the preseason, there’s no shortage of new faces on the Oil Kings.
New faces mean surprises both good and bad for fans. With many players having limited WHL experience, the start of the season could be a steep learning and adjustment curve. However, there’s also the potential for any player to make a significant impact. The Oil Kings will have to carefully negotiate their lack of experience, especially in their defensive corps, if they wish to be successful.
One player the Oil Kings will be hoping to see big things from is Trey Fix-Wolansky. Fix-Wolansky lead the team in scoring in the 2017-2018 season and was recently drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Currently away at Blue Jackets camp, Fix-Wolansky hasn’t participated in the last few Oil Kings preseason games. His return should provide a boost to the Oil Kings offense.
The Oil Kings will also be looking for strong seasons from their overage players – Benjafield and Loschiavo – and 2017 first over all bantam draft pick Jake Neighbours. Neighbours played a handful of games with the Oil Kings last season as was able to make some contributions offensively. The Oil Kings will be looking for his strong preseason form to continue into the season. Hopefully, Neighbours can give Fix-Wolansky some competition in the team scoring race.
Also expected to have a good season is Carter Souch. Souch played half a year with the Oil Kings last season. While his 9 points in 38 games isn’t that impressive, it is something to build on. With 4 points in 4 games played in the 2018 preseason, Souch seems poised to be an impact player.
Matthew Robertson will return to the Oil Kings has a Hlinka-Gretkzy Cup gold medalist. The 6’3” defenseman was arguably the Oil Kings best defenseman last season. He will be looking to build off a 24 point season in his rookie year. Robertson will also be looking to make an impact has he is eligible for the 2019 NHL entry draft.
The Oil Kings will also be hoping for bounce back seasons for Will Warm and Connor MacDonald who struggled some last season. With the addition of Jascon Alexander, they must be hoping to have formed a strong defensive core.
In goal the Oil Kings will most probably welcome back Boston Bilious and Todd Scott. Scott, acquired in a trade with the Vancouver Giants last season, is the more experienced of the two goaltenders. He played twice the number of games as Bilous last season. However, the Oil Kings need to be careful not to replicate the musical goaltender situation they created last year between Travis Child, Josh Dechaine, and Boston Bilous as it serves no one in the long term.
Oil Kings fans will welcome their new look team to Rogers Place ice on September 21, 2018 when the 2018-2019 WHL season kicks off.