The Oilers enjoyed a fairly successful season during the shortened 2021 NHL calendar. Unfortunately, that regular season success didn’t quite translate into the postseason. A second place finish in the division led to a quick departure at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets once the playoffs started. The Oilers look to right that ship in 2021-22. Can they make it happen?
Stories To Keep An Eye On
- Can Connor McDavid pick up where he left off last year?
Connor McDavid scored a jaw-dropping 105 points in the league-shortened 56 game season last year, averaging in incredible 1.875 points per game. Over a full 82-game card, that’s a 154 point season, which is a pretty talk ask. The Oilers’ captain is sure to put the puck in the net and on the blades of his teammates. The Oilers will no doubt depend on him to continue to put up points and to help elevate those around him. Can he keep up the pace?
- Will Ken Holland’s revamped defence do the trick?
Ken Holland made several changes to the blueline this year. Out are Ethan Bear (Carolina) and Adam Larsson (Seattle). In come Duncan Keith (Chicago) and Cody Ceci (Pittsburgh). Duncan Keith brings with him a wealth of experience and three Stanley Cup Championships along with two Norris trophies to Edmonton, he and Cody Ceci will be tabbed to be the second pair to start the season. Ideally, Keith and Ceci shore up the second pair minutes while Darnell Nurse and Tyson Barrie tackle top pair. Evan Bouchard’s time to emerge is in 2021-22, solid play could push him into the power play and up the lineup sooner than later.
- A new look offence?
While defence is getting plenty of talk this offseason, Ken Holland made good on bringing in a top six forward in Zach Hyman. Hyman finished sixth overall on a Maple Leafs club that was stacked to the ceiling with scoring talent, finishing with 33 points in 43 games. He’ll find himself on a line with either Leon Draisaitl or Connor McDavid some point before too long. Warren Foegele joins the club on the third line after being traded from Carolina for Ethan Bear, both he and newcomer Derek Ryan will look to forge a scorer’s touch on the third line.
- Getting it done in net?
The Oilers got a remarkable season from veteran goaltender Mike Smith in 2021 when he put up an incredible .923 SV%. Armed with a two year deal, both he and Mikko Koskinen are the club’s 1-2 punch in goal. Koskinen will look to rebound a bit after a disappointing season that saw him finish with a sub .900 SV%. If one of these two can’t get it done, the club might have to go fishing before the trade deadline.
Player To Watch
You can pick one of about eight players this year. You’ve got two superstars in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. You’ve got the goaltenders, you’ve got any one of the new guys. For me, it’s 100% Jesse Puljujärvi in 2021-22. Puljujärvi’s re-emergence into the Oilers lineup last year saw him start on the third line and make his way up to the top line in just six games. Slated to be the top line right wing on McDavid’s line, this is the year the fourth overall pick from the 2016 NHL Entry Draft could really earn some quality power play time and boost his numbers in a contract year.
This is the year that the Oilers have to start becoming a serious playoff team. Getting in and winning a round would go far in believing that this ship is headed in the right direction. I like Edmonton’s odds to win a playoff round in 2021-22, here’s hoping they’ve got a couple more rounds to go after that.
How far will the Oilers go in 2021-22?
They will not qualify for the playoffs
They’ll win one round, advance to round two
They’ll win two rounds, advance to the conference championship
They’ll win the conference championship and advance to the Stanley Cup Final
They’ll win the cup this year
The Oilers look to shoot for the stars in the upcoming 2021-22 NHL season. Subscribe to ESPN+ and be there for all of the red-hot action along the way.