There are 70 days of waiting left until the Oilers kick off the season in their shiny new building. In a perfect world, Chiarelli will spend the remainder of the off season upgrading some bottom six forward depth, and more importantly, a top pairing defenceman.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many worthwhile free agents left available, or even players available for trade, which makes it extremely difficult for Chia to get anything done before the season starts. With that said, I feel like it’s an appropriate time to start talking about our expectations for the 2016-17 season.
Pieces To The Puzzle
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If the Oilers had a healthy roster last year, they would have made the playoffs. This year is no different. I honestly believe the Oilers have solid chance at a playoff push if they can find a way to stay healthy. Sure we lost one of the best wingers in the NHL, but the additions of Lucic, Puljujarvi, and Larsson, we will benefit the team in other ways. I won’t get into how we lost the trade, but you can’t deny we are stronger on the back end from it.
With our new additions, a healthy roster, a healthy McDavid, and McLellan having a full year under his belt, the Oilers will be the most successful this year then they have been in the past ten. However, we are not only relying on the roster to stay healthy, we are also relying on our star players to perform like star players.
After removing Taylor Hall, no one on the team (excluding Connor) should feel safe, and no one can afford to have a poor season. To make the playoffs this year, we NEED Nail Yakupov to finally build a ladder and get himself out the giant hole he’s dug; we NEED RNH to bounce back big after an injury-riddled year; we NEED Oscar Klefbom to come back as if he didn’t miss a practice; and we NEED Cam Talbot to continue his amazing play from last year. As soon as players fail to play up to expectation, that is when we fall out of a playoff push. Until then, I think we have the pieces we need to get started.
Connor will be the reason why the Oilers make the playoffs this year. If he plays a full season, there’s no telling how good he is going to be as the guy seemingly has no barriers. He is the one part of this team that the whole city count on to produce with no question. Is that putting too much pressure on him? Never. No one is questioning how he will play anymore, because no one is worried about him. We’ve all watched him dominate, he is now free to play his game. Will Connor put up 80 points next year? It sounds weird to say that, but why not?
The Pacific Division
The Oilers success this year will be greatly dependant on how well the other teams in the Pacific play. The division has been relatively inconsistent in the past few years, leaving the 2016-17 season as kind of a wild card. What we do know, is that besides their play in recent years, Anaheim, Los Angeles, and San Jose have the potential to dominate the league. If this happens, the Oilers will be likely be playing for a wild card spot. The goal to earn a wild card spot should be around 90 points, which is a significant jump from the Oilers previous years, which they finished with 70, 62, & 67 respectively. Sounds like a big jump, but I think they can do it.
The Floor’s Open
Now, I’d like to open the floor to you citizens. What are your goals for the Oilers this season? Would you be happy to just get out of the bottom 10 of the league? Or will you not sleep until the Oilers are finally in that beloved wild card spot and playing for the Stanley Cup.
The Mini Chris Contest
Entries are starting to roll in for the #MiniChris contest and they are just as hilarious as I was hoping. You still have a couple weeks to enter the contest, and walk away with an arm full of prizes. Download your Mini Chris and get all contest details you need here.