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5 Questions About the 2022-23 Edmonton Oilers

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baggedmilk
2 months ago
On Wednesday, I wrote about the five reasons we should all be excited about the 2022-23 campaign, and today I’m going to look at the other side of the coin. Are there reasons we should be concerned? Here are my five biggest Oilers questions heading into the new season.

SOUP AND STU

As much as I’m excited about our new and improved (IMO) goaltending duo, I do absolutely wonder how they’ll be able to handle the pressure of following up the Oilers’ best season in nearly 20 years. While neither guy was a part of what happened — Skinner did play in 13 games with the big club — they are responsible for providing the Oilers with the kind of backstopping they’ll need to pull off the encore. From my side of the TV screen, I fully believe that Campbell and Skinner can handle the job while also giving us an upgrade over what we’ve had the past few years, but that doesn’t mean a part of me isn’t still nervous about how the situation plays out. Maybe it’s because one tends to get comfortable with the devil you know and these two dudes are both new heroes in our world, but I’m admittedly nervous and excited about the way this maiden voyage will go.

THE DEFENCE

I don’t think I’m talking out of school when I say that the Oilers’ defensive group still leaves something to be desired. That’s not to say that I think we’re terrible on the back end, but if Holland could find a way to hook me up with a Chychrun type then I would feel a whole lot better, ya know? Right now, we’re looking at d-pairings that look something like this:
  1. Nurse – Bouchard
  2. Kulak – Ceci
  3. Broberg – Barrie
While I think this group is passable and able to get us into the playoffs, I’d have a hard time saying the same thing about being a Stanley Cup contender. As much as I like some of the individual pieces, I don’t know that this top six is strong enough to compete and beat the Colorados or Tampa Bays, or any other elite team that we have to get past in this league. Am I being too negative? Too pessimistic?

WILL EVANDER KANE KEEP ROLLING?

Now that Evander Kane has a fresh four-year deal locked in and $20 million coming his way, I want to know that he’s coming into town as motivated to succeed as he was when he got here last January. That’s not to say that I expect Kane to disappear — he’s way too good to coast through hockey games without being noticed — but I hope he’s still got that hunger inside him to build upon a strong first season here in Edmonton. That’s not to say that I think that he’ll just take it easy or anything like that, but I do hope Kane stays hungry as he was heading into free agency because we’re going to need him to be. We’re going to need him to fill the net as he did in the 43 regular season games that he played with us.

HANDLING AN IMPROVED PACIFIC DIVISION

Looking around the Pacific Division, I see two or three teams that should be much better this season and I’ll be curious to see how the Oilers handle the improved competition. From my side of the screen, I see the Flames, Canucks, Kings, and Golden Knights as teams within the division that could potentially give us issues provided that we’re not ready to go. To me, all four of these teams have the pieces to put them in playoff contention and it will be up to the Oilers to find a way to beat teams that will be trying to slow them down. I still believe the Pacific Division is Edmonton’s to lose in 2022-23 and the way they perform against an improved group that’s trying to throw anchors at them whenever possible.

STAYING HEALTHY

It doesn’t matter what season it is, I’ve always got concerns about our boys being able to stay healthy and the unfortunate part about this problem is that you can’t really do much about it. Even though this Oilers team is as deep up front as we’ve seen in quite some time, it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out that a major injury or two could derail the season in a hurry. We saw in the playoffs how Darnell Nurse didn’t look at all like himself because of what he was battling, and that’s the obvious worry when it comes to playing a contact sport. If the Oilers can get some luck and keep their boys on the ice, the team is good enough to do some real damage in the NHL and I’ll be spending the next two months sending best wishes to the Hockey Gords as a means of manifesting good health.

BETTER LAIT THAN NEVER

Apparently, the Oilers are chasing after Patrick Kane pretty hard right now and that has me feeling excited that Ken Holland will be able to swing a miracle. Is it even possible to get this done with the limited cap space available? Who would have to go to make it work? Subscribe to Better Lait Than Never for FREE on SpotifyApple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, and wherever else you get your podcasts.

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