Oilersnation Roundtable: Are the Oilers the team to beat in the Western Conference?
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By Cam Lewis1 month ago
The off-season isn’t over yet but we have a pretty good idea of how all the teams around the league are going to look when the puck is dropped for the 2023-24 season come October.
Assuming that both Evan Bouchard and Ryan McLeod get signed, the Edmonton Oilers will be bringing back a very similar team in the fall to the one that won 14 of 15 games to end the regular season. Kailer Yamamoto, Klim Kostin, and Nick Bjugstad are gone, Connor Brown and Lane Pederson were added, and the team will also have a full season of Mattias Eklhom, their key addition from the trade deadline.
For this week’s Oilersnation Roundtable, we’re wondering if the Oilers are going to be viewed as the team to beat in the Western Conference this season. Is there anybody else with a stronger roster?
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How can they not be the team to beat? Over the last half of the 2022-23 season, the Edmonton Oilers were one of the best teams in the NHL and that was happening before Mattias Ekholm got here. With a full season of Ekholm, an improved Jack Campbell, and some young players primed to take a step forward, I don’t see how you can’t look at the Oilers’ roster compared to the rest of the Pacific Division and not think they’re favourites. As for the Western Conference, I think the Oilers are absolutely going to be one of the best teams in the West but they’ll have more competition for the top spot from teams like the Colorado Avalanche. I know the Avs were rocking the Cup hangover and all kinds of injuries in 2022-23, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see them right back at the top given the depth they have up front and on the back end.
Yes, and I don’t think it’s particularly close, either. The Oilers finished the 2021-22 season seven points back of the Calgary Flames for the division title with a coaching change that came mid-season. Last year, the Oilers’ first with Jay Woodcroft behind the bench from start to finish, they finished two points back of the Vegas Golden Knights.
Since Woodcroft has taken over behind the bench, he’s coached the Oilers to a 76-32-12 record over 120 games. That’s the third-best record over that time, and over an 82-game season project for a 52-22-8 record. That should get the job done.
It kind of felt like the second-round series between the Oilers and Golden Knights was the Stanley Cup Final this year, right? Edmonton finished tied for second behind Vegas in the Western Conference standings with Colorado, but the Avs never felt like the same contender they did in previous years because of all the injuries that piled up.
Since they won the whole thing, the Golden Knights have to be considered the team to beat in the West and the league as a whole, but the Oilers are right up there with them. The L.A. Kings seemed like a good bet to take a big step and enter that conversation but their off-season has felt very underwhelming. The Seattle Kraken actually look like the team most likely to leap forward into contender status.
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