10 Burning Questions Going Into 2017/18 For the Edmonton Oilers

I can feel hockey season drawing closer and my thirst to write is growing. Not only that but the BLH Youtube channel is getting more and more subscribers every day and a good way to get that out there is to write some more. Not that we make any money from either the blog or the Youtube channel (we don’t, it actually costs us money) but that’s beside the point. We’re here to offer you something a bit different from what’s out there.

You should head over and subscribe to our channel. It may very well be the 5th best thing you do all day and if you dig Oilers videos or prospects videos with cool tunes, you’ll be moderately happy with the decision.

There are some good convos going on in the comments of our 2018 top ten prospects videos you might like.

Today I want to present to you some questions going into next season for the Oilers that are burning a hole through my head bone.

Be forewarned, this is a bit of a long one.

10. How Many Games Will Cam Talbot Play

Dadbot played in 73 regular season games and 13 playoff games in 2016/17. In total, that’s 86 games of action and a helluva workload for one guy. He gave us a 2.39 GAA and a .919 SV% in the regular season and those are numbers I can accept but I’d like to see improve marginally next year.

We all know that coach McLellan picks a no.1 netminder and rides him till he drops but one has to think that no.2 Laurent Brossoit will get more than 8 games in 2017/18, right?

During last year’s campaign, we saw Brossoit put up a 1.99 GAA and a .928 SV%. Encouraging numbers to say the least. I know one of his weaknesses in the past has been his glove hand but from what I know of Brossoit’s work ethic, that glove won’t be a weakness any longer.

Answer: Cam Talbot will play 65-70 regular season games barring injury in 2017/18. Brossoit will see the rest

9. Which Milan Lucic Will We See in 2017/18?

I think we’re going to see a more svelte Milan Lucic this year. He knows that his foot speed will grow to be more and more of an issue as the years come and go. We also know that he’s a very motivated and hard-working individual and with that, we’ll see the Milan of old. The one whose 5×5 numbers were dominant but with the added feature of having great PP numbers as well (Thanks to 97).

But here’s the one thing I’d personally like to witness, a better D-zone game. He was caught more than once versus the Ducks in the playoffs last year not coming down the boards deep enough to gather the puck and was left witnessing a GWG for the other team.

Now, I’m not concerned with Lucic scoring 40 goals or getting 60 points. I know what he brings to the table and I love that but he’s got to be better in his own zone when it counts.

Answer: Just as it took Talbot, Sekera, Larsson, and others a season or less to acclimate themselves to the team and its systems, Lucic has had his 1 year grace period. He knows the system now, he knows what is expected of him and we’re going to see the Lucic we all know and love because if we don’t, you can be sure as shit he’ll hear it from the fanbase.

8. How Will the Oilers Do Without Andrej Sekera?

Excellent question. I think that the Oilers ARE going to suffer without Andrej Sekera. Even though he hates passing McDavid the puck he’s still one of the team’s best puck-moving dmen. 5×5, I don’t believe that Darnell Nurse or Matt Benning will be able to reproduce the things that Sekera does best.

This could result in the Oilers spending more time in their own zone because they’re unable to move the puck out. Last year we’d see Kris Russell use Sekera as the out when retrieving the puck in the d-zone and if Rej wasn’t available it was off the glass and out.

I suppose it’s at all possible that Russell takes on the Sekera role and is tasked with moving the puck more responsibly. He is, after all, a great skater and can pass the puck.

Answer: The Oilers WILL suffer without Sekera.

7. Which Rookie Could Make the Team?

Well, there are a few vying to do so eh? Kailer Yamamoto, Ryan Mantha, Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear, Joe Gambardella, Joey Laleggia, Ziyat Paigin to name a few.

My thing is, whose spot are they going to steal? The only way a rookie makes it to the opening night roster is if an injury to a regular puts him there.

If I had to say who had the best shot, I’d probably say Laleggia or Gambardella. I like their age and I think they’ve got enough grit to go with their skill that McLellan and Chiarelli would have a tough time saying no if they outplayed Khaira or Puljujarvi.

Keeping in mind that Laleggia has turned into quite the minor league goal scorer and that’s AFTER he lost the Hobey Baker Award to Jack Eichel as a defenseman.

Gambardella put up 3 pts in 6 games for the Oilers farm team after he signed with Edmonton. He’s an older prospect at 24 years old and I’m thinking the time it takes him to get used to the pro game will be much shorter than say a 20-year-old.

Could Gambardella and Laleggia be the next Sheary and Rust? It’s possible.

In my opinion, Yamamoto will be sent back to Junior before the regular season starts. The Oilers will be taking the Mitch Marner route with him and they’ll be better off for it.

Answer: Joey Laleggia or a longshot in Ziyat Paigin

6. Where Will Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Be Traded?

IF he’s traded it’ll be to a team that needs a top 6 centre (duh!), who has the cap room, and the adequate prospects and picks to send to Edmonton to acquire him.

Also, what will the Oilers need? Scoring on the wing? A face-off specialist? PP Cannon?

The rumoursphere has Ron Francis looking for a top 6 centre and they’ve got the cap room and prospects to offer for RNH. Elias Lindholm, Julien Gauthier, and Roland McKeown are a few tasty names I like.

If Detroit could find a way to shed some salary, I think Nuge would be a good replacement for Zetterberg when the Swedish captain decides to step away. I’m sure the Oilers would love a Tyler Bertuzzi or Evgeny Svechnikov.

If Turris and Tavares leave their teams as UFAs next summer, do they become candidates for Nugent-Hopkins? Same goes for the St.Louis Blues, they’re top centre is Paul Stastny and he’s set to be a UFA who’ll make $7M this season.

Is that a deadline trade that interests you? Meaning Nuge to the Blues for Stastny plus picks/prospects? I’d like a kid like Robert Thomas in the Oiler system or maybe even Tage Thompson. Stastny is not too shabby on the dot (55.7% last year) and scores a bit better than Nuge. Maybe the Oilers find a way to re-sign him at a reasonable price or the deal him at the draft after the playoffs.

Answer: I’m going to say he’ll be heading to the Eastern Conference just like Eberle and Hall before him. Will he reunite with his former Decade of Darkness linemates in the Metro division? Would be interesting if he did. 

5. Will These Players Take the Next Step in Their Development and Which Ones Will be Impact Players?
– Darnell Nurse
– Jesse Puljujarvi
– Matt Benning
– Anton Slepyshev
– Drake Caggiula

If the Oilers are to have the same amount of success as they did last season, I believe that all five of these players will need to take the next step. They’ll all need to contribute to the wins a bit more than the losses but will any of them be “impact” players?

I think that Nurse showed us last season before his injury that he’s right on par with his developmental curve. And this being his 3rd full season, I believe that he’ll be someone that the Oilers can count on and a player whose identity on the team and what he brings to the Oilers will be that much clearer. I don’t think 25-30 pts is out of the question for him IF he playes all 82.

Jesse Puljujarvi, if he’d only played fewer games last year he’d be a Calder candidate this year. Is there some conspiracy with the Oilers and the Calder trophy? It’s maddening the kinds of players that could’ve won the Calder but didn’t for the Oilers. Anyways, I think that Pulju will be a top 6 on Draisaitl’s line with Lucic.

The one thing with Pulju though is that he loves to do the deep swoop and carry through the neutral zone, much like Leon and Connor. So how will that affect things if he’s on either line? Is the 3rd line with Strome or RNH and Jokinen a better place for him? Easing him into the NHL a bit more sounds like the path I like because we’ve got players that can swap with him if needed. Give the Grinnin’ Finn some PP time to boot and we’ll be seeing that magic we’ve been waiting for all this time.

As for Benning, Slepyshev, and Caggiula, I think it’s not far fetched for the two forwards to put up 12-15 goals each with 20 being the high because I think we can solidly say that Caggiula and Slepyshev will get the entire season with the Oilers as oppose to last year where Slepy got half a season and Caggiula only played three-quarters of it.

I’m worried about Benning though. It’s not called the sophomore slump for nothing. Yes, we saw good things out of him last season but let’s just be ready in case he’s not.

Answer: I see a step back for Benning but a step forward for Nurse, Jesse, Caggiula, and Slepy. 

4. Can the Oilers Stay Healthy?

Nobody can really say a team will stay healthy for the entire team but seasons like the one the Oilers just had are pretty rare. Usually a team has at least one decent player go down hurt, right?

What has been noticed and noted by Oilers insider Bob Stauffer is that teams have stopped taking as many liberties (In the regular season? We know what happened in the playoffs…) with the Oilers now that they’ve got the likes of Larsson, Nurse, Gryba, Maroon, Kassian, and Lucic lining up for them. Not only that but the flukey injuries have seemingly slowed down. No more skates on the head, toe-picking into the boards, or bruised egos slowing the team down.

Answer: Yes, they can. At least relatively.

3. Who Will Be Playing Right-Wing on Connor McDavid’s Line?

It’ll be a fluent situation. I think we’ll see nearly everyone that can play there actually play there. That means, Nuge, Strome, Pulju, Caggiula, Draisaitl, Slepyshev, and Kassian will get a shift now and then too.

Scotty Bowman believed in pairs and I subscribe to that belief as well. Trying to get three guys to come together for an extended period of time is nearly impossible. But you can get two guys who really feel it on the ice and interchange a 3rd guy in there depending on the night, the situation, and the opponent.

This shouldn’t be an issue but it will be knowing Oilers “enthusiasts”.

Answer: I believe that the majority of the TOI will go to one of Leon Draisaitl or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

2. Leon Draisaitl: Driver of his own line or Kurri to McDavid’s Gretzky?

I know there are those out there that aren’t sure if Draisaitl can drive his own line because he’s played one year with Hall and another with McDavid and his fancies apart from them weren’t as great as with those two players but let’s be real here. With Hall, that was Leon’s first real season and of

With Hall, that was Leon’s first real season and of course Hall was going to drive the offense. He was that much older and that much more experienced. Bet you he was wishing Draisaitl was his centre in NJ last season…

With McDavid, everybody’s numbers are going to go up, so it’s no surprise that Leon’s did as well. But Draisaitl is part of a very small group of men who can say they CAN play with McDavid. Hall can’t, Eberle can’t, Lucic can’t.

You can come at me with the small sample size and performances don’t matter during the playoffs all you’d like but those games are NOT even close to being the same as regular season games. They’re far more difficuly games to play in and they should be weighted differently.

That is exactly where Leon Draisaitl shines and has shined in the past. WHL MVP, Memorial Cup MVP, featured heavily for Team Europe as they nearly took Canada to three games in the final of the World Cup of Hockey, talisman for the German National team, and was tied for 7th in scoring for the playoffs DESPITE his team being eliminated in the 2nd round!!!

It’s the year of the German and Leon will be the best no.2 centre in the NHL. He’ll be recovered from not having to play hockey all summer and therefore those slumps we saw him go into last season will be shorter if at all this upcoming campaign. He’ll be back stronger, faster, smarter, and richer…

Answer: Leon will be driving lines ALL. NIGHT. LONG. ALL. SEASON. LONG.

1. Will the Oilers:
– Make the Playoffs?
– Win the Pacific Division?
– Win the Western Conference?
– Win the Stanley Cup?

Answer:
Make the playoffs: Yes, the Oilers will make the playoffs and not as a wild card.

Win the Pacific: I don’t think they’ll win the Pacific. I still see the Ducks as the team to beat there. They’ve got the right mix of vets and talented young players as well as a stellar goalie and excellent defense. I see Edmonton coming in 2nd or even 3rd. 

Win the Western Conference: Anything can happen in the playoffs and if they can get out of the 1st round injury-free and in relatively short order, then I do believe they can win the West. Although, my money is on Dallas to go to the finals. 

Win the Stanley Cup: As said above, anything can happen in the playoffs. If you’ve got a goalie who’s on fire, elite generational forwards, a never die attitude within the supporting cast, it can happen. Pittburgh’s defense looked like something the Oilers would’ve iced in the DoD by the end of the playoffs last year and they still beat Nashville. 

If I’m being honest, I’m thinking one more year before the Oilers are true Cup contenders. 

I hope you stayed all the way to the end and if you did, a stick tap and a hearty slap on the back to you! Extra TOI for yourself next game!

What do you think about the questions I’ve raised here? Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Twitter or Facebook!

*VERY POPULAR* Grab the new Kassian tribute t-shirt now! Click the image above!
Click the image and head over to our Teepublic shop to grab some sweet BLH merch.
Click the image to go and get a sweet BLH tee/sticker!!!
Pick up the NEW “Beat His Ass” shirt right now!!
Beer League Hero Written by:

I’m the Beer League Hero! I am from Camrose, Alberta but I make my home in Taipei City, Taiwan. I’ve been through the ups and downs and the highs and the Lowes, the Bonsignores and the McDavids, the Sathers and the Eakins but I’ll never leave my Oilers, no matter what!

They’re with me until the end and then some. GO OILERS GO!