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Take a trip back to last year with me. It’s spring of 2015, and the Edmonton Oilers have just won the right to pick first overall in the Connor McDavid Sweepstakes. Peter Chiarelli has just been fired from the Boston Bruins organization after a lacklustre few years since their 2011 Stanley Cup victory. The powers-that-be in Edmonton have rightly decided that — with the arrival of the greatest prospect in hockey since Sidney Crosby — so, too, should Oilers back office receive a new face or two. Within a matter of days, Chiarelli is the Oilers GM and Todd McLellan is swiped from San Jose to take up bench duty from Dallas “My Firing Was a Gift” Eakins, and would you look at that: there’s a small beacon of hope emerging on the horizon for the Edmonton Oilers’ fan base.
Then the 2015-16 season started, and we pretty much sucked about as hard as we had for the last decade, but there were flashes of brilliance which were seen in that injury-riddled season that we certainly had not seen in the previous decade, which much smarter people than me have written about in-depth.
Moving on to the spring/summer of 2016…
So, let’s take stock: Since the addition of Chiarelli in the big boss chair, we have seen some new adjectives added to describe this lineup that I think few pundits ever imagined they would use for the Oilers, this team is scary now. They’re big, mean, and I think fewer and fewer teams are looking at them as a joke, a quick 2 points and a ‘see ya later’.
We have the bash brothers of Pat Maroon and Zack Kassian, who were super cheap pickups in the latter half of last season. Kass cost us all of Ben Scrivens, a much-beloved-but-really-only-AHL-calibre goalie we had taking minutes away from Laurent Brossoit in Bakersfield, and the Big Rig was a steal at the low low cost of Martin Whoever and our 2016 4th round pick. Both showed up big time for the Oilers, with Maroon racking up 14 points in 16 games next to McDavid, and Kassian eating up minutes on the bottom-6 and spitting out fools on the opposition.
With the gift of big Finnish winger Jesse Puljujärvi at this year’s draft in Buffalo, add another 6″3+ body to the bench for next season to go alongside our equally tall and shiny new Swedish defenceman heartthrob, Adam Larsson.
And for the pièce de résistance of the Summer of Chiarelli, the Edmonton Oilers are now the proud owners of a like-new Milan Lucic. 233 pounds of left-wing power forward hulking in at 6″4 and eager to impress his new mistress Connor, Looch is looking like one of the final pieces which will turn this team fully to the dark side it’s been toying with since Darth Peter took the reigns.
• Zack Kassian: 6″3, 217lbs
• Patrick Maroon: 6″3, 229lbs
• Jesse Puljujärvi: 6″3, 202lbs (and just barely 18, so who knows how big Poolparty will end up with those Northern European viking genes)
• Adam Larsson: 6″3, 206lbs
• Milan Lucic: 6″4, 233lbs
I don’t know about you, but if I’m a team heading into Rogers Place this fall, I’m not liking my chances of leaving without a few serious cuts and bruises from this revamped Oilers squad. Say goodbye to the quick-but-fragile Oilers of the last 6 years and more, and hello to the Boston… er, Edmonton Bruisers.