The Edmonton Oilers remain as one of the more interesting teams to look forward to, since their team is still quite young and they have been able to do so much with their high draft picks from previous Summers.
With that being said, the kids have had some NHL experience now and they will be expected to apply that experience, along with their exceptional skill, and do some great things... like win games. There will be some heavy pressure on players like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Devan Dubnyk to help guide this team into a playoff spot. Dubnyk will be the one under the microscope the longest, since he is in a lonely position in net, pegged as the starter, and if he doesn't produce, the team will be forced to make the move to get a new number one.
As a poolie, these guys are exciting to watch, because they can rack up some points. I think there will be a few Oilers taken this year and if being another year wiser means a little more patience and skill on the puck, we might be in for quite the light show in Edmonton. I wouldn't just say that the light show will be at one end of the rink either... I don't think they did enough to improve their defense in the off-season. Just saying.
Team Table (Players sorted by 2013 points)
Pool Worthy Forwards (35+ Points)
The forwards are where the money is in Edmonton. No, really. $40.6 of the team's $61.9 million booked cap space is up front. That is a lot of bank up there and it should be considered a gamble.
I think it's fair to expect big things from Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Nail Yakupov, since they showed some real flash in the shortened 2013 season. It will be a big season for Sam Gagner, who got a pretty big pay day in the off-season, as he tries to show the Oilers that he will be worth it.
An off-season deal which brought David Perron over from St. Louis for Magnus Paajarvi will bring a little bit more experience and a bit more of an offensive bite to the team, which will have some elements that will provide some intrigue to the team chemistry.
There are a couple spots open going into camp, which could be available for some cheaper depth.
Pool Worthy Defensemen (20+ Points)
The crown jewel of the Edmonton defense is Justin Schultz and I think he can have a pretty good year. I have him in at 40 points before camp, but if he really has found a touch in some preseason action, I am prepared to bump him up a little bit further. Considering the team's overall defensive scheme, with some new faces and uncertainty, I think some of his points disappear to offensive zone turnovers and transition goals against.
New face, Andrew Ference, will bring a new look to the team and as a hometown boy, likely an extra little bit of pride. I think he could be a good late defender pick-up, if you're stretching for some defensemen.
Pool Worthy Goalies (25+ Points)
There is only one goalie right now, as they will have a big race for the back-up role, and Devan Dubnyk will be the life blood of this team. The Oilers go as far as Dubnyk can take them and I'm not completely sure he is the guy for the job. If he lasts the year as the number one guy in Edmonton, I think 25-to-30 wins will be his threshold and that might not be enough to be a top flight goalie.
If I had a guess, I would imagine that the Oilers will go hunting for a number one before the year is out.
Hard to pick out a really good breakout player, but Justin Schultz, assuming all goes well, could hit the 60-point mark this season, which would be a pretty good breakout year. If Schultz goes towards a 60-point season, things could be a lot better all the way around the team. Schultz will be a guy that makes everyone around him, including Dubnyk, better.
Off-season shoulder surgery may be what keeps Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the shelf to start the season. There has been ample speculation as to whether or not he will be ready for camp or even the start of the regular season, so I have highlighted his name as one to keep an eye out for. With his injury problems, I have also discounted his projections for the year, but I am aware that he is a much better play than what I have projected for this year.
None. Everyone is signed.