On paper, the Oilers are not short on scoring talent, as one of their top end draft picks over the last few years has really developed into one of the league's most exciting players, while the rest of his teammates have struggled to keep up.
The Oilers will also go into the year with a different pairing in the net, the duo that was acquired through deals during the year in 2014, giving the team a little bit more confidence from the back end, which could translate into some stronger play in all zones of the ice.
I get the feeling that the Oilers may improve from a hockey pool perspective, which may only lead to a minor improvement in the standings, but an improvement, nonetheless.
|Forwards||14/15 Proj||Cap Hit||Defense||14/15 Proj||Cap Hit||Goaltenders||14/15 Proj||Cap Hit|
|Taylor Hall||85||6.000||Justin Schultz||45||3.675||Ben Scrivens||40||4.800|
|Jordan Eberle||70||6.000||Nikita Nikitin||20||4.500||Viktor Fasth||30||2.900|
|Ryan Nugent-Hopkins||60||6.000||Jeff Petry||15||3.100|
|David Perron||55||3.813||Andrew Ference||15||3.250|
|Teddy Purcell||50||4.500||Mark Fayne||10||3.500|
|BUYOUTS & OTHER||0.000|
|Leon Draisaitl||40||0.925||Oskar Klefbom||25||0.894|
|Jesse Joensuu||10||0.950||Martin Marincin||15||0.730|
|Will Acton||10||0.680||Keith Aulie||10||0.800|
First Round Picks
Working on back-to-back seasons in the top 20 of pool scoring overall, Taylor Hall has emerged as a steady 1st round pick contender and should be a good player to build your team around. Hall has been the subject of some doubt, which stemmed from some injuries in previous years, but his gained experience and maturity has seen his play get better and his awareness to where his opponents are, has saved his career.
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
It has been a tumultuous start to a career for Nail Yakupov and the Oilers, but I think there is enough in his game and enough in recent history to suggest that the last season of his entry-level deal could be a big one for the 20-year old Russian and that's why I think he's due for a breakout season. I currently have Yakupov coming in at 50 points, which should turn some heads in the 2015 season and given the fact that the Oilers have been trying to deal the wayward scorer, they may be able to swing a deal for something a little more solid, if Yakupov can finally show his colours, namely the red light.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
Of course, in Edmonton, we will have to mention a couple of the old favourites in Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, a new favourite in David Perron and then a newcomer to the team in Teddy Purcell. These four, along with the two previously mentioned in the paragraphs above, should be fairly electric again for the Oilers, keeping their game exciting on a nightly basis and they should keep poolies happy throughout the season. There is a lack of a genuine second line centre on the team, which may keep some numbers down, but if Leon Draisaitl can emerge as that guy, numbers could get a bit of a boost.
Other Pool Worthy Defense
The biggest moves may not translate into many points, although the acquisition of Nikita Nikitin in the off-season was to help the blueline at both ends. Right now, I don't really see much that is pool worthy on the signed list of players. The projected roster has some pretty low scoring levels from the back end and the Oilers are currently looking for the the forwards to do all the leg work. Of course, the team still has a key signing to make, which would turn this paragraph around, but until that happens, the Oilers don't have much of anything.
With a lack of keen defense again this season, the goaltending may not get as much help as they may prefer. In Edmonton, it always seems to be the goalies' fault that this happens, so with that being said, the platoon system may be employed between both Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth, two goalies vying for that number one role. Both keepers are good enough to get wins, but it will be the losses that define this season, as I can see some flip-flopping between the two all year long.
Team To Pick From Late?
Last year, the Oilers old favourites were gone by the 3rd round and there were still some players picked late to help fill the void, but other than one bargain late, all of those picks kind of flopped and none of the teams that picked them ended up in the money. Just saying. No, the Oilers depth doesn't suggest like they would be a good place to get players late on.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
The Oilers are still waiting to sign standout defender Justin Schultz, as his entry-level deal has expired and the number one offensive defenseman is likely looking for a solid deal that will likely pay him among some of the better blueliners in the league.
Edmonton still has some space to play with, not to mention a few roster spots on the projected roster, so any signings or players bumped up on to the roster should fit with ease. The Oilers have over $12 million to play with and eight roster spots to fill, which doesn't leave a lot of room for Schultz, but more young players on the roster should help ease everyone onto the ice, come October.
The Oilers have roster spots to fill and a whole lot of healthy bodies ready to compete for those spots.