The same old story is getting to be a little bit old in the tooth, but it does look like there is some legitimate relief in sight, you know, barring the unforeseen circumstances, like Connor McDavid's broken collarbone and/or Oscar Klefbom's leg injury last season.
Pieces are starting to come together for the Oilers and it looks like there is some direction in there somewhere, which has cost them quite a bit of cash and cap space, which one could argue was a little bit of overspending. Nevertheless, the additions of Milan Lucic and Adam Larsson should go a long way to being more confident and then adding another franchise piece like Jesse Puljujarvi at the draft, has the team in a position of bargaining power for a playoff spot... finally!
Now the question is, will there be chemistry between all the pieces put in play by this team? The secondary question is, will everyone stay healthy enough to see how the chemistry plays out?
Table last updated on August 5th
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
It was disappointing to see Connor McDavid go down with his broken collarbone last season, because before the injury, we were getting a good taste of what was to come from the young dynamo.
With another off-season of training, another year for body maturation and the natural talent under this kid's hat, the sky is the limit for this kid and we are bound to see him break out with a pretty awesome 2017 campaign.
Last season, he was taken in the 2nd round of the hockey pool draft, but his scoring rate for the year was of 1st round calibre. Now, where does McDavid fall in the 1st round of the draft? Will he take top spot or will he fall a little bit further down?
First Round Picks
McDavid is the only 1st round pick in the projections, but his impact could extend down to some other players, maybe finally realizing the potential of a Jordan Eberle or even the newly-acquired Milan Lucic. Maybe not to 1st round heights in the draft, but they'll still be good numbers.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins continues to be an enigma with this team, four years into his career with the Oilers. Yes, he produces at a rate that keeps him a worthy forward, but he should be so much better, especially after being a former 1st overall pick. He could be up there in the rankings, but can the Oilers squeeze any more out of him? Leon Draisaitl is seemingly going in the opposite direction, working with less expectations and he is the guy that will do a lot of good in the depth roles, maybe opening up the trade market further. Benoit Pouliot, the seasoned veteran, could be a good pick-up this year, as his role could bounce from line to line and there will be a number of talented players to help boost his numbers.
Other Pool Worthy Defense
The true crux of this Oilers team will be their defense, but we are more worried about how they can produce offensively, when the franchise itself should be more worried about taking care of their own end, night after night after night. Summer of 2015 pick-up Andrej Sekera should help offensively, while Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson get adjusted to the new year, while Darnell Nurse will be fighting his way through the sophomore jinx here as well, but should skate through many of those issues.
This year, it will be Cam Talbot's net to defend for the better part of the season, but the Oilers did a good job in getting experienced back-up in Jonas Gustavsson, who could play some solid minutes, if needed, for an extended period of time. I think the split in time will be favourable for the hockey pool selection process.
Team To Pick From?
There likely isn't a lot of confidence in anyone below the top six up front or the top four on the blueline, so picking from them late will continue to be a gamble. How the Oilers will deal with a kid like Nail Yakupov will be important, as they must be soon realizing that he's becoming quite the bust in Edmonton.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
Anyone who isn't signed from the Oilers roster in 2016 right now isn't coming back, as they are all unrestricted free agents, but that group does include Lauri Korpikoski, who may be one of the more surprising names out there.
The Oilers have managed their cap situation well this Summer and their current projected 23-man roster is coming in well below the cap ceiling, still with $8.3 million left there. This team, if it could find its way with McDavid, could add some significant pieces at the deadline.
The Oilers had a couple of injury blows before the end of the regular season in 2016, both requiring major surgeries. Defensemen Brandon Davidson and Andrew Ference were both shut down very early, Davidson was possibly the more worthy of the two. Everything should be on target for the start of training camp for each, but how valuable you deem them may take them out of the conversation before it begins.