As we get closer and closer to the beginning of the 2017-18 NHL season, I’m going to be taking a look at teams on the rise in each division. Looking at each of them in depth with an off-season preview, as well as top fantasy picks from each team. The Pacific Division is one of the tougher divisions in the league. Having what could be five or six playoff-caliber teams makes it a tough division to play in. That’s what makes today’s team; the Edmonton Oilers interesting.
2016-17 record: 47-26-9
GM: Peter Chiarelli
Head Coach: Todd McLellan
Top Fantasy Picks: Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Cam Talbot
Top Fantasy Sleepers: Ryan Strome, Oscar Klefbom
The Edmonton Oilers, to me, are the top team in the Pacific. After a strong season last year, the Oilers will look to improve on what looks to be a successful future. Even though they lost to Anaheim in a tight-knit seven-game series, they took a big step forward. The young Oilers got a taste of what it’s like in the playoffs, as well as how wild Rogers Place can get. Having that taste of success and fond memories of the playoffs, they will for sure be hungry to get right back to where they were. Their off-season was quite productive, getting both Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl signed to massive eight-year extensions was the main priority. Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli continued his overhaul in his quest to create a Stanley Cup-winning Oilers team this past off-season. As it stands right now, he doesn’t look too far off.
Let’s take a look at the Oilers offseason:
Key acquisitions: Ryan Strome, Jussi Jokinen
Key departures: Jordan Eberle, Benoit Pouliot
The key for the Oilers is winning. The great part of all this is that their GM, Peter Chiarelli truly sees the big picture. To build a Stanley Cup team you have to make some difficult decisions. Like for instance, trading away Jordan Eberle to the New York Islanders, in exchange for Ryan Strome. That is a huge move, trading away a guy who was such a huge part of the community in Edmonton and was a fan-favourite. Obviously near the end, not so much, as the blame from the fans was almost directly fallen onto Eberle’s shoulders. But that’s just it, Canadian sports markets are ludicrous. It’s just a giant blame game, and whoever isn’t always performing to their maximum ability gets blamed. Eberle was in the same situation as Strome was in New York. Having underperformed in the past few seasons, they both needed fresh starts.
Being a Canadian sports team definitely has its pressure. The pressure is so high because Canadian’s aren’t necessarily the most patient sports fans. That’s why you see, a lot of the time, there are star players that almost refuse to play in Canada due to the intensity of the media. Now, in Edmonton, they’ve done a really good job in being a successful hockey team on and off the ice. Not only are the Oilers a first-class organization, but they also have a good relationship with the media. It’s not often you hear bad altercations happening between sports players and media, but when you do it usually comes out of the NBA or NFL.
Obviously being a successful Canadian sports team has its perks. Having the entire country of Canada cheering you on at once is truly something special. Now, as for the Oilers, they look to be in for another successful season. Backed by Cam Talbot, and the firepower of their one-two punch in McDavid and Draisaitl. Look for them to battle hard this season, especially with Calgary revamping their roster and Anaheim’s staying virtually untouched. Can Connor McDavid lead his team to a Stanley Cup this season? Only time will tell.
By: Coleton MacDonald