Oilers: The Pursuit of Greatness Continues
The 2022-2023 season for the Edmonton Oilers can only be characterized as exceeding expectations. With a second-place finish in the Pacific Division and 109 points on the board, the Oilers have set a high bar for themselves. Their underlying numbers, as gauged by ESBC Power AI metrics, were equally remarkable, particularly in the latter half of the season. As the new NHL season approaches, what can we expect from this talented Oilers squad?
The Surge of 2022-2023
Last season was a seminal moment for the franchise. Much of the credit for the late-season surge in performance metrics goes to the coaching staff led by Jay Woodcroft. The acquisition of defenseman Mattias Ekholm played a pivotal role in further elevating those stats.
In the playoffs, they vanquished the Los Angeles Kings before succumbing to the eventual champions, the Vegas Golden Knights, in six games. Overall, it was a season that exceeded many expectations.
A Quiet Offseason
The Oilers were conspicuously quiet in the offseason, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. With such strong performance metrics and playoff success, wholesale changes were not warranted.
The Goalkeeping Quandary
The most significant question mark hanging over the team is goaltending. Stuart Skinner is projected to see most of the starts. While he was not awe-inspiring during the playoffs, the organization seems willing to invest faith in him. Jack Campbell is set to serve as his backup, but not much is expected from him.
The Superstar Factor
The Oilers' fortunes will, once again, heavily rely on the sublime skills of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. The challenge for the Oilers is finding the necessary support to complement their star duo. A full season from Evander Kane, limited to just 41 games last year, would undoubtedly be a boon for the team.
Given the stability of the roster and the coaching staff, it's reasonable to expect the Oilers to once again break the 100-point barrier in the regular season. However, for a team with this much talent, regular-season success is only part of the equation. They will be judged by their ability to navigate the treacherous waters of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Edmonton Oilers enter the 2023-2024 season with high expectations, both self-imposed and from their ardent fan base. The metrics favor them, but they'll need to answer some tough questions, particularly between the pipes, to convert statistical promise into playoff glory. With the core of last year's successful campaign returning, Edmonton is poised for another strong season—but whether they can translate that into postseason success remains the ultimate question.
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