The Edmonton Oilers enter the coming season with high, but measured, expectations. The sky is the limit for this young squad, but putting it all together is easier said than done. Both Hall and Eberle are proving to be star talents in the league with Yakupov not far behind them. Questions surround RNH's health and size, however nobody will second guess the pure skill and vision that he possesses. Sam Gagner is one of the more underrated players in the league and new addition Perron will add a much needed "veteran" and physical boost to the team. Having Ales Hemsky on your third will allow the team some of the depth they've lacked in recent years.
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The problem with the Oilers, as is obvious to anyone following the team, is their defensive game, mainly their group of Dmen. Ference should give them a boost in that regard and J.Schultz should be better with some NHL experience under his belt. While DD was solid in net for the team last season, he can't do it alone, and if the team can play a solid system under Eakins there is no question whether this team can make the playoffs.
Looking around the Western Conference, especially within the division, both the Canucks and Flames look weaker than they have in years and ripe for the pickings of a young and talented team with speed and skill to burn. The Ducks lost Ryan and may lose Selanne, while teams like Nashville and Phoenix can go either way. Take out the Wings and it's an even easier task than previous seasons.
If I was a betting man, I would place a modest wager on the Oilers finally making the playoffs this season, but once in I think a playoff series will come as a rude awakening on much more work needs to be done until this team is ready to contend. The talent is there, all thats needed now is a coach who can get them to play a solid team game and a GM who isnt afraid to make bold moves to improve this club and provide the missing pieces.
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