Over the past couple weeks a divide has been formed between fans on the comment section at Hockeybuzz. On one side you have fans that are celebrating the successes of last season and believe that the team is trending upwards, and on the other side you have those who believe the team has overestimated certain things which is going to result in a drop off. I find myself in the latter category.
However I can admit when I am wrong and now I too can see through the same rose coloured glasses as everyone else. So here is the completely serious and not at all sarcastic look at why the Oilers are probably going to be the best team in the league by a mile this season.
1.) Talbot Is Going To Go "God Mode" Again!
Talbot broke Grant Fuhr's record for most wins in a single season; a record held since 1988. Talbot played 73 games for the Oilers (the second highest goaltender played 66 games) and lead the league in saves. As everybody knows, breaking records held by Hall of Fame goaltenders is something we should expect every season and in no way should his record breaking season diminish what our defense accomplished.
2.) The Defense All Have Norris Potential!
Sure Andrej Sekera could be out until January and won't be in mid season form until April, that matters little when you look at the all star cast assembled. Klefbom is coming off his first healthy pro season ever which means we should expect him never to miss another game. Russell is the heart and soul of this team, beloved by analytics fans and plebeians alike and the only thing better than Russell is Russell playing without Sekera.
As for our younger players we should see successful seasons from both Benning and Nurse as they continue to develop in straight lines. Benning in particular will be leaned upon and probably playing a top 4 role for the first few months of the season. If he struggles, luckily we have Eric Gryba signed and ready to step in as he is the next best right shot in our lineup.
3.) No More Injuries!
The Oilers top 6 of Maroon, Lucic, McDavid, Draisaitl, Nuge, and Eberle missed a whopping 1 games between all 6 of them. Hopefully this season we don't have the same horrid luck and we can lower that number by one. Which leads me too...
4.) The Best Depth In the League!
This is the big one. Last season one of the big reasons the team succeeded is because a number of prospects graduated to the NHL level and were able to challenge veterans for positions. Caggiula, Benning, Slepeshev, and Khaira were all pleasant surprises and it should be no surprised that each of them have their names written in pen for this season.
If one of our defensemen get injured or one of the above mentioned players doesn't perform as expected (but what are the odds of that), we can callup Ryan Stanton or even better Keegan Lowe. If one of our forwards gets injured there is always Joey Laleggia or Ty Rattie to the rescue.
5.) Everything Else!
There are so many other reasons why we should be optimistic; trading our third highest scorer for a player who's best season isn't as good as Eberle's worst, knowing Maroon is going to shoot almost 17% again for 25 goals, and not trying to sign any other proven veterans and instead counting on inexperienced players to fill key spots.
All of these reasons suggest that this is a team on the rise and should be challenging for a Cup. If the team was to take a step or two backwards this season I think we will all be shocked as that would be something that no one saw coming.
As always... thank you for reading!