Well that was a thing...
The 2017-2018 season came ending on Saturday night with everyone discussing the Sedin twins last game. It was a metaphorical end to the season; everyone was discussing everything except the Oilers. So... how the hell did we get here?
The Oilers entered the 2017-2018 as one of the Cup Favourites... not simply for Playoff Contention but to win it all. Myself along with some other not mainstream media were less convinced. I felt that the team was counting too much on players like Caggiula, Slepeshev, Puljujarvi, and Strome to be much better than what they have shown while at the same time expecting all the players who had career years to continue producing at the same pace.
Worst case scenario I imagined the team fighting for a Wild Card spot.
I did not expect the team to fall off the rails so spectacularly.
In no particular order here is what happened...
- Cam Talbot was not good enough for the better part of this season. The amount of games where he let in the first goal on the first shot... it happened a bunch.
- Injuries plagued the backend. Sekera was not back until late December and he played like a shadow of his former self. We just found out a short time ago that Oscar Klefbom played through shoulder issues basically the entire season.
- Secondary scoring was lacking. Milan Lucic was an anchor, Slepeshev was left to wallow as a healthy scratch while Caggiula was gifted minutes he didn't deserve. The handling of Puljujarvi remains a mystery and Strome is not the new 70 point RW for McDavid but rather the 35 point 3rd line centre some of us knew he would be.
- Special teams was one of the big headlines... the PK was a bizarre mystery of being both one of the worst in NHL HISTORY at home while having the best PK on the road. The fact the team overall was 25th in PK shows how bad their home record was.
- The Pacific Division was better than expected, This one doesn't get talked about as much as it should. Part of the reason why my worst case scenario was thinking this team would fight for a wild card spot was how poor the rest of the Pacific looked. Vegas was... well Vegas. The Sharks lost Marleau and looked to finally be rebuilding, the Kings were a bit of an unknown, Anaheim started the season with a bunch of key injuries.
Vegas was shock to the NHL world, the Sharks looked rejuvenated and are actually my dark horse pick, Anaheim managed to squeak in and overcome their injuries, and the Kings look like a brand new team. The division will be very interesting next season.
Over the next few weeks I'll start getting into my individual player grades and what needs to change going forward. It should be a big summer of change for this organization and hopefully fans will have a good reason to be more hopeful for the 2018-2019 season.
TLDR: The Oilers were really bad in 2017-2018 and there were many reasons why.
Thanks for reading!