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Edmonton Oilers - Season 5 Preview Written by habsfan93 - November 30th, -0001

Last year represented a dramatic turnaround for the Edmonton Oilers, as they made a splash by finishing 5th in the West, and making the playoffs for the very first time. GM Oilerfan4life was rewarded for these efforts with a Jack Adams Nomination. The Oilers will look to repeat that effort and prove that their success was not a fluke, and they’ll be doing it with a similar but slightly revamped roster as Oilerfan4life found ways to improve on what he felt was an already winning formula.

Offence

Like Spezza and Calgary, the Oilers are led by two supremely talented forwards who have remained faithful to the city of Edmonton: Jarome Iginla and Ryan Smyth. Both these players are among the rare group of forwards that has never played for any other CMHL team. Jarome Iginla has increased his point output every single season since the CMHL began, leading the team last year with 47 goals and 98 points. He’ll be counted on to crack the 100-point mark this year. Smyth continued his superior play accounting for another 78 points on Iggy’s side, assisting 55 times.

However, two of the biggest components of Edmonton’s offensive success are now gone. Alex Mogilny, after 4 years as one of the CMHL’s greatest forwards, decided to hang up the skates after seeing his point production drop for 3 straight seasons. Adding to this blow is the departure of Ladislav Nagy, who emerged last season as a premier playmaker, leading the league with 69 assists. He was scooped up by the Atlanta Thrashers looking for a radical way to quickly rebuild, leaving the Oilers with a selection of draft picks. Looking to replace their offense, the Oilers will be counting on returnees such as Robert Lang and Michael Nylander, as well as their big offseason acquisition – Jan Bulis. Bulis had a career year last year with the Rangers, and the Oilers are hoping he can provide enough extra punch to keep them on their level. Just kidding! The Oilers big offseason acquisition isn’t really so much an acquisition, but a draftee ready for the show in Patrick Kane. Kane will be expected to make up for the lost assists of one Mr. Nagy and many fans in Oil Town are expecting to see the Calder Trophy next year sitting next to their Stanley Cup.

Defense

While they may have lost some power up front, the Oilers left their defense intact, with one exception. They scored the biggest free agent coup of the summer and signed Scott Niedermayer to a league maximum 8.8 million dollar deal. Niedermayer is a consistent 50 point player and exceptional defender. He’ll be joined by blue line fixtures such as Rob Blake, Robyn Regehr, Keith Ballard and Bret Hedican in what makes a formidable back end.

Goaltending

Last year, the Oilers got through on the superb play of Manny Legace who won 33 games and played above his rating. He was backed up by now retired former start Dominik Hasek. With Hasek gone, the Oil decided to move Legace and start fresh, and they did so in style, picking up one of the very best in the league in Evgeni Nabokov and backup Mathieu Garon. This duo will be expected to win a lot of games single-handedly for the Oilers as the team seems to have replaced offense by defense in a strategy that could or could-not pan out.

Prospects

While the Oilers were missing the playoffs for 3 straight years, one thing they were doing is drafting high. However, many of those prospects are already graduated leaving the Oilers with a few above-average guys and a stable of maybes. The price of success? Maybe. Robbie Schremp leads the pack and is probably the surest bet of them all. Robert Nilsson has made strides lately and is looking better than ever. Guys like Devyn Dubnyk represent the question marks.

Playoffs

Expect Edmonton to repeat their success once again. While they may have lost a little offensive punch, they have made stark upgrades at defense and in nets that should allow them to get by with the lost offense. A perennial contender for the division title, though this author is not convinced that they are as strong as Calgary.

Quick Hits

Best Bargain: Robyn Regehr – Regehr is one of the best defenders in the game and will not let opposing forwards by easily. At $625,000, he’s a steal.

Overpaid: Scott Niedermayer – Is he worth the league maximum 8.8 million? This GM says no, but I know several who disagree. We’ll only know in June…

Breakout Player: Patrick Kane – Did you really expect it to be anyone else? Look for a  big year from Kane.

Overrated: Rob Blake – Blake is aging rapidly and he’s not the player he used to be. After 3 straight seasons of 45 points, Blake only managed 30 last year, a sign of things to come.

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