NHL preview: Edmonton Oilers are good, and everyone knows it now

The Edmonton Oilers will start the 2017-18 season facing higher expectations after making huge strides last year with the help of captain Connor McDavid and coach Todd McLellan.

Heightened expectations weigh on young squad like never before

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid, centre, is coming off a 100-point MVP season. Led by the 20-year-old, Edmonton ended a 10-year playoff drought last season. (Harry How/Getty Images)

This is part one of our series of season previews for the seven Canadian-based NHL teams.

Published previews: Toronto Maple LeafsCalgary FlamesMontreal Canadiens, Winnipeg Jets, Ottawa Senators.

Edmonton Oilers

2016-17 record: : 47-26-9 (103 points), 2nd out of 7 in Pacific Division, eliminated by Anaheim in 7 games in 2nd round of playoffs

Key off-season additions: F Ryan Strome, F Jussi Jokinen

Key off-season subtractions: F Jordan Eberle

Probability of winning the Cup*: 11.11%

Probability of winning division*: 35.71%

*derived from betting odds posted by Bodog

Last season's story

Led by a healthy Connor McDavid and a MVP season, the Edmonton Oilers ended a 10-year post-season drought to come within one win of reaching the Western Conference Final. Needless to say, expectations will be higher this season after Edmonton locked up their dynamic duo long-term by extending both McDavid and playoff revelation Leon Draisaitl over the summer. Goalie Cam Talbot also proved to be dependable, racking up 42 wins in a league-leading 73 starts. The young team proved that the seemingly perpetual rebuild has led to a solid foundation. 

Edmonton Oilers goalie Cam Talbot started a League-leading 73 games in the 2016-17 season. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

The off-season

In order to re-sign those star players, the Oilers had to free up some cap space. Edmonton sent its 2008 1st-round pick, Jordan Eberle and his $6 million salary, to the New York Islanders in exchange for the more affordable Ryan Strome. Left wing Benoit Pouliot had the final two years of his contract bought out, but things were otherwise fairly quiet. One notable addition is veteran forward Jussi Jokinen, who could prove to be a bargain at just $1.1 million US for one year. 

Edmonton locked up forwards Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid to long-term contracts over the summer. (Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)

Dream scenario

Edmonton flourishes despite the added pressure and continues to make strides under Todd McLellan. In his second season coaching the Oilers, McLellan helped the team finish eighth in goals and goals-against, and built the fifth-best power play in the League. Edmonton will have no issue making a deep playoff run if McDavid can come close to the production that won him the Hart Trophy as the most valuable player and the Art Ross Trophy as leading scorer with 100 points. 

Connor McDavid poses with the Art Ross Trophy, Hart Memorial Trophy and the Ted Lindsay Award after the 2017 NHL Awards. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Nightmare scenario

The stress of high expectations rattles the young squad as it appeared to in the second round of the playoffs when Edmonton lost to the Anaheim Ducks in seven games after going up 2-0 early in the series. Injuries to either McDavid or Talbot could also spell disaster. Draisaitl may arguably be able to take over in the captain's absence but workhorse Talbot still doesn't have a backup (Laurent Brossoit) who could realistically take the reins if needed.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.