Edmonton Oilers 2020 NHL Season Preview: Odds and Predictions
Edmonton Oilers 101
Home Arena: Rogers Place – Edmonton, AB., Canada, 18,347 capacity
Championships: Stanley Cups: 5, President’s Trophies: 2, Conference titles: 7, Division titles: 9
Owner: Oilers Entertainment Group
General Manager: Ken Holland
Head Coach: Dave Tippett
Team Captain: Connor McDavid
For a team with so much promise and firepower, the Edmonton Oilers had many struggles last season that most fans and pundits simply couldn’t figure out. The team finished with the 12th-fewest goals in the league with 229 and 119 of those goals were scored exclusively by Connor McDavid, Leon Draisatl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Those three players were the only ones to surpass 38 points on the team. Those three players are the only reason that Edmonton Oilers managed to sneak into the top-ten when it came to the power-play rankings as they finished the season with a 21.17 percent success rate. They had the fourth-lowest amount of shots in the league as well. Head coach Todd McLellan was fired early into the season and replaced by Ken Hitchcock, which seemed to help but injuries started to build up for the struggling team as well. After a few trade attempts to stay in the playoff hunt backfired, general manager Peter Chiarelli was also fired from the team.
The first step the Oilers took this offseason was replacing Chiarelli, and they did so by hiring former Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland as Edmonton’s new general manager. With the departure of Ken Hitchcock, Dave Tippett was named as the new head coach of the team. Holland’s first move was a good one as he managed to convince highly regarded prospect Joakim Nygard to sign a one-year deal with the team. The team also traded Milan Lucic to Calgary in exchange for James Neal. Although not in the most ideal scenario, the Edmonton Oilers became a much better team in the short amount of time Holland had to work.
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The Edmonton Oilers struggled on the defensive end last season as well and that was mostly due to injuries. After years of being considered one of the weakest defensive teams in the league, Edmonton actually looked poised to have one of its best defensive seasons in years. Unfortunately for the team, veteran d-man Andrej Sekera missed a majority of the season and a long stretch was had without top-stars Oscar Klefbom and Kris Russell. Russell was limited to 72 games and Klefbom was limited to just 61. Edmonton allowed the seventh-most goals in the league and allowed the 13th-most shots against. The team finished with the second-worst penalty-killing unit in the league – allowing 62 power-play goals against and having only a 74.80 penalty-killing percentage.
Provided he can stay healthy next season, many anticipate Oscar Klefbom to be able to reach new career highs next season. He is expected to a part of the team’s top pairing alongside Adam Larsson. The second defensive pairing should be led by Darnell Nurse who, due to all the injuries, proved he could keep up with an increase in ice-time and managed to set a career-high of 41 points in 82 games – one of the team’s few players to play each regular-season game. Other notable defensive changes to the team this offseason included the buyout of Andrej Sekera’s contract and the eighth-overall selection of defenseman Philip Broberg in the entry-level draft.
The Edmonton Oilers saw negatives and positives between the pipes last season from their tandem of Mikko Koskinen and Cam Talbot. Koskinen went over as the number-one for the team, starting 55 games last season and accumulating a record of 25-21-6. His goals-against average was 2.94 and his save percentage was .906. He also pulled off four shutouts for the team. Cam Talbot was not without his struggles. Talbot appeared in 31 games last season, going 10-15-3 before being dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers at the trade deadline. Talbot had a GAA of 3.70 and a save percentage of just .881. The team had a combined save percentage of .896 – the fifth-worst in the NHL last season.
The team has shown that Koskinen will remain their number-one heading into next season as the Edmonton signed him to a contract extension late in the season last year. The 31-year-old goalie has shown that he is capable of handling a starting position in the NHL after playing 55 games last year. The Oilers also made a good signing in the offseason when they picked up former Calgary Flames goaltender Mike Smith. The veteran netminder is capable of putting in a solid 25-30 games next year as a backup and could even handle the starting position should Koskinen fall to injury or poor play. Mike Smith made 42 appearances last year and finished with a record of 23-16-2. His save percentage last season was .898 and his GAA sat at 2.72.
There are a few young talents poised to become a major part of the team in the near future such as Tyler Benson, but the most intriguing player to watch this season (outside of the top-three of McDavid, Draisaitl, and Nugent-Hopkins) is the newly acquired James Neal. Neal had much success as a Pittsburgh Penguin that translated into a stellar year with the debuting Vegas Golden Knights. His tenure with the Calgary Flames couldn’t be viewed as anything other than a disappointment however. Expect a fired up Neal to bring everything he has to the table in Edmonton as the motivation to play with the team’s young talents, especially on the power play, should see Neal get back to the 50-plus point season performances he is capable of.
Stanley Cup Odds 2020 – Edmonton Oilers
The Edmonton Oilers sit as a +5000 underdog to win the Stanley Cup in 2020. The O/U for their regular-season points total has been listed at 84.5. They are a +205 to make the playoffs this season and a -265 to miss.
Team Total Points in the Competition – Regular Season
|Sportsbook||Over 84.5||Under 84.5|
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