4 Reasons Why The Oilers Will Regress This Season
Good morning and a happy Monday to you all.
Eventually (hopefully) the 2020/2021 season will get underway and we will all be able to watch hockey once more. Regardless whether it ends up being in an All Canadian Division or a more normal setting, the Edmonton Oilers should expect to be a playoff team; not a full blown contender, but a competitive team.
However as always in the game of hockey, there are a number of variables that can come into play. Here are five reasons that Edmonton may not make the playoffs, or at the very least regress.
1.) Sophomore Slumps
Last season Edmonton received some big help from young players who rose up in the likes of Caleb Jones, Kailer Yamamoto, and Ethan Bear and all three will once again be counted on to play in key roles. However it isn't uncommon to see players entering their second year taking a step back from what they produced the year prior.
Kailer Yamamoto produced 26 points in 27 games, scoring 11 goals on 44 shots. That is a 25% ratio that is nearly impossible to replicate. Ethan Bear and Caleb Jones will both need to play big minutes this season, with Jones likely getting the bump in Klefbom's absence. If either falters there isn't much of a safety net available for this team.
2.) A Lesser PK
Everyone discusses how impressive the Oilers powerplay is but many forget that Edmonton also had the second best penalty kill in the league. Mike Smith actually led the league with a 0.918SV% at 4 on 5. Riley Sheahan despite not being great at 5 on 5 was a great penalty killer and is no longer with the organization.
Kyle Turris likely isn't transforming into a PKer so the top unit will likely fall to Khaira and Archibald up front. Jujhar isn't a consistent player and if he is the main piece up front Edmonton could easily return to a middle of the pack PK team.
3.) Loss of Klefbom
Klefbom is an oft injured player and almost every time he has been injured for a longer period of time it isn't a coincidence that the Oilers have struggled. Darnell Nurse is a solid second pairing player at even strength but time and time again have shown that he struggles when he has to play too many minutes.
Barrie will help replace the offense from the backend but as mentioned above if the young pieces aren't able to step up, losing a top pairing defenceman in Klefbom could be devastating.
Goaltending (combined with the fact that the team returned from a four month break and clearly weren't ready to play an emotionless series against the Hawks who finished last in their division) was a big reason why Edmonton lost in the play-in round. Koskinen who had been solid throughout the regular season struggled and Mike Smith played about as well as he did through most of the season.
Bringing Smith back was the one mistake Holland made this off-season and how often Tippett decides to play him this season will directly effect how many games the Oilers win.
Mikko Koskinen was steady enough through most of last season that there shouldn't be cause for alarm but there were stretches of bad games and if those linger, especially in a shortened season that will be problematic, especially considering who the backup is.
Before anyone starts feeling too down, my next blog will detail reasons why the Oilers should improve off of last season. The fact is there are some red flags that Tippett, the rest of the coaching staff and the players will all need to overcome this season. Out of all of these, the biggest concern for me is asking too much from the younger pieces on defence. Caleb Jones and Ethan Bear both need to be at least as good as last year and a step back could be a major problem.
Thanks for reading