2014 Edmonton Oilers Predictions and NHL Futures Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 9/15/2014
The last season for the Oilers was a disaster pretty much no matter how you looked at it. They couldn't win. Their young core of superstars didn't seem to progress (with the exception of Taylor Hall). Rookie coach Dallas Eakins was often just plain bad and seemed over his head far too often. The attitude of the team was lousy - they seemed to quit whenever things got tough. It was yet another disappointment in a decade full of them.
So, should we be braced for even more of the same this year, or will this finally be the year that this once proud franchise returns to respectability? They have the pieces to pull it off, but that has been the case for the last couple of years, and it has done them no good at all.
Edmonton Oilers Offseason Moves
For a team that was as bad as they were last year, the Oilers really had a quiet offseason. They had dealt with their biggest need last year when they first acquired goalie Ben Scrivens and then Viktor Fasth. That duo represents the best goaltending they have had in far too long. This summer's best move is a quiet one - the addition of defenseman Nikita Nikitin from Columbus. He's not flashy or offensive, but he is steady and will upgrade the team without the puck. Adding Benoit Pouliot as a free agent - albeit by overpaying him - is also a nice move.
The team saw departures that are more noteworthy than their additions. Ryan Smyth has finally retired. He added little on the ice in his return to the site of his glory days in Edmonton, but he was a locker room presence. Sam Gagner, who was rumored to be traded for years, is also gone.
The Oilers could have gotten a real gem in the draft when they selected center Leon Draisaitl in the first round. They need depth at center, and he is a good one. At this point, though, he faces an uphill battle to make the team. At his age and experience another year of junior would likely serve him well. If any team knows that rushing youngsters into high-pressure situations doesn't always work out immediately it is Edmonton.
Edmonton Oilers NHL Outlook
This marks the third straight year that I have been reasonably optimistic about this team. The last two years have not gone well for me. They have improved their goaltending, their defensive corps should be improved, and they have no shortage of young talent who should continue to grow and expand their offensive capabilities. Dallas Eakins had a terrible debut year as a coach, but he should be more capable than that, and this should be a better year. This team isn't of a championship caliber by any means, but their playoff drought could certainly end, and if the goalies do their job then this wouldn't be a very fun matchup. This should be Edmonton's best year - by a good margin - since their unlikely run to the Cup final in 2006.
Edmonton Oilers Schedule
The Oilers open up with five straight games against divisional foes - Calgary, L.A., Arizona, and Vancouver twice. That won't make or break their season, but it will give them and us a good idea of how they measure up and if they are finally ready to take a step forward.
Edmonton Oilers NHL Futures Odds (from Bovada)
At 50/1 to win the Stanley Cup the Oilers are deemed to be more likely winners than nine other teams. That doesn't sound like much, but compared to where they have been for several years now that is progress. They are the 10th choice to win the Western Conference at 28/1 and the fifth choice to win the division at 9/1. The prices support my opinion - this is a team that is in the playoff mix if they get their act together. There isn't a whole ton of value to be had here because the prices are fair, but there are definitely worse bets you can make than this one.
2014-15 Edmonton Oilers Predictions
Taylor Hall will establish himself as a superstar in this league. Justin Schultz will fully justify the hype surrounding him when he came out of college a couple of years back. The team will play tough and will make the playoffs. They likely won't do anything when they get there, but this is the first step down the path to cashing in on all the potential they have gained from the draft. They still won't be truly elite, but a team that ranked 30th in goals against last year should move well up those ranks - with the results to accompany it. That's what I expect to happen. Of course, they could just do what they have always done lately - find new and creative ways to disappoint, frustrate and waste potential.
Doc's Sports is offering $60 worth of member's picks absolutely free - no obligation, no sales people - you don't even have to enter credit card information. You can use this $60 credit any way you please for any handicapper and any sport on Doc's Sports Advisory Board list of expert sports handicappers. Click here for more details and take advantage of this free $60 picks credit today .
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
Get all of Tonight's NHL Picks.
Get all of Tonight's guaranteed Expert NHL Picks.