In the 1980s, the Edmonton Oilers were a model of success, winning Stanley Cups with young stars who captured the imagination of hockey fans all over North America. Now they have become a team of perpetual expectations due to young talent and high draft picks but unfortunately potential doesn’t help you in the standings. Will this young group be able to put it together and get back to the playoffs any time soon, or with the worst fears of the fan base come true, that the front office will blunder away the golden goose they were handed with 3 first overall picks in the past 4 years.
Today the Oilers front office made a big splash by re-working their team through the back end. They traded away Devan Dubnyk who many were hailing as the goaltender of the future to the Nashville Predators for Matt Hendricks and his terrible contract. They followed that move but by acquiring home town boy Ben Scrivens to team with Ilya Bryzgalov between the pipes.
If that tandem scares you Oilers fans, don’t fret, neither Scrivens nor Bryzgalov are under contract past this season. Which leads to the big question. What are the Oilers doing? Many fans in Edmonton pointed to Dubnyk’s stats from last year’s shortened season a a sign that he had turned the corner. They finally had the goaltender to go with the young talent up front and were closer to taking that next step up the standings. Three and a half months later he’s gone and there’s nothing but questions about what direction the team will go for next season. Of course they could resign either or both of their current goaltenders before they become UFAs this summer but that is not a given. Maybe they figure Scrivens will buck the trend of players not wanting to sign in Edmonton because he’s a local boy. But would you feel comfortable as a fan going into a season with Ben Scrivens as your #1 goaltender? I sure wouldn’t. Now don’t get me wrong he is a decent goalie, I liken him to Joey MacDonald; a very good backup who can fill in when need be but you’re in trouble if he’s your full time starter.
The goaltending is just one of the questions in Edmonton. How is a team with so much offensive talent so bad? How can the surround Taylor Hall with the pieces he needs? How can a front office feel they can build a competitive team while completely ignoring the defense. If I were to attempt to answer every question people have about the Oilers, I’d be writing well into the offseason. To me the biggest issue seems to be the organizations pro scouting and their complete ineptitude when it comes to surrounding their stars with decent pieces. From an outside looking in, it seems like every single move they’ve made outside of #1 overall picks and Jordan Eberle has been a bad one.
Now of course there are is a possible upside Eberle, Hall, Nugent-Hopkins and Yakupov are a core that many teams would be enviable of. They have decent prospects from recent drafts like Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse who could turn into something good. But do Oilers fans believe this is the front office regime to help turn the corner? If days like today are any indication, I wouldn’t be.