According to Allan Mitchell of The Athletic, the Edmonton Oilers are expected to keep looking at their options this offseason, but perhaps more importantly, the roster already constructed has the potential to make some “loud noises” over the course of the 2023/24 season. Mitchell identified goaltending, defense, and the forward positions as areas where some big things could take place over the season and that’s good news for a team that might be stuck until the NHL Trade Deadline with the moves they’ve already made.
In terms of goaltending, Mitchell highlights the possibility of Jack Campbell reclaiming the starting role and delivering an outstanding performance. If Campbell starts 50 games and excels, it would be a major development for the Oilers and significantly enhance their chances of competing for the Stanley Cup.
On the defensive front, Mitchell suggests that Mattias Ekholm has the potential to surpass Darnell Nurse as the team’s top left defenseman. Ekholm’s emergence as the number one defender in Edmonton would be significant news and he proved he’s got the chops to take on the role based on what he did in his short stint last season when he arrived as part of a trade from the Nashville Predators.
In terms of forwards, Mitchell focuses on Leon Draisaitl’s ability to thrive away from his usual linemate Connor McDavid during five-on-five play. If Draisaitl can excel in this role, it would certainly grab headlines and demonstrate his versatility as a player. The Oilers’ ability to put these two together is a weapon in the back pocket of the head coach, but if he doesn’t need to use that weapon, it makes the Oilers incredibly deep.
Mitchell also raises the question of whether Evander Kane can replicate his impressive scoring numbers from last season over an entire year. Additionally, the performance of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the left wing and the potential impact of Connor Brown and Zach Hyman on the top lines will be closely monitored.
Are These Loud Noises Enough to Bring a Stanely Cup Back to Edmonton?
Mitchell outlined the potential “loud noises” that could be generated by the Oilers this season, but they aren’t the only things that could help push Edmonton forward. If Evan Bouchard plays like he did after the Tyson Barrie trade, but all season, he’s potentially good for 65 points. If Ryan McLeod takes another step in his development, the Oilers have a legitimate threat as a third-line center. Should Philip Broberg take another step towards becoming a top-four defenseman, or Stuart Skinner find a way to stay consistent after his wonderful rookie season, the Oilers are serious contenders.
As the offseason progresses, Oilers fans and the hockey world will eagerly await what else the team can do, if anything. If nothing, the team is already good, but what they do as a unit and individually could make them great.
I like that Mitchell points to what is on this Oilers’ team instead of just at what else they might be able to do this off-season. It’s easy to overlook the existing roster when fixated on signing players and trades during the summer. The Oilers are deep. They’ve got elite talent at the top of their roster and are in good shape throughout. Key to remember is that they just need to be in the playoff conversation and the trade deadline opens up another world of possibilities.
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