This will be the 10th season since the Oilers last made the postseason, losing to the Hurricanes in the Stanley Cup Finals. Nothing has gone right for them during these past several years, and for a long time it didn’t look like things were changing for the better anytime soon. It looks like they may finally be taking steps forward, though.
Even once they had won the draft lottery, when Craig McTavish was quoted saying, “Offense wins hockey games, and we’ll be loaded with it,” it seemed to me nothing was going to change, even with McDavid. The defense and goaltending has been horrid the past few seasons; that was the main issue, and it didn’t see McTavish realized that. They were not going anywhere unless they improved in that area. A strong offense alone does not work. I think back to the Hurricanes’ 2013 season. The offense was strong, having the most lethal line in the league of Tlusty-Eric Staal-Semin. The Canes jumped out to a 15-9-1 start. Then Cam Ward went down with an injury. Due to that, they began playing more passively, trying to protect the net more. The defense was not good enough to do that, and they lost 14 out of 15 games. You look at a team such as the Kings, who has had a strong defense, but not the best offense. They have won 2 Stanley Cups in 4 years. Point is, a weak defense will be the downfall to a team. That’s why it’s true that defense wins championships.
That soon changed with Peter Chiarelli coming in and Craig McTavish being demoted. With the exception of Connor McDavid, it was obvious the focus was on defense this summer. They first traded for Cam Talbot, who established himself as ready to be a starter while Lundqvist was injured. The Oilers may finally have a reliable man in net. They also traded for Eric Gryba, who is a solid top 6 defenseman. Along with that, they acquired Griffin Reinhart, who is going to be a great defender in the future.
I believe the biggest move, however, was signing Andrej Sekera. That was a fantastic move on their part, acquiring a top 4 defenseman who plays a tremendous two-way game. He exploded offensively in the 2013-2014 season and solidified himself as a guy who can quarterback a power play. He is very smart in his own end of the ice, having great senses, positioning, and stick checking. He keeps his stick on the ice and interrupts passes very well, also.
The last move they made was acquiring Lauri Korpikoski, a solid veteran, depth forward. I do not believe they are playoff ready, but they are beginning to make strides toward a postseason appearance.