This version of the Edmonton Oilers is going to be better than the 07-08 edition.
Offensively, by quite a bit. Most of the increase in power (imo) will come from the top two lines as this should be the season Ales Hemsky takes another step (it’s his Rick Middleton year).
The 07-08 team had its injuries to major players and its massive at-bats totals for the rookies. This season it’s a year on, there’s an added piece to the powerplay up front and another on the blueline.
Here are my predicted points totals for the Oilers forwards this season:
- Ales Hemsky 73gp, 26-67-93
- Shawn Horcoff 71gp, 26-44-70
- Dustin Penner 82gp, 30-23-53
- Sam Gagner 78gp, 18-35-53
- Robert Nilsson 77gp, 17-34-51
- Erik Cole 71gp, 20-27-47
- Andrew Cogliano 80gp, 20-25-45
- Fernando Pisani 77gp, 17-19-36
- Kyle Brodziak 82gp, 10-20-30
- Marc Pouliot 75gp, 7-19-26
- Ethan Moreau 50gp, 10-7-17
- Ryan Potulny 50gp, 6-7-13
- Zack Stortini 75gp, 5-8-13
- JF Jacques 42gp, 3-7-10
The toughest player to keep off the F list was Brule because he does have a nice range of skills. Less difficult to keep off (because of roster makeup) was Rob Schremp, but he could certainly blow everyone away and make the big team. The problem for him (unless there’s an injury) would be role and icetime. The totals for the forwards, compared to last season:
- 07-08: 185 goals, 300 assists= 485 points
- 08-09: 215 gpals, 342 assists= 557 points
The big difference for me comes in the top 2 lines. The Horcoff line should get some breaks from time to time due to the strength of the line Pisani’s on, and the kids should be able to improve enough to be a going concern:
- Horcoff line: 64 goals a year ago; projected for 82 this season.(+18)
- Kid line: 41 a year ago ; projected for 55 this season (+14)
The amount of offensive talent on this team is impressive. How many of these players end up in the black is an open question, but they have the right coach for the job and are more balanced than they’ve been in some time. The season’s key up front is #83, with a hat tip to the kid in the photo who should be something else again by this time next season.