Tha Sports Junkies 101

Don’t expect the Oilers in the Playoffs in 2017

Tha Sports Junkies 101-Sports News Annie Devine/via


A month ago, the NHL free agency period began. That day, the Edmonton Oilers landed the biggest name on the market by signing forward Milan Lucic to a seven-year contract. Oilers fans surely got really excited with the signing, probably even thinking playoffs for this upcoming season.

However, I wouldn’t be getting my hopes up that much.

The Oilers are definitely a better and much more physical team with Lucic on their roster. That doesn’t compensate for the two biggest problems they have, though.

One of those problems is the lack of a number one defenseman.

As of right now, Andrew Ference and Andrej Sekera are their top two blueliners. Both players are very solid NHL defensemen with plenty of experience. However, on contending teams, they would be the second pair on the back end.

Ference has a Stanley Cup ring under his belt, but is in the latter part of his career at 37 years old. He is also currently on injured reserve after only having played in six games last season due to a hip injury.

Sekera, meanwhile, is coming off his second-best offensive season in the NHL. However, he was a -15 on the league’s fifth-worst defensive team.

Despite having a pretty good group of forwards, Edmonton’s biggest struggle has been on the defensive side. Inexperience has a lot to do with that. As previously mentioned, Ference and Sekera are the Oilers’ most experienced defensemen.

After them, there is only one other blue liner that’s at least 29 years old. Their next oldest defender is 24-year-old Brandon Davidson, who has a total of 63 games of NHL experience.

Edmonton did add Adam Larsson to their blue line this summer in a trade that sent forward, and former No. 1 pick, Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils. Larsson’s acquisition does give the Oilers some more depth and experience on the back end (Larsson has played 274 regular season games in the league).

However, Larsson is still only 23 and hasn’t established himself as a top NHL defender yet. He’s bound to have plenty of work this upcoming season as Edmonton’s gave up the fifth-most shots per game last season. Maybe this is the year he can start putting his name in the conversation for top young defenseman.

The Oilers’ second biggest problem is not having an established No. 1 netminder, yet.

Cam Talbot was the main man between the pipes last season, his first as a full-time starter. He had a decent year, going 21-27-5 with a .917 save percentage, 2.55 goals against average, and three shutouts.

Talbot did a good job in keeping Edmonton close as possible in some games last season, but it surely was a different experience than he had in New York with the Rangers. However, many believe he can and will establish himself into a solid starting goalie so that problem could be solved soon.

As mentioned earlier, the Oilers have a solid group of forwards on paper. With Hall, last season’s leading scorer, gone, the team will surely look to youngsters Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid to help Lucic carry the offense.

One just wonders if playing with McDavid will be what helps Lucic finally break out. Despite having tremendous size and a good bit of skill, Lucic has yet to have a season where he has dominated opponents on a consistent basis.

The 28-year-old has never scored more than 62 points in a season and has hit the 30-goal mark only once in his career. In fact, he’s scored 20 or more goals only four times in his nine-year career.

Even if Lucic were to break out this season, though, it’s still tough seeing Edmonton in the postseason come next spring. What could help the Oilers is that their division, the Pacific, is not as deep as the Central Division.

Last season, the Central had five teams in the playoffs, while the Pacific only had three. It’s just hard seeing them knock out Anaheim, Los Angeles, or San Jose from the top three. Arizona,with their additions this summer, should also contend for a top three or wild card spot.

Then again, crazier things have happened in sports. However, if I were to put money on it, I wouldn’t expect to see them in the playoffs.