A Look at the 2016-17 Western Conference

The Flames are entering 2016-17 with different coaching, maturing youngsters and much better goaltending. It’s not unrealistic to expect the team to take a very real step forward. 

But Calgary improving over last year’s roster isn’t enough. They also have to improve relative to the rest of the Western Conference in order to have a real shot at the playoffs. Last season, the Flames finished with 77 points, good for 12th in the West and 10 points back of the final Wild Card spot (Minnesota). That means they will probably have to leapfrog at least four teams and improve by 10 points to have a real shot. 

With that in mind, here’s how things are shaping up in the West heading into the new season. 

The Playoff Teams

Dallas Stars

  • Last year: 109 points, 1st in West
  • Trending: static

The Dallas Stars broke out big time last year, paced by one of the leagues most potent offences. Nothing much has changed in that department with the club boasting Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Patrick Sharp, Jason Spezza, Ales Hemsky and Radek Faksa, to name a few guys. 

On the back-end, the Stars have elite blueline scorer John Klingberg and added the still competent Dan Hamhuis. Dallas’ back-end isn’t their strong point, but it’s likely better than it was. 

The Stars’ main weakness is their goaltending. Jim Nill wasn’t able to break up the expensive but mediocre duo of Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen this summer, so the club is stuck hoping at least one of them will be competent for another season. 

If that bet goes bad, the Stars might tumble from first overall, but they are a good bet to remain a super power.   

St. Louis Blues

  • Last year: 107 points, 2nd in West
  • Trending: static

The Blues had a rough off-season. They lost David Backes, Troy Brouwer and Brian Elliott and didn’t really add anyone of note aside from maybe David Perron.

Nevertheless, this is a club still stacked with impressive depth. Up front they have Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex Steen, Paul Stastny, Jaden Schwartz, Patrick Berglund and Robby Fabbri. On the back-end, they have Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, Kevin Shattenkirk and Colton Parayko. 

That is imposing from all angles. 

While the goaltending probably won’t be as good, the Blues are still one of the West’s heavyweights.

Chicago Blackhawks

  • Last year: 103 points, 3rd in the West
  • Trending: down

The Blackhawks have been scary elite for a long time, but this year might be when they start to look a bit more human. 

Because of increasing salary cap pressure, the Hawks have been bleeding depth for years. This summer they lost Teuvo Teravainen to budget pressures, leaving their top-6 forward rotation looking a lot more like a top-5. After the first two lines, the depth falls off precipitously – their bottom 2 forward units will feature a lot of cheap guys and guys you’ve never heard of before in 2016-17.

On the back-end, they have Duncan Keith (who is now 32) and Niklas Hjalmarsson who are still legit. After that, a lot of question marks and problems. Brent Seabrook, for instance, has been on the downward slope for a few seasons now and is set to soak up almost $7M cap space next season. He joins the very gradually aging Brian Campbell and then a bunch of kids to round things out. 

In net, Corey Crawford has been very good for a couple of seasons so they should be fine if he stays healthy. 

Overall, the Hawks still have Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa (though he’s getting on in years) and Duncan Keith and that counts for a lot. But eventually the erosion of the salary cap and the aging of their various pieces is going to catch up to them.

In fact, last year their CF% was just 50.65%, good for 15th in the league and the worst possession rate the team has managed in years. That doesn’t mean the Hawks are going to fall off completely this season, but they may have trouble staying in the top-3.

Anaheim Ducks

  • Last year: 103 points, 4th in the West
  • Trending: down

It’s hard to find a team in the league that had a worse summer than the Ducks. They traded one of the best bench bosses in Bruce Boudreau for one of the worst in Randy Carlyle. They also added marginal contributors like Mason Raymond, Jared Boll, Antoine Vermette and Korbinian Holzer. Their goaltending depth was also harmed by the Frederik Andersen trade. 

Like the Hawks, Anaheim still has an impressive top-end in Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf up front and Hampus Lindholm/Sami Vantanen on the back-end, but it’s doubtful they will be able to completely overcome the influence of Carlyle, who has the ability to completely sink a roster. 

Los Angeles Kings

  • Last year: 102 points, 5th in the West
  • Trending: down

The NHL’s reigning possession champs are also entering a transition phase. Anze Kopitar is now (rightly) one of the highest paid players in the league, but the Kings are littered with problematic contracts like Dustin Brown ($7M), Marian Gaborik ($6.1M) and Jonathan Quick ($7M). The Kings previously impressive core is getting older, more expensive and less effective.

Behind the big guns like Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin, things start to get messy in a hurry for LA with a few, minor exceptions. At some point, the roster is going to become too top heavy to stand upright. 

Like the Hawks, the Kings probably won’t get bad over night but they probably won’t be quite as dominant at controlling play moving forward.

San Jose Sharks

  • Last year: 98 points, 6th in the West
  • Trending: Static

Aside from adding Mikkel Boedker and David Schlemko this off-season, the Sharks more or less stood pat. Not a terrible decision for the Western Conference champs, even if Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are on the wrong side of 30. 

The Sharks have quality and depth at all positions and no major weaknesses. They may not be much better this season, but they probably won’t be much worse either. 

Nashville Predators

  • Last year: 96 points, 7th in the West
  • Trending: up

The Predators famously added PK Subban this summer to what is already an above average blueline featuring Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, and Mattias Ekholm. Dropping the defensively suspect Shea Weber in the deal makes it a double win for the Preds. 

Lost in the hype of the Subban trade is the fact that Nashville now boasts a pretty impressive collection of skaters up front as well. Filip Forsberg, James Neal, Ryan Johansen, Colin Wilson and Craig Smith make for a relatively imposing attack, something that has rarely been true in the Music City. 

The Preds main issue is Pekka Rinne, who has been skating by on his reputation for awhile. The big Fin has been merely average the last couple of years despite a $7M price tag and the organization doesn’t seem to have anyone capable of usurping him. 

Rinne isn’t strictly “bad” yet, so he’s probably not capable of sinking a roster of this quality.  

Minnesota Wild

  • Last year: 87 points, 8th in the West
  • Trending: static

The Wild bumped Thomas Vanek for Eric Staal which is a win, but did nothing else this of note this off-season. 

Minnesota is in an awkward stage where almost all of their expensive, high-end players are entering the back nine of their careers. Zach Parise (31), Mikko Koivu (33), Jason Pominville (33), Ryan Suter (31) and Staal (31), aren’t doddering quite yet, but they’re old enough that we can reasonably expect their performance to start to erode. Together, they collectively cost almost $30M in cap space. 

As a result, they will likely be a middle-tier competitor in the West again, but are doubtful to improve. 

The Basement

Colorado Avalanche

  • Last year: 82 points, 9th in the West
  • Trending: static

The NHL’s worst team at possessing the puck last year nevertheless has a pretty nice collection of players and now they don’t have to worry about Patrick Roy’s terrible systems holding them back. That said, we don’t know who they are going to replace him to run the bench yet. Nevertheless, it’s a good bet the next coach will be an improvement over the last one.

The Avs other problem is they’re cheap. After guys like Matt Duchene, Gabe Landeskog, and Nathan MacKinnon up front as well as Erik Johnson and Tyson Barrie on the blueline, their depth drops off rapidly. Another bad coach or a few key injuries sinks this club. 

Arizona Coyotes 

  • Last year: 78 points, 10th in the West
  • Trending: down

Aside from Arizona’s small handful of quality youngsters in Tie Domi, Anthony Duclair and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, the roster kind of looks like the Island of misfit toys. Their crease is crowded by the aging and expensive Mike Smith and Louis Domingue seems like a middling replacement. 

Nothing to see here. The Coyotes will compete bravely all year, but they are a good bet to be in the race to the bottom.

Winnipeg Jets

  • Last year: 78 points, 11th in the West
  • Trending: up

When you glance at the Jets roster, it’s hard to understand how they finished so low last year. They lost Andrew Ladd to free agency, but they still have Mark Schiefele, Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little, Matthew Perreault and Nikolaj Ehlers up front. Joining them is Patrik Laine who will probably be a good NHLer sooner rather than later.

On the back-end is Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, Tyler Myers and Jacob Trouba (assuming they re-sign him) 21 year old, former 13th overall pick Josh Morrissey might be ready to make the leap to the show this yer as well. 

In goal, Ondrej Pavelec has been undeservedly playing as the club’s starter for years, but may be usurped by one of Micheal Hutchinson or Connor Hellebuyck. 

The Jets have excellent players at every position and many of them are young enough to expect improvement. They shouldn’t be in the West’s basement forever.

Calgary Flames

  • Last year: 77 points, 12th in the West
  • Trending: up

The Flames didn’t change much aside from the one place it really matters: in net. Adding Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson in the crease could be worth around a 30 goal boost alone, given how poor their netminding was last season.

 If the new coaching staff is an improvement over the Hartley crew, the Flames could experience an even bigger jump, even if their forward depth beyond a few key guys like Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Sam Bennett and Mikael Backlund is questionable. Calgary’s blueline is also bifurcated between the elite (Giordano, Brodie and Hamilton) and then very bad (Wideman, Engelland and Smid), which could pose a problem if one of the top-3 gets hurt.

Vancouver Canucks

  • Last year: 75 points, 13th in the West
  • Trending: static

The Canucks are terrible. They were one of the worst even strength teams in the league last year and the twins phenoms trying to float their questionable roster are now 35 years old. 

Benning and company tried to stem the bleeding this year by signing Loui Ericsson and trading for Erik Gudbranson, but it’s not enough. Their kids are just okay, their depth is bad, their goaltending is meh. A decent choice for worst team in the west. 

Edmonton Oilers

  • Last year: 70 points, 14th in the West
  • Trending: ?

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: this year should be the year the Oilers take a step forward. It’s a common refrain we’ve heard during the Oil’s perpetual rebuild, but it could be that Connor McDavid might be the guy to finally make it a reality. 

Not that that means the Oilers are going to leap into the upper echelon or anything. The Taylor Hall trade deleted one of the best wingers in the division in exchange for…a competent shut down defender. The problem for coach McLellan is that Adam Larsson isn’t enough to completely remake the terrible Edmonton blueline. 

Oscar Klefbom and Brandon Davidson are good youngsters and Andrej Sekera is a fine middle-tier option, but the Oilers still don’t have any truly legit top pairing guys. In addition, once you get past the club’s top-end up front, the depth drops off a cliff (though Jesse Puljujarvi might help that if he leaps fully formed into the show). 

Conclusion

As you can tell, the competition is still pretty stiff. The Flames are positioned to be the big mover out of the basement dwellers, but they will have to find a way displace one of the incumbent playoff teams. While LA and Chicago might start trending down this year, for my money the most vulnerable amongst the top-8 are the Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild.

Are the Flames good enough to take either of them out and re-enter the dance? We’ll soon see.

  • Parallex

    I think it’ll be tight but the Flames have a shot at making it this year (legitimately making it, i.e. not having to depend on the fiery breath of the luck dragon like last time).

    I think the big variable is team health. I think we have 6 legit top 9 forwards who’ll be complemented by three question marks. Significant injuries by any of the legit guys will force us to cannibalize the lines and cause all sorts of issues. And we have tenuous depth on D (We’re one injury away from having a Jokipakka/Wideman 2nd pairing… *shudder*).

    If we can stay relatively healthy I think we make it.

  • Danomitee

    Minnesota for sure, if the rest of the west wasn’t so incompetent last year they would have been knocked out easily. Anaheim would surprise me, they lost Anderson but they have some decent goaltending depth and they won the Pacific by only playing for half a season.

  • BurningSensation

    All three California teams look more vulnerable than they have in years, especially the Ducks who could get old/slow up front in a hurry.

    Any of the three could crater and be forced to entertain thoughts of a rebuild. My bet is at least one of them ‘unexpectedly’ blows a tire and skids off the rails.

    I dont share the pessimism on Rinne in Nashville, as IMO his numbers dipped as the result of injury more than crappy play. Getting Subban for Weber was a huge coup as arguably the best blueline in the league got both younger and better, and the young forwards (Forsberg, Johanssen) are primed to make another leap. In short, they are scarey good.

    StLouis is a playoff making machine with depth across the board. They lack a legit #1C, and might have issues in net, but otherwise check all the boxes.

    Chicago is another well tuned playoff machine, but an injury to any of their core (Toews, Kane, Keith, Seabrook, Hjalmmarsson, Anisimov) could submarine them.

    Minnesota looks primed for a crash. Koivu, Staal, Granlund down the middle is…’ok’, but is also; vet heavy, slow, and IMO has a high potential to fail.

    Arizona is in the middle of a rebuild that will end when Strome-Domi-Dvorak reach their prime. So at least 3-4 years away. To misquote Maury, ‘They are NOT the father’.

    The Jets look…pretty good actually. If they get decent goaltending, and Schiefle takes another step, they could be…pretty good.

    Vancouver. A. I liked the Gudbranson deal (young top 4 RH shot DMan for an ok C prospect),B. I hated the Ericcson signing (too long, to high in $), C. the Sedins are slipping, but are still very good, and definitely assisted by the forces of darkness.

    Edmonton. Love the forward core (McDavid, Puljujarvi, the Nuge, Eberle, Draisaitl, etc), but the depth forwsrds are getting bigger and slower than previous editions of the rebuild. Their D corps is still a horrorshow despite the addition of a very capable Adam Larsson. A mid season deal for a legit top 4 defender with a RH shot would change the teams trajectory and timeline for success. Dont see it happening ghough.

    So….

    I think we make the playoffs this year, and then continue to do for a decade straight.

  • FireScorpion

    If the Oilers could draft Worth a damn they’d be scary..but outside of the gifts they’ve received for being shite they have nothing to show for the last handful of years.

    See brodie, mangiapane gaudreau etc

    More of the same for Coil fans.

  • The Fall

    The last month of the season is torture. Flames need to be sitting comfortably in the standings heading into California. The road to the Western Final will have to go through that state, so it will certainly be a decent barometer of where they stack up heading into the post season.

  • T&A4Flames

    I think Cgy, WPG and yes, EDM will all climb past the other bottom feeders. And I will say right now that 2 of the 3 will usurp teams that made the PO’s lst year.

    Van- destined for the basement. They are now doing worse thhings than what CGY did to try to atay in the PO conversation. Ericsson signing was too much for way too long.

    ARZ- they will fal to the bottom as well but, damn, watch out in 2-3 years. Impressive prospect depth.

    COL- the new coach is an unknown variable at this level. They could improve but I still say they fall behind CGY, WPG and EDM.

    MIN- I just have no faith in that team. Guys like Pominville will have to pick it up. If the old vets continue to fall off, I haven’t seen enough in the youth to carry them into the PO’s again this year.

    ANA- another prediction from me; Carlyle sinks this team. They had a poor off season and I just haven’t seen enough to think they can sustain their position in the west.

    EDM- this one was tough. They are a better balanced team with Lucic and Larson, even without Hall. Just how much improved remains to be seen. I thing Pulju will be a great player, but year 1 may not be what is hoped. I think they miss the PO’s this year, again. Their D is still suspect. Their final placement is tough to figure though. But i think they finish ahaead of ANA (yea, i expect a big ANA crash)

    CHI- yep, the miles and depth issues will hurt this team. It won’t last long. They draft well and they will soon add more solid youth to theu still young Toews and Kane and will battle for top in the west again.

    CGY- continued improvement from the youth and a new look crease an coaching staff propel us into the PO’s. Coaching is a bit of an unknown as to how it will affect this group. If BT is right, the additions made to the team should get us in.

    WPG- same as CGY with the youth. I think Laine will score a lot and possibly win the Calder.

    The other teams, fit them in the PO spots as you may. IF CCY continues on the path they are on, they should be legit contenders as the older Cali teams fall and teams like STL and CHI see their window’s start to close, even if just for a short while. NSH will dominate the west for a bit I think.

  • T&A4Flames

    Great article and analysis Kent. As an oiler fan I see only “up” for my team. Why? Todd M is in his second year, bigger and tougher forwards although I will miss Hall, better defence but the jury is still out and a healthy McDavid. Looks much more promising than the past. I hope both the flames and oilers make the playoffs as I want a return of the Battle of Alberta when the two best teams in the league were Edmonton and Calgary

    • Brent G.

      Obviously the question was directed at Kent but I will Take a stab at it.

      The way I read Kents synopsis isn’t to say he fully thinks they will remain at the bottom for sure, it is just really hard to predict upward movement for this team. This story of all the great changes has been the same comments made for the past 10 seasons and the Oilers have ran in place for some years and actually managed to get worse when that was hard to imagine.

      They made some interesting moves this offseason and McDavid likely provides a reason for excitement amongst Oiler fans. With that being said, take off your fan glasses and look at those moves objectively.

      Can we really say they got undoubtedly better by trading Hall for a #4 defender on a good team? Oilers gotta Oil and you know as well as I Larsson is going to have extremely high expectations thrown at him as he is expected to play first line minutes on a weak blue line; playing well above what his current skill set should allow.

      Lucic should be good for the first couple of seasons but I fully predict his contract will go down as one of the biggest busts from the 2016 UFA class after a couple seasons. His numbers really haven’t been anything that outstanding in the last 3 seasons.

      I can see how a full season of McDavid will help a lot but does the additional contributions of him and Lucic offset the scoring of one of the top 5 best LWers in the game last year? The Oilers were not great in 2015/16 at putting the puck in the net or keeping it out of theirs. I honestly don’t see how they addressed either area well enough to expect noticeable improvement.

      • Greg

        Yeah but all I have are my fan glasses. Wouldn’t have it any other way. You make some good points but I remain optimistic because I wouldn’t be a fan otherwise. We were too soft but Pete has added toughness and talent. Lost talent too I know. I think the oilers have a better group of forwards and the flames a better defence and I call the goal tending even. I remember the flames or two years ago. Man did they buy into Hartley’s vision. A team where every player was committed and looked out for each other. That’s where I see the oilers. This year? Not sure but my rosy glasses make everything brighter.

      • daryl

        Heres the thing the Oilers were injured last season the were nearly .500 when Klefbom went down even without Conner so with Conner Klefbom and Larsson they should improve. To me Milan is a wash for Hall for now. Davidson was hurt Eberle was hurt RNH was hurt Yak was hurt so with a little healthier club they will surprise a lot of people.

        • Brent G.

          They’re always Injured. Seriously that is always the excuse up there. Rather than making the same excuse all of the time, focus on getting some players who can take a hit and are not ALWAYS hurt.

          The redundancy and delusions of Oiler fans is insufferable.

  • Nugent-Bagkins93

    The Flames could sneak in there if everyone stays healthy.. to me the Coaching change will be the biggest question.

    I think if the Oilers could add one more D like Wisniewski or Russell they might have a decent chance.

    The biggest improvement I think will probably be Nashville and the Jets.

  • Nugent-Bagkins93

    Oilers are gonna be real bad this year. 2017 draft is looking pretty good though so there is still lots of hope. Would be good for them to get another first overall now that Halls gone to keep numbers even. Still probably 5-10 years from NHL caliber.

  • Baalzamon

    Dallas’ back-end isn’t their strong point, but it’s likely better than it was.

    Disagree. They lost Demers and Goligoski, and replaced them with Hamhuis. Hamhuis could have replaced either one decently, but not both simultaneously.

    Also, you neglected to mention that the Wild hired Boudreau as coach. Should be good for them, although I think this is the year we find out how overrated Minnesota is.

    Winnipeg will finish first among Canadian teams next year.

  • Nugent-Bagkins93

    Hey Brent G. Let me educate you on a couple things. Lucic scored 55 points last year. Hall scored 65.

    You honestly think in 37 more games McDavid won’t make up that 10 points (conversations of him winning the art ross aside)?

    I agree the lucic contract won’t look so rosy in 3 years, but it’s about building a culture more than anything when it comes to Milans contract.

    I think it is your sir who needs to remove the “fan glasses”

    And enjoy the 3 more years you’ll get from Gio they won’t last forever.

    • T&A4Flames

      I agree with you pretty much completely on your Lucic assessment; overall, the Oil improved. es, given his playing style, Lucic will likely regress for the last half of that deal, but for now, EDM neeeded to change their culture and improve overall which I believe theyve done.

      As for Gio, he’s signed for 6 more years as well, and unlike many, I’m quite certain he will be decent value for the duration. He will fall to being a 2nd pair D but he will add valuable minutes for that as well as the leadership. In 4-5 years, $6.75 for a top-middle-pair Dman won’t look terrible.

    • Parallex

      I think the point is that after years and years (and years) of talk about how the Oilers are going to turn a corner (and then subsequently not turning the corner) they’ve lost the benefit of the doubt.

      We’re at the point where everyone should assume the Oilers will stink until they actually don’t. Is that fair from an intellectual standpoint? Probably not, but a team that’s rebuilding it’s rebuild doesn’t get the luxury of trading on hope/promise anymore.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      I am not sure this is a lesson in education. It is more of one man’s opinion.
      On paper, Edmonton looks like they should be trending up but that has been the look for the last few years.

      I can see the reason for moving Hall in the spirit of improving the culture but I am not sure Lucic is a pillar for improved team culture. He hates to lose which is great but he crosses the line and engages in questionable conduct like trying to start a fight when shaking hands at the end of a series.

      I don’t see Lucic having the type of character that breeds winning. McDavid seems grounded and a perfect leader to move the team foreword but only if the Lucics and Kassians are prepared to follow.

      • daryl

        The lesson was the amount of points of each player, something Brent obviously didn’t research before postinG.

        I agree Lucic can play a little dirty and isn’t winning a lady bing anytime soon, but for a team that has been soft for the last 10 years he is what we need, warts and all.

    • urbzy

      Hall is better than Lucic. That’s all there is to it. Of course Lucic will get more points in 16/17 with McD bouncing pucks in off his face, but Hall would have gotten more. Sure Lucic is “tough to play against” but I’d rather have the guy who scores more points.

  • Greg

    With all the dead cap space coming off the books this year, it would be really good timing to have a good upswing in the standings. Crack the playoffs with a young and upcoming roster, and you’ll look like a good destination for free agents. Especially if Chicago falters a bit and no longer looks like the place to take a discount for a cup run. And Edmonton stinks up the joint again and makes Calgary really look like the young team to bet on 🙂

  • jakethesnail

    It was a downer for the Flames opening the season last year, so with much improved goaltending, a healthy Gio, a seasoned Doug Hamilton and Sam Bennett the Flames should start out with a bang. And Troy Brouwer can’t do any worse than the season Hudler had last season.

    As previously noted it all depends on how quickly the players adapt to new coaches and style of play.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Biggest offseason move made by the Flames has been the signing of Don Maloney. The man’s a genius considering how he not only steered the Coyotes through financially rough seas, but he got them into the playoffs three times!

    Could Maloney soon find himself as Calgary’s head scout and beyond that, when the lustre rubs off of Tre, could Maloney replace Tre? If GG falters as coach, could Maloney be his successor?

    Absolutely brilliant move by the Flames to bring Maloney on board. He will pay dividends.

  • Glass

    Seems strange to me that it is even a question whether the Oilers are trending up or down coming into this season. In 2015/16, they finished 29th… if you don’t think they will do better in 16/17 you’re delusional.

    Trading Hall alleviated a culture issue. I feel that Blogman Ry did a nice video on this – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qrd3h1__RVw

    Larsson is a very capable top pairing D, if you think he is anything less you’re being very ingenuous. Woodguy has a great post on that – http://becauseoilers.blogspot.ca/2016/08/a-deeper-look-at-larsson-vs-severson.html

    Also we had a ton of injuries, with Eberle coming into the season injured, Klefbomb with his string of unlucky injuries, McDavid with two big Flyers crushing him into the boards etc. Forgot to mention a ref injuring Yakupov soon after he returned from an injury. Nuge & Pouliot went down for a fairly significant amount of time.

    Lucic may score less than Hall, but he brings a lot of intangibles that our top 6 lacked previously. We’ll have him, Kassian and Maroon to start the year.

    • Parallex

      He’s a capable top 4 D, I don’t think he’s proven he’s a capable top pairing D.

      … and really, “intangibles”? If you’re arguing that the Oilers are going to be better because of #gritchart then I don’t know what to tell you. If the Oilers are better it’ll be because McDavid is healthy or just because it hard it get worse when you finish 29th not because they’re more truculent or whatever.

      Like I said as far as I’m concerned until the Oilers show that they’re better over a long stretch I’m just going to assume they’ll be bad. Fool me once shame on you, fool me five or more times shame on me.

      • Glass

        Larsson has the toughest zone starts in the NHL with the majority of his TOI going against elite forwards of the East. I think it’s very safe to call him a capable top 2 D.

        Intangibles matter… Lucic is a Stanley Cup winner with a lot of playoff experience. He holds his teammates accountable while also being one of the toughest, meanest guys in the NHL.

        Outgoing was Hall, who was never known to be a great leader, and the ‘cancer in the locker room’ is often times attributed to him. Numerous sources link to this. The only person that gave him a glowing review after the trade was McDavid, everyone else was fairly neutral and indifferent. (Eberle, Nuge, Scrivens, Klefbomb come to mind)

        Not to mention we were one of the most injured teams. Edmonton has improved has improved as a whole over the summer, and with #knockonwood a lot less injuries we could be a force.