With all of the Canadian teams joining together to be one whole division, the Oilers looked to challenge for the top spot in that division. A once struggling team finally looked to prove it had turned a corner. With a fairly decent supporting cast surrounding Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, things were looking good for the Oilers, but a surprise defeat at the hand of the Winnipeg Jets in the first round continues to raise questions about this team.
Where is the disconnect? What is this teams issue? In a season where your captain scores over 100 points in a shortened 56-game season, how do you get swept in the first round to a divisional team? Was it a lack of depth? Was it goaltending? Was it just the pure ability of keeping the seasons Art Ross trophy winner off the scoresheet?
Honestly to me, there are a lot of reasons why Edmonton had a early exit.
So where do the Oilers go from here? Take this one on the chin and retool the line up? Blow it up? I think at this point priorities should shift to defensive depth. I think keeping Tyson Barrie needs to be top of the list. Losing Oskar Kelfbom this whole season was huge, but they still were able to overcome during the regular season. Barrie was a reason for that. Keep Barrie on the team and add in the blossoming play of young defender Darnell Nurse, this blue line could be set. Though, rumblings seem Barrie will test free agency, looking for a longer term than Edmonton might be willing to offer.
Adam Larsson actually looked pretty consistent on the ice as well, he might be able to fill that empty spot if Barrie departs. That brings Nurse into the Barrie role and Ethan Bear starts taking a larger role as well. But this lack of depth beyond there still showed an issue later in the post-season. You cannot blame a goalie when your team gives up a 3 goal lead with under half a period to play. That falls back on your defensive play and the ability to close.
Mike Smith looked great in net at times this season, but having no help in front will kill a team. Offensively, things could get scary. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is another must for Edmonton. But him leaving could create a void at the wing. But looking at any of their wingers not named Jesse Puljujarvi, that is basically a contributing factor that has got Edmonton in this situation, the inability to contribute. In goal, I think you are okay with this tandem of Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen, just help them out in front. It takes a lot of pressure off your goalies when the rest of your team is consistent.
But as we dry our eyes, looking at what we thought might be a step forward for the Oilers, has proved to be a catastrophic side step. Nor forward or backwards, but in the same state of mediocrity that we know and love for the Oilers. Will they continue to disappoint? Will this have a effect on their stars who are carrying the load causing them to look else where to call a home? Only time will tell. But one thing we love that time gives us is Edmonton blowing three-goal leads. Thank you Edmonton. That game 3 will go down in history and join the ranks of the “Comeback on Katella.”
R.I.P to the 2020-2021 Edmonton Oilers.
Written by @TheFrostback