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MHH Previews the Lesser 29: Edmonton

Welcome to a new installment where we will preview each of the other NHL teams who simply make up the bulk of the league the Avalanche play in. Today, we look at the Edmonton Oilers.

Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

Their coach: Todd McLellan: Good news, Oilers! The Sharks pretty much proved last season the only reason why they couldn’t get over the hump was the guy you hired to, guess what… get YOU GUYS over the hump! And these humps are very different humps, mind you. The hump located in San Jose was being able to reach the Stanley Cup Final after years of getting tantalizingly close to it. The hump found in Edmonton, is well, to not be one of the worst teams in the NHL.

Their captain: Currently vacant. Might as well be Connor McDavid. More about the Second Coming below.

Their 15-16 season: Still just as bad and hard to watch as any other Oilers season since 2007, but made slightly more tolerable by Connor McDavid. When he broke his collarbone and missed a few months, you could watch a toilet be flushed and see something prettier than that thing Edmonton called "hockey." Before that, however, and after his return, seeing him light it up was quite something. In the end though, McDavid’s stardom was dimmed by the fact most of his teammates don’t know what in the world to do with a puck on a sheet of ice.

How did they do against the Avs? Not good! Which is amazing, because few teams have had the Avs’ number over the years like the Oilers have. Somehow, someway, the Avalanche swept the season series against Edmonton winning the three contests by respective scores of 5-1, 3-2, and 3-2. I can’t remember the last time Colorado won the season series against the Oil, much less swept it. If you told me this time last year the Avs would do that, I’d have automatically assumed they’d make the playoffs because usually Oilers games mean at least 4 wasted points for Colorado. Instead, the Avs made up for that by wasting points against every other team in the league.

When do they play the Avs this season? Nov. 23rd in Denver, March 23rd in Denver, and March 25th at Edmonton.

Will they be good this season? They will be the farthest thing from good. McDavid, Nail Yakupov, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins leading your team scream out good things if they’re the ones you’re building your club around. But they traded Taylor Hall! YOU IDIOTS! Have you learned nothing? Trading one of the best players on your team will not actually get you closer to Lord Stanley, if you can believe that.  Eventually though, it’s gotta happen, especially as McDavid gets older, stronger, and more mature. That’s scary to think about too, because McDavid is already one of the Top 25 players in the NHL, in my book. Keep him healthy and give him a full 82 games, they might threaten a wildcard spot, but I don’t think they get to the postseason, and continue their streak as team to have gone the longest without making the playoffs.

3 Questions with their SB Nation blog, Copper and Blue:

-I’d be remissed if I didn’t ask about the new arena the Oilers are opening up? How will it be playing away from Rexall Place for the first time in what seems like forever? Rexall Place opened in November 1974. I was born in April 1979. And the Oilers (along with the Nordiques) started playing in the NHL after the merger with the WHA in October of 1979. It seems like they’ve played at Rexall Place forever because it has been forever. And I still know exactly where I was sitting when Wayne Gretzky came to town as a member of the St. Louis Blues, the first time I saw a playoff game in 1997, during the run to the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals, for Ryan Smyth's final game, and a whole bunch of crap in between. I don't know the exact number of games that I saw at Rexall Place, but was a lot, certainly more than I'll ever see at Rogers Place, so it'll be very strange to see the team, play in a different arena. It's also something that I'm very excited for, it's hard not to be. The Oilers are going to have the newest, shiniest arena in the league. One with all the modern bells and whistles. I don’t think it was a particularly smart way for the City of Edmonton to spend a few hundred million dollars but I am interested to see what that bought us.

-Are there any people you’ve communicated with that were simply SLIGHTLY upset about the Taylor Hall trade, compared to the EXTREMELY upset I’ve seen from and read about? On that line, what can Adam Larsson do to make Oilers fans somewhat forget about Hall? Oilers fans aren’t slightly anything, it’s all or nothing for this fan base. Seriously though, I think most of the fans that might have seemed less upset about the deal were just quicker to get on board with what Chiarelli said after that this is costs to acquire the defenceman that the Oilers need if they’re going to start winning hockey games. I think that’s ridiculous. I would have much rather seen the team tread water for another season than make this trade. After five years of rebuilding this is a deal that might make the Oilers better in the short term but narrows up their window to win and I just can’t get behind that. In return, the Oilers did at least get a good, young defenceman in Adam Larsson. I strongly doubt that he’ll ever justify the price paid to acquire him but that’s not his fault. It can be hard to separate the player from a bad contract, or in this case a bad trade, I hope that the fans can though. If he turns out to be less than the Oilers hoped for, he will still be a quality top-four option for the Oilers for a number of years to come and that’s not nothing. I’m going to enjoy him for what he is, not what he isn’t.

-If Connor McDavid stays healthy and plays all 82 games this season, what kind of campaign are we going to be looking at? How far can he carry this team? If he stays healthy for a full 82 games, I think we’ll see him finish with 95-100 points. That’s a crazy high number for a kid who won’t turn 20 until the day after the Oilers’ 44th game of the season but he really is that good. The speed that he plays the game at and his vision are absolutely amazing. In rookie campaign, on a nightly basis, sometimes more than once a night, he would do something that almost left me speechless. I’ve watched a lot of hockey and I’ve never been that consistently amazed by a player. In his second season he’ll be a little smarter, a little bigger, and things should only get better. Will it be enough to get the Oilers to the playoffs? Unfortunately, no, not unless they add another piece to the blue line which is looking less and less likely as each day passes. So for those of you keep track at home that’ll make 11 straight seasons without an appearance in the post season, a new NHL record for futility. The Oilers missed the playoffs by 28 points last season, I could see them cutting that number in half this season, maybe even a little bit more if they can stay relatively healthy for a change, but 14 wins better with this roster is just too much to hope for I think.

Thanks to Ryan Batty for taking the time to answer!