GDHQNHL15_2pg-Edmonton Oilers 1

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EDMONTON OILERS WESTERN CONFERENCE Offense One of the problems in Edmonton is that there’s almost no way the offense can keep up with the rate of goals scored by opponents against their porous defense. At the same time, the Oilers showed a disappointing lack of progress offensively last season. Despite the presence of talented young players like Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent- Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, and David Perron, the Oilers scored just 2.4 goals per game, a mark that ranked just 24th best in the NHL. The good news is that Hall has proven himself to be an all-star caliber scorer and playmaker. Last season, Hall improved his playmaking abilities, setting teammates up enough to earn 53 assists to go along with his 27 goals. Hall is also still just 23 years old and further improvement is not just possible but expected. The sky is the limit for Hall. There are a few other players who chipped in with key offensive contributions. Eberle and Perron tied for the team lead with 28 goals apiece. Nugent-Hopkins scored 56 points but hasn’t nearly hit his full potential himself. Veteran Ales Hemsky chipped in with 43 points and Sam Gagner had 37. Unfortunately for Edmonton, depth was already a problem last year and is an even bigger problem now with the free agent departures of Hemsky and Gagner. Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, and Eberle form a dangerous top line, but most of the players behind them are unproven. Nail Yakupov struggled in his second season, scoring just 24 points and earning an ugly -33 rating. Teddy Purcell also joins the team but will no longer have the benefit of playing on a line with Steven Stamkos. Overall, Edmonton still has a lot of potential but also still has a long way to go. The team has an alarming lack of productive veterans and no shortage of unproven up-and-comers. Hall, Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, and Perron are nice players, but they’ll need help to give the Oilers a respectable offense. Defense Perhaps no team in the NHL played worse team defense than the Oilers last year. Justin Schultz remains a talented offensive defenseman but a liability on the defensive end. Ladislav Smid was the best of a bad group early but was traded to Calgary in November. Andrew Ference brought the best defensive pedigree of any player on the team, but was overmatched in the role of shut-down defender. PACIFIC DIVISION Taylor Hall Key Additions: Benoit Pouliot, Teddy Purcell, Mark Fayne, Nikita Nikitin Key Subtractions: Sam Gagner, Ryan Smyth, Ryan Jones, Mark Fraser Strengths: Top-line forwards Weaknesses: Defense, depth, puck possession PHOTO/NHL/Getty Images


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