Mar 10, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (right) scores a goal with left wing Brandon Saad (left) looking on during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Conference Call Wednesday: Edmonton Oilers

Mar 10, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (right) scores a goal with left wing Brandon Saad (left) looking on during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Edmonton Oilers

Record- 19-22-7 45 points-3rd place in the Northewest Division

Season Series-Chicago won 2-1

Feb 25th Chicago-3 Edmonton-2 OT United Center

March 6th Edmonton-6 Chicago-5 United Center

April 24 Chicago-4 Edmonton-1 Rexall Place

Oilers Draft Picks

  • 7th overall – Darnell Nurse
  • 56th overall – Marc-Olivier Roy
  • 83rd overall – Bogdan Yakimov
  • 88th overall – Anton Slepyshev
  • 94th overall – Jackson Houck
  • 96th overall – Kyle Platzer
  • 113th overall – Aidan Muir
  • 128th overall – Evan Campbell
  • 158th overall – Ben Betker
  • 188th overall – Gregory Chase

Summary- On the bright side the Oilers didn’t finish last in their division for the first time since 2009.  The oilers came into the 2013 campaign with a more balanced roster than in years previous. While still a youthful team, the Oilers showed signs of improvement, showing great performances in games, including one against the Blackhawks, where they scored 5 unanswered goals. However, these games were few and far between, and Edmonton couldn’t get any real momentum going. There was a lack of leadership within the team, and with no veterans to guide them, the oilers struggled to persevere. In the offseason, the Oilers introduced a new Head Coach and General Manager, with Dallas Eakins and Craig McTavish filling in respectively. The Oilers lost goaltending depth due to free agency when Nikolai Khabibulin signed with the Hawks. They also said goodbye to captain Shawn Horcoff in a trade with the Dallas stars, and picked up David Perron of the St. Louis Blues. The oilers look to reload their roster during the summer, and make a push to appear in the playoffs in 2014, which would be their first trip to the post-season since losing in the Finals in 2006.

Interview- We caught up with Derek Stykalo of the Oiler Fansided site Oil on Whyte about his team and here is how the conversation went with Derek.

1. BU-Who will lead the oilers with the departure of Horcoff? Can one of the young players take on the leadership role this early?
-OOW  This has clearly become Taylor Hall’s team both off the ice and on the ice.  He leads by example every night with his drive and passion and at times, reckless play.  He’s emerging into one of the games great stars and now he’ll have a chance to put his leadership qualities to the test by hopefully leading the Oilers back into the playoffs.
2. BU-Will McTavish be a catalyst for change within the organization, and get the team on the right track again?
- OOW-based on what he’s done to date, absolutely he will be a catalyst for change.  He promised changes to the roster when he took over in the spring and so far he’s delivered.  Gone are Shawn Horcoff, Ryan Whitney, Nikolai Khabibulin and in are Andrew Ference, Boyd Gordon and Jason Labarbera.  While there are still holes on the roster, Mac-T has made some moves that has the fans excited about the future.
3. BU-What do you expect out of Dallas Eakins in his first NHL season?
-OOW  He said it during his intro press conference that he wants to make these players proud to be an Oiler.  He’s going to demand the top level of fitness and competition every single night.  He’s a health freak himself and that’s how he ran the Marlies in the AHL.  I expect this Oilers club to be in the best shape possible while taking no shifts off and competing like mad.  At the end of the day they may not have the most skilled roster in the NHL but we can fully expect them to be the hardest working.  That alone will help win some battles down low which will lead to scoring chances that could change the state of the game.
4.BU- Will Darnell nurse be a contributor on the team in his first NHL season? 
- OOW-I fully expect Nurse to return to junior or perhaps the AHL.  He’s not ready to contribute on the Oilers blue line and truth be told, there is no sense rushing the kid.  He’s likely 2-3 years away so let him mature and develop in junior before adapting to the pro game in the AHL next season.
5.BU- Do you expect the Blackhawks to be a bigger/smaller challenge than the Canucks, and why?
-OOW- The Canucks are a huge rival of the Oilers and I don’t see that changing.  It’s a natural hate between the two clubs and while the Hawks and Oilers have played a few spirited contests over the last couple of seasons, Vancouver and Calgary remain the hated opponenets.  It doesn’t help that Edmonton will again be in the same conference as Vancouver.  That being said, the Hawks will again be a tough opponent for the Oilers meaning they’ll have to play them as tough as they did last year when they were able to win a couple of the regular season games.

6. BU-How much of an affect will Andrew Ferrence have in stabilizing the blue line?

-OOW- He’s going to bring a nice veteran poise back there, not to mention an edge of physicality that has been missing.  He’s not the top-four d-,man that Edmonton still lacks but he’s a good leader for the youngsters, plays tough and competes every night.  He’s a Dallas Eakins type of player and he will make a great addition to the Oilers.

7. BU-Will the tandem Devan dubnik and JasonLabarbera be effective? Or will the Oilers simply rely on out scoring their opponents?

– OOW-Last season Dubnyk took another stride in reassuring Oilers fans that he is the guy to lead this team to the playoffs.  While not everyone is completely convinced, he’s going to get his shot again this year and if he can put together another solid campaign with decent numbers like last season, then Edmonton has a shot at sneaking in the top 8.  Labarabera is the perfect back up because he knows his role.  He won’t come in here and get his nose out of joint because of lack of playing time.  He also has the skill to ensure the coaching staff can rely on him to play 25-30 games next season and give Dubnyk a break when needed.

 8. BU-Will the Oilers be a dark horse playoff team?

- OOW If they can add some pieces at the deadline and remain close when the stretch run approaches, this club could find a way into the post season.  They’ll need to stay healthy, first and foremost and if they can get solid production from Dubnyk, you know the kids will score some goals.

9. BU-Looking back if the Oilers had drafted Seguin first would he still be an Oiler?

OOW-I believe he would still be an Oiler at this time.  This is an organization who has too much invested in the young talent to trade them away.  Not saying what he’s done is right but he’s a young kid and I’m sure Hall, Eberle and others in Edmonton get reckless some nights.  But when you do it during the playoffs everything is escalated.

10. BU- What do you think of your new realigned division and which franchise worries you the most top to bottom for the next decade?

OOW-There are a few teams that immediately come to mind.  The LA Kings, Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks for the simple reason that all three have a solid core of players that they continue to build/re-build around and will do so for years to come. Not to mention all three have tremendous programs that continue to produce top end talent from within. But I do like the realignment for the simple fact that there are two less teams in the West than in the East, meaning less competition to get in the playoffs.  To put them in order I’d say:

1. LA Kings

2. Chicago Blackhawks

3. Anaheim Ducks

4. St. Louis Blues

5. Minnesota Wild

6. Vancouver Canucks

7. Dallas Stars

8. Nashville Predators

9. Colorado Avalanche

10. San Jose Sharks

11. Phoenix Coyotes

12. Winnipeg Jets

13. Calgary Flames

 BU-Lastly,  where do the Oilers finish in 2013-2014?

OOW-Maybe it’s the eternal optimist in me, but I’m saying they make the playoffs this year.  It’s a new regime in Edmonton and I’m taking them to finish as high as 6th in the West.  2006 wasn’t that long ago when the Oilers proved that all you have to do is get into the playoffs and anything can happen.

 Thanks again to Derek for taking time to answer our Conference call questions and if you are looking for Edmonton Oilers updates look to Oilonwhyte.com.
What do you expect from the Oilers this coming season?
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Tags: Chicago Blackhawks Conference Call Wednesday Edmonton Oilers

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