Apr 26, 2013; St. Paul, MN, USA; Edmonton Oilers goalieNikolai Khabibulin
(35) celebrates with defensemanNick Schultz
(15) and defensemanCorey Potter
(44) following the game against the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center. The Oilers defeated the Wild 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
2. Edmonton Oilers
Just as the Dallas Stars before them, the Oilers are hungry to return to the post-season, after seven long, dreadful seasons since they came within one game of the Stanley Cup. The Oilers have come under media scrutiny over the last few seasons for poor management, and they look to buck that trend in 2013-14 with the most promising season ahead of them since that Game Seven loss to Carolina.
The Oilers started their rebuild in the front office as well; hiring former Oiler Craig MacTavish as their new General Manager. MacTavish takes the reigns after a promotion from their Hockey Operations Management team as Senior Vice-President of Hockey Operations. MacTavish had his partner in crime less than a month later, when the Oilers introduced Dallas Eakins as their new head coach. Eakins, former coach of the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, has already impressed the media with his intense training and diet regimes.
The Oilers will have a duo of Jason LaBarbera and Devan Dubnyk in the crease, but either one could emerge as the starting goaltender this season. The defensive core gets a huge boost with the addition of the Boston Bruins’ Andrew Ference, who was signed to a four year contract; They also added depth in Philip Larsen and Denis Grebeshkov.
Offensively, the Oilers will count on the young guns to lead the way, but hired some help with the St. Louis Blues’ David Perron, as well as Boyd Gordon for added depth. The Oilers’ offense knows how to produce, so these additions should only add to the scoring, as the defense shores up.
The Oilers made significant changes to get ready for the 2013-14 season. With the rest of the hockey world’s heavy expectations on their shoulders, Edmonton needs to make a run at the post-season before more jobs are lost.