Blackhawks News

PART TWO: Taking The Reigns: What To Expect From The NHL’s Newest Captains

By Skylar Peters
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Welcome to the second and final part of this series, profiling each of the eight NHL teams with a new captain. In Part One, we covered the Buffalo Sabres, Dallas Stars, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Calgary Flames. Today, we finish off with the Edmonton Oilers, Ottawa Senators, the New York Islanders, and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Two teams look to return to the post-season this year, just as they did in 2013, and the other two look to get back in the hunt after missing the playoffs the year before.

Edmonton Oilers: Andrew Ference

Oct 1, 2013; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Andrew Ference (21) skates against the Winnipeg Jets during the first period at Rexall Place. Winnipeg Jets won 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The ‘Shoes To Fill’: Shawn Horcoff

Horcoff may not have been Captain of the Oilers in a great era, and the club is certainly ready to head in a new direction under new leadership. Horcoff was originally a key contributor for the Oilers in the early 2000’s, but since the youth movement began after the near-Cup run in 2006, he found himself to be a misfit, regularly playing third line duty. With little success by age 35, it was time for Horcoff to move on, and he left the organization in a trade with the Dallas Stars.

Short-Term Goals:

Every Oilers’ fan preaches it: the classic “This is our year” phrase. Usually, this is pertaining to a Stanley Cup win, but for Edmonton, it’s just about making the playoffs. The Oil haven’t been to the dance since 2006, when they were one game away from winning the Cup, losing to the Carolina Hurricanes in seven games. The Oilers certainly have the skill upfront to get into the post-season, but the back-end is still an area of concern. Bringing in Ference will certainly ease the strain, but Devan Dubnyk will have to prove he belongs, for the Oilers to have a chance.

Long-Term Goals:

Much the same. One the Oilers get to the playoffs, it’s about consistently playing there. Bringing in Dallas Eakins as Head Coach,and Craig McTavish as General Manager, were two strong moves focused on the next several years, not just the one ahead. The Oilers are easily the youngest team in the league, and with all of their young guns still intact (Including 3 straight first overall draft picks) Edmonton can build consistency and chemistry, and be a threat for a number of years to come.