Ahead of the new NHL season, we’re taking an early look at the Edmonton Oilers odds to win the Stanley Cup to see how they are expected to fare next term.
The 2021-22 campaign was full of inconsistency for the Oilers, who started with so much promise before running into the problems that would hamper them all year.
Edmonton were quick out of blocks and looked like they would be one of the teams to beat as they made an impressive start, winning their first five games and topping the Pacific Division with a 9-1 record after 10 games.
However, the wheels started to come off as they lost three of their next five and a six-game skid in December brought them back down to earth.
After responding to that barren run with back-to-back victories, the Oilers went on another losing streak, this time being beaten in seven consecutive games.
Although they arrested that slide, the inconsistency remained and it resulted in coach Dave Tippett being fired and replaced by Jay Woodcroft.
The Oilers were a different animal under Woodcroft’s leadership and would go on to complete the season with a 26-9-3 record with the new man behind the bench.
Edmonton’s strength lay in their elite forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who both went through 100 points again – McDavid for the fifth time in seven NHL seasons and Draisaitl for the third time.
There was a solid supporting cast as Zach Hyman and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins both passed 50 points but it was at the other end of the ice where many of the problems were.
Goaltending was questionable, with preferred starter Mike Smith spending much of the season injured, and Mikko Koskinen struggling as the number one.
Smith returned for the post season and the Oilers began by seeing off the Los Angeles Kings in seven games in the first round before steamrolling the Calgary Flames 4-1 in round two.
But despite McDavid and Draisaitl leading the post-season scoring with 33 and 32 points respectively, they came up against eventual champions the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference final and their season was abruptly ended with a 4-0 series defeat.
Campbell could be key capture
Despite the disappointment of the Conference final exit, the Oilers will look to build on their most successful season for more than 20 years in 2022-23.
McDavid and Draisaitl will remain the most dangerous duo in the league and Edmonton have also re-signed forward Evander Kane.
He impressed with 22 goals and 39 points in 43 regular-season games and 13 goals in 15 play-off matches after coming over from San Jose Sharks.
But perhaps the most intriguing off-season move is the signing of free agent goaltender Jack Campbell.
Campbell was the starter for the Maple Leafs last term and won 31 of his 49 games, but after an indifferent time in Toronto, a fresh start should help him rediscover his best form.
He enjoyed his best season in 2018-19 with the Los Angeles Kings where he posted a .928 save percentage and the Oilers will be hoping that is the version of him they are getting.
Campbell will split the goaltending duties with Stuart Skinner, with Smith expected to spend the season on long-term injured reserve.
Defenceman Duncan Keith has hung up his skates but there will be a larger role on the Edmonton blueline this year for Philip Broberg.
Meanwhile, Brett Kulak has signed a multi-year deal after coming over from Montreal at the trade deadline.
Woodcroft hungry to prove worth
Woodcroft made a big difference to the Oilers when he took over from Tippett and having him in charge for a full season will benefit the franchise.
He is still relatively inexperienced at NHL level but has proved he is more than capable of the step up, having served his apprenticeship in the American Hockey League.
A strong forward group and a maturing defence with a veteran starting goaltender should ensure Edmonton trend upwards.
If the Oilers can stay healthy in goal and the defence continues to make progressive strides, they can compete for the Pacific Division title, although the Conference crown and Stanley Cup glory might just be beyond them.
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