By: Brennen Krikorian
For years, the Edmonton Oilers have been the epitome of mediocrity in the NHL. Since restructuring into the Pacific division in 2013-2014, the Oilers have only made the playoffs once and have seemingly been an embarrassment of an organization in recent memory.
The main cause of the recent dark days was former GM Peter Chiarelli, who may be the most hated man in Edmonton sports history. Whether it was offering Milan Lucic a 7-year/$42 million deal in 2016, trading former first overall pick Taylor Hall (who won MVP just two years later), or trading Jordan Eberle for Ryan Strome, Chiarelli destroyed all hope for the future in Edmonton.
Thankfully for Oiler fans, Chiarelli is no longer there, and new GM Ken Holland might just have the answers to shed some light on the darkness.
Holland brought in a new head coach with the announcement that Dave Tippett was to be the man behind the bench for the Oilers. Tippett is historically one of the best coaches in his first year with a team.
Holland also got rid of Lucic’s terrible contract by trading for James Neal of the Calgary Flames. Neal was disappointing during his stint with Calgary, but has shown he can be a solid offensive contributor during his tenures with Pittsburgh and Dallas.
The talent is certainly there for Neal to play alongside, as Tippett plans to put him on the same line as NHL superstar Connor McDavid to start the season.
Holland also signed veteran goaltender Mike Smith this off-season to a 1-year/$3.75 million deal. Tippett is very familiar with Smith and was a big contributor to his success in Phoenix.
While he may not be an All-Star caliber goaltender anymore, the combination of him and Mikko Koskinen may be enough to win some important games down the road, giving the Oilers a chance to contend for a playoff spot.
Edmonton still has definite holes in their roster that need to be filled before they can do postseason damage. If Holland can continue to make improvements in the next few years, the dark days for the Oilers might be coming to a close.
Cover photo via: Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images
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