The Edmonton Oilers were flat out the worst team in the NHL last season. Of course, these days in the NHL, being the worst means you can get better awfully fast and with the Oilers building off of recent failure, they’re a team that’s really looking up now. The Oilers are banking on a trio of rookies to help set the standard for them this season and fill the net with pucks.
Canadian WJC superstar Jordan Eberle, Swedish sensation Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson and 2010 #1 overall pick Taylor Hall help make the Oilers a team worth watching no matter what. With them there’ll be a hype machine unlike we’ll see elsewhere in the league this year, and while playing in small, out of the way Edmonton will help at least keep some of their profile quiet, they all realize that keeping the hype under control as Dave Lozo from NHL.com found out.
“It’s us three, but there’s a lot of other good, young players on this team that are 22, 23, and their careers are going in the right direction,” Hall said. “If we can turn this ship around in the next few years, and the coaches and management make all the right decisions, things are looking up.”
That optimism breeds expectations, and those expectations can lead to pressure. But no one seems worried about any of that.
“We know there will be some situations we know they’re not fully ready for,” [Oilers GM Steve] Tambellini said. “I know expectations will be high for these three kids. They kind of joke about it and say it’s a good thing it’s not just one and they can all kind of do it together.”
“I don’t really feel it just because I don’t live there, but I’m sure once hockey season comes around and you go to the city, it’s going to be there and it’s going to be alive and well,” Hall said. “I know I’ve done well handling pressure. You just have to go out and play your game.”
The amount of young talent in Edmonton is pretty incredible. Not only are those three rookies there but you factor in Sam Gagner, yet-to-be-signed Andrew Cogliano and Gilbert Brule and you’ve got two forward lines of potentially great youth. Add in veterans like Shawn Horcoff, Dustin Penner and a returning from injury Ales Hemsky and the future of the Oilers doesn’t look so bleak. Given the off-season they’ve had in seeing Nikolai Khabibulin run into trouble with the law, not being able to trade Sheldon Souray and the potential for having a complete circus in goal with Khabibulin, Devan Dubnyk, Jeff Deslauriers and Martin Gerber, having something to have hope about is a pleasant switch.
The only thing to ask of Oilers fans now is to have patience as having that much youth on the team is going to lead to bouts of growing pains. New head coach Tom Renney will certainly have his hands full keeping everyone in line.