Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Edmonton Oilers.
The Edmonton Oilers led off the 2012 NHL Entry Draft for the third consecutive year. It was a remarkable and simultaneously embarrassing feat. Over the past few years they had assembled an incredible core of talented young forwards — but had done so by enduring the worst stretch of failure in a generation.
Some of that could be forgiven because they were clearly in a rebuilding process, but eventually promise for the future needs to transition into success today. Going into the 2013 campaign, the Edmonton Oilers’ objective was to finally compete for a playoff spot.
Well, they were better, but still nowhere near good. On the positive side of things, Taylor Hall had his best season yet with 50 points in 45 games and Nail Yakupov had a respectable rookie season. Another player that entered the season as a potential Calder contender, defenseman Justin Schultz, excelled offensively, but also posted a team-worst minus-17 rating.
The Oilers finished with a 19-22-7 record, which put them a full 10 points shy of the playoffs.
Edmonton’s failure to take a major step forward led to GM Steve Tambellini being replaced with Craig MacTavish. In his introductory press conference in April, MacTavish labeled himself as “impatient” and was ready to do “bold things.”
So what did he follow that statement up with? Well, for starters he fired Ralph Krueger after just 48 games as an NHL head coach and brought in Dallas Eakins to serve as the team’s new bench boss. Eakins enjoyed a great deal of success with the AHL Toronto Marlies, but he will also be the team’s fifth coach in just six seasons.
On the trade front, MacTavish was able to move forward Shawn Horcoff and his $5.5 million annual cap hit to the Dallas Stars in exchange for defenseman Philip Larsen and a 2016 seventh-round pick. He followed that up by shipping forward Magnus Paajarvi, 22, along with a second-round selection to St. Louis in exchange for David Perron.
Edmonton wasn’t terribly active on the free agent market, but they got some much needed defensive help by signing Andrew Ference to a four-year, $13 million deal.