After years at or near the basement of the NHL, the 2013-14 campaign was supposed to be the start of the Edmonton Oilers’ turnaround. Instead it was more of the same.
Their defense was a huge problem and despite having a handful of talented young forwards on their roster, the Oilers finished tied with Minnesota for 24th in goals per game.
“Last year was such a debacle from start to finish in so many ways,” Oilers GM Craig MacTavish said, per TSN.ca, “that we are for sure going to better, it’s just a measure of how much.”
In other words, things can’t get much worse.
MacTavish worked on bolstering the team’s defense over the summer by bringing in Keith Aulie, Mark Fayne, and Nikita Nikitin. That’s after he completely revamped the goaltending during the 2013-14 campaign by acquiring Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth. One person he has firmly insisted isn’t the problem though is the team’s head coach. Dallas Eakins is preparing for his second season as the team’s bench boss.
“I’ll say this for Dallas, quite incredible the way he kept it together for a first-year head coach in an incredibly difficult set of circumstances and to come through a season like that with his integrity and his sanity as rationally as he did was a real testament and tribute to his character,” MacTavish said.
He followed that up by asserting that it’s on him and his staff to provide Eakins with the tools necessary to take the Oilers to the next level.
There are reasons for the Oilers to be hopeful. Scrivens had some remarkable starts last season and might be capable of leading the team and their defense is starting to come together. Combined with a young core that still largely hasn’t hit its stride and it’s easy to envision a scenario where Edmonton could take a step forward. Whether or not it will finally happen remains to be seen.