Edmonton Oilers: Projecting the finish of all teams in a Canadian division

Edmonton Oilers. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Edmonton Oilers. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports /
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Here’s what a new Canadian division might look like that sees the Edmonton Oilers potentially making some noise

And now we come to the conclusion of my mini-series with the final installment – taking into consideration all factors, how do I believe a Canadian division will shakedown. In case you missed it, here’s how the Edmonton Oilers would look like if they faced teams in the East or West.

Playoff spots

1.  Edmonton Oilers

Now I know what you’re thinking – I’m biased.  Well, if you’re a fan of the opposing teams, let me ask you a few rhetorical questions for why I picked the Oilers at #1:

How many of your teams have 2 Art Ross trophy winners on them?  Anyone?

*crickets chirping*

How about just 1?

*crickets chirping*

That’s what I thought.  You see, the Oilers are the only Canadian team that has 1, never mind 2, Art Ross trophy winners playing for them.  Connor Mcdavid won it 2 years in a row – in 2017 and 2018, while Leon Draisaitl will take the trophy for 2020.  Only Nikita Kucherov, who took it in 2019, has broken up the streak of Edmonton Oilers who have taken the trophy as of late.

The top 6 should only improve this season with Yamo here for a full season, the addition of Leon Draisaitl’s childhood friend – who they cleaned up well in youth hockey – at his port side.  That then bumps up Nuge to the 1st line, which will only help his stats as he also helps Connor McDavid improve.  Zack Kassian will bang bodies to open up space and power forward himself to some offense as well on Mcdavid’s other side.

Other clubs come close, but only Winnipeg and Toronto can truly match the Oilers in top 6 offence.  Do any other NHL clubs have a bottom 6 with a 3rd line that can easily put up 25-30 points each per player?  How about a 4th line with a PP specialist capable of 20 goals and 30 points?  A rotation at 4th line RW that can put up 20 points no matter who plays?  2 extra guys that could put up 20 points if they were regulars?

I’ll wait……*hold music plays*.

That’s what I thought.  Depth at forward.

The Oilers had the #1 PP and #2 PK, and I can’t see that slowing down next season.  TO and Vancouver come close on the PP, but no one else even comes close.  Both are division bests.

How about your D corps?  We’re the only Canadian team that has a 3rd pairing guy that’ll put up 30 points conservatively in Tyson Barrie.  Vancouver might have a little more firepower, and TO can compare, but other than that who’s better?  Nobody.

Goaltending will be the team’s weak spot this year, but since the Oilers possess so much more depth everywhere else we might be the only Canadian team that can get away with average goaltending – and even then Koskinen’s numbers have been moving up every season of his career, and if that happens again he’ll move to elite numbers.  So, you never know.

2.  Toronto Maple Leafs

High end top 6 forwards and a solid top 4 D, as well as good goaltending that should rebound from an underachieving 2019-20 propels the Leafs into the 2nd spot.  3rd best PP in the division helps too. They just need better depth on the roster, and they need to fix that pesky 21st ranked PK if they hope to make inroads into 1st. Inferior depth and an inferior PK.  That’s why the Leafs are #2 and the Oilers are #1.

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3.  Vancouver Canucks

Best D corps in the division, as well as an improved goaltending corps, keep this team in the #3 spot.  Forward corps are pretty good, but Boeser and Horvat need to take a step forward for this team to succeed.

Right now the Oilers and Leafs have better forwards.  2nd best PP in the division but need to improve on their 16th ranked PK.

Bottom 6 is a mess, as those boat anchor contracts expire the team will be better able to re-allocate cap space to improve their roster either with re-signings or outside hires.

Goaltending tandem of Demko-Holtby is one of the best in the division, I would say 2nd only to Montreal.

Wildcard spots

4.   Winnipeg Jets

Persistent rumours that they’re trying to trade one of their prime top 6 forwards in Patrik Laine is a red flag and keep this team from moving higher.  D is a bit lacking, could use better horses.  Too much money weighing down the bottom 6 but hopefully, this can be remedied after next season when all the bad contracts are up.

With or without Laine, the firepower on the top 6 is impressive.  Special teams are surprisingly lacking on this team, their PP should be better than 15th with all the firepower available to them.  PK was 22nd, which is not good enough for sustained success.  This team will go as far as their Vezina trophy winning goaltender in Connor Hellebuyck will take them.  Brossoit should be entering a rebound season.

5.  Montreal Canadiens

Top 6 forwards are solid but unimpressive compared to all the teams in front of them.  Lacking in high-end skill at forward.  Bottom 6 is lacking a few pieces to make a serious run.  D is solid enough but too dependent on Shea Weber, who is signed for a long time at a high cap hit.  Better hope he doesn’t become a burden on the corps.  Fair to ask how long he can keep his production up at 35.

Special teams that finish with the 22nd PP and 19th PK in the league are not good enough.  One of the best goaltending tandems in the league with Price-Allen, this team will go as far as their goaltending can take them.

Out of the playoffs

6.  Calgary Flames

Most of the top 6 regressed from 2 seasons ago and won’t rebound nearly enough to do much.  Missing top 6 skill as it is and the fact that they are trying to trade one of their core top 6 forwards in Johnny Gaudreau is a huge red flag as that normally doesn’t happen for nothing.  Lacking an elite presence at top 6 forward.  Better top 6 forwards in Winnipeg, Vancouver, Toronto, and Edmonton.

Bottom 6 is lacking in secondary offence options.  Defence isn’t mature enough to move the needle for the team just yet.  Good future, but still too young to make a big difference at present.  Questionable whether Mark Giordano can continue to play big minutes for the team.  Chris Tanev is a step down from TJ Brodie.

Jacob Markstrom signing was a terrible one.  Paying an average goaltender like an elite one now.  Goaltending corps are average at best and underwhelming as the best description.  David Rittich right now is a slightly worse version of Markstrom.

Special teams isn’t bad, but always room for improvement – 12th PP and 8th PK.  This is a team headed nowhere fast until they get more forward skill and their defence matures.  Matthew Tkachuk is a turtling cheap shot artist.

Must Read. End of season player report cards for the Edmonton Oilers. light

7.  Ottawa Senators

The only Canadian team in a full rebuild, they’ve got some good pieces but need maturity from others – at both forward and defence.  Evgenii Dadonov is a nice under the radar signing.  Thomas Chabot a great piece to build a D corps from, as is Brady Tkachuk at forward.  Need more high-end skill all over the roster as is expected for a rebuilding team.

Matt Murray at $6.25 million was the worst signing of 2020 free agency.  $2 million at least too much.  Anders Nilsson is a terrible platoon partner.  Worst goaltending in the division. Special teams are terrible as you’d expect from a rebuilding team.