3 reasons why the Oilers are the Western Conference’s hottest team in the NHL playoff race

Even if they aren’t in first place, the Edmonton Oilers could be the team to beat in the Western Conference during the NHL playoff race.

Mar 16, 2024; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) and Colorado
Mar 16, 2024; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) and Colorado / Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
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They added the right pieces at the trade deadline

The NHL trade deadline means a lot to the league’s top contenders, and if they botch it, it could hurt their playoff chances. For the league’s best teams that have unofficially punched their ticket into the playoffs, bad fits at or even over a month before the trade deadline could be detrimental. 

Luckily, the Oilers avoided making such ill-fated trades, and they brought in a trio of incredible depth players: Adam Henrique, Sam Carrick, and Troy Stecher. None of the aforementioned players have been incredible scorers, but when you look at the previous slide, it’s clear the Oilers already had them in the system. 

But they needed depth and defensive-minded players, and it’s what Henrique and Carrick bring. The duo have, for the most part, been on the lower lines since Edmonton acquired them. Since they arrived, Edmonton is 2-0-2, with 15 goals for and just eight allowed. 

Stecher, meanwhile, makes for a much-needed rotational piece who becomes a luxury when the games get physical. He made just one appearance between March 9th and March 16th, but that could be changing. Also, in that one game, the blueliner recorded five hits in just 13:33 of ice time. When the Oilers play one of those more physical teams down the stretch, Stecher (and Sam Carrick) provide a pair of answers.