Aside from the obvious change in the Edmonton Oilers’ goaltenders, there is not much difference from this year’s opening night roster when compared to last year’s playoff roster. However there is a noticeable difference when you compare it to the 2021 opening night roster. Let’s break it down to see how much the Oilers have changed.
2022 Oilers opening night roster
Kane – McDavid – Puljujarvi
Holloway – Draisaitl – Hyman
McLeod – RNH – Foegele
Malone – Shore – Ryan
Nurse – Ceci
Kulak – Barrie
Murray – Bouchard
2021 Oilers opening night roster
Draisaitl – McDavid – Puljujarvi
Hyman – RNH – Yamamoto
Foegele – Ryan – Sceviour
Perlini – McLeod – Turris
Nurse – Barrie
Keith – Ceci
Russel – Bouchard
The changes made to the Oilers’ system since last season
The biggest difference with last year’s opening night roster to this year is the usage of Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid on the top line. Dave Tippett put them together immediately and played the two superstars as much as possible. The addition of Evander Kane into the lineup truly did give the top six balance. It is kind of deja vu all over again as Kane is on LTIR, however Jay Woodcroft has kept Draisaitl and McDavid on separate lines.
I had a good laugh being reminded about Brendan Perlini and Kyle Turris. I never liked the Turris signing and Perlini had a great press conference when the Oilers were slumping. I believe it was shortly after the “Pissy” comment by Jim Matheson that trended last year. Great kid, lit it up in pre-season, too bad he couldn’t earn a regular spot on the roster.
Colton Sceviour played 35 games and put up two goals, three assists for the Oilers last year. I do not remember Sceviour from last season; maybe that’s why he’s not on the roster anymore or maybe I need to pay more attention to the bottom six?
The most obvious change is in net with both goaltenders being replaced by a big free agent and a homegrown prospect: Jack Campbell and Stuart Skinner. Subtract Duncan Keith and Kris Russell for Brett Kulak and Ryan Murray and that’s it. With Kane and Kulak added to the roster, I’m sure most fans would take this year’s version of the Oilers over last.
Yet the Oilers ended up with an appearance in the Conference final last year. Which is why it will be interesting to compare this season to last. The Oilers arguably overachieved last year and now have some stability with Woodcroft and most of the roster back attempting to build on last year. Getting back to the Conference final is no small task and a high bar to achieve when anything less will be considered a step back.
The Oilers’ first 20 games in the 2021–22 season
All records used below are from Hockey-Reference.com.
|Opponent||Goals For||Goals Against||Record|
|Vegas Golden Knights||5||3||5–0–0|
|New York Rangers||6||5||9–1–0|
|Detroit Red Wings||2||4||9–2–0|
|St. Louis Blues||5||4||11–3–0|
|Vegas Golden Knights||3||2||15–5–0|
Pacific Division standings 20 games into the 2021–22 season
|Vegas Golden Knights||21||12||9||0||24|
|San Jose Sharks||21||11||9||1||23|
|Los Angeles Kings||20||9||8||3||21|
The Oilers started last season hot, winning their first five games in a row followed by another four-game win streak, going 9–1 in the first ten games. They went 6–1 at home losing only to Philadelphia and 3–0 on the road.
The next ten games saw the Oilers go on a five-game and three-game road trip in which they went 4–4 and winning both home games. After 20 games they had a 15–5 record, with 8–1 home and 7–4 away records. They put up 77 GF (tied for 3rd in NHL) and allowed 59 GA (tied for 15th), good enough for first in the Pacific Division and fifth overall. Aside from going undefeated, you can’t ask for a much better start to a season.
The Oilers’ first 20 games in the 2022–23 season
|Opponent||Goals For||Goals Against||Record|
|St. Louis Blues||0||2||2–3–0|
|St. Louis Blues||3||1||4–3–0|
|New Jersey Devils||3||4||7–4–0|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||3||2||8–6–0|
|Los Angeles Kings||1||3||9–8–0|
|Vegas Golden Knights||4||3||10–8–0|
|New Jersey Devils||2||5||10–9–0|
|New York Islanders||0||3||10–10–0|
|Vegas Golden Knights||21||16||4||1||33|
|Los Angeles Kings||22||11||9||2||24|
|San Jose Sharks||22||7||12||3||17|
The Oilers started this year with a six-game home stand going 3–3. Slow starts and questionable goaltending from Campbell dominated the headlines. It is difficult to adjust to a new team and city. On opening night, the Oilers were able to overcome a three goal deficit to beat Vancouver 5–3.
Forgiveness quickly turned into concern when Campbell allowed four goals in the first period against Calgary in game two. The Oilers were able to stage a comeback that game and it felt as though if they had a little more time they could have tied it. Instead they lost 4–3.
The impressive part of the home stand was the Oilers resiliency when down multiple goals. Their ability to come back after a poor first period seemed like it could be something to build on. Having the confidence and ability to comeback from three goals down is entertaining but unsustainable hockey.
By the time the home stand came to an end, it felt like the Oilers could use a road trip just to changes things up. They won all three games on the trip including the next home game for a four-game win streak going 7–3 in the first ten.
The month of October saw plenty of exciting hockey for fans. Despite some slow starts, the Oilers were pretty much in every game. They seemed to have this no quit attitude that spilled over from last post-season. November, however has seen a frustrating trend of losing where the Oilers would go 3–7 in games 11 through 20.The Oilers have been blown out in three of those seven losses and have not won two in a row since Kane’s injury. Not quite as exciting as the first ten.
The Oilers are 2–4 with Kane out of the line up. His absence has created the same unbalance the top six had at the beginning of last season. With Kane out of the line up and the inconsistent play that has followed, one has to wonder if it’s time to start McDavid and Draisaitl on the same line. It’s a move Tippet used plenty prior to Kane joining the team and had the Oilers at 15–5 to start last season.
On a positive note, Zach Hyman has been the first Oiler to score six times. They are 4–2 when he is the first Oiler to score and 3–0 when he scores the first goal of the game. You definitely cannot blame Hyman for starting slow. It is interesting to note that the Oilers are 0–2 when McDavid is the first Oiler to score.
After 20 games they have 66 GF (12th in NHL) and 72 GA (27th in NHL) with 5–6 home and 5–4 away records. Good for 5th in the Pacific, 21st in the NHL and out of the playoffs but tied with Nashville, Minnesota, and St. Louis for the last wild card spot.
It is officially past American Thanksgiving and the 20 game mark for the Oilers. Teams that are out of the playoffs at this point only make it 23% of the time. The 20 game mark is when NHL management re-evaluate their roster and begin strategizing moves. Would a trade make the Oilers better?
Poor goaltending from Campbell and Kane’s injury are the two big stories this year after 20 games. Can Campbell find his game and go back to being a career .913 SV% and 2.64 GAA? It would be nice if Soup could steal a game or five while Kane is out. The Kane injury has left a enormous hole in the top six, one that has not been filled internally.
There are 62 games left so there’s a little time for Campbell to find his game. You do have to wonder how much inconsistent hockey Ken Holland can take before he pulls the trigger on a trade. The trade deadline is March 21, and Kane is scheduled to return in February or March.
Can Holland improve the roster before Kane’s return and/or the trade deadline? Is this the year the Oilers trade their first round pick? Can Campbell find his form? Is Skinner the starter? Will Woodcroft start Draisaitl and McDavid together? There are many questions surrounding the Oilers after 20 games and they can only be answered in the future.
Which of the following do you think would help the Oilers the most in the next 62 games? Leave a comment.
- Starting Draisaitl and McDavid together
- A trade
- Campbell returning to form
- Kane back from injury
- Other (leave a comment)
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire