The Edmonton Oilers are still looking to get over the hump and win a Stanley Cup with the generational talent of Connor McDavid and are one of the favorites to do so entering the 2023/24 season.
After making it to the Western Conference Finals just two seasons ago, the Oilers looked destined to finally reach the Stanley Cup Final entering last year. However, they fell short after being eliminated by the eventual-champion Vegas Golden Knights.
|What||2023/24 NHL Season|
|Where||US & Canada|
|When||October 10, 2023 - June 2024|
|How to watch||Sportsnet, TVA, RSN & NHL Centre Ice|
|Odds||TOR Maple Leafs +800, COL Avalanche +850, EDM Oilers +900, NJ Devils +1000|
The Oilers had posted their best performance for 35 years in 2021/22, but improved on that further last season to register their third-best ever season in amassing 109 points - bettered only by their 119-point hauls in 1983/84 and 1985/86.
Edmonton registered 50 wins for only the fourth time in their history, their first time since 1986/87, while they surpassed the 300-goals for mark for the first time since 1989/90, with their tally of 325 the best in the league.
Their record was still only sixth best in the final standings in the league, while they finished second in the Pacific Division, just two points behind the Vegas Golden Knights.
The Oilers went into the playoffs on a nine-game winning streak but were immediately put under pressure by the Los Angeles Kings, going 1-0 and 2-1 down. They eventually found their rhythm and reeled off three straight wins to progress.
However, the Golden Knights proved too big an obstacle to pass and took control early on, eventually going on to win the series 4-2, and ultimately the Stanley Cup itself.
Any team with the caliber of player of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl is going to have high expectations, and that is certainly the case in Edmonton - who are very much in the "win-now" window.
McDavid in particular seems to constantly improve as he reaches new heights year after year.
Last season was quite literally historic as he was the first skater to eclipse 150 points in a season since 1996/97.
Of course, scoring the most points means McDavid won the Art Ross Trophy for the fifth time while also winning his third Hart Trophy for the league’s MVP. It was his first 60-goal season, as his 64 were also the most in the NHL.
Despite also playing alongside Leon Draisaitl - whose 128 points were the second-most in the league - and another 100-point scorer in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton was still unable to take that next step.
There is still no sign of McDavid getting frustrated and wanting to leave town, so Edmonton fans still have reason to be optimistic that they can end their Cup drought in 2023/24.
For a team that has both McDavid and Draisaitl on the offensive end, it’s no surprise what has held them back in recent years is their goaltending.
However, that certainly improved in 2022/23, and it wasn’t even due to the acquisition of Jack Campbell from the Toronto Maple Leafs. Instead, it was youngster Stuart Skinner taking over for the aging Mike Smith that shined.
Unfortunately for Edmonton fans, that improvement was lacking when it mattered most - in the Stanley Cup playoffs. However, Skinner and Campbell will both be returning for the 2023/24 season so expectations are still relatively high, particularly with the former now having much-needed experience behind him.
With the talent of McDavid and Draisaitl unquestioned and the improvements in net, it’s the defencemen that need to step up.
Darnell Nurse certainly has an above average shot, but with a cap hit north of $9 million, the Oilers need much more from him.
Edmonton did trade for Mattias Ekholm last season, and a full season with the team should prove beneficial. Similarly, the team was able to reach a deal with young D-man Evan Bouchard on a two-year extension.
The loss of Tyson Barrie may be felt in terms of generating scoring chances, but that’s not what the Oilers need.
Although not on the defensive front, having a healthy Evander Kane and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins off a career year (104 points) should allow Edmonton to slide into 2023/24 with plenty of momentum.
Expectations will be high in Edmonton and that is reflected in the odds as the Oilers are listed at +900 to win their first Stanley Cup since 1990, behind only the Toronto Maple Leafs at +800 and the Colorado Avalanche at +850.
The Oilers are behind the Avs at +400 to win the Western Conference, although they lead the way at +210 to win the Pacific Division, marginally ahead of the defending champions Vegas at +230.
Edmonton are priced at -300 to record another 100+ points in the regular season, while they are +750 to win the Presidents' Trophy.
There could be an interesting battle between McDavid and Draisaitl to finish as the Pacific Division's top goalscorer with McDavid the favorite at -300 while the German is next best at +150.
There is little surprise to see McDavid dominate the regular season awards betting, and he is +100 to win the Hart Memorial Trophy and +250 to repeat his Rocket Richard Trophy-winning feat of last season.
Edmonton begin their season with back-to-back games against the Vancouver Canucks, the first at Rogers Arena on October 12th, with the return at Rogers Place three days later.
The first Battle of Alberta will no doubt catch the attention on October 29th as it also represents the Heritage Classic with Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium the venue, while the Oilers also take on the Flames on Hockey Day in Canada on January 20th at Calgary's Scotiabank Saddledome. Edmonton and Calgary also face off on February 24th and April 6th.
The defending Stanley Cup champions and Pacific Division rivals, the Golden Knights, loom large on November 28th, February 6th and April 10th.
A trip to the Columbus Blue Jackets occurs on trade deadline day on March 8th, while a road game at the Colorado Avalanche brings an end to the regular season on April 18th.
The now 47-year-old Jay Woodcroft took over the Oilers head coaching role after Dave Tippett was fired in February 2022 and went 26-9-3 in the regular season before leading them past Los Angeles Kings and rivals Calgary Flames in the playoffs.
Following the season, his interim tag was removed and he was handed a well-deserved three-year contract.
Woodcroft - who previously won a Stanley Cup in 2008 as part of the Detroit Red Wings' coaching staff - obviously stamped his mark on the franchise with their fine season in 2022/23, but will be looking to improve the postseason performance and end the Oilers' Cup wait.
Connor Brown (RW) Washington
Drake Caggiula (LW) Pittsburgh
Noel Hoefenmayer (D) Toronto Marlies (AHL)
Lane Pederson (C) Columbus
Ben Gleason (D) Dallas
Klim Kostin (LW) Detroit
Kailer Yamamoto (RW) Detroit
Nick Bjugstad (C) Arizona
Devin Shore (C) Seattle
Tyler Benson (LW) Henderson Silver Knights (AHL)