Carson Babbini | May 18th, 2019
What a tumultuous year it was in Edmonton. Another year out of the playoffs with a generational talent and a year where the front office made some questionable moves handing out big contracts. In our next Season Review, we take a look at the Edmonton Oilers.
As he has throughout his entire career, the Oilers were once again led by their captain Connor McDavid. This season, McDavid once again set a career high in points with 116 in 78 games with 41 goals and 75 assists, which is also a career high, as well as the most assists on the team. As hard as it may be to believe, this is eight more points than he scored last year when he finished the year with 108 points. Leon Draisaitl had a career year this year reaching 50 goals and 55 assists for a total of 105 points, all of which are career highs for him. Draisaitl’s 50 goals also led the Oilers and was second in the entire NHL in that category, only behind Alexander Ovechkin, who once again dazzled the NHL audience scoring 51 goals during the regular season. After McDavid and Draisaitl, the numbers drop off quite a bit for the Oilers, but it was still an impressive year for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Like Draisaitl, Nugent-Hopkins also set career highs in goals with 28, assists with 41, and points with 69.
For the Oilers, this saw Nugent-Hopkins finally start to live up to the hype as the first overall pick of the 2011 NHL Draft. There have been questions of how good Nugent-Hopkins could be and many trade rumors were swirling around his head for many years. But he has stepped up this year and shown that the Oilers made the right decision picking him with the first pick in the 2011 NHL Draft. There was another surprise performance from winger Zack Kassian who had a career-high fifteen goals this season and started to uncover his offensive potential instead of just being the tough guy.
The most obvious failure is that once again a team with McDavid did not make the postseason. McDavid, understandably, was frustrated after the season ended saying how he was very frustrated and how he wants to be in the playoffs as an individual, and how the Oilers, as a team, want to get there. If things don’t change, Edmonton may have to think about a future without their generational superstar.
Of course the big change this season was the midseason firing of general manager Peter Chiarelli. Chiarelli made several controversial moves during his time with the Oilers from the signing of Milan Lucic to a seven-year contract, to signing struggling goaltender Mikko Koskinen to a three-year extension, and trading away winger Drake Caggiula, with defenseman Jason Garrison, to the Chicago Blackhawks for Brandon Manning, the same person who broke Connor McDavid’s collarbone in 2016, just to name a few. Head coach Todd McLellan was also a casualty during the season and would be replaced with Ken Hitchcock. The Oilers also had a rough year statistically finishing fifth worst in the NHL in goals-against average with a putrid 3.12 goals against per game and finished in the same spot for save percentage at .896 percent.
What Next Year Holds
The Oilers will be starting completely anew with a new general manager in Ken Holland leading the charge. The first problem they still need to figure out is who will be coaching their team next year as the Oilers have not yet hired a new head coach. After that position is filled, the Oilers can concentrate on the NHL Draft, where they hold the eighth overall pick. The Oilers have a lot of work to do, and the new front office will have to be up to the task to get the Oilers back on track.
Read our other 2018-2019 NHL Season Reviews:
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