The new Sports Illustrated NHL Power Rankings are now out. According to these rankings by Allan Muir, the Oilers are ranked 8th in the Western Conference and 14th in the league.
Edmonton Oilers (38-35-9)
The focus might be on the signing of UFA Nikolai Khabibulin and the refusal of Dany Heatley to go west, but the shakeup behind the bench was the turning point of Edmonton’s off season. Pat Quinn and Tom Renney are a crafty, experienced pair. They’ll need to be. GM Steve Tambellini has spent to the cap, with heavy money on the blue-line. He’ll expect results, not potential.
This is in stark contrast to the recent predictions in The Hockey News which predicts that the Edmonton Oilers will have an 11th place finish–in the Western Conference:
Why: One old goalie has been swapped for another, but it’s the same cast of skaters who have missed the playoffs for the past three seasons after the ’06 Cup run. The new two-headed coaching monster in Pat Quinn and Tom Renney could provide gains, but the Oilers are still far off the West’s A-list.
Based on our current roster of players–assuming the cavalry isn’t coming… then I would have to look towards some of our weaknesses to make a prediction. Last season, our special teams (Penalty Kill/Power Play) were both atrocious. Out of 30 teams in the NHL, we were 27th and 22nd respectively. Our precipitous drop on the penalty kill rankings from the year previous–5th was likely due to roster changes.
However, with respect to our power play–it’s been pretty dismal for the last three years (22nd, 21st, 27th). We can hope that both a return of Visnovsky as well as our new coaching tandem may be able to improve these statistics. However, we’re going to need to see some chemistry on offense as we haven’t been able to bolster our offense with a roster change. On the same note, we’re currently lacking much in terms of depth at center position.
I am certainly hoping that we can squeak into a playoff spot this up coming year. With our roster lacking many true NHL players as well as 20 goal scorers or faceoff men, it’s going to be a struggle.