Edmonton Oilers 2005-2006

TEAM NAME: Edmonton Oilers

TEAM PAYROLL: $28 Million

GENERAL MANAGER: Kevin Lowe, General Manager Since 2000

HEAD COACH: Craig Mactavish, Head Coach Since 2000


FORGOTTEN MOVES: Todd Harvey signed as a free agent on September 15th, 2004 to add to the depth at right wing. Harvey is almost a lock to make the initial roster, but is on the fringe of losing his job to one of the bright prospects in the system if his performance lacks. The Oilers are hoping for Harvey to contribute 10-15 goals and have a strong presence on the forecheck. He’s a bargain at $528,000. Also forgotten is the acquisition of Tyler Moss in goal. He probably won’t make the roster, but he was an excellent tutor for Jeff Deslauriers in the AHL last year. If the Oilers run into injury problems, Moss has plenty of NHL experience and can step in when needed.

TEAM MODE: With their off-season additions, the Edmonton Oilers certainly expect to challenge for a playoff spot. The new economic system benefits the Oilers organization tremendously and they have certainly improved their team since 2003-2004. The Western Conference looks to be very competitive this year and the Oilers find themselves in the heart of arguably the toughest division in the NHL. Anything higher than a 6th place finish would be unexpected, but you can expect to see this team seriously challenge for one of the last playoff spots in the West. Even more than the new economic system, the rule changes this season will benefit the Oilers in a big way. The team plays a wide-open, fast-paced style and the elimination of the redline and the crackdown on obstruction will allow the Oiler players to utilize their speed and creativity. The rule change on goaltenders playing the puck won’t affect the Oilers because their goalies aren’t particularly creative handling the puck, but the reduction on equipment is a concern. Both Ty Conklin and Jussi Markkannen are relatively unproven as #1 goaltenders and at this stage in their career it would be nice to give them any advantage possible. However, the addition of Chris Pronger and Michael Peca who are both outstanding defensively should help alleviate the goaltending issues.

TO TAKE CHARGE!: Chris Pronger. Not since Wayne Gretzky have Oilers fans been so excited about seeing a new player in the copper and blue. Don’t expect Jason Smith to relinquish the captaincy to Pronger, but Chris will certainly take a big role in the leadership area. He’ll help immensely with the development of younger defenseman like Marc-Andre Bergeron. Pronger is a key offensively, defensively and on special teams. If he fires on all cylinders, the Oilers will be a much better team; if he has a tough season or gets injured, the Oilers will be in trouble.

ON THE RUSH (OFFENSE): To mix it up, I’d like to start with special teams. The powerplay and penalty kill are areas where the Oilers are greatly improved. The last couple seasons, they have consistently ranked in the bottom third of the league on the PP. It’s going to start to sound like a broken record, but Chris Pronger is a major addition. The Oilers now have a quarterback for the powerplay and a major threat from the blueline. I don’t think it is unreasonable to assume that some teams will score 100 powerplay goals this year and the Oilers need to stay out of penalty trouble and capitalize on powerplay opportunities. As even strength play is concerned, the Oilers have a strong forecheck and a defensive core that can move the puck. With goaltending a question at this point the Oilers find themselves in the precarious position of needing to generate a lot of offense just in case. They’ll play a wide open style and generate a lot of chances, but they need to work on putting the biscuit in the basket.

COVERING THE D-ZONE: Pronger makes them stronger in an area where they already have strength. Steve Staios, Jason Smith, Alexei Semenov and Igor Ulanov are steady stay-at-home players while Bergeron and Pronger have strong offensive potential. Teams will have a tough time controlling the puck in the Edmonton zone and getting pucks on net will not be an easy task. Speed is a bit of a weakness on the Edmonton blueline and it is likely that they’ll give up a fair share of odd-man rushes. They will have to quickly adapt to the new obstruction rules and make sure they don’t get caught clutching and grabbing in front of their own net.

GUARDING THE NET: The starting job is Ty Conklin’s to lose. Ty has had some excellent outings for the American national team and has started to fine tune his game thanks to some help from Oiler goalie coach Pete Peeters. Conklin will make the first save for them almost every time, but he needs to work on his positioning and rebound control if he wants to have more success. He has a huge upside and if he plays to his potential, the Oilers will be just fine in net. A strong defense in front of him will limit the amount of rubber he sees and should contribute to Conklin’s success. Jussi Markkanen will likely be the backup and will probably see more games than the average 2nd-stringer. Young goalie Mike Morrison turned some heads in the training camp and will stick around until Jussie Markkanen is back to full health.

TALKING ABOUT MY GENERATION!: Rob Schremp is the brightest young prospect in the Oilers organization and has a legitimate shot to make the team. He has a killer instinct around the net and is not afraid to shoot from all angles, something the Oilers could desperately use. Marc-Antoine Pouliot is another prospect in the organization and he’s most noted for having played on Sydney Crosby’s line with Rimouski last season. He has been re-assigned to the AHL but is a definite shot for callup duties. Yan Stastny was recently acquired from the Boston Bruins and has solid potential. He had a wrist injury early in training camp and his shot to make the team was severely hindered by it. He has been re-assigned to the AHL but could see some NHL action later this year. The Oilers are also deep in defensive prospects with Dan Smith, Dan Syvret and Matt Greene. Don’t be surprised to hear those names at some point this season.


EXPECTATIONS: The Oilers are expected to fight for one of the lower playoff spots in the Western Conference. Depending on who you talk to, they are expected to finish anywhere from 6th to 10th.

PROJECTED: I think the expectations for this team are realistic. They are a dark horse to finish 4th or 5th, but I think we’ll see them slot in at 7th or 8th. If this team missed the playoffs, I’d be shocked.

12 Responses to Edmonton Oilers 2005-2006

  1. JannettyTheRocker says:

    Great Article!!!! Many great points……. While I am a huge Oiler’s fan, I am hoping they’ll finish in the top-half of the Western Conference, but are in desperate need of a goal-scorer. Look for big season from Ales Hemsky, Radek Dvorak, and Raffi Torres. This is a team with a lot of unknown players, but with great potential…….I believe we will be a lock to make the post-season, and Kevin Lowe will be making a couple trades early in the season to shore up the offence…….Oh, no worries in net, I have great confidence in both Oilers goaltenders. They are unproven, but so was every goaltender before they had a full season to play. If you remember, Conklin only played half a season after Salo had been traded; and Markannen was playing with the Ranger the first half of last year, but had a great half-season last year with the Oilers.

    GO OILERS GO!!!!!

  2. Bilman says:

    Nice Article! I am a Flames fan, but believe that the oilers are for real. They have alot of offensive talent that the new rules might allow to flourish. I believe that their young goaltenders are their weakness, but could surprisingly be the difference in their success.

    We’ll have to wait and see, but being a flames fan, I still have to hope that they choke.

  3. Kraut182 says:

    No offense dantencer (take it as constructive criticism), but the only forward, with the Oilers, that you mentioned was Todd Harvey. Even just throwing some names out there, say Smyth, Peca, Dvorak, Hemsky, would have been an easy, nice addition.

  4. FLAMESOWNU says:

    I see the Oilers finishing dead last!!


  5. dantencer says:

    Thanks for the feedback! I tried on purpose to stay away from names with the exception of big CP for a reason…the Oilers talent level is there, but systems are the big question. I chose to focus more generically on the brand of hockey and system that they’ll be playing, which will ultimately determine their finish more than the depth of their team…in my opinion, anyway.

  6. blindref says:

    Great article! I really am disappointed that they sent Schremp back down to Junior for one more year. I don’t think he’s really going to develop much more down there and I think he was ready for the big time. I do agree with you though when you say Smith, Syvret, and Greene will spend some time up with the big club…just as soon as we get rid of that waste of space Cory Cross.

    Even though everyone says the goaltending is questionable, I think either Ty or Jussi can take us to the playoffs, I’m just hoping that they can also take us past the first round. I’m thinking of a finish between 5th and 7th but I may be a bit optomistic at this point in time. Can’t wait for puck drop on Wednesday night…GO OIL!

  7. Nemix says:

    Sorry 2 sound like the protagonist, but there is alot left undone on a team with 3 players who can score,a dark horse in dv and play with puck no finish hemsky. If kept york and brew perhaps but now with replacing, they havent gained more then they had before. prong, pec and smith cant do by themself look 2 finish 1 spot or 2 out.

  8. IgorUlanov says:

    Important note, given the content of your post: Tyler Moss was let go in the off-season. He is no longer in the organization, and as such did not attend training camp.

  9. dantencer says:

    You’re right. He’s playing in Russia this season and did not attend camp. However, he remains close with the organization and would be a possible replacement if things got very bad injury-wise in goal.

  10. dantencer says:

    First of all, you’d be an ‘antagonist’ not a protagonist. 3 players who can score? Smyth, Torres, Moreau, Dvorak, and Peca have all had 20 goal seasons in the NHL. Not to mention Horcoff (who had 2 in the opener) a healthy Marty Reasoner, and Chris Pronger on the powerplay. Your comments about Dvorak and Hemsky are fair, but Dvorak looked spectacular on a line with Smyth and Horcoff in the opener and Hemsky should flourish under the new rule system. Keeping York and Brewer would have been nice, but that would have meant no Pronger or Peca…and I’d take that trade-off any day. Secondly, even if for sake of argument they could have acquired Pronger and Peca while keeping Brewer and York, that would have put the Oiler payroll over $36 million USD and they can’t afford to spend that high. They might very well finish one spot out, but I prefer to keep pessimism at bay until at least the 2nd game.

  11. johnnymouthpiece says:

    I think you’d see the Oilers trade for a goalie before bringing Moss back. Rumors about Lowe trading for Biron have surfaced in the last couple of days but I think before Jussi’s strong performance against the Canucks. That may have quieted those pesky rumors down a little.

  12. johnnymouthpiece says:

    Good article. Hard to argue with any of your points.

    About the only thing you don’t really touch on here is the coaching. Aside from unproven goaltending (which has traditonally always been top notch here), this is the Oilers’ achilles heel. I firmly believe that MacTavish and co. do not have what it takes to motivate and prepare this team properly. MacT is not a bad coach, don’t get me wrong but the one thing that has been lacking in this squad for years is killer instinct. Instead of going out and playing full bore every night, the Oilers have tended to play to the level of their opposition. You know what I mean… beating Detroit 2-0 one night and losing to Columbus 4-2 the next. This is the hump this team needs to get over and MacT has shown that he can’t get them there. Oh, and don’t get me started on Craig Simpson and the powerplay. I’ve only got one word for both… inept. Hopefully, Pronger’s impact will be felt here sooner rather than later.

    Anyhoo, if the Oilers miss out on the postseason this year, I think the coaching ranks will need to be cleaned out from top to bottom and restocked with coaches that have no current or past connection to the Oilers.

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