What was supposed to be a dream season for the Edmonton Oilers has turned into their worst nightmare. And there doesn’t seem to be any clear answer in sight. You can fire the coaches, get rid of the general manager, and start trading away players, but what’s the answer? What’s really going to work?
How can this talented team who took the Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights to Game 6 in the second round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs fall off a cliff so fast in 2023-24? If you have an answer, you should send it to new Oilers boss Jeff Jackson, because he’s the guy who can make changes.
Oilers Currently At The Bottom of the NHL in Almost All Categories
With one win and three points after seven games, the Oilers currently sit just two points from the bottom of the league. Who could’ve predicted this? Their goaltenders, Jack Campbell and Stuart Skinner, despite some heroic efforts in short spurts, currently sit close to last place in league save percentage and goals against average.
Their defensive core looks completely lost as they try and learn a new system that clearly isn’t working. And the much-publicized high-scoring forward group can’t seem to buy a goal. What’s the answer?
Critics Are Coming Out From Behind the Rocks
There’s a ton of negativity currently coming at the Oilers from outside voices who are saying “We told you so.” Even the Oilers’ own fan base, who are obviously in a state of shock, are starting to boo the team at Rogers Place. The boos that could be heard in the Oilers 3-0 loss to the New York Rangers on Oct. 26 will only grow louder. Whispers of Leon Draisaitl not re-signing with the Oilers when his contract runs out next season could turn into shouts. Will Connor McDavid eventually want out? Or can this group turn it around?
Is Ken Holland Working the Phones Trying to Make a Trade?
The roster Holland built for the 2023-24 version of the Oilers is obviously in need of a jolt. Could trading away a player or two help turn the tide? Maybe it’s time to give up on Philip Broberg and see what you can get in a trade. And it might be time to realize that Adam Erne isn’t the answer.
Could another team use a goalie like Campbell? I know he’s come into the new season with a new attitude, but maybe it’s time to call his time with the Oilers over, and try and ship him and his $5 million salary down the road. Is now the time to bring up some help from the Bakersfield Condors and inject some youth and enthusiasm into the Oilers lineup? Maybe Xavier Bourgault, Lane Pederson, or Raphael Lavoie could help.
Oilers Coach Jay Woodcroft Searching For Answers
This is a team that is clearly handcuffed by the salary cap. With a limited NHL roster that is right up against the salary cap, traditional coaching methods such as demoting a player or benching someone can’t be used by the coaches because the Oilers don’t have enough bodies to fill roles. That’s a sad statement. And one that you could pin on Oilers general manager Ken Holland, but his hands have also been tied since he arrived four years ago, especially with a stagnant salary cap and increasing player salaries.
Maybe it’s time for Jay Woodcroft and his coaching staff to abandon the new zone defensive system. The team looks lost, almost like the Keystone Cops out there. Maybe just go back to what made you successful the previous two seasons, and hope for the best IF you can make the playoffs. That’s a big IF at the moment.
The Ball is in the Players Court
With no immediate answers on the horizon, at least before the Heritage Classic on Oct. 29, maybe the players can figure it out. Hopefully McDavid can return from his injury sooner rather than later. The team, which should’ve stepped up and taken the bull by the horns in his absence, has instead regressed.
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Were they listening to their press clippings during the offseason when so many people were crowning them Stanley Cup champions or at least contenders before the 2023-24 season started? After a carousel of changes in coaches and management over the past decade, maybe the players could do something to help the franchise. If anyone has any answers, now would be a good time to bring them forward.
The Oilers Might Need a Miracle to Turn the Season Around
A miracle is almost what the Oilers could use at the moment. As the calendar turns to November, they can ill afford to continue down this losing path. Creative solutions are needed today not yesterday, and maybe Oilers CEO Jeff Jackson is the right guy to make some tough decisions. With the Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche running away with the NHL’s Western Conference, the best the Oilers can hope for at the moment is just to squeak into the playoffs, and then hope for the best from there.
It’s hard to lower expectations, but the Oilers need a reality check. They’re far from good enough. Maybe start with one win, and then another and build things back. If that doesn’t work, it might be time for some big changes. And that could really be tough on a fan base that has endured so many years of disappointment. The 2023-24 season has the makings of being a Halloween horror movie like The Exorcist. Who wants to see players or management’s heads spin around like Linda Blair? I prefer to think maybe the Oilers have some hope. They’re too talented a team. Maybe they could have a comeback story for the ages. If so, they’d better start winning now before it’s too late.
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