Wed. Jul 17th, 2024

Home has been sweet for the Edmonton Oilers lately. Dating back to late November, the Oilers are 6-1 at home, and depending on how they do against the Florida Panthers in their final home game of 2023 on Dec. 16, their current win/loss streak is something to write home about.

Head Coach Kris Knoblauch of the Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

But as the Oilers get ready to embark on the next six games away from Rogers Place, there are still some big questions hovering around the team.

What About The Oilers’ Goalie Situation?

This might be the number one question on the minds of management and fans of the team at the moment. When second-year starter Stuart Skinner got schooled by the great Andrei Vasilevskiy in the Oilers’ 7-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Dec. 14, X (Twitter) and the sports call-in shows were ablaze with Oilers fans demanding that Oilers CEO of hockey operations Jeff Jackson and general manager Ken Holland do something. And fans may have a point. Skinner is a good goalie, but Vasilevskiy showed what an elite goalie is capable of. Skinner’s career is just beginning and he’s on a good track to continue to get better, but they can’t ride him for too many games in a row otherwise he has a tendency, like all other mortal goaltenders, to get tired and lose his edge.

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You have to hope that the Oilers’ current backup Calvin Pickard could somehow find some Dwayne Roloson type of magic and transform himself into the kind of goalie the Oilers need to get into the playoffs, but that remains to be seen. Right now, Oilers opening day goaltender Jack Campbell is still down in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Bakersfield Condors, and with his unsteady play down on the farm, there’s not much chance that he’s going to be recalled to the Oilers anytime soon, if ever. If Pickard falters, the solution could come with young Olivier Rodrigue, who continues to show promise. But would a Skinner/Rodrigue combination be enough for a team with their eye still on the Stanley Cup? Is there a huge deal waiting to happen early in the New Year for a proven starter from another team? Maybe.

Can The Oilers Maintain Their Current Pace Of Winning Games?

When you go all the way back to early November, the Oilers were lost and at or near the bottom of the NHL standings. When they lost 3-2 to the San Jose Sharks on Nov. 9, things looked grim in Oil Country. But after the coaching change and switching out Jay Woodcroft and Dave Manson for Kris Knoblauch and Paul Coffey, the team recaptured their swagger, rattled off eight wins in a row and climbed back into contention. But can they continue their winning ways?

Related: 3 Oilers Who Have Elevated Their Play Since Coaching Change

Can Connor McDavid continue his out-of-this-world play and reclaim the Art Ross and Hart Trophy? Can Connor Brown score a goal? Can Leon Draisaitl find chemistry with some different linemates? Hopefully, for Oilers fans, these questions get answered sooner rather than later.

What Can Oilers Management Do To Improve the Team?

Good question. Everybody and their dog knows they need to solidify the goaltending situation. But what else does the team need to do to legitimately join the Stanley Cup contender conversation again? Do Jackson and Holland mortgage the future by sending first-round picks and prospects such as Philip Broberg away for immediate help? Do they push all of their chips into the middle, say their prayers, and hope like hell that it all works out? And what else do they need besides a goalie?

What Would You Do If You Were in Charge of the Oilers?

Oilers fans, do you have any answers? We already know that fans of other teams are going to suggest trading McDavid, Draisaitl, Evan Bouchard etc, but what are die-hard fans of the team thinking right now? Your guess is as good as mine at this point, but if you have any ideas write them down in the comment section below.

Mattias Ekholm and Evan Bouchard, Edmonton Oilers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

I think having questions about where the Oilers are heading makes following the team intriguing. In such a pivotal season for the franchise, there seem to be more questions than answers at the moment as the Oilers work their way back into contention. Will the adversity they’ve faced early on this season toughen them up mentally for the stretch drive to the playoffs later on in the season? Can Jackson and Holland pull off another Mattias Ekholm type of deal in 2024 like Holland did at the NHL Trade Deadline last season? I personally can’t wait to find out. Buckle up Oilers fans. Many of the biggest questions we all have are going to be answered soon.

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