Very few elements are missing to allow the Oilers to aspire to major honors in the National Hockey League.
The fans believed it, the players believed it, the head coach believed it, the general manager believed it too. The Oilers seemed destined to become Stanley Cup champions, but their dream ended in six games against the Vegas Golden Knights.
If it was well off, the formation which lowered the flag in six games was not perfect. No team ever really is either. The Avalanche last year lacked a top goaltender and still managed to get their hands on the coveted trophy.
The Oilers had a team talented enough to become the new champions. If everyone had played the way they did in the home stretch of the season, today we wouldn't be talking about the team's season in the past tense.
Defensive play was one of the Oilers' main shortcomings during the playoffs. In the final 15 games of the season, the team allowed an average of 29.5 shots on goal per game.
During the 12 games of the playoffs, this average rose to 31.5.
Not only did we allow more shots per game, but the coverage of the defenders in their zone did not increase. not been as effective. Too often the Kings and Golden Knights players have been left to maneuver around Stuart Skinner's net.
Cody Ceci and Darnell Nurse had tough playoffs. Often used against the best opposing trios, they have not managed to be as good as during the season.
Darnell Nurse is one of the players who wasn't as good in the playoffs as he was in the the season.
Vincent Desharnais has experienced failures in a few games. It's normal for a player in his first season in the National Hockey League (NHL) to make some mistakes, but he had been so good in the season that his mistakes came as a bit of a surprise.
Philip Broberg has seen little use, but it has been seen that he is not yet ready for a full-time NHL role.
Stuart Skinner started the playoffs with the number one goaltender title, a title he had stolen from JackCampbell for several months.
In his last 15 games, he was 13-1-1 with a .919 save percentage and a 2.46 GAA.
In the playoffs, his stats dropped, with an efficiency of .883 and an average of 3.68.
Jack Campbell (left) and Stuart Skinner (right), the Oilers' two goaltenders this season.
Even though he's been very solid this season and he's was very successful, the 24-year-old goaltender had never had more than six consecutive starts.
It may have been a lot to ask him to play every game for the Oilers in the playoffs, but head coach Jay Woodcroft seemed to have made the decision he was going to live or die with his young goalkeeper.
If he did not hesitate to withdraw it during more difficult outings (4 times in 12 games), he stubbornly put it back in front of the net for the following games, despite excellent performances in relief of Jack Campbell .
Although he had a good season, Stuart Skinner is not one of the elite goalies in the NHL. The Oilers would have been better off using a two-goalie system, as they have done for the majority of the season.
A lot of people still think the Oilers are just a team of two forwards. This is no longer true. During the season, 13 different players scored at least 10 goals, an NHL high, tied with the Seattle Kraken.
Four of the Oilers forwards finished in the NHL's top 25 in scoring (Connor McDavid, 1st, Leon Draisaitl 2nd, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 9th and Zach Hyman 24th).
We must also not forget Evander Kane who missed half of the season due to injury. In 41 games, he scored 16 goals, 15 at even strength and one shorthanded.
The good work of these players during the season was not repeated in the series and the team became, for the majority of playoff games, the team of two forwards.
Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid had great playoffs.
McDavid and Draisaitl scored 21 of the team's 44 goals (47.7%). Kane and Hyman had just three goals each, while Nugent-Hopkins was limited to just one goal.
General Manager Ken Holland's to-do list is shorter and less difficult than those of recent years.
At the top of the list, we must agree on the terms of a new contract with Evan Bouchard. The 23-year-old defenseman was phenomenal in the playoffs with 17 points in 12 games.
Evan Bouchard could become a restricted free agent this summer.
His first professional contract expires this summer and he could become a restricted free agent. That means he could accept an offer from another team, but the Oilers would still have the option to match the offer, to retain his services.
Bouchard will receive a significant raise, his most recent contract earning him $863,333 per season.
Ken Holland will then have to agree with Ryan McLeod. The forward had agreed last year to sign a one-year contract to accommodate the Oilers who are facing a major challenge in managing their salary cap.
The 23-year-old center had agreed to a $798,000 contract. He will also receive a salary increase, but not as significant as that of Bouchard.
The general manager will have to decide if he offers new contracts to some of his support players. Derek Ryan, Mattias Janmark, Devin Shore and Nick Bjugstad could all become unrestricted free agents, while Klim Kostin could become a restricted free agent.
If Holland decides not to offer these players new contracts, he will have to find other support players for the team's third and fourth lines.
A RIGHT WINGER FOR THE TOP 6
In order to further improve his team, Ken Holland will also have to make some changes to the formation.
Kailer Yamamoto has not lived up to expectations this season.
First you have to find a right winger to play in one of the first two lines. Kailer Yamamoto has failed this season, settling for 10 goals and 15 assists in 58 games.
The solution may lie internally. Players like Dylan Holloway and Raphaël Lavoie are knocking on the door of the NHL and will try to obtain a full-time position with the Oilers.
Holloway spent the majority of the season with the Oilers, but was rarely placed in a position where he could showcase his offensive talent. In 51 games, he scored three goals and added six assists. In the American League, he scored 10 points, including 7 goals in 12 games.
Raphael Lavoie has had a rough start to the season, scoring just 9 points in his first 20 games. He then racked up 36 points in the next 41 games, finishing the season with 25 goals and 20 assists in 61 games.
Yamamoto's 3.1M contract is still valid for one season, Ken Holland will probably try to trade him to another team, which could free up some room on the team's payroll.
A 7TH DEFENDER
The Oilers GM will also no doubt want to find a veteran to play the role of seventh defenseman with the team. Ryan Murray is unlikely to return and Philip Broberg is expected to spend most of the season in the American League to perfect his game.
This defender will have to be able to play at least forty games because Jay Woodcroft likes to use a formation composed of 11 attackers and 7 defenders, rather than the traditional 12-6.
The next step for Ken Holland and his deputies will be the draft. The Oilers don't have a first-round pick, as they traded him to the Predators in the trade that brought Mattias Ekholm to Edmonton.
Their third-round pick now belongs to the Coyotes, who acquired it from Nick Bjugstad.
The fourth-round pick belongs to the Flyers, the result of the trade that brought Derick Brassard to Edmonton last year.
If they make no further trades involving picks, the Oilers will speak in the second round (56th), fifth round (152nd) and sixth all (184th).