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Season Recap

Oilers expect changes after disappointing season

Edmonton roster could look different after missing playoffs for 10th straight season

by Derek Van Diest / Correspondent

EDMONTON -- For the 10th consecutive season, the Edmonton Oilers will not participate in the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Oilers finished 29th in the NHL standings with a 31-43-8 record, and packed up their things for the offseason Sunday with uncertainty regarding their future roster.

Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli is expected to make a major overhaul for 2016-17, with the team moving into their new downtown arena, Rogers Place.

Chiarelli could entertain the possibility of breaking up the Oilers' core group, put together with a series of high selections in the 2016 NHL Draft. The Oilers chose first in four of the past six drafts, selecting Taylor Hall (2010), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2011), Nail Yakupov (2012) and Connor McDavid (2016).

Jordan Eberle (22nd, 2008), Leon Draisaitl (3rd, 2014), Oscar Klefbom (19th, 2011) and Darnell Nurse (7th, 2013) were also selected in the first round.

Video: YEAR END RAW | Peter Chiarelli

Despite the high picks, Edmonton finish never finished higher than 24th in the NHL standings in the past seven seasons. The Oilers have a 13.5 percent chance of picking first in June.

Chiarelli is expected to rebuild around McDavid, perhaps the lone untouchable on the team. McDavid had an outstanding rookie season with 16 goals and 48 points in 45 games. He missed 37 games because of a broken clavicle, sustained crashing into the end boards against the Philadelphia Flyers on Nov. 3.

McDavid's injury, along with an injury to Klefbom, helped derail the Oilers' season. Klefbom broke his finger, then sustained a staph infection in his foot and missed the final 52 games of the season.

In order to make the Oilers playoff contenders for the first time since going to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final, Chiarelli has a lot of work ahead of him.

Video: YEAR END RAW | Connor McDavid

WHAT THEY SAID: "I don't think this is any different from any other years. It's always going to be the same, who's coming back and who's not. When you finish in 29th, there is always going to be changes, but that being said, there is always going to be changes in every lineup. Ultimately, that's out of the players' control really." - right wing Jordan Eberle

"It's out of our hands now, the season is done and the games have been played out. Whatever happens, happens. I'd still love to be here, it's home for me now and you see some really good pieces that you want to be with going forward. We're in 29th and there is going to be change. Whoever it is, I can't tell you. I don't even know who they are leaning to, to moving or if anyone big like that is going to be moved. You can say you want to trade someone, but you're not going to trade them for the wrong price. But that's out of our hands." - left wing Taylor Hall

"If losing doesn't bug you, then you probably shouldn't be here. I know that losing has happened a lot in Edmonton for a while now and you have to get to a point where you're so sick of losing, you can't do it anymore. A lot of guys are definitely at that point and I'm certainly a guy that doesn't handle losing very well. This year has been hard on me and I definitely hope that can change next year." - center Connor McDavid

"I went into this with open eyes, I knew there would be some heavy lifting. Frankly, I thought we would get 82 points, that was my goal. We were noticeably short of that [70 points] but I knew you don't turn it around in a season. I didn't like losing all these games. You go into this expecting the worst and hoping for the best. I'm disappointed where we are, but in this business, you have to expect everything. I wasn't completely surprised, but I did expect better." - general manager Peter Chiarelli

Video: YEAR END RAW | Taylor Hall

THE BURNING QUESTION: Will the Oilers trade off some of their young core in order to rebuild their team? Despite four No. 1 picks in the past six years, the Oilers have not been able to climb out of the Western Conference basement. They will get another high lottery pick this year, which could be No. 1 again. Depending on where the Oilers select in the 2016 Draft, they could contemplate trading a combination of, Hall, Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins or Yakupov in an attempt to address deficiencies on defense. The only player off limits is McDavid as Chiarelli attempts to make the Oilers competitive.

INJURIES: Klefbom is expected to make a full recovery in time for next season and Chiarelli said if the Oilers were in the playoffs, he would have returned to the lineup. In addition to missing McDavid for almost half of the season, Brandon Davidson and Eric Gryba both sustained season-ending knee injuries and are also expected to be ready for training camp, as is Benoit Pouliot, who missed the final 18 games with a shoulder injury.

WHO COULD GO: Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Yakupov, Eberle, Pouliot.

The Oilers are expected to shake up their core, which may require trading one of their No. 1 selections. Chiarelli also wants to get bigger up front and is in desperate need for a puck-moving defenseman, which don't come cheap.

Video: YEAR END RAW | Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

BIGGEST NEEDS: The Oilers want to get bigger and stronger and add veteran leadership. The Oilers also need to revamp their blue line and are in the market for a high-end defenseman who can provide offense and help mentor some of the Oilers' younger defensemen such as Klefbom, Nurse and Griffin Reinhart.

2016 DRAFT PICKS: The Oilers have 10 picks in the draft. They will have a high pick in the first round and have another outside chance at the No. 1 selection. Edmonton has their own selections in the first two rounds and three picks in the second round. Along with their own, the have the Florida Panthers' third-round selection, acquired in a trade for forward Teddy Purcell and a third-round pick from the Pittsburgh Penguins, obtained in a trade for defenseman Justin Schultz. The Oilers do not have a selection in the fourth round, traded to the Anaheim Ducks for forward Patrick Maroon, but have two in the fifth and the seventh rounds. 

REASON FOR OPTIMISM: The Oilers tied an NHL record for futility by missing the playoffs for the 10th consecutive year. They bottomed out in the 2009-10 season, finishing last in the NHL standings for the first time in franchise history and things have not improved much since. However, the Oilers have a proven general manger in Chiarelli and an experienced coach in Todd McLellan, leading towards optimism for the future.

Video: YEAR END RAW | Jordan Eberle

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