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Team Reset

Oilers ready for higher expectations after playoff run

Addition of Strome in trade for Eberle biggest change from last season

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is taking a look at where each team stands. Today, the Edmonton Oilers:

The Edmonton Oilers will look similar to the team that reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2006 but lost to the Anaheim Ducks in Game 7 of the Western Conference Second Round last season.

 

[RELATED: Complete Team Reset coverage]

 

The biggest difference will be forward Ryan Strome, who was acquired in a trade from the New York Islanders for forward Jordan Eberle on June 22. Strome will join a talented group led by center Connor McDavid, whose 100 points (30 goals, 70 assists) led the NHL last season.   

The trade for Strome gave the Oilers an extra $3.5 million in salary cap space, some of which likely will go toward a contract for forward Leon Draisaitl, a restricted free agent.

With most of the team back, and McDavid leading the way after signing an eight-year, $100 million extension July 5, Edmonton hopes to build on its playoff run. 

Here is what the Oilers look like today:

 

Key arrivals

Ryan Strome, F: The 24-year-old had 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists) in 69 games for the Islanders last season playing center and right wing. The Oilers likely will start the season with Strome at center, allowing coach Todd McLellan to use Draisaitl at right wing on McDavid's line. But Draisaitl also can play center, and if Strome can demonstrate similar and effective flexibility, it would give the Oilers the potential for multiple looks with their forwards. … Jussi Jokinen, F: The 34-year-old signed a one-year contract July 7 to provide depth. The Florida Panthers bought out of the final season of his four-year contract July 1.

Video: Isles, Oilers swap Ryan Strome and Jordan Eberle

 

Key departures

Jordan Eberle, F: The 27-year-old had 51 points (20 goals, 31 assists) in 82 games last season, his fourth with at least 20 goals, and two assists in 13 playoff games. … Benoit Pouliot, F: Edmonton bought out the final two seasons of Pouliot's contract June 30 after he had 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in 67 regular-season games and no points in 13 playoff games last season. … Matt Hendricks, F: The 36-year-old is an unrestricted free agent who has not been offered a contract. He had seven points (four goals, three assists) in 42 games in 2016-17. … Tyler Pitlick, F: A knee injury ended Pitlick's season on Dec. 19, but his 11 points (eight goals, three assists) in 31 games were an NHL career high. The 25-year-old signed a three-year, $3 million contract with the Dallas Stars on July 1. … David Desharnais, F: The 30-year-old had four points (two goals, two assists) in 10 games after being acquired in a trade from the Montreal Canadiens on Feb. 28, and four points (one goal, three assists) in 13 playoff games. He agreed to terms on a contract with the New York Rangers on July 5. … Griffin Reinhart, D: Reinhart was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL Expansion Draft. He had 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists) in 54 games with Bakersfield of the American Hockey League and one assist in one NHL playoff game last season. 

 

On the cusp

Jesse Puljujarvi, F: The No. 4 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, Puljujarvi made the opening-night roster but was sent to Bakersfield after he had eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 28 games. He had 28 points (12 goals, 16 assists) in 39 AHL games. The 19-year-old should compete for a top-nine forward spot this season. … Caleb Jones, D: A fourth-round pick (No. 117) in the 2015 NHL Draft, Jones had 62 points (nine goals, 53 assists) in 63 games with Portland of the Western Hockey League and was a big part of the United States winning the gold medal at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship. He'll turn pro this season, and a good training camp could land the 20-year-old in the NHL.

Video: CGY@EDM: Puljujarvi scores first career goal

 

What they still need

More secondary scoring, backup starts. The Oilers scored 243 goals last season, and McDavid (30) and Draisaitl (29) had 24.3 percent of them. Patrick Maroon (27) and Milan Lucic (23) are the only other returning players who scored at least 20 goals. The Oilers also will look to get more playing time for backup goalie Laurent Brossoit so Cam Talbot doesn't have to make 73 starts again.

Video: Cap questions in Edmonton after McDavid's extension

 

Pete Jensen's fantasy focus

The Oilers went from a perennial NHL Draft Lottery team to winning a playoff series with McDavid and Draisaitl joining the fantasy elite as linemates last season. Now the question is whether the Oilers plan to move Draisaitl to center to spread their scoring. A big factor in that decision will be the development of Strome, who can play center or wing, and Puljujarvi. Each has late-round sleeper upside with the chance to play alongside McDavid or Draisaitl this season. 

 

Projected lineup

Patrick Maroon -- Connor McDavid -- Leon Draisaitl

Milan Lucic -- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- Anton Slepyshev

Drake Caggiula -- Ryan Strome -- Jesse Puljujarvi

Jussi Jokinen -- Mark Letestu -- Zack Kassian

Oscar Klefbom -- Adam Larsson

Matt Benning -- Kris Russell

Darnell Nurse -- Eric Gryba

Cam Talbot

Laurent Brossoit

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