Season Preview 12: Edmonton Oilers
Things are starting to look up for the Oilers and they are pumped to begin the season as they are eyeing their first playoff spot in 3 seasons. What has gone in their favor that has them in this positive mindset? Well, they are looking to build on their red hot finish to end the season, new owner Darryl Katz promises to up the payroll, key veterans who missed significant time last season (Shawn Horcoff, Sheldon Souray, Fernando Pisani, and Ethan Moreau) are coming into the season healthy, and the Oilers have added some good players in Erik Cole and Lubomir Visnovsky. The Oilers should be good enough to make the playoffs this season after missing them by only 3 points last year.
One of the big keys to success, though, will be the play of goalie Mathieu Garon. Garon signed on last season to backup and rest Dwayne Roloson. Instead, Garon turned out career year, putting up a 26-18-1, 2.66 GAA, .913SP record, which propelled him into the number 1 goalie position. The question is can the 30 year old Quebecer due it again? He was hard pressed with Edmonton's light "D" corps which struggled with larger teams that liked to cycle the puck deep in the Oiler zone.
The 38-year-old Roloson will compete hard to return to the starting goalie role, but many wonder if this might be the end of the road for him. Roloson disappointed last season, posting a 15-17-5, 3.05 GAA, .901 SP record. Roloson would provide the Oilers with a good, experienced backup, but he has stated he doesn't want to be a backup and his $3.8 million salary makes him a little expensive to be one. If Edmonton is out of the playoff picture at the trading deadline, I could see the Oilers moving him to a team that wants to rent an experienced backup for their playoff run.
In addition, the Oilers want to take a look at 24-year-old Jeff Deslauries, who went 26-20-8, 2.90 GAA, .912 SP with the Springfield Falcons in the AHL. The Oilers may move him up if they feel that Roloson can't get the job done.
Things are looking up for the hard luck Oilers. New ownership moves the Oilers from glorified farm team status (like the Kings) on the right path to become a legitimate challenger. If the Oilers stay healthier than last year, they should find themselves in one of the final 3 playoff spots.* Read the remainder of this Article in the Premium Content