This season in Edmonton brings much of the same uncertainty that last season brought. The team has an average roster, average bank account and average prospect list.
Are they trying to win now? A couple key acquisitions could turn the team from playoff pretender to playoff contender. There's a few decent trading chips in the Oilers system that could help make this happen. With the delicate financial situation however, if the team was to add salary and miss the playoffs they would be left in a very tough spot.
Are they building for the future? With little in the way of high impact prospects the future seems murky at best right now. Some of the better roster players like Ryan Suter or Brent Seabrook could return some top flight prospects to help shape this team for years to come.
Opening Night Roster
Mike Knuble - TJ Oshie - Ales Hemsky
Tuomo Ruutu - Paul Stastny - Ryan Malone
Travis Moen - Marcel Goc - Tom Kostopoulos
Cody McCormick - Lennart Petrell - Bobby Butler
The top two lines are solid yet unspectacular. There are no true goal scorers but TJ Oshie plays a very solid all around game and will get a shot at playing on the top line this year. Second line wingers Tuomo Ruutu and Ryan Malone help bring a physical presence.
The bottom six is much of the same. The underrated Marcel Goc leads the third line and will get spot duty in the top 6 if any injuries happen. The fourth line is a real weakness as none of the players seem suited to play together.
Brent Seabrook - Ryan Suter
Brad Stuart - Francois Beauchemin
Chay Genoway - Mike Mottau
On defense Brent Seabrook and Ryan Suter form what might be the best pairing in the HFNHL. They're both excellent all around players that compliment each other very well. Brad Stuart and Francois Beauchemin round out the top four and both play a physical, defense first game.
The third pairing will be a rotation of Chay Genoway, Mike Mottau and Aaron Rome leaving much to be desired. This is an area of weakness that needs to be improved if the team hopes to challenge for a playoff spot.
The biggest weakness of the Oilers is in goal. Free agent signing Johan Hedberg brings another veteran presence to the position and will split time with last years starter Nikolai Khabibulin.
Top 10 Prospects
1. Teuvo Teravainen
2. Simon Despres
3. Derek Forbort
4. Lucas Lessio
5. Calvin Pickard
6. Brandon Pirri
7. Michael St. Croix
8. Vincent Trocheck
9. Anton Lander
10. Keaton Ellerby
Teuvo Teravainen and Simon Despres are the best the Oilers prospect list has to offer. Teravainen has high end offensive potential but is a long ways from contributing at the HFNHL level. Despres projects to be a solid top four defenseman at this point but is unlikely to be a high end top pairing player.
The rest of the prospect list includes a variety of players. Some are top six or bust forwards like Brandon Pirri and Michael St. Croix. Some are likely third liners or bottom pair players like Anton Lander and Keaton Ellerby.
So what should we expect to see this season? Who the hell knows...