With the 2003-2004 season upon us, all eyes are on the squad that hopes to bring Edmonton back into the postseason. It’s sure to be an uphill battle for the team that last season struggled from the beginning and failed to come even close to a playoff berth.
Your 2003-2004 Edmonton Oiler Forwards….
Ryan Smyth – Oleg Kvasha – Martin Havlat
The lack of a true #1 center will certainly hurt this team’s chances, but with the heart of Ryan Smyth and the talent of Martin Havlat this line will likely still be able to cause some trouble for even the most talented teams.
Martin Rucinsky – Rob Niedermayer – Radim Vrbata
Three strong skaters could provide a mismatch for slower moving teams. With Rob Niedermayer starting to show signs of living up to some of his early hype, and Radim Vrbata emerging as one of the league’s young snipers, Edmonton may have found it’s second scoring unit.
Donald Brashear – Wayne Primeau – Niklas Sundstrom
Donnie is sure to mix it up again this year, and bring the intimidation factor each and every night. Meanwhile, look for Sundstrom to continue his PK duties.
Tie Domi – Mike Eastwood – Jody Hull / Gino Odjick
No other team in the league can match the level of “goons” held out here in OilTown. If you can’t beat ‘em, BEAT THEM. =)
There’s lots of up-front talent in the future of the Oil. Leading the pack is most certainly Ales Hemsky, his on-ice vision is stellar and his one-on-one moves are at times jaw dropping. Also impressing is new ’04 Draftee (8th overall) Dustin Brown who shows great goal-scoring ability with his nose for the net. Not to be forgotten are Jani Rita, Alexander Steen, Jesse Niinimaki, and new surprise Ryan Malone.
Your 2003-2004 Edmonton Oiler Defencemen….
Zdeno Chara – Paul Mara
Chara is a force, and Mara is set to inherit the role as one of the next great NHL Dmen.
Karel Rachunek - Vitali Vishnevsky
Rachunek scores at a great pace and will likely be a great offensive blue-liner for years to come. Expect him to become more depended on as the season progresses, with Oleg Tverdovsky likely to be playing overseas.
Mark Eaton – Ladislav Benysek
Eaton is lately becoming a more reliable player, while Benysek’s minutes will likely be limited.
Not much after Barret Jackman, but Tim Ramholt’s recent move to North America could prove to be beneficial for his future.
Your 2003-2004 Edmonton Oiler Netminders
Expected to be signed by the beginning of the season, Nabokov will likely start the season as the #1.
Don’t be surprised if Dwayne slips in to the starting job if Nabby falters.
Hannu Toivonen seems to be the future for the Oil in goal, and if he continues at his current pace it may be a bright future indeed.
Playoffs? Prolly not, but these boys will likely give it everything they’ve got.