The Edmonton Oilers came into the 2023-24 season expecting to be one of the best squads in the National Hockey League. Instead, at 5-11-1, they are sitting with 11 standings points and a lot of questions that need answers.
Only the San Jose Sharks have fewer points in terms of teams from the Pacific Division. Shockingly, the Chicago Blackhawks are the only other team with fewer points overall in the whole league.
The Oilers became the first team in 2023-24 to fire their head coach. Jay Woodcroft had been a good coach but someone had to pay the price for their horrific start. It was far from his fault and he will coach again in the NHL soon.
Kris Knoblauch is the head coach now but things haven’t been much better since his arrival. Other issues are causing them to lose games at a rapid rate.
The Edmonton Oilers are one of the worst teams in the NHL right now
The biggest reason for their struggle is the roster just isn’t good enough. There are two incredible stars but those around them aren’t doing their part. They were good last year and the year before as they only lost in the playoffs to the eventual Cup champions both years. Things are different this year.
Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have been two of the best players ever over the last handful of seasons. The expectation is that both of them will blow past 100 points every year.
McDavid scored 64 goals last season. The funny thing about that though is that it didn’t affect his playmaking as he had 89 assists. He led the league in both departments. They were also career highs in each category as was his league-leading 153 points.
His ability to score and make plays has made him incredibly lethal because you can’t predict what avenue he is going to choose when he has the puck. Oh, and he is doing this as fast as any player in the history of the league. Somehow, unlike every other player, he gets faster with the puck.
As for Leon Draisatil, he can make tons of elite plays as well. Last season, he had 76 assists which tells you just how good he can be as a playmaker. He is also just as good of a goalscorer as he scored over 50 goals (52) for the second straight year. He had a career-high 128 points.
Right now, they just aren’t as dominant. Draisaitl has six goals and 16 assists for 22 points. You’d like to see him score more goals through 17 games. McDavid is at six goals with nine assists for 15 points in 15 games.
McDavid missed a couple of games because of injury. He is still a point per game right now but everyone would be incredibly disappointed if he ended the season with 82 points. He had almost double that last year.
It is hard to get on them for this type of production but we’ve come to know more from them. They haven’t taken over games the way that we know they can. They must get back to that level of domination if they are going to start seeing wins more often.
The other forwards on the team haven’t been as good either. Zach Hyman, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Evander Kane amongst others expect more out of themselves but none of them are even a point per game right now. Everybody needs to be better.
In terms of goaltending and defense, the Oilers are even more lost. Evan Bouchard is incredible offensively as we’ve seen in the past. He has four goals and 13 assists for 17 points in 17 games played.
That is star-level production from the back end. However, his defense hasn’t been great. It is okay to make that type of sacrifice if you can surround him with other good defenders. Unfortunately, the Oilers have not done that.
Earlier in the year, they put goaltender Jack Campbell on waivers. He went unclaimed and was sent to the AHL. Now, they have Stuart Skinner and Calvin Pickard in the mix. Pickard has made one start (and it went horribly) while Skinner just doesn’t look like a strong goalie right now.
Skinner is expected to be the guy long-term after a strong rookie season but 3.39 goals against average and .873 save percentage are lousy numbers.
This flawed roster can be blamed on General Manager Ken Holland. He has a successful past but things haven’t been good for him lately in Edmonton. Despite losing to the Cup champions over each of the last two seasons, not enough has been done to supplement this roster.
McDavid is a legendary type of player and he needs to be on winning teams. So far, they have had some nice runs but nothing close to being a Stanley Cup winner. With Draisatil as an elite player there as well, it should be a top priority to win with them.
Generations can go by without a duo like that. If Holland doesn’t make changes sometime soon, he is going to be gone himself. As a result of all of this, he is leading the most disappointing team in the league right now.