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2022-23 NHL season preview: Edmonton Oilers hope an upgrade in goal can bring them to the Cup

For the previous entry in this series of 2022-23 season previews where I cover the Detroit Red Wings, click here.

Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl (photo courtesy of NHL.com)

 

I don't think the Edmonton Oilers need too much of an introduction. They were a pretty complete team last season, making it all the way to the Western Conference Final where they were swept by the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, the Colorado Avalanche. Edmonton has an elite forward corp, first and foremost, they employ the best hockey player in the world right now and possibly the greatest player of this generation, 2x Hart Trophy winner, 5x NHL All-Star, 4x Art Ross winner, 3x Ted Lindsay winner among many other awards and accolades, Connor McDavid.


McDavid's teammate? Just some average Joe, top-3 player in the world, 1x Hart Memorial Trophy winner, 3x NHL All-Star, 1x Art Ross Trophy winner, 1x Ted Lindsay Award winner, Leon Draisaitl.

 

Now that I'm done sucking up to McDavid and Draisaitl, I can turn toward Edmonton's impressive roster outside of those two guys. Evander Kane (as controversial as it may be) Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jesse Puljujarvi, Darnell Nurse, Evan Bouchard, and now, most importantly of all, Jack Campbell in goal.


The Oilers started to struggle mightily about midway through the season last year, but finished the season strong in second place in the Pacific Division with 104 points on a 49-27-6 record. I know that I personally did not expect Edmonton to make it all the way to the Western Conference Final, but they flexed their muscles and they proved the doubters wrong.


You might wonder, with a roster as strong as Edmonton's, where did things go wrong? And there's an easy answer to that question: goaltending.


Edmonton went with a goaltending tandem of 34-year old Mikko Koskinen, and 40-year old Mike Smith last season. Neither goalie were any good whatsoever. Koskinen finished the season with a 27-12-4 record, with a 3.10 GAA and .903 save percentage in 43 starts. Smith posted a 16-9-2 record last year with a 2.81 GAA and .915 save percentage in 27 starts.


It was clear as day that Edmonton desperately needed an upgrade in net, and that's exactly what they addressed in free-agency. The Oilers signed Jack Campbell to a 5-year, $25 million contract.


Campbell had a great season with the Toronto Maple Leafs last year when he was healthy. Campbell was right in the Vezina Trophy race up until he had to deal with injury, posting a 31-9-6 record, with a 2.64 GAA and .914 SV% in 47 starts. With this major upgrade in goal, Edmonton should be a major force in the Western Conference this year, and should end in them making a strong bid at the Stanley Cup.


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