• Dump & Chase Hockey League
  •  

Oil Change

2020-08-26

After missing the playoffs for the first time in franchise history in 2019/2020 and this preceded by 3 straight first round exits in the years prior, Oilers GM Yurkewich knew big changes would need to be made in order to turn the franchise from an annual easy first round target into a true DCHL contender.  Enter summer 2020…

 

The Oilers have been a part of 43 DCHL trades since league inception 5 years ago, and 14 of those deals have happened over the past 2 months.  What started with a coaching swap with the Philadelphia Flyers (Vigneault for Quennevile) has triggered GM Yurkewich to take a deeper look into the makeup of his team in a way he never has before.  Edmonton has always had what would be considered by most GM’s around the league a decent team.  Lead by veteran superstars Victor Hedman and Mark Scheifele, there has always been a solid enough supporting cast over the years to help get the team in the playoffs, the pinnacle being a Pacific Division title what seems like ages ago in 2016/2017 when they finished 3rdOverall in the League.  Year after year, however, the club has not been able to turn overall regular season success into meaningful success in the post season. Whether this can be attributed to a lack of depth, chemistry, grit, or a combination of everything it doesn’t matter to the Oilers brass who have demanded success, and now.

 

Without breaking down each of the moves made this offseason, things can be summarized in a couple of words: DEPTH & ROLE.  In years past the Oilers GM has focused too much on offense and acquiring the ‘best’ players for the top 2 F/D lines which eat up the most ice time, and neglected the importance of defense and the depth/special teams players on the roster.  Things will be much different heading into the 2020/2021 season as Edmonton now boasts what will be its most well-rounded lineup in franchise history.  Although Quenneville will have the freedom to play with the line pairings, the 3rd/4thforward lines (where the team has consistently lacked depth in the past) will boast an Average 80OV/80DF and be lead by two of the top 5 checking forwards in the league in Tanev (97 CK) and Wagner (94 CK). Although in true bottom 6 fashion the names aren’t pretty on paper, Oilers management is hoping that the players who will make up these lines and their attributes will make the team a lot tougher to play against night in and night out.

 

Compliment this with a revamped Oilers D that has an average 84OV/86.5DF rating between all 3 pairings, GM Yurkewich thinks new UFA signing Devan Dubnyk definitely has something to smile about…“It’s one of the reasons I signed with the Oilers for sure.  They’ve always had firepower up front and been able to score goals, but everyone knows defense wins championships and the changes the team has made this summer were a big part of why I chose to sign here.  We want to win and I think we have a good a chance as any heading into next season with the changes that have been made.”

 

Although the focus has been on defense and adding depth to the roster, GM Yurkewich isn’t worried about where the goals will come from either as the 1-2 punch of Zibanejad & Scheifele up the middle is a thing of dreams for most DCHL GM’s. With top-6 wingers lead by newly signed Blake Wheeler, this team should be fun to watch night in night out once the right line pairings are established by coach Quenneville. 

 

There is still a lot of offseason to be had before the next season kicks off, including the DCHL Entry Draft where the Oilers are excited to have the 3rdoverall selection and 6 picks in the top 56.  Time will tell if GM Yurkewich feels a couple more tweaks are needed with the roster, but safe to say the team and fanbase are counting down the days until puck drop opening night.