Positives and Negatives from the Start of the Edmonton Oilers' 2013 Season
After finishing at the bottom of the league standings in two out of the last three seasons, the Oilers have assembled an impressive amount of talented young players through the draft.
With the additions of first-overall draft pick Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz, the coveted free agent out of the University of Wisconsin, the Oilers looked prime to explode out of the gates.
Four games into the the season, the Oilers hold a record of 2-2, and while there have been many positives, there have also been some glaring deficiencies in the young Oilers' games.
Here are the top positives and negatives from the start of the Oilers' 2013 season.
Positive: The Young Stars Are Delivering
So far into the lockout-shortened 2013 season, the young stars on the Edmonton Oilers are as good as advertised.
Justin Schultz has had an immediate impact on the team and is currently tied with Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall for the team lead in points with five.
Schultz has built upon his impressive start in the AHL and provides the team with a true power-play quarterback and an offensive presence from the back end.
Nail Yakupov has scored two amazing goals and perhaps has the celebration of the year under his belt after his Theoren Fleury-esque celebration after his game-tying goal against the Los Angeles Kings.
Though Yakupov hasn't had the explosive impact that some may have expected, he has brought an impressive physical presence to the Oilers' second line.
Negative: Goaltending Has Been an Issue
Devan Dubnyk is getting his chance to be the Oilers' No. 1 goaltender, but so far this season he has yet to firmly cement his case for the job.
Dubnyk was chased from the game against San Jose after allowing six goals in the first period, at least three of which the goaltender perhaps should have stopped.
He did rebound from this poor performance with a solid game against the Kings, making a number of saves that held the Oilers in the game.
However, Dubnyk has yet to establish any consistency and wasn't at his best in the recent game against the Flames.
With Yann Danis currently serving as the backup in Edmonton, Dubnyk is going to have to start stringing strong performances together or the Oilers may have to evaluate other options.
Negative: Poor Discipline
So far this season the Oilers have shown a lack of discipline, resulting in a total of 24 penalties, which is fourth most in the NHL thus far.
The penalty kill for the Oilers has been strong and is good enough for ninth in the league, but all of the penalties are keeping young stars such as Taylor Hall and Nail Yakupov off of the ice.
With such a young roster, penalties were bound to be an issue, but Ralph Krueger will have to work on discipline in order for the Oilers to take the next step.
Positive: The Team Has Shown Some Character
Four games into the season and already the young Oilers have had to overcome some adversity and have shown a bit of character in the process.
After an embarrassing six-goal first period against the San Jose Sharks, the team refused to quit and managed to score three times before the final whistle.
This effort was followed by a gritty performance against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings, in which the Oilers were able to come from behind and capture the game in overtime.
The Kings game was mired in bizarre penalties, but the Oilers' penalty killing was phenomenal and helped hold the team in the game.
Positive: New Arena Is Finally a Go
This doesn't really have any direct impact on the team, nor does it have any bearing on its performance, but this is an extreme positive for the Edmonton Oilers franchise.
After six long years of bitter negotiations, the City of Edmonton and the Katz group were able to come to terms on a new downtown arena and entertainment complex for the team.
There were times when it appeared as if negotiations would end, but thanks to help from Gary Bettman, the two sides were eventually able to see eye-to-eye.
Though it will likely not be ready until 2016, perhaps the allure of a new arena will have some positive impact when it comes to luring top-end talent to Edmonton and convincing the young stars to stay.