The 5 Most Promising Signs for Edmonton Oilers' Future
Though the 2013-14 season has been another season of underachievement for the Edmonton Oilers, there have been a few things that Oilers fans can look forward to going forward.
While Craig MacTavish has yet to pull the trigger on a major deal involving one of the Oilers’ top young forwards, he has been able to make transactions that have already gone a long way to help improve the Oilers.
With the season winding down, the Oilers are allowing some of their prospects to log some ice time and show what they can offer to the team, and it has been a pleasant surprise thus far, to say the least.
Here is a look at the five most promising signs for the Edmonton Oilers’ future.
The Goaltending Situation Has Stabilized
In Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth, Craig MacTavish has made significant upgrades in the goaltender position.
Considering the Oilers started the 2013-14 season with Devan Dubnyk and Jason LaBarbera, the duo of Scrivens and Fasth, though relatively unproven, have provided the stability in net that a young team like the Oilers so desperately need.
With both new goaltenders locked into contracts for next season, the questions surrounding goaltending have been answered for the time being.
Scrivens has played extremely well for the Oilers since being acquired from the Los Angeles Kings and Fasth could very well have the opportunity to push Scrivens for the No. 1 position next season.
Young Defenders Stepping Right in
Martin Marincin has been an extremely nice surprise this season, as the young Slovak defender has stepped right into the Oilers lineup and played quite well.
Marincin has demonstrated an above average skating ability and is another defender, along with Justin Schultz, capable of carrying the puck up the ice and transition into offense.
Oscar Klefbom has also made his highly anticipated debut for the Oilers this season and while hasn’t looked too out of place as a rookie on the Edmonton blue line.
Klefbom may not produce the offensive numbers that the Oilers would like, but he has demonstrated that with more experience he could very well be an anchor to the one of the Oilers top defensive pairings in the next couple of seasons.
Darnell Nurse Is on the Way
The Oilers made an excellent draft selection in Darnell Nurse and an even smarter decision when they sent the lanky defender back to the OHL for another year of seasoning.
Nurse has thrived as the captain of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL this season and has amassed an impressive 50 points in 63 games played this year.
Nurse still has a lot of room for physical growth as he continues to fill out his 6’3” frame, and once he does, he could very well be the centerpiece of the Oilers blue line.
Nurse should compete for a roster spot next season, and depending on what happens in the offseason, could very well make the Oilers team out of training camp.
Yakupov Is Evolving
Nail Yakupov has had a tough 2013-14 season under Dallas Eakins, as the former Marlies head coach has demanded added defensive zone responsibility from Yakupov. It appears that finally the message is beginning to get across to the talented winger.
Though his point totals are down from last year, Yakupov has finally demonstrated a willingness to back check in his defensive zone and has started to play with a bit more of an edge.
Yakupov was even the first Oilers player to come to the aid of Matt Hendricks during a scrum in which two Carolina Hurricanes went after the rugged Oiler.
Though he didn’t manage to register a point, he still received praise from Eakins and it is appearing that Eakins’ message of two-way responsibility is taking hold of Yakupov.
Hall Emerging as Legit Star
With 63 points in 62 games, Taylor Hall has once again established himself as the offensive leader in Edmonton, and it appears that the speedy left-winger is primed to make that next step in his career progression into elite player territory.
Much of the success can be attributed to the fact that Hall has managed to stay healthy this year, but it is also the fact that he has asserted himself as the go-to guy for the Oilers offensive attack.
While Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have the ability to produce points, Hall can influence a game with his speed, point production and physicality.
If the progression continues, Hall could see himself mentioned in the same breath as some of the top forwards in the NHL today.