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Taking into account the fact that the Edmonton Oilers finished the 2010-2011 season ranked 28th in both goals for and goals against, as well as 27th on the powerplay and 29th on the penalty kill, it should come as no surprised that they finished in last place. Again.
Besides the trade that reunited fan favorite Ryan Smyth with Edmonton, the Oilers' moves this offseason have been relatively low key. Edmonton toughened up their forwards by adding Ben Eager and Darcy Hordichuk. They signed Eric Belanger in hopes of finally having a center who can win face-offs. On the blue line, they signed Cam Barker, the 40 point scorer in 2008-2009 who only registered five points in 2010-2011. Edmonton also traded Kurt Foster to Anaheim for big defenseman Andy Sutton.
What will make the Oilers a better team in 2011-2012 will be the improvement of their rookie players. Taylor Hall, Magnus Paajarvi, Jordan Eberle and Linus Omark played their first NHL seasons with the Oilers in 2010-2011, and combined for 60 goals and 146 points. And none of them played a full 82 game season. If any one of these players has a Steven Stamkos-type sophomore season, Edmonton could be an offensive powerhouse.
Edmonton also needs to stay healthy. Last season, the Oilers lost 281 man games to injuries. Only one player on Edmonton's roster actually played in all 82 games (Andrew Cogliano, and oddly enough, he was traded this offseason). Being without Horcoff, Hemsky, Gagne, Brule, and Whitney for nearly half of the season certainly didn't help in the standings.
The Oilers will continue to deal with goaltending issues this season. In 2010-2011, Devan Dubnyk put up a solid .916 save percentage and a 2.71 goal against average in 33 games with the NHL's worst team in front of him. He will certainly get the starting job and need to carry those numbers to 50 or more games. As a backup, Nikolai Khabibulin doesn't need to be great, but does need to improve on his .890 save percentage from last season.
Regardless of whether 2011 first-overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins plays in the NHL this season or not, the Oilers should start to see payoff of their ongoing rebuild, probably finishing around 11th in the Western Conference.