This article is part of our From the Press Box series.
With Oilers floundering again, something's got to give
As I write this column, the standings show only one team with less than 20 points; once again, that team is from northern Alberta, Canada.
That is a disturbing fact for a team that's won the right to draft the top amateur player in four of the last six NHL Entry Drafts. Those picks as well as an equal number of high second-rounders have been attempting to reshape the fortunes of this long-suffering franchise. These are certainly not your father's Oilers –the ones who won five Stanley Cups in the 1980s. No, this club is hoping to break a nine-year streak in which it has failed to qualify for the postseason.
Those recent No. 1 choices have brought in Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov and, of course, Connor McDavid. All these players were consensus choices as the top junior talents in their draft year, and all except Yakupov have shown immediate offensive upside, comprising the core of the Oilers' scoring punch. Even Yakupov showed the first indications of his scoring talents when he was paired with McDavid, though he's gone cold since the teen phenom got hurt. Another top pick, Leon Draisaitl (third overall in 2014), looks like the real deal with 18 points in 15 games. So Edmonton's management can be rightfully pleased with these choices.
There are two problems here, though. These guys are all forwards with very similar skill sets, and none of them have