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Canucks Pacific Division Rival Preview: Edmonton Oilers

Previewing four holy matchups between Connor McJesus and The Church of Pettersson.

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Edmonton Oilers
Mar 7, 2019; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) and Vancouver Canucks defensemen Troy Strecher (51) look for a loose puck during the third period at Rogers Place.
Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

It was another year and another abomination for the Edmonton Oilers.

Oh sure, they do boast two of the best hockey players in the world with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, but the rest of the team remains hot garbage.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins put up career-best numbers last season, but on paper, the rest of this squad looks uninspiring as we enter the upcoming season.

Darnell Nurse is unequipped to be a number one NHL defenceman, a role he’s been thrust into. Adam Larsson is making the Taylor Hall trade more painful with every passing season. Their goaltending duo looks subpar, and they didn’t add anyone of note to fix their scoring woes.

Unless the rest of the team starts drinking from McDavid’s gatorade bottle of rocket fuel, it could be another long season in Edmonton. Is this team really primed to miss the playoffs for the 13th time in the last 14 seasons, while rostering the best player in the world?

In: Ken Holland (GM, DET), Dave Tippett (Head Coach, SEA), James Neal (trade, CGY), Markus Granlund (free agent, VAN), Mike Smith (free agent, CGY), Joakim Nygard (Sweden)

Out: Andrej Sekera (buy out, DAL), Milan Lucic (trade, CGY), Ty Rattie, Tobias Rieder

Quick Take: After joining the Edmonton Oilers during the spring, general manager Ken Holland preached patience with a roster overhaul. There’s certainly an urgency in Edmonton to get back to the postseason while McDavid is in his prime, but Holland inherited a team chalk full of cap issues, thanks to former general manager Peter Chiarelli.

The Oilers best hope at getting some offensive punch will probably come from the soon-to-be 32-year-old James Neal. The winger had a down year, but did spend the two previous years on teams that went to the Stanley Cup final. A bounce back for him wouldn’t be surprising, and Holland has to be given credit for acquiring him for the sluggish Milan Lucic.

Holland also picked up more of Calgary’s roster throwaways by signing free agent Mike Smith to a one-year contract. While it’s a low-risk move, there’s more bust than boom potential with the tandem of Smith and Mikko Koskinen.

Their last “big” free agent addition is former Vancouver Canucks Markus Granlund. Holland probably hopes he can help with the Oilers’ pitiful penalty kill. Hopefully he didn’t catch this tidbit from last season.

Oilers overall record in 2018-19: 35-38-9: 78 points (7th in Pacific, 14th in Western Conference, 25th in NHL)

Oilers 2018-19 record against Canucks: 2-2

Not much separated these mediocre teams in 2019. The Canucks won the first two contests against the Oilers by a score of 4-2 before Edmonton came back and beat the Canucks twice, by a score of 3-2. The Canucks went 2-1-1 after snagging a loser point in the shootout against Edmonton in January.

Pettersson also made easy work of the Oilers in the three games he played against them. While not quite as dominant against them as he was against Calgary, he did clean up with two goals and four points in those three games.

NHL: Edmonton Oilers at Vancouver Canucks
Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Elias Pettersson (40) awaits the start of play against the Edmonton Oilers during the first half at Rogers Arena.
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Canucks will probably need Pettersson to keep producing against the Oilers, as McDavid has done so early in his career against the Canucks. He had one goal and six points in four games against Vancouver last season, bringing his career totals against the Canucks to 21 points in 17 games. That’s his most against any opponent in the NHL.

For the record, the only teams McDavid has less than a point per game against are the Carolina Hurricanes, Nashville Predators, New York Islanders and the St. Louis Blues. The only team he hasn’t scored against is the New Jersey Devils.

Canucks vs. Oilers games in 2019-20

  • Wednesday, October 2nd @ Oilers (7:00 pm) - Opening night of the season.
  • Saturday, November 30th @ Oilers (7:00pm)
  • Sunday, December 1st vs. Oilers (7:00 pm)
  • Monday, December 23rd vs. Oilers (7:00pm)