Welcome to 2020 Vision, our new feature taking a look at how the roster of each NHL team may look three seasons from now when the 2019-2020 season begins.
Over the next month we’ll profile one team, in alphabetical order, each day and project what their roster (12 forwards, six defensemen, two goalies) will look like.
There were some ground rules for this exercise. We didn’t allow any blockbuster trades or free agent signings, but we did make assumptions about teams re-signing their own UFAs and RFAs.
Therefore, this isn’t intended to be a fantasy-like look at the league in 2019-20. Instead, since this is part of the THN Future Watch family, it’s meant to be a realistic, best-case-scenario projection for each team based on players already under contract, and prospects in their system.
The Edmonton Oilers are about to enter their Stanley Cup window. Heck, they may even make a run at the chalice this season thanks to Connor McDavid. Assuming the boy-king is healthy, he’ll be the biggest offensive threat in the NHL and his buddy Leon Draisaitl isn’t too bad, either. So for the next few seasons, the job of GM Peter Chiarelli will be to massage a lineup that has the ingredients to be a champion, but must find the right recipe.
With that in mind, the Oilers are a little difficult to predict. Specifically, we will likely see them make incremental moves at every trade deadline as they bolster themselves in the short-term. And as prospects such as Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto mature, the ability of the team to create two devastating scoring lines will only increase.
Edmonton also has some nice talents coming up on the blueline, so don’t be surprised if a veteran such as Andrej Sekera (who is signed long-term) is shipped out when his no-move clause loosens (he will provide a 15-team list). His exit will free up valuable cap space and ice time for players such as Ethan Bear and Caleb Jones in 2019-20.
GOT IT: A dominating center in McDavid, a top defense pairing in Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson, plus a No. 1 goalie in Cam Talbot. Those are the cornerstones you need to win a Cup and Edmonton is all set. Draisaitl makes them even more dangerous and the prospect pipeline will begin to bear fruit on a higher level soon.
NEED IT: A firm vision from Chiarelli and coach Todd McLellan. By the time 2020 rolls around, veterans such as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zack Kassian will likely have to accept smaller roles, while Milan Lucic’s effectiveness will definitely be something to watch. How can the brass figure out the right mix and the right moves to take advantage of their McDavid window?
CAP WATCH: Draisaitl has yet to sign his RFA deal this summer, so that’s a huge unknown. The big German national will command a stiff pay bump, but at least the final number will provide clarity. Talbot is up for unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2019 and he’ll need a bit of a raise by then, too. But overall, the Oilers will be in pretty good shape, thanks to some entry-level contracts and bridge deals for younger contributors.
BOTTOM LINE: Edmonton is set to challenge for the Cup now and for the foreseeable future. All the Oilers need to do is tinker – and to not fall in love with their own veterans as they do it.
Previously: Anaheim Ducks | Arizona Coyotes | Boston Bruins | Buffalo Sabres | Calgary Flames | Carolina Hurricanes | Chicago Blackhawks | Colorado Avalanche | Columbus Blue Jackets | Dallas Stars | Detroit Red Wings
Up next: Florida Panthers