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NHL - US Sports: Edmonton Oilers season preview

The Edmonton Oilers head into the 2022/23 campaign looking to build on their most successful season in nearly two decades.

Edmonton finished second in the Pacific Division (49-27-6) and reached the Western Conference Final for the first time since their Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2006.

General Manager Ken Holland has supplemented his two superstars with a strong support cast and has been very public in his belief that the time for the Oilers to meet their +1600 odds of winning the Stanley Cup is now.

WhatNHL Season 2022/23
WhereUSA and Canada
When7th October 2022 - June 2023
How to watchPremier Sports & bet365's Sports Live Streaming

COL Avalanche +425, TOR Maple Leafs +800, FLA Panthers +900, TB Lightning +1000, CAR Hurricanes +1100

Superstars shine

The Oilers' charge to contender-ship is led by two of the greatest players in the world, Captain Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl who both produced astonishing numbers both in the regular season and playoffs last season.

For the second year in a row McDavid led the league for points with 123 (44 goals, 79 assists) and Draisaitl was fourth with 110 (55 goals, 55 assists).

Incredibly, despite the Oilers not making the Finals, the pair finished top of the scoring charts in the playoffs with McDavid amassing 33 points (10 goals, 23 assists) in 16 games and Draisaitl 32 points (seven goals, 25 assists) in 16 games, all while hampered with a high-ankle sprain.

The pair have each already won the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player, McDavid twice, plus several other individual awards, and at 25 (McDavid) and 26 (Draisaitl) there's still opportunity for them to get better which is a very scary prospect for the other 31 teams.

Keeping Kane

The Oilers signed Evander Kane to supplement their already potent offence last season after he had his contract bought out by the San Jose Sharks.

The 31-year-old quickly proved doubters about the move wrong scoring 39 points (22 goals, 17 assists) in 43 regular season games and then joint-led the playoffs with 13 goals.

The Oilers awarded Kane for his efforts with a four-year, $20.5-million contract and he'll continue to complement a strong top six which also includes Ryan Nugent Hopkins (11 goals, 39 assists) and Zach Hyman (27 goals, 27 assists).

Change in net

Veteran Mike Smith was a popular figure in the Oilers net last season and performed well in the 28 regular season games he played with a 16-9-2 record, .915 save-percentage and 2.81 goals-against-average (GAA).

Partner Mikko Koskinen, six years younger at 34, carried the heavier workload going 27-12-4 with a .903 save-percentage and 3.10 GAA.

Smith was awarded the number-one job in the playoffs going 8-6-0 with a .913 save-percentage and 3.37 GAA.

They will be replaced this season by Jack Campbell formerly of the Toronto Maple Leafs and rookie Stuart Skinner, who had a .913 save-percentage and 2.62 in 12 regular season starts last season.

Campbell will be the new bona-fide number one after signing a five-year, $25 million contract. He was 31-9-6 with a .914 save percentage and 2.64 goals-against average with the Leafs last season.

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Keith retirement

Edmonton will miss the influence of three-time Stanley Cup winning defenceman Duncan Keith who spent a year with the franchise and helped mentor 22-year-old Evan Bouchard who will take a bigger role this year.

After 17 seasons in the NHL, 16 with the Chicago Blackhawks, Keith has called time on his career. He scored 21 points (one goal, 20 assists) in 64 regular games for the Oilers and five points (one goal four assists) in 16 playoff games.

21-year-old Philip Broberg, who was Edmonton's first-round (eighth overall) pick in 2019, is also expected to play a big part after impressing in 23 games last season.

Trust in Woodcroft

46-year-old Jay Woodcroft took over the Oilers head coaching role after Dave Tippett was fired in February and went 26-9-3 in the regular season before leading them past Los Angeles Kings and rivals Calgary Flames in the playoffs.

Following the season, his interim tag was removed and he was handed a well-deserved three-year contract.

Expect to contend

66-year-old Holland was named President of Hockey Operations and General Manager of the Oilers in May 2019 and has spent the majority of that time surrounding McDavid and Draisaitl with players which he believes can have success in the playoffs.

The pieces haven't always fit, but Edmonton took a big step last season winning the first two rounds of the playoffs and to the Western Conference Final and Holland has been full of belief since that he is close to solving the puzzle.

He said: "When you look at the NHL, you need that nucleus, that engine of star players. We've got them, and the time is now."

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