Well, its August and that means there's not a whole much of anything going on. That said, I'm gonna try and nail out 30 team evaluations before the preseason is underway.
Now, the Edmonton Oilers
Team M.O.: The Oilers play a defense-first and stingy playmaking game that they use to win games that usually have low scoring totals as the end result (while the team scores by committee, there were no players who exceeded 23 goals last season.)The Oilers have a team that has an established checking presence with a blossoming scoring presence that will stand to improve with time.
Last Season: 11th in the Western Conference which is too far out for a playoff spot. GM Kevin Lowe is starting to feel the heat after both missing the playoffs every season since their 2006 run to the Finals and making some questionable personnel decisions (like signing Dustin Penner as an RFA which cost the team draft picks and a salary that he hasn't come close to justifying.) So coach Craig MacTavish was canned and Kevin Lowe was promoted (?!?!) so both Steve Tambellini and Pat Quinn were brought in to give a team a new lease on life and point them in a new direction.
Offense: Ales Hemsky is one of the best playmaking wingers in the league and his best years are still ahead of him. Shawn Horcoff seems to have returned to earth after his breakout 2006 campaign but is still a valuable center who's good for at least 50 points a season. Marc Pouliot and Fernando Pisani provide a legitimate checking presence while Ethan Moreau does that same, just with a little more agitation for the opposition. What the team has working for them is the trio of Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano, and Robert Nilsson entering their third seasons and appear to be growing along with the team. However, the acquisitions of Dustin Penner and Patrick O'Sullivan have thus far not gone in the direction the team's hoped and will continue to lean on them to get better. Zach Stortini provides the enforcement, but not too many people are afraid of him because he wrestles more than punches and can lose fights at the wrong time. All and all, I think the team could stand to pick up a veteran top-six forward who can help some of the younger guys find their game.
Defense: As their style indicates, the defense is pretty solid on this team. Sheldon Souray is the undisputed leader of the team and will take care of things either with his scoring or with his fists. Lubomir Visnovsky supplies the team with a power play quarterback who isn't a liability when given top-four minutes. Tom Gilbert and Denis Grebeshkov are emerging as complete defenders who can be given top-four minutes without taking dumb penalties. Steve Staios as lost a step with age but is still a valiant bottom-pairing defender while Ladislav Smid is beginning to emerge out of the minors as an NHL defender. The team will likely go with Jason Strudwick as their seventh defender but given that Theo Peckham provided the team with a gritty defensive defender during his audition last season, Strudwick will need to work hard to not end up riding the buses of the AHL himself. As far as Edmonton's defense goes, it's just about as good as it gets.
Goaltending: Edmonton had a three-headed goaltending monster last season and out of three, only one is still with the team... and he's tabbed for the backup position. The team acquired Nikolai Khabibulin to handle the starting gigs and while he is an immense talent of a goaltender, his age and style leave some concerns about whether or not he'll be the right guy for the job. Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers didn't put up bad numbers for the Oilers last season, but he didn't put up spectacular numbers either. Considering the other goaltenders on the depth chart, the team may have to bring in a third goaltender through free agency if their current duo can't get it figured out.
Expectations: If the team makes the playoffs, then Pat Quinn was the difference. If not, then Steve Tambellini will hopefully bring in the right components necessary for the team to head in a better direction.