NHL

New Oilers prepared to get hands dirty next season

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TSN.ca Staff
7/22/2014 11:19:22 PM
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The Edmonton Oilers' reputation precedes them.

For offseason acquisitions, defencemen Mark Fayne and Keith Aulie and wingers Benoit Pouliot and Teddy Purcell, that reputation includes two top-30 point producers and three top-50 goal scorers from last season and three former No. 1 overall picks.

It also happens to include eight consecutive seasons without a playoff appearance.

It's no secret which part of the see-saw reputation the new guys are focusing on heading toward the upcoming campaign.

"The rebuild is pretty far on its way now with some of the guys they have, and especially this offseason with some of the other guys they're bringing in," said Fayne, who was signed as a free agent on July 1. "I don't think it's so much at the beginning stage anymore and I think that's only going to help."

"It's a young group that desperately wants to win," Aulie, also a July 1 signing, added. "Just playing against them in the past, they're hard working. It's an exciting team."
If the Oilers do have the ability to be one thing, it's exciting.

Taylor Hall finished seventh in league scoring during the 2013-2014 season with 80 points, including 27 goals. Jordan Eberle and David Perron collected 28 goals each while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins set career highs in goals (19), assists (37) and points (56). There's also former No. 1 pick Nail Yakupov, who has shown flashes of brilliance more than once in his first two seasons.

"I'm looking forward to actually being able to get the puck up to some of those younger guys and just let them fly," Fayne said.

Star players are clearly not the problem in Edmonton, but what has been an issue in the past is complimenting those players and adding stability beyond the big names on the roster.

Aside from the top four scorers on the club, no other player reached forty points last season.

Only one of 28 players to appear in more than 10 games and five of 37 in total managed to avoid a minus rating.

And that's a small sample size of a much larger problem. There are holes to fill and the new guys appear ready and willing to get their hands dirty.

"We're not going to come in here and save the day, but we think we're going to come in here and add some depth and make the team a better team," said Purcell, the returning player in a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning for Sam Gagner. "We're not putting unrealistic expectations on ourselves, but we think we can help these guys."

Reaching the post-season for the first time since a Game 7 loss in the Stanley Cup Final in 2006 may be an unrealistic expectation. What is likely more attainable is improving beyond the basement of the Pacific Division, where the club has finished in four of the last five seasons.

"I think there's lots of work to be done, obviously," Aulie said. "There's nowhere to go but up, so as young guys, myself and these other guys here with me, we just want to come in and make a positive impact; just help this team out because it's exciting to be a part of a team that's on the upswing."

"We understand how much pride this city has in the team and we just can't wait to make a positive impact."

Teddy Purcell Steven Stamkos (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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