Hello Neighbo(u)rs: Edmonton Oilers - LA Kings Insider

2016-17 record: 47-26-9, 103 points; 2nd place, Pacific Division; 4th place, Western Conference
2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Lost in second round to Anaheim (seven games)
Corsi-for rate: 50.0% (18th)
Additions: F Ryan Strome, F Jussi Jokinen, D Yohann Auvitu
Subtractions: F Jordan Eberle, F Benoit Pouliot, F David Desharnais, F Bogdan Yakimov, D Andrew Ference, F Tyler Pitlick, F Anton Lander, F Matt Hendricks, D Jordan Oesterle, D Griffen Reinhart, G Jonas Gustavsson

The 2016-17 Oilers may have averaged better than 2.9 goals per game, but this team made its biggest strides at the other end of the ice as their goals against dropped from 242 to 207. No other NHL team experienced as tectonic of a shift in scoring, emerging from a 2015-16 season with a -43 goal differential to post a +36 differential in their second season under Head Coach Todd McLellan.

Cam Talbot was excellent as Edmonton’s workhorse, but this was an Oilers team whose structure and checking improved significantly year-over-year. Enthralling league superstar Connor McDavid was excellent in his own right and certainly got a lot out of his most frequent linemate, Pat Maroon, who more than doubled his career-high output to finish with 27 goals, as well as Leon Draisaitl, his second most frequent linemate, who finished with 29.

There are still questions about this burgeoning Western Conference power, which enters its prime years cognizant of the impending clutch of the salary cap. Six million dollars per year for both Milan Lucic (through 2023), who was mostly very good in five-on-five play, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (through 2021), along with the $5.5M (through 2021) allotted to defenseman Andrej Sekera complicate the futures for a skill-packed team that will begin paying Draisaitl $8.5M this year and McDavid $12.5 next year. Other than that, the questions aren’t crippling by any measure. Might Draisaitl return to McDavid’s right? Is Nugent-Hopkins essentially a $6M third line center if the Oilers line up with McDavid and Draisaitl at 1-2? How will the defense hold up with Sekera sideline by injury? What to make of 2016 fourth round pick Jesse Puljujarvi? (These aren’t exactly bad questions to present an NHL coach.)

Joining LA Kings Insider to answer a number of these questions and preview the 2017-18 Oilers is Edmonton Journal scribe Jim Matheson, the 2000 recipient of the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award:

Adrian Kempe

#9 | 6′ 2″ | 195 lb | Age: 21

Born: September 13, 1996
Birthplace: Kramfors, SWE
Position: LW
Handedness: Left


Kempe was selected by the Kings in the first round (29th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft.

Alex Iafallo

#19 | 6′ | 185 lb | Age: 23

Born: December 21, 1993
Birthplace: Eden, NY, USA
Position: C
Handedness: Left


Iafallo was signed by the Kings as an unrestricted free agent on April 18, 2017.

Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left


As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right


Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right


Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left


Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.