Edmonton Oil Kings
2017-18: The 2017-2018 season for the Edmonton Oil Kings was disappointing to say the least. They finished dead last in the WHL and were awarded the first overall selection at the WHL draft. They had a total of 52 points, and only 22 wins. While they were a young team, Edmonton struggle to find depth scoring and consistent goaltending. Inconsistency at home, games where they would get blown out. While they showed at times in small bunches that they could compete against top teams, Edmonton was unable to hold onto that good form for long periods of times and would lose close games due to it.
Offseason departures: A complete hockey office overhaul over the off-season. Head Coach Steve Hamilton and Assistant Coach Ryan Marsh. Marsh now assistant coach with the Saskatoon Blades while Steve Hamilton took over head coaching position in Calgary. Edmonton’s Gm Randy Hansch took on an NHL scouting job while director of scouting Jamie Novakovski stepped away from hockey this past year to pursue off ice activities. Outside of the people off the ice, the Oil Kings also lost veteran captain Colton Kehler, Tomas Soustal, and Travis Child who age out as 21-year-olds this season. Back up netminder Josh Dechaine has also been let go, relying on a young goalie group this season. Other departures include Janzen Leslie who chose to use his WHL scholarship and join Red Deer College, Brayden Gorda who was traded to Victoria but did not report to there camp and is listed on the Oil Kings suspended list, Jayden Platz and Brian Harris who were let go out of camp, Davis Murray who was traded at the draft to Kootenay for a 3rd round pick, Kobe Mohr who was also moved at the draft to Kamloops for Quinn Benjafield, and Nick Bowman who was traded to Moose Jaw for Vince Loschiavo.
Newcomers: The Oil Kings have several newcomers to not only there roster but their hockey operations as well. Brad Lauer is the newest head coach, taking over for Steve Hamilton. He added Luke Pierce as assistant coach. Lauer was recently an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Taking over for Randy Hansch is Kirt Hill, a young GM who had spent his previous time scouting with the Chicago Blackhawks. Jamie Porter is the new director of scouting, Porter had previous helped built the 2017-2018 WHL Champion Swift Current Broncos. He has an excellent track record with scouting. Roster wise there are a few newcomers. 2017 first round pick Jake Neighbours is the big one on offense. Jalen Luypen is the only other 16-year-old rookie on the forward group. They also added two 1998-born overagers in Vince Loschiavo and Quinn Benjafield in trades at the draft. Import Vladimir Alistrov is a new piece to the offensive core. Defensively the team added three new pieces. Aidan Lawson and Logan Dowhaniuk are two rookies expected to take on depth roles. Jacson Alexander was recently acquired from the Broncos, he is expected to be a top four defender on the Oil Kings. Two new netminders on the roster right now. Edmonton currently has four on the roster. Sebastian Cossa and Dylan Myskiw are the two new faces in the locker room. Cossa a late 2002 born goalie who played with the Fort Saskatchewan Midget AAA’s last year. Dylan Myskiw who was recently acquired from the Brandon Wheat Kings.
Overage situation: Edmonton is likely to stick to two overagers heading into the season. I’d suspect they add another one at some point in the season but as of right now it is a duo if Vince Loschiavo and Quinn Benjafield. Loschiavo has played 255 regular season games in the WHL and has produced a career high of 57 points. Benjafield on the other hand is a former 1st round selection and is coming off of a career year with 47 points in the 2017-2018 season. Both were acquired via trade at the draft.
Import situation: Edmonton goes back to a Belorussian duo just like last year. Andrei Pavlenko returns after a short season last year. Instead of Artyom Baltruk they added a Vladimir Alistrov, a young power forward who is highly touted in this years NHL Draft. I like this pairing of Pavlenko and Alistrov a lot, I think they add a lot of speed and skill playing alongside each other and may be the best import duo Edmonton has seen in a long time.
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Forwards: The Oil Kings have had an issue in the past few years finding scoring in their line up. Last year they were last in the WHL in goals for. They get back team leading scorer Trey Fix-Wolansky who is expected to finish in the WHL Top 10 in scoring this season. On top of this, rookie Jake Neighbours is expected to enter the league and add significantly to the teams production. David Kope and Liam Keeler are returning from two great rookie campaigns and will look to improve upon last year’s production. I think the Oil Kings have a deep offensive group. I’d suspect that early in the year they will look to build chemistry between players. Vladimir Alistrov and Andrei Pavlenko will likely be attached at the hip and both should be solid top nine wingers. The one player I am excited to see this year is Carter Souch, who joined the team midway last year. Souch looked solid at main camp and his hockey IQ shines. A late 2001 born who I think could be a 30plus point player. While I have a lot of optimism, the offense is still a real issue as none of these improvements have actually been shown yet.
Defense: Edmonton’s defensive situation is one of optimism and hope. They have a young core with 6-of-8 defenders born in 2000 or young. The top-six is likely going to be Matthew Robertson paired with Jacson Alexander, Conner McDonald paired with Wyatt McLeod, and Will Warm paired with Ethan Cap. Logan Dowhaniuk and Aiden Lawson filling in as the seventh and eighth defenders. It’s an exciting group to watch but they will really need one of the top-six to step up this season if they want to do anything in playoffs.
Goalies: After going out and picking up Dylan Myskiw from the Brandon Wheat Kings, it looks like the Oil Kings will run a trio of goalies with Todd Scott, Boston Bilous, and recently received Dylan Myskiw. I do not think they have a true starting net minder and I would have loved to see how Sebastian Cossa would have been in the WHL this year and I still might. Scott is likely the day one starter.
Outlook: I think there is more optimism with this years Oil Kings team. They have a lot of good young pieces they can count on. If they can drive offensive production from some of there key players then they should really improve upon last year record. Goaltending will also be a big thing to keep an eye on, they struggled down the stretch with consistent netminding and currently house four goalies on the roster. I’d expect them to be a wild card team in the the Eastern Conference, specifically the first wild card spot. I’m not sure if they are good enough to beat out Lethbridge, Calgary, or Medicine Hat just yet.