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2014-15 NHL season preview: Pacific Division
NHL
2014-15 NHL season preview: Pacific Division
Wednesday October 1st, 2014

MORE PACIFIC PREVIEWS: Canucks | Sharks | Coyotes | Flames | Ducks | Kings

COACH: Dallas Eakins

​2013-14 RECORD: 29-44-9, 67 points (seventh in Pacific, missed playoffs)

VITAL SIGNS: 2.43 goals-for per game (T-24th); 3.26 goals-against per game (30th); 17.0 power play percentage (21st); 82.1 power play pct. (15th); shootout record: 4-3 (23rd)

NOTABLE ARRIVALS: RW Teddy Purcell, LW Benoit Pouliot, D Mark Fayne, D Nikita Nikitin, RW Steve Pinizzotto

NOTABLE DEPARTURES: C Sam Gagner, D Taylor Fedun, D Anton Belov, D Philip Larsen

PROJECTED DEPTH CHART:

Forwards
Taylor Hall — Ryan Nugent-Hopkins — Jordan Eberle
​Benoit Pouliot — Boyd Gordon — David Perron
Matt Hendricks — Anton Lander — Teddy Purcell
Luke Gazdic — Leon Draisaitl — Nail Yakupov
​Marc Arcobello

Defensemen
Justin Schultz — Mark Fayne
​Nikita Nikitin — Jeff Petry
​Martin Marincin — Andrew Ference
​Keith Aulie

Goalies
Ben Scrivens
Viktor Fasth

NHL
Futility the mother of the NHL's Fancy Stats explosion

OUTLOOK: The long anticipated youthful resurgence in Edmonton just can’t seem to get off the ground, but the team's prospects are still fairly bright even in the Western Conference grind house. Riding the advanced analytics wave with the hiring of blogger Tyler Dellow, the Oilers hope they're finally figuring everything out. Patience has worn thin with the ultra-talented but enigmatic Nail Yakupov, a player who is capable of scoring 40 goals but saddled with concerns about his attitude, yet he remains an integral part of the Oilers’ vision of a high-flying, young offense that also features budding stars Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle. If coach Dallas Eakins can nudge Yakupov into the production he’s capable of and improve last season’s woeful defense that basked in the glow of more red lights than any other team, the Oilers may at last commence the upward trajectory their fans have been waiting for. The playoffs are still a long shot after eight early summer vacations in a row, but Edmonton has two talented goalies to help ease the pressure on the defense, some productive size (Teddy Purcell) and firepower that is capable of improving on last year’s 67-point disaster. Rebuilds are long and slow, but Edmonton should stay out of the basement this season.

• NHL nixes Edmonton's deal with prospect Tkachev

NHL
Best case scenarios for Western Conference teams

PLAYER TO WATCH: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Yakupov is the most fascinating case study on the roster, but Nugent-Hopkins is a potential franchise center who could anchor the Oilers’ top line for years. He enters the second season of the seven-year, $42 million deal he signed in September 2013 and has shined on the ice, when healthy, since his rookie season of 2011-2012. He's determined to improve his performance in the face-off circle and take his game to the superstar level that is expected of him. If he succeeds, the beneficiary will be Taylor Hall, an established scorer who would be set up for a career year.

• Predicting the Oilers' defense pairings

PREDICTION: 78 points (sixth in Pacific)

• CENTRAL PREVIEWS: Wild | Stars | Blackhawks | Avalanche | Jets | Predators | Blues

• ATLANTIC PREVIEWS: Canadiens | Bruins | Sabres | Panthers | Maple Leafs | Red Wings | Lightning | Senators

• METROPOLITAN PREVIEWS: Capitals | Penguins | Flyers | Devils | Islanders | Blue Jackets | Hurricanes | Rangers

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