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Battle of the Rebuilds: Edmonton Oilers Opposition Preview

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The Carolina Hurricanes stay on the road and face a motivated Oilers team tonight.

NHL: Calgary Flames at Edmonton Oilers Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The Edmonton Oilers had perhaps the most interesting offseason of any NHL team. Stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of rebuilding, the organization and their fans are hoping that the major portion of their rebuild is finally over.

Part of the rebuild was to reshuffle the locker room to rid themselves of a “losing culture.” Taylor Hall and Nail Yakupov were the casualties of these moves. Hall, the first overall selection in the 2010 entry draft, was traded to the New Jersey Devils for defenseman Adam Larsson.

This made GM Peter Chiarelli the first person to ever trade away the first two selections from a single NHL draft, after dealing Tyler Seguin while at the helm of the Boston Bruins. The one-for-one trade was largely viewed as a one sided win for the Devils, but the Oilers desperately needed defense.

More recently, Chiarelli traded another former first overall pick, Yakupov, to the St. Louis Blues for a conditional third round pick and a prospect, Zach Pochiro, who played last season in the ECHL and is unlikely to play in the NHL in the future.

The offseason wasn’t all questionable for the Oilers. They were able to sign one of the top free agents in Milan Lucic to a seven-year, $42 million deal and defenseman Kris Russell to a one-year, $3.1 million deal.

They were also fortunate during the 2016 draft to see Jesse Puljujarvi fall to them at the fourth overall pick. Puljujarvi was one of the best snipers in the draft but was largely overshadowed by Auston Matthews and countryman Patrik Laine.

That’s not all for Edmonton fans. The organization also opened their new arena, Rogers Place, on Wednesday. The new 18,000-plus seat arena replaces Rexall Place, the Oilers’ home since joining the NHL in 1979. Rogers Place cost nearly $500 million (Canadian) and is the new crown jewel of downtown Edmonton.

The team has opened up their new rink in style. Edmonton is 2-1-0 in their first three games, but the loss was a doozy. Their leadership team and coach was so upset with the 6-2 loss to the Sabres on Sunday that the team decided to practice Monday on what was planned to be a CBA-mandated day off. The Canes will face an extremely motivated team.

Storylines:

  • Connor McDavid is the youngest captain in NHL history, being appointed at just 19 years and 266 days. The young captain has been on a tear and has scored 3 goals and 3 assists in just 3 games. He was one of the driving forces behind having an additional practice on their off day and will be the most motivated player on the ice.
  • Milan Lucic is on a warpath for anyone who touches Connor McDavid. In his first game with the new club he quickly dropped the gloves after Deryk Engelland delivered a fairly tame hit on the captain.
  • Former Carolina Hurricane, Andrej Sekera is slotted in the second defensive pairing for the Oilers. He will play alongside free agent acquisition Kris Russell.
  • Friendly Rivals - Puljujarvi and Canes rookie Sebastian Aho played together at the 2016 World Junior Championships. The two were linemates, but Puljujarvi took home the scoring title with 5 goals and 12 assists in 7 total games.
  • Goaltender Cam Talbot looks to rebound after a shaky performance against the Sabres, including this howler from center ice in the second period from Ryan O’Reilly that became the game-winner:

Lineups and line projections will be out later this afternoon.