Home World AMERICAS Who says Edmonton Oilers can't finish first in the Canadian Division? (Besides...

Who says Edmonton Oilers can’t finish first in the Canadian Division? (Besides all those pesky experts, that is)

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The idea of the all-Canadian division just for this year (because of the border issue) has all kinds of appeal… For starters, it should be tremendously competitive. With that in mind, I reached out Monday to a number of U.S.-based NHL team front office executives, scouts and coaches to get their predicted order of finish for the all-Canadian division. I heard back from 15 of them. Here’s what they had to say.

Let’s cut to the chase and summarize the predicted orders of finish in tabular format:

The participants all agreed on one thing: that Ottawa Senators are likely to trail the field. There were  differences of opinion on the other six spots.

“Tremendously competitive” notwithstanding, a clear majority of respondents picked Toronto to finish first, while just three clubs garnered first-place votes. The Oilers were not among them. The locals squad collected a near-even split of selections for 2nd through 6th, and averaged out at 4th place, 3 teams above, 3 below. Doesn’t get any more middle-of-the-pack than that.

LeBrun summarized their plight in a couple of bleak sentences.

The Oilers didn’t get much mention in these responses. They lost to Chicago in the play-in last summer and I think hockey people still see goaltending and lack of roster depth as a problem.

A little bit of recency bias in there, I say, at least when it comes to that play-in series. Which is not meant to sugarcoat the fact it was a massive disappointment to Oil fans, even as subsequent analysis of the series suggests Edmonton carried the play for much of it and likely deserved a better fate.

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