10 Bold Predictions For The 2019/2020 Season
Three days until September 1st. Three merciful days until it will truly start to feel like hockey season is back. Rookie camps will soon get underway, followed by training camp, then pre-season and finally actual regular season games.
This summer for Edmonton has been one of the more dull summers in recent memory. No big UFA's were signed, there isn't a dominant, guaranteed prospect we know is going to make the jump. After the mess left behind by Peter Chiarelli, a quieter summer moving out bad deals like Lucic and trying to restock the depth chart was needed, albeit less exciting.
However now it is time to wake up and get excited for the potential of this season. Here are my 10 BOLD predictions for the Oilers this coming season.
1.) Tyler Benson makes the team out of training camp
Before I said there was no guaranteed prospect ready to make the jump, but Benson is probably the closest thing. Benson is not a baby-faced prospect. He is a 21 year old playmaker who went 15-51-66 through 68 games in his first professional season in the AHL. The Oilers are still starved for skilled talent in the top 6 and we will see Benson paired with Nugent-Hopkins and James Neal on opening night.
2.) Joel Persson scores 30 points
There are a few wild cards going into the season for Edmonton, one being 25 year old Swedish defenceman Joel Persson. Persson is an offense first defenceman and a right shot. My assumption is Evan Bouchard will be sent down to the AHL, leaving Persson a chance to take the third pair right spot as well as get ample time on the second unit PP.
3.) James Neal scores 20 goals
The Neal for Lucic swap was Holland's best move of the summer, bringing in a player that likely has more left in the tank than Calgary believes. Neal shot at a 5% last season, which should rebound. Neal will likely be paired with RNH at first and could become a point man for McDavid.
4.) Mike Smith is the starting goaltender by December 1
Whether by skill or desperation, Mike Smith will take Koskinen's place as the starter by December 1st. Koskinen played bursts of good games followed by long stretches of poor play and I don't see him suddenly changing in one season. Edmonton better hope it's because Mike Smith is playing like post-season Smith and not regular season Smith.
5.) Jesse Puljujarvi has not played his last game as an Edmonton Oiler
Here is bold. Despite everything that has happened between the player and team, eventually Puljujarvi and his camp will cave and realize the best chance for him to get a good deal with another NHL team, is to suck in his pride and return to Edmonton.
6.) The Oilers sweep season series versus the Flames
Edmonton plays five games against Calgary this season and despite the fact the Flames will finish higher than Edmonton in the standings, the Oilers will sweep the season series versus the Flames. Oh and in game one, Zack Kassian and Milan Lucic will drop the gloves in a spirited bout.
7.) Draisaitl wins Rocket Richard Trophy
Last season it came right down to the wire but Alex Ovechkin edged out Draisaitl for the most goals in the NHL. Draisaitl went on a tear late last season and it's been suggested that he should drop in production this season. However Draisaitl also started last season for the first 20 games playing as the second line centre. Tippett seems to be fine keeping the dynamic pair of McDavid and Draisaitl together and a full season of the two will see Draisaitl take a trophy home.
8.) Joakim Nygard scores 18 goals
Nygard and Haas are two European players Edmonton signed over the summer for depth options. Nygard is a speed demon with a scoring touch and will find his way onto the roster as the third line winger. He will get signed to a 2 year deal this off-season while Haas will not.
9.) Oscar Klefbom plays 81 games
The oft injured Klefbom has been a huge issue for Edmonton over the years. Easily the Oilers best defender but has only played one healthy full season in the NHL. Klef will play a mostly healthy season, losing only one game as a precaution.
10.) Tobias Reider scores a goal against Edmonton this season
It's going to happen.