x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Things picking up for the Edmonton Oilers

The silver lining of finishing last overall, of course, is you end up with a lottery draft pick.

Wise draft picks are bearing fruit for the Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers have finally turned the corner.

Most recently, Edmonton endured forgettable back-to-back seasons that were memorable only for the constant losing, sub-par goaltending and the never ending rush to the infirmary as the team was decimated by injuries.

Edmonton have only qualified for the play-offs once since 2004 - a completely unexpected run to the Stanley Cup final in 2006, where they lost to the Carolina Hurricanes in seven games.

Besides that one anomaly, the Oilers have not come close to resembling the Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier led teams that won six cups from 1984 to 1990.

The silver lining of finishing last overall, of course, is you end up with a lottery draft pick. And Edmonton has chosen wisely, capturing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 18, and Taylor Hall, 20, with the No 1 selections in 2011 and 2010, respectively.

The pair look like superstars in the making, and they are joined by other young upstarts such as Jordan Eberle, 21, and Magnus Paajarvi, 20.

The future looks bright for Edmonton's forwards. And while goaltending was a blight, it is been a strength this year as Nikolai Khabibulin has been outstanding and Devan Dubnyk, the back-up/future starter, appears ready to claim the No 1 role.

There have been injuries, but the Oilers have been able to overcome the absence of key players.

That should breed confidence and help propel this young team to greater things.

 

sports@thenational.ae