Edmonton Oilers and Their 2016-17 Responsibilites | Oilersnetwork.com - Edmonton Oilers News and Rumours

Edmonton Oilers and Their 2016-17 Responsibilites

The Edmonton Oilers need to start winning hockey games. It's an easy thing to say, but not so much an easy thing to do. If it were easy, Edmonton wouldn't have seen a decade of darkness, nor hope for the potential light that comes with drafting Connor McDavid.

To turn the ship around will take the efforts of many. Some will play a pivotal, but complimentary role, while others will see the pressure laid squarely upon their shoulders. Who carries the largest load heading into the 2016-17 NHL season for the Oilers? Where are the expectations the highest? Here are the responsibilities of Edmonton's core group of players.

Connor McDavid

McDavid will be the next Edmonton Oilers captain and unlike a number of the Oiler captains before him, also Edmonton's best player. He will lead the team in all areas and simply put, if his season isn't a successful one, the Oilers' season won't be a successful one.

A successful 2016-17 will see McDavid pot at least 80 points, play close to 82 games and stay productive. Doing so will bring confidence to the rest of an Oilers team who is aware that they go as their captain will go.

Milan Lucic

Lucic is coming to Edmonton as a free agent with the expectation that he will produce. Not only is he pegged to play regularly on the top line with McDavid, but he's essentially replacing Taylor Hall as Edmonton's top left-winger. Edmonton has depth at left-wing, but Lucic can't play poorly enough to give the coaching staff a reason to consider putting anyone else in his spot.

A season of less than 50 points will be seen as a poor season for Lucic. A season of 60 points would make him an excellent complimentary piece to McDavid and a season of 70 points or more would be a welcome and fantastic surprise. Lucic's job will not only be to work as a strong pair with Edmonton's most talented player, but also protect him.

McDavid will be pitted against the oppositions toughest players and Lucic will need being his veteran leadership and presence to be there as insurance. Should McDavid get injured, (of course depending on the circumstances of the injury) many may look to Lucic as reason, excuse or cause if McDavid misses any significant time. Fair or not, that will be something Lucic will need to deal with all season. It will Lucic's responsibility to produce points, protect his captain and keep his spot as the top-line left-winger on the Edmonton Oilers.

Adam Larsson

Larsson is a shut-down defender. Hopefully fans and coaches don't look past his natural abilities and expect him to all of a sudden become an offensive dynamo. He'll be expected to play big minutes on Edmonton's top-pair, but his responsibility should be to pick up where he left off in New Jersey as one of their top-defensive defenders.

Larsson will also need to mesh well with Oscar Klefbom. Last year Larsson had one of the most underrated defensemen in the NHL in Andy Greene as his defensive partner. It will be Larsson's job to show he can produce similar results with a different defensive partner. The Oilers haven't had a top-unit pair who can play effectively against the NHL's best offensive weapons in years, and all bets are on Larsson being that guy. If Larsson's effectiveness was a result of Andy Greene's play, Edmonton could be in real trouble.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Nugent-Hopkins needs to have a bounce-back season. He's still a great center and it appears so far in a short window at the World Cup of Hockey, things are looking to get back on track for him. That said, if he doesn't produce as Edmonton's second-line center, his time in Edmonton could be rocky, maybe even limited.

There were rumors abound this summer that Edmonton was willing to move Nugent-Hopkins to obtain an offensive blueliner, but how much truth there is to those rumors are unknown. Nugent-Hopkins early work this summer has quieted some of the vocal haters and it's clear the Oilers like Nugent-Hopkins' all-around two-way game. This is important for him to have a big season.

Much the same way he's been deployed in this year's World Cup of Hockey, he's often deployed against the toughest competition in any game he plays. He's the only center Edmonton has of his kind. That said, if he doesn't add more offense, his spot on that second line may be given to a player like Leon Draisaitl.

A successful season for Nugent-Hopkins is another 50 point or more season, strong two-way play, better faceoff numbers and being able to keep that second-line center position all season.

Other Notables

Andrej Sekera - Being a reliable number three defenseman taking any big minutes not chewed up by Larsson and Klefbom.

Oscar Klefbom - stay healthy and prove he's a top-pair defender

Cam Talbot - avoid streaks of poor play, get in 70 games and prove he's an NHL starter.

Jordan Eberle - 70 points and 30 goals alongside McDavid. He'll need to be better at defensive back-checking and have fewer streaks of games where he doesn't score goals. Eberle needs to be Edmonton's leading goal scorer this season.

Leon Draisaitl - to produce points without Taylor Hall. He'll need to find chemistry working with other linemates and a 50 point season would be a good season.

But, who cares what I think right? For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.

Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.

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