EDMONTON OILERS: MAGIC NUMBER 82 | Oilersnetwork.com - Edmonton Oilers News and Rumours


Oilers Now host Bob Stauffer and his play-by-play counterpart Jack Michaels had an interesting conversation yesterday. One thing Michaels said that struck a chord, was a comment he made about Connor McDavid.

Regardless of what is expected of McDavid this season, his magic number is 82. He could get 80 points, 90 points or 100 points, but if he doesn't stay healthy, the Oilers don't stand a chance. 82 games is the length of a regular season in the NHL and McDavid wants to say he played all of them. For an Oilers team that has injury trouble year after year, this number means something to a lot of Oiler players.

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There wasn't a point during the entire 2015-16 season that Edmonton was able to roster a full and healthy lineup. The team they assembled during the summer of 2015, never actually saw the ice as a full and complete team. If it wasn't Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or McDavid, it was Benoit Pouliot or Oscar Klefbom.

The highest number of missed games (he only played in 6 games last season) belonged to Andrew Ference, who projects to play little to no role in the Oilers future. However, Klefbom missing over 50 games and McDavid missing almost 40 games is basically taking your top forward and top defenseman out of the line up for half a season. Edmonton can't be expected to compete if these types of trends continue.

The Oilers 2015-16 Finish

We can blame part of where Edmonton finished last season on injuries. With 368 man games lost and injuries to key players, it can't be overlooked. That said, every team has to jump the hurdle of missing players and it can't be used as a sole excuse. The Oilers need depth at every position to combat injuries when they happen. 

Edmonton has a number of players at forward and defense that are now ready to take on more responsibility if called upon. Forwards like Drake Caggiula, Jujhar Kharia, Tyler Pitlick, are players itching for a chance to show their stuff. Defensemen like Griffin Reinhart, Jordan Oesterle, Matthew Benning, Mark Fraser, David Musil and Dillon Simpson are hoping to see more than just a couple games.

There is some question and concern in goal should Cam Talbot go down. Jonas Gustavsson is questionable at best to stay healthy in any given year and his numbers haven't been strong.

With all positions considered, Edmonton seems to have fewer question marks regarding their lineup than ever before and depth to cover for a few games missed here and there. How much of an increase in the standings can the Oilers make if they can stay healthy?

Avoiding Injury to Start the Season

There is a chance players on this team don't make it to the start of the season. The Toronto Maple Leafs may have lost newly acquired and starting goaltender Frederick Andersen yesterday in an Olympic qualifier. The severity of the injury is still unclear, but it goes to show that when your players are active, which the Oilers will be during the World Cup of Hockey, anything can happen. 

Edmonton didn't have Eberle to start the season last year and there is some slight question about Klefbom's foot — an injury that has been on the Oilers mind since last season. Both are said to be ready to go now and newly acquired players like Adam Larsson and Milan Lucic have a history of being healthy players in the NHL. This is good news for the Oilers. With the amount of NHL'ers pulling out of the World Cup due to injury, it's a nice change to see the Oilers with a relatively healthy group.


Staying Injury Free

It's near impossible to expect that the Oilers at some point won't be dealing with injuries. But, some of the Oilers biggest casualties last year were due to freak incidences like blocked shots and strange or innocent enough looking hits that seemed minor when they happened, but turned into tons of games missed. It didn't help that key Oilers went down at some of the most inopportune times. 

If Edmonton hopes to make a jump in the standings, a better team is important. That's the job of a General Manager. Larsson, Lucic and other acquired talents that may come before the start of camp will help. But far more than any one player, is if the Oilers can stay healthy. If they can, they'll be a much better team. 15-20 points here and there by some of Edmonton's best players means more wins. More wins means moving up the standings. Moving up the standings means we can have exciting hockey to look forward to later in the 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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