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Northwest
BRIAN CAZENEUVE
October 04, 2010
WESTERN CONFERENCE
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October 04, 2010

Northwest

WESTERN CONFERENCE

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27-47-8 (15th in West)

KEY ADDITIONS

D Kurtis Foster, C Colin Fraser, LW Taylor Hall

KEY LOSSES

LW Ethan Moreau, C Patrick O'Sullivan, RW Fernando Pisani

THE OILERS can take comfort in the unlikelihood that this season will be worse than last. Edmonton was 30th in the league in wins (27) and points (62), and topped the NHL in goals allowed (278) and giveaways (1,055).

With the No. 1 pick in the June draft, the Oilers took winger Taylor Hall, who amassed 106 points for the OHL's Windsor Spitfires last year. At 18, he may already be capable of stepping into a prominent role. Hall would be a good fit with 6'4", 245-pound power forward Dustin Penner, who broke out last year with a career-high 32 goals. Twenty-year-old rookie winger Jordan Eberle—who led Team Canada with 13 points at last January's World Junior Championship—may also make an impact.

But Edmonton lacks scorers, and goaltending isn't likely to steal the club many wins. Nikolai Khabibulin, 37, played just 18 games because of a herniated disk, and his status for 2010--11 is uncertain after he was sentenced in August to at least 30 days in an Arizona prison for a drunken driving and excessive speeding conviction. (He is free while the case is under appeal.) The likely starter is Jeff Deslauriers (3.26 GAA, .901 save percentage), who led the NHL with 28 losses last year.

The Oilers have reason for optimism—for the future. The present looks as if it's going to be tough to take.

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