For the 2023-2024 NHL season, our pre-season futures selection to win the Stanley Cup is the Edmonton Oilers, currently at 11-1 odds at FanDuel. Everyone knows that the Oilers sported one of the greatest offenses in NHL history last season. And chances are, that historic, high-scoring group -- Edmonton set an NHL record by converting on 32.4 % of its power plays in the regular season -- will be back and scoring at the same rate this season. Having the best offensive player on the planet -- Connor McDavid with an incredible 153 points last season -- can mean that other players can almost go unnoticed, even if they would lead almost every other team in the league. Such was the case with linemate Leon Draisaitl and his 128 points and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and his 104. But the offensive firepower couldn't offset issues the Oilers had in the post-season as they fell to the eventual champion Golden Knights in the second round of the playoffs.
Part of the good news for the upcoming season -- and the reason we're betting on Edmonton to go much farther next spring -- is because young goaltender Stuart Skinner, who performed so brilliantly in the regular season while splitting time with veteran Jack Campbell (but faltered in the playoffs), should open this season as the #1 net-minder. The 24-year-old simply wasn't ready for the post-season but last season's experience should serve him well as he gets ready to assume the #1 job in goal behind the most prolific offense in the league. It will be up to Head Coach Jay Woodcroft -- beginning his third season in Edmonton -- to manage the two goalies effectively to insure that Skinner doesn't get over-worked before the playoffs, in which the Oilers are almost certain to appear.
The final piece of the puzzle for the Oilers will be for them to get full seasons out of the key injured players they had on the roster in 2022-2023. If Evander Kane (28 points in 41 games), Ryan McLeod (just 57 games), and Warren Foegele (67 games) can avoid those injuries that befell them last season, then Edmonton should be able to take that next step and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. Take the Edmonton Oilers to win the 2023-2024 Stanley Cup at 11-1 odds. As always, good luck...Al McMordie.