Last Word On Hockey brings our Team of the Decade series. We will dive into the best player at each position this decade for every organization. The biggest and best at each position, with the most memorable moments in franchise history. Here is the Edmonton Oilers decade lineup.
Edmonton Oilers Decade Team
The 2010s was a decade the Edmonton Oilers likely want to forget. Simply put, they were one of the most disappointing teams in the NHL during that time.
During that time, the Oilers went through eight different coaches and over 15 goalies. They also traded away two of their first-overall picks (Hall, Yakupov) and had very little success developing their other picks.
Despite going through some very dark times, the Oilers look to be on a team on the upswing. Under the management of Ken Holland, and new head coach Dave Tippett the Oilers look like they could be a very good team in the coming years.
Here is a breakdown by position for the Edmonton Oilers team of the decade lineup.
Left-Wing: Taylor Hall (2010-2016)
Taylor Hall, the 1st overall pick of the Oilers back in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft was an important franchise piece for Edmonton this decade. Before the arrival of McDavid and Draisaitl, many considered Hall as the Oilers’ best offensive player.
Known for his speed, and ability to drive the play, Hall was arguably the Oilers’ best left-winger this decade. During his six seasons in Edmonton, Hall scored at least 22-goals in four of them, including what was then a career-high of 80 points in 2013-14.
From 2010-2016, Hall appeared in 381 games for the Oilers and accumulated 132 goals and 328 points. Despite his contributions, the Oilers moved on from him in the summer of 2016. They traded Hall to the New Jersey Devils for Adam Larsson in attempts to strengthen the team’s blue line.
In many ways, the Oilers might have given up on Hall too early. Many Oiler fans imagine what the team might have looked like over the past four seasons with Hall on the left side of McDavid. Especially at a decent $6,000,000 cap-hit.
Centre: Connor McDavid (2015-Present)
Connor McDavid has only been an Oiler for about half of this decade but it’s hard to deny the impact he has made for this franchise. Aside from Wayne Gretzky, McDavid is arguably the best center to ever suit up for the Oilers.
Since joining the Oilers as a first overall pick in 2015, McDavid has quickly become one of the top offensive players in the NHL. He scored 469 points in 351 games and had three consecutive 100-point seasons from 2016-2019.
McDavid is already a two-time Art Ross Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award winner and also has a Hart Memorial Trophy to his name. McDavid was a huge part of the Oilers’ success in 2017, scoring five goals and nine points in 13 playoff games.
At only 23, it doesn’t look like McDavid will slow down anytime soon. It might be scary for some to imagine, but he could continue to improve for the next three-to-six-years.
Going forward, like many elite players it looks like McDavid’s ultimate goal is to help the Oilers win a Stanley Cup. Seeing how dominant he has been throughout his short career, he might be able to win his first championship sooner than later.
Right-Wing: Leon Draisaitl (2014 -Present)
Even though Leon Draisaitl’s natural position is center, he found a lot of success playing right-wing early in his career. This is why he should be the Oilers best right-winger this decade.
The Oilers took the Cologne product third overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. It took Draisaitl a couple of years to come into his own, but ever since the 2015-16 season (19 goals, 51 points) he has been an important franchise piece for the Oilers.
After a successful 2015-16 campaign, we saw Draisaitl take his game to the next level in 2016-17 setting new career-highs again. Scoring 29 goals and 77 points in 82 games. Along with McDavid, Drasaitl was arguably the Oilers’ best forward from 2016 to now.
It is debatable whether we can consider Draisaitl a natural right-winger but his career started to blossom around that time. Including 77, 70 and 105 point seasons from 2016-2019. In that, he should be considered the Oilers’ best right-winger for the past three to four years.
But if it wasn’t for Draisaitl’s emergence later this decade, Jordan Eberle might have been considered as the Oilers top-right winger this decade.
Left Defence: Oscar Klefbom (2013-present)
Oscar Klefbom was arguably the Oilers’ best player at the left defence position this decade. Drafted 19th overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, the Karlstad, Sweden native became a full-time NHL’er around 2014.
Ever since then Klefbom has quickly become one of the Oilers’ best all-around defence for much of the past five seasons. From 2015 to 2020, we have seen Klefbom’s minutes gradually increased from 21 minutes to around 26 minutes a night.
Used in all-situations, Klefbom has not only been the Oilers’ best left-defence, he has arguably been the Oiler’s best blue-liner as well. He is an above-average skater with a good stick and moves the puck efficiently up the ice. His effortlessly play style allows him to eat heavy minutes, and we often see him matched up against the other team’s best players.
Over the past four years, Klefbom averaged around 30 points a season and was a key player on the Oilers power play and penalty kill. Over time Klefbom has added to his game as well, he has become one of the top shot blockers in the game, leading the NHL with 180 blocks in 62 games in 2019-20.
Aside from his play, Klefbom has also been one of the best bargains in the NHL. Coming at a $4,167,000 cap-hit for three more seasons, and playing top-pairing minutes.
In retrospect, the 2011 NHL draft was a very successful one for the Oilers. They were able to get both Klefbom and Nugent-Hopkins in the first round, and both are still key players in Edmonton today.
Right Defence: Adam Larsson (2016-Present)
Adam Larsson only joined the Oilers in 2016 but has been an important player for the team over the past four seasons. Overall, Larsson is a steady, defensive defenseman who has made a huge impact in his short time here.
He made an immediate impact in his first season with the team in 2016-17, as the Oilers were one win away from reaching the Western finals. Larsson was a key piece on defence, averaging over 20 minutes a night playing on the team’s top pairing.
He might be limited offensively but Larsson has been a physical force for the Oilers. At 6’3” and 208lbs, Larsson is a big body who is not fun to play against. In each of his first three seasons with the Oilers, Larsson dished out at least 239 hits or more each season. He also blocked at least 128 or more shots in each of those three campaigns.
Over the past four years, Larsson has also grown to become a leader (assistant captain) and dependable defender for the Oilers night after night.
Larsson may not be considered as a true number one defenseman but Edmonton has used him as such, for the majority of his time in Edmonton. At the same time, the Oilers never had another player that has made a similar impact at the right-defence position.
Like Klefbom, Larsson comes at a very reasonable cap-hit of only $4,166,666. He is also signed for another season after 2020. So if he is able to continue to contribute in a top-four role, he is likely the best defender Edmonton had at the right-defence position this decade.
Goalie: Cam Talbot (2015-2019)
Cam Talbot only played for three and half seasons for the Oilers during this decade. Yet, the 2016-17 season is the main reason why he should be considered as the Oilers’ top goalie this decade.
2016-17 was the only season we saw the Oilers make the playoffs this decade, and Talbot was probably the biggest reason for that team’s success. He appeared in 73 games for the Oilers that season and posted an impressive 0.919 save percentage along with seven shutouts that year.
The Oilers were not a great defensive team that year. This made them depend on Talbot’s stellar play more often than they wanted to. Talbot ended up leading the league in total saves with 1946 and averaged around 27 saves per game. He backstopped a young Oilers team to one game away from reaching the Western finals and finished fourth in Vezina Trophy voting.
Although Talbot only really had one excellent season in Edmonton, no other Oilers’ goalie had a better season during this decade.
Despite a successful 2016-17 campaign, Talbot’s play returned to mediocrity in the next few years. Perhaps it was due to burnout or being overplayed, but Edmonton never saw the Vezina-calibre Talbot again.
In retrospect, no other goalie was able to backstop the Oilers to a playoff berth, let alone a series win. Like the defensive positions, the Oilers haven’t really had a bonafide number one goalie this decade, but Cam Talbot might be the closest thing to that.
Honourable Mentions Edmonton Oilers Decade Team
Despite the team’s lack of success this decade, we can’t talk about the Oilers without mentioning Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ name. Since joining the Oilers in 2011, Nugent-Hopkins has established himself as an extremely consistent two-way forward and a reliable top-two center on the team.
At only 26 and already in his ninth season, it looks like Nugent-Hopkins might just be entering his prime. He finished the 2018-19 season with a career-high 69 points and 28 goals. Only time will tell if the Oilers can work on an extension and possibly make him a life-time Oiler.
Jordan Eberle was one of the Oilers’ most important offensive players for much of this decade. He hit the 20-goal-plateau five times and had a career-high of 76 points in 2011-2012.
There is a strong argument that Eberle is deserving in the right-winger of the decade spot. But simply put team success matters. And unfortunately, Eberle was a key member of the bad Oiler teams from 2011-2015, that saw them land three first overall picks in four years.