Welcome to the latest series here at Last Word on Hockey. Each day, we will take a look at a new team and examine three of their potential breakout or bounce-back players. These players have the chance to make a serious difference with their teams this upcoming season. These players can be new faces or familiar ones looking to have a strong return to form. Each day we will be looking at a different team! Today we will take a look at the potential 2020-21 Edmonton Oilers key players.
2020-21 Edmonton Oilers Candidates
Kyle Turris, signed a two-year contract with the Edmonton Oilers just a couple of days after the Nashville Predators had bought him out. The two-year contract is worth $3.3 million. Turris, scored 31 points last season in 62 games played with Nashville Predators. A second-line player last season only contributing nine goals, is not the offensive production the Predators had hoped for. His statistical performance in even-strength defence was his worst since the 2012-13 season.
With the additions of Matt Duchene and Nick Bonino, Nashville had issues finding a spot for a player that was making 6 million per season and not being able to keep up to a top 6 expectation. The 31-year-old was drafted in the 3rd round in 2007 by the Arizona Coyotes. He will look to bounce-back this season as his role with the Edmonton Oilers will be different and much needed as a third-line centre.
Reason for Optimism
Some might say Kyle Turris‘ best days are behind him, although that may be true, he is still capable of contributing to a 40-plus point season. A solid veteran faceoff specialist, with an average of 50 percent on faceoffs throughout his career. Turris will look to pick his game back up to where he once was known as a 40-plus point player. He has plenty of opportunity on this Edmonton Oilers’ roster to succeed, playing on the third line with a possibility of Tyler Ennis and James Neal.
It would also almost be certain to see Turris on Edmonton’s second power-play unit. We don’t know how this lineup is going to be on opening night, but that is the idea I get from reading into Oilers news. Kyle Turris has an opportunity to bounce back this year with the Oilers and give them the depth scoring and leadership the bottom six have been lacking incredibly.
Next up for a bounce-back year is the well-known offensive defenceman, Tyson Barrie. Barrie who spent eight seasons with the Colorado Avalanche, soon found himself a Maple Leaf last season. He couldn’t quite find himself in Toronto and had himself with ups and downs throughout the season. In 70 games played last season, he finished with 39 points. Barrie who found himself last season with Mike Babcock was demoted from the first power-play unit to the second unit is where the struggles seemed to become obvious.
He seemed to not fit in with the Maple Leafs and looked out of place at times until Sheldon Keefe took over the Leafs coaching. Then Barrie was back on the first power-play unit. Barrie didn’t have the best season, but it wasn’t an awful one. It was easily one of his worst seasons throughout his career.
Reasons for Optimism
Tyson Barrie signed a one-year deal worth $3.75 million with the Edmonton Oilers this offseason. Barrie signed on a one-year cheap term deal, considering he had an opportunity knocking on his door to prove he can rediscover his game. Having the chance to play with elite talent and skill like Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid is one way to help your offensive game. Barrie is known for his defensive/offensive style but not so much his defensive game. Perhaps with Dave Tippet behind the bench, Barrie can become stronger defensively.
Looking at Edmonton’s defensive roster it’s a no-brainer that Barrie secures the top-line defence spot and plays on the number one power-play unit. Adding Tyson Barrie to this roster will help secure that number one power-play spot and look to continue with the special team’s success.
Ethan Bear last season has begun to show he is ready to play some big minutes in the NHL. The 23-year-old was drafted 124th overall in the 5th round by Edmonton. Taking everyone by surprise, being forced to take on a big role with the Edmonton Oilers last season. Ethan Bear is a restricted free agent and still awaits a new contract with Edmonton. There is no chance general manager Ken Holland doesn’t re-sign him.
It may turn out to be a one-year bridge deal only considering the cap issues the Oilers continue to struggle to overcome. He is near ready to secure that top four defensive role for the 2020-21 Edmonton Oilers. We saw him paired with Darnell Nurse logging big minutes in his rookie season, with little signs of struggling. In 71 games last season he finished with 21 points and four power-play goals.
Reasons for Optimism
This upcoming season is Bear’s absolute perfect opportunity to show the NHL he is here to stay. Mentioned earlier was Oscar Klefbom’s injury, a very important player on this roster possibly to miss the entire season. This gives Ethan Bear the chance of a lifetime to prove he is the future of this team’s defence. As well, he can eat up minutes on the back end. Bear and Barrie will be competing for the top right side pairing with Darnell Nurse this season.
They need to show great emotion while battling adversity in important situations. Whether it was the Battle of Alberta, on special teams or in the play-in round series, Ethan Bear didn’t look like a rookie most of last season. Yes, sure he made some mistakes in games as every rookie will do. His speed at maturity is a sure asset to the team.