Health Will Be Key Factor in Oilers Success

A lot has been made about the Edmonton Oilers off-season moves. The 2016-17 Oilers will have added the likes of Jesse Puljujarvi, Milan Lucic, Adam Larsson and Jonas Gustavsson. The only real subtraction was Taylor Hall but all these moves will be for nothing if the Oilers can’t overcome a particular obstacle: health.

Last year the Oilers had an astounding 368 man games lost due to injury and it was compounded by the fact those injuries happened to key players. Connor McDavid, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Oscar Klefbom and Benoit Pouliot missed a considerable amount of time. Even former captain Andrew Ference missed a whopping 55 games. What’s even more impressive is the fact the Oilers top-six never played a single game together healthy. It was one of the many reasons why the Oilers offense struggled and had the 25th ranked offense in the NHL.

Only two Oilers played the entire season; Mark Letestu and Hall who was traded to New Jersey this summer. Andrej Sekera came close with missing one game. Edmonton went a giant chunk of the year without their top offensive player and their top defenseman once McDavid and Klefbom went down.

Injuries That Caused Players to Miss a Minimal 10 Games

Injuries to top players is a risk to each franchise. Montreal lost Carey Price early for the remainder of the year and they never recovered. It ultimately was the biggest death blow to their season and the reason they missed the playoffs last year. For Edmonton, losing McDavid for several months compounded with Klefbom being out really hurt the Oilers ability to play a transition hockey against some of the faster Western Conference teams and they were dead in the water by January.

Related: Klefbom Emerging From Injury-Riddled Season

Related: Two More Surgeries With Long-Term Implications For Oilers

Health has been a huge issue during the rebuild with the Oilers consistently near the top in man games lost but in a year Edmonton was supposed to take a major step forward, they flatlined. Here is a list of players with a minimal of ten games lost due to injury in 2015-16:


Games Missed

Main Injury

D – Andrew Ference



D – Oscar Klefbom



C – Connor McDavid



L – Benoit Pouliot


Shoulder, Lower Body

C – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins


Hand, Concussion

D – Eric Gryba



R – Nail Yakupov



D – Brandon Davidson



D – Justin Schultz



R – Jordan Eberle



D – Mark Fayne



L – Matt Hendricks



Can Edmonton Overcome the Injury Bug in 2016-17?

It’s impossible for an NHL franchise to go a year being injury-free, but the fact injuries in Edmonton disrupted the core group gives reason to believe the Oilers can improve in 2016-17. The team is coming into the season relatively healthy with just Andrew Ference likely starting the year on LTIR. It’s questionable if he’ll ever play again.

Related: January – Oilers Lead League In Man Games Lost

Related: Is This The End For Andrew Ference?

On opening night the Oilers should be able to actually ice all their best players and that’ll be the right way to get the season off to a good start. You can’t say the Oilers didn’t miss having Eberle, RNH, McDavid and company out for a long time. For arguments sake, say those players stayed healthy and improved the Oilers offense by 20 goals, they would’ve then had a league-average offense with 219 goals. That’s more than playoff teams like St. Louis, Anaheim, Minnesota, Philadelphia and Detroit. The Oilers would’ve been in a few more games at that pace, not saying they were going to be a playoff team, far from it.

If Edmonton had better luck with injuries they would’ve been a more competitive team in 2015-16. For the Oilers to have any chance at moving up in the standings this year, staying healthy will play a huge role.