Dear Santa: Edmonton Oilers Wish List for 2023

As the holidays’ approach and the 2023 portion of this NHL season creeps upon a team that is not playing as well as they would like in multiple areas, there are a few things the Edmonton Oilers might wish for this holiday season. If the team was making a list of Santa Claus, it’s fairly obvious what the Oilers need.

A Reliable Defensive Defenseman

Rumors surrounding the Oilers and a number of available defensemen are everywhere. The team has been linked to John Klingberg, Joel Edmundson, Jakob Chychrun, and even Erik Karlsson. The club could certainly use some help in that regard as the team has struggled to keep the puck out of their own net and blueliners like Evan Bouchard and Darnell Nurse are making costly mistakes at inopportune times. But, the Oilers don’t need most of the names they’ve been connected to.

Darnell Nurse Edmonton Oilers
Darnell Nurse, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

What Edmonton needs is a shutdown defender who can play 20-plus minutes and doesn’t panic under pressure. What they need is a Duncan Keith-type veteran who can calm the players down, help keep things simple, and fill in when the struggles are evident but head coach Jay Woodcroft can’t afford to bench the top-minute guys because he needs them.

It’s amazing how much the Oilers miss steady hands like Keith and Kris Russell and the team is paying for the fact they’ve gone with a relatively inexperience defense corps. If Santa could bring the Oilers anything, it’s a defenseman who can shut other team’s top players down and not cough up the puck all the time.

A Quick Rehab For Evander Kane

There has been talk the Oilers could use a gritty forward, but what they really need is for Evander Kane to be ahead of schedule in his recovery. A nasty skate cut near his wrist has put him on the shelf for the long term and it’s badly hurt the rotation of forwards in the Oilers’ top six.

This isn’t to say that the team should rush the player back. Instead, the Oilers just need to ask that Kane’s recovery time isn’t as accurate as originally estimated and that he can rejoin the team in January versus February. Kane provides the Oilers with scoring, toughness, and leadership. The Oilers seem to be lacking all of that right now. Kane isn’t the only one out either. Ryan McLeod is sorely missed and having him back would be a huge lift for the team.

Bring Jack Campbell Some Confidence

Many fans in Toronto will have you believe Jack Campbell has never been a starting goaltender and that his troubles in Edmonton should have been seen from a mile away. While he’s potentially proving he’s not as capable as the Oilers would have hoped when they signed him to a long-term deal at $5 million per season, it’s hard to imagine anyone would have thought he’d be this bad.

Related: Dear Santa: Vancouver Canucks Wish List for 2023

Campbell has had spurts where he’s made saves, but he’s not looked confident at any point this season. Santa needs to bring him something he can feel good about in his game and the hope is that it sparks him to go on a heater of strong appearances. He’s shown he has the ability to get hot and the Oilers could certainly use it since they aren’t playing up to the expectations many had for them this season.

Fewer Turnovers by Edmonton’s Top Stars

The Oilers have already proven that as skilled as they are, they can’t outscore their mistakes. The only solution is to limit them and that includes some of the top players cutting back on turnovers. If Santa could bring Edmonton’s top guys a little humility and puck responsibility, that would be tremendously helpful.

Leon Draisaitl Edmonton Oilers
Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Devin Manky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

According to, for players who have played more than 100 minutes in the league this season, Leon Draisaitl leads the NHL in giveaways with 49. He’s one of the league’s best passers, but he’s also the kind of player who tries plays he shouldn’t. Granted, he creates more goals for than he does goals against, but he’s got to be better with the puck.

Connor McDavid is up there too when it comes to turnovers per 60 and that’s not a good thing for the Oilers. Some might argue that they play all the time so their turnover stats are bound to be higher. That would be fair if players like Zach Hyman and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins weren’t playing so much and not having nearly the turnover rate McDavid and Draisaitl do. The point is, the offense can be created without turning it over all the time and both Hyman and Nuge are having career years with under one turnover per game averages.

This isn’t to say that all allowance for creativity should be cut out of their game or that the coaching staff should tell the players not to take chances, but the forwards and defensemen need to be more responsible with the puck.