Wild West: Edmonton, St. Louis, Nashville and Minnesota Eliminated

Grant Campbell

2021-05-31

Teams in the Wild West were under-represented this year with only seven squads in the playoffs and now it is down to three remaining after the first round. Winnipeg, Colorado and Vegas remain in their quest for the Stanley Cup but only two of those can get through to the next round. Colorado can't win every game 7-1. Can they?

I thought we would look at each team that was eliminated and see what went right and/or wrong this season and which players might not be back next season.

Edmonton Oilers (Swept by the Winnipeg Jets in the first round)

When the Oilers committed to the goaltending duo of Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen for this season, I thought it would be their downfall, somewhat in the regular season and then rear its ugly head in the playoffs. Truth be told, Smith was excellent during the regular season with a GSAA (goals saved above average) of 13.73 while Koskinen was below average with a GSAA of minus 6.45. During the playoffs, Mike Smith started all four games and was decent in losing all four of the games, albeit three of them in overtime, so blame doesn't fall on the goalie this season.

The Oilers had excellent regular seasons from Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Tyson Barrie and Darnell Nurse. Jesse Puljujarvi had an encouraging season with 15 goals and 25 points in 55 games and just turned 23 years of age. The good news is McDavid, Draisaitl, Nurse and Puljujarvi will be back. Barrie is probably not unless the Oilers are willing to spend $5.5 to 6 million AAV over six or seven years.

Other than that everyone else kind of treaded water or digressed. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who is now 28 years old and just finished his 10th NHL season (all with the Oilers) had a bit of a down year with 35 points in 52 games (0.67 pts/game) after two prior seasons of 0.94 and 0.84 pts/game and reports are that the player and the team might not be close in re-signing.