Oilers preview: Rankings, predictions, playoff chances and more

Connor McDavid and the Oilers spent the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs at home. Do they make it to the postseason this spring?

 Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports

With the 2018-19 season fast approaching, we're running snapshots of all 31 NHL teams, including point total projections, positional previews, best- and worst-case scenarios and more.

A rough 2017-18 season for the Edmonton Oilers marred a gem of a campaign by Connor McDavid. Can the team reverse fortunes this season?

How they finished in 2017-18: 36-40-6 (78 points), 23rd in NHL, 6th in the Pacific Division

Oh, this one hurt. After being one win from the Western Conference Final in 2017, the Oilers went from a 103-point team to a 78-point team, squandering another Art Ross Trophy win by Connor McDavid. He didn't win the Hart Trophy. That went to Taylor Hall, for some extra salt in the wound for GM Peter Chiarelli.

Over/under projected point total (per the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook): 90.5

Best-case scenario: Cam Talbot and Mikko Koskinen both play superbly in their contract years, bolstering an Oilers defense that was 25th in the NHL last season.

Worst-case scenario: Connor McDavid says he wants to score even more this season, and guess what, he does. And the Oilers still stink. It turns out last season wasn't an aberration -- in fact, it was the season before that Edmonton was a pretender. The team can't find a way to get Talbot's workload just right, and 5-on-5 play is brutal.

Forward overview: McDavid has 256 points in his first 209 games in the NHL, an average of 1.22 points per game. He has shown an ability to boost the offensive production for many a winger, and it appears that Ty Rattie might be the next one. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins got his chance with McDavid last season and produced 0.77 points per game, his best average since his rookie season. Leon Draisaitl anchors the second line, hoping that Milan Lucic can shoot better than 6.8 percent. Ryan Strome and Jesse Puljujarvi have untapped upside. Other options include Jujhar Khaira, Kailer Yamamoto, Kyle Brodziak, Drake Caggiula and Zack Kassian. Tobias Rieder, whose previous high is 16 goals, was the Oilers' most notable offseason addition at forward. NHL rank: 18th

Defense overview: Oscar Klefbom (21 points in 66 games) remains one of the only offensive options on a blue line that could really use its own Paul Coffey or, failing that, its own Marc-Andre Bergeron. Adam Larsson can handle top-pairing minutes. Darnell Nurse had 26 points in 82 games and is growing as an all-around defenseman. Matthew Benning, Evan Bouchard, Jakub Jerabek and the much-maligned Kris Russell are in the mix. They'll miss Andrej Sekera, who is out indefinitely with a torn Achilles tendon. NHL rank: 23rd

Goalie overview: Will the real Cam Talbot please stand up? Is he the last line of defense from 2016-17, posting a .919 save percentage and seven shutouts while facing an NHL-high 2,117 shots? Or is he the guy we saw last season, with the .908 save percentage, one shutout and an NHL-high 31 losses? Finnish KHL import Mikko Koskinen is the other option. NHL rank: 23rd

Special teams: The Oilers had the worst power play in the NHL last season at 14.8 percent -- that happens when one trades away a few great scoring wingers and doesn't have a true power-play quarterback. The Oilers were 25th on the penalty kill at 76.7 percent.

Pipeline overview: For a team that's still finding its way, the Oilers don't have a particularly deep prospect system. They do, however, have a pair of top-end talents in potential future power-play quarterback Evan Bouchard and the tenacious Kailer Yamamoto. The system also got a nice boost with the team's second-round choice in 2018, the explosive-skating Ryan McLeod. Read more -- Chris Peters

Fantasy nugget: No one is more disgusted with how 2017-18 unfolded for Milan Lucic (34 points, minus-12) than the 30-year-old himself. And he's determined to make immediate amends. I'm all on board with that, as long as the veteran winger remains within the club's top six, as anticipated. This guy still has the wherewithal to be a 50-plus-point/80-PIM performer. There remains a place for him in a wide variety of fantasy leagues. Read more -- Victoria Matiash

Coach on the hot seat? It's been said that the Oilers have an identity crisis, and Todd McLellan is tasked with figuring that out. This is his fourth year in Edmonton, each one with McDavid. Can he survive another season outside the playoffs?

Bold prediction: The Oilers make the playoffs.