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When was the last time Edmonton Oilers had a defence this good?

Edmonton Journal logo Edmonton Journal 2019-12-03 David Staples, Edmonton Journal
a group of people racing each other on a snow covered slope: Edmonton Oilers' Ethan Bear (74) battles Colorado Avalanche's Nazem Kadri (91) during the second period of a NHL hockey game at Rogers Place in Edmonton, on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. Photo by Ian Kucerak/Postmedia © Ian Kucerak Edmonton Oilers' Ethan Bear (74) battles Colorado Avalanche's Nazem Kadri (91) during the second period of a NHL hockey game at Rogers Place in Edmonton, on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. Photo by Ian Kucerak/Postmedia
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The Edmonton Oilers were not blessed with strong defensive units during the Decade of Darkness-plus.

Remember the 2014-15 unit, that was a key part of a team that was -83 in goals plus-minus?

This group had just one real Top 4 NHL d-men in Jeff Petry, along with players who were either too young (Oscar Klefbom, Jordan Oesterle, Justin Schultz) or too old (Andrew Ference) or simply not close to being good enough (Nikita Nikitin, Mark Fayne, Martin Marincin, Keith Aulie.)

a screenshot of a computer © Provided by Edmonton Journal

In 2019-20, however, something quite remarkable has happened. Suddenly if you look at the top group of players on the Edmonton Oilers, most of them are defencemen. Indeed the Oilers haven’t had a group of d-men this strong since the 2005-06 season, when the d-unit heading into the playoffs included Chris Pronger, Jarosalv Spacek, Jason Smith and Steve Staios.

a screen shot of a computer © Provided by Edmonton Journal

This current group lacks a player with Pronger’s superstar power, but has three players who rank near the top of the most recent Edmonton Oilers player performance rankings.

Also in the Top 12 Oilers right now are Kris Russell, Adam Larsson and Matt Benning.

a screenshot of text © Provided by Edmonton Journal

It’s yet to be seen how far this current group can take the Oilers. But the good news is that the team appears to be six or seven deep in terms of NHL d-men, and that more help is on the way in coming years with Evan Bouchard, William Lagesson, Dmitri Samorukov and Philip Broberg in the system. a screenshot of a cell phone © Provided by Edmonton Journal

P.S. One other strong-ish defence for the Oilers was 2008-09. But that group was quickly disbanded, falling apart mainly due to injuries to No. 1 d-man Souray. a screen shot of a computer © Provided by Edmonton Journal

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