Edmonton Oilers answered their critics, but many questions remain

The Western Conference final was a step too far for the Edmonton Oilers this season, but it was certainly a ride worth taking, writes Andy Lee.

The Edmonton Oilers… Is this where they stand up for all the years of self-depreciation?

Before we start, they have stunk the NHL out since Dwayne Roloson got a piece of a Marc-Andre Bergeron sized defenceman right in his grill on game one of the 2006 Stanley Cup final.

Part of Alberta hasn’t recovered, and still wishes after a Stanley Cup run with a goalie with genuine save percentage.

Bring on Mike Smith. For all his faults, he recovered from a rough start to the play-offs, got on top of a Los Angeles side coached by former Oiler Todd McLennan, and helped an Oilers side with a rookie coach suddenly find a way to beat that deep-rooted playoff funk.

Next up, Calgary. Again, they got banged up. Hopes on Whyte Avenue continued to think “here we go, let’s sack another GM.” Repeat ad nauseum.

The Oil came through, albeit with some pain along the way, and with forty-year-old Mike Smith, saving them against his former paycheck franchise. Oilers twitter lit up, always knowing there’s a bump along the way.

Inevitably, it all came to an end as the mightily impressive Colorado Avalanche swept the series in the Western Conference final. The Oilers were beat up, but isn’t everyone at this time of the year?

Ultimately, though, while it was a step too far, the Edmonton Oilers emerged having answered many of their mid-season critics, but with even more unanswered questions about how to go at least one better next year.

That means a big year lays ahead of the best paid GM in the NHL. How much wiggle can he find in his roster? There is cap space, but not an abundance.

Evander Kane might be a dream to hold, the Edmonton Oilers would do well to keep Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto and, possibly, a dependable point-making blueliner in former Leaf Tyson Barrie.

Whichever way you want to paint it, Ken Holland will be a busy man this summer – and patience is running out for this front office to deliver.

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