Source: TSN

I wanted to do a bit of a roster preview on my hometown Oiler's and figured I would break it down into three parts, forwards, defense and goal.  Each area has a vastly different outlook for the team and my optimism level for each are quite varied.  I figured it would be best to start with the most positive part of the roster, yup the one with Connor McDavid.

There will be some roster shuffling in training camp and there are lots of question marks throughout the forwards but for the most part we already know most of the players  that will be dressing on opening night.  The battles that players will be fighting in camp will be more about where each player ends up slotting in on the roster.  The whole right side is wide open from first line to fourth.  The four centers are more or less locked in.  And outside of the first line, there will be lots of shuffling on the left side

Lets first look at the top line.  The season will open with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Connor McDavid anchoring the top line.  The pair built up some amazing chemistry at the end of last season and could be developing into the most dominant duo in the NHL.  I don't think both players eclipsing 100 points this season is out of reach.  Nugent-Hopkins hasn't performed at that level since entering the league in 2011 but his play alongside McDavid gives me a great amount of hope.  

Source: HockeyDB

Ty Rattie ended the season alongside Nugent-Hopkins and McDavid and should be the favorite to land that position out of training camp. I think the Oiler's will want to explore a few options to steal that spot from Rattie in training camp. While Rattie did perform well, he had some defensive deficiencies and his performance wasn't earth shattering just good.  A few other players will be gunning to take Ratties spot, I would say Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto would have the best chance to land a gig on the first line.  Both are young skilled forwards drafted in the first round.  Puljujarvi has two seasons of NHL experience, while Yamamoto only has played 9 games in the NHL.  Puljujarvi is a lock to have a roster spot but where that spot will be is wildly debatable.  Yamamoto is a long shot to make the roster but he did start last year with the team and I would expect him to at least get some NHl time at some point this season.

Source: NHL

Leon Draisaitl will be the core of the second line after posting over 70 points last two seasons. The Oiler's finding some consistent linemates for Draisaitl will be a major concern to start the season.   The Oiler's signed Draisaitl's countrymen Tobias Reider this offseason and I think it's likely the two start the season together.  By all accounts Draisaitl pushed very hard for the Oiler's to sign Reider and given how few German players are in the NHL, I'm very excited by the potential the two have together.  They have played together a bit in international competition so it seems likely the coaches want to see what they can do.  

The last spot on the second line is one of the biggest mysteries on the roster.  Milan Lucic had a dreadful season last year but will be driven to have a bounce back year.  The Oiler's need for Lucic to return to his top form, especially with 5 years left on his massive contract.  It will be a real blow to the club if Lucic can't play at least at a second line level.  The position isn't a guarantee for Lucic but his competition won't be very intense.  Pontus Aberg & Jujhar Khaira will have a chance to start the season on the second line but honestly none of the candidates are great options.  Aberg showed glimpses of offensive upside last season but really dug himself a hole with the club after getting drunk and missing practice on a roadtrip.  A bit of a bizarre story, I really hope the Oiler's give him a fresh slate moving into this season.  Jujhar Khaira has turned into a great player for the Oiler's, he seemed like a long shot to ever make the NHL and now has solidified his spot on the roster and seems to continually be improving.  I hope one of these three players can step up and become the second line player the Oiler's are currently missing.

Next on the depth chart is the third line.  Ryan Strome will be the center on the third line and the other two players will end up being those players that fail to impress in training camp.  The third line has not been great in Edmonton over the past few seasons and I don't think that will change this season.  The third line ends up being the players that don't fit anywhere else and as a result they have a tough time becoming anything either consistent or reliable.  Ryan Strome and his leftovers, not the pinnacle of the roster.

Lastly we have the fourth line which will most likely end up being Kyle Brodziak, Zach Kassian, and Jujhar Khaira.  There are a few players that will be trying to secure a spot either on the fourth line or as an extra forward.  Drake Cagguila could land himself in this battle.  Cagguila was a highly touted signing out of college a few years ago that hasn't really panned out.  He is still young and shows flashes of potential but just cant seem to be able to put it all together.  Another player in this mix will be Scottie Upshall who the Oiler's recently signed to a tryout.  Upshall played with Brodziak last season and would bring some much needed veteran presence to the team.

Source: Capfriendly

Here is my prediction for what the roster will look like on opening night.  Lots can change from now until October but I think there is a strong chance the season starts with these twelve forwards.  There could be some shake ups but I'm confident these twelve players along with Drake Cagguila will be on the Oiler's 23 man roster to start the season, leaving not much opportunity for other players.

Overall the forward group is quite top heavy with more holes the further  down the line up you go.  I think the group is improved from last season but probably doesn't stack up against the better teams in the league.  It is the best area of the roster but will need some players to step up in order to see a return to the playoffs.