Mar 6, 2014; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins follows the play against the New York Islanders at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Edmonton Oilers focus on improving defense

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The Edmonton Oilers have quite a few new faces on the roster heading to training camp. After it’s eight straight season missing out on the Stanley Cup Playoffs, coach Dallas Eakins and the rest of the management team are excited to see where these new players take them.

“We think it has been a good few days getting the free agents in the boat. It was important,” Eakins said. “We’ve added size, we’ve added depth, and we’ve added some people who can make plays. Those are all things that we need in our lineup, especially in our division.”

New players include forwards Teddy Purcell, Benoit Pouliot and Leon Draisaiti and defensemen Mark Fayne and Nikita Nikitin.

It is expected that the addition of Fayne and Nikitin will have the biggest influence on the roster. The Oilers have been struggling over the past few years to keep the puck out of the net and gaining good defense will have a huge effect on this scenario. Part of the problem was that the Oilers have had one of the youngest defense groups in the NHL. Adding veterans who have good numbers is exactly what the club needs.

“You start putting your lineup on the board and these are established NHL players that give you some comfort,” Eakins said. “There’s not an unknown so much with them. For us, especially on our back end, I thought our biggest problem last year was breaking the puck out. That led to us spending a lot of time in our own zone. With the additions of those players, and then with all of our other guys getting another year of experience, it’s a step in the right direction.”

This will be Eakins second season with the Oilers and one can only imagine how badly he wants to bring these players to the Stanley Cup.

Edmonton hasn’t made an appearance in the playoffs since 2006.

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Tags: Dallas Eakins Edmonton Oilers