The turnover didn't stop with management or coaches, however, as MacTavish also chose to part ways with players like former captain Shawn Horcoff, fellow forward Magnus Paajarvi and defenseman Ryan Whitney.
Taking over as captain for Horcoff is defenseman Andrew Ference, who signed a four-year deal with the Oilers this offseason after spending the last seven seasons in Boston. The 34-year-old is an Edmonton native and is excited just to be playing with his hometown club, let alone serving as the Oilers captain.
"To know that I'm able to come back to my hometown and be so extremely proud to pull on the jersey, letter or not, I know how fortunate I am to have that kind of path in a career like this," said Ference. "It really is an ultimate privilege and honor to just have that jersey on in the first place."
Under Eakins, the Oilers, who are loaded with talented and highly-touted players stockpiled through the draft, are expected to play with more grit and determination, or the roster upheaval could claim more victims.
Although Edmonton is stacked with offensive potential, the club finished 21st in the league in even-strength goals in 2013. Eakins would like to see an improvement in that area this season, but it could be hard in the early going with forwards Sam Gagner (broken jaw) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (offseason shoulder surgery) both on the shelf to start the season.
Last season, Devan Dubnyk supplanted veteran Nikolai Khabibulin as Edmonton's starting goaltender and enters this season opener with the No. 1 job all to himself. Khabibulin departed to sign a free-agent deal with Chicago and the Oilers replaced him with Jason LaBarbera, who at 33 years of age seems to be a better fit as a backup option than his 40-year-old predecessor.
Dubnyk performed well under difficult circumstances for the Oilers last season, facing a ton of rubber on a nightly basis thanks in part to a defense that had a rough time getting the puck out of its own end. Still, the 27-year- old managed to record a strong .920 save percentage to go with a 2.57 goals against average and 14-6-6 record in 2013.
Because they were in different conferences last season, the Jets and Oilers never faced each other during the lockout-shortened campaign when teams only played clubs from within their respective conferences.
Edmonton has taken the last two meetings against the Jets, who are 2-6-0 with a tie in the past nine encounters between these franchises.