Boyd Gordon will be back, Matt Hendricks too, but the Edmonton Oilers are going to need to stretch a few forwards this winter. Many of the penalty-killers from a year ago (forward division) are gone, leaving a gap and an opportunity.
A year ago, Edmonton finished 15th in penalty-killing efficiency and allowed 50 goals to the other teams when they had the man advantage.
Among forwards, Dallas Eakins asked a lot of the people you’d expect:
- Boyd Gordon 206 minutes
- Ryan Smyth 122 minutes
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 99.5 minutes
- Matt Hendricks 97.5 minutes (in 33 games)
- Mark Arcobello 67.5 minutes (in 41 games)
- Will Acton 60 minutes (in 30 games)
- Jordan Eberle 55 minutes
- Anton Lander 51 minutes (in 27 games)
- Ryan Jones 45.5 minutes
- David Perron 37 minutes
The club will no longer have Ryan Smyth and Ryan Jones for use, but Hendricks spent a lot of time (we’re talking 3 minutes a night) on the PK. New coach Craig Ramsay is in charge of the power play, but one hopes he pops in to the 4×5 meetings too, since he was so bloody brilliant at it (27SH goals in his career, No. 34 on the all-time list).
THINGS I THINK WE’LL SEE
- Boyd Gordon getting the tough zone starts and a mountain of penalty killing
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins continuing in his role as second option among C’s
- Mark Arcobello being used as both center and winger, giving the PK more faceoff options (Arco was 51% in the dot last season)
- Hendricks playing heavy heavy minutes at the discipline
- Lander/Tyler Pitlick (whoever plays 4line winger with Gordon/Hendricks) playing an increased role.
The two new hires up front didn’t kill a lot of penalties last season or in previous years. Benoit Pouliot spent just 32 seconds on the PK (that’s incredible) during his 80 games as a Ranger, so doesn’t appear to be a natural. Teddy Purcell spent a buck 49 on the PK, that’s not much better. Better pencil Eberle and Perron onto next year’s list, too.
When Craig MacTavish coached, he was always trying to find more versatility on his roster. Wingers would play center, and sometimes defensemen would play forward. So, if you hear MacT or Dallas Eakins talking about Keith Aulie possibly taking some PK shifts up front, don’t be alarmed. They’ve already thought of it, all that’s left is for Aulie not to laugh out loud when it’s mentioned in TC and there’s every chance we see it.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
The Oilers PK was 15th overall a year ago. For a 28th place team, that’s a positive. I expect we’ll see plenty of Boyd Gordon, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Matt Hendricks and Mark Arcobello, and the PK could end up being the reason Anton Lander finally sticks in the NHL.
Barons photos by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved.