Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Projecting the Oilers Top-10 Scorers

The kids have gone back to school and the NFL started last weekend which means one thing for hockey fans…the NHL is almost back!

We are officially 23 days away from puck-drop on the 2017-18 NHL season and it’s time to look at what you should expect from the Oilers’ top players.

If you are not familiar with me, I am the Editor-in-Chief of DailyFaceoff.com, where I do yearly projections for all players expected to make NHL rosters this fall. My projections hit the web last Tuesday and today we’ll look at who (I think) the Oilers’ top-10 scorers will be during the upcoming season.

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1. Connor McDavid (C)

Games  Goals Assists  Points 
2016-17 Season Stats 82 30 70 100
2017-18 Projections 82 34 74 108

McDavid was on-pace for 88 points during his rookie season before he had it cut short by a broken clavicle. He returned in 2016-17 with a full bill of health and torched the NHL with 30 goals and 70 assists (100 points) in 82 games.

McDavid is simply sensational, combining ridiculous mitts with outrageous speed and has become the class of the field in just 127 regular season games. McDavid might win the scoring race for the next decade and he is the only player in the NHL that you can confidently project to score over 100 points.

2. Leon Draisaitl (C/RW)

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Games  Goals Assists  Points 
2016-17 Season Stats 82 29 48 77
2017-18 Projections 82 27 48 75

In 2015-16, Draisaitl showcased what he is capable of by producing 51 points (19G / 32A) in 72 games. He took his game to another level last year, finishing the year eighth in the NHL in points (77), tied for ninth in assists (48) and tied for 27th in goals (29).

Draisaitl spent a lot of time on McDavid’s wing, but he is expected to play centre during the 2017-18 season—he was between Milan Lucic and Drake Caggiula during the first day of training camp. The 21-year-old playing on the second line makes the Oilers a much deeper team and his great playmaking ability should help bring along the Oilers’ wingers.

3. Milan Lucic (LW)

Games  Goals Assists  Points 
2016-17 Season Stats 82 23 27 50
2017-18 Projections 82 22 32 54

Lucic’s Oilers career got off to a solid start, posting 17 points (7G / 10A) in his first 24 games, but cooled off in January and February, registering just nine points in 26 games. He ended up finishing the year on a high, and recorded 50-plus points for five times in the last six full seasons.

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The 29-year-old winger is a big physical presence, who is a safe bet for 20 goals and 25-plus assists, with upside. Lucic will either play with McDavid or Draisaitl, giving him a tonne of potential for success in his second year in Edmonton.

4. Jussi Jokinen (LW)

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Games  Goals Assists  Points 
2016-17 Season Stats 69 11 17 28
2017-18 Projections 81 17 37 54

Jokinen is one of the most underrated forwards in the NHL and the Oilers landed a sneaky signing this summer, inking the veteran to a one-year deal worth $1.1 million. Jokinen isn’t going to score 25 goals, but he is just one year removed from a 42-assist, 60-point season and will help a young Oilers’ forward group. Jokinen is a great playmaker, who will help players like Jesse Puljujarvi find the back of the net this season.

5. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (C)

Games  Goals Assists  Points 
2016-17 Season Stats 82 18 25 43
2017-18 Projections 73 19 31 50

Nugent-Hopkins has yet to blossom into the elite-level forward that he was expected to become when he was drafted No.1 overall in 2011. RNH has a career-high of 56 points and has not topped 50 points in the last two seasons.

Nugent-Hopkins is a strong playmaker thanks to his great vision, but he has fallen behind McDavid and Draisaitl on the depth chart, limiting his upside entering the 2017-18 campaign.

6. Ryan Strome (C/RW)

Games  Goals Assists  Points 
2016-17 Season Stats 69 13 17 30
2017-18 Projections 74 16 31 47

Strome was the No.5 overall pick in 2011 (four spots after RNH) and it looked like was going to have a great career after recording 50 points (17G / 33A) in his second NHL season. Since then he has just 21 goals and 37 assists (58 points) in his last 140 games and was acquired for Jordan Eberle this summer.

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During the first day of training camp, Strome skated on McDavid’s wing which makes him a potential breakout candidate, if that sticks. He has the ability to play centre as well, so if the Oilers elect to move Draisaitl back to the wing, Strome could take his spot in the middle.

The 24-year-old has great hands and playmaking ability, which makes him a nice fit with Connor and Patrick Maroon.

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7. Patrick Maroon (LW)

Games  Goals Assists  Points 
2016-17 Season Stats 81 27 15 42
2017-18 Projections 78 21 22 43

Maroon registered just 34 goals in his first 220 career NHL games, but exploded for 27 goals in 81 games last year. Maroon wasn’t expected to play on McDavid’s wing, but that’s what happened and the big winger (6-foot-3 / 227 lbs.) enjoyed a tonne of success.

It’s tough to expect Maroon to re-create this numbers in 2017-18 but playing alongside McDavid makes anything possible. Maroon skated with two great playmakers (McDavid and Strome) in the first day of training camp, making the 29-year-old an obvious 20-goal candidate.

8. Jesse Puljujarvi (RW)

Games  Goals Assists  Points 
2016-17 Season Stats 28 1 7 8
2017-18 Projections 72 14 20 34

Puljujarvi was drafted No.4 overall last summer and made the Oilers out of training camp, but found himself back in Bakersfield (AHL) after 28 games. He struggled to make an impact with the Oilers, but had 28 points (12G / 16A) in 39 AHL games and comes into 2017-18 expected to make the team yet again.

The 19-year-old moves well for a big-man (6-foot-4 / 203 lbs.) and has gamebreakinig talent and an elite-level shot. Puljujarvi skated on the third line in training camp on Monday, but he doesn’t have too much competition for a promotion—currently Strome and Caggiula stand in his way from playing with McDavid.

9. Oscar Klefbom (D)

Games  Goals Assists  Points 
2016-17 Season Stats 82 12 26 38
2017-18 Projections 82 8 26 34

Klefbom has a great two-way game, which allowed the Oilers to lean heavily on him last year. Klefbom saw a big uptick in power-play time and he turned that into 16 power-play points (3G / 13A). The 24-year-old is one of the top young defenseman in the NHL and he is a candidate for double-digit goals and 25-plus assists again this season.

10. Mark Letestu (C)

Games  Goals Assists  Points 
2016-17 Season Stats 78 16 19 35
2017-18 Projections 79 14 19 33

Letestu is an unusual commodity. In 2016-17, he averaged just 9:49 TOI/GM at even-strength but played over two minutes per night on both the power-play and penalty kill. He was able to parlay all of the PP usage into 11 PPG’s and a career-high 35 points. The veteran will continue to be a weapon on the Oilers’ power-play.

  • Spydyr

    Coach McLellan pretty well said now that Nuge does not have to cover so much for the defensive ineptitude of his linemates (cough Eberle cough) he expects more offence from him. So do I and would put him third in scoring behind only McDavid and Draisaitl.

    • Max Powers

      Not sure if I see Nuge being 3rd overall, basing this on the fact that at least one of Connor’s and Leon’s linemates will be there too. If Nuge centres the 3rd line he will be fighting for minutes.

  • Jordan88

    I could see Zack Kassian netting 20 in a season. He is still a young man and I have a feeling with his performance last year, his new commitment to a clean life and the fact he has become a fan favorite in a city that once loathed his existence will be enough to help propel him to that 20 goal a season player. Put him on a line with a good two way center who can get him the puck and he can do the rest. He has highly under rated hands and I seen aspects of a goal scorers touch last season with the Oilers.

    • Max Powers

      Would love to see Zack score 20 but he won’t unless he’s on one of the top 2 lines. He won’t be getting PP time either so he would need to be a beast at even strength to get to 20.

  • TKB2677

    Not bad on the predictions. The only one I don’t agree with is Klefbom. He had 38 pts last year and that was with not being on the first unit PP to start. He’s going to be on the first unit PP game one so I don’t see how he drops in points.

  • toprightcorner

    Some of these projections have me scratching my head. Firstly you predict Draisaitl as 2C playing with Lucic and Caggulia and I am fine with that. But how can you have Lucic scoring less goals and only 4 more points than the previous year when he had a career worst even strength scoring and played mostly with Nuge, a 43pt player? You have Draisaitl scoring basically the same and if Lucic plays with him the entire season, there is no way he doesn’t score at least 25 goals and over 60 pts. The Oilers cannot have 2 centers who outscore their wingers by 50%.

    If you have Caggulia, how does he not get into your top 10? Either you don’t say thats where he will play or you project he gets in the 40 pt range.

    Not a chance Letestu repeats his career year. He wont score 11 PPGs again, with Strome here, his PP time will drop significantly. He will be lucky to score 25 pts and I am fine with that.

    No Chance Klefbom scores less than last year, he score 70% of his points in the last 40 games of the season as he was getting comfortable after missing most of the previous year. He will take some of Sekera’s PP time and will be primed to score at least 45 pts and score 15 goals.

    Ryan Strome is someone you project to play on the top line, not chance he only scores 47 pts along McDavid, it is physically impossible for both of McDavids wingers to score less than half the points as him. If he plays the season there, he is on that line for the season, he will be very close to 60 pts and score over 20 goals. If he splits time between 1RW and 3C, then your prediction is about right. I just dont see how you can have your 3LW in Jokinen score 7 more pts than McDavids winger.

    McDavid – 37 goals – 112 pts
    Draisaitl – 28 goals – 72 pts
    Lucic – 26 goals – 62 pts
    Strome – 21 goals – 60 pts
    Nuge – 19 goals – 52 pts
    Maroon – 24 goals – 52 pts
    Jokinen – 15 goals – 46 pts
    Klefbom – 15 goals – 46 pts
    Caggulia – 16 goals 44 pts
    Puljujarvi – 13 goals – 32 pts