The Edmonton Oilers have a problem when Connor McDavid isn’t on the ice. McDavid’s been doing McDavid things, but he can only play 20 minutes a game.
McDavid’s on pace for another 99-point season, yet the Oilers are at the bottom of the standings. There’s a few reasons: Cam Talbot’s save percentage has dropped from .919 to .903, their power play and penalty kill are 31st in the league, and they get badly outscored when McDavid isn’t on the ice.
17-18 EDM CF% and GF% (5-on-5) With and Without McDavid
McDavid drives things for Edmonton. With him on the ice, they out-shoot, out-attempt, and out-score the opposition. The Oilers have outscored teams 61GF-46GA (+15) with McDavid on the ice. They have one of the best first lines in the league as long as they McDavid.
Without McDavid, things aren’t great. They’re average in terms of shot attempts but get outscored 69GF-95GA (-26). Edmonton’s save percentage has dropped from .929 without McDavid in 16-17 to .915 this season.
Their GF% without McDavid is comparable to the Buffalo Sabres. Although, the Sabres without Ryan O’Reilly or Jack Eichel see a drop into the high thirties.
McDavid’s played 100 minutes 5-on-5 with five players: Patrick Maroon, Leon Draisaitl, Milan Lucic, Jesse Puljujarvi, Drake Caggiula.
That leaves 12 players who have at least 400 minutes away from McDavid: Ryan Strome, Zack Kassian, Mark Letestu, Jujhar Khaira, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Milan Lucic, Drake Caggiula, Mike Cammalleri, Leon Draisaitl, Anton Slepyshev, Iiro Pakarinen.
That group has some good players but hasn’t been able to outscore their opposition without McDavid this season.
Last season, there was a similar divide between the Oilers destroying teams with McDavid on the ice and being average when he’s on the bench.
16-17 EDM CF% and GF% (5-on-5) With and Without McDavid
Connor McDavid: Destroyer of worlds.
The gap in goals has grown since last year, while shot attempts have slightly improved. The Oilers were respectable in terms of goals without McDavid last season, but are getting caved in this season. Last season, they demolished the opposition 77GF-47GA (+30) with McDavid and were almost even without, 89GF-93GA (-4).
The biggest difference in ice time without McDavid is Strome leads the non-McDavid group with RNH injured. Benoit Pouliot and Jordan Eberle are gone. Tyler Pitlick had a nice run in 30 games but signed in Dallas. They’re on pace for a similar amount of non-McDavid goals, but their goals against without McDavid is much worse.
How can they improve when McDavid’s not on the ice, or are the Oilers just not getting as many saves as last season when McDavid’s on the bench?
Last year the Oilers had a better save percentage with McDavid on the bench than with. Both have fallen this year and the non-McDavid group is now lower. I’d expect that to be the case and maybe last year’s save percentage masked some deficiencies the Oilers had without McDavid 5-on-5.
In 2016-17, Leon Draisaitl spent just over half his time with McDavid at 5-on-5. This season he’s spent 44% of the season with McDavid. Can Draisaitl be a full-time centre and help the Oilers score more when McDavid’s not on the ice? McDavid’s probably going to outscore the opposition with just about anybody.
The Oilers have to find a way to improve when McDavid’s not on the ice. McDavid’s line makes things look better than they are for Edmonton 5-on-5. Edmonton needs to be better 5-on-5 without McDavid, or the rest of the roster will give back everything the McDavid line creates.