Chiarelli’s comment (6:40) about having wingers and their scoring “being more than adequate” stuck out to me.
"I think our scoring was adequate this year," said Peter Chiarelli a year after the Oilers placed 20th in goals for and missed the playoffs by 19 points.
— Zach Laing (@zjlaing) April 11, 2018
The Oilers have amazing depth at centre. Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins highlight a group that is virtually unchallenged around the league. Add in Ryan Strome as a competent middle-six centre and the Oilers’ depth is even stronger.
They don’t share that depth on the wing. TSN’s Travis Yost looked at the Oilers scoring from the wings in January. He found the Oilers’ wingers scored goals below the average NHL rate and among the worst in the league.
Edmonton finished 20th in goals scored and that was largely driven by McDavid.
The Oilers don’t have a single full-time winger that scored 40 points. Patrick Maroon finished with 43 but in New Jersey. Nugent-Hopkins and Draisaitl surpassed that total but spent more time at centre than wing. One of them will play wing in 2018-19, likely Nugent-Hopkins, but they’ll need more than just Nugent-Hopkins on the wing.
Nugent-Hopkins averages 56 points over 82 games played. He should be able to reach that, maybe even more if he plays a full season beside McDavid.
There isn’t much after that. Milan Lucic has been dreadful 5-on-5 since signing in Edmonton. Maroon was a nice compliment to McDavid, but isn’t here anymore. Jesse Puljujarvi started off with 9 points in 20 games after his callup. He followed that up with 11 points in 45 games.
Things could change quickly. Maybe a move to the wing unlocks Nugent-Hopkins’ offensive potential. Lucic could awake from his two-year, 5-on-5 slumber. Puljujarvi could take another step at age 20. Kailer Yamamoto is highly skilled and might be ready for NHL hockey.
But that’s a lot of ifs and maybes for a team that should be contending. Chiarelli talked about wingers being easier to find and that’s true in theory. Wingers aren’t as important as centers and defencemen, but Chiarelli’s only acquired two wingers that have scored 40 points or more as an Oiler. One of them came to Edmonton with a buyout-proof contract and the other is about to be in the playoffs alongside Taylor Hall.
Having McDavid means you don’t have to have the highest cast of wingers on the roster. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have been able to turn solid players into 50-point guys routinely. But even the Penguins acquired Phil Kessel and Patric Hornqvist. Two guys who provide legitimate scoring.
Nugent-Hopkins’ move to left wing should help, but that still leaves almost nothing on the right wing. Puljujarvi could get there one day, but shouldn’t be counted on in a top-six role next season.
Oilers fans have heard it before, but it bears repeating: Chiarelli’s sent away quality wingers without bringing in talent to replace them. Their scoring and wings aren’t adequate. Not that adequate should be the goal when you have Connor McDavid anyways.
ARTICLE BROUGHT TO YOU BY HOLE’S GREENHOUSES
Did you know that indoor plants can significantly improve your home’s indoor air quality as well as your productivity, focus, & mood?
We’ve made adding indoor plants to your home easy! Check-out our selection available for purchase online and use the promo code NATION for 30% OFF your indoor plant order. Visit: http://www.holesonline.com/indoor-plants