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Photo Credit: © Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The Oilers’ wingers aren’t adequate

Peter Chiarelli spoke to the media Wednesday following what was a very disappointing season for the Edmonton Oilers. If you haven’t had a chance, take some time and watch it here.

Chiarelli’s comment (6:40) about having wingers and their scoring “being more than adequate” stuck out to me.

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.

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    • Hemmercules

      This place is so toxic right now. Nothing but hatred all around if your name isn’t Nuge or McD. See you all in a few months. The Oilers are making the playoffs last year, book it.

      • crabman

        @ Hemmercules, Nooooooooooo!!!!
        Don’t leave me here alone.

        I”m not ready to say they are a lock to make the playoffs next year but I don’t think they are that far off.
        A healthy backend, a little help on the wings, but above all else new people running the special teams. Improve the special teams and this team is a playoff team. I’ve been saying this for a while now. Let’s stay positive.

  • Adequate? What a farce. Management , coaching, scouting, players all inadequate. Like listening to the NDP telling us that stealing our money posed as a carbon tax is actually good for us. Until Lowe, Mac-t, Howson and all the other failures are removed properly and permanently nothing will change. I would wager without their meddling, perhaps the new management/coaching regime would have had more success. Lowe is not involved in hockey ops? Sure and the sun isn’t hot and the sky isn’t blue.

  • Oilman99

    Right now we have three legit NHL scorers Nuge,Drai,and McD. There is work to be done if this team wants to be a contender. Jessie may develop next year, hoping that Yamamoto is a solution is not wise, not sure he can survive playing against men until he gets stronger.

      • Roberto

        Take a look at Nashville’s scoring depth. Or Boston, Or Vegas, or likely most playoff teams I just felt too ill to keep going. Compare their season stats to the Oilers. Many players with 10 – 20 goals vs the Oilers with shockingly few.

    • DannyGallivan

      Exactly. Traded away Hart Trophy candidate for Larsson (top 4 D at best – no offense), a third round draft pick and a third line center (Strome). That was the best trade because we having a 4th C was important so we can move our 2nd and 3rd best C’s to the wing because we traded our best wingers. WTF.

      Hall, Ebs and Maroon had 195 points this past (key word being past, as in over) season for Strome’s 35 points. Now the winger cupboard is bare and we are moving C to W to cover. We dumped salary so we can sign an over the hill W for $6M (same cost at Hall). Sorry, already did that. What’s next?

      • Father of Arius

        Oilers did not trade a Hart Trophy candidate.
        Outside of few groupies, no one outside of Edmonton thought much of Hall. Ask around.
        Why wasn’t Hall every invite on any of Canada teams? Probably because they didn’t think much of him either.

  • Hockey123

    Oilers are the worst team in the league drafting and developing players. Outside their 1st rd picks they are abysmal.
    The management’s cognitive dissonance is truly shocking.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      That’s very 2014 of you! But to me that was The Old Boys Club and not the current amateur scouts. I actually think they have done well the first 3 drafts judging by how many of them from those 3 drafts have now been signed to ELC’s, though yes we all know it doesn’t necessarily guarantee NHL success for all of them.

    • Hemmercules

      Is this fact?? I haven’t been waiting for an article about their drafting. You must have found one somewhere in order to make this statement. Please provide a link for the rest of us.

  • Kr55

    Guess you can argue that our ES scoring was “ok”. If we had just a league average producing PP, we would have scored 20 more goals, resulting in more offence than last year. Can blame last of scoring ability on the PP results too, but there were also some brutal decisions by the coaching staff that handicapped special teams as well.

    In the end though, just adequate is still not near good enough when you have the starting point of the best player in the game. You have to be pretty bad in your lines 2-4 to only be adequate while McDavid is breaking a post-cap era record for ES points.

  • A-Mc

    That Yost article lost me entirely when it read:

    “The crazy thing about the Oilers winger story is that Puljujarvi has been electric for the Oilers this year – perhaps their third best skater, all things considered. It goes to show just how little they’ve received from everyone else in the group.”

    This kind of paragraph makes me think he didn’t watch the games.

  • A-Mc

    Last years 103pt team scored 247 goals, and this years bust of a performance scored 234. 13 goals. Goal scoring, regardless of where it came from, wasn’t the major problem this year.

    Last years 103pt team had 212 goals against and this years team, 263. 51 goals against difference. Clearly this is a major concern and i’d point to this statistic long before i’d make arguments about scoring or even specifically winger scoring.

    These facts are what i believe Chiarelli was speaking to. Scoring was adequate this year, Goals against was not.

    • A-Mc

      Playoff teams with goal totals with in 10 of the Oilers (234):
      Anaheim – 235
      LA – 239
      Columbus – 242
      And close enough: NJ – 248

      PHI, SJ, MIN were close with 251-253GF.

      Playoff teams with in 10 Goals against of the Oilers (263):
      None. Closest was PIT with 250, which is much higher than the rest.

      Goal differential, or more specifically, the Goals Against portion, should be the focus going into next season IMO.

      • LAKID

        Well that would point directly to Talbot. The Chia trade that sent a 4th round pick to the Habs for a goalie that was going on waivers in Montoya. Chia now probably has to give up another pick or player for a Legitimate #1 goaltender as Talbot is not a starter.

    • madjam

      Goaltending and Defence sucked most of the season , and had a domino effect on the the Scorers and special teams . No coach or staff could have faired any better with the poor job Chia did in staffing this team – doomed to failure by Chia’s multiple mis -assessments .

      • A-Mc

        I agree with the Defense being the #1 problem this year.
        Exhibit A) Sekera Injury. Massive hole to fill considering he played 21:50/gp last year and 21:28/gp the year before.

        It is my opinion that this was the biggest contributor to the Oilers missing the playoffs. You cannot remove 22 minutes of top D time and expect to keep your head above water. The rest of the D had to play higher up than they should have AND….

        Exhibit B) Klefbom Injury. The guy was playing injured all season and being asked to pickup the slack for Sekera being out of the lineup. This was an impossible situation to come out ahead. While Chiarelli didnt know this was going to be the case heading INTO the season, it sounded like he knew well in advance of christmas, that Klef was in trouble and therefore i think he should have pulled the trigger on bringing in a D.

        When the Defense is a mess in front of your goalie, your goalie is going to take a hit in performance. Part of Talbots decline, IMO was due to the Defense in front of him, and the rest is on him; he needed to be better.

    • With proper scoring wingers, the team should have been in the 270-290 goal range like Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay. Looking at averages, yes, 234 should be adequate but when you have the world’s best hockey player plus two strong playmaking centres in the middle 6, no it’s not adequate at all.

      • crabman

        @for ever 1915, It’s Pittsburge’s 68 ppg to the Oilers 31 that make the difference there.
        Tampa had 66 ppg and 45 goals from the blue line compared to the Oilers 31 ppg and 32 defenceman goals.
        The production from the wings wasn’t the nail in the coffin and besides center, our center depth is great, the wing is the least of our problems.

  • GK1980

    All I read is the title. This is true but luckily I believe this is the easiest position to tweek and improve over all other positions. Get it done Chiarelli! I believe in you……..

  • lee

    Columbus traded Sadd and Johansen for Panarin and Jones both of these players are stars, top, top players.
    Hall and Eberle are easily as good as Saad and Johansen , but look at the returns, Larsson instead of Jones and Strome instead of Panarin yikes.

    • crabman

      Good comparisons…..sort of. It was well documented that Nashville want’t a center and Nuge wasn’t doing it for them. And Chicago sending away Panarin for cap relief next year stinks like a Chiarelli trade. I would have loved to see a Panarin for Eberle deal but Chicago was going back to someone familiar that they had a great deal of success with and would have seen more value in him.

  • TKB2677

    I am not here to stick up for management because I am pissed off at them and think they have made some stupid moves and I honestly don’t know how they will get out of the mess they created. They deserve to be bashed.

    However, what I can’t stand is when I see Oilers fans while they are bashing them say what I think is absolute nonsense. If you want to use the Reinhart trade as ammunition. Have at it. There is absolutely no possible way ANYONE can defend that trade. The Oilers traded a first and second and have NOTHING for it. It was a terrible trade. But what drives me nuts if when people use the Hall trade and then say “look, we traded away an MVP and only got Larsson”. No they didn’t. They traded away high 20’s in goals, just above 60 pts winger who as the face of the franchise for years, never elevated that team to ANYTHING. He wasn’t a leader, he was a down in the dumps, mail it in at the end of the year guy. By his own admission in a live interview this year, he for his entire Oilers career did not buy into what the coaches were saying. He didn’t have good communication with the coaches and he did his own thing. What the Oilers traded was the player the Devils had last season. In 72 games, he had 20 goals, 53 pts on a losing team. Pro rate it out his numbers, that is 23 goals, 60 pts. That’s who they traded.

    Now Hall by his own admission decided in the offseason last year to change as a player and we see what he did this season as a result. A no time did the Oilers EVER have this Hall. If you look at the Devils roster, he is 41 pts better. When Hall was an Oiler, he was NEVER that far off anyone. SO he had more help on the Oilers. If the Oilers got even 3/4 of this Hall, they would have been better. He wasn’t even CLOSE to the player he decided to be this year. If anyone thinks that Hall would have been this player if he was still an Oiler, you got no clue what you are talking about. Not a chance in hell Hall would be the player he is today if he was an Oiler. He would still be the same mediocre Hall we watched for 6 seasons. WHY? Hall is a player who wants to “be the man” and he finally figured out this past offseason that in order to be the man, he had to change. If he was an Oiler, he was NEVER going to be the man because McDavid is here.

    • crabman

      @TKB2677, I had a big long essay response that for whatever reason didn’y post. So here is the gist, agree Hall.was never going to be this good here. Disagree he was ever mediocre. He was an allstar, more than a pt/g player 2 out of 6 seasons and if not for injury issues a 70+ pt guy. Nothing mediocre about that.
      I still make the trade but want more back like at least a 2nd fo recoup the 2nd lost for hiring Chiarelli.

      • crabman

        Hall and McDavid looked awful together and ultimately were separated. But Hall and Draisaitl on a 2nd line with Nuge and McDavid on the 1st that’s one hell of a 1 2 punch.
        But Hall is gone and it’s time to move on.

  • crabman

    Trading away Hall, Eberle, and Maroon all weakened scoring from the wings. No one will argue it didn’t and now it is time to move on.
    I don’t think scoring from the wings is as big an issue going forward as you are framing it. Sure Lucic as the teams highest scoring “fulltime” winger left on the team looks ugly. But McDavid spend just under 50% of his 5×5 minutes with 1 of Draisaitl or Nuge on his wing. Next year there is a very good chance Nuge is his fulltime winger and to suggest he “may” outscore his career high is crazy. McDavid and Nuge have already shown they have chemistry and put back together I have no doubt Nuge is good for at least 60-65 points making him at least a top 10-15 scoring leftwinger in the league. If Luic rebounds to 40-45 pts, which isn’t unreasonable to think, that puts him as top 30-36 in scoring for LW. A bottom of the league 1st line LW or top of the league 2nd line LW. Even coming back with 35 pts he would be a middle of the road 2nd line LW.
    Rattie, in his small sample size of 14 games, has .64pt/g scoring prorated to 52 pts all at evens. that puts him well within the top 31 (1st line production) in RW scoring. even if he dropped to 40pts on McDavid’s wing he would be top 33.
    Aberg, in his small sample size of 16 games, has .50pt/g or 41pts/season prorated. again good production for a tip end 2nd line winger.

    I don’t don’t go into next year with this team in hope’s that everyone who produced at the end of the season will keep it going. I would add another top6 winger and expect Lucic to be on the 3rd line next year. But With 2 young elite centers, one being the best player in the league, and a potential elite LW in Nuge the addition of another top6 winger who you can count on for at least 45 points and scoring isn’t going to be an issue and isn’t something I’m worried about. fixing the special teams and keeping the puck out of our own zone, and net, makes us a playoff team before upgrading the wings. Fix this teams problems and add to the wing and this team will be even better.

  • Snoop Scottie Dogg

    I wish PC would have packaged Hall and Ebs together to get a No.1 d-man and a middle six forward (or a boat load of draft picks). I know that I wasn’t in the room when the negotiations were happening but there must have been a better deal out there (see Duchene trade). I hope PC bum still hurts.

  • RJ

    The P/60 stat is an interesting one. If you look at the stat, JP produced like a top-six winger but he didn’t get the TOI. Instead they gave a lot of ice time to Lucic and Caggiula, who produced like 4th liners.

    That stat suggests that the team would be best served with far less TOI for Lucic and possibly walking away from Caggiula or at least greatly reduced ice time.