Let’s just cut to the chase. The Oilers power-play suck last season. I mean I’ve seen power-plays suck before but they were the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked. When you have access to the best player in the world and finish with a power-play efficiency of 14.8% you should be embarrassed.
Peter Chiarelli started to address this when he cleaned out the assistant coaching staff but will a couple of new voices in the coach’s office automatically improve the PP?
The issue facing Todd McLellan and his new look staff is that they are still working with the same weapons they had at the end of last season.
WHAT WE KNOW FOR SURE
I know McDavid and Nugent-Hopkins look to be a dynamic duo at even strength but I’d still be shocked if 97 isn’t once again lined up with Draisaitl on the man advantage.
How ineffective was the Oilers top unit last year? Well, here’s a little bit of a wake-up call. Connor McDavid finished with 20 power-play points, Jeff Petry had 23. The Oilers captain finished 69th in the league in points on the man advantage. The only other Oiler to finish in the top 200 was Draisaitl with 11 points.
In 2016-17, McDavid and Draisaitl each had 27 points and Lucic was right behind them with 25.
The only thing I’d be willing to bet on right now is that McDavid and Draisaitl are once again patrolling the top unit.
WHAT WE THINK IS LIKELY
I think it’s only fair that a healthy Oscar Klefbom gets the first crack on the point with the top unit. Two years ago Klefbom had 16 points power-play points in 82 games. Despite playing only 66 games this past season Klefbom still had the most points among Oilers d-men with six.
Even though he struggled last year Lucic still ended up with the third most power-play time among forwards at 169 minutes. He finished the year with just 7 points, a far cry from the 25 he posted in 16-17.
Unless the Oilers new staff decides to go with an entirely new look I think it’s safe to assume that Lucic and Klefbom will join 97 & 29 on the top unit.
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW
Even though he was traded at the deadline Mark Letestu still finished with the 6th most power-play minutes on the Oilers last season. No matter what the Oilers new PP strategy may look like you have to think they need at least one right shot option on the ice. So who is it?
2017-18 PP Goals Per 60: 0.78
Strome did see some time on the top unit after Letestu was traded and while he didn’t produce at a great clip I didn’t think he looked completely out of place. With Nugent-Hopkins as the centre on your second unit, it opens up Strome to be used in the top group. I wonder if some early season confidence on the power-play would help Strome get going at even strength on the 3rd line.
2017-18 PP Goals Per 60: 0.00
Rattie had 21 minutes of power-play time when he joined the Oilers at the end of the season but wasn’t able to find the back of the net. The silver lining for Rattie is that he did manage to put up a team best 19.34 shots per 60 on the PP. If he makes the team out of camp and is starting on McDavid’s wing it may make sense for him to stay out there on the PP as well.
2017-18 PP Goals Per 60: 2.78
It was in limited action but statistically, Puljujarvi was the most effective right shot on the PP. I would definitely give him a look on the top unit in the pre-season but I’m not sure the coaching staff will be thinking the same way. Last season Puljujarvi played 4:58 on the same PP as McDavid. Yamamoto was only in Edmonton for 9 games and he even played six more minutes with McDavid than JP. Hell, even Pontus Aberg got more time with the captain.
WHAT I WOULD DO
I’ve mentioned this multiple times on my show and I’ll double down on it here at the Nation. With a serious lack of right shot options, I’d shift McDavid over to the left side. You could play McDavid on the left and open up one-timers to Klefbom at the point or Draisaitl in the middle/far side. After icing the worst PP in the league last year why not try this? If you aren’t following along with what I’m trying to say, here is a handing little drawing to explain it.
You’re welcome, Todd McLellan. You’re welcome.