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Photo Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

22 points for Lucic?

It’s my favourite time of the year, point prediction season. I’m a junkie. If I could roll up the Hockey News Ultimate Pool Guide and smoke it, I would. If there was a way to snort the Sports Forecaster I’d be high every single day. I will buy every magazine on the shelf and any guide I can find online as well. Now, with all that being said, most of them drive me crazy.

The Hockey News is predicting Milan Lucic to finish with 22 points this season — 22 POINTS! Last year was an absolute disaster and he still managed to finish with 34 points while shooting just 6.8%. Basically, the folks over at the Hockey News are predicting Lucic to continue to decline, which isn’t a crazy thought, but just 22 points seems like overkill to me.

Here are all the predictions for the Oilers and my thoughts on each of them.

FORWARDS

Mar 31, 2018; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) during the first period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Connor McDavid – 114 points

I’m expecting McDavid to surpass 114 points this season but I do think the number is a reasonable expectation. The only thing stopping McDavid from hitting 114 points would be an injury. If the captain is healthy and plays all 82 games I’d be surprised if he doesn’t reach that total.

Leon Draisaitl – 75 points

This would be a five-point boost for Draisaitl over last season and I think most of us would be happy with 75 points from the big German. If he does hit 75 points it will be three consecutive years with at least 70 and there aren’t a lot of players in the NHL with that level of consistency.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – 60 points

This would be a career year for Nuge but at the same time, I may be a little disappointed if he finishes with just 60 points. If Nugent-Hopkins spends the majority of the season with McDavid I think fair expectations would need to be in the point-per-game range. 

Tobias Rieder – 33 points

The Hockey News is projecting a significant drop between third and fourth in scoring on the Oilers for a second straight season. I will be shocked if the Oilers don’t have a 4th forward with at least 40 points and Rieder is a candidate to do just that. Todd McLellan may once again spend the majority of the year juggling the lines but if he doesn’t there will be one or two additional players on the plus side of 40.

Ryan Strome – 33 points

This projection is also a little low for my liking. Strome should see consistent time on the second unit power-play and rather favourable match-ups 5-on-5. It wouldn’t be bad to get 33 points from a third line centre but I would set my sights just a bit higher.

Jesse Puljujarvi – 31 points

A small step in the right direction this season for Jesse Puljujarvi may not be enough for some folks. If the big Finn is able to hit the 20-goal range as a 20-year old I think most people would consider that to be a successful season.

Drake Caggiula – 27 points

Caggiula produced at 24 point pace last season so this would basically be par for the course. This seems like a reasonable expectation for a forward that should have a hard time finding minutes in the top six.

Kailer Yamamoto – 27 points

I’m not expecting Yamamoto to be a regular in the line up until at least the midway point of the season so this number may be attainable. If Yamamoto managed to put up 27-points in 40 games we would have to consider that a positive season.

Jujhar Khaira – 24 points

Khaira had 21 points in 60 games with the Oilers last season so they aren’t predicting much progress from the emerging power forward. I think most people would be satisfied If Khaira can provide solid two-way play, stand up for his teammates and give you 25 points in a bottom six role.

Milan Lucic -22 points

I wouldn’t be shocked if Lucic begins the season in the top six and on the top unit power-play. In order for him to finish the season with just 22 points, he’d basically have to be stuck on the third line all year with no opportunity on the man advantage. I’d say even a 30-point season would be the low point for Lucic.

Zack Kassian – 22 points

A little jump on the fourth line, physical play and around 20 points would be another solid year for Kassian.

Kyle Brodziak – 22 points

I think 22 points for a fourth line centre is a solid number. Brodziak wasn’t brought in to provide offence.

Ty Rattie – 21 points

I don’t like this number for Rattie. I think he’ll either end up with less than 10 points or more than 40. The 21 point prediction falls in line with what other bottom six forwards are being projected at, and Rattie won’t be in the bottom six.

Pontus Aberg – 15 points

I’m likely in the minority for this one but I’m going to say Aberg doubles this total. No, I haven’t been drinking.

DEFENCE

Mar 17, 2018; Sunrise, FL, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his goal against the Florida Panthers with defenseman Darnell Nurse (25) in the third period at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Darnell Nurse – 35 points

Nurse had 26 points last season with the majority of his damage being done at even strength. If he’s going to be in the 35-point range he’d have to get some regular time on the power-play and I’m not sure the coaching staff is going to give him that opportunity.

Oscar Klefbom – 30 points

I’m assuming the Hockey New is expecting Klefbom to be injured again, and who can blame them? If the sexy Swede stays healthy and finishes with just 30 points it may be time to move on. I only say that because I expect him to be the go-to guy on the top unit power-play and at some point that needs to pay off offensively.

Matt Benning – 22 points

I would have Benning on the second unit power-play and if he was he would have no problem hitting 22 points. Heck, he had 21 points last season.

Ethan Bear – 20 points

Unless the blueline is ravaged by injuries again I don’t see Bear being around long enough to hit the 20-point plateau.

Kris Russell – 19 points

Russell had 21 points last season, not including the goal he fired into his own net.

Evan Bouchard – 18 points

If Bouchard is on the Oilers it will likely be in a third pairing/second power-play role. In the end an 18-point season for a 19-year old blueliner wouldn’t be the end of the world.

Adam Larsson – 18 points

This is slightly above the rate he was producing at last season.

Andrej Sekera – 18 points

Not any more.

IN CLOSING

I have a hard time believing that for a second straight season the Oilers only end up having three forwards crack the 40-point mark. I’m confident in saying that five forwards will end up finishing with more than 40-points which means two of Reider, Lucic, Rattie or Puljujarvi would have to hit that mark, does that seem that crazy?

Previously by Dustin Nielson:

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      Ugh… Accidentally hit post while typing. The FIST was to be followed up by something more constructive. If RNH and McEverything are together the whole season I think 60pts is some sort of joke for Nuge. These guys clearly think the game similarly and Nuge has very underrated speed. Interesting fact: I watch a lot of Oilers games via American streams and last year the announcers mistook Nuge for Connor dozens and dozens of times (not kidding). RNH gets 80 if everyone stays healthy. Leon should get at least 60 (wait!!! don’t boo yet), but the dude needs some help to get to 70-80. SOMEONE (Rieder, Aberg, Yamamoto, Rattie, Lucic, Kaihra, etc) has to step up and click with the big guy. He can’t do it alone. I think whoever plays D on the new (IT BETTER BE NEW) PP units will have better-than-projected totals as well. Whethe

      • OriginalPouzar

        I don’t think they will spend the entire year together – that would presume that center core is healthy for the entire season. I think Nuge will play a little bit of everywhere this year.

        • Beer_League_Ringer

          Valid point. Hockey is a tough sport. I just think RNH is underrated in an offensive role and playing with the best offensive player in history is going to open some eyes this year. I expect them to have the puck A LOT.

          • Stack Pad Save

            I also think the Oilers special teams are going to be way better this year and if that happens you can expect to see a bump in point totals. I think Leon will be a beast on the PP this season and maintains his point totals, however I think his 5 x5 points will drop as the Oilers don’t really have a 2nd line unless they can find someone that can produce alongside Leon.

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      I hope Looch reads that prediction and takes it as a personal challenge to shut those fools up. 22pts? That’s crazy. I am happy with 40pts, his terrifying presence, 200-250 hits, and about a half-dozen to 10 vicious beatdowns of opponents running amuck (hopefully a Duck or two in there).

    • GK1980

      If Lucic gets 40+ points the Oilers should be in the playoff race if not in the playoffs. Big year this year for the team. Pressure is higher then normal this year then in previous years. I have no idea what team will show up this year. Nobody does.

    • CMG30

      Based on what? The fact that he’s another year into his thirties or the fact that the game keeps getting faster? Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see a 60pt season from Lucic but from an objective perspective, all available evidence points to a declining player.

  • Abagofpucks

    Didnt theses same ppl at the hockey news predict a steller year for the Oilers last year.
    I wouldnt take it to seriously they seem to be wrong about us a lot. I just hope the team as a whole bring’s it this year.

    • Reg Dunlop

      Typical Toronto-centric media. The only Oiler games they see are on eastern roadies. The rest of the games are on too late for the poor babies, past their beddie-bye time.

  • FISTO Siltanen

    If Kailer Yamamoto is only getting 27 points…why would the Oilers burn a year of his entry level deal when they could apprentice him in the minors?

    • OriginalPouzar

      They were 8th in the NHL in goals scored in 2016/17 without a 40 point d-man.

      Klef finished with 38 but would have been over 40 if he was moved to PP1 prior to half way through the year.

      • daryl

        This is why we didn’t do anything when Sekera went down but we all know what happened. Peter is going to have to use Sekera’s $5.5 mil and find a replacement(not Faulk) if hr can pull a rabbit out of his hat he will save his job.

  • Derian Hatcher

    When I was a kid I would buy The Hockey News religiously with my paper route money. I read every word in that publication at least once, often twice. I collected them, and re-read them over and over. It really was the “Hockey Bible”. Sadly, these days, The Hockey News is irrelavent, devolving into ridiculous lists and predictions such as this for clicks and attention.

  • toprightcorner

    These projections show there us no common sense used in the calculations. Everyone knows Draisaitl and McDavid will center different lines, it would be impossible for Draisaitl to have 75 points (as a proven successful even strength scorer) and have linemates only scorung mid 30 points. If a player plays 75% of the season with Draisaitl, that player would score an absolute minimum of 45 pts but likely hut the 50 pt plateau.

    Also, having Nurse as the leading scorer in the back end, while never playing on the PP in the past, doesn’t make a lot if sense. I think Nurse could pass the 30 pt plateau, but if Klefbom plays 70 games, not a chance he doesn’t lead the back end in scoring.

    I don’t think there is a hockey mind out there that doesn’t believe that Nuge will be a permanent fixture on McDavids LW. There is no way Nuge scores at half the rate as McDavid, I doubt that is even statistically possible. Nuge will score at least 80 pts over 82 games.

    • Big Nuggets

      I’d say Nurse has a good chance at leading the defense in scoring even if Klef plays the full season. There’s no garauntee Klef finds tye success he had 2 seasons ago and Nurse is probably pushing for powerplay time in his contract negotiations. If Nurse is signing a bridge deal he will want the best opportunity to earn as much as possible next contract, which means scoring points. He is working with Oates and stated he wants to score more. He already had 23 points 5 on 5 and if he gets PP time he could add plenty to that total, if he finds success. There are a lot of people underestimating Nurse’s scoring ability. I’m not claiming Nurse will be the next Pronger, but the young man is clearly driven and has the physical tools to succeed. It’s just a matter of him putting it together. People aslo think Nurse doesn’t have the ‘hockey IQ’ to be a scorer, I don’t buy that. The learning curve is huge from junior to the NHL, especially for defensemen. He has done a great job learning how to play defense, now he has the opportunity to focus more on offense and I’m very interested to see how much he can develop his game.

  • Kevwan

    Hopefully Lucic has 22 points by Christmas.

    Connor will have 140 + points if healthy. The power play will be better and he’s very motivated after last season. Either Drai or Nuge will break 100 points depending on who plays with McDavid……

    I want to have these written down because I think they are realistic.

    • Leichs

      Easy dude, lets not turn into Laff fans here predicting 3 of our players to score over 100 points. If Connor hits 120, Nuge 70-80 and Drai 80 I would be ecstatic. Im really hoping Nuge can put up a ppg playing with Connor but 70 is probably more realistic. I have no doubts that Drai with some solid wingers is an 80 point player but with our current roster I’m hopeful for 70 again.

      • Kevwan

        I’m predicting 2 Oilers score 100 points. Connor and whoever is lucky enough to play with him.

        I think when McDavid comes to camp jaws will drop at the improvement in his game (just like they did at the start of the 16-17 season). He’s extra motivated this summer given how last season played out.

        Of course Im being optimistic but an extra 20 points on the PP seems doable. 12 – 15 extra points because of not losing 10 lbs to the flue and having more consistent linemates isn’t unreasonable. That added to his 108 last year gives him 140+.

        And if Connor has a jump in production – so will his linemates. Here’s to hope.

      • daryl

        Oh ye of little faith this will be Nuge’s year he will be better than last year as he adjusts to Conner and plays the full season. What a gift RNH will turn out to be a scoring winger for Conner and a back up center in case of injuries.

    • daryl

      Just an improvement in the power play will get Conner 120 pts if you factor in his lost month with the terrible flu you may have something here could 50+be in the cards?

  • Protect the Future

    Looch will be fine. This guy has only missed playoffs twice in his career and that is what he s here for. He brings alot more than points when the real season begins.

  • Unfortunately for the Oilers Lucic is an aging, slow thug that is playing a 1990’s type of game in 2018. Players won’t fight him unless they are old dinosaurs like him. His offensive skill has diminished last year to a point he is barely a 4th line player but he will get more ice and power play time this season because the Oilers management has to try and justify his signing. He has become a $ 6 mil per year millstone around the Oilers necks for the next 5 seasons.

  • Last season, Oilers players totalled 613 points.
    You’re predicting 688 player points for an increase of 75 points (~25 more goals).

    Now, a lot of this has to improve on the power play. Let’s see if that’s reasonable.
    First, the Oilers need more power play opportunities and then also convert on those opportunities.

    They had 210 opportunities converting 31 goals for a terrible 14.76 PP%.
    League average is 250 oppps converting 50 goals for 20.18 PP%.

    So if the Oilers had the league average, they’d have 19 more goals and 57 more points (2 assists per goal).

    With predicting 75 more points from last season, 57 of them could be powerplay-generated to the league average, leaving 18 points (6 more goals).

    This is entirely reasonable.

    If the Oilers powerplay becomes better than the league average, they could be above 700 player points.