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.
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.
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.
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?