Last week I broke down the Hockey News projections for the Oilers and like usual it left me shaking my head. This week I got my hands on the Sports Forecaster Magazine, which is usually my favourite hockey annual.
I’m not going to say I’m disappointed by the predictions for the Oilers but I will admit I’m a bit confused.
The Sports Forecaster is predicting the Oilers to have three forwards average at least a point per game, three other forwards with more than 40 points and Cam Talbot having a save percentage of .915 yet they think the team will miss the playoffs. It doesn’t add up.
In addition to McDavid, Draisaitl and Nuge all averaging at least a point per game they also have Jesse Puljujarvi finishing with 26 goals. If the big Finnish winger manages to score 26 times the Oilers will be very pleased, not to mention they’ll have to pay the kid. If Puljujarvi gets consistent top six minutes I’d be disappointed if he doesn’t score 20 but in order to hit 26 he’ll probably need some action on the top unit power-play.
Here are all the predictions for the Oilers and my thoughts on each of them.
Connor McDavid – 120 points
This is the exact number I’m predicting for McDavid as well. The captain will have to clip along at 1.42 points per game to reach the 120 mark, a pace I think is reasonable. The magazine has McDavid winning the Art-Ross by a 20-point margin over Sidney Crosby.
Leon Draisaitl – 83 points
Draisaitl fell from 77 points in 2016-17 down to 70 points last season, a drop that some people are completely blowing out of proportion. A 70-point season is nothing to sneeze at and I don’t think anyone should be overly concerned with the body of work Draisaitl put together last season. With all that being said, an 83-point campaign would go a long way towards securing a playoff spot.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – 79 points
If Nugent-Hopkins is going to hit the 79-point plateau he’ll need to spend at least three-quarters of the season riding shotgun with McDavid. They are predicting the Nuge to play 78 games and finish with 79 points, which means he’ll hit a point per game for the first time in his career.
Milan Lucic – 49 points
This would be an extremely nice bounce-back season for Lucic as they have him pencilled in for 20 goals and 29 assists. Prior to last season’s debacle, Lucic had back-to-back 50-point campaigns so 49 points is a reasonable number if he does get back on track.
Jesse Puljujarvi – 48 points
How does 26 goals from Jesse Puljujarvi sound? It sounds like a top six forward to me. In a perfect world, I’d like to see JP start on Draisaitl’s wing and remain there for the entire season. I’d bet money he hits 20 goals if Todd McLellan doesn’t bury him on the third line for half the season.
Ryan Strome – 43 points
This may be shooting a little bit high for Strome but if he can contribute on the power-play it’s not a completely unreachable total. It would be nice to see Strome develop some chemistry with someone on the third line early in the season.
Drake Caggiula – 39 points
I’m sorry but this isn’t going to happen, what more do I need to say?
Tobias Rieder – 35 points
I know a 35-point season from Rieder is more than reasonable but I’m just expecting more based on the fact he should be given some pretty good opportunity offensively in this line-up.
Kailer Yamamoto -31 points
We should note that they have him hitting 31 points in 63 games. If Yamamoto is able to produce at a .49 PPG clip in his rookie season the Oilers will most definitely have something to build on.
Jujhar Khaira – 28 points
Khaira had 21 points in 69 games last year, nice. The most important thing for Khaira will be to remain in the line up every game, if he can do that the rest will take care of itself.
Kyle Brodziak – 22 points
This is the exact same total the Hockey News had predicted for Brodziak so who am I to argue.
Aberg/Rattie/Kassian –Not Available
The Forecaster didn’t have predictions for this trio. They projected the top 400 scorers in the league and none of them factored in.
Oscar Klefbom – 32 points
If Klefbom ends up being a mainstay on the top unit power-play 32 points will be unacceptable. I’m not sure who takes first unit minutes away from him.
Darnell Nurse – 27 points
Considering what Nurse was able to produce at even strength last year I actually think this is a reasonable number.
Evan Bouchard – 24 points
They’ve got Bouchard locked in for 24 points in 50 games but the problem I have with that is if Bouchard is producing .48 PPG he should be in the line up for 82 games.
Matt Benning – 22 points
Last year Benning was at .29 PPG, they’ve got him down for a slight increase to .31 this year.
Adam Larsson – 21 points
Russel/Gravel/Sekera – Not Available
The Forecaster is projecting very good seasons for McDavid (120 pts), Draisaitl (83 pts), Nuge (79 pts), Puljujarvi (26g) and Lucic (49 pts). If all five of those guys reach their projected totals I’d have to disagree with the magazine and say the Oilers actually do make the playoffs. If Caggiula hits 39 points…I’ll print off this article and eat it.