Photo Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Looking into the Oilers lack of depth scoring

Tuesday’s loss to the Dallas Stars was a sobering reminder of what this hockey club looks like without Connor McDavid. They are a dull team, who can stay competitive in any given game, but lack their offensive engine. There was no ‘wow factor’. There was not one point in that hockey game where I was impressed by an offensive chance the Oilers generated. That game was so much less fun to watch than any other game we’ve seen this season.

We all appreciate Connor McDavid and what he does, but maybe, just a little, we take for granted how much fun he makes it fun to be an Oilers fan.

While last night reminded fans just how boring the team can be without #97 in the lineup, don’t forget that the Oilers deal with that reality on almost a nightly basis. There is a massive difference between the quality of hockey when McDavid is on the ice compared to when he’s off the ice.

If you want to take that even a step further you could look at the difference when the Oilers top six, a line centred by either McDavid, Leon Draisaitl or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, is on the ice compared to when they’re not. Here are their numbers at 5v5:

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ON THE ICE GF% Scoring Chances For %
McDavid & Nugent-Hopkins 55.33% 55.88%
McDavid & Draisaitl 55.56% 54.60%
Just Draisaitl 46.15% 48.85%
Just Nugent-Hopkins 45.45% 36.75%
None of 97/29/93 33.33% 48.20%

(all numbers via naturalstattrick.com)

The difference is right in those numbers. The bottom six can still generate scoring chances, but they simply cannot find the back of the net. That’s simply due to a lack of skill in my opinion. It’s not like they’re costing the Oilers wins. In 27 games this season, the Oilers have given up 18 even strength goals while McDavid, Nugent-Hopkins, and Draisaitl are off the ice. That isn’t detrimental but it’s far from great, or even acceptable, in my opinion.

What I get from that number, and what I get from watching the team play, is that the bottom part of the lineup does a fairly decent job of generating chances, they just don’t have the skill to finish off those chances.

Since Ken Hitchcock took over, the Oilers have played in seven games. In those games, their forwards have generated a combined 114 scoring chances at 5v5. I counted up those scoring chances and found that 67 of those chances came from players in their top six and 47 of them came from players in their bottom six.

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Now, that math isn’t perfect because McDavid got shifts with players in the bottom six, so that could skew the numbers but generally, I think this gives us a good look.

So in short: 57.76% of the 5v5 scoring chances generated by their forward group came from their top six and the other 42.24% came from players that play in their bottom six.

Those splits are actually pretty decent and if you look just at that, you would be led to believe that the Oilers have actually been getting some good offensive support from the bottom of their lineup.

Then you go back through the 5v5 goals that the Oilers have gotten since Hitchcock took over, and it tells a different story. By my count, the Oilers have scored eight goals 5v5 in their last seven games. Those goals have been scored by McDavid (x2), Nugent-Hopkins, Caggiula, Chiasson, Puljujarvi, Spooner, and Khaira.

Take away the fact that Khaira scored his goal while playing with Leon Draisaitl and you get one goal scored by someone who wasn’t playing in the top six. That’s far from good enough.

The Oilers don’t need their bottom six to chip in a goal every game, that’s not what I’m saying, but they need more than one 5v5 goal every seven games from them. This isn’t a knock on Hitchcock or anything like that, it’s far from it. But what I take away from the numbers that I have laid out is that the Oilers bottom six doesn’t have a problem generating chances, but they aren’t skilled enough to finish those chances.

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The Oilers need more skill in their bottom six and they don’t have it on their roster right now.

Could Valentin Zykov provide a spark? Sure, he also has natural finishing ability. There is potential there. I believe Ryan Spooner can be better than what he’s currently showing. I think Ty Rattie has some natural finishing ability but he can’t do it on his own.

They have some nice pieces, but they’re lacking a significant piece that can really change the look of their bottom six. How can get they get that piece? I wouldn’t mind seeing a trade to address this.

It might have to wait until closer to the trade deadline but given how poor the Pacific Division is, I think the Oilers are in a position where they can sacrifice a draft pick and a lower level prospect for a proven forward that can come in and give their bottom six a legitimate boost.

  • OilersGM

    When you trade away your Aces for 9-10-and Jacks this becomes the outcome and that’s what Chia has done. How is he still employed, he is getting away with murder. Once Chia is fired from here (it’s inevitable) he will never ever get a GM job again in the NHL.

  • FlamesFan27

    Most teams have the same problem with a lack of scoring from their bottom six. There is a reason why the players are “bottom six”, they don’t have the same skill as the “top six”. But, I don’t think the problem with the Oilers is so much at the bottom of the forward line-up – I think the issue is more in the #4-#6 range. McDavid is out of this world, Drai is excellent, and RNH is very good. After that the skill level drops off a long way.

  • How are the Oilers bottom six compared to other teams?

    Perhaps we should compare their actual ice time to GF% and Chances. Of course, the bottom six doesn’t get as much ice time, so they shoot when they can because they have less time to even generate a chance or shot on net, let alone a Grade “A” one.

    And how are the Oilers defense in scoring compared to other teams? Likely near the bottom.

  • Heschultzhescores

    You pretty much described our situation exactly. We need the bottom 6 to crash the net more. Be there for rebounds, that is the kind of goals non skill guys can get. Even Looch isn’t tight enough to the net for junk goals.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006


    The Oilers wingers have scored 18 goals 5vs5, not including Leon and RNH.

    By comparison,

    Arizona has 16
    Colorado has 19
    Dallas has 19
    Florida has 18
    LA has 19
    STL has 17
    Tampa has 18

    But sure, it’s just Edmonton who sucks lol what a joke

  • Leichs

    These shaw ads seem to be getting worse. Ive been on the site for 20 seconds, didn’t finish the first two paragraphs before being redirected twice. How is it possible that you cannot fix this issue? Like really… Its been months if not years.

    • Bthequeen

      Use Google Chrome for your browser.
      Look up Easy Ad Blocker in Google’s browser extensions (tiny yellow circle with white dot on the top right of the Chrome browser window).
      Install it.
      Look for the little red stop sign in the top right of the browser bar, to indicate extension install success.
      It’s one of the best pop-up blockers available.
      If you hate Google – just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they aren’t after you – switch to a browser called Brave.

  • camdog

    With the the best offensive player In the game the Oilers are 30th in goals per 60 at even strength, at 1.84 goals per 60. McDavid is outside top 15 in even strength points. It’s not just the forwards that have trouble generating offence, the d isn’t very good as well. The Oilers are holding McDavid back, if he played on another team he’d be scoring a lot more.

    • Atomic Clown

      We accept, but you have to take El Cid back. Dude doesn’t even know how to troll, and most of his posts are riddled with spelling and grammatical errors

  • Siiiigh… the entire time I read this; all I could think about was Taylor Hall @ 6 Mil a year…
    I know we needed a D. I liked Larson then, and I like him now, but doesnt it seem like Hall could have squeezed a couple of round picks or maybe even a late first, and a Larson? Your bottom 6 wouldnt need offense if your top 6 had McHall and Draihoppy in it. Then when you feel justified to play a guy on the pp cause hes getting 6 mil you wouldn’t have to think twice about it.

    This guy has his name on 3 of the worst trades of all time and he is still our GM. We build this team a brand new arena, we pay 150 to sit in the nosebleeds (forfeit a mortgage to buy a single beer),we get the best player since Sid and Ovi, and we continue to support a team ran by Peter Chiareli… This guy has hamstrung this team so so bad. I was mad and now I am just disappointed.

    Sorry this guy is wasting your time Connor, it would have seemed impossible to waste your talent, but Pete made it look easy…

    Anger becomes disappointing complacency.

    We accidentally have gotten a good coach so dont waste him either and trash this guy. Literally hire anyone that has posted on these forums; It actually couldn’t be worse…

  • Abagofpucks

    I’m getting sick of hearing how the Oiler’s are wasting Mcdavid’s talent, he’s on a team in a hockey mad city that need’s him in every way possible. And they pay him 12.5 million a year which makes him the highest paid player in the league. There isnt a hockey team in the world that wouldn’t want him. If your logic is because the Oiler’s aren’t going to win a cup this year or next, then your a complete (IDIOT) he’s 21, there’s lot’s of time for this team to get better. All our bad contract’s will be gone in 2 year’s and Chia will be gone too, likely before this. If you are a true fan of the Oiler’s you wouldn’t even think about trading him away for any reason. I for one am willing to wait till all these thing’s that suck go away and we have a healthy cap space and a better Gm. Till then i’m gonna watch the best hockey player on the planet and love every minute of it. For all those who oppose GO F##k yourselves.

    • Hemmercules

      I wouldn’t say they are wasting him but with the assets they had they should definitely be in a better position with their forward group right now. Defence is really tough to build unless you do it from the ground up so I’m actually not really that surprised the defence isn’t better than it is at this point in Chias build. Trades and free agent are just way too costly.

      All the groaning about Chia is getting old. I have been less frequent on this site because of it, especially after a loss. Seems like some fans are almost disappointed when the team wins because they want this man fired so badly. I’m guilty of it a bit too though, I’m not a fan of his. I wish he would just learn a lesson once an a while and improve himself as a GM instead of making the same stupid mistakes over and over.

    • Serious Gord

      How tolerant of you.

      If chia is let go and the same “braintrust” picks his replacement why would anyone expect a better future than the past 12 years?

      • As long as the 3 stooges remain, nothing will change. If Hitch does not work out, boom another sacrificial lamb, while leaving the cause of the symptoms untouched, or re assigned, or promoted,or fired but not really. Keep K Gretzky and Hitch (and who HE chooses for assistants). Other than that everyone below Katz needs to go or the song remains the same.

    • BobbyCanuck

      Agreed, we need to patient for 2-4 years, until the bad contracts are gone, and we can see the fruit of the draft(s) playing in the NHL.

      McDavid will be 25, hopefully he can tolerate the gong show until then

  • VK63

    Compare Bobby’s Burger Stand to the Shanaplan.
    Focus on that comparison and the on ice product (or lack thereof) becomes kind of self evident.
    This team will continue to squander their golden ticket until they flamethrower their decision making processeses. That probably can’t happen without a massive house cleaning in the C-Suite. Looking at that group from a 5000 foot level, that doesn’t happen under this ownership without a full mutiny by fans and sponsors.
    This is, the emperor has no clothes, writ large.