Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Alex Chiasson have 76 goals combined. Jason Gregor mentioned this yesterday in his article about the Oilers and their depth troubles. The rest of the forwards have 24 goals. The current forwards on the roster have just 16 goals with Caggiula (seven goals) and Strome (one goal) traded away.
Saw this pop up and it's easy enough to do. Goals by forwards who aren't in top four in team goal scoring. pic.twitter.com/stNlqcZcpW
— dellowhockey (@dellowhockey) January 2, 2019
The Oilers depth forwards aren’t scoring. It seems unbelievable this many forwards would score so little.
Kyle Brodziak and Jesse Puljujarvi are currently tied for fifth in goals for active Oilers forwards.
Is it luck or lack of scoring ability? The Oilers’ depth issues can be separated into three categories: unestablished young players (Kailer Yamamoto, Jesse Puljujarvi, Ty Rattie), declining or underperforming veterans (Milan Lucic, Tobias Rieder, Ryan Strome), and guys who just don’t score much (Kyle Brodziak, Zack Kassian, Ryan Spooner, Jujhar Khaira).
The Oilers bet on young unestablished players again this year and it backfired. Puljujarvi’s taken a step back from a decent 19-year-old season last year and hasn’t caught on with either head coach. Yamamoto has two points in 13 games and doesn’t look NHL ready. Ty Rattie lit up the preseason but that hasn’t translated into the regular season.
Lucic, Rieder, and Strome should have more goals. Rieder is usually good for 13-15 goals a season. He has none through 27 games. Strome had two goals in 19 games before being sent to New York for Spooner, but Strome was never a big goal scorer outside a 17-goal season in 2014-15. Strome has three goals in 20 games with the Rangers and his shooting percentage (8.9 percent) is now almost exactly his career average (8.8 percent).
Lucic has the shooting percentage (2.5 percent) of a stay-at-home defenceman. Lucic is far from his career average but he’s been at 5.6 percent the past 122 games, which might be more indicative of who he is as a player going forward than his previous high-percentage years. Lucic is averaging just a shot per game. He was never a big shooter, he has 1.69 shots per game in his career, but this season is still his lowest. Even if Lucic shot 13.1 percent like his first season in Edmonton, he’d only have four more goals. Lucic isn’t generating anything and his time as an NHL player looks done.
Brodziak, Kassian, Spooner, and Khaira aren’t big scorers. Brodziak and Spooner are scoring in line with career norms. Kassian hasn’t scored much in Edmonton. As an Oiler, Kassian has 19 goals in 226 games. He’s scored on 6.7 percent of his shots in Edmonton, which explains his gap. Khaira had 11 goals last season, scoring on 15 percent of his 73 shots. He’s scoring on 6.7 percent of his shots this year and averaging less than a shot per game.
It’s hard to see significant regression from anyone but Rieder here. It’s an indictment on the roster Peter Chiarelli’s built. He’s brought in every player discussed here except for Khaira. Things would look even worse if Chiasson wasn’t shooting nearly triple his career average. Chiarelli’s bet on young players and older veterans has failed.
Trading the forward fifth in goals for another third-pairing defensive defenceman seems strange, although Caggiula only had one goal in his last 13 games.
The Oilers are a top-heavy team. Chiasson might return against Los Angeles. He’ll help but it’s unlikely he’ll continue to score on a third of his shots. Edmonton’s forward depth needs major reconstruction if they want to contend.