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Photo Credit: James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

Is the Oilers’ depth unlucky or just lacking scorers?

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.

The Oilers depth forwards aren’t scoring. It seems unbelievable this many forwards would score so little.

Player Goals SH% Career SH% Difference
Caggiula 7 14.3 11 3.3
Puljujarvi 3 8.6 7.5 1.1
Brodziak 3 8.1 10.4 -2.3
Kassian 2 4.4 10.2 -5.8
Rattie 2 4.7 9.7 -5.3
Khaira 2 6.7 11 -4.3
Spooner 2 8.7 8.3 0.4
Yamamoto 1 8.3 2.9 5.4
Lucic 1 2.5 13.4 -10.9
Strome 1 3.3 8.8 -5.5
Rieder 0 0 7.9 -7.9

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.

  • The future never comes

    I would include Brodz in underperforming veterans as he appears most nights that he does not belong in the NHL anymore. Kassian sure gets alot of love around here for scoring 19 goals in 226 games. All Lucic, Spooner, Brodz would not be good enough to play on 90% of these other teams. That’s 25% of the Oilers forwards, the other players are descent to marginal save for 97, 29, 93, and Chia.

  • Gravis82

    Oilers are NOT a top heavy team. My goodness, stop this nonesense. This just projects the idea that we need to trade our only good players for depth players. Our good players are NOT the problem. Its our lack of being able to actually identify good depth players that is the problem, and good depth players are not always expensive. They are bottom light in forwards with a solid top end and OK defense

  • Sammy27

    Could Benson, although young get a look? I don’t want to rush him, or keep him for the season, but i wouldn’t mind seeing him for a few games in place of few veterans who aren’t getting it done. Might be a wake up call for some veterans who need to get to the net more often. If not, send him back down and dream of next year, again.

      • btrain

        Chiarelli handles his to-do list like I handle my honey-do-list. Whatever the path of least resistance is to get that item done as quickly as possible, I am going to do it. For example, cramming everything I can possibly fit into the dishwasher so I can get back to watching the McDraiNuge show. For Chiarelli that means circling back to a proposed trade he didn’t like enough from a year ago, to cross off the ‘Shore Up D’ item his new head coach handed him. It’s not unlike his strategy when it comes to negotiations. If you just give the other party what they want, add in a no trade clause just to make sure, the marker ink doesn’t even have to dry before you get to cross the item off the list!
        Then you just tell the fanbase something they can’t really argue with like “that’s the price in todays market” or “Other teams were involved so we had to be aggressive” or “there wasn’t any interest so buyout was our only option”, “we feel we have to protect against a possible offer sheet”, “you can get better, by giving up more in a trade” etc, etc.

    • rnj

      He said cags hasn’t scored in a month anyway and they need defensive help. Manning is a more established vet than we have.

      He seemed annoyed at the presser giving those answers

  • Oiler Al

    Is it something about Edmonton, the organization that players[agents]don’t appear to be attracted to the organization[city]? Or is it poor choices by Mgmt, or that is all you get for a $1.98 of cap spacxe?

      • Kool-Aid Man

        BINGO! If Katz want to win right now, he has to understand how detrimental these fools are to his team, brand and reputation.

        Correct me if I’m wrong but, any player that has recently signed with the Oilers had previously played for the team or at some point was in the prospect system. The rest have been acquired by trade without a NTC/NMC. Lucic being the exception and, that worked better for him than the team… obviously.

        Like you put it yesterday, Harold Ballard 2.0, Katz is the biggest joke of all jokes in the NHL. It is baffling how that is acceptable to him.

      • rnj

        It’s funny how we’ve all been saying the OBC is the problem for 10 years and the writers here respond by saying they don’t have that much influence, blaming them is ridiculous etc

        Hopefully this puts the issue to bed. Obviously they have influence, and clearly it isn’t positive. GMs, coaches, players have all been changed.. some multiple times.

  • CMG30

    Yup this falls squarely on Chirelli’s shoulders. He traded topflight talent entering their prime to make room for legacy players on the way out. He overpaid on money and term on nearly every contract he’s touched and thats got us right up against the cap. With no wiggle room, he’s had to hope that the youth are going to break through. Unfortunately for us fans, the Oil been trying this asme trick for years which means that the youth haven’t been allowed to develop like they should so instead of breaking into the NHL they’re slowly turned into failures.

    The worst part is that all this has been predicted every step of the way.

    Absent sweeping the halls of management clean, we’re destined to continue repeating this same dumb cycle….

  • KootenayDan

    I feel bad for the fans and the few good players we do have. Such a storied franchise doomed to fail because of the tank. As much as I like Larsson the Hall trade and the 2012 draft has really hurt this team. We would have been better off with McTavish than Chia. Cagguila I don’t miss but Spooner and Reider are big fails and Kassian on the top line give me a break. Smells of desperation, T.M. got royally screwed.

  • Spydyr

    It is a poorly built team.

    You can start at the top and work your way down.Everyone involved with building this team has failed the fan base.

    The Katz curse continues.

    • Oilerup!

      Are u kidding me or are you 12 yrs old…. this team sucked and has sucked way before Darryl stepped up…. that’s just a stupid comment……
      One good year with we ran to a seven game final….and lost!
      We backed into the playoffs that year, we were out if Vancouver won its last regular season game, they lost and we were in ……. that is the last time this club has enjoyed any success, and they were lucky to get in then….. they suck now, then and will likely suck for many moons to come!
      Question: how many years of this low end mediocrity before McDavid ask for an out?
      — I say 2 more years of this and he is gown…. history , Toronto bound!
      Book it!

  • Spaceman Spiff

    To me, the most interesting thing about that colourful bar chart above isn’t what it’s trying to point out … but rather what it isn’t.

    I mean, yes, OK, the Oilers are last in goals from forwards outside the top-four in scoring (which, by the way, could not sound like a more statistic-for-the-sake-of-a-statistic if it tried). But take a closer look because it’s not like it necessarily reflects the current NHL standings.

    Buffalo is fifth-worst. Boston is eighth-worst. Columbus is 11th-worst. Winnipeg is 12th-worst. All of those teams are nine games over .500 or more, and sitting in a playoff spot.

    At the other end, Arizona is 10th best. Vancouver’s 12th.

    The middle of the pack is littered with mediocre teams… and worse. Florida’s 14th. Philadelphia, which may very well be the worst team in the league, is 16th. The only other team that might vie for last-overall, LA, is 19th.

    Anyway, I don’t present that as necessarily a counter-point to the article and I certainly don’t think the Oilers can expect to battle for the playoffs at current pace. But I do think there are teams out there that are either top-heavy with their scoring and manage to win … or are simply finding other ways to win.

    All the Oilers need to do is pick one of those lanes. They’re not out of it, folks. Not by as long shot.

  • Mc.Rib

    My two favorite teams have always been the Habs and Oilers, as I grew up East and transferred to Edmonton some years ago. What I see is a team mostly selected based on our higher draft picks over the last several years. but have honestly been disappointed with the likes of Nurse and Puljujarvi, as well as many selections AFTER the first round..That is basically why this team has so little depth..When top free agents refuse to choose Edmonton (and Montreal as well), Our team Has to do better at the draft table..It’s management, from Chia on down to the scouting department that has failed us.

    • Arfguy

      Good point. I don’t know how passionately and unhindered he would be with the Oilers, but I think Ron Francis did a really good job of drafting and building a team. He could not draft a goalie to save his life, but man the defensemen he drafted are all really good.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    I think it’s a bit of both, though I’m leaning towards more-so due to lack of luck. How many times did Lucic-Brodziak-Kassian get a great scoring opportunity? What a JP? JK?

  • HelpMeBabyJesus

    The Oiler’s are unlucky but not in regards to their secondary scoring. Quite simply, they have NO secondary scoring. The fix may be as simple as getting a couple of goals and letting them gain some confidence. Unfortunately, that takes a certain amount of patience and the Oilers are constantly in panic mode. Sure the playoffs would be nice but let’s be honest and just say it isn’t in the cards this year. Try and salvage what you can by making small goals. Try and let some of the lines develop real chemistry instead of mixing them up constantly. Pray for good draft picks and Chia is let go. We need a GM that has a long term vision and can develop players. P.S. – I hope everyone is realizing just how average NURSE is, great physical ability but limited true hockey sense. Just saying.

  • Arfguy

    I honestly thought Brodziak and Rieder would be better than this. I thought Brodziak would be able to score 5-10 goals and Rieder, I had pegged for 15-20 goals.

    Both do not look like any kind offensive threat, at all. I think it’s the Oilers organization. Somehow, they just have a way of killing any kind of enthusiasm in their play. I know they Oilers are average, but man…at least try to have some fun on the ice.