It’s the end of July, time to stop reviewing last year and looking forward to next year. IT’S PREDICTION SEASON. For your enjoyment, here are ten way too early predictions for the Oilers 2019-2020 season.
1. 45 Goals For 97
It’s not a sexy 50 goal projection but 45 is a number McDavid hasn’t been able to track down just yet. He scored 41 goals in 17-18 with a shooting percentage of 15% while taking 274 shots on goals. Last year he missed four games but once again hit the 41-goal mark while shooting 17.1% on 240 attempts. If you split his last two seasons and project him to shoot at 16% in 19-20 he would need to take about 280 shots to score 45 goals, that’s certainly not a reach. Just for fun, he would need 313 shots to score 50 if he shoots 16%. For comparison’s sake, Draisaitl shot 21.6% during last years 50 goal campaign attempting just 231 shots along the way.
2. Klefbom Sets A Career High
IF Klefbom stays healthy this should be a prediction he can live up to as his career-high currently sits at 38 points. I know that’s a major IF, after all, Klefbom has played more than 66 games just once in his career. If he can play 75 games it’s not unreasonable to think he could hit 40. Those totals obviously would require him to be the primary point man on the Oilers top power-play unit, a title I think he will hold for at least the first half of the season.
3. Nygard Scores 15 goals
There should be an offensive opportunity for one or two of the guys Ken Holland took a flier on this summer and I’m betting Nygard will be the guy. He has one of the most important tools needed to provide offense in today’s NHL, speed. Will he crack the second line with Nuge and Neal? Will get some power-play time on the second unit? If he ends up getting time in either of those situations 15 goals isn’t unreasonable.
4. A D-Man Will Be Moved
At some point between the beginning of August and the beginning of January, the Oilers will trade a veteran defenseman. The odds on favourites to be moved are Russell or Benning with Darnell Nurse being a wild card. The only reason I’m even suggesting that Nurse could possibly be traded is because of the changes in management. It’s highly unlikely but I guess there could be a chance that Holland evaluates his blueline in the first half of the year and makes Nurse available, as I said, a wildcard.
5. Mike Smith Plays 50 Games
I’m not sure if this will end up happening because he is playing very well or simply due to the fact that Dave Tippett is familiar, and possibly, comfortable with him. Smith played 55 games in two of the past three seasons.
6. Tyler Benson Finishes The Year In The Top Six
I’d be pretty damn surprised if Benson isn’t a full time Oiler by the three-quarter mark of the season. An injury in the top six could give him the opportunity he needs to stick around full-time or he could be a third line call up after some impressive play in the AHL. I know a few folks who thinks he could take a run at the top six in camp, I’m not sure I’m ready to go there just yet.
7. Kassian Fights Lucic
You have to think at some point an Oiler will drop the gloves with Lucic, I’m putting my money on Kassian. Even in a league where fighting is dying you could probably sell pay-per-view tickets to this tilt. Kassian has fought former Oilers in the past, in March he dropped the gloves with Maroon.
8. Evan Bouchard Scores Five Goals In The Final 20 Games
There is a chance that Bouchard makes the Oilers out of camp but I see a mid-season call up being in the cards. There are usually one or two players who play well down the stretch and get the hype train going in full force heading into the off-season, Bouchard will be that guy. I’m going to say that Bouchard is getting power-play time with the Oilers for the final 20 games of the season and fires home five bullets from the point.
9. Puljujarvi Starts The Year In Edmonton
Let me start by saying I’m not going to pretend to have any inside info on Puljujarvi, I’ll leave that up to other folks in the city. The Oilers made changes to management and the coaching staff and according to JP’s agent Markus Lehto that wasn’t enough to change his mind about Edmonton. What about moving Lucic out? Could Puljujarvi now have a “change of heart” and be willing to give it another go? I could see Holland convincing Puljujarvi that he’ll be easier to trade if he’s playing in the NHL as opposed to Europe.
10. The Gaetan Haas Goal Song Goes Viral
I really hope Gaetan Haas makes the Oilers out of camp. Many people have been texting into the “SMASH HIT NIELSON SHOW” on TSN 1260 and suggesting his goal song should be a parody of Du Hast but I refuse to give into the masses. The Haas goal song will be a remake of Nelly’s “It’s Getting Hot In Here.” I”m giving you fair warning now, it will be awesome.