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PROJECTION SEASON: The Hockey News

It’s a sure sign that another NHL season is just around the corner; hockey pool guides have started to hit the shelves across Canada.

I’m a big-time fantasy sports junkie so finding a pool mag is just as good Christmas morning in the Nielson household. A trip to Montreal two weekends ago gave me a little bit of a head start as I tracked down both The Hockey News Ultimate Pool Guide and The Sports Forecaster. I will be giving you my own Oilers point projections in September but one of my favourite things to do is break down everyone else projections. So, here we go.

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HOCKEY NEWS ULTIMATE POOL GUIDE PROJECTIONS

THE NUMBERS

Connor McDavid 121 points
Leon Draisaitl 100
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 61
James Neal 49
Darnell Nurse 34
Alex Chiasson 29
Oscar Klefbom 27
Zack Kassian 26
Evan Bouchard 25
Jujhar Khaira 23
Markus Granlund 22
Jesse Puljujarvi 22
Sam Gagner 20
Joakim Nygard 19
Matt Benning 18
Kailer Yamamoto 18
Adam Larsson 18
Caleb Jones 17
Kris Russell 15
Kyle Brodziak 14
Josh Archibald 14

THE BREAKDOWN

NAILED IT

Connor McDavid: 44g-77a-121pts

This is very close to where I plan on projecting the Oilers captain as well. I have spoken to a few folks who feel like Connor will hit the 50-goal plateau this season and while I certainly think he is capable of hit I think it’s more realistic to put him the 45 range.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: 25g-36a-61pts

I know most of you will immediately think the Nuge should be projected to finish with more than 61 points but in the big picture I believe it’s an accurate number. A 61-point season would only be eight points less than the 69(nice) he had last year and would still be the second-best total of his career. I’d be happy with 61 points from the newlywed and will likely end up projecting him in a similar range.

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James Neal: 26g-23a-49pts

Maybe I have high expectations for Neal but I really like these numbers for the newest member of the Oilers. This is a team desperate for scoring from the wing and that is exactly what Neal has done for 90 percent of his NHL career.

Darnell Nurse: 9g-25a-34pts

This would be a step back for Nurse but with a healthy Oscar Klefbom in the lineup I think 34 points would be a pretty solid offensive campaign if he’s not getting any top unit power-play time.

Evan Bouchard: 25pts

The goals and assists breakdowns aren’t available for anyone outside the top 300 projected players and that cut off was around 33 points. I could see Bouchard putting up 25 points in a couple of different ways this season. He could stick around the entire season with spot duty on the power-play and finish with 25 or he could be called up midway through the season and be giving prime offensive minutes in the second half of the year and finish strong.

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TOO HIGH

Leon Draisaitl: 48g-52a-100pts

Draisaitl had an incredible year in 2018-19 and could still have another amazing season this year and finish with “only” 90 points. The Hockey News is projecting Leon to finish third in the league with 100 points, behind only McDavid and Kucherov. The issue I have with the projection is that they are pegging him for 48 goals again this season, that’s too high. Neon Leon shot 21.6% last year to get to the 50-goal mark, doubling his 25-goal effort from the previous season, a year in which he shot 12.1 percent. His career shooting percentage is 16% so I’m going to use that as a base and do a little bit of math. If Draisaitl spends the full season playing with McDavid it’s reasonable to think he will have more than the 231 shots he fired on goal last year. Let’s say he finishes with 260 shots on goal, a total that would put him in the top 15 in the league. If Draisaitl shoots 16% on 260 attempts he’ll score 41 times this upcoming season. A 41 goal, 90-point season would still very much be a success in my mind.

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TOO LOW

OSCAR KLEFBOM: 27pts

If Oscar Klefbom can play a full season, I think the organization would be very happy, if he finishes with 27-points over a full season they will be very disappointed. I guess you can project him to miss a significant amount of time again but even in 61 games last season he finished with 28 points. Klefbom will very likely begin the season on the Oilers top power-play unit and he may be able to hang on to that job the entire season.

SAM GAGNER: 20pts

Maybe I just find myself fighting in Sam Gagner’s corner again but I think 20 points is too low. He had 10 points in 25 games as an Oiler last season and the internal competition hasn’t improved by leaps and bounds. I’d expect Gagner to be a part of the second power-play unit and he’s now playing for a coach who is familiar with his skill set and how to use it.

PROBABLY RIGHT:

Alex Chiasson 29
Zack Kassian 26
Jujhar Khaira 23
Markus Granlund 22
Jesse Puljujarvi 22 (if he plays)
Joakim Nygard 19
Matt Benning 18
Kailer Yamamoto 18
Adam Larsson 18
Caleb Jones 17
Kris Russell 15
Kyle Brodziak 14

There may be one exception on the list above and that’s Zack Kassian. The feisty forward had a strong finish on the top line last season and if he can pick up where he left off, he could very well eclipse the 26-point projection, which also happens to be the exact number of points he had last year.

Previously by Dustin Nielson:


  • Spaceman Spiff

    Had a quick flip through THN’s Pool Guide over the weekend as I was waiting to pick up my wife’s prescription at Shopper’s Drug Mart. Went straight to the Oilers page. I don’t know if I have anything to contribute about the accuracy of the predictions on the current roster players.

    But I did notice that that Tyler Benson wasn’t even listed in the Oilers’ top-10 prospects – in fact, I don’t think he was anywhere on the two Oiler pages at all (i.e. he wasn’t even projected as an NHL player). That’s a somewhat suspect omission – one could argue that, he is, at worst, the team’s No. 1 callup option at forward, at least right now, and he might even make the team.

  • Off the wall

    James Neal is going to be #4 in your scoring depth? I feel for you Oiler’s fans.

    He was 14th in scoring on the Flames’ roster. Good luck with him!

      • Off the wall

        Haha, that’s fair, but we’re not expecting much from Lucic. However expecting 26 goals from Neal seems lofty, no?

        Wait until you see him skate, and realize he’ll never be on McDavid’s line, unless it’s on the PP. Just saying…

        • Fireball

          In all fairness I hope Lucic and Neal both have productive years. I think something Oilers fans overlook on Lucic is that fact he is still a very affective NHL player. Forget scoring.. he’s top 10 in hits last year, and his defensive numbers are great. For a guy who can’t skate for some reason no one can get away from his hits. He’s had more points than Neal. I still think there’s hope for Lucic to rebound !! People say the wheels feel off but in his first year in Etown he scored 15 PP goals alone.. you don’t need to skate to stand in front of the net and shovel in rebounds or tip the puck. That leads me to believe a lot of what was going on with him is purely mental. Either way if he does what he did last year he will still be a effective player for you. Which Brings me to Neal.. he had one less point ( people will point out he played less game ) yes very good point. He’s also less durable ! He had 170 less hits ! And both him and lucic were tied for playoff scoring even though lucic wasn’t in the playoffs. So if they both have the same years they did last season you will get the better more affective player.. The best part of the deal for the Oilers could just be the fact they can buy Neal out if he doesn’t produce. Something they couldn’t do with Lucic. But even so if Neal doesn’t score he will have no other use in the NHL and lucic will ! I predict a rebound season Neal and wouldn’t be surprised if Lucic does more than most think. Who knows what Lucic can still do in the playoffs? It seems to be a different game !

    • Gary Chalmers

      Neal was 14th cause he played with Jankowski and another plug, he had 10 straight 20 goal seasons, chances are he’ll get time with McDavid and Nugent Hopkins, 2 players that are a huge step up from Jankowski, and he will produce at his normal rate, last year was the outlier. I still can’t believe you took Lucic, he doesn’t have the wheels to keep up, you’ll see!

  • jesse says yep

    Dustin, you commented on Draisaityl’s high shooting percentage coming down to earth this year, are you taking into account the premium scoring positions that he is shooting from due to receiving unbelievable set ups from McDavid?
    I would be curious to see some stats on how elite play makers can affect a players Sh% over a couple of seasons. The % may drop some but 5%? Is it not reasonable to expect that he will continue to fill the net from the slot for the foreseeable future when he has Conner McDavid shooting cherry passes across the crease?

  • hagar

    If Neal puts up those numbers or more, Zackian continues his play from last year, and the entire team is healthy, the oilers will be a totally different team this year.

    Everything just needs to click, I certainly wouldnt bet against the Oilers being somewhere in the top of the division. I also wouldnt bet it will happen.. but it’s not crazy to look at the roster and see the potential for a good year if everyone comes out firing.

  • CMG30

    The first week of the season is going to tell the tale. If the Oilers come out with energy and jump then we should take that as a sign that this group believes and is going to drag themselves where they need to be. If the pull a start like they did last year then might as well cancel the cable.

  • Fireball

    Zach will be higher forsure., 26 is my goal projection for him. If Neal puts up those numbers with RNH I think Nuge numbers are low. Nuge with a constant line mate who scores 24-26 goals and has close to 50 points will put Nuge over the top. I think 70 could be a reality.. it’ll much depend on the production of the other winger on the line. But I also think if Neal puts up those numbers it’ll be a very affective line and the other winger will also benifit. It’s all about momentum 😆

    • Fireball

      PS Nuge managed to produce last year and spent a large chunk of time with much lesser linemates., don’t get me wrong he spent time on McWing too but that also supports the fact he didn’t have consistent line mates and outside of Chaison N Connor they weren’t very productive ones !

  • TKB2677

    Call me crazy but I think the Oilers are due for a few of these cheaper signings/soon to be UFA’s to have big seasons. They have the coach for it to happen because for all the years that Tippet was in Arizona, they did exactly what the Oilers did. Sign a bunch of guys for next to nothing and then these guys buy into Tippet’s system and have career years.

    Gagner, Kassian, Granlund, Archibald all are UFA’s this coming season. Kassian found some chemistry with McDavid and had a big finish the last 2 months. He’s going to be 29 in Jan. This is a big year for him. If he has a good year, he will get a nice contract. If he just has a normal, 7-10 goal, 20pt season. He’s getting a short term, bottom 6 contract. Same with Granlund & Archibald. They each had 12 goals, 22 pts last year. They were each only able to get 1 year, 1.3 mill and 1 mill contracts. If they put up those same numbers, they are probably getting those same deals. Unless Gagner shoots the lights out, he’s taking a big paycut. How much will be dictated by how he does. His skating is already an issue. So if he is putting up only 20 pts, I could see him struggling to get another deal. If 20 pts is all Gagner can produce, I could see lots of teams preferring to go younger and especially faster.

    • toprightcorner

      Nurse may lead the dmen in point, but he will not be close to be considered the best dman on the Oilers. Puck transition is one of the most important skills a dman to have in today’s NHL and that is something Nurse lacks. I don’t see him being considered more than 2nd pairing on a competitive team.