Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Oilers bottom-six finding their way

It’s been a long time coming but the Edmonton Oilers are starting to get contributions from their bottom-six.

The charge has been led by Alex Chiasson, who has scored nine points in the last 18 games.

Name GP G 1st A 2nd A PTS PTS/60
Alex Chiasson 18 4 3 2 9 2.31
Josh Archibald 20 3 3 0 6 1.46
Riley Sheahan 20 4 1 0 5 1.26
Sam Gagner 12 0 3 2 5 1.81
Joakim Nygard 17 1 2 2 5 1.6
Kailer Yamamoto 4 2 1 0 3 3.05
Gaetan Haas 20 2 0 1 3 0.88

Stats c/o Natural Stat Trick looking at the last 20 team games played.

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When Ken Holland put this bottom-six group together in the offseason, many were (and still could be) considered flyers.

Chiasson was coming off a year where he shot unsustainably high at 17.9 percent scoring 22 goals — nearly double his career-high. He was rewarded for it with a two-year, $2.15-m AAV contract, according to Puckpedia, and he’s starting to show he’s worth it.

After a slow start to the year that him notch only five points in the first 20 games, he’s really jumped out as of late as an offensive contributor. He’s continued to post tremendous underlying numbers (57.11 CF%, 67.35 GF%, 62.53 xGF%, all situations) all of which are amongst the best of his entire career.

He’s quickly turned his season around and is showing he’s well worth the two-year deal.

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But Chiasson isn’t the only bottom-six Oiler heating up. Josh Archibald, Riley Sheahan, Joakim Nygard, Sam Gagner, and Gaetan Haas are all warming up as of late too.

It’s something Edmonton had missed early in the year despite having a great start to the season and the timing of its resurgence couldn’t be any better.

It sounds weird to say, but Connor McDavid and Leon Draistail have “cooled off” in the last twenty games. McDavid “only” has 23 points and Draisaitl “only” has 20 points in that time frame.

But compared to the first 26 games, where McDavid has 47 points and Draisaitl had 48 points, they definitely did cool off.

Having the bottom-six step up while McDavid and Draisaitl have cooled is about the best news Oilers fans could ask for. Not only that, but the addition of Kailer Yamamoto has been a surefire win thus far for the Oilers.

Despite being 5’8, 153 lbs., he’s played a physical game punching about his figurative weight class and has produced offensively scoring two goals and adding an assist in four games. He seems to have found a nice home alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Leon Draisaitl as a solid second line to the James Neal-McDavid-Zack Kassian line.

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As I wrote a few days ago, the Oilers are in need of more players like Yamamoto to step up and contribute. I think a message has been sent to the Oilers bottom-six players that they need to show up on a regular basis.

On Twitter: @zjlaing