Tyler Ennis was a late addition to the Edmonton Oilers roster this season after being brought in from Ottawa in exchange for a 2021 5th round pick.
In nine games with the Oilers, Ennis scored 2 goals and 2 assists. Before being traded, Ennis added 33 points in 61 games with the Senators, for a total of 37 on the year. That puts him fourth in the team in scoring this season.
The Edmonton-born forward signed a one-year deal in the 2019 offseason with the Senators and will become a UFA this offseason. For Ennis, these playoffs will decide whether or not Edmonton decides to tender him another contract, or if they let him walk. The Oilers have some options at forward in their prospects pool including Raphael Lavoie and Tyler Benson, so Ennis will have to show that his experience and depth-scoring is worth re-signing.
At 30-years-old, Ennis is probably closer to a fringe second-liner/third-line depth scorer than a top-line asset, but with the play-in round gearing up to start in three weeks, he’ll have to show that he’s still able to produce some offence further down the lineup.
Allan Mitchell of The Athletic wrote an interesting piece on whether the Oilers should consider moving Ennis to the top line as a more reliable scoring option. During the season, Ennis did get minutes on that top line, but is he really the answer to the search for a top-line scoring winger the Oilers have been looking for? In the article, Mitchell talks about how Ennis has played well playing alongside McDavid since his acquisition, but that fans shouldn’t expect him to be around as a long term option in that role.
Against Chicago in the play-in round though, the Oilers are going to want to capitalize on any offensive edge they can find, and right now that means playing Ennis 17-minutes a night next to McDavid. After a series of injuries, Ennis hasn’t really played significant minutes over the past five seasons, so this will be his chance to show off against the Jonathan Toews line. Ennis’ speed and skill could help open up even more ice for McDavid should that chemistry from before the stoppage continues.
In the playoffs
Ennis’ playoff future depends entirely on the Chicago series. If Edmonton advances, but Ennis isn’t able to connect with McDavid on the top line, fellow newcomer Andreas Athanasiou might be the one to step into that role on McDavid’s wing.
The further into the playoffs Edmonton goes, the more Ennis will be counted on to provide depth scoring. The Stanley Cup is rarely won without a collection of depth players stepping up once the star players neutralize each other. Ennis will be fighting for his next contract with this series, and the more he’s able to pitch in now, the better off he’ll be at the negotiation table.