18

Best NHL Forwards at Carrying The Puck into Offensive Zone

Puck possession has become more of a focus in the NHL over the past few seasons, and I don’t see that trend changing. A well placed chip-and-chase, or even a dump-and-chase, can also be effective, but successful coaches have encouraged puck possession more than ever recently.

A few weeks ago I looked at defencemen who are successful at passing or transporting the puck out of the defensive zone, and we looked at those who excel at zone entries. 

Today let’s look at the forwards who are most successful at entering the zone, as well as creating scoring chances on those entries.

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Once again a big shout out to Mike and Kenny at SportLogic for providing the zone entries, and scoring chances off of entries. I added in TOI and five-on-five points.

We included all forwards with at least 100 zone entries (there were 280), and I have sorted them by team. I included this many due to the pending trade week leading up to the NHL draft on October 6th and the start of free agency on October 9th.

*CE with SCA is Controlled Entry with a Scoring Chance After.**
*CE with SCA Rate is the rate of how many scoring chances are created per controlled entry.**

Player Team TOI 5X5 PTS Controlled Entries CE with SCA CE with SCA Rate
Rickard Rakell Anaheim  910 26 190 38 20.0%
Jakob Silfverberg Anaheim 823 26 189 37 19.6%
Ryan Getzlaf Anaheim 980 26 188 63 33.5%
Troy Terry Anaheim 572 11 164 47 28.7%
Danton Heinen Anaheim 796 20 159 34 21.4%
Sonny Milano Anaheim 628 18 154 40 26.0%
Sam Steel Anaheim 825 13 149 32 21.5%
Adam Henrique Anaheim 918 31 114 27 23.7%
Carter Rowney Anaheim 716 14 107 22 20.6%
Max Jones Anaheim 730 10 101 21 20.8%
Taylor Hall Arizona  924 30 319 96 30.1%
Nick Schmaltz Arizona 869 31 219 62 28.3%
Vinnie Hinostroza Arizona 807 20 218 54 24.8%
Phil Kessel Arizona 907 17 199 42 21.1%
Clayton Keller Arizona 892 27 196 53 27.0%
Conor Garland Arizona 797 27 174 50 28.7%
Derek Stepan Arizona 928 16 114 20 17.5%
Carl Soderberg Arizona 862 22 110 34 30.9%
Christian Dvorak Arizona 906 26 104 30 28.8%
Lawson Crouse Arizona 785 17 103 25 24.3%
David Pastrnak Boston  985 48 318 69 21.7%
Brad Marchand Boston 906 46 250 57 22.8%
Ondrej Kase Boston 723 20 208 48 23.1%
David Krejci Boston 850 19 181 40 22.1%
Charlie Coyle Boston 916 27 172 37 21.5%
Jake DeBrusk Boston 835 23 165 40 24.2%
Anders Bjork Boston 679 18 140 34 24.3%
Sean Kuraly Boston 763 19 140 31 22.1%
Jack Eichel Buffalo  1124 35 360 85 23.6%
Sam Reinhart Buffalo 1100 35 224 46 20.5%
Jeff Skinner Buffalo 795 19 178 49 27.5%
Marcus Johansson Buffalo 809 21 172 46 26.7%
Wayne Simmonds Buffalo 802 13 161 34 21.1%
Johan Larsson Buffalo 774 16 135 35 25.9%
Jimmy Vesey Buffalo 780 18 130 32 24.6%
Kyle Okposo Buffalo 610 17 125 31 24.8%
Zemgus Girgensons Buffalo 780 15 123 33 26.8%
Victor Olofsson Buffalo 768 19 115 23 20.0%
Johnny Gaudreau Calgary  1020 30 320 98 30.6%
Matthew Tkachuk Calgary 974 32 224 70 31.3%
Mikael Backlund Calgary 984 29 216 50 23.1%
Andrew Mangiapane Calgary 861 29 191 48 25.1%
Sean Monahan Calgary 977 25 159 50 31.4%
Derek Ryan Calgary 789 23 157 45 28.7%
Sam Bennett Calgary 592 11 138 28 20.3%
Dillon Dube Calgary 521 13 130 33 25.4%
Milan Lucic Calgary 775 12 119 22 18.5%
Elias Lindholm Calgary 950 29 109 28 25.7%
Vincent Trocheck Carolina  831 26 260 64 24.6%
Sebastian Aho Carolina 918 37 244 68 27.9%
Andrei Svechnikov Carolina 876 34 191 64 33.5%
Martin Necas Carolina 757 24 154 45 29.2%
Teuvo Teravainen Carolina 891 33 151 41 27.2%
Warren Foegele Carolina 836 27 148 36 24.3%
Jordan Staal Carolina 889 21 145 53 36.6%
Nino Niederreiter Carolina 837 16 129 30 23.3%
Ryan Dzingel Carolina 747 19 112 19 17.0%
Patrick Kane Chicago  1140 50 370 104 28.1%
Jonathan Toews Chicago 939 41 257 87 33.9%
Alex Debrincat Chicago 920 26 250 68 27.2%
Brandon Saad Chicago 752 27 196 54 27.6%
Kirby Dach Chicago 783 19 176 34 19.3%
Alexander Nylander Chicago 705 23 158 34 21.5%
Dylan Strome Chicago 730 28 148 36 24.3%
Dominik Kubalik Chicago 812 35 143 38 26.6%
David Kampf Chicago 776 13 130 26 20.0%
Zack Smith Chicago 510 8 109 16 14.7%
Nathan MacKinnon Colorado  1075 52 378 135 35.7%
Andre Burakovsky Colorado 705 30 204 61 29.9%
Nazem Kadri Colorado 643 25 181 48 26.5%
Joonas Donskoi Colorado 831 26 177 55 31.1%
Valeri Nichushkin Colorado 754 24 177 53 29.9%
Gabriel Landeskog Colorado 810 22 174 45 25.9%
Tyson Jost Colorado 710 18 163 38 23.3%
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare Colorado 751 15 150 32 21.3%
Mikko Rantanen Colorado 606 21 148 37 25.0%
Matt Calvert Colorado 572 19 145 37 25.5%
Matt Nieto Colorado 748 17 141 40 28.4%
J.T. Compher Colorado 774 21 132 28 21.2%
Pierre-Luc Dubois Columbus  987 33 307 85 27.7%
Gustav Nyquist Columbus 964 23 192 52 27.1%
Oliver Bjorkstrand Columbus 720 27 168 43 25.6%
Nick Foligno Columbus 959 22 150 33 22.0%
Boone Jenner Columbus 971 16 148 42 28.4%
Alexander Wennberg Columbus 711 16 113 26 23.0%
Riley Nash Columbus 671 13 105 18 17.1%
Jamie Benn Dallas  877 20 178 44 24.7%
Denis Gurianov Dallas 669 16 173 47 27.2%
Jason Dickinson Dallas 779 18 150 32 21.3%
Tyler Seguin Dallas 995 25 145 44 30.3%
Roope Hintz Dallas 698 15 143 36 25.2%
Alexander Radulov Dallas 800 18 141 30 21.3%
Mattias Janmark Dallas 726 11 139 33 23.7%
Blake Comeau Dallas 665 14 134 30 22.4%
Radek Faksa Dallas 819 15 127 35 27.6%
Joe Pavelski Dallas 845 13 107 32 29.9%
Corey Perry Dallas 636 13 106 24 22.6%
Dylan Larkin Detroit  1137 34 320 89 27.8%
Tyler Bertuzzi Detroit 1065 32 199 56 28.1%
Valtteri Filppula Detroit 871 14 159 38 23.9%
Darren Helm Detroit 802 14 155 33 21.3%
Robby Fabbri Detroit 778 21 155 30 19.4%
Anthony Mantha Detroit 637 26 151 44 29.1%
Frans Nielsen Detroit 630 5 101 26 25.7%
Connor McDavid Edmonton  1055 50 357 122 34.2%
Leon Draisaitl Edmonton 1163 56 344 104 30.2%
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Edmonton 914 34 190 53 27.9%
Tyler Ennis Edmonton 853 27 170 32 18.8%
Zack Kassian Edmonton 870 32 149 34 22.8%
Andreas Athanasiou Edmonton 715 15 139 36 25.9%
Jujhar Khaira Edmonton 677 9 101 24 23.8%
Aleksander Barkov Florida  933 36 243 60 24.7%
Jonathan Huberdeau Florida 973 41 240 61 25.4%
Evgenii Dadonov Florida 894 25 205 59 28.8%
Frank Vatrano Florida 816 26 173 41 23.7%
Mike Hoffman Florida 843 28 172 39 22.7%
Brett Connolly Florida 880 27 153 41 26.8%
Colton Sceviour Florida 716 15 137 30 21.9%
Anze Kopitar Los Angeles  1051 30 246 53 21.5%
Dustin Brown Los Angeles 951 25 219 44 20.1%
Alex Iafallo Los Angeles 983 28 152 18 11.8%
Michael Amadio Los Angeles 758 13 150 30 20.0%
Adrian Kempe Los Angeles 818 14 147 41 27.9%
Blake Lizotte Los Angeles 738 14 146 35 24.0%
Austin Wagner Los Angeles 735 10 144 46 31.9%
Jeff Carter Los Angeles 767 19 130 24 18.5%
Trevor Moore Los Angeles 446 8 100 28 28.0%
Kevin Fiala Minnesota 774 34 223 61 27.4%
Eric Staal Minnesota 869 29 163 45 27.6%
Ryan Hartman Minnesota 741 19 149 42 28.2%
Mats Zuccarello Minnesota 834 28 149 34 22.8%
Zach Parise Minnesota 872 23 130 28 21.5%
Ryan Donato Minnesota 598 21 127 32 25.2%
Jordan Greenway Minnesota 834 25 126 35 27.8%
Joel Eriksson Ek Minnesota 794 26 124 24 19.4%
Marcus Foligno Minnesota 720 25 117 20 17.1%
Luke Kunin Minnesota 780 24 117 29 24.8%
Alex Galchenyuk Minnesota 609 17 106 29 27.4%
Max Domi Montreal  961 27 281 77 27.4%
Phillip Danault Montreal 990 41 243 67 27.6%
Brendan Gallagher Montreal 824 36 235 63 26.8%
Nick Suzuki Montreal 916 22 213 46 21.6%
Tomas Tatar Montreal 901 39 188 51 27.1%
Artturi Lehkonen Montreal 974 26 155 36 23.2%
Joel Armia Montreal 755 18 135 37 27.4%
Matt Duchene Nashville  869 28 235 80 34.0%
Rocco Grimaldi Nashville 806 31 176 60 34.1%
Filip Forsberg Nashville 820 30 174 53 30.5%
Craig Smith Nashville 751 24 155 25 16.1%
Viktor Arvidsson Nashville 705 20 147 40 27.2%
Mikael Granlund Nashville 868 20 143 33 23.1%
Kyle Turris Nashville 733 20 133 25 18.8%
Calle Jarnkrok Nashville 772 21 112 26 23.2%
Ryan Johansen Nashville 841 22 102 25 24.5%
Nico Hischier New Jersey  770 24 183 52 28.4%
Miles Wood New Jersey 818 21 180 52 28.9%
Jack Hughes New Jersey 714 11 180 39 21.7%
Nikita Gusev New Jersey 760 29 172 45 26.2%
Travis Zajac New Jersey 902 19 139 32 23.0%
Kyle Palmieri New Jersey 835 25 136 38 27.9%
Jesper Bratt New Jersey 677 25 129 39 30.2%
Pavel Zacha New Jersey 762 17 115 22 19.1%
Mathew Barzal NYI 1103 39 395 112 28.4%
Anthony Beauvillier NYI 954 26 204 46 22.5%
Anders Lee NYI 1011 31 173 45 26.0%
Brock Nelson NYI 951 33 168 54 32.1%
Jordan Eberle NYI 842 28 166 43 25.9%
Jean-Gabriel Pageau NYI 950 22 143 29 20.3%
Artemi Panarin NYR 1078 59 323 98 30.3%
Ryan Strome NYR 947 33 226 70 31.0%
Mika Zibanejad NYR 796 37 213 56 26.3%
Filip Chytil NYR 776 19 197 50 25.4%
Pavel Buchnevich NYR 943 32 196 51 26.0%
Chris Kreider NYR 819 31 171 44 25.7%
Jesper Fast NYR 945 26 165 27 16.4%
Kaapo Kakko NYR 767 9 137 35 25.5%
Brendan Lemieux NYR 630 11 105 18 17.1%
Anthony Duclair Ottawa  795 27 218 58 26.6%
Connor Brown Ottawa 1056 35 218 58 26.6%
Brady Tkachuk Ottawa 1059 32 185 49 26.5%
Chris Tierney Ottawa 938 25 135 42 31.1%
Colin White Ottawa 784 18 122 32 26.2%
Nick Paul Ottawa 731 18 100 21 21.0%
Kevin Hayes Philadelphia  905 24 236 61 25.8%
Sean Couturier Philadelphia 964 39 198 58 29.3%
Jakub Voracek Philadelphia 913 36 188 52 27.7%
Travis Konecny Philadelphia 851 33 182 51 28.0%
Claude Giroux Philadelphia 954 26 157 39 24.8%
James van Riemsdyk Philadelphia 791 30 138 48 34.8%
Michael Raffl Philadelphia 620 16 136 30 22.1%
Nate Thompson Philadelphia 718 13 127 22 17.3%
Joel Farabee Philadelphia 623 18 119 26 21.8%
Scott Laughton Philadelphia 593 25 102 25 24.5%
Dominik Simon Pittsburgh  859 21 194 48 24.7%
Evgeni Malkin Pittsburgh 805 46 193 69 35.8%
Brandon Tanev Pittsburgh 820 17 170 42 24.7%
Jason Zucker Pittsburgh 792 26 168 53 31.5%
Jake Guentzel Pittsburgh 626 29 143 51 35.7%
Bryan Rust Pittsburgh 779 33 140 39 27.9%
Patrick Marleau Pittsburgh 874 20 137 35 25.5%
Jared McCann Pittsburgh 814 24 135 24 17.8%
Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh 610 27 133 49 36.8%
Conor Sheary Pittsburgh 734 20 127 31 24.4%
Theodor Blueger Pittsburgh 884 15 117 31 26.5%
Timo Meier San Jose  960 36 284 82 28.9%
Evander Kane San Jose 927 21 223 58 26.0%
Kevin Labanc San Jose 903 22 219 55 25.1%
Joe Thornton San Jose 890 22 141 41 29.1%
Marcus Sorensen San Jose 788 17 135 35 25.9%
Tomas Hertl San Jose 640 21 127 29 22.8%
Logan Couture San Jose 672 20 115 29 25.2%
Jaden Schwartz St. Louis  1008 32 241 45 18.7%
Robert Thomas St. Louis 830 34 214 51 23.8%
David Perron St. Louis 1017 27 178 32 18.0%
Ryan O’Reilly St. Louis 1016 36 176 45 25.6%
Brayden Schenn St. Louis 1022 31 169 44 26.0%
Zach Sanford St. Louis 719 28 145 45 31.0%
Oskar Sundqvist St. Louis 692 20 145 34 23.4%
Ivan Barbashev St. Louis 792 21 134 41 30.6%
Tyler Bozak St. Louis 780 23 109 33 30.3%
Sammy Blais St. Louis 466 12 106 26 24.5%
Brayden Point Tampa Bay  943 44 315 98 31.1%
Ondrej Palat Tampa Bay 911 28 195 49 25.1%
Nikita Kucherov Tampa Bay 957 48 187 53 28.3%
Anthony Cirelli Tampa Bay 908 29 185 57 30.8%
Blake Coleman Tampa Bay 587 24 180 47 26.1%
Yanni Gourde Tampa Bay 803 20 158 48 30.4%
Steven Stamkos Tampa Bay 769 38 144 41 28.5%
Tyler Johnson Tampa Bay 766 23 131 38 29.0%
Alex Killorn Tampa Bay 821 29 130 36 27.7%
Barclay Goodrow Tampa Bay 866 19 110 22 20.0%
Pat Maroon Tampa Bay 678 20 110 21 19.1%
Auston Matthews Toronto  1151 45 285 80 28.1%
William Nylander Toronto 981 38 240 73 30.4%
Kasperi Kapanen Toronto 851 27 227 72 31.7%
Mitchell Marner Toronto 883 32 216 71 32.9%
John Tavares Toronto 968 29 188 44 23.4%
Alexander Kerfoot Toronto 831 25 144 37 25.7%
Zach Hyman Toronto 787 24 138 38 27.5%
Andreas Johnsson Toronto 560 14 113 37 32.7%
Denis Malgin Toronto 458 7 112 23 20.5%
Ilya Mikheyev Toronto 515 21 104 27 26.0%
Jason Spezza Toronto 544 18 101 18 17.8%
J.T. Miller Vancouver  991 42 232 55 23.7%
Elias Pettersson Vancouver 921 40 211 57 27.0%
Bo Horvat Vancouver 979 27 180 53 29.4%
Tyler Toffoli Vancouver 879 30 170 47 27.6%
Jake Virtanen Vancouver 809 26 163 47 28.8%
Tanner Pearson Vancouver 906 24 153 32 20.9%
Brock Boeser Vancouver 762 27 126 38 30.2%
Adam Gaudette Vancouver 618 19 108 32 29.6%
Max Pacioretty Vegas  1028 40 277 73 26.4%
Reilly Smith Vegas 933 37 252 71 28.2%
Jonathan Marchessault Vegas 930 28 226 69 30.5%
Mark Stone Vegas 908 38 212 64 30.2%
William Karlsson Vegas 877 31 193 51 26.4%
Chandler Stephenson Vegas 783 20 180 47 26.1%
Nick Cousins Vegas 765 20 158 45 28.5%
William Carrier Vegas 685 19 154 32 20.8%
Alex Tuch Vegas 511 10 140 30 21.4%
Tomas Nosek Vegas 675 13 125 32 25.6%
Paul Stastny Vegas 919 22 120 30 25.0%
Alex Ovechkin Washington  980 37 259 66 25.5%
Jakub Vrana Washington 850 38 239 57 23.8%
Nicklas Backstrom Washington 827 22 210 49 23.3%
Evgeny Kuznetsov Washington 839 33 202 49 24.3%
Lars Eller Washington 833 27 200 40 20.0%
T.J. Oshie Washington 913 27 182 46 25.3%
Tom Wilson Washington 899 26 129 34 26.4%
Richard Panik Washington 605 22 125 24 19.2%
Brendan Leipsic Washington 520 10 123 40 32.5%
Ilya Kovalchuk Washington 623 16 122 25 20.5%
Carl Hagelin Washington 643 19 107 21 19.6%
Nikolaj Ehlers Winnipeg  1013 46 336 97 28.9%
Mark Scheifele Winnipeg 1202 42 317 77 24.3%
Kyle Connor Winnipeg 1104 40 281 82 29.2%
Patrik Laine Winnipeg 1035 35 271 71 26.2%
Jack Roslovic Winnipeg 935 23 215 48 22.3%
Andrew Copp Winnipeg 863 18 170 35 20.6%
Blake Wheeler Winnipeg 1003 31 146 47 32.2%
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What does it mean? Good question.

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Here is what stood out to me.

1. Colorado had 12 players with 100+ carries, which was the most. And all 12 had at least 132 controlled entries. Ridiculous. Vegas was next with nine. Had the Avs stayed healthy, I think they would have defeated Dallas. Remaining healthy is a key part of winning in the playoffs.

2. Patrice Bergeron only had 85 controlled entries. He was 10th on the Bruins and not among the top 280 forwards in the NHL. David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand carried the puck in mainly for that line, but I wonder how much of that is due to Bergeron slowing down a bit. He played 92% of his 5×5 time with those two, but Pastrnak had 23 more 5×5 points and Marchand had 21. In the games I watched, Bergeron looked a bit behind them. It is something to watch for moving forward, and heading into the 2022 Olympics. Bergeron will be 36 then and I’m not sold he is a lock to make the squad.

3. The Jets had four forwards in the top-21 in controlled entries. Not surprising they had five in the top-40 in 5×5 points. If they can rebuild their blueline they could be very dangerous.

Player Team TOI 5X5 PTS Controlled Entries CE with SCA CE with SCA Rate
Mathew Barzal NYI 1103 39 395 112 28.4%
Nathan MacKinnon Colorado 1075 52 378 135 35.7%
Patrick Kane Chicago 1140 50 370 104 28.1%
Jack Eichel Buffalo 1124 35 360 85 23.6%
Connor McDavid Edmonton 1055 50 357 122 34.2%
Leon Draisaitl Edmonton 1163 56 344 104 30.2%
Nikolaj Ehlers Winnipeg 1013 46 336 97 28.9%
Artemi Panarin NYR 1078 59 323 98 30.3%
Johnny Gaudreau Calgary 1020 30 320 98 30.6%
Dylan Larkin Detroit 1137 34 320 89 27.8%
Taylor Hall Arizona 924 30 319 96 30.1%
David Pastrnak Boston 985 48 318 69 21.7%
Mark Scheifele Winnipeg 1202 42 317 77 24.3%
Brayden Point Tampa Bay 943 44 315 98 31.1%
Pierre-Luc Dubois Columbus 987 33 307 85 27.7%
Auston Matthews Toronto 1151 45 285 80 28.1%
Timo Meier San Jose 960 36 284 82 28.9%
Max Domi Montreal 961 27 281 77 27.4%
Kyle Connor Winnipeg 1104 40 281 82 29.2%
Max Pacioretty Vegas 1028 40 277 73 26.4%
Patrik Laine Winnipeg 1035 35 271 71 26.2%
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4. Sean Monahan played the 38th most 5×5 minutes among NHL forwards. He was 138th in controlled entries and 141st in 5×5 points. He needs to be more involved in rushes up the ice. When he did have the puck on his stick, he created a high % of scoring chances. His 31.4% scoring chance rate was 21st best amongst NHL forwards. He needs to have the puck on his stick more when he enters the zone.

5. Dallas struggled to score in the regular season, and one reason was they didn’t create much off the rush. Jamie Benn led them with 178 controlled entries, which was 103rd in the NHL. The Stars offensive players found their legs in the bubble and are carrying the puck much more frequently. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team completely change how they played from the regular season to the playoffs and win like the Stars have. They defeated Calgary and Colorado in high scoring games, and now they have clamped down against Vegas, although Vegas’ forward couldn’t score in a brothel right now.

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6. Nicklas Backstrom had a tough year offensively for Washington. Teammate Richard Panik tied him with 22 points at 5×5, despite playing 225 fewer minutes than Backstrom.

7. I knew the Penguins had a lot of injuries, but I didn’t know Teddy Blueger played the most 5×5 minutes (884) of any Penguins forward. Good for Blueger, but when he and Dominick Simon are playing the most 5×5 minutes, it is amazing the Penguins managed to finish 5th in the Eastern Conference. Blueger had 15 points at 5×5 and despite playing the most minutes he was 11th in controlled zone entries.

8. Edmonton only had five full-time forwards with over 100 zone entries. They added Tyler Ennis and Andreas Athanasiou at the deadline. James Neal was at 98 (missed 16 games due to injury), and Kailer Yamamoto was solid when he joined the team. But it is clear they need a few players in their bottom six who can carry the puck.

OILERS FORWARDS…

Player TOI 5×5 PTS Controlled Entries CE SCA CE SCA Rate
Connor McDavid 1055 56 357 122 34.2%
Leon Draisaitl 1163 56 344 104 30.2%
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 914 34 190 53 27.9%
Zack Kassian 870 32 149 34 22.8%
Jujhar Khaira 677 9 101 24 23.8%
James Neal 703 11 98 23 23.5%
Josh Archibald 648 13 94 19 20.2%
Alex Chiasson 692 10 90 18 20.0%
Gaetan Haas 517 7 89 16 18.0%
Riley Sheahan 667 10 87 19 21.8%
Kailer Yamamoto 418 22 80 25 31.3%
Sam Gagner 427 9 78 17 21.8%
Joakim Nygard 330 7 68 12 17.6%
Patrick Russell 464 5 63 10 15.9%
Markus Granlund 317 4 40 7 17.5%
Tyler Ennis 130 4 34 8 23.5%
Andreas Athanasiou 106 2 22 3 13.6%
Tomas Jurco 115 2 12 3 25.0%
Colby Cave 94 1 10 2 20.0%
Tyler Benson 67 1 10 3 30.0%

I doubt many Oilers fans would have had Jujhar Khaira 5th on the team in zone entries, and he had the highest Scoring chance % among the bottom six. And he rarely played with McDavid and Draisaitl. Defenceman Darnell Nurse was 5th on the Oilers with 109 zone entries. They need more forwards entering the zone with the puck on their stick.

Gaetan Haas should be an upgrade offensively over Riley Sheahan. His speed and offensive ability lead me to believe he will create more, and that might allow his line to spend less time defending. But either way, re-signing one of Ennis or Athanasiou makes a lot of sense. Athanasiou would be re-signed now if the Oilers didn’t have to qualify him at $3 million. I think there is a player there, but at what cost? Ennis is a smart player, and he has signed one-year deals each of the past two summers. I’d look at re-signing him, if they can’t come to an agreement on Athanasiou.

FINAL THOUGHT….

It wasn’t a surprise to see McDavid and Draisaitl sitting 5th and 6th in controlled entries. They have the puck a lot, and over 30% of the time it leads to a scoring chance. Draisaitl was 39th in CESCA%, and due to his skill I think he can boost that up a few % points in the future and sit around 32 or 33%.

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And because the Oilers have two dominant puck-carrying centres, they don’t necessarily need a dominant puck transporter to play with them. They need a smart, skilled wingers, who can retrieve pucks, but also find the inevitable openings in the D-zone that McDavid and Draisaitl will create when the enter the zone.

HELP IF YOU CAN…

Ryan Rishaug is scared of heights. Jason Strudwick reached the top of the Snow Valley Aerial Park with his eight-year-old daughter, but while she walked the plank and did the free-fall drop at the end, he chickened out and had to do the walk of shame down the structure.

So we want to help both of them conquer their fears. And in doing so you can help kids play sports. Once we raise $10,000 for KidSport, Struds and Rishaug will both “walk the plank” and do the free-fall (four stories high) at the Aerial Park.

We had a great first week raising over $5,500, and I’d like to reach our goal this week. Any donation of $20, $50, $100 or more will be greatly appreciated. You get a tax receipt while helping some kids play sports and you will get a great laugh watching the video (yes, we will record the entire thing) when these two conquer their fears.

You can donate here. 

Thanks in advance.

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