We’re back with part two of the Edmonton Oilers beginners guide. If you missed the first part, you can catch up with it here.
Today we’re taking a look a the offensive firepower of the Edmonton Oilers with expectations for the offence, powerplay and the forwards.
Edmonton’s offence is one of the Oilers biggest strengths. Edmonton scored the 12th most goals last season largely in thanks to an MVP season from Leon Draisaitl. He, alongside Connor McDavid, are two of the best offensive players in the entirety of the league.
Other complementary top-six forwards are Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Zack Kassian and Kailer Yamamoto, all who were productive last season too. Over the last number of years, this has been the bulk of the Oilers offence production with the bottom half of their forwards struggling to give solid production.
This, however, is expected to change this year with the acquisition of Kyle Turris via free agency, and the signings of Tyler Ennis and Jesse Puljujarvi. They’re expected to help take some of the massive expectations off from Draisaitl and McDavid.
The power play
The Edmonton Oilers powerplay is one of their major strengths last year and that unit got better in the offseason. Last season they scored a goal on 29.5 percent of their powerplay opportunities — the fourth-best of all time.
Draisaitl, McDavid and Nugent-Hopkins are the mainstays on the top powerplay unit and while Oscar Klefbom was often the defenceman out there alongside an array of fifth skaters, he is expected to miss the year. The Oilers signed defenceman Tyson Barrie this offseason and he’s expected to fill Klefbom’s shoes.
Barrie has been one of the best powerplay defenceman in the league over the last number of years, so it will be interesting too if the powerplay gets even better with a specialist like him. He also shoots right vs. Klefbom who shoots left and that will open up more
He’s undoubtedly one of the best, if not the best players in the entire NHL. McDavid possesses an incredible skillset blending insane speed with the ability to contribute offence at a rate few others can. Since being drafted 1st overall in 2015, he’s consistently been at the top of the scoring charts every season. Twice in his five-year career, he’s been named the Art Ross trophy winner for having scored the most points in a season.
He missed some time last year due to a quad injury suffered early in 2020, but still scored 97 points in only 64 games — still enough for second in the league. He’s undoubtedly the driver of this Oilers team and is a dominant force everytime he steps on the ice.
Much like his teammate McDavid, Draisaitl has developed into one of the best players in the league. Drafted third overall in 2014, ast year’s Art Ross trophy winner Draisaitl exploded offensively scoring 43 goals and 110 points in 71 games with his best season of his six-year NHL career.
While McDavid blends speed with skill, Draisiatil uses his massive frame to shield the puck and generate space for himself. His speed has improved over the years, but his ability to find the right place in the offensive zone is key. Few players can shoot the puck like Draisaitl, who has scored 93 goals in 153 games over the last two seasons.
The Oilers longest-serving player, The Nuge was drafted by the Oilers first overall in the 2011 draft and has become a staple on the roster. A crafty two-way forward whose offensive game has caught up to his defensive game, he’s a jack of all trades who can chip in lots of offence while helping shut this down in the defensive zone.
He’s in line for another big year as it looks like he’ll play alongside McDavid this year.
Breaking into the NHL with a post-Christmas recall last season, Yamamoto, who was drafted 22nd overall in 2017, blew up scoring 26 points in the final 27 games of the year. He’ll most likely be playing on the Oilers second line alongside Draisaitl. While he’s small in stature, Yamamoto is incredibly shifty and showed great prowess in both zones last year. He has the ability to find open ice and put himself in scoring positions, all the while making big plays in the defensive zone.
A bruising forward who combines toughness with skill, Kassian joined the Oilers in a 2015 trade and has been a solid offensive contributor for the club. He’s often found himself alongside McDavid over the years with last season being his most productive in the league scoring 15 goals and 34 points in 59 games. He missed multiple games due to suspension last year and needs to clean up that aspect of his game.
A 2016 4th overall pick of the Oilers, Puljujarvi is returning to Edmonton after spending last year playing in the Finnish elite league. He played his first three years in Edmonton but struggled to gain a foothold on the North American game. He’s refound his confidence and this year will play a depth scoring role for the Oilers on the third line. He’s a player who could slide up the lineup at one point this year.
Once one of the highest touted prospects in the league, Turris has struggled over recent years but comes to Edmonton with his sights set on redemption. Signed as a free agent this past offseason, he will provide some depth scoring and a veteran presence in the Oilers bottom-six.
Neal has been a consistent goal-scorer in the NHL for the better part of his career and is entering his second year with the Oilers. Last year he scored 19 goals, but it’s unlikely he hits near that total again as he likely finds himself on the outside looking in on the powerplay. Despite that, he’ll provide the Oilers solid depth defence — a part of the game he’s recently committed himself to despite his age.
A solid depth scoring winger, Ennis joined the Oilers in a deadline trade last year and scoring four points in nine games. He’s going to come into the Oilers lineup again and is expected to provide some depth scoring for the club on the third line. He’s a candidate to work himself up the lineup.
A Stanley Cup winner, Chiasson is entering his third year with the Oilers and has shown his ability to be an offensive contributor. He’s scored 62 points in 138 games with Edmonton, most of which have come on the powerplay. He’s a solid depth defensive player who can chip in a bit of scoring here and there.
The 22-year-old Edmonton native had his first taste of NHL action last year playing in seven NHL games notching one point. It’s unknown if he’ll make the Oilers roster this year given the added offensive depth and could be a guy destined for the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors.
Entering his second year with the Oilers, Archibald chipped in more offence last year than many expected with his most productive NHL season in thanks to some time in the club’s top-six. He’s on the cusp of playing in the bottom-six as an energy player and penalty killer.
Currently quarantining with COVID-19, Haas was set to enter his second year with the Oilers. He showed he can be a solid fourth-line center, but his status with the team is up in the air due to missing camp.
Signed as a free agent this last offseason, Kahun is expected to play alongside Draisaitl on the second line. The two played together in their youth in Germany, so there’s expected to be some chemistry there early. Kahun has shown he can be an offensive contributor in the league and is expected to do that in Edmonton.
In the competition for the fourth line center spot, McLeod has yet to play any NHL games after being drafted in the second round of the 2018 draft. He’ll likely stay with the Oilers into the regular season.
Khaira cleared waivers the other day and will stick with the Edmonton Oilers as a player who can jump in on the fourth line and penalty kill. He’s at a crossroads in his career and needs to have a big year.
A speedy forward, Nygard only played 33 games last year — his first in the league — due to a broken hand. He’s still a bit of an unknown but could be a solid depth offensive player.
A depth energy player who probably won’t be playing a bunch this year.
On Twitter: @zjlaing