50 Takes on 50 Games

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Tyler Yaremchuk
9 months ago
We are 50 games into the Edmonton Oilers season and I figured that this would be the perfect time to handle the daunting task of giving out 50 takes based off the first 50 games of the season. So here we go.
  1. Obviously, you need to start with Connor McDavid. On pace for roughly 151 points, I say he’s a lock to hit 150 and we know traditionally his most productive months come later in the season. I say he hits 160.
  2. What’s potentially more impressive than the point totals is the goal scoring. He’s on pace for 67 goals right now. Do you know many players have done that in the last 30 seasons? Only three. Mario Lemieux did it twice and both Teemu Selanne and Alex Mogilny did it once each. The 70-goal watch is on.
  3. Art Ross? Lock. Hart Trophy? Lock. Rocket Richard? Lock. Ted Lindsay? Lock.
  4. Leon Draisaitl is joining Connor at All-Star weekend. With 29 goals in 49 games, he’s on pace for just under 48 goals. I’m sure his linemate will be feeding him a lot in the second half of the season to try to get him his second straight 50-goal campaign.
  5. The Oilers could have two players clear the 120-point mark and another two potentially hit the 100-point mark. The second part of that sentence is without a doubt the most surprising.
  6. Allow me to brag for a second: I fully predicted a bounceback season from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins earlier this season on Oilersnation Everyday. Both his personal shooting percentage and the teams shooting percentage when he was on the ice were due to go up. With that being said, even I didn’t see this kind of year coming.
  7. He will hit the 35-goal mark if he keeps this pace up and could very realistically hit the 100-point mark. Just another fun storyline to keep an eye on in the back half of the season.
  8. It’s worth noting that his previous career highs were 28 goals and 69 points, both of which came in the 2018-19 season.
  9. Speaking of career highs, Zach Hyman has already hit his. It was clear from the day he signed that stylistically he would be a good fit here, but like Nugent-Hopkins’ break out season, not even the most optimistic of Oilers fans could have seen this kind of success.
  10. Both Nugent-Hopkins and Hyman have very strong All-Star cases but I suppose the NHL couldn’t have sent five Oilers.
  11. Two potential 100-point players signed for a combined $10.625 million. Take a bow, Ken Holland.
  12. And save your “he’s a bad GM” takes. He’s made some bad mistakes in his time here, but that doesn’t mean you can’t applaud his clear-cut wins.
  13. Another one: Evander Kane. He’s back from the tough injury and now I’ll be watching to see if he can go on a late-season heater and hit the 20-goal mark.
  14. The Oilers play differently with him in the lineup. Usually, I’m not one to believe in that kind of stuff and I can’t really explain it, but they do. He gives them a little bit more swagger and I love it.
  15. The Oilers could have four 100-point players and potentially not have another hit the 50-point mark. That will be a hilarious piece of trivia if it comes to fruition.
  16. The only Oiler who really has any sort of a chance of joining them is actually Tyson Barrie, who’s on pace for 55 points. So it’s more likely than not that he finds a way to get there.
  17. How about the season that Barrie’s been having? This summer, I was firmly in the “you need to trade him while he has value” camp, and wow, has he ever made me eat my words. 
  18. The offence speaks for itself, but this guy has been their most consistent right-shot defenseman through 50 games and you could actually argue, he’s been their most consistent defenseman period.  
  19. He would have a lot of value on the trade market this summer but with the cap potentially going up and the Oiler’s roster fairly set, why would you move on from him? He’s a great locker room presence from all reports and he should have plenty of good hockey left in the tank.
  20. Speaking of right-shot defensemen, the Oilers need a lot more from both Evan Bouchard and Cody Ceci in the second half of the season.
  21. I thought the first 15 games for Ceci were really good, but he’s hit a bit of a wall. Hopefully, the All-Star break allows him to come back fully rested and looking like the Ceci we saw in the playoffs last year.
  22. Bouchard has just flat-out not found his game at all this season. It’s disappointing and while I still believe in his future as a top-pairing guy for the Oilers, it’s hard to ignore just how much he’s struggled this season without Duncan Keith. Maybe the Oilers can grab someone at the deadline who can fill that role for them.
  23. Oilers fans can complain about Darnell Nurse and his cap hit when the Oilers have a defenseman who’s better than Darnell Nurse. He takes on a lot of tough minutes and difficult assignments. Has this year been good? No. But pretending like he can’t turn it around is stupid. He’s shown that he can be a top-pairing guy in this league.
  24. Remember when he battled through the playoffs last season? Having a healthy Nurse in the playoffs is an exciting thought.
  25. Earlier this season I predicted that the Oilers would have SEVEN 20-goal scorers. McDavid, Draisaitl, Kane, Hyman, Puljujarvi, Yamamoto, and McLeod. They have four right now, Klim Kostin could join them but they’ll need big second-half heaters from Ryan McLeod and Evander Kane to get to seven. It’s possible, but definitely a long shot.
  26. Kane has six goals in 18 games, a great pace. Can he get 14 in the final 32? It’ll be difficult but I think he can. He basically did that last season.
  27. McLeod would need 12 in the final 32. He has three in his last five and would likely need a couple of multi-goal efforts to get himself there.
  28. McDavid and Draisaitl are clearly the MVPs of this team, but Stuart Skinner is right there in my opinion. The way he stepped up early in the season when Campbell was struggling saved the Oilers from slipping into a deep hole.
  29. Speaking of Campbell, it’s great to see him start to find his footing. January was very kind to him and after a rough 2022 calendar year, he seems to be turning things around.
  30. Another take I was wrong on: I said while the Oilers may have lost the high upside of having Mike Smith between the pipes, the duo Skinner and Campbell had a higher floor than Smith and Koskinen. Tough one there.
  31. I think that take will be true in the second half of the year. Last season, Smith was statistically one of the best goalies in the league. I don’t think Skinner or Campbell will do that, but I think they’ll both be consistently between .905 and .920. That’s all the Oilers need.
  32. Chances of the Oilers winning the division according to Betway: 30.77% (they’re +225 right now)
  33. Chances of the Oilers winning the division according to MoneyPuck.com: 34.3%
  34. Chances of the Oilers winning the division according to me: 50%. Vegas is hurting right now and I still think Seattle has a big slip up at some point. They’re goaltending can’t hold up. I like the chances of the Oilers winning this division and I think +225 is great value.
  35. It’s time for Ken Holland to go all in. If they’re still holding onto their first-round pick a month from now, this fan base has good reason to be upset.
  36. They’ll need some cap space to make a splash and it sounds like Jesse Puljujarvi is on his way out. He could very well be dealt by Valentine’s Day.
  37. Frank Seravalli listed the Ducks, Panthers, and Blues as potential fits.
  38. I still think Warren Foegele will be wearing a different jersey by the end of the season.
  39. With those two out, the bottom six could get a little bit thinner. A potential deadline add would help, but so would a fully healthy Kailer Yamamoto.
  40. The injuries for Yamamoto have been very concerning for me. However, last season he jumped into the lineup and played some of his best hockey in the final few months. They need that again.
  41. There are a lot of Oilers that seem to just get better and better as the year goes on. For a team that’s somehow second in regulation wins despite their early season struggles, the fact that there’s a realistic chance that they’re going to get better should have the rest of the Western Conference worried.
  42. Remember all those people who were crying for Jay Woodcroft to be fired back in November and December? I called them fools then and I’ll do it again.
  43. My number one deadline need for the Oilers: a strong, defensive centreman who can provide some scoring and also help them out in their own end. They need someone who can consistently win big draws. Give me Jonathan Toews or Ryan O’Reilly.
  44. My number two deadline need is a defense-first defenseman who can take some minutes away from Darnell Nurse on the left side. Give me Niko Mikkola or Radko Gudas. Both won’t cost much to acquire.
  45. My number three deadline need is a bottom-six winger with some physical bit. This team needs to be harder to play against come playoff time and with Foegele and Puljujarvi boht potentially being cap casualties, the team will have room for a bottom-six player as long as they make under $1 million. Ivan Barbashev, Zack MacEwan (if healthy), and Noel Acciari are all solid fits. 
  46. Their Stanley Cup chances are 11.9% according to Money Puck. Only the Canes, who are at 12.5%, have a better shot according to their model.
  47. That means you should hammer the Oilers at +1400 on Betway. It’s actually great value.
  48. The Matt Berlin night is not just the best feel good story of the year for the Oilers, but it’ll be right up there for feel good story of the entire NHL season. Everything about it was so perfect and I give Woodcroft and McDavid full marks.
  49. Before the season, I went to bet on the Oilers to get more than 102.5 points in the regular season. A few weeks later I looked and noticed I accidentally bet the under and can’t cash it out. Six weeks ago I thought the under would hit. Now? I think that over is firmly in play. They’re still only on pace for 98.4 though.
  50. The Western Conference is more wide open than ever. The Avalanche are not as good as they were last year and there isn’t a team in the Pacific that the Oilers can’t beat in a best-of-seven. Giddy up, it’s going to be a fun second half around Oilersnation.


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