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Foegele Deserves To Stay in Top-Six

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
11 months ago
Connor McDavid leads the Oilers with seven goals and 14 points at 5×5 since Valentine’s Day, but unheralded Warren Foegele is second with five goals and 10 points.
Foegele’s recent play, and his season-long production, give him a strong case to remain in the top-six when Zach Hyman returns. Hyman practiced today, but he didn’t take part in the power play portion, so I’d say he’s doubtful for tomorrow in Seattle. Hyman said his injury was lingering and it’s finally become too much to play through and that’s why he’s missed the past two games. He didn’t want to elaborate on his injury, but did say he would once he returns to the lineup. He likely won’t play tomorrow, which means Jay Woodcroft can ice the same top-two lines in Seattle, but once Hyman is ready I’d move Kailer Yamamoto to the third line and keep Foegele in the top six.
In the last 14 games, Foegele trails only McDavid in 5×5 scoring. He has played along Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins the past few games, and they’ve played well and outscored the opposition 4-1, but Foegele’s production started before slotting in beside Draisaitl and RNH.
He’s earned his promotion and he deserves to remain there once Hyman returns.
Foegele’s production has picked up lately, but his 5×5 production all season has been quite good for someone who has played mainly in the bottom six.
PlayerGPTOIGAPTSSF%GFGAGF%xGF%PDO
Connor McDavid691111:0929225153.85615552.5957.690.995
Zach Hyman661027:3711314253.57675455.3756.631.008
Leon Draisaitl671070:5515233851.4596049.58520.993
RNH69919:3313173050.99524454.1752.261.013
Warren Foegele54624:0011102152.67282651.8555.790.997
Ryan McLeod55621:199101951.2426265054.990.996
Klim Kostin44451:221071748.92251464.147.571.057
Mattias Janmark53670:164121647.83242548.9848.921.004
Derek Ryan67643:071151650.08262254.1755.161.013
Kailer Yamamoto45634:40781550.95302554.5551.191.012
Evander Kane28431:21861446.45152141.6748.10.985
Devin Shore41349:5418949.0713668.4250.291.045
Nick Bjugstad661:2121347.174266.6748.521.089
Foegele is tied with Hyman with 11 goals and he has three more goals and six more points at 5×5 than Yamamoto. Foegele has produced more while playing fewer minutes with McDavid or Draisaitl. And now that he is getting a chance in the top six, he’s producing. That’s why he should remain there when Hyman returns.
If Yamamoto gets hot down the stretch, he and Foegele could switch. Neither is a proven lock to be in the top six, and the second line RW should remain an open competition, but right now Foegele is playing better.
Moving Yamamoto down to the third line might help him. The Oilers bottom six are producing, and Yamamoto wouldn’t have to face top D-men or top forward lines when playing there and that might help him find his offensive game. Yamamoto could hold onto the puck more down there. Look at the difference more puck touches, albeit in the American Hockey League, did for Devin Shore. Confidence matters, and right now Yamamoto is fighting it.
But, more than that, Foegele has earned a regular spot in the top six. His recent play should be rewarded and I’ll be surprised if Woodcroft doesn’t keep him there when Hyman returns.

QUICK HITS…

  • Edmonton has produced four solid defensive efforts at home v. Dallas, Winnipeg, Toronto and Boston. They lost 3-2 to the Bruins, but they played very well and didn’t give the Bruins very much. They’ve proven they can play sound defensively v. playoff teams, but they just need to remain more consistent, because in between those games they had some stinkers v. Winnipeg, Toronto and Columbus on the road.
  • Nick Bjugstad and his wife took their two young daughters to the WEM Waterpark on Sunday. “It was amazing. They loved it,” said Bjugstad. “I went when I was a kid playing in the Brick Tournament, and I wanted to go back and see if it was as good as I remembered and it was. My wife went on all the big slides. She wants to go there all the time (laughs). “They are living in Sherwood Park and renting out Mark Pysyk’s (Bjugstad’s former teammate) home. Having a house, instead of living in a hotel with a young family, has made the transition off the ice much easier, Bjugstad said. “It doesn’t even feel like a new team. Starting on the road was great as we went out for a few dinners so I could get to know the guys and I feel like I’ve played with them all year. It has gone better than I could have imagined,” Bjugstad added.
  • The Oilers matchup well v. Seattle. This is a game they should win, followed by home games v. the Sharks and Coyotes next Monday and Wednesday. And then the really important games begin. The Oilers host Vegas on March 25th, then play Arizona and Vegas on March 27th and 28th before hosting the Kings March 30th.Those three games in six days v. Vegas (2x) and LA will be massive in determining if the Oilers earn home ice advantage in the first round. They won’t be playoff games, but I sense they will feel, and be played, like they are. It should be a great week.

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