GDB 51.0: Oilers Scoring Depth Emerges (5:30pm MT, SNW)

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
1 year ago
Since January 1st the Edmonton Oilers lead the NHL with 4.25 goals/game. They have outscored teams 51-35 overall and 35-22 at 5×5, and they are doing it without having to rely heavily on Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl to carry the team offensively.
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The Oilers depth scorers have contributed much more in 2023 than in the past, and if that continues the Oilers should be considered a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. Here is a look at how the team has produced, and defended, when McDavid and Draisaitl are on the ice together, when they are away from each other and when neither is on the ice.
*OZF= Offensive zone faceoff
NZF = Neutral zone faceoff
DZF = Defensive zone faceoff.
OISH% = On-ice shooting percentage.
97 + 291281:57684759.138657.1411.76401730
Without McDavid and Draisaitl on the ice the Oilers have outscored the opposition 17-7. That is a massive improvement from the first 38 games when they were outscored 31-28. You can argue their OISH% will come down from the 11.49, but they haven’t given up many goals either. If you are a strong proponent of expected goals, their xGF% is 55.1%.
As I outlined in Game Notes, McDavid is surprisingly 81st in the NHL in 5×5 assists this season, and well below his usual pace. I don’t see that continuing, so he is due to go on a 5×5 heater soon, and even if the depth scoring slows down a bit, the Oilers should still be an offensive force. The biggest positive is how few goals the Oilers are allowing without McDavid and Draisaitl on the ice. That is a key ingredient when making a recipe for winning.
There are some interesting nuggets to look at when discussing the Oilers recent play. Here are the 5×5 point totals for the forwards since Jan 1st.
Every forward has at least one goal in 2023, and Evander Kane (coming off wrist surgery) and Jesse Puljujarvi are the only forwards without a 1.5 points/60. Ryan McLeod has five goals in 12 games. Yes, his shooting% will come down, but the number of shots he is producing is a big positive. Same with Warren Foegele, who has 19 in only nine games and limited minutes. He’s missed three breakaways. If he buried even one of them his totals would look even better.
Kane has 16 shots in four games, and I expect he will start burying more chances as his timing and rhythm improve after missing 10 weeks. Draisaitl has never been a huge volume shooter, but he only has 16 shots in 2023. He mentioned at the All-Star break he feels he hasn’t had a great season. He says the points are nice, but he feels he can elevate his overall game. Another positive sign for the Oilers is how high of a bar the best players have set for themselves. If Draisaitl isn’t happy with his play, it likely will improve.
It is also important to note that while some of the depth forward’s goal scoring could slow down, I’d argue that goals from the blue line will increase. Tyson Barrie is the only defender with a goal in 2023. He had two in their last game v. Chicago on January 28th.
Cody Ceci has no goals in 48 games. Evan Bouchard has a 28-game goalless streak, while Philip Broberg (24), Brett Kulak (23) and Darnell Nurse (13) are also in double digit droughts. The defenders have chipped in with 22 assists in the past 12 games though. They are still contributing to the offence, but I do expect them to score a few more goals down the stretch. The biggest positive is that none of them have been outscored 5×5.
Dave Manson has given Nurse (GF-GA of 13-9) and Ceci (10-10) the bulk of the hardest matchups, then used Barrie (8-7) and Kulak (7-6) as the second pair and he has given his three young defenders more sheltered minutes which has allowed Broberg (14-5), Bouchard (13-5) and Desharnais (5-2) an opportunity to gain confidence and flourish against non-elite forwards.
The Oilers are 8-2-2 because their top scorers are still scoring, their depth players have increased their production, the team defence has improved and the goaltending has been solid. Right now, every facet of their game is contributing and that should continue tonight in Detroit, against a lesser skilled team.
Edmonton has started games very well in 2023. They have outscored the opposition 19-6 in the first period and 41-21 in the first 40 minutes. Detroit has been outscored 9-8 in the first frame and 27-21 in the first 40 minutes. The Oilers need to continue that trend.



The lines are a guess based on their last game v. Chicago. However, they finished the game with Kane-McDavid-Draisaitl, and they were a line in practice yesterday. If they are a line, we could see Holloway-McLeod-Hyman as a line tonight. With 11 forwards the combinations change often, except for the Kostin-RNH-Janmark line. They have remained a trio the past month.
Warren Foegele could draw back in as he left the ice before Jesse Puljujarvi. I think Foegele has played quite well lately; he just hasn’t buried his breakaway chances. Mattias Janmark was in Detroit early tending to some personal matters, but skated today and looks like he will play.
Campbell was first off the ice this morning, so I assume he starts.
Red Wings…
Hronek will be a game-time decision, but he is expected to play.
The Red Wings’ forward group is not very dangerous. They’ve combined for 119 goals and 289 points. The Oilers’ top-four forwards (McDavid, Draisaitl, Hyman and Nugent-Hopkins) have scored 118 goals and 288 points.


Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers move within one point of Los Angeles with a 5-2 victory.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hyman continues his hot streak and picks up two more points.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Nugent-Hopkins scores only his second career goal v. Detroit. He only has three points in 21 career games v. the Red Wings, but picks up two tonight.

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