NHL Notebook: Edmonton Oilers forward Klim Kostin to miss Wednesday game against Chicago, is Alexis Lafreniere a bust, and more

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
11 months ago
The Edmonton Oilers will be without forward Klim Kostin Wednesday as they take on the Chicago Blackhawks.
Kostin is reportedly dealing with work visa issues that will limit his ability to play.
According to Jim Matheson, it’s expected that Tyler Benson will draw in for his first NHL game of the season.
Kostin, meanwhile, has appeared in seven games with the Oilers since his recall from the Bakersfield Condors, and there’s lots to like about his game. With him on the ice at 5×5, the Oilers have outshot their opponents 46-23, but been outscored 1-2. A promising sign is the Oilers have controlled 55.76 percent of the expected goal share with him on the ice.
Kostin’s taken 15 shots on goal, and generated 13 scoring chances and nine high-danger scoring chances, per Natural Stat Trick.

Lafreniere a bust?

Alexis Lafreniere is now in his third season in the NHL after being taken 1st overall in the 2020 draft by the New York Rangers. He’s scored just 34 goals and 62 points in his 158 games, and has, for the most part, not lived up to the hype.
Daily Faceoff’s Matt Larkin looked into just that. Is Lafreniere a bust? Here’s some of what he wrote:
By the time Lafreniere joined the Rangers for his first NHL training camp, he hadn’t played a competitive hockey game for 10 months. It would be ignorant to assume that didn’t set him back at all. Was it any wonder that, as a 19-year-old with an unprecedented layoff, he had one goal and no assists in his first 15 NHL games? So before we pass any judgment on the start of his career, we have to acknowledge the arrested development. It’s almost like we have to knock a year off his hockey life. Think of him in 2022-23 as 20, not 21. Can we call a 20-year-old a bust?
Looking strictly at the numbers through Lafreniere’s first two NHL seasons…OK, sure, they’re not great to say the least. In 2020-21 and 2021-22 combined, 443 NHL forwards played at least 500 minutes at 5-on-5. Among them, Lafreniere sat 351st in shots per 60; 341st in individual shot attempts per 60; 366th in individual scoring chances per 60; and 338th in individual expected goals per 60. He barely registered a pulse but still managed 31 goals over those two seasons thanks to the fifth-best shooting percentage of that 443-player sample.
Among Ranger forwards? He had the ninth-best shot attempt share and ninth-best expected goal share over that span. So he was grading out as just barely good enough to crack the third line, let alone the top six. He also had a chicken-and-egg situation to overcome in regards to his role, of course. He saw almost no power play work and couldn’t even average 14 minutes of ice time in his first two seasons, whether his coach was David Quinn or Gerard Gallant.
He has made massive leaps, from ranking near the bottom of the league to grading out as well above average, roughly a second-line level. Sure, we can attribute some of the change to the company he’s kept. His most frequent 5-on-5 linemates this season are Artemi Panarin and Vincent Trocheck, and his play-driving metrics are stronger with them than without. But it takes a good player to keep up with good players, and their metrics are also better with Lafreniere than without.
We’re seeing some real evolution to his game. And it’s reminding me of the breakout we saw from the man taken first overall the season before Lafreniere: Jack Hughes. His first season in the NHL was a struggle, but his play driving metrics exploded in Year 2 before a major star turn in Year 3.
You can read more of Larkin’s piece here.

Stars’ success comes from the draft

Another piece at Daily Faceoff has taken a look at the Dallas Stars, and how their emergence as a powerhouse club stems from some incredible drafting.
Public prospect followers have begun giving the Stars props at the draft table annually for the past few years. It consistently seems like they’re making noise no matter what. You often don’t need a ton of prospects to hit it big to start striking gold, but when you get depth throughout, that can be a game-changer. And that’s exactly where the team is right now, humming along with the Central Division lead.
It’s been a weird few years for the Stars. They ground their way to the Cup final in 2020 before missing the playoffs in 2021. They were then knocked out of the first round last year despite an incredible performance by young goaltender Jake Oettinger.
But, hold on a sec. Oettinger was taken in 2017. So was Miro Heiskanen. So was Jason Robertson. Three of the team’s most important players were selected in the first 39 picks of the 2017 draft. One is an incredible defenseman. One is a future Vezina Trophy candidate. The third is battling Connor McDavid for the NHL scoring title. Holy bleeping bleep, Batman.
You can read more from Steven Ellis here.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

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