NHL Notebook: Oilers listed in “Boom or Bust” tier in ESPN’s Stanley Cup hope rankings

Photo credit:© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
6 months ago
Are the Edmonton Oilers a Stanley Cup contender?
Over at ESPN, Greg Wyshynski broke all 32 NHL teams down into Stanley Cup hopefulness rankings, ranging from favourites to win to those with no chance at all.
The top tier, which is the league’s true contenders, features the Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, New York Rangers, and last year’s champion, the Vegas Golden Knights. The second tier, which is teams who are listed as playoff locks, features the Carolina Hurricanes, L.A. Kings, Vancouver Canucks, and Winnipeg Jets.
The Oilers are among the three teams listed in the third tier along with the Toronto Maple Leafs and New Jersey Devils. These are teams with the roster to go on a deep playoff run, but there are enough concerns around goaltending that an early exit wouldn’t be surprising. Here’s the explanation from Wysh…
Edmonton Oilers
Projected points: 109
Playoff probability: 99.2%
Stanley Cup win probability: 20.7%
Their hopes get higher if: The Oilers are, in fact, the team they’ve been since Nov. 24.
No team has more wins in that span than Edmonton, which went 14-3-0. No team had a higher points percentage than the Oilers’ .824 in 17 games. No team averaged more goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 (3.70); more importantly, only six teams prevented more goals at 5-on-5 on average than the Oilers (2.10) in that span. Connor McDavid had 37 points in 17 games. Both Zach Hyman and Leon Draisaitl had 12 goals apiece.
That 3-9-1 disaster to start the season and end Jay Woodcroft’s tenure as head coach seemed like it happened in another lifetime. These were the Oilers many expected to see in 2023-24. These are the Oilers that Stathletes determined have the best percentage chance of any NHL team to win the Stanley Cup at the moment.
Their hopes get lower if: Stuart Skinner can’t be competent. Skinner appeared in 13 of those 17 games, posting a .927 save percentage at 5-on-5 and playing above average in goal. The Oilers don’t need him to win the Vezina Trophy. They need him not to lose them games. As long as that happens — and, again, as long as the Oilers are the team they’ve been since Nov. 24 — Edmonton can contend for the Stanley Cup.
If Skinner is a liability, the other options are Calvin Pickard or taking a shovel to unbury Jack Campbell from the AHL — which is to say the only option at the moment is Skinner.

Other notes from around the NHL…

  • Dallas Stars defenceman Miro Heiskanen left the team’s 5-4 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday and head coach Pete DeBoer said that he’s listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury. This is a significant loss for Dallas, as Heiskenen leads all players on the Stars in average time on ice per game at 25:03, with the next-highest player clocking in at 19:58. The Stars currently sit in third place in the Central Division with a 22-10-5 record.
  • Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews will be two of the four captains at this year’s NHL All-Star Game in Toronto. This edition of the All-Star game will see a captain representing each division draft players with the help of celebrities to build a roster for the standard three-on-three tournament. It isn’t yet known who will represent the Central or Metropolitan Divisions.
  • In other All-Star-related news, Alex Ovechkin notified the Washington Capitals that his preference this year is to skip the game so that he can rest and prepare for the second half of the season, according to Tarik El-Bashir of Monumental Sports Network. Tom Wilson is Washington’s representative in Ovechkin’s place.

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