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GDB -3.0: Hello McDavid and Draisaitl (7pm MT, SN1)

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Photo credit:James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
6 months ago
Edmonton Oilers fans will be able to watch their two superstars in action tonight when the Oilers battle the Vancouver Canucks in preseason action. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl will play, and the game will be televised. A win-win for Oilersnation.
Be sure to check out the latest NHL odds with online sportsbook Betway
It is the Oilers’ third of eight preseason games. Both rosters will have many players who won’t be in the lineup when these two clubs meet in two weeks to start the 2023-34 regular season, and the pace tonight won’t be close to what we see in Vancouver on October 11th, but the appearance of McDavid and Draisaitl makes you wonder what is possible this season for those two individually this season.
McDavid produced a career high in goals (64), assists (89) and points (153) last season. Draisaitl also set a career high in points (128) and assists (76). He scored 50 goals for the third time in his career but was three shy of the 55 he scored in 2022. Both had outstanding seasons, and many are wondering if that is their ceiling for points.
I don’t believe it is.
It will be difficult to produce more than they did last season, but that doesn’t mean they can’t, or won’t. I know their main goal is to win the Stanley Cup, but they are also motivated to keep improving, and producing more points in the regular season won’t lower their chances of playoff success. I’d argue it could increase it.
Here’s a look at McDavid’s 5×5 production in his career.
YEARGPGAPTSShotsS%
2016451217297615.79
20178221426319110.99
20188230417120614.56
20197824406415715.29
20206421295014314.69
20215619375612914.73
20228022365820710.63
20238232275920915.31
McDavid’s 32 goals at 5×5 were a career high, but he had the second lowest assist total of his career. He had more assists in the shortened 56-game 2021 season. And it wasn’t because he was shooting way more. His linemates didn’t bury their chances as often as they have in the past.
YEARGPG/60A/60PTS/60SH/60ONSH%
2016451.131.62.737.1610.17
2017820.961.922.878.7110.55
2018821.341.833.179.29.93
2019781.061.762.826.9110.56
2020641.191.652.848.1311.17
2021561.222.373.588.2511.17
2022800.991.632.629.358.3
2023821.471.242.719.599.57
McDavid’s assists/60 were the lowest of his career, even lower than his rookie season. Despite McDavid having the highest shooting% of his career, his total on-ice shooting% was 9.57, the second lowest to date. And that is from teammates not finishing as often as they had in the past. There is room for more points, mainly assists, at 5×5 for McDavid.
Of course, McDavid’s production on the power play led to his career year. He scored 21-50-71. He had more assists on the PP than he had points in any prior season. It was a historic season for the Oilers on the man advantage, but I don’t see their PP taking a major step back.
Over the past four seasons, the Oilers power play is a combined 29.1%. They were 32.4% last year. If they end up being 29% this season, that would be a total of nine fewer PP goals than last year, assuming they draw a similar number of penalties. McDavid’s PP production will hinge more on the number of opportunities they get, than how successful they are.
The Oilers had 275 PP opportunities last season, sixth most in the league. They had 235 in 2022. Unless the league decides to stop calling penalties (which they have in the past), Edmonton should get more than 250 PP chances this season. They had 235 in 2022, but that would have ranked 25th last season. Power play opportunities were up across the NHL in 2023, and while I’m not sure they will increase this season, I’d be surprised if we see a significant decrease.
Earlier this week, Sidney Crosby said he could see McDavid pushing for 170 points. It is a ridiculous number. Only seven times has a player surpassed 170 points. Wayne Gretzky did it six times with 215, 212, 208, 205, 196, and 183 points in six consecutive seasons between 1982-1987. Mario Lemieux did it once in 1989 when he scored 199 points. Gretzky had nine seasons with 160+ points while Lemieux had four. They are the only two to surpass 156 points.
While 170 points seems crazy, Crosby isn’t one who makes outlandish claims. If he thinks it is possible, I believe him.
McDavid is just entering his prime. He’s highly motivated to keep improving, and while the Stanley Cup is their ultimate goal, it is important to remember that Gretzky had seasons of 212, 196, and 205 points before he won his first Stanley Cup. I don’t buy the notion that McDavid has to sacrifice offence in the regular season in order to win a Stanley Cup. He can still be a threat offensively, while the Oilers look to improve their defensive play.
And the same goes for Draisaitl.
Draisaitl scored 32 power play goals last season. He was two shy of Tim Kerr’s NHL record. He’s become an incredibly dangerous and efficient scorer on the PP. Over the past two seasons, only three players have scored more PP goals than Draisaitl did last year. Mika Zibanejad has 35, Chris Kreider buried 34 and David Pastrnak scored 33. Draisaitl leads the NHL with 56 PP markers the past two years.
He became more dangerous on the PP because McDavid started shooting and scoring more. McDavid finished second with 21 PP goals last year. He and Draisaitl combined for more PP goals (53) than 17 teams scored in total, including six playoff teams in Vegas, New Jersey, Carolina, Seattle, Winnipeg, and the New York Islanders.
Draisaitl’s 5×5 production last season was his lowest since 2018. He spent much of his off-season rehabbing his injured high-ankle sprain, and he had a slow start to the season 5×5. At the All-Star game, Draisaitl, despite sitting second in league scoring, said he didn’t feel he was having a good season. He felt he could play better, and his possession numbers, to that point, agreed with him.
In his first 48 games, Draisaitl had a 50.3SF%, %50.5xGF% and a 50.1SCF%. In his final 32 games, he posted a 55SF%, 54.96xGF%, and a 57.6SCF%. He produced 29 points in the first 48 games but then had 22 in this final 32. He produced more when his possession numbers improved.
This is another example of why I don’t buy the theory that McDavid and Draisaitl need to sacrifice offence to win more games. The Oilers’ best attribute is their offence, and if they improve their defensive decisions, I believe it will lead to them having the puck more, and when McDavid and Draisaitl possess the puck more often, they will create more chances.
It is difficult to score 128 and 153 points, but I’m leaning toward them matching those numbers and even surpassing them this season.

PRESENTED BY BETWAY

LINEUP…

Oilers

Kane – McDavid – Brown
RNH – Draisaitl – Hyman
Foegele – Sutter – Janmark
Savoie – Pederson – Chiasson
Nurse – Bouchard
Niemelainen – Desharnais
Gleason – Kemp
Skinner
Campbell
The top three forward lines are for sure. I made a guess on the fourth line as Carter Savoie and Jake Chiasson have yet to play in the preseason, same with Markus Niemelainen and Phil Kemp on the backend. Stuart Skinner gets the start in goal.
I think it is pretty ridiculous that a preseason game lineup isn’t announced by the organization. The NHL has a long way to go to understand marketing, creating hype and recognizing your fanbase likes to get as much information as possible. They are secretive of a home lineup against a Vancouver team that isn’t close to their regular season lineup. Why?
Canucks…
No idea. They have yet to post anything, and the media covering the Canucks at the time of this being published aren’t sure.
The NHL’s asinine stance on announcing lineups is utterly ridiculous.
***We will edit in the lineups when we know for sure who is playing.**

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers have a better lineup, because I don’t expect Canucks to bring their top three-lines, and it shows on the scoreboard with a 5-1 win.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers’ first unit PP scores in the first period.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: While walking to the game, Baggedmilk stops to watch the PBR and gets hit by some flying bull feces. “Shit happens,” says a guy standing next to him.

PIZZA PIGOUT…


Our fifth annual Pizza Pigout is going back to where it started. In 2019, we had our first Pigout at Molson House and then COVID arrived, and we transitioned to having it in conjunction with a drive-in movie. It worked well, but we wanted to bring it back to the original place, because it allows attendees to try more pizza. This format allows more mingling and tasting many different great pizzas. If you love pizza this is a must-attend event.
  • Date: Wednesday October 11, 2023
  • Time: 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • Location: Rogers Place, Molson Hockey House (2nd floor, 18+ only venue)
  • Ticket price: $65 per ticket
  • Ticket bundle: $250 for 4 tickets (saving you $10!)
The event ends and then we will have a Watch Party for the Oilers season opener v. Vancouver at the Ice House, right across the street.
Pizza, Kidsport and hockey. A great mix. Hope to see you there and then watch the season opener.
The deadline to purchase tickets is Friday, October 6th.

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