Reviewing the previews: How I projected the Edmonton Oilers’ Darnell Nurse, Cody Ceci, Evan Bouchard, Philip Broberg and Dylan Holloway
Photo credit:Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
By Zach Laing3 months ago
Welcome to the reviews of the previews.
Last offseason, I took a look at 29 players who played for the Oilers in the 2021-22 season. I wrote about their season as a whole, and how I projected them for this past 2022-23 season.
Some of those players were under contract for this year. Some needed new deals and walked in free agency, and others were moved in trades.
Let’s take a look back at a couple of those players today.
Nurse found a home with defenceman Cody Ceci on the Oilers’ top pairing last year and the two looked tremendous under Woodcroft. While Dave Tippett was at the helm, the two controlled 54.8 percent of the shot attempt share and 46.2 percent of the goal share. Under Woodcroft, those numbers were 53.5 percent and 64.2 percent, respectively.In my eyes, we’re in for a big year from Darnell Nurse on the Oilers backend and he may finally be able to cement himself as one of the best defencemen in the NHL.
Nurse had a tough year, as did Cody Ceci. On the ice together, they played 1081 5×5 minutes controlling 50 percent of the shot attempts, 50.39 percent of the expected goal share, and 49.95 percent of the scoring chances. They were outscored 48-46 and that’s just not good enough for your top pair.
Much like with virtually every other player on the team coming back, I’m excited to see what Ceci can do over a full-season playing under Woodcroft and Dave Manson. We saw strides last season in short order and now, Ceci will likely draw in on the top-pairing alongside Darnell Nurse once again.
After a great first season with the Oilers, Ceci had major struggles this season and is likely on his way out of town as a cap casualty. The Oilers played him and Nurse together far too much.
I’m expecting a breakout season from Bouchard this year. He has a tremendous shot and I expect him to use it more, and I also think it’s time for him to take over PP1 duties as the lone defenceman out there. He projects to take on that role down the road, and I think he’s ready for it now. It’s realistic to think that Bouchard can be a 60+ point player this season.
Bouchard blew up this year. He had a slow start, but when the Oilers took off the reins when Barrie was traded, Bouchard ran show. Post-Barrie trade, he scored five goals and 19 points in 21 regular season games — a 74-point pace — and had 17 points in 12 playoff games. At the time of writing, he’s still seventh in playoff scoring and is five points up on Morgan Reilly and Miro Heiskanen, who each had 12 points.
I’m excited to see what Broberg can do in his NHL career. From what we’ve seen, his ceiling is a legitimate top-four defenceman, but that could improve too.As I wrote about this past week, Broberg has a spot on this roster that’s essentially his to lose. He’ll likely draw in on the Oilers’ third pairing on the left-side and he’s already shown an ability to play the game well under Woodcroft and Tippett.
Well, Broberg lost his spot out of camp, and struggled to get it back. He did appear in 46 regular season games and nine playoff games this year. There’s a player here even if his development has been slow.
Looking ahead to this season, the Oilers need Holloway to take a step forward. His strengths lie in his playmaking ability and tenacious two-way play. He’s a physical presence on the ice, and doesn’t shy away from getting into scrums after the whistle. This is a type of edge the Oilers need in their lineup.But just as importantly, Holloway will have a chance to contribute as a regular in the lineup. He could slide in on the Oilers’ third line and help provide some scoring depth for the team this year. Expectations can be lowered there too as he won’t be needing to play important minutes.That being said, he projects down the road as the perfect top-six winger to play alongside Connor McDavid or Leon Drasiaitl.
The Oilers could’ve used a season from Holloway that saw him play top-six minutes and contribute, but he had some struggles out of the gate this year as a rookie. He scored three goals and nine points in 51 NHL games and seven goals and 10 points in 12 AHL games this year. His projection for next season is the same, in my eyes.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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