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Which Oilers could regress in 2022-23?

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Photo credit:Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Tyler Yaremchuk
3 months ago
Last week, I looked at which Oilers could reasonably be expected to improve next season. That list included names like Darnell Nurse, Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto, and surprisingly, Connor McDavid.
Now, it’s time to look at the not-so-fun side of this conversation: players who could regress next season.
Off the jump, there is one very obvious candidate and that’s Evander Kane.
After signing with the Oilers about halfway through the 2021-22 season, Kane scored 22 goals in 43 games and added 17 assists. If you pro-rate that to an 82-game season, it works out to roughly 42 goals and 32 assists. Almost a point per game. His playoff production was even better as he potted 13 goals in 15 games thanks in part to a pair of postseason hat-tricks. 
Kane has shown throughout the course of his career that he’s more than capable of scoring at a 30+ goal pace, having done it six times, but 40 goals? That’s a whole different level of production.
His shooting percentage with the Oilers was 14.5%, the highest single-season mark of his career and a whopping 4.6% higher than his career average. It’s also worth noting he scored three empty-net goals in 43 games, which was tied for the second most on the team. Draisaitl also had three over the course of the entire season and McDavid had seven.
When you look at just the numbers, it would appear foolish to expect a 40-goal season from Evander Kane. He’s never hit that mark before in his career and his shooting percentage should creep closer to his career average next season.
On the other hand, you could look at that spike in production and point to the fact that Kane spent almost all his time riding shotgun next to either McDavid or Draisaitl and that shouldn’t change next season. The spike in his shooting percentage could be because he was being put in great spots to score and he’s a naturally talented finisher.
Another interesting part of this conversation is Kane’s contract. The Oilers did not pay Kane like he’s a potential 40-goal scorer. In fact, they didn’t even pay him as if he’s a potential 30-goal scorer. At a $5.125 million cap hit, if the Oilers get anywhere north of 25 goals next season, it’s still a really good contract. The fact that there is even a reasonable conversation to be had about Kane potentially scoring north of 35 goals next season shows that this contract has the potential to be one of the best value deals in the league.
So Kane is a prime candidate to regress next season simply because his 42-goal pace appears to be a statistical anomaly but, I do think he’s a very good bet to hit the 30-goal mark next season and that would still be very impactful for the Oilers.
I also asked our resident analytics expert NHL Sid for his take on Kane:
“He should still score a lot this season (~30+ goals) but his SH% in the playoffs was clearly unsustainable. Kane should also be on-ice for more goals against, as his on-ice SV% was at a career-high.”
When looking for players to potentially regress, I looked at players who really surprised me in 2021-22 and one name that certainly did that is Cody Ceci. I don’t really view him as much of a candidate to regress though. He will be staying in a similar role and at just 28 years old, there’s really not much of a reason to expect that Ceci’s play will magically fall off a cliff. When Ken Holland initially signed that contract, I was admittedly very nervous about it, but now I think the Oilers will be getting tremendous value out of Ceci and his $3.25m cap hit for each of the next three seasons.
Zach Hyman set a career-high last season with 27 goals and 54-points. He shot 12.7% and that’s just 0.4% higher than his career average though so there isn’t a lot of concern there. The only thing that could hurt his production a little bit is if he loses a significant amount of powerplay time to a player like Kane but even then, Hyman only scored five powerplay goals last season so even without those goals, he’ll still be a 20-goal scorer and will bring the Oilers value on the penalty kill as well.
Also, it really doesn’t matter who’s tapping in passes from McDavid and Draisaitl on the powerplay, as long as the pucks are going it, the team will be fine.
I know some people are worried about Jack Campbell having to take the reigns as this team’s starting goaltender but his year-over-year numbers are relatively consistent.
There really weren’t a lot of Oilers that were unlucky last season, it was actually kind of the opposite, as I wrote last week. I believe it’s very reasonable to expect that the Oilers will take a big step forward next season. 110+ points and a Pacific Division title? Why not!?

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