Welcome to the 2021-22 season review and 2022-23 season preview player-by-player! In this, and other articles, I’ll be, well, reviewing the Edmonton Oilers 2021-22 season and previewing the 2022-23 season. You can read about the analytics behind my analysis here.
Sporting a smile that would make Bobby Clarke jealous, McLeod got his first real taste of the NHL this season four years after the Oilers selected him in the second round of the 2018 draft, 40th overall.
Production has never been an issue for the young centre scoring at torrid clips dating back to his days in the OHL where in his final year he scored 19 goals and 62 points in 63 games.
He joined the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors in the 2018-19 playoffs and played his first full season of pro hockey in 2019-20. While McLeod got 10 NHL games under his belt in 2020-21, this year he got a lot longer leash.
While he started off the year in Edmonton, the Oilers assigned him to the Condors in mid-October. He went down to the A scoring one goal and five points in seven games and worked his way back up to the big club in early November.
By the end of the season, McLeod had firmly established himself as the Oilers’ third-line centre scoring nine goals and 21 points in 71 games.
There is a lot to like about Ryan McLeod’s game. He has high-end speed and has shown very high levels of hockey IQ. His offensive game still has lots of room to develop, but he’s shown a strong ability to be in the right place at the right time to generate chances. There’s no denying that, at the very least, he can be the Oilers’ third-line center next year and well into the future.
.56 – .72 – 1.29
The underlying numbers for McLeod were for his rookie campaign. While the Oilers didn’t create a ton of offence with McLeod on the ice, they did an incredible job suppressing anything opposing teams tried to generate. Relative to his teammates, few were better at suppressing shot attempts, scoring chances, goals or expected goals than McLeod.
Looking at his isolated impact charts, there is lots to like. It’s clear his offensive game has a long, long way to go, but the defensive value he’s providing defensively and on the penalty kill is tremendous stuff.
McLeod, a RFA, is due for a new contract this offseason and a raise from the $925,000 cap hit and $867,500 salary. It’s not unreasonable for him to get anything in the $1.5-million to $2-million range, and that’s where I would expect his cap hit to fall on a shorter-term deal.
It’s clear he has the ability to play at the NHL level, and has shown he can play up and down the lineup when needed. Pencil him in comfortably as the Oilers’ 3C next season.
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 [email protected]
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