Can the Oilers get more out of Warren Foegele?
In his first season with the Oilers, Foegele’s overall offensive production was down a bit from his previous two seasons in Carolina. Foegele had 0.44 points-per-game (PPG) in 2020, 0.37 PPG in 2021 and 0.32 in 2022.
His point totals were down, but so was his overall ice time. He averaged 13:43/game in 2020, 14:09 in 2021, and 12:37/game with the Oilers. An extra 60-90 seconds per game might not sound like much, but for a player, it can make a difference.
Foegele had a streaky season. He scored 2-2-4 in his first seven games, but then went 0-4-4 in his next 20 games, then produced 3-2-5 in eight games, then 0-2-2 over 10 games, followed by 2-3-5 in seven games, then 2-1-3 over 19 games and finished the season with 3-0-3 in the final 11 games.
He scored 10-7-17 in 33 games when he was hot, but only had 2-7-9 in his other 49 games. During his 20-game goalless stretch in November and December, he missed multiple breakaways and a few other quality chances. He had some high-quality chances but just couldn’t finish. If he buries one or two of them his season is much closer to his previous two years in Carolina. He had an 8.5 shooting% with the Oilers after 10.1% and 11% in Carolina. His 8.5SH% was the lowest of his four-year career, and him being closer to 10.2% this coming season is likely.
The one aspect that was different in Edmonton was his lack of time on the penalty kill.
In 2020 and 2021 Foegele played the 4th and 5th most minutes on the PK in Carolina. The Hurricanes had the 4th best PK in 2020, were 3rd in 2021, and were 3rd overall both years combined. Foegele wasn’t a penalty killer on a bad unit. He contributed on a good penalty kill, yet last season he never got an opportunity on the Oilers’ 17th-ranked PK.
Foegele wants an opportunity to be in the PK rotation, and if head coach Jay Woodcroft is looking for a way to get Foegele more involved in the game then giving him a look on the PK in preseason makes sense.
In the playoffs, the Oilers relied heavily on Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Zach Hyman, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Evander Kane as they all played 19:38/game or more. Kailer Yamamoto averaged 16:16 and Ryan McLeod played 14:33/game.
Derek Ryan, Jesse Puljujarvi and Foegele averaged 11, 10 and 9:36 minutes/game respectively. If the Oilers want to go deeper in the playoffs they will need more than seven forwards who can play 11+ minutes a game. Maybe Foegele isn’t the answer, but he needs to be given an opportunity to show if he can contribute more.
The easy way to get Foegele more involved is to challenge him and give him a role on the PK unit. Every player wants more responsibility, and looking at the Oilers roster I don’t see Foegele getting more PP time or 5×5 time, so an extra 60-90 seconds a game on the PK is the only option.
He showed in Carolina he can be an effective penalty killer. Here are the 10 forwards who played at least 50 minutes on the PK in 2020 and 2021 for the Hurricanes.
And here are their shots against, goals against and more per 60.
Foegele’s goals against and expected goals against/60 were both very competitive. Granted, he wasn’t on the top PK unit, so he didn’t face the opposing team’s top unit as often, but I don’t expect him to suddenly be on the Oilers’ top unit either. But for two seasons in Carolina, he showed he could perform well on one of the best PK units in the NHL.
The Oilers had one of the top units in 2020 and 2021 as well but struggled last season falling down to 17th. I don’t believe Foegele will cure all the woes of the PK, but if you want him more involved this season then the PK makes sense.
In the playoffs, the top-six forwards in PK minutes were RNH, McLeod, Hyman, Ryan, Yamamoto and Josh Archibald. Draisaitl and McDavid were 7th and 8th. In the regular season the forwards who averaged more than one minute per game on the PK time were:
Colton Sceviour 1:33
Brad Malone 1:13
Devin Shore 1:09
Colton Sceviour 1:33
Brad Malone 1:13
Devin Shore 1:09
Archibald and Malone only played eight games, while Sceviour played 35 and Shore skated in 49. McLeod will be one of the top-four PK forwards for sure this season, but Foegele might challenge Ryan for some PK time (although he doesn’t take faceoffs, but him slotting as the 5th PK forward is plausible).
I’d rather use Foegele on the PK than other top-six forwards, plus it spreads out the minutes a bit more. Jay Woodcroft has spoke often about giving players a role and responsibility and having them relish it. I’d expect Woodcroft will give Foegele a look on the PK during training camp and in the preseason and see how he responds.
ODDS AND ENDS…
— McLeod is going to feel the pinch of the flat cap. With no arbitration rights, I sense he will sign for $900K to $1m. Others around the league are in a similar spot. It isn’t reflective of how the organization views him, just the simple lack of cap space across the NHL.
— The aforementioned article about Foegele might be meaningless if he is traded. Edmonton needs to clear some cap space, and Foegele is one of the tradeable options. Until the Oilers free up some cap space, talk of signing any other player is moot. The Oilers don’t have the space to sign McLeod at this moment, let alone any other UFAs. Keep in mind they have $896K in bonus overages.
Edmonton currently has 12 forwards signed, (McDavid, Draisaitl, Kane, Hyman, RNH, Yamamoto, Foegele, Janmark, Puljujarvi, Holloway, Shore and Ryan) seven D-men (Nurse, Ceci, Barrie, Bouchard, Kulak, Broberg and Koekkoek and two goalies (Campbell and Skinner) on the roster.
That is a total of $78,026,666. Then add in the $896K of bonus overages and $750K for Milan Lucic salary retention and $3,416,667 in buyouts from James Neal and Andrej Sekera.
That is a total of $83,089,333 and that is without Oscar Klefbom and Mike Smith already on LTIR. So currently the Oilers are $589,333 over the cap and they have to sign McLeod.
A trade seems inevitable unless an injury to a player with a $3m AAV occurs between now and the start of the regular season.