Final season was an amazing success for the Edmonton Oilers. Although they did not make it to the Stanley Cup Finals, making it to the Western Convention Finals for the primary time since 2006 continues to be an enormous optimistic in my guide.
The group will now look to construct on that document within the 2022-23 season and present that reaching the quarter-finals was no fluke.
Taking a look at their lineup proper now, it is simple to see a means for the Oilers to grow to be a significantly better common season group than final season, once they scored 104 factors and completed second within the Pacific Division.
There are a selection of gamers who may probably take a step again subsequent season, and I am going to have a submit about that subsequent week.
Usually, when groups go on a future just like the Oilers have, they’re compelled to make some actually robust choices within the offseason.
Effectively, the Oilers are bringing again the identical ahead lineup, solely lacking Duncan Keith from their blue line, and have truly upgraded their goaltending tandem from Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen to Jack Campbell and Stuart Skinner.
One other factor that always causes groups to go on wild runs is gamers’ loopy warm-ups, and to be sincere, the Oilers did not get a lot of that final season. Actually, they’ve a handful of gamers on their roster who can do higher than final season.
To begin with, they’ve younger gamers who actually deserve the expertise of final season.
You possibly can depend on Evan Bouchard to deal with harder minutes than final season, and his major job will probably be to attain factors within the offensive zone and get the ball out of his group’s finish, which he excelled eventually season, however that is very reasonable. His recreation will enhance subsequent season.
I do not assume Bouchard will ever be higher defensively than offensively, however he had some tough nights in his personal zone final season and is now in his first full NHL season below his belt. zone, I do not assume it is honest to say that we may see main enhancements in his personal zone from Bouchard.
Elsewhere on the blue line, Darnell Nurse is an attention-grabbing choice to take a step ahead subsequent season. He wants to remain wholesome and that can undoubtedly assist. I spoke with our resident analytics guru, NHL Sid, about Nurse and Bouchard:
Nurse and Bouchard have been a bit poor offensively on the ice at 21-22. I feel each of them can produce extra subsequent season, particularly Bouchard who has to take the following step.
There are additionally a couple of candidates forward.
Jesse Puljujarvi had a number of offense early within the season, however his manufacturing actually slowed down after coping with COVID and an higher physique harm. Whether or not he is on the identical line as Connor McDavid or on the third line with somebody like Ryan McLeod, the Oilers may have a 20-goal scorer on their arms with Puljujarvi.
Kyler Yamamoto is in the identical place. He nonetheless wants a brand new deal, even with the ups and downs of the 2022-2023 season, however I feel he’ll see some stability as he matures as a participant. I like his tenacity up entrance and when he is enjoying, he is simply as able to scoring targets. He simply must preserve these two issues in his recreation extra usually.
Warren Voegele could possibly be changed like Puljujarvi earlier than subsequent season, however assuming he is right here, I feel it is honest to count on the Oilers to get a couple of extra targets from the 26-year-old winger.
Plus, I feel the Oilers will look to Voegele to supply extra constant physicality within the backside six. If he can disrupt the forecheck extra, I feel he might be a part of a reasonably strong third line with items like Ryan McLeod. Jesse Puljujarvi, or possibly even Dylan Holloway (though that will should be on Voegele’s wing).
The NHL Sid additionally had a couple of ideas on the Oilers’ bottom-six picks that might enhance subsequent season:
Foegele ought to produce a bit extra, he was at a profession low in SH%. McLeod’s on-ice SH% was close to the underside of the group. With the fitting companions, his manufacturing can improve.
I’d additionally throw a participant like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins into the combo. He scored 50 factors in 63 video games, however nearly half of these, 24 to be precise, got here on the ability play. If he can improve his 5v5 manufacturing, it should assist the Oilers win extra hockey video games.
To wrap this up, I am going to share one other notice from Sid:
Regardless of main the league in scoring, McDavid’s on-ice SH% was surprisingly at a profession low. It is loopy to consider, however he may break much more manufacturing data subsequent season.
That ought to make each group within the Pacific Division and the Western Convention tremble in worry.
If Connor McDavid can proceed his 82-game playoff streak, we could possibly be in for a historic season for the Oilers captain.