Jason Gregor kicked off a series looking at the Oilers defence, so I thought I’d take a look at the clubs forward ranks.
Edmonton’s forward group is a top-heavy group that heavily relied on three players: Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
The trio combined for 268 points this year. Every other forward who dressed in a game for Edmonton this year combined for 192 points.
The disparity in offensive production from the Oilers is huge. Obviously having McDavid and Draisaitl combining for over 200 points on their own is huge, but the truth is that the Oilers have a large lack of production from the bottom of their lineup.
At 5v5, those numbers become starker.
What’s clear is this: the Oilers need more consistent scoring and more consistent puck possession on their roster. Zack Kassian and Kailer Yamamoto had strong seasons this year, so credit where its due.
Kassian played a lot with McDavid and Draisaitl this year but was still able to contribute. Yamamoto was a great addition on New Year’s Eve and he was a big impact player for the Oilers.
Undoubtedly the Oilers are run through Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid. They were tremendous for the Oilers and accounted for way more goals than they needed to. That’s in no thanks to the remainder of the roster.
It’s expected that Draisaitl and McDavid should carry the Oilers. They’re two of the best players in the league and it’s expected for them to produce. They did nothing short of that this year.
What Edmonton’s missed for years are players to complement their top group.
What’s it going to take?
It’s clear that Holland has his work cut out for him. I’d imagine if his recovery goes well I could see Edmonton re-signing Tyler Ennis to a cheap deal.
Holland will be handicapped by a tight cap and it’s going to be difficult to navigate that. There’s the potential for a buyout of James Neal. Could Holland do that to alleviate some short-term cap problems?
Zack Kassian signed a new deal part way through the year, and before its even come into effect I can imagine the Oilers regretting it. $3.2-million for the next four years is a lot for Kassian. There’s the possibility Edmonton looks at getting out of that deal in the trade market.
There’s a few players I could see walking this offseason into free agency. Riley Sheahan and Patrick Russell namely from the forwards.
Edmonton’s defence complicates things, as Gregor wrote about earlier. I can see one, or more of Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson or Kris Russell leaving via trades this offseason. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I don’t think trading Klefbom is part of the answer to the Oilers woes but we’ll see what happens.
Edmonton could utilize Larsson and/or Russell in the trade market to acquire some middle-six help up front for the Oilers. One team I would be keeping a close eye on is the Pittsburgh Penguins.
There’s talk they are looking to spend in the low $70-million mark meaning they need to cut costs significantly. Jake Guentzel, Jason Zucker, Patric Hornqvist, Bryan Rust and maybe even Evgeni Malkin could be had for the right price.
It’s going to take a while for things to fall in place. Holland and company are currently in their offseason mode and will be taking a deep dive into what went wrong for the Oilers.
I can’t wait to see what happens in free agency and at the draft.
On Twitter: @zjlaing