Posted 7:23 PM ET | Comments 0
243. That's the magic number to discuss. That is the number of goals the Oilers scored last season. The number put them at #8 in the league and #3 in the West. The simple question here is; can they do it again?
For starters here are the players... and goals... that are no longer with the team.
Jordan Eberle - 20 Goals
The biggest loss on this list. Despite his lack of defensive awareness and the perception that he is lazy, Eberle scores goals. Even in his worst offensive year in which he was shooting well below his average he still managed to put up 20 goals.
Benoit Pouliot - 8 Goals
His worst season. He went from a potential McDavid linemate to a healthy scratch. He is no longer a concern for the Oilers but it will be interesting to see if last season was an aberration or the beginning of the end of his career.
Tyler Pitlick - 8 Goals
This could be a bigger loss than some expect. Averaging less than 10 minutes a night Pitlick had the second highest P/60 behind McDavid. A very small sample size but he brought offense to the 4th line.
Matt Hendricks - 4 Goals
Age caught up with him. Was a good warrior for this team.
David Desharnais - 2 Goals
Anton Lander - 1 Goal
That is a total of 43 Goals that is gone from the roster. Newcomers Jussi Jokinen, Ryan Strome, and potentially Yohann Auvitu will produce for this team but I don't think their additions alone equal 43 more goals. Both Jokinen and Strome could produce between 10-20 goals each depending on their usage and if either get time with the McDavid Factor.
Next we need to expect that not every player from the returning roster will produce as well as they did last season. There are four players in particular:
1.) Leon Draisaitl - Yes the Deutschland Dangler himself. This is by no means a knock against Drai. This roster will benefit long term if Draisaitl can produce on a line away from McDavid. Strome or Puljujarvi could play their way onto McDavid's line this season leaving McLellan the option of moving Drai to the #2 spot. This team would benefit more with Leon scoring 65 on his own line, than 80 with McDavid.
2.) Mark Letestu - Mr. Powerplay. Letestu is a good fourth line centre. He wins faceoffs and produces at 5 on 5 at an average rate for his position. Last season he was literally the only right shot capable of shooting on the PP and again; Strome and Puljujarvi should both get time in this spot.
3.) Patrick Maroon - Maroon shot almost 17% 5 on 5. That number is not going to stay that high. Maroon is still a very effective complimentary player but as we see his Sh% average out we will see his production drop.
4.) Andrej Sekera - Obvious one here. Sekera is going to miss the first couple months of the season and it is difficult to score goals when you aren't playing.
The team is going to need some players to step up and make up for lost production and the good news is there are some likely candidates.
1.) Jesse Puljuajrvi - This is the big one. The Oilers have terrible depth at right wing right now. Puljujarvi needs to produce, plain and simple. His AHL numbers after being sent down are promising but he needs to translate that to the NHL.
2.) Anton Slepeshev - Many mock lineups have Slepeshev on the second line and if that's the case he needs to bury some chances. The big man has shown flashes of skill but it's time to figure out if he can be a guy like Maroon, or if he's a career 4th liner.
3.) Darnell Nurse - Should get a push in ice time with Sekera out. Excels at chipping into the offensive zone but has yet to prove he can be an offensive weapon.
4.) Zach Kassian - The guy had like 10 goals called back this year... law of averages says at least a few of those count this year.
5.) Connor McDavid - This entire argument of mine that the Oilers need players to step up could be completely erased because Connor decides to get selfish with the puck and pot 50 this season. It isn't impossible by any stretch.
Get to the point, do they do it?
It'll be close. My current guess is 237 goals based on player fall off and some inevitable injuries. Chiarelli took risks this summer by moving out known commodities in favour of the unknown. Guys like Strome and Puljujarvi need to produce or the RW depth can be moved into catastrophic territory. Obviously I would prefer to see that number improve based on last season but I do not believe the roster itself is improved from last year.
Thanks for reading!