The Oilers lack of depth on the right side has been a point of contention over these past few months. If we plan for RNH and Draisaitl to both be playing in their natural position things look even worse. Strome, Puljujarvi, Slepyshev, Kassian... these are the Oilers top RW options. Kassian is most suited for the bottom 6, Strome could end up playing centre, and Puljujarvi is an unknown commodity right now.
Today we are going to try and figure out what to expect from Anton Slepyshev.
Slepyshev was originally a product of the bizarre draft table dealing by MacT that saw the Oilers end up with 5 picks from 83-113. Out of those five names; Yakimov, Slepyshev, Houck, Platzer, and Muir only Slepyshev looks to be an NHL player. The 23 year old Russian winger currently has an opportunity to grab a top 6 spot on opening night.
Slepyshev performed adequately in his role this past season, scoring 10 points in 41 games. Averaging 11 minutes a night and spending most of his time with offensive juggernauts Pouliot and Desharnais... 10 points isn't too bad. During the playoffs he scored 3 goals in the 12 games and while I would be hesitant to use those games as what to expect he looked quite strong on a line with Lucic and Draisaitl. That is the duo I expect Slepyshev to be playing with on opening night.
As is the case with many Chiarelli players (MacTavish drafted him) Slepyshev plays a physical game. His 64 hits in 41 GP last season, rated over a full season would have him 6th on the team in hits. As far as speed goes, he will never be the fastest player on the ice but the 218lb winger is not an anchor. His breakaway goal against the Sharks is an example of what the kid can do. If he can work on his shot accuracy, Slepyshev could do for a Draisaitl line what Maroon does for the McDavid line.
Having said all this what are reasonable expectations? While I have said I expect him to start with Draisaitl and Lucic I certainly don't see that lasting all season. There will be times throughout the year we will see Draisaitl and McDavid together and I imagine Puljujarvi and Strome will both cut into his ice time as well. As far as the power-play goes Letestu, Strome, and potentially Puljujarvi will get a crack before him.
For a player who will bounce between the second and third lines with little power-play time I think over a full season 13-24-37 is a fair estimation. I have seem some suggestions that Slepyshev could be a 20 goal scorer next season but unless he is getting some McDavid time I just don't see it.
Slepyshev is part of a weakened right wing cluster. With the loss of Jordan Eberle the right wing depth chart will need to score by committee instead of relying on an individual. Slepyshev has the size and skill to produce at the NHL level and is on the last year of his ELC. If he wants a future with the Oilers or any NHL organization this is the year to prove himself.
Thanks for reading!