The season started lousy but these Edmonton Oilers have some life of late. Despite dropping a 4-1 decision to the Washington Capitals last night there were some positives from the game that the team can build on.
Injuries are mounting up and key players are missing from the lineup on a nightly basis, but with plenty of firepower remaining and a slight resurgence of Devan Dubnyk, there is once again optimism in Oil Country.
Jordan Eberle is tied for the team lead in points with 3 goals and 7 assists and not to mention is a threat every time he’s on the ice.
Mark Arcobello is perhaps the biggest surprise of the season for the Oilers, putting up 10 assists to start the season and looking quite comfortable playing on the top two lines.
Boyd Gordon got off to a hot start but has cooled lately, but still plays a strong defensive game and is leading the team in faceoff winning percentage at over 60%; a rarity in recent years in Edmonton.
Ales Hemsky has moments where he dazzles and makes it look as though he has the puck on a string. Throw in the willingness to block a couple of shots at key moments in the game and Hemsky’s value to this team is higher than it has been in the last four or five seasons.
The return of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins gave this team an immediate boost and he’s playing like the Nuge that everyone remembers from his rookie campaign, putting up 4 goals and 4 assists in 8 games since recovering from shoulder surgery.
Forward Taylor Hall is another name that could be considered the best player for the Oilers so far despite now being on the shelf for the next few weeks. Hall is on pace for a point per game average and is once again being labeled as the straw that stirs the drink here in Edmonton.
And then there is Jeff Petry who has arguably been the team’s best defenceman so far this year. He leads all Oilers’ d-men with 2 goals, has 2 assists and sits at a rating of 0, neither plus nor minus. His ability to keep it simple in his own end while making that first key pass to move the puck to the neutral zone is invaluable for a hockey club that is slowly coming around on the defensive side.
There are other players that could be mentioned. David Perron comes to mind, who has been a pleasant addition this year thanks to his offensive abilities but more importantly the role of agitator that he brings to the team.
Ladislav Smid, Petry’s partner on the blue line is another unsung hero so far for the Oilers, quietly playing his rock solid game on the back end, blocking shots and hitting opponents mercifully every shift.
But in the end we decided to use the seven players mentioned and find out who you the readers think has been the Oilers best player through the team’s first eleven games.