Edmonton Oilers Stock Report: Evaluating a hectic first week

Edmonton Oilers Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Edmonton Oilers Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports /

Hockey is back! And the Edmonton Oilers have had a very successful week, starting their season a perfect 3-0. There’s nothing to complain about in that department, but they certainly have not played perfect hockey by any means.

And that brings us to the stock report, who or what has been trending up? And vise versa. Every week that the Oilers play at least one game there will be a stock report. The goal of this is to evaluate trends over the course of the season to see where reasons for optimism lie, and what concerns pop up.

Without further ado let us jump right in with some trends on the Edmonton Oilers season so far:

Trending up: Zach Hyman

Through three games, Hyman has been absolutely everything Oilers fans hoped for. While two points in three games is good, that’s not what makes Hyman stand out. When you watch him play, you notice his effort. You notice how much harder he works than every other player on the ice.

It doesn’t matter if he’s asked to win a puck battle in the corner, beat out an icing call, or block a heavy shot from the point. Hyman is willing to do anything and everything asked of him, and that’s why he’s paid like he is.

While the advanced analytics suggest Hyman has been mediocre through three games, those numbers are skewed by a poor performance from his line against the Ducks. That is the issue with evaluating just a three-game sample, one bad game makes you look a lot worse. Give it some time and Hyman’s numbers will look just fine.

Trending down: Kyle Turris

I don’t want to be mean, but I don’t get why Kyle Turris is on this roster. After a week of games, Turris sits dead-last amongst Oilers players who have played in all three games, with just a 33.5% expected goals rate (data courtesy of Natural Stat Trick). I know I just said in the Hyman section that one bad game can skew the numbers against you this early on, but Turris hasn’t finished above 44.02% in any of the three games played thus far.

He’s been borderline unplayable so far, that has to change and fast. The Oilers can’t afford to have a bottom-six that gets caved in whenever it’s on the ice.

Tending up: Jesse Puljujarvi 

There’s a fine line one must walk when discussing Puljujarvi. Yes, he’s played very well through the first three games, but he also is fortunate enough to play on a line with McDavid and Draisaitl as well as the top powerplay unit.

Through three games he’s racked up a pair of goals and four assists. While his production won’t stay at two points a game for very long, it would be hard to find an Oiler fan who isn’t content with the former fourth overall pick.

If the current top-line stays in place all year, Puljujarvi will easily eclipse his current career-high in points and could put up numbers somewhere in the 30-goal and 40-assist range.

Trending down: Five-on-five play

So this is a bit of a strange juxtaposition. How can the top six forwards be so good, yet the team’s five-on-five play be trending down?

Well, the game against the Ducks pretty much highlighted all of my concerns from the first two games. When the goaltending isn’t performing at a high level, the goals against start to pile up. And that was the case against Anaheim, as Smith left the game due to injury after a brutal start to his night.

Through three games, Edmonton sits 24th in chances for percentage (46.77%), while they have stronger numbers in expected goals and high danger chances. And even then, Draisaitl and McDavid account for 56.25% of the team’s high danger looks. Additionally, they are middle of the pack in terms of how many chances they give up. That leads to games as we saw on Tuesday night.

The Oilers aren’t controlling possession the way that they could be. When they have the puck good things happen, but at five-on-five so far, they have been playing defence too much. The Edmonton Oilers have been playing some high event hockey. And while that makes them fun to watch, that isn’t a style of play that can be maintained all season if the team truly wants to find success. At some point, Edmonton is going to have to make a larger commitment to team defence.