Edmonton Oilers Stock Report: Oilers remain perfect through second week

Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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The NHL season has been up and running for two weeks now, and the Edmonton Oilers sit near the top of the league as one of four undefeated teams thus far.

As someone who is looking to criticize their play on the ice, they are making my life difficult. However, no team is perfect, even if the Oilers are playing about as well as they can be right now.

This past week was relatively calm, as Edmonton had a back-to-back last Thursday and Friday, and has not played since. This week though, they have another three games spaced out over five days.

So let’s get into the week that was, and see who or what is trending up, and trending down.

Trending up: McDavid’s chances at the rocket

Last season only one player scored more goals than Connor McDavid, that being Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews. But as Matthews has had a slow start to the season, McDavid has quickly started racking up goals. He’s scored a ridiculous 98-goal pace, and he currently sits tied for second in the league in goals, trailing Alex Ovechkin, Andrew Mangiapane, and Elias Lindholm, all by just a single goal. And all of those players have played an extra game than the Oilers captain.

Like many players who have had good starts in the goal-scoring department, McDavid’s pace will regress at some point.

However, it’s not crazy to think McDavid could score 50 goals for the first time in his career. And the fact that he added a one-timer to his arsenal will only help that pursuit.

Trending down: Tyson Barrie

Barrie’s point pace isn’t too concerning so far (on pace for 32 points in 82 games) but what is concerning are his on-ice results. Through five games Barrie is tied amongst Oilers skaters for the most goals against while he is on the ice at even strength, with five. Additionally, Barrie is third last on the Oilers in CF% with just 39.88%. And the two players below him, Tyler Benson and Ryan McLeod have a combined three games played, whereas Barrie has played all five games so far. Barrie also ranks third last in expected goals percentage, and sixth last in high danger chances for percentage among Oilers skaters (data courtesy of Natural Stat Trick).

I said this last week and I’ll reiterate it because it still applies, the season is still young enough that one bad game can tilt the scales against you. That being said, Barrie has finished below 50% Corsi for, and expected goals for, in three out of five games. And he barely passes both marks in the game against the Canucks. The only game so far that Barrie has had a really strong performance was against the Coyotes.

Trending up: Special teams play

Through five games, the Edmonton Oilers’ powerplay is scoring at a ludicrous 47.1% rate, which is absolutely absurd. Like McDavid’s scoring pace, it will eventually regress, but even then, a 30% power play percentage seems like a given for this team. Last season, the Oilers converted 27.59% of their opportunities with the man-advantage, which was tops in the league. The fact that they appear to have gotten even better should be a terrifying thought for the rest of the league.

Not to mention, the Oiler penalty kill is also finding tremendous early-season success. They sit sixth in the league with an 88.2 penalty kill percentage. They’ve only allowed a pair of goals while shorthanded, and they’ve scored a goal shorthanded too. They’ve also given up the fifth-least amount of high danger chances while down a man. Edmonton’s penalty kill has been elite so far this season, and that is a trend they will look to continue.

Trending down: Nothing

The Edmonton Oilers have played about as well as anyone could have hoped. I could rehash what I said last week and talk about their play at 5 on 5 showing at least some level of long-term concern. But even if I did that, the results have been better in the last two games as opposed to the first three. So for this week, the team gets a pass on the second trending down section.

I do want to add a really quick, sort of mini-trending-up section. It would be incredibly beneficial for the Oilers if Mikko Koskinen can provide solid goaltending behind Mike Smith. Koskinen didn’t start a game until Smith got hurt, and he played well on back-to-back nights. Perhaps he can win some trust back and earn some starts which would help prevent Smith’s workload from becoming too overwhelming.