Edmonton Oilers Stock Report: Injury bug hits as season drags along

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

As the season drags along the Edmonton Oilers continue to battle for the Pacific division lead with their Rivals down in Calgary. And this week, they won another pair of games before dropping one to the Stars.

Oh, and Connor McDavid scored another ridiculous goal.

It is truly something to behold when McDavid flips the switch and decides that he is going to win a game for the Oilers on any given night. And the game against the Jets was just that.

However, I am not going to just gush about McDavid and Draisaitl’s continued dominance this week. Simply because that would be too easy, and I am running out of ways to say the Oilers’ power duo made incredible plays and put up more points.

Trending up: Ryan McLeod

Goals in two straight games for the kid, that is everything anyone could want out of him.

His goal against the Blackhawks stood out to me though.

First, he gets in on the forecheck with a good puck retrieval. Then, after giving it back to the point he finds open ice and attacks it waiting for the puck, before making a nice move to finish the play.

If McLeod could become a semi-consistent producer for the Oilers on that third line, it would mean the world. And it would probably lead to more playing time as well.

Trending down: Team health

Part of every hockey season is injuries and how a team deals with them. In the last week of action, the Oilers have lost Darnell Nurse (broken finger) and Slater Koekkoek (lower body), both of whom are now on injured reserve. Additionally, Duncan Keith exited the Stars game with an upper-body injury.

That is all three of the Oilers’ main left-side defencemen, so this is less than ideal, to say the least.

This was also paired with the news that Mike Smith was moved onto long-term injured reserve. Obviously, Smith has missed a majority of the season already but this signals he will be out for a while. I hope Oilers fans are ready for the Koskinen-Skinner duo for an extended period of time.

Trending up: Zach Hyman

I have not given enough praise to Hyman this season. He has consistently been great for the Oilers. Beyond just having good point totals, his advanced numbers have also been really good, especially this past week.

Hyman led all Oilers skaters in expected goals percentage over the past three games, with 63.1 percent. He was also third in corsi for percentage (56.2), sixth in scoring chances for percentage (53.49), and was tied for fourth with an even 50 percent high danger chances for percentage (data courtesy of Natural Stat Trick).

Beyond controlling play at even strength, Hyman’s most valuable work comes on the penalty kill. Now yes, the penalty kill struggled against the Stars, but that should not sour the value Hyman has had to the unit’s success through nearly a quarter of the season.

Hyman is the ultimate swiss army knife that every coach dreams about.

Trending down: Five-on-five play

Back to the well of poor even-strength play I know, what I want to highlight this time is the high danger chances percentage. This past week it was down 7.8 percent, as the Oilers controlled just 38.1 percent of the high danger chances at even strength this past week.

Five-on-five play has been a struggle for this team all season long. They are below the 50 percent threshold for every major advanced analytical category with the exception of corsi for percentage, where they have 50.4 percent.

They also sit tied for 28th in the league in five-on-five goals allowed with the Buffalo Sabres, having given up 41 goals at even strength.

The Oilers are an objectively fun team to watch. That being said, part of what makes them fun is the non-stop action at both ends. I will die on the hill that the Oilers have got to play a more structured game. This run-and-gun style does not work in the playoffs, you have to be able to create offence in other ways. That is why the Oilers added players like Hyman and Foegle in the offseason, but they are not enough.

It doesn’t matter right now because the Oilers are winning. At the end of the day, winning is all that matters. So for now, and likely the rest of the regular season, Edmonton can get away with their style of play. But does this honestly feel like a cup-contending roster? Because it sure doesn’t to me.

This upcoming week the Edmonton Oilers will play just a pair of games, Wednesday night in Arizona to face the Coyotes and Saturday evening against the Vegas Golden Knights.