Stock Report: Russell sets a record and Koskinen stands tall for Oilers

Kris Russell #6, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
Kris Russell #6, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) /

The Edmonton Oilers had a rather light week with just a pair of games, both of which they won.

The Oilers record is now up to 15-5-0, the team’s best start since the 1985-86 season where they started 14-4-2.

Obviously, things have not been perfect, but that is an incredibly impressive record. And yet, it’s not even good enough for first place in the division.

Although to be fair, the Calgary Flames have played two extra games and are only up a single point in the standings. On the bright side, that means all battle of Alberta games will be extra high stakes this year.

But this is not a piece about the Oilers’ record or their place in the standings. Without further ado, let’s get into the stock report for the week.

Trending up: Kris Russell

Congratulations to Russell, who set the NHL record for blocked shots.

That is an impressive number of shots to step in front of, and I’m sure a very painful amount as well.

That would have been enough for me to put him in the trending up section, but then I stumbled upon this interesting stat.

Russell just sneaks onto this list, as the last defender mentioned.

This was shocking to me. I don’t view Russell in the most positive light as a player. So seeing him amongst the most efficient puck-moving defenders in the league was a very surprising fact.

He’s being depended upon a lot more with the injuries the Oilers’ have been dealing with. Being able to move the puck out of the D-zone is one of the most important traits a defender can have in today’s game. Especially with the forwards he’s moving the puck to.

Trending down: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins goal scoring

I know he just scored his second goal of the season, but that does not excuse this incredibly bizarre start to the season.

Obviously, we know his assist numbers have been ridiculous to start the year. He is in the top 10 in the league in that category.

However, it’s the goal scoring – or lack thereof – that has been particularly interesting.

Nugent-Hopkins is shooting just 4.3 percent, which is baffling.

His career average is 11.7 percent according to hockey reference, so he is due for some positive regression.

Nonetheless, to have just a pair of goals through 20 games is very odd for a player who has a point-per-game.

Trending up: Mikko Koskinen

Koskinen started, and won both games the Oilers played this past week. But it was his performance against Vegas that was particularly impressive.

The Golden Knights dominated the Oilers in that game, controlling just under 58 percent of the shot attempts, and just under 59 percent of the expected goals (data courtesy of Natural Stat Trick).

And yet, the Oilers won, in large part due to Koskinen’s brilliance.

Koskinen has been one of the Oilers’ most valuable players to start the 2021 campaign. No one expected him to play this much, but Mike Smith’s injury thrust him into the starting role rather abruptly. And Koskinen has shined in that spot, so much so that he may have forced his way into a tandem situation when Smith is healthy.

Trending down: Covid (what else is new)

This is something you absolutely hate to see.

Not long after that, the Oilers’ AHL affiliate, the Bakersfield Condors, announced their game against Stockton will be postponed due to Covid protocols.

The NHL has seen numerous teams affected by covid this season, and they recently sent out a memo to all 32 teams’ regarding the rising number of cases. Edmonton is but the most recent team in the league that has been affected. You obviously wouldn’t want to see games rescheduled but the health and safety of the players needs to come first. This is a situation worth monitoring closely.