Both of our newcomers to the roster – Nick Bjugstad and Mattias Ekholm – have been vital to the success of the club.
Bjugstad has put up 3-2-5 in 12 games since coming here along with a great +3. Not only did this allow the Oilers to play Nuge in the top six full time thus allowing the firepower to go nuclear, but to push Ryan Mcleod to the fourth line and use his talents to drive the bus there and produce more offence from the fourth line.
Bjugstad’s presence has only become more important since Ryan Mcleod has become injured.
Mattias Ekholm, meanwhile, has come as advertised and more. In 14 games with the Oilers so far, Ekholm has put up 3-6-9 and a fantastic +14. I’d love to see what Ekholm can do in a full season in an Oilers uniform next season – what we’re seeing so far has been stellar. I knew he’d be able to show us more offence than he could in Nashville as he’s on a better team in Edmonton.
As expected, Ekholm has played a big role on the PK as well, being a regular on the second unit and playing 2:05 per game, fourth on the team.
Bjugstad is also a regular on the first unit PK, spending 1:37 on the PK, ninth on the team. Interestingly enough, both Bjugstad and Ekholm are regulars on the second unit PP as well, something I wasn’t expecting to see in my research. Both are outside the top 10 in ice time per game, though, 21 and 33 seconds per game respectively.
For the record, the PK is improving as the season goes along, as it’s sitting 22nd in the league right now, better than the 24th and lower than it was earlier on in the season.
He’s also helped Evan Bouchard immensely, as Bouchard has been held pointless in only three games since he was paired with Ekholm and expected to take over for Tyson Barrie.
To put that in perspective, Bouchard only had points in a whopping four games COMBINED in the months of January and February.
Neither Bjugstad nor Ekholm are very physical as they’re outside the top 10 on the team in both hits and blocked shots.
The PP has lost some jam since Tyson Barrie was traded, but the difference is a lot more negligible than I thought it would be – it was 33%+ with Barrie and is now 32.7% without him. Unsurprisingly, this still leads the league which is what’s more important.
Looks like the chance that Holland took in trading away Barrie and elevating Bouchard is working, which is good news for everyone.