The Oilers’ 3 major problems, and 3 analytical solutions

EDMONTON, CANADA - OCTOBER 21: Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers skates with the puck in the third period against the Winnipeg Jets on October 21, 2023 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Lawrence Scott/Getty Images)
EDMONTON, CANADA - OCTOBER 21: Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers skates with the puck in the third period against the Winnipeg Jets on October 21, 2023 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Lawrence Scott/Getty Images) /
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Edmonton Oilers
Nov 26, 2022; New York, New York, USA; Edmonton Oilers left wing Dylan Holloway (55) celebrates with Edmonton Oilers center Ryan McLeod (71) after Holloway’s goal against the Edmonton Oilers during the third period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports /


If the Oilers ever needed secondary, or even tertiary, scoring, now is the time to get it.

Erne and Janmark have yet to move the needle offensively. Erne saw two wide-open nets and power play time in game 4 and has managed nary a point on the season to show for it. The missed open nets account for the discrepancy between Erne-Janmark’s 3-1 HDCF-HDCA and 0-0 GF-GA. Likewise, Erne and Janmark have seen 5 scoring chances for and 7 chances against while they are on the ice together, and they only posted a 48.2 xGF%. Something has to change, and it surely isn’t going to be Derek Ryan, who posted 56.4 GF% and 56.6 xGF% last year – the cohesion of which suggests he is a player who can both contribute and score in a bottom-six role. He was one of the best bottom-six forwards last season when flanking McLeod and Foegele.


The way I see it, the Oilers have two players that could possibly provide NHL-quality offense percolating in Bakersfield right now. Calling up either one would require another player to be sent down on waivers first.

Lane Pederson in pre-season posted 1 goal, 50 GF%, 56.3 xGF%, 1.005 PDO, and 61.1 HDCF% in 62 minutes in preseason with the Oilers. Compare these to the Oilers’ stats without him of 55 GF%, 47.7 xGF%, 1.013 PDO, and 48.0 HDCF%, it can be suggested that he drove play in the small sample and the Oilers had their share of good fortune scoring without him on the ice with the rosters they played.

Meanwhile, in pre-season, Raphael Lavoie scored 2 goals, drew 3 penalties (!) with solo efforts, and had on-ice stats of 75.0 GF%, 47.9 xGF%, and 46.2 HDCF% on a 1.074 PDO. There are some concerns here, as the team posted stats without him of 50.0 GF%, 49.4 xGF%, and 50.5 HDCF% on a 0.999 PDO; however, one of his two goals was an elite release from a low-danger scoring area, which lowered his stats in these categories by probably a larger margin than the difference. His skillset should be tested in the NHL with decent linemates, as should Pederson’s.

Both Pederson and Lavoie have a recent history of dominating the AHL game, and it would make a lot of sense for the goal-deficient Oilers to send down one of their least-dangerous depth options to give one of these two men a chance to inject some offense into the bottom six. Both men showed enough to deserve playing time this year.

Rest assured, from a non-analytical standpoint, call-ups of this sort almost always provide that “energy” that fans want on the bottom line when their team is struggling.

Pederson makes the most sense at this time overall, as the Oilers’ realistic center depth on this day sits at Draisaitl-Nuge-McLeod, which still leaves a hole at 4C. Pederson posted ## offense as per STAT ACCOUNT last year with Columbus, and ## percentile defense. At best, Pederson provides some sorely needed offense and a little speed to the bottom 6, and at worst his possible defensive inefficiencies could likely be covered up by the likes of Ryan and Janmark. I see excellent potential here for a balanced two-way 4th line.

Lavoie, on the other hand, has the potential to provide top 6-caliber finishing ability – this, to a team with no consistently-elite releases on its wings. Evander Kane is a volume shooter in the midst of a tremendous slump; Nuge has discovered a high-end release this past season; and Hyman is more often than not a backdoor tap-in winger who notoriously under-delivers on his individual expected goals, once again earning his place on @JFreshHockey’s Lowest Goals Above Expected rankings to start the 2023-24 season:

So it would make sense if Lavoie, a volume shooter in his own right, is the Oilers’ first call-up option right now.

It has to be mentioned that the Oilers are sorely missing the capable shot of Klim Kostin, who provided 11 goals in just 10 minutes of ice time per game last year, riding an unsustainable shooting bender of 19.6 SH%, which is admittedly what you would expect from the league’s elite shooters. Still, combined with the departure of Nick Bjugstad, a bottom-six “sniper” who can score the odd goal is high on the list of things that would improve the Oilers lineup.

So why isn’t Lavoie a lock on this roster? His foot speed, noted by Bob Stauffer below, appeared to have appeared improved this preseason:

But, it is still a concern at the NHL level. That, and his strong pre-season showing was also overlooked in favor of veterans Janmark and Erne, as coach Woodcroft was likely seeking to lower the GA count of this team while improving the PK (especially in the absence of Kailer Yamamoto).


The numbers we’ve looked at in this post give reason to believe they could – but it’s unlikely we see all three, or even two, of these sweeping changes at this time. But, I would be highly encouraged to see any one of these options implemented as the Oilers head into game 6. As a note, I see no reason to alter the top 4 D: not much has changed since the last article I wrote about them.

Also very important: the Oilers can’t call up a player without sending one down with their cap situation; so that means they are forced to play 11-7 if McDavid is out.

With McDavid in, I’d like to see these lines:





With McDavid out, I’d like to see this option, where the rotating forward on line 4 doesn’t have to be a C due to the presence of Pederson and Janmark:





In any case, Raphael Lavoie could be a perfect fit on the 2nd or 3rd line:


Or, in a wild turn of events:


If you want to see more Oilers suggestions based on analytical takes, feel free to follow me on my journey to learn and apply analytics at @TheLineBlender on X! Thanks for reading, and see you next time!

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