Can the Edmonton Oilers find the next Klim Kostin?

Out of all the players the Oilers have let go in the last season and a half, most fans will tell you there is one player they miss the most of all: Klim Kostin.

Edmonton Oilers v Vegas Golden Knights
Edmonton Oilers v Vegas Golden Knights / Ethan Miller/GettyImages
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Shopping Again in Nashville

One player stands out above the rest in my eyes as an effective depth player with the right intangibles, who also happens to be a veteran on an expiring contract that might readily be available in trade. That player is Michael McCarron from the Nashville Predators.

At 6-foot-6, 232 pounds, McCarron is a dominant physical presence who recently proved himself by holding his own in a fight against Tom Wilson. Still, I wouldn’t recommend him if his analytics were not strong. What can he provide to a contender?

Consider the bottom six forward scorers I mentioned earlier. What are they missing compared to an ideal, balanced, cap-constricted bottom six? As per JFreshHockey’s analytics model, let’s look at the deficiencies of the Oilers’ bottom six (comprised of eight skater options):

  1. Only 2/8 players are above-average two-way playdrivers. Two players are above 50th percentile in both even-strength offense and defense rates at 5v5 (McLeod and Derek Ryan). This becomes 1/8 if Evander Kane replaces McLeod in the bottom six. This is unideal.
  2. In particular, the offensive playdriving is lacking. 5/8 players are 50th percentile or higher at defensive impacts (4/7 if Kane moves down in place of McLeod). This isn’t bad; but only 2/8 are above 50th percentile at offensive playdriving (1/8 if Kane instead of McLeod). This is abysmal. It’s no wonder they aren’t scoring.
  3. No high-end finishing talent. Kane is a volume shooter and can help, but requires strong playdriving from his linemates, which is not there without McLeod, Connor McDavid, or Draisaitl. Even though 3/8 players are at ~60th percentile finishing talent, this is unideal.
  4. 0/8 or 1/8 players possess physical dominance and can take on the role of enforcer (depending if Kane is in the bottom six). This is unideal.

Which of these does McCarron address?

  1. He can effectively take on the enforcer role left behind by Kostin.
  2. He is a strong two-way playdriver, above 50th percentile in both offence and defence impacts, posting ~54 xGF% this year.
  3. He has remained just above 50th percentile in offensive impacts over the last two seasons.

McCarron doesn’t solve the finishing issue, but I see this as less of a dealbreaker, because the Oilers have some options to play around with. Kane is currently in the bottom six, Dylan Holloway is due to improve, Sam Gagner has been producing and is due to return to the lineup, and Raphael Lavoie is waiting in the wings.

McCarron is an expiring contract, and at 28 years old, the Predators may be ready to trade him for some future assets. His cap hit of $775k is ideal for a contender to add at the trade deadline.

What other options are out there in the search for an effective player of this sort?