(photo via sportsnet.ca)
Good teams have good power plays.
The Edmonton Oilers are not a good team, and for years, have not had a good powerplay. Last year was no exception, so I took a look at last year’s powerplay, and reasons why you can expect improvement this season.
|STAT||OILERS||OILERS RANK||TOP NHL TEAM|
|PP Goals/60||6.19||21st||8.30 (ANA)|
|PP Shots For/60||50.5||18th||60.0 (BOS)|
|PP Shooting%||12.24%||18th||18.15% (STL)|
|PP Percentage||18.1%||18th||23.1% (ANA)|
|PP Time On Ice||407 mins||19th||500 mins (ARZ)|
If I had to describe the Oilers 2015/2016 powerplay results, it would be “below average”. They don’t crack the top 15 in any meaningful category and just kinda floated just below that average mark.
If the Oilers want to turn things around this season in the standings, having an elite powerplay will be a big part of that, and there are multiple reasons to believe that will happen.
A full year of left shooting d-man Oscar Klefbom will be a boost, as he should anchor the back-end of their top unit. The part I love about Klefbom in the offensive zone is his instinct to direct pucks at the net, which is something the Oilers often struggle with, and is a reason their SF/60 was ranked 18th.
His 7.0 fenwick/60 was in the top 50 for defenders who have played 500 minutes in the last 2 years. A very specific stat? Yes. But it does tell you that Klefbom can get shots through traffic. (Fenwick takes out blocked shots,just other attempted shots/sucessful shots)
82 games of Klefbom should help this team’s effectiveness on the man advantage.
Also a young man named Connor McDavid only suited up for 45 games last season and to say he will be a powerplay catalyst is an understatement. I won’t even spend too much time on this because it’s so obvious. A healthy Connor McDavid will make the Oilers powerplay much more efficient.
Let’s start with the subtractions, loosing Taylor Hall sucks. He was a good trigger to have on the powerplay. But, the Oilers do have a lot of triggers left to spread out over their 2 units for this season.
Jesse Puljujarvi could play a valuable role, but there is no guarantee he will crack the roster. If he does, he has the skill and size to wreak havoc on opposing penalty kills.
Milan Lucic is going to be the most crucial new comer. His numbers with the man advantage aren’t too impressive, but honestly, he’s never played with Connor McDavid.
I’m also a big believer in having a big net front presence on the powerplay, simply to draw an extra defender closer to the net and create a 4 on 3 on the perimeter, leaving more space for the superb skill of the Oilers.
I’m also a fan of the play the Oilers often use that involve starting the play off the half-wall, drawing the puck down low, then bringing it across crease. Having Lucic as the backdoor option or as the one bringing the puck out from behind the net is a huge addition just based off of his ability to use his size to move the puck.
Between Lucic on the top unit and the potential of Puljujarvi on the second unit, the Oilers didn’t do that and this offseason in terms of addressing their powerplay.
As is usually the case with the Oilers, part of their success depends on development of the talent they already have.
I’m not expecting anything different out of the like of Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle or Sekera. We know what we’ll get from them.
But as I touched on before, Connor McDavid will only be getting better and the system of running an offense through the forward on the half-wall will greatly benefit his game.
The big name that I believe could make an impact with the man advantage is Brandon Davidson. He only got 22 power play minutes all of last year, but I believe he’s a great option to anchor the second unit.
In his limited minutes, Davidson has some unreal numbers. Now they are inflated due to the small sample size, but they are impressive nonetheless. 18.9 shots/60 shows that he likes to shoot the puck, and that’s something the Oil need. It will give their powerplay diversity.
He also passes my eye test. I like the way he carries the puck up the ice, his first pass will hopefully be a little improved this (although it was still good last year) and he has a rocket for a shot, it’s probably the most underrated part of his game.
Leon Draisaitl has also been very strong at the World Cup of Hockey (if you weren’t following along), and is looking like a strong forward who could play a big role on their second unit.
Having 2 reliable point shots and puck movers to get the puck to McDavid off the rush. That should be enough to get Sekera and Klefbom an extended look on that top unit.
McDavid will be deadly off the half-wall and two elite triggermen to dish the puck too. This has the makings of a very good top unit and should give the Oilers a diverse attack with an ability to beat teams down low or spread out the attack the the points.
Having Draisaitl on the point may look goofy at first glance, but if they run an umbrella system having him and RNH as the top forwards on the side boards could be really effective and force opposing team penalty kills to really spread out. RNH and Drai would serve as the “2 and 3” options on the picture below.
Is this what the units will look like at the end of the season? No, the probably won’t even be what they look like on October 12th, but it should give a good idea of the different options Todd McLellan and Jay Woodcroft have with this years group of forwards.