With November over and the season already a quarter of the way done, let’s evaluate how the Oilers forwards have been so far
With a 5-2 win over Sidney Crosby and the Penguins, the Oilers have moved to 16-5 and have an NHL best .762 point percentage. There’s been a lot of good but also some bad so far this season, so let’s hand out some grades to this team.
Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl: A+
To the surprise of no one, Connor McDavid remains unequivocally the best player on the planet and Leon Draisaitl is right there behind him. They sit one and two in the NHL scoring race and are both on pace to easily surpass 150 points. While McDavid’s dominance has come to be expected, Draisaitl has the chance to do something almost unheard in the modern game this year. With 20 goals through 21 games, Leon has a legit shot at being the first player since Brett Hull in 1992 to score 50 in 50. These two have been the class of the league for the past four years now and have only gotten better so far this season.
Jesse Puljujarvi: A
The Bison King has looked fantastic this season with 7 goals and 10 assists through 21 games. He’s also continued his defensive prowess and has been an integral piece of the Oilers’ early season success. Despite this, Dave Tippett has put him on the third line in favor of Zack Kassian playing with McDavid for some strange reason. You can’t blame Jesse for this though as he’s been nothing but the player the Oilers were looking for when they took him fourth overall in the 2016 draft. Don’t let his spot in the lineup fool you, Jesse Puljujarvi is one of the Oilers’ best players and deserves more respect from the coaching staff.
Zach Hyman: A–
Sometimes you might now notice him when he’s playing alongside Connor McDavid but Zach Hyman is really good at hockey. With 11 goals through 21 games, Hyman has provided a solid two-way presence on the top line and has been exactly what the Oilers paid for. The best way to describe Zach Hyman is the guy that always looks pretty good and every once in a while does something that makes you say “Damn, Zach Hyman is really good at hockey”.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: A-
Despite only having two goals so far, RNH is still averaging almost a point per game and has looked as good as ever. Like Hyman, The Nuge tends to get lost amongst the Oilers’ superstars but he’s remained a really solid piece in the Oilers’ top six. Not too much else to say about him, just a good hockey player who’s at his best when playing with other good hockey players.
Room for Improvement
Kailer Yamamoto: C–
This one hurt to write. Like most Oilers fans, I love Yamo, but he just hasn’t been getting it done this year. With just six points through 21 games, Kailer is having the worst production of his young career and just doesn’t seem to have found his game yet. I remain optimistic for a mid-season breakout, but for now, the Yam count is not where we want it.
Warren Foegele (and the third line as a whole): C
After a solid start to the season, McLovin has really slowed down and the third line all together has seen little production. The Oilers gave up Ethan Bear in the offseason for Foegele to try and solidify their bottom six but thus far it’s been met with middling results. Zack Kassian has looked his usual mediocre self and Ryan McLeod is still trying to find his way in the league. There’s certainly room for optimism given the clear talent on display from both Foegele and McLeod, but to this point, there’s little to be excited about.
The Fourth Line: D-
There isn’t too much to say about this line. No matter who’s on it, it hasn’t looked good. Some moves will have to be made at the deadline to fix this
Brendan Perlini: F
Perlini showed serious potential in the preseason but the regular season has been a different story. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all, so I’ll just it here.
Kyle Turris in Shootouts: A+
Kyle Turris in Literally Every Other Situation: F