Edmonton Oilers: Things To Watch Down The Stretch

As the trade deadline approaches and the final stretch of the season looms, here are some things you need to watch for from the Oilers.



After going over a month without a regulation loss, the Oilers have suffered back-to-back defeats, most recently against the Red Wings in a shootout on Wednesday. Despite those recent losses, the Oilers still sit in the top wild card spot and a very much in play to win the Pacific. As we approach the final quarter of the season, there will be lots to look out for, from potential records to be set and the looming trade deadline, so with all that said, here’s what you should watch for from the Edmonton Oilers down the stretch.

Trades Incoming

While I’m no insider, I would say it is almost certain that the Oilers make a fairly substantial move by this deadline. It seems like the Oilers are probably out of the running for Patrick Kane, but I wouldn’t worry too much about that since the Oilers already lead the league in total goals and goals per game. According to what the reports have been saying, it seems as though their main interest is puck-moving defenseman, with Vladislav Gavrikov of the Blue Jackets seeming like a real possibility, and the Erik Karlsson route is certainly still possible. Holland and co clearly like what Tyson Barrie brings to the team, but Gavrikov feels like a much more solid alternative to that type of defenseman, and his 2.8 million dollar cap hit would make him feasible for the team. Jesse Puljujarvi is the name that gets thrown around the most in talks about trades like this, but the Oilers have a number of routes they could go, whether that be an NHL forward like Yamamoto, or maybe a prospect could get the deal done. On the Karlsson side of things, a much more substantial package would obviously be necessary as the Sharks defenseman seems to be the favourite for the Norris as of right now. It’s hard to speculate what the Oilers might need to give up, but it would probably but someone or something the team would rather not part ways with.

Awards Watch

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Connor McDavid is heavily favoured to win the Hart for the third time in his career, but Stuart Skinner has been a Calder dark horse all season long. Jack Campbell’s recent string of success probably won’t help give Skinner the starts he’ll need to really get into the race, but a strong finish to the season could put him into contention to win an award no Oilers has ever won.

 The Playoff Push

With 27 games currently remaining on the Oilers’ schedule, they sit just two points back of the Golden Knights for first in the Pacific, and five back of the Stars for the top seed in the Conference. Edmonton is in a pretty Eastern Conference-heavy portion of their schedule, where 15 of their 18 games are against the East, but after that, their final 14 games are within the West. They will essentially control their own destiny in regards to their seeding and have a legit shot at winning the division, let alone claiming the one-seed, for the first time in 35 years.

I’m Still Not Sure Jack Campbell Is That Good

There’s been a lot of talk lately about how big of a turnaround Jack Campbell has had, which for the most part, is true. Through his first 19 appearances of the year, Campbell had a .877 save percentage, which put bluntly, is pretty terrible. Since then, Campbell has an 8-0-1 record in 9 games with a .909 save percentage. The thing is, I’m not entirely convinced he’s been playing that well. In those 9 games, he’s faced on average just 28 shots per game, which would be the third lowest in the NHL on the year. Add to that the fact that six of those nine games have been against teams in the bottom half of league scoring, including one each against the two lowest-scoring teams in the NHL. Campbell has certainly improved, but I’d like to see more from him down the stretch to truly trust him in the playoffs.

Strength Of Schedule

Strength of schedule can be a bit of a misleading stat because, on one hand, you can only play the teams on your schedule, but on the other hand, if you’re just beating up on bad teams, your record could be a bit misleading. To that point, Hockey Reference has the Oilers as having had the easiest strength of schedule thus far, and most other rankings have them right around there. The good news is that for the rest of the season, the Oilers’ strength of schedule should still be below average, but come playoffs, that will obviously change. This isn’t really groundbreaking analysis or anything, but it’s certainly something to keep note of.

Four 100-Point Players

In the history of the NHL, only five teams have ever had four players in one season record 100 points, with the 80s Oilers accounting for three of them. As of right now, Connor McDavid sits at 99 points, so you would imagine he reaches 100, and Leon Draisaitl is on pace for 119, currently only needing 20 more to reach 100. While they seem like virtual locks to reach 100 (as they are every season) Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zach Hyman are currently on the outside looking in. They’re on pace for 98 and 94 points respectively (which would be career highs by a mile for both of them) but that means they’ve got real chances to crack triple digits. The last time this feat was accomplished was in 1992-93 when the Mario Lemieux-led Pittsburgh Penguins did it, but to do it in today’s game should be almost impossible. While I’m sure every single player would take a ring over any record like that, it’ll still be something fun to follow as the season winds down.

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