1. Leon Draisaitl will have a good start. Draisaitl played the 2022 playoffs with one leg, after suffering a sprained ankle in Game 6 of the first round against Los Angeles. He didn’t miss a game, and played incredibly well despite the injury, but once the Oilers lost to Colorado, Draisaitl had to rest and let his ankle rest. He lost valuable time in training, and his slow start to the season was due to a lack of training. This summer Draisaitl has been healthy and able to train intensely.
Look for Draisaitl to have much better possession numbers in his first 20 games this year. Training and conditioning are key to a player’s success, and he has had a fantastic summer training.
2. Several Oilers players set career highs in goals, assists or points last year. Connor McDavid set a new scoring record, scoring 20 more goals than before, had 10 assists and finished with 30 more points than his previous best. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ previous high was 69 points. He finished last season with 67 assists, as well as a new record of 37 goals. His 104 points were an increase of 35 points from the 69 he scored in 2019. Zach Hyman set a new mark in goals at 36, nine more than his previous high, dished out another 20 assists and crushed his best in His previous career lead is 29 points. With a score of 83 points.
Draisaitl set a new record for assists with 76 and points with 128 (18 more than before).
Darnell Nurse’s 43 points beat his previous high by three.
Yvan Bouchard set a new standard in assists with 32.
Clem Kostin and Ryan McLeod set new highs in goals and points.
You get the picture. Many oil workers had career years. It will be difficult for all of them to do it again, especially the top four strikers, because they have scored so much. McDavid, Draisaitl, RNH, and Hyman could all have excellent seasons and have not achieved career highs. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Look for Bouchard to set a new standard in goals, assists and points. I also believe Nurse will reach 50 points for the first time in her career.
3. I expect McDavid to push around 150 points again. In 2021, he scored 105 points in 56 games, which equates to 153 points. He scored 153 points in 2023. I don’t look at last year as a one-time event. Great people rarely have just one outstanding season. McDavid continues to develop his game. His shooting percentage/60 has risen steadily over the past five seasons from 8.08 in 2019, to 9.09 in 2020, 9.67 in 2021, 10.71 in 2022, and 11.51 last year. I don’t see him shooting less this season.
4. McDavid will be the 12th player in NHL history to produce 90 assists in a season. Wayne Gretzky did it 13 times, Mario Lemieux (5x), Adam Oates, Bobby Orr, Joe Thornton (2x), and Paul Coffey, Ron Francis, Doug Gilmore, Pat LaFontaine, Peter Stastny, and Steve Yzerman did it once. Thornton is the only player to reach 90 assists since 1996. He had 96 in 2006 and 92 in 2007. McDavid also had 89 assists last year. He will hit 90 this season.
5. Jack Campbell will be more consistent. I realize that this is not very difficult. Last year he made 34 entries. In 15 of them, the Sv% was 0.886 or less. He allowed 68 goals in those starts. When you have a 4.53 GAA over 44% of your starts, it’s hard to have a good year. He has 10 starts with a .913Sv% or better, including seven of .935+. I don’t expect the levels to be that low. Last season, 40 goalkeepers participated in more than 30 matches. Campbell’s .888Sv% ranked 37th with Martin Jones, Kaapo Kahkonen and Jonathon Quick worst. Campbell doesn’t need to be great. If he could post a .903Sv%, he would have tied for 21st with Freddie Anderson last year. I expect a more consistent, but not spectacular, season from Campbell.
6. I don’t like to point it out, but I also don’t believe in jinxes. I don’t expect the Oilers’ top five guys to miss a combined two games. They were the only team in the NHL to have five D-men who played more than 80 games. Nurse, Bouchard and Kulak played all 82 games. Tyson Barrie/Mattias Ekholm also combined to play all 82. Cody Ceci missed two games. Philip Broberg and Vincent Desharnais will play more games this year, simply because of the potential for minor injuries. Below is a list of all 32 teams and the number of defenders who played 70+ or 60+ games last season.
|2||BUF, COL, CBJ, PIT, TOR, VAN, WSH|
|3||ANA, ARI, CHI, DET, NSH, OTT, STL|
|4||BOS CGI MIN NJ NER CJ TB LFC|
|5||CAR(76+), D(79+), Electronic dance music (80+), LA, NYI, PHI, WPG|
|6||Florida (+71), Southeast Asia (+73)|
|2||Central Bank of Jordan|
|4||I, BUF, COL, MTL, SJ, STL, TOR, LVK|
|5||ari,boss,cgy,car,dit, Electronic dance musicNSH, NYR, OTT, PHI, PIT, TB, WSH|
|6||DAL, FLA, LA, MIN, NJ, NY, SEA, WPG|
Fourteen of the 16 playoff teams had five or six D-men play at least 60 games. Toronto and Colorado had four. Health can be a big factor in regular season success.
7. I expect Connor Brown to stay healthy. He never missed a game in his first five NHL seasons. Last year was his first major injury and he only played four games, but he didn’t return early. He was injured on October 17, 2022 and had surgery shortly after. He will not return to the lineup 6-8 months after surgery. He’s had more time to rehab and heal, which is a huge benefit. He will surpass his career high of 21 goals and 43 points.
8. Dylan Holloway will play more regular minutes. He will score 14-16 goals and have a solid season.
9. The Oilers will finish first in the Pacific Division. This will be their first regular season title since 1987. I also feel like they will win the Presidents Trophy. In the past decade, Nashville, in 2017, is the only Western Conference team to win the President’s Trophy. Colorado had the most points in 2021, but that was only when you played teams in your division. The President’s Trophy was first awarded in 1986 and was won by the Oilers in 1986 and 1987, but nothing has happened since then. They could be the sixth team to win it three times. Detroit (6x), Boston (4x) and Colorado, Washington and the New York Rangers have won it three times.
10. The Oilers will allow just under 230 goals against the team. They have only done so once (in a full season) since the 2005 lockout. In 2017, they allowed 207 goals. The Oilers have realized that keeping their scoring low, while continuing to be an offensive force, is what will lead to success.
What do you expect will happen this season?
I’m happy to announce that the 5th Annual Pigot’s Pizza will be back where it started. In 2019, we had our first Pigout at Molson House and then COVID hit, and we moved to making it in conjunction with a drive-in movie. It worked well, but we wanted to bring it back to its original location, because it allows attendees to try more pizza. This format allows for more mingling and tasting of many different great pizzas. If you love pizza this is an event you should attend.
- Date: Wednesdayyes ocOctober 11, 2023
- Time: 6:00 s.M. Until 8:00 pm
- Location: Rogers Place, Molson Hockey House (2nd floor, 18+ venue)
- Ticket price: $65 per ticket
- Ticket Package: $250 for 4 tickets (save you $10!)
The event wraps up and then we’ll have a viewing party (details to come) for the Oilers’ season opener against Vancouver. Pizza, Kidsport and Hockey. Great combination.