I am projecting a strong improvement for Oiler forwards, mostly at the top end and among the gifted kids. The forwards might be playoff worthy. Injuries will factor in and we shouldn’t forget about the veterans, but new coach Ralph Krueger has four young guns and plenty of youthful support behind them.
The top 6F is young, extremely skilled and should drive this train in 12-13:
|TAYLOR HALL 66||35||32||67||+14|
|RYAN NUGENT HOPKINS 72||22||45||67||+15|
|JORDAN EBERLE 75||24||31||55||-21|
|SAM GAGNER 74||19||36||55||+8|
|ALES HEMSKY 60||14||40||54||+18|
|NAIL YAKUPOV 77||18||26||44||Nil|
|RYAN SMYTH 69||16||22||38||-8|
|SHAWN HORCOFF 75||11||16||27||-7|
|MAGNUS PAAJARVI 67||5||16||21||+13|
|RYAN JONES 70||12||8||20||-13|
|ERIC BELANGER 77,||10||10||20||+4|
|TEEMU HARTIKAINEN 50||9||8||17||+12|
|BEN EAGER 50||4||4||8||-5|
|LENNART PETRELL 53||4||4||8||-1|
|DARCY HORDICHUK 44||0||2||2||-1|
|JORDAN EBERLE 78||34||42||76|
|TAYLOR HALL 61||27||26||53|
|RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS 62||18||34||52|
|SAM GAGNER 75||18||29||47|
|RYAN SMYTH 82||19||27||46|
|ALES HEMSKY 69||10||26||36|
|SHAWN HORCOFF 81||13||21||34|
|RYAN JONES 79||17||16||33|
|ERIC BELANGER 78||4||12||16|
|BEN EAGER 63||8||5||13|
|LENNART PETRELL 60||4||5||9|
|MAGNUS PAAJARVI 41||2||6||8|
|ANTON LANDER 56||2||4||6|
|TEEMU HARTIKAINEN 17||2||3||5|
|LINUS OMARK 14||3||0||3|
|DARCY HORDICHUK 43||1||2||3|
The Oilers score about 10% more overall in my 2012-13 model, so as you can see most of those totals were gobbled up by the forwards. I have the two #1 overalls who have NHL experience taking over the offense and then Eberle, Gagner and Hemsky following them. Rookie Yakupov and veteran Ryan Smyth will also get their share of prime minutes, and I have the offense ending around three players who will battle each other for playing time all year long (barring trade): Ryan Jones, Teemu Hartikainen and Magnus Paajarvi.
Horcoff and Belanger spend another season in their own zone and the trio of Eager, Petrell and Hordichuk spend time in the lineup and in the pressbox.
I think we could talk about playoffs based on the forwards. I keep hoping for a ‘mentor’ forward to be added but maybe Horcoff is that player and Gagner can begin to take on some of the ZS chores.
Up next: the blue.