How often does a rookie NHL forward post a poor offensive season and then recover enough to play on a high skill line? Let’s use 1.50 even strength points per 60. Did Ales Hemsky post a low number early and then improve? Gagner? Hall? Or do the offensive forwards show themselves early, like right out of the box?
I’m proud to be writing for The Athletic, and pleased to be part of a great team with Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis. Here is our recent work.
- New Lowetide: Jay Woodcroft oversees a spike in Oilers prospect development
- New Lowetide: The 2020-21 Oilers and value contracts: Career opportunities
- New Eric Duhatschek: For one season only, bring on the NHL’s Canada Division
- New Jonathan Willis: Oilers’ organizational depth chart: Where does Edmonton stand today?
- Lowetide: Dmitri Samorukov’s KHL impact and what it means to the Oilers
- Lowetide: How many goals will Tyler Ennis score in 2020-21?
- Lowetide: Oilers extend Kris Russell, solve expansion issue
- Lowetide: Can Kyle Turris centre an outscoring No. 3 line in Edmonton?
- Lowetide: Tyson Barrie’s skills and how Oilers coach Dave Tippett will deploy him
- Jonathan Willis: Can Oilers unlock James Neal’s scoring potential at five on five?
- Lowetide: Why is Ilya Konovalov no longer starting in the KHL?
- Lowetide: Oilers Top 20 prospects, post-draft edition.
- Lowetide: Finding Connor McDavid’s optimal linemates among 2020-21 Oilers
- Jonathan Willis: A cautious free agent period boosts an Oilers team still on the upswing
- Lowetide: Oilers bring back Mike Smith for another year.
- Lowetide: Oilers sign Tyson Barrie to a team-friendly deal.
- Lowetide: Oilers sign Kyle Turris, Tyler Ennis in early hours of free agency.
- Lowetide: Jesse Puljujarvi signing overshadows a strong day for Oilers at draft
- Lowetide: Oilers draft Dylan Holloway on Day 1, with trades possible Wednesday
2000-01 (Oilers scored 243 goals)
- Mike Comrie 2.52
- Shawn Horcoff 2.24
- Dom Pittis 1.24
- Brian Swanson 0.82 (small sample)
- Michel Riesen 0.63 (small sample)
The two men who would enjoy careers of some length (over 500 games) showed up immediately and had an impact. Reminder, these are even strength totals.
2001-02 (Oilers scored 205 goals)
- Jason Chimera 1.65 (small sample)
- Brian Swanson 0.98 (small sample)
- Jani Rita 0 (small sample)
Chimera was not a promising scorer at 20 in the AHL but he got better every year. He was a burner too, and that helped.
2002-03 (Oilers scored 231 goals)
- Ales Hemsky 2.26
- Jani Rita 2.22 (small sample)
- Fernando Pisani 2.13
- Jarret Stoll 2.00 (small sample)
- Jason Chimera 1.90
Hemsky was a teenager but my God he had ridiculous skill. Pisani took about 50 games to find the range in the AHL and then he figured out how to score goals at the highest level. Stoll had early success and Chimera again unlocked enough offense to survive in the league.
2003-04 (Oilers scored 221 goals)
- Jarret Stoll 1.39
- Peter Sarno 1.19 (small sample)
- Mike Bishai 0.98
- Tony Salmelainen 0.51 (small sample)
- Jani Rita 0 (small sample)
Stoll is a little shy here but he grabbed a lot from his point shot on the power play so wasn’t in offensive jeopardy until later in his career.
2005-06 (Oilers scored 256 goals)
- Marc Pouliot 0.92 (small sample)
- Brad Winchester 0.54 (small sample)
- Kyle Brodziak 0.00 (small sample)
- Jean Francois Jacques 0.00 (small sample)
This is the season Edmonton had the Stanley run, not much room for rookies but Pouliot had a shot until mono derailed him.
2006-07 (Oilers scored 195 goals)
- Brad Winchester 1.19
- Marc Pouliot 1.17
- Patrick Thoresen 1.15
- Zach Stortini 0.31
- JF Jacques 0.00
That damnable points per 60 is the prospect separator alright, large pack of geese flying south here.
2007-08 (Oilers scored 220 goals)
- Curtis Glencross 2.93
- Andrew Cogliano 2.37
- Sam Gagner 1.97
A trio of men who could deliver offense as rookies, Cogliano has passed 1,000 games and Gagner is well over 800. None of the three worked out as hoped for the Oilers but they arrived with plenty of offensive ability.
2008-09 (Oilers scored 228 goals)
- Rob Schremp 4.19 (small sample)
- Liam Reddox 1.56
Reddox was a surprising player, he did some good things despite being undersized and a tweener. He got into 100 NHL games. Schremp had mad skills, but two strikes (he wasn’t fast and he wasn’t so gifted that the coach would overlook his indifferent checking) kept him out of the league save for a little over 100 games. In the right situation, he could have had an NHL career.
2009-10 (Oilers scored 206 goals)
- Ryan Stone 1.32
He was a trade pickup and had some good games, but wingers on the Oilers were about to get a lot of qualified competition.
2010-11 (Oilers scored 191 goals)
- Taylor Hall 1.85
- Jordan Eberle 1.81
- Linus Omark 1.76
- Magnus Paajarvi 1.39
- Ryan O’Marra 1.10
- Teemu Hartikainen 1.01
- Chris VandeVelde 0.70
Brilliant talents led by Hall and Eberle, the team overall was beyond terrible but the kids had all kinds of ability. Remain surprised at how Omark, Paajarvi, Hartikainen and VandeVelde’s careers rolled out, good and bad.
2011-12 (Oilers scored 207 goals)
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 1.93
- Chris VandeVelde 1.51 (small sample)
- Teemu Hartikainen 1.36
- Ryan O’Marra 0.96
- Anton Lander 0.60
Nuge arrived with all kinds of talent and scored well at evens, better on the power play. VandeVelde showed well in a small sample size.
2012-13 (Oilers scored 123 goals)
- Nail Yakupov 2.18
He had a tremendous finish to his rookie season, missed a lot of appreciation because so much happened so late. Management and coaching change, erratic shot obscured a useful offensive weapon.
2013-14 (Oilers scored 199 goals)
- Mark Arcobello 1.79 (small sample)
- Tyler Pitlick 0.67 (small sample)
- Luke Gazdic 0.62
Arcobello signed a two-way (AHL-ECHL) contract coming out of college, he was below the Zamboni driver on the depth chart. He worked his way up and played extremely well in his NHL debut.
2014-15 (Oilers scored 193 goals)
- Andrew Miller 2.43 (small sample)
- Leon Draisaitl 1.05
- Tyler Pitlick 0.58
- Iiro Pakarinen 0.38
The Leon Draisaitl number is misleading, he played in bad luck and then got sent down. He’s an example of a player posting less than 1.50 per season and then blossoming. However, he’s innocent (with an explanation). He’s also the only true example of what I described at the beginning of this conversation on the entire list.
2015-16 (Oilers scored 192 goals)
- Connor McDavid 3.00
- Iiro Pakarinen 1.14
- Jujhar Khaira 0.78 (small sample)
- Anton Slepyshev 0.64 (small sample)
McDavid being the class of the group is the least surprising number on this list. Beyond reason as a hockey player. Pakarinen had a surprising shot, he beat goalies clean a few times.
2016-17 (Oilers scored 243 goals)
- Jesse Puljujarvi 1.44
- Anton Slepyshev 1.33
- Drake Caggiula 1.10
- Jujhar Khaira 0.66
Notice the massive jump in goals by the team in McDavid’s first full season, and by this time Draisaitl is having a major impact. The Puljujarvi number is encouraging, not so far from 1.50 and remember he was a teenager.
2017-18 (Oilers scored 229 goals)
- Pontus Aberg 1.94
- Kailer Yamamoto 0.97
Aberg looked good but he couldn’t remain in the lineup due to off-ice issues, and Yamamoto was too young to be in the league.
2018-19 (Oilers scored 229 goals)
- Josh Currie 1.65
- Joe Gambardella 1.48
- Colby Cave 0.52
- Kailer Yamamoto 0.30
Currie looked good, always wondered if the team should have given him another shot. Gambardella showed well too, another guy who might be worth a long look.
2019-20 (Oilers scored 223 goals)
- Tyler Benson 0.87
He settled in after a few uneven games, I’m hopeful he finds a way to get a full season of NHL hockey in with the Oilers before they have to make a decision on him. Final year of waiver ineligibility is coming up. Is he established enough to clear that bar? I think he needs to show a few things before that point is reached.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, we hit the airwaves with another fun show, TSN1260. Jonah Birenbaum from The Score will kick off our postseason baseball coverage and discuss what the Jays can do to build on a successful season. Frank Seravalli from TSN will give us an idea about the NHL’s way forward and maybe some clues about the state of free agency. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!