I like the two-way centers. Blame Dave Keon. In order to be a productive skill player, 1.75 pts-60 is a reasonable line in the sand at five on five. This is Ryan Nugent-Hopkins tenth NHL season. He has been at or above 1.75 pts-60 just five times, but three of those (1.96, 1.75 and 2.23) led into the 2020-21 season.
He is at 1.18 pts-60 five on five. Nuge needs the mother of all heaters in the final 11 games of the year. The final Steve Austin is down and out. There is a way. We can rebuild him.
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.
- Lowetide: An early look at ideal Oilers’ free-agent targets for the offseason
- DNB: McDavid’s latest goal shows why he’s in a class of his own
- Lowetide: Why Oilers fans shouldn’t worry about Philip Broberg’s SHL season
- Lowetide: Let’s make a final call on the Oilers’ 2016 draft class
- DNB: Re-sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? Free-agency targets? Oilers mailbag
- DNB: Oilers sign Dylan Holloway to ELC
- Jonathan Willis: Should the Oilers re-sign pending unrestricted free agent Tyson Barrie?
- Lowetide: Five Oilers prospects who deserve NHL tryouts now that the trade deadline has passed
- Lowetide: What are the Oilers’ ideal defensive pairings after picking up Dmitry Kulikov at the trade deadline
- DNB: Ken Holland’s quiet NHL trade deadline sets up Oilers for big moves later
- Jonathan Willis: What the Oilers are getting in trade deadline pickup Dmitry Kulikov: A cheap solution to a nagging problem
- Lowetide: What would the Oilers sacrifice if they traded their 2021 first-round pick?
- DNB: To play them together or not? 97 and 29
- Lowetide: Are the 2020-21 Oilers better than the 2016-17 team?
- Lowetide: Oilers’ top 20 prospects, trade deadline edition
OILERS AFTER 45 GAMES
- Oilers in 2015-16: 17-23-5, 39 points; goal differential -26
- Oilers in 2016-17: 23-15-7, 53 points; goal differential +4
- Oilers in 2017-18: 19-23-3, 41 points; goal differential -24
- Oilers in 2018-19: 21-21-3, 45 points; goal differential -12
- Oilers in 2019-20: 23-17-5, 51 points; goal differential -4
- Oilers in 2020-21: 27-15-2, 56 points; goal differential +15
Oilers are just one point shy of the Winnipeg Jets with a game in hand. A win tonight and the Oilers will be in second place, three points back of the TML with a game in hand. Things could get interesting. Damn shame the Oilers don’t play again until Monday.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM APRIL
- At home to: Calgary (Expected: 1-0-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- On the road to: Montreal, Ottawa, Ottawa, Calgary (Expected: 3-1-0) (Actual 2-1-1)
- On the road to: Winnipeg (Expected 0-1-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- At home to: Montreal, Montreal (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- On the road to: Winnipeg, Winnipeg (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: Calgary (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- Expected April record: 7-4-0, 14 points in 11 games
- Actual April record: 5-1-1, 11 points in 7 games
I had Edmonton splitting the Montreal series at home, doing the same on the road in Winnipeg and then ending the month with a victory over the Calgary Flames. If that happens, the Oilers will finish 7-3-1, slightly better than my projection.
POSSIBLE LINES TONIGHT
- Archibald-McDavid-Puljujarvi: seven minutes 21 seconds; 9-1 shots, 3-0 goals, 94.8 expected goals (all five on five)
- Nuge-Draisaitl-Yamamoto: 349 minutes, 53 percent shots; 30-11 goals (73.2 percent); 54.8 expected goals (all five on five)
It isn’t a lock we’ll see these lines but in the interests of getting Nuge unlocked this is a reasonable option. A year ago, RNH was scoring from longer range, his snap shot had extra torque. He seems to have returned to mere mortal status in this area, so the heady days of rocking a 2.23 pts-60 are not likely to return. However, his current total reflects what is not far from a lost season. Nuge has been spending time with skill (4-3-7 in 384 minutes with CMD, that’s 1.09 pts-60) and not delivering. McDavid with Nuge? 6-10-16, 2.50 pts-60. Time to put the band back together, methinks. Nuge needs a push.
HIGH-DANGER SCORING CHANCES
I use Natural Stat Trick constantly, it’s a major resource for anyone checking under the hood. I’m not sure about their individual HDSC’s, and don’t use it as a compilation tool at this time (although do report individual HDSC in game summaries). Why? Well, Leon Draisaitl ranks No. 13 among Oilers forwards with 1.68 chances per-60. He trails Kyle Turris. I value NST heavily, but wonder about individual HDSC’s.
Not everyone will graduate, but there are some exceptional performances going on in the AHL this season. Ryan McLeod has been recalled, here are some others who should get a full lash at an NHL job in the fall:
- Ryan McLeod is a point-per-game (14-14-28 in 28gp) and may not return.
- Tyler Benson (9-21-30) in 27 games is a top flight AHL winger. I think he makes the NHL next season.
- Cooper Marody (18-13-31 in 29 games) is tearing up the blacktop and his time is now.
- Raphael Lavoie is 4-3-7 in nine games and a constant scoring threat.
- Stuart Skinner has a .913 SP in 23 games.
- Markus Niemelainen (21 gp, 2-4-6) is injured now but impressed with speed and wingspan.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
TSN 1260 at 10 this morning, we’ll tee up tonight’s game with Bruce McCurdy of the Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal. Joe Osborne from OddsShark will talk mlb early season, NHL after the deadline and more. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!