After watching their playoff aspirations gradually slip away and becoming seller’s at the trade deadline, the Oilers had no other option but to begin a period of evaluation to close the 2017/18 season. After trading away forwards Patrick Maroon and Mark Letestu, changes were expected to the group up front including an altered distribution of ice-time as well as roles on the team. And based on the transactions that the Oilers made this off-season and some of the early updates coming out of training camp, it appears that the final stretch of the 2017/18 season had an impact on the management team’s approach towards building their roster.
For one, the Oilers seem content on running the top line that produced so well over the final 12 games, and for good reason. The trio of Connor McDavid, Ty Rattie and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins played 128 minutes together at even-strength (5v5) during this period outscoring opponents 13-7, a fantastic goal share of 65.0%. Their on-ice possession numbers together were fine (51.34% Corsi For percentage) and their shooting percentage clicked at 18.57%, indicating that they may have been getting a little lucky in terms of actual production. Mind you, McDavid has the superhuman ability to drive up scoring, so we’ll wait and see if this was a one-off or if the line can continue scoring at a rate of 6.0 goals per hour.
It also looks like the Oilers want to keep Ryan Strome as a center with Jesse Puljujarvi as his right winger (Source). Over the final month of the 2017/18 season, the two were deployed often together at even-strength along with Milan Lucic in third a line role, posting some pretty good possession numbers (52.84% Corsi For percentage) over 89 minutes. Unfortunately, they couldn’t translate this into actual goals, finishing the season with a 50% on-ice goal-share (2 GF, 2 GA), and a pretty lousy rate of 1.34 goals for per hour. Early reports from training camps indicate that it’ll be Jujhar Khaira instead of Lucic with Strome and Puljujarvi, which makes sense based on another issue that transpired in 2017/18.
If you recall, Khaira was being tested by the coaching staff as a fourth line center over the final month of the season. But unfortunately for him, the results were dreadful. As a centerman, Khaira’s on-ice goal-share was 20.0%, as the team got outscored 4-1 at even-strength with him on the ice. This was thanks in large part to some poor possession numbers, as his on-ice Corsi For percentage was just barely above 44% over 123 minutes of ice time. His most regular linemates to close the year included the likes of Anton Slepyshev, Zack Kassian, Yohann Auvitu, Pontus Aberg and Iiro Pakarinen.
Full article is at The Copper & Blue.