The Oilers were very fortunate to have won the draft lottery that landed them an elite player like Connor McDavid. In 23 games this season, the 19 year old has scored 29 points, with 20 of those points coming at even-strength. His 3.29 points per hour at 5v5 has him third in the league, behind Kucherov and Stamkos. He consistently drives offence in all three zones, as teammates do better with him than without him when it comes to individual and on-ice metrics.
Without a doubt, McDavid has been the key driver behind the Oilers success so far this season. The club is 12-9-2, securing 26 points, and sits in first place in the Pacific division. And their +9 goal differential (all situations) ranks them second in the western conference. Say what you will about the teams in the west and their struggles, but the Oilers have managed to take advantage and remain competitive.
A quick glance at the underlying numbers, and the Oilers appear to be an average-to-good NHL club. Below is their overall share of shot attempts, scoring chances, expected goals and goals at 5v5 this season. Included for each metric is their ranking in the league.
|Corsi For%||Fenwick For%||Scoring Chances For%||xGoals For%||Goals For%||PDO|
|51.89 (9th)||52.60 (7th)||52.09 (10th)||50.59 (14th)||53.41 (9th)||100.44 (11th)|
This is all very positive for the Oilers as the club has historically been below 50% for pretty much every shot and goal metric. The fact that they have close to a 52.0% share of the shot attempts is significant progress and indicates that they should be able to compete for a playoff spot this season. But if we look at how the Oilers do with McDavid on the ice and compare that to how the club does without him, things get a little interesting.
Starting off at the far right with goal-share, we see that the team gets 64.71% of all of the goals scored when McDavid is on the ice, but can only get 46.3%% without him. Basically without their star captain, the Oilers are at the same levels they were prior to McDavid arriving. While it's true that elite players like McDavid are expected to outpace the rest of their teammates production, the team should still be getting at least 50.0% of the goals to remain competitive. Worth noting here that the team is posting a PDO of 98.84 when McDavid is not on the ice, which indicates that we should see the team's luck and production improve going forward. It's the team's shooting percentage without McDavid that's currently lower than expected, sitting at 6.68%
Moving to the far left to the share of shot attempts, with McDavid on the ice the Oilers are posting a Corsi For% and Fenwick For% of over 55%, which is what we should expect from him. Without McDavid, the Oilers are still getting a respectable share of the shot attempts, just over 50.0%, which is higher than the Oilers historical numbers. As long as the team continues to get a higher share of the shot attempts, and their PDO hopefully improves, they're more likely to start producing on the score sheet.
One area that the team might need to focus on is their share of higher danger shots and scoring chances, which takes a significant drop without McDavid on the ice. When we look at scoring chances, we see that the Oilers secure a 62.32% share of the total, but without McDavid, this number drops to 45.70%. The same goes for expected goals, which puts a weighting on each shot taken, dependent on the type and location of the shot. With McDavid, the Oilers get a higher proportion of the quality shots with 56.80%. And without McDavid, the Oilers are back to their historical numbers with a share of 47.07%. Worth noting here that with McDavid on the ice, the team's actual share of goals is outpacing the expected share of goals significantly. This shouldn't be too surprising as elite players do tend to have a higher shooting percentage than the rest, but we'll know more about McDavid's conversion rate as he accumulates more games. Without McDavid, the team's share of actual goals is just under the expected levels, so there might be better production from the roster going forward.
The Oilers are clearly a better team with McDavid, similar to how any team would be with their top player. When it comes to goals at 5v5, the team as a whole is doing well but is largely dependent on McDavid. This type of reliance is expected when dealing with an elite player, but the Oilers must ensure that their share of goals does not dip below 50.0% in order to remain competitive. The share of shot attempts and unblocked shot attempts remains at an acceptable level and does indicate that the team without McDavid on the ice will improve. The key will be to ice the best roster possible every night, with experience and depth on all four lines. The coaching staff cannot afford to dress rookies or players that have a history of dragging down their teammates, and ensure that every player on the roster is playing at an appropriate level.
Data source: Corsica Hockey