Hope you’re enjoying your All-Star Weekend. If you tuned into last night’s All-Star Super Skills Competition, you were
bludgeoned treated to an array of talent on display. The Oilers have played fifty-one games of the 2016-17 NHL season, and as of this writing, things look pretty good. They’re firmly in second place in the Pacific, they’ve got a goal differential of +20, and the Flames are eleven points back with just 31 games to go. I’m not in the business of counting my chickens before they hatch, but there’s a fair chance that the Oilers could play a game or two after the regular season ends.
There’s absolutely no denying that a massive chunk of this season’s success belongs to the first overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. Leading the NHL in assists and points is a pretty good way to help turn your club’s goal scoring issues around.
Leon Draisaitl (19-27-46 in 51 GP) is delivering the groceries this year. Spending most of his time on the right side of first line with McDavid and Patrick Maroon (who’s surprised with eighteen goals so far this year), Draisaitl is second on the Oilers in team scoring. He’s got eight power play goals, three game winners, two coming in OT. His shooting percentage is a little high at 17.1%, but even if it levels back to something a little more fairly pedestrian (say, 12% over an entire season?) , a sixty point season easily within reach. The Oilers have depended on Leon Draisaitl, and he’s delivered. Barring something wacky, Draisaitl will likely finish second in team scoring behind only Connor McDavid.
Cam Talbot has been a workhorse for the Oilers in between the pipes. Playing in 45 of 51 games for the Oilers, he leads the NHL in ice time for goaltenders by nearly four hours (2709 minutes to Martin Jones’ 2478). Fortunately, Talbot’s full table of work has translated into some great goaltending. Talbot’s SV% of .922 ranks him tenth in the league. 26 wins puts Talbot third in the league overall. Talbot doesn’t have the luxury of faltering, because he’s played in front of Jonas Gustavsson (who was abysmal, .902 career SV%) and the very limited Laurent Brossoit (7 career GP). The Oilers have depended on Cam Talbot, and he’s delivered.
The success of both of these players play heavily into the success of the Oilers. Without Draisaitl, the Oilers would have had to put the load on the oft-struggling Jordan Eberle and Milan Lucic. Without Talbot, the Oilers would have certainly had to go fishing for a replacement, because 30 games of Jonas Gustavsson would make anybody reel.