Ahead of the 2021-22 season, there is a lot to look forward to regarding not only the Edmonton Oilers’ success, but the players. Many individual milestones can be reached this season—from the very first game of the season to the last. This list looks at the top 10 personal milestones that can be achieved and some secondary ones.
10. Cody Ceci Blocks His 1,000th Shot
Cody Ceci, the third defender on this Oilers roster that should reach 1,000 blocked shots, should have no problem getting there. He is 87 blocks short of the mark, and if past success in a full season gives any indication, he will block well over 100.
But before he blocks his 1,000th shot, Ceci will record his 150th point of his career. Only seven off the mark, he has recorded more points than that in each of his eight seasons in the league.
9. Zack Kassian Bowls His Way to 1,200 Hits
A machine when it comes to taking the body, Zack Kassian has his sights set on 1,200 hits in his career. He currently sits at 1,174, and will look to stay healthy and contribute in the way he knows best. Not only can he reach 1,200 hits pretty easily, he has a good shot in getting to the 1,300 hit mark this season as well. Before an injury-riddled 2020-21, he exceeded 126 hits in each of the previous four seasons. A healthy and motivated Kassian will be able to smash his way to both marks in 2021-22.
For a grinder/power forward, points milestones don’t come very often. But for Kassian, he does have some offensive talent. The next stop for him would be 200 points, and he is 18 away from that. Disregarding last season due to injuries, he has scored at least 19 points in the four seasons prior, so it is within reach.
8. Tyson Barrie Reaches 400 Points Early
Tyson Barrie got his touch for scoring back last season, his first with the Oilers, after a down year in Toronto. He paced all defencemen in points with 48 in 56 games. This offensive-defenceman will have no trouble reaching 400 points early on, as he looks to continue his scoring outburst from last season. With that, Barrie has been known to net a respectable number of goals in a season on multiple occasions. He needs 12 goals to hit 100, and he’s done that five times before in his career.
7. Darnell Nurse’s Two-Way Play Earns Him 3 Milestones
Since claiming the No. 1 defence role in Edmonton, Darnell Nurse has been on a tear. He has improved his play every season and it will personally pay off for him this year. After scoring 36 points in 56 games last season, he shouldn’t have a problem producing points again with his ability to jump into the rush and score goals. It may be close, but Nurse needs 43 points to reach 200 in his career. It looks as if he is just entering his prime, so it will be exciting to see what is to come.
A big, physical force in the defensive zone as well, Nurse has the opportunity to reach 1,000 hits and 750 blocked shots. Easily exceeding 100 blocks and hits the past four seasons, he should have no difficulty getting to these marks later in the season. He is 116 hits away from 1,000 and 54 blocks to 750.
6. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Easily Passes 500 Points
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has really picked up his production over the past few seasons since moving to the left wing on either Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl’s line. He has always been a great two-way player, but his wrist shot and ability to get points has been noticeable recently. It helps to be set up by two of the best playmakers in the NHL today, but that will only better his chances of cementing his legacy within the Oilers’ organization.
The individual milestone that Nugent-Hopkins should hit first is his 500th career point. He is 22 points away from reaching that and has not failed to exceed that number in every season thus far in his career. The other milestone to look out for is the 200-goal mark. He should be the third Oilers’ forward to reach 200 goals this season. He has more of a ways to go, as he needs 15 more. He has reached 15 goals in eight out of 10 seasons in the NHL, so the odds are in his favour.
5. Connor McDavid Hits 3 Points Milestones
As the most talented scorer in the world, points seem to come easily for McDavid. It feels like each year he is hitting milestones. (“Player grades: Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl hit major milestones, lead Edmonton Oilers to 4-3 win over Canucks,” Edmonton Journal, May 9, 2021) He is that dominant. There shouldn’t be a question as to whether he will reach any of these individual accomplishments.
McDavid has reached the 30-goal mark in each of the past five seasons and the 100-point mark in four of those five. There will be absolutely no difficulty scoring five goals to reach 200 in his career and 26 points to hit 600 points. Both of those milestones should come very early. On the other end, reaching 200 power-play points will come later in the season, as he is also 26 away from that. If the Oilers’ power play continues its success from the past few seasons, McDavid will reach it sometime in the second half of the season.
4. Leon Draisaitl Lights It Up and Surpasses 600 Points
Much like McDavid, points come easily to Draisaitl on this explosive Oilers team. We could see our very first personal milestone of the season in the very first game, as he only needs one goal to reach 200. He owns a 1.43 points per game (P/G) over the past three seasons, which equates to 117 points with a complete 82-game schedule. With 94 points needed to reach 600 career points, we should be looking for this towards the end of the season.
A milestone that shouldn’t be overlooked is the 4,000th faceoff win that Draisaitl can hit as well. He’s averaged 646 faceoff wins over the past four seasons, each one with a positive win percentage as well—309 is the magic number, and fans can look for that to be hit around mid-season.
3. Duncan Keith Climbs All-Time Games Played List
Duncan Keith continues to blow by many former players in games played (GP). Currently sitting at 1,192 NHL games played, he has the opportunity to not only reach 1,250, but with a full 82-game season, reach 1,174. That would be good enough to place him 75th all-time for GP.
With an amazing career like Keith has had, impressive milestones will start to be within reach. There are two others to note, as he only needs 25 points to reach 650 in his career, 22 blocked shots to hit 1,650, and four hits to get to 500. He has only failed to record at least 25 points in a season in his rookie year and last season. But take into account he only played 54 games due to a shortened season. Twenty-five is easily attainable on an offensive-minded Oilers team. As for blocks and hits, following a trend, Keith should block his 1,650th shot around Game 60 of this season. Four hits should come within the first 10 games easily.
2. Mike Smith Wins His 300th Game
Mike Smith could be the 38th-41st goaltender in NHL history to reach 300 wins. It just depends on the quality of starts from Sergei Bobrovsky, Craig Anderson, and Braden Holtby, as to which place he’ll come in. If he stays healthy for most of the season, the question isn’t if, it’s when.
Smith is currently sitting 17 wins away from 300. He has won a minimum of 19 games in each of the past five seasons. He is also able to play his 700th career game if he is able to get into 58 this season. He will have to play up to par with how he performed last season and not run out of gas to hit this. (“Mike Smith is back with Oilers and thrilled to keep career going,” Edmonton Sun, July 24, 2021)
1. Kris Russell Becomes the All-Time Leading Shot Blocker
As a staple for blocking shots throughout his career, Russell has always found a way to get in front of shots and deflect pucks away from the net. He currently sits in second place all-time in shot blocks with 1,976, only 22 behind Brent Seabrook.
While exceeding two blocks per game on average, he should be able to move into first place and hit 2,000 within the first 10 games of the season. At only age 34, he should create a big gap and make this record very hard to touch. Russell may also be able to score four goals this season and reach 50 for his career. He hasn’t scored a goal in the past two seasons, but has scored at least four goals in seven different seasons in his career.
Honourable Mentions for Oilers Players in 2021-22
The more significant milestones were already covered, so let’s take a look at some others that have a good chance of hitting this season:
- Derek Ryan – 67 faceoff wins to 2,000, 1 point to 150
- Zach Hyman – 15 points to 200
- Jesse Puljujarvi – 38 points to 100, 18 goals to 50
- Warren Foegele – 32 points to 100
- Kailer Yamamoto – 48 points to 100
- Brandan Perlini – 11 games to 250
With a good mix of veteran and young players, there are a range of personal milestones that will be attainable throughout the season—some sooner than others, and some greater than others. Keep your eyes open for all that is to come for the Oilers players this season.
Rob Couch is a THW freelance writer covering the Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers. As a fantasy hockey veteran, he will be informing you on the best weekly options for your matchups to begin the week and mid-way. He will also keep you in the loop for weekly news and updates on the Oilers & Flyers.