3 Oilers’ Players Climbing the Franchise Leaderboards

The Edmonton Oilers‘ history is a very rich one. For a team that has only been around in the NHL since 1979-80, there are some very hard-to-reach records set by the players of the ’80s. Maybe you’ve heard of them: Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, and Glenn Anderson.

Three current Oilers’ players stand clearly above the rest: Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. They all have a great opportunity to rise in all sorts of categories this year and possibly take a stab at seasonal records to go along with that.

Longest Tenured Oilers

Spread out a bit in the games-played department, it’s understandable because they were all drafted in different years. Nugent-Hopkins has a significant lead on the other two, being drafted three years before Draisaitl, and four before McDavid.

Having said that, Nugent-Hopkins sits 12th on the franchise leaderboards with 659 games played for the Oilers. With 79 games left on the schedule for this season, he should comfortably be able to move into eighth place, with 738 games played, passing Todd Marchant, Charlie Huddy, Gretzky, and Craig MacTavish. He would then sit exactly 300 games back of surpassing Kevin Lowe for the most games played in franchise history with 1,038. He has more than enough time if he stays healthy with a newly signed deal that should keep him in Edmonton for seven more seasons after this one.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Edmonton Oilers
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Draisaitl and McDavid are a little bit back and will take a few more seasons to move up the leaderboards, and completely doable with four and five years remaining on their current contracts. Draisaitl has played 481 games for the Oilers, and if he finishes this season playing every game, he would move from 26th to 19th with 560 games. Draisaitl has a season in hand on McDavid, plus some missed time on the captain’s part throughout the years. He sits 37th with 410 games played. If he plays the entire 2021-22 season, he would easily move up 10 spots to No. 27.

Each Oiler Moves Up in Goals Within Top-10

Now for the impressive part. After seeing where each of the three Oilers’ players rank in games played for the franchise, these totals make a very early case at each of their jerseys hanging in the rafters once they retire.

Draisaitl, McDavid, and Nugent-Hopkins all sit in the top-10 in goals for the franchise already. Draisaitl is the highest at seventh, just recently hitting the 200-goal mark. McDavid is just a good game behind him with 199 goals, set to hit 200 at any given moment. Nugent-Hopkins rounds out the top-10 with 185.

Since they are all so high up on the list, it gets tougher to rise in the leaderboards. Each of them should be able to easily move up at least one spot though. Draisaitl and McDavid will battle it out to see who ends the season with the most goals, but regardless, both of them will pass Coffey’s mark of 209, as each of them can easily put 40-plus goals in the back of the net.

Nugent-Hopkins will pass Craig Simpson with one goal, and will have to have one of the best seasons of his career to reach Coffey. He has only hit the 24-goal mark three times in his career, but both times were in the last two full seasons. He needs as many to tie Coffey for what would then be the eighth-most in franchise history.

McDavid Moves Into Top-5 in Assists in Oilers’ History

McDavid has a chance to move into the top-5 in assists in franchise history in just his seventh season, considering three were cut short. Last season, he recorded 72 in just 56 games. This season he has four already in three games and is almost an assist-per-game player with 383 in 410 games. A realistic number for McDavid to reach based on last season and his progression through the years would be around 90 assists, putting him at 469 and jumping ahead of Coffey by nine assists.

Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid
Edmonton Oilers, Connor McDavid (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

Draisaitl could get around 70 assists this season. He is currently 10th on the Oilers’ leaderboards in that category. He only needs 22 to pass Ryan Smyth and Ales Hemsky, and ahead of that is McDavid who he won’t catch up to this season. So, that should finish him in eighth this season.

Unless Nugent-Hopkins can get 39 assists this season centering his own line, he will only pass Lowe and move into 11th place, with an easy shot at moving past Smyth and Hemsky next season.

More Scoring Equals More Oilers’ Points

McDavid is just as impressive with points as he is with assists. He also sits seventh in this category on the all-time franchise list. He has 582 points to kick off the first three games of the season. He doesn’t have a long way to go to pass Smyth and Coffey. If his point projections are right and he hits 150 points this season, he will go into next season with 724 points and in the top-5 again. That’s where the real test starts for him. He will be 182 back of Anderson who sits in fourth with 906 points. After this season, it should take him two to three years to start passing the other Oilers’ greats in Messier and Kurri past 1,000 points.

Related: Oilers Should Pursue Blackhawks’ Dylan Strome as a Trade Target

Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins also sit in the top-10 in points, getting there last season. They are ninth and 10th, respectively. If Draisaitl gets 125 points this season, he reaches Smyth’s points mark, but Coffey is pretty unreachable this season. Nugent-Hopkins should stay right where he is this season unless he is nearly a point-per-game player to pass Doug Weight.

Game Winners & Special Teams

Power-Play Goals

All three of McDavid, Draisaitl, and Nugent-Hopkins find themselves again near the top of the leaderboards in regards to Oilers’ records with special teams and finishing games. This time Draisaitl leads the group. He is currently seventh in power-play goals with 70, and Messier’s 89 is within reach for a player who has recorded 15 or more the past three seasons. That would put Draisaitl in the top-5.

A realistic mark for Nugent-Hopkins, who sits in ninth, is around seven to 10 power-play goals in a season, even on the most productive power play in the league. They can usually spread out the scoring quite a bit between these three and whoever sits in front of the net. McDavid should score around 10 on the power play as well, so each should hold their position at ninth and 10th for this season.

Power-Play Assists

Power-play assists is a whole different story, as there should be more rising from these players. McDavid averages 30 or more of them a season, and will easily be able to move from seventh to fourth. Again, Messier should be within reach next season for third.

Nugent-Hopkins currently has 121 power-play assists. A full season can see him get around 20 more. He only needs five to reach Anderson, but 24 to reach Kurri. I’m not saying 24 is unrealistic, and it very well could happen with the power-play unit he’s playing on. Draisaitl should only be able to move into 10th, as there is a big gap between him and Nugent-Hopkins.

Power-Play Points

McDavid, Nugent-Hopkins, and Draisaitl are all next to each other at ninth to 11th in power-play points, with McDavid leading the way with 178. Nugent-Hopkins is close behind with 171, but won’t get as many as McDavid in a season. Draisaitl is on the outside looking in of the top-10 with 157.

McDavid and Draisaitl can hit 45-50 power-play points in a season. Nugent-Hopkins will probably get around 30 or so. This places McDavid very close to Coffey for sixth with 227. It’s doable but will take a very efficient power play once again. Nugent-Hopkins and Draisaitl will be neck-and-neck and should both finish the season around 200 power-play points, claiming the eighth and ninth spots.

Game-Winning Goals

Unless McDavid goes off and has 15 game-winning goals (GWG), he is standing pat in fourth place. He has 45 game-winners right now, while Messier and Gretzky await their spots to be overtaken at 60 and 61. Draisaitl sits in seventh, 10 GWG behind Messier for sixth, and 12 behind Smyth for fifth. This goal is attainable and we should see Draisaitl move up at least one spot. Nugent-Hopkins needs one GWG to move into a tie for 10th, and six to reach Esa Tikkanen at eight.

If the Oilers win at the rate they’ve started at, we could see some or all of these marks hit this season. The power play is key to helping each of McDavid, Draisaitl, and Nugent-Hopkins out in adding to their already impressive resume across all these stats.

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