There is just over a month and a half until the 2023 NHL All-Star event is held in Florida on Feb. 3 and 4. The conversation will soon ramp up when voting takes place. It’s clear who has performed well and who hasn’t until now, which makes my job a little bit easier in figuring out who should get All-Star consideration for the Edmonton Oilers.
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It’s not often four players from the same team get named to the All-Star competition, considering the limited 3-on-3 format. Nowadays, every team has to have at least one player in the All-Star Game, which means some worthy players can be left out. The Oilers will have at least two attendees in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Don’t be surprised if two others join them. Stuart Skinner and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are more than deserving this season, especially Skinner.
McDavid is the best in the game and an early Hart Trophy candidate for many. He can take over a game and is unmatched this season in offensive categories with an early points lead (8) and has scored 25 goals in the first 28 games. He also leads all forwards in average ice time by a fair margin and is relied upon in all situations.
At this point, there’s no way McDavid doesn’t get named to the All-Star Game, where he will likely captain the team once again. His case doesn’t need to be made, so I’m really just listing his accomplishments this season. With that said, he is also second in the league in power-play goals (10) and first in power-play points (27) by a wide margin.
McDavid has two hat tricks and is riding a seven-game goal streak (nine goals) – tied for the longest in the NHL this season. He has a chance to extend it against the Minnesota Wild on Monday night. The Oilers’ captain has five multi-goal games, 10 and eight-game point streaks, points in 24 of 28 games, and many multi-point games. He has eight one-point games, eight two-point games, two three-point games, and six four-point games – that’s more four-point games than games without a point. It’s likely it stays that way for the entire season too.
Draisaitl may sometimes get overshadowed, but once again, he is second in the NHL in points and tied for fifth in goals. He has 46 points, eight behind McDavid but four ahead of the next closest player. The Oilers’ assistant captain also has 19 goals and is within striking distance of the Rocket Richard Trophy, a trophy he has come close to winning a couple of times, hitting the 50-goal mark twice in his career.
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Draisaitl leads the NHL in power-play goals (12) and game-winning goals (seven), each by two, and ranks second in the league in power-play points (21) behind McDavid. Not only has he played most of the season centering his own line, but he also has recorded a point in 24 of 28 games, including an 11-game point streak. He has 13 multi-point games, four three-point games, a four-point game, and a five-point game.
Once again, Draisaitl has been great in the faceoff circle and is heavily relied upon by the Oilers to play big minutes and in all situations. I don’t think anyone can doubt his All-Star status.
The Oilers’ rookie, however, has a strong chance of also becoming an All-Star this season. It has been a tough go for Jack Campbell, which has allowed Skinner to get noticed. He has emerged as the starter (for now) and has become one of the best netminders in the league (from “Stuart Skinner has been the Oilers’ saviour — and that’s not a good thing”, The Athletic, Dec. 6, 2022). There are slim pickings from the Pacific Division this season, and that’s why it’s an easy case to make for him to attend the All-Star Game. Only he and Logan Thompson are worthy to come out of the division.
Skinner has the seventh-best save percentage (SV%) in the NHL among goalies who have started at least 10 games and the best in the Pacific. He ranks third in wins among goalies in the division and 13th in the NHL. It’s impressive considering the lack of goal support, and much worse than when Campbell has been in net for the Oilers. If he continues to start, win, and put up strong numbers, it is going to be extremely tough for a third option to pass him by within a month.
Nugent-Hopkins is the fourth Oiler worthy of All-Star consideration. He is quietly putting together a very strong season and is on pace to smash career highs. He already has three more goals than he did last season in less than half the number of games and is on pace for 41 goals and 96 points. His career highs are 28 goals and 69 points.
He has taken advantage of playing on a dominant power play, but he isn’t just coasting, he is also making great plays and creating goals. Recently, the veteran has been centering the second line, not alongside McDavid or Draisaitl, and has been playing great. Nugent-Hopkins is tied for 19th in the NHL in goals and 17th in points. That places him fourth in goals in the Pacific Division and fifth in points.
Regardless of this, he may still get snubbed or have to require the last-man-in vote to make it to All-Star Weekend. He is the third-best forward on the Oilers, and that will work against him when the rest of the All-Star roster has to include a player from each team. However, this former All-Star deserves to be there this season more than any other time in his career.
I left Zach Hyman out of this group because it will be very tough for him to become an All-Star as the fourth-most productive forward on the team. He has had a strong season and deserves recognition but not as an All-Star. Either way, the Oilers should be well-represented this season. So, fans, make sure your voice is heard and get as many Oilers to All-Star Weekend as possible.