In an Edmonton Oilers news and rumors update, there is buzz surrounding the struggle in Edmonton’s bottom-six forward group —which led to Sam Gagner being inserted into the lineup — Connor McDavid potentially going more games without a point, a Darnell Nurse contract extension and a match-up of 50-vs-50.
Where is the Bottom-Six Scoring?
It’s hard to put any blame on the Edmonton Oilers top end of the lineup at forward when they have essentially every goal for the team after ten games. The bottom-half hasn’t contributed at all and the Oilers really need players like Alex Chiasson, Markus Granlund and Jujhar Khaira, among others to step up.
The Oilers will go up against a very strong and deep team in Washington on Thursday and the expectation is that without a well-rounded effort, Edmonton will have a hard time competing. This game will be a true test of how reflective the Oilers early record is on their ability to stay a competitive team.
Sam Gagner In, Jurco Out
Oilers veteran forward Sam Gagner was called up prior to the Oilers loss to the Winnipeg Jets and after losing two in a row since his call-up, the Oilers have finally decided to insert him into the lineup.
The hope is that Gagner can help the depth of the team, perhaps contribute to the power play, and get the Oilers on the board after two games with no goals.
He’ll line up beside Granlund and Patrick Russell on the fourth line, although that could change if the forward lines continue to struggle. Tomas Jurco will come out.
McDavid’s Struggle to Score
In saying Connor McDavid is struggling is being a bit sarcastic considering it’s only been three games since he’s scored a point. That said, for McDavid, that’s rare. He didn’t go all of last season with no points in three games and many are calling for him to have an offensive outburst.
While the hockey world has talked about his not scoring lately and asked if it’s a matter of fatigue, no one seems to be worried that he won’t bust out again and McDavid has said the team, including himself needs to “get more O-Zone time. I think we’re a lot of one-and-done right now.”
The idea here seems to be, ‘Keep it simple, funnel pucks toward the net and get greasy goals just to spark the team offence.’
Darnell Nurse Extension Long-Term?
It was mentioned by Elliotte Friedman and reported it today’s NHL Rumor Rundown column that the Oilers and Darnell Nurse might be starting contract extension talks already. With seven points in 10 games, Nurse has been one of Edmonton’s many bright spots on defense so far this season.
The buzz is about a long-term deal, but what is he worth for five-plus years?
Friedman did point out is that’s there’s still a bit of a struggle to get players to eagerly look at the Oilers as a destination of preference, which is a tad surprising considering McDavid is on the team. That Nurse wants to stay is a good sign for negotiations moving forward. It’s no coincidence that he may be closer on the team than anyone to No. 97.
Players to Watch Tonight: Ovechkin vs Draisaitl
There are a few storylines worth following tonight as the Oilers take on the Washington Capitals. Perhaps the most interesting is the battle between two 50-goal scorers.
Alex Ovechkin will go head-to-head with Leon Draisaitl and one has to expect Draisaitl will see this as a personal challenge considering he’s only scored 50 once in his career and Ovechkin seems to do so repeatedly. Ovie beat Draisaitl by a single goal,(51) in the goal-scoring race last year.
This season, Ovechkin is being Ovechkin with seven goals in his first 11 games, while Draisaitl looks like he’s on pace to get close to 50 again, with six goals in his first 10. One interesting stat as per an article by Sportsnet:
Draisaitl is 50th in the NHL in scoring chances, but by that measure Ovechkin is first and the gap between the two is large, with 37 for Ovechkin and 17 for Draisaitl.