As long as the Edmonton Oilers have Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, they will always be in contention for NHL awards. Both players are entering their prime and are among the best in the world. The team also has some solid young talent entering the lineup, and a couple of their rookies could compete for the Calder Trophy this season. There are also a few long shots that are worth mentioning. Here’s a look at all of the Oilers players in contention for league awards in 2022-23.
Connor McDavid – Art Ross, Hart, Ted Lindsay
McDavid has taken home the Art Ross Trophy for the most points in a season two years in a row and four of the past six. The two seasons he didn’t record the most points were to outstanding seasons by Nikita Kucherov and Draisaitl. In one of the seasons, McDavid was injured for a handful of games and lost ground on the leader.
McDavid set new career-highs last season in goals (44), assists (79), points (123), power-play points (44), and shots (314) and continues to ramp up his production. He has an even stronger cast of players surrounding him than he did all of last season, and the power play remains a significant area to produce a ton of points. He also recorded over two points per game in 16 playoff games last season, so it’s a feat that’s reachable for a season in which the Oilers play non-playoff teams too. McDavid should again be the favourite for the Art Ross, considering his two biggest competitors last season have now changed teams, and he is only getting better (from ‘NHL Player Tiers: Why Connor McDavid leads our Top 100 rankings for 2022-23,’ The Athletic, Sept. 15, 2022).
As for the Hart Trophy, McDavid has finished top-five in voting in each of the past six seasons, winning twice, although missing the playoffs in consecutive seasons in 2017-18 and 2018-19 didn’t help his case. His other fifth-place finish was the season in which he was injured, and Draisaitl took it home. It’s tough for voters to justify awarding one player from a team with the Hart while also voting another player from the same team as a finalist. The only thing stopping McDavid from winning the Hart last season was a 60-goal campaign from the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews that the NHL hadn’t seen for a decade.
McDavid consistently puts his speed and skill on display, scoring and creating amazing plays. Players will always vote for McDavid as the Ted Lindsay Award winner, especially if he can lead the league in points for the third season in a row. Qualifying for the playoffs shouldn’t be the problem for McDavid losing votes, considering it’s near impossible for players on non-playoff teams to win the Hart. The Oilers project to be a Stanley Cup contender, so it’s likely the team is playoff bound. He will be a finalist if he stays healthy since he has finished five of the last six seasons with over 100 points, even through a pandemic.
Leon Draisaitl – Rocket Richard, Art Ross, Hart
Though Draisaitl should be in contention for three awards, tied for the most on the team, his chances for two of them hinge on McDavid. Draisaitl took home the Hart and Art Ross Trophy the season McDavid missed some games in 2019-20. That season, the German centre led his line and dragged his team into the playoffs, finishing with 110 points, 13 more than the next closest player in the league, McDavid. He took home the Art Ross, Hart, and Ted Lindsay that season.
Draisaitl is a very productive scorer and producer on the power play, and he is often moved up to the top line to play alongside McDavid if the team needs a goal. They played together during last season’s playoff run, and both averaged at least two points per game. But Draisaitl can run his own line. He should have a couple of different linemates to start the season, which should help him. He constantly finishes near the very top of the league in points and goals, finishing 2021-22 fourth in points (110) and second in goals (55).
Draisaitl has scored the second-most goals in the NHL with 179, second to only Matthews (185) in the past four seasons. Draisaitl has recorded two 50-goal seasons, finishing second in goals in both and fourth in the other two seasons. As an elite player and goal-scorer, he hangs around the top of the league each season and has been so close to taking home the Rocket Richard Trophy. Any season could be his year at the rate he can score goals. If he can score enough goals and produce enough points to compete with the league leaders, he can definitely be in the running for each of the Hart, Rocket Richard, and Art Ross Trophies.
Dylan Holloway – Calder
Because forwards tend to develop faster than defencemen, I’ve chosen Dylan Holloway as the more likely contender for the Calder Trophy this season over Philip Broberg. To begin the season, Holloway should also be in a better position to produce on the third line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Ryan McLeod.
Holloway’s speed rivals McLeod’s, while Nugent-Hopkins provides underrated skill and high hockey IQ. Holloway has been on a mission to make the Oilers and should start opening night at this rate. He has been aggressive and made a strong early impression thus far in the Young Stars tournament in Penticton and through the preseason.
So, how will he match up with other rookies who are favoured like Matty Beniers, Juraj Slafkovsky, and Owen Power? Holloway wouldn’t be playing too high up in the lineup as to be outmatched. The Oilers appear to be spreading the wealth around their forward group. So, taking into consideration the skill the Oilers’ third line should possess, they will dominate opponents’ third lines when matched up. They can defend very well and produce offence with speed. Other rookies may not get linemates as good as Holloway should, being forced to run their own line. There is also the possibility of moving up the lineup to play alongside McDavid or Draisaitl, something no other rookie would have the opportunity to do.
Evan Bouchard – Norris
The first long shot is Evan Bouchard for the Norris Trophy. He broke out in a big way and rose up the ranks of the defence in Edmonton. He already started to steal time on the power play from Tyson Barrie and produce. If Bouchard can get more of a full-time role on that top unit, his production will rise significantly. Last season, Bouchard recorded 12 goals and 43 points while skating under 20 minutes a night. 35 of those 43 points came at even strength.
This season, Bouchard won’t be starting out on the third pairing and will earn more time on the top power-play unit as the Oilers know his capabilities. He will get more ice time per game and a stronger partner who can skate and also move the puck. This will all benefit Bouchard, along with a full season of experience under his belt and a better team surrounding him. He has some tough competition in the way of winning a Norris Trophy, but I don’t count him out completely this season and in the future.
Jack Campbell – Vezina
Jack Campbell, the Oilers’ new goaltender that gives them more confidence this season, will also have tough competition to win the Vezina Trophy. He was an All-Star last season though before struggling for a while. Eliminate the time he struggled and he could have very well finished as a Vezina finalist.
Jay Woodcroft and his coaching staff transformed the Oilers system into a much better defending team while not sacrificing offence in the process. The Oilers have a great number of solid two-way forwards and defencemen who can protect the net. That, combined with a generally easier division than the Atlantic will allow for Campbell to be a better goalie than he was last season and have his name up there among the top group of goaltenders in the league.
Philip Broberg – Calder
Broberg played two games short of qualifying for rookie status last season. If he gets into six games this season, it will be his rookie season. That being said, he has gotten some great experience as opposed to other rookies with very few or no NHL games under their belts.
Broberg will slot into the third pairing alongside Barrie and that line could struggle a bit in their own end. But, there shouldn’t be problems producing offensively as they are both gifted in that regard. The Oilers are hoping Broberg follows the same path as Bouchard did in that he pops off to begin the season and challenges for a higher spot in the lineup. If he does that, the ice time in general and with better players will increase, helping out his production. That is a lot to ask for from young defencemen two seasons in a row and a reason why he’s a long-shot for the Calder Trophy (from ‘Edmonton Oilers counting on Philip Broberg to be the real deal,’ Edmonton Sun, Sept. 16, 2022).
It is not only an exciting season to be an Oilers fan in regards to the team, but also to watch what the individuals can accomplish. The Oilers have all the pieces to be a great team, and the better the players do in competing for individual awards, the better the chances overall the team is at the top of the league.
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Rob Couch is a THW freelance writer covering mainly the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. He covers everything you need to know about fantasy hockey. He will also keep you up to date with NHL Stats News and trade talks.
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