Ever wonder what a lineup of your favourite team would look like if they didn’t trade away that young talent too soon or were able to bring back that top-end player that left in free agency? Well, look no further because this series is designed to analyze all the former and current active players that have played for the Edmonton Oilers and form the best lineup of the list. It will look at where the players are right now in their careers and show what a dream team of all the best players to come through the organization would look like today. Enjoy.
Forwards Currently Playing for the Oilers
The Oilers have drafted and developed a good number of players that are still with the team along with a few very good recent signings that make up the group currently playing for the team. Starting off with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, it’s a no-brainer that they are here considering they’re not only the best on the team, but in the league. Since 2016-17, they rank No.1 and No. 2 in points by a wide margin and have combined for eight 100-point seasons before either have turned 27 years old.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the longest-tenured member of the Oilers had himself another underrated season as his presence was missed in all situations when he was injured. He may have scored the second-fewest goals in a season in his career with 11, but he still finished with 50 points in 63 games and played important minutes.
Zach Hyman and Evander Kane joined the Oilers last season, whether it was in the offseason or during the season. They were two of the most important additions the team has had in a long time and both played exceptionally well in the playoffs. Hyman was key all season long in all situations and finished with career highs in goals (27) and points (54). Kane joined a bit later but managed to score 22 goals and 39 points in 43 games while finally giving McDavid a legitimate scoring winger that can keep up and play physically.
The next young group of Kailer Yamamoto, Jesse Puljujarvi, and Ryan McLeod all took steps this season. Unfortunately for Puljujarvi, it was forward and then back. He started the season very well and was performing much better than he has until his confidence took a massive hit. I don’t believe he is as good as the start of last season, but isn’t as bad as his finish. Yamamoto has solidified his spot in the top six of a strong forward group currently in Edmonton, while McLeod is right on the cusp and played a big role in just his rookie season.
Warren Foegele is the last player in this group and just barely makes the cut. He is younger than the other players who were in the running and has a bit more potential. If he can start to find his scoring touch again, he can be a 30-point scorer in the Oilers’ bottom six.
Forwards No Longer Playing in Edmonton
The Oilers have traded away some very good forwards. Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle may not be as good as they once were, but at the time of the trades, they definitely performed very well. David Perron and Ryan Strome both had excellent seasons and found themselves on new teams.
Hall is sticking around with the Boston Bruins and his 61-point season flew way under the radar since the team has some very talented forwards. He is still one of the fastest players in the league and can put up points. He also won the Hart Trophy the season after being dealt by Edmonton as he single-handedly carried the New Jersey Devils to the playoffs. Eberle appears to be slowing down, but playing for a team like the Seattle Kraken last season didn’t help. He also spent a few seasons on the defence-first New York Islanders, but his offensive numbers could be much better. He was traded from the Oilers after a poor showing in the 2017 Playoffs, but then went on to score 13 goals and 34 points in 49 playoff games for the Islanders over the next three seasons.
Strome was the piece the Oilers got from the Islanders in the Eberle trade, but Strome couldn’t get anything going in Edmonton. Once he was quickly flipped to the New York Rangers, his career took off and he has since scored 71 goals and 195 points in 263 games playing on the second line. The issue that came in Edmonton may have been his placement in the lineup as he was expected to centre the third line behind McDavid and Draisaitl, limiting his ice time.
Perron had a fairly short stint as an Oiler that lasted less than two seasons during the long playoff drought. He performed well, but he has played the best in his longer career these past five seasons. Last season for the St. Louis Blues, Perron put up 27 goals and 57 points in 67 games at age 34. He is still a very effective player that shouldn’t slow down that much, if at all.
What the Oilers’ Forward Group Would Look Like
Taylor Hall – Connor McDavid – Evander Kane
Zach Hyman – Leon Draisaitl – Kailer Yamamoto
David Perron – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Ryan McLeod – Ryan Strome – Jesse Puljujarvi
The top line of this dream team would be something teams would fear to play against. Just the speed alone would allow the line to generate a ton of scoring chances off the rush. There’s two former MVPs and possibly the best mix of skill and physicality in a player in the league on the line. McDavid wasn’t able to spend too much time playing with Hall before he was traded, but demonstrated amazing chemistry with Kane last season.
We’ve seen the second line at times last season, but not for too long. Yamamoto almost always flanks Draisaitl and they play perfectly into each other’s game (from ‘Kailer Yamamoto signs two-year deal with Edmonton Oilers. What does it mean?,’ Edmonton Journal, Aug. 3, 2022). Hyman is more in between the two, as he works extremely hard and retrieves pucks, but is also a finisher. His speed and ability to play in front of the net is great alongside Draisaitl who is a very skilled passer even though he is a two-time 50-goal scorer.
The third line is a blast from the past, as all three were around for the long rebuild that occurred last decade. Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle spent a lot of time together in the past and the two put up big numbers together when they were young. Add the dynamic style of play from Perron to that group and it is a very formidable line today. Nugent-Hopkins’ playmaking ability mixed with the scoring threat of both his wingers would produce a great deal of goals.
The fourth line of the Oilers’ dream team would be one to watch. They can play defence but all have the potential to put up points. Strome has come into his own after experiencing the NHL alongside one of the best players in Artemi Panarin while McLeod has blazing speed and puck-handling ability shown in just his first season. Puljujarvi would ideally find his scoring touch beside two solid players while forcing turnovers and shutting it down on the defensive side of the puck all over the ice.
Defencemen Currently Playing for the Oilers
Four of the current Oilers’ defencemen make the cut for this dream team, including all three right defence. But we’ll start with Darnell Nurse who is the team’s No. 1 and plays a ton of meaningful, hard minutes. The right side rotated players on the top pair but he remained a constant. He has really stepped up his game since 2018-19, leading the Oilers in ice time, playing in all situations including power play if needed, and is very physical all the time while getting in front of shots. He has now put up well over 30 points in four straight seasons and finished seventh in voting for the Norris Trophy in 2020-21.
As for the other three, we’ll start with the youngest, Evan Bouchard, who has the most potential and is looking to grow exponentially. In his first full season after playing just 21 games to that point, he led the Oilers’ defencemen in points, rose up and played on the top pair for a while, and even took power-play time from Tyson Barrie. Bouchard is only getting started as his role increases and he becomes better defensively. He will be a defender who constantly scores 10-plus goals.
Cody Ceci ended last season on the top pair with Nurse and earned it with his strong and consistent play while adding some offense to the mix. Ceci plays physical and can also play to the strengths and weaknesses of his partner while being a reliable option on defence for the team. Barrie, on the other hand, is still a force offensively and has been great on the Oilers’ power play for both seasons he’s been on the team. In 2020-21, he led all defencemen in points and still put up 41 last season. Though he plays on the third pairing for the Oilers currently, his ability makes him a top-four defenceman on a number of teams.
Defencemen No Longer Playing in Edmonton
The Oilers gave up on two of the three defencemen to make the dream team too early, while Adam Larsson moved on a year ago. Jeff Petry was drafted by Edmonton in 2006, but didn’t break out offensively and become that top-pairing defenceman until he was 30 years old. That may not be entirely on the Oilers for giving up on him considering hardly any player will break out that late in his career after years of being pro.
John Marino was a different case considering he was drafted by the Oilers in 2015 but never played a game for them. He was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for very little and broke into the NHL very soon after that where he finished eighth in Calder Trophy voting. Last season he put up 25 points, but the potential is still there for the 25-year-old defenceman.
Larsson is a completely different player than the first two. He has been a defensive defenceman since day one and plays that role well. He is one of the most physical players in the league and even set career highs in goals, points, shots, and time on ice per game last season in an increased role. Though the back end of the Seattle Kraken underperformed, Larsson wasn’t the reason for it.
What the Oilers’ Defence Core Would Look Like
Darnell Nurse – Evan Bouchard
Cody Ceci – Jeff Petry
Adam Larsson – Tyson Barrie
There’s an overload of right-shot defencemen on this dream team. Only Nurse is a true left defence, but that’s who the Oilers have had little trouble drafting or trading for. Starting with the top pairing, Nurse is a No. 1 defenceman as I stated above. He can contribute in both ends and in all situations while playing against the top opponents. His partner on the dream team, Bouchard, spent time with him on the top line but eventually settled on the second line. The young player is only going to get better offensively and defensively and will turn out to be one of the top point producers from the blue line in the NHL soon enough.
The second pairing is very versatile considering Petry put up over 10 goals and over 40 points four seasons in a row before the disaster that was the Montreal Canadiens’ 2021-22 season. He still has the talent to be a top-pairing defenceman and Ceci plays a similar game. They are both physical and solid in their own end while contributing to the offence.
Since Marino hasn’t improved a ton since his rookie season, I’ve decided he would be a solid seventh defenceman here. That leaves a pairing that could work very well together in Larsson and Barrie. One is defensively minded and the other excels on the offence. Larsson is very physical and won’t make the play to keep the offence alive at all costs. Instead, he is the first man back. That would allow Barrie to take more chances offensively, likely resulting in more offence for the team and himself.
The Oilers’ goaltending would be pretty solid, but not the best in the league. They would have a goaltender in Cam Talbot that finished fourth in Vezina Trophy voting while playing for them when he finished the 2016-17 season with 42 wins and seven shutouts. Since leaving Edmonton after he struggled, he has strung together three solid seasons and has played lights out at times for the Minnesota Wild. Now the goaltender of the Ottawa Senators, he should help them climb into playoff contention.
Jack Campbell, the Oilers’ newest starter, would be the other goaltender. He may not have as much experience, but he was an All-Star last season and was excellent in the first couple of months of the 2021-22 season. Though he struggled for a while in the middle of the season, the former Toronto Maple Leafs’ goalie bounced back and proved he is a solid goaltender. The Oilers hope they have found their No. 1 to help get them over the hump. Fans have now seen two sides of Campbell, but have also seen the resilience to fight through injury and a tough stretch (“Lowetide: Oilers’ expectations of Jack Campbell in his first Edmonton season”, The Athletic, Aug. 3, 2022).
Instead of a starter and a backup, the Oilers’ dream team would go with split time or a 1A, 1B situation depending on who is playing better. Both have shown they can be lights out as well as struggle, but it would be unlikely both would struggle greatly at the same time.
The Oilers’ forward group is incredible in this dream team and the team would be improved on defence despite the roster being loaded with right-shot defencemen. The goaltending would also be a major improvement over what the team has had to deal with since Talbot left, and it would be a very formidable match for any other dream team.
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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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