The Edmonton Oilers are heating up down the playoff stretch with an 8-1-1 record in their last 10 games. They’re receiving key contributions not only from their superstars, but from their supporting cast as well. In fact, in their 4-0 win over the Vegas Golden Knights last Saturday, both Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl didn’t register a single point.
A player who has elevated his game down the playoff stretch is Warren Foegele. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound forward has had an inconsistent season with Edmonton, but he’s redeeming himself by scoring timely goals, with the postseason just around the corner.
Foegele Has Been Inconsistent This Season
The Markham, ON native, was traded from the Carolina Hurricanes in the offseason for former Oiler fan favourite, Ethan Bear. He’s had an up-and-down first season with the orange and blue, tallying 12 goals and 14 assists in 76 games, with a team-worst minus-10 rating.
He — along with the rest of the team — started the season strong, recording five points in his first 10 games in an Oilers’ uniform. However, throughout the season he’s had scoreless stretches that include 16 and 20 games, without a goal. He’s bounced around the lineup, mainly playing bottom-six minutes. He’s played the most with forward Derek Ryan (351 minutes), but throughout the season he’s filled in the top-six due to injuries and ailments, playing 140 minutes with McDavid and 150 minutes with Draisaitl.
Throughout the season I’ve mentioned he’s a frustrating player to watch because he has all the tools — size, speed, tenacity on the forecheck, and decent hands — to be a highly effective player and contribute more on the scoreboard. He’s generally in the right spots and generates scoring opportunities, yet a downfall throughout the season has been his inability to finish plays.
Foegele’s Scoring Big Goals Down the Playoff Stretch
Foegele’s been most successful in the brief time he’s played on the third line with Derek Ryan and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as his centreman. It’s no surprise his hard work is starting to reflect on the scoreboard, ever since Jay Woodcroft reunited the trio to start the game four games ago. On April 9th, in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Colorado Avalanche, he tipped home the lone Oilers’ goal off a Darnell Nurse point shot late in the game. He also scored in the game before, when he buried a pass from Ryan against the Los Angeles Kings, tallying the go-ahead goal at the time.
Last Saturday, against the Golden Knights, he provided extra insurance for the Oilers when he picked off defenseman Alec Martinez in the defensive zone. He turned on the jets, bullied his way to the Golden Knights’ net, and beat goaltender Logan Thompson with a backhand move for his 12th of the season, making it 3-0 Edmonton in the third period.
Throughout the season when he found himself in similar scoring chances, he’d often shoot at the goaltenders’ crest or get rid of the puck too quickly. That said, his play as of late is what I’ve been expecting from him ever since his highlight-reel goal against the Arizona Coyotes earlier in the season, when he turned a Coyotes’ defender inside and out and wired the puck past goaltender Karel Vejmelka.
He’s scored a quarter of his 12 goals on the season in the last five games. In that span, according to Natural Stat Trick, he’s averaged 54.91% Corsi (CF%). Also, the metric of high danger scoring chances (HDCF%) monitors the percentage of total high danger scoring chances while a player is on the ice. In the last five games, he has an average of 68.05 HDCF%, including a 100 HDCF% against a powerhouse Avalanche team.
Foegele Had a Big 2019 Postseason With the Carolina Hurricanes
I recently wrote an article picking Foegele as a dark horse to become the Oilers’ next unlikely playoff hero. For Oilers fans, it’s dubbed the next “Fernando Pisani” — an unlikely hero, who isn’t amongst the highest paid on the team, but produces points, scores timely goals, and delivers an impeccable playoff performance. Because of how Foegele is heating up down the playoff stretch, I don’t consider him a “dark horse” pick, anymore. Rather, I question if he’s able to repeat his performance from the 2019 playoffs?
Ironically, in 2019, the Edmonton Sun wrote an article about Foegele, who was playing with the Hurricanes at the time, and compared him to the Oilers’ former playoff hero, Pisani. Foegele finished the 2018 -2019 regular season with only 15 points in 77 games, and didn’t score a goal in the final two and a half months. Yet, in the postseason, he went on a tear and tallied five goals, and four assists in 15 games for the Hurricanes. Then Carolina captain, Justin Williams, said, “ He (Foegele) works his tail off and he’s kind of built for the playoffs,” (from “Carolina Hurricanes’ Warren Foegele Is This Spring’s Fernando Pisani, Circa 2006,” Edmonton Sun, 4/30/19).
He may have set the bar too high in those playoffs, though. In the next two postseasons, he only tallied three points in a combined 18 games, and Carolina eventually cut ties with him. That said, he’s previously shown he can take his game to a higher level, and his style of play is exactly what Edmonton, who Money Puck lists their odds of making the postseason at 99.85%, could use in a tight-checking playoff series.
Related: 4 Oilers Who Can Be the Next Unlikely Playoff Hero
An interesting stat worth noting, Foegele set a Hurricane’s record for the fastest goal to start a playoff game in 2019, when he scored just 17 seconds into the contest. Knowing that stat, If I’m Woodcroft, I’m putting Foegele in the starting lineup to start the postseason, just in case history decides to repeat itself.