Though they have been overshadowed by their provincial rival Calgary Flames, the Edmonton Oilers have had a terrific offseason. They were able to improve their goaltending situation by adding Jack Campbell as a free agent, while also being able to re-sign both Evander Kane and Brett Kulak at very cheap costs. Other additions such as Mattias Janmark and Ryan Murray will help add to their depth both up front as well as the back end.
As far as what to expect from this group in 2022-23, everyone knows that Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl will continue to set the world on fire from an offensive standpoint. Both players are in the primes of their careers and should end the year with roughly 120-points if healthy throughout. Aside from those two, however, there are really no sure things on this roster, which can make predicting certain outcomes intriguing. With that said, here are some hot takes on the Oilers for the 2022-23 campaign.
Evander Kane Pots 50
From a production standpoint, Evander Kane choosing to sign with the Oilers during the 2021-22 season was the best decision he could have made. The 31-year-old has always been a productive NHL player, having scored 20 or more goals on seven occasions prior to last season. That said, his 22 goals in 43 regular season games playing alongside McDavid far outweighs any production he has had in the past, though that doesn’t mean it won’t continue.
As players like Patrick Maroon and Alex Chiasson can attest to, playing with McDavid will help your point totals in a big way. That was exactly the case for Kane, as he meshed quickly with the Oilers captain, and should have no issue doing so again during the 2022-23 regular season. In fact, if he stays healthy, there is a chance he could end up with 50 goals.
This may seem like a stretch given that he has never potted more than 30 in a single season, but his production since joining the Oilers has been superb. On top of his 22 goals in 43 regular season games, he also had 13 in just 15 playoff outings. That equals 35 in just a 58-game span, which translates to 49.48 goals in a full 82-game schedule. It may not be likely, but it certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibilities.
Puljujarvi Finally Breaks Out
Over the past two seasons, Jesse Puljujarvi has shown flashes of his potential. The fourth overall pick from the 2016 Draft has a rare combination of size and skill that have left so many intrigued about him over the years, though he has yet to put it all together. As mentioned, there have been flashes, though those flashes have come with struggles as well.
After appearing to be as good as gone earlier this offseason, Puljujarvi will be returning to the Oilers for the 2022-23 season and is believed to be the frontrunner for the vacant right-wing position alongside McDavid and Kane. If this doesn’t work out for him, it is safe to say he won’t only fail to get an opportunity to produce as an Oiler, but the NHL as a whole.
At 24 years old, the time is now for Puljujarvi to fully break out, and despite his many detractors, there is reason to believe he will be able to do so. I’ll go out on a major limb and suggest that the man known as the ‘Bison King’ will record north of 60 points this season.
Broberg Plays Big Role Down the Stretch
It appears Philip Broberg is a near lock to crack the Oilers roster out of training camp, as general manager Ken Holland recently suggested he would need to play himself out of a spot. The 21-year-old has faced his fair share of scrutiny early in his career, mainly due to the fact he was selected one spot higher than Anaheim Ducks forward Trevor Zegras in the 2019 Draft. (from ‘Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Oilers picking Philip Broberg over Trevor Zegras is still debated. Here’s why Ken Holland stands by it’, The Athletic, 02/17/22).
Despite some of the criticism he has faced, Broberg is a very promising prospect for the Oilers. He was able to show fans a little bit of what he could do last season, suiting up for the first 23 games of his NHL career, and chipping in with a goal and three points during that brief stretch while averaging 13:28 minutes in ice time per contest.
While his offense didn’t show much at the NHL level, it certainly did during his time in the American Hockey League (AHL), scoring four goals and 23 points in just 31 games. It is clear that he is ready for that next step, and I believe that while he may not bring the offense early on, he will prove quite quickly that he belongs as a regular at the NHL level. As a result, don’t be surprised to see him averaging 20 minutes a night as the season moves along.
Skinner Will Receive 30+ Starts
For the final hot take involving the Oilers, I am going to say that despite signing Campbell, Stuart Skinner will start 30 or more games in 2022-23. The 23-year-old showed very well with the team in his 13 games last season and was even better down in the AHL. He is more than ready for a backup role in the NHL this coming season and will be given an opportunity to prove just that.
The reason I believe Skinner may receive so many starts is due to the fact that Campbell is quite inexperienced as a starter. Prior to 2021-22, he had never appeared in more than 31 games in a single season. This means that he will not be able to start as many games as some other number ones around the league, but thanks to having Skinner as a backup option that shouldn’t be much of an issue.
The other reason that Skinner may receive plenty more starts than one would expect is that Campbell is far from a sure thing. As he showed in 2021-22, when he is on he is great, but he can at times struggle with inconsistency. If that inconsistent play begins at any point this coming season, head coach Jay Woodcroft should have no problem turning to Skinner.
Plenty of Excitement Ahead
Whether or not these hot takes prove to be true, only time will tell. Hockey is often an unpredictable game, meaning we could be in store for several unexpected moments when it comes to this Oilers group in 2022-23. One thing’s for sure, however, is that this team will give fans plenty to be excited about all season long.