Some NHL players specialize in winning faceoffs. Others get sent over the boards when the specter of fisticuffs hangs in the cold arena air. Now, we know what role Kyle Turris has on the Edmonton Oilers: shootout specialist.
Since joining the Oilers as a free agent prior to the 2020-21 season, the veteran forward’s contributions have been limited; not anywhere near what was hoped for when he signed a two-year deal worth $3.3 million on Oct. 9, 2020. However, in Edmonton’s 72 games going back the beginning of last season, the team has gone to a shootout just twice. Both times the man taking the Oilers’ third attempt has been Turris. Both times he scored. Both times they won.
Turris Gets to Play Hero Against Jets
The 32-year-old’s latest shootout heroics came Thursday (Nov. 18) at Rogers Place in the Oilers’ thrilling 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets. After Leon Draisaitl missed and Connor McDavid scored on Edmonton’s opening two attempts in the shootout — while Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner stopped two of Vancouver’s three shots — Turris stepped onto the ice with a chance to win it.
Skating in on Winnipeg’s former Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, Turris went wide right to the boards as he crossed the blue line, then cut back towards the net at the left circle, waited for Hellebucyk to drop his pad, and then fired a low riser to beat Hellebucyk on the goalie’s right stick side. It was a perfectly executed shootout attempt against one of the game’s finest puck stoppers, who has 11 shootout wins since 2016-17, sixth most in the NHL during in that span.
His first shootout goal, in the Oilers’ season-opening 3-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Oct. 13, was also a beauty. Taking Edmonton’s third attempt, Turris approached up the middle and shot from between the hash marks, firing the puck between the pads of Thatcher Demko. Edmonton goalie Mike Smith stopped Vancouver’s proceeding attempt, and the Oilers prevailed in the skills contest by a 2-1 margin.
Turris now has nearly as many shootout goals as he does actual goals with the Oilers — he scored twice in 2020-21 plus once this season for a grand total of three.
Time in Edmonton Has Been Tough For Turris
Brought in by the Oilers to provide experience and depth offensive production, Turris has been largely underwhelming during his stint in Edmonton.
He played only 27 of the team’s 56 games last season and was a healthy scratch for Edmonton’s first-round playoff loss to the Jets. Turris recorded just five points and was dead last on the team with a rating of minus-11 in the regular season. This season he’s suited up for 13 of Edmonton’s 16 games, averaging just 8:04 playing in the bottom six. He’s got two points and his minus-4 rating ranks among the worst on the Oilers.
Turris has needed something to hang his hat on in Edmonton, and as Oil Country is quickly finding out, shootouts are kind of his thing.
Turris Has History of Shootout Success
Going back to his NHL debut with the Phoenix Coyotes in 2007-08, Turris is 30/79 on shootout attempts , giving him a 38.0 percent success rate for his career. Since 2014-15, no other NHL player has scored more times in the skills contest than Turris, with 21 shootout goals. Over that span, the former member of the Ottawa Senators and Nashville Predators has played in games that have gone to a shootout 62 times and has been called upon for an attempt in all but six of them. Beginning in 2013-14, with the Senators, had five straight seasons of at least four shootout goals, and tied Artemi Panarin for the league lead in 2017-18 with six.
Turris had to wait a while to get his first shootout opportunities with the Oilers, but he was more than ready. During Thursday’s post-game media availability, Turris discussed working with Oilers goalie coach Duistin Shwartz:
“We talk about shootouts often and work on them quite a bit and watch video before every game, so it’s something I’m definitely taking serious and take pride in.”
Turris also mentioned that he and Skinner had worked a lot together on shootouts during the summer. On Thursday, that work proved beneficial for both forward and goaltender.
With two shootout goals, Turris is in a seven-way tie for first in the NHL this season, through games completed Friday (Nov. 19). Unfortunately for him, the Oilers don’t go beyond overtime that often, but he is making it count every opportunity he gets, and considering how things have gone for him in Edmonton, it’s a feel-good moment any time one of the Oilers’ genuinely good guys gets to shine.
Brian is an Edmonton-based sports writer and broadcaster. His experience includes working as a sports reporter for the Edmonton Sun, where he covered the Edmonton Oil Kings 2013-14 Memorial Cup championship season.