It has been a season to remember as the Edmonton Oilers have had a number of career years from their players, topped off with incredible seasons by their leaders. On April 5, against the Anaheim Ducks, the Oilers became the 14th team in NHL history to have three 100-point scorers in one season. This came when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins joined Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl at the century mark with an assist late in the game.
The last team to accomplish this feat was the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1995-96 with Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, and Ron Francis. The last time the Oilers had three 100-point scorers in a season was in 1986-87, when Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, and Mark Messier hit the mark. The Oilers’ franchise has had the most teams accomplish this feat in NHL history, doing so five times. The Penguins are close behind, as they did so three consecutive times between the last two times the Oilers have.
Oilers’ Journey to 100 Points
Integral Power Play
The Oilers will only have three players reach 100 points this season as Zach Hyman is too far back, but that shouldn’t take away from his stellar season and impact. Despite the Oilers’ strong play at five-on-five since the calendar flipped to 2023, this feat of three 100-point scorers wouldn’t have been accomplished if it weren’t for the all-time best power play this season.
The success of the power play, thanks to the team’s top scorers, also helped the Oilers through the first half of the season. Edmonton became the first team on record (beginning in 1933-34) to have four players score 15 power-play goals in one season. They hit the mark when Nugent-Hopkins, of all people, scored his 15th power-play goal of the season one game prior.
Some may call Nugent-Hopkins a power-play specialist, but even with 52 power-play points on the season, he has 48 even-strength or shorthanded points in 79 games. Also, keep in mind, he often played on the third line during the first half of the season. This was a big reason why the Oilers have three 100-point scorers and not just two, McDavid and Draisaitl.
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The Oilers’ top power-play unit carried their special team’s success, as just six Oilers have a power-play goal this season. The top four (Draisaitl, McDavid, Nugent-Hopkins, and Hyman), plus both defencemen who have manned the point (Tyson Barrie, and now Evan Bouchard) are the only players on the team this season that have scored on the man advantage. To score 87 power-play goals as one unit is incredible, and why the Oilers have the three NHL leaders in power-play points this season (McDavid – 69, Draisaitl – 60, Nugent-Hopkins – 52).
Oilers’ Player Milestones
All four of Edmonton’s leading scorers have career highs in points, and among the four, Draisaitl is the only one who hasn’t surpassed his career best in goals already this season. McDavid has 18 more goals and 25 more points than his previous career highs. Draisaitl has four fewer goals and 13 more points than his previous career highs. Nugent-Hopkins has eight more goals and 31 more points than his previous career highs. And finally, Hyman has eight more goals and 27 more points than his previous career highs. I continue to mention Hyman because of the impact he’s had on the team’s leading scorers and to emphasize the Oilers’ offence all around this season.
Naturally, McDavid, Draisaitl, and Nugent-Hopkins have insanely high offensive (OPS) and overall point shares (PS) this season. Point shares estimate the number of points by a player that contributed to their team’s points in the standings. To put it into perspective, all three have at least 8.7 OPS and 10.4 PS, while Nikita Kucherov, the third-highest scorer in the league, has 8.4 OPS and 10.3 PS this season. Nugent-Hopkins is the longest-tenured Oiler and has been through a lot of hardships with the team, so he deserves everything he’s accomplished this season (from “Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has been with the Oilers ‘through everything’ on his way to 100 points”, The Athletic, Apr. 6, 2023).
Each player is likely to raise their point totals in the final three games as the team continues to compete and win. It is nice to see scoring in the NHL, in general, going up, and his feat of having three 100-point scorers on a team in a season was thought to be one of those records that wouldn’t be broken. Let’s hope this isn’t the last major accomplishment for the Oilers this season.