Edmonton Oilers’ 3 bold predictions for the 2021-22 season

There’s a lot of excitement surrounding the Edmonton Oilers heading into the 2021-22 season. With their core of young superstars having another year under their belt, several promising prospects pushing for roster spots and a few key additions during the offseason, it is hoped that 2022 is the year the Oilers finally take a big step forward. forward to Stanley Cup contender status.

Of course, it will take a lot for this to happen. Some, like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl being in the Hart Trophy conversation, are virtual locks. Others are less certain. Here are three bold predictions for the Edmonton Oilers in 2021-22:

Yamamoto will bounce back

After having watched Kailer Yamamoto forms a dynamite line with Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in 2019-20, registering 11 goals and 15 assists in 27 games following his recall from the American Hockey League (AHL), Oil Country was stunned by the potential of the attacker last. season. In fact, one of THW’s bold predictions for the Oilers in 2020-21 was for Yamamoto to “step up a gear.”

It didn’t quite happen. As he got off to a good start, scoring three goals and three assists in Edmonton’s first seven games, Yamamoto’s offensive production started to run out of steam and eventually went into freefall. Yamamoto would end the regular season with just eight goals and 13 assists in 52 games, scoring just once in his last 25 appearances. He was limited to one assist as Edmonton was swept away by the Winnipeg Jets in the first round of the playoffs.

The disappointing season certainly hasn’t given Yamamoto much influence as a restricted free agent this offseason, and after several weeks he only recently agreed to a one-year extension of $ 1.175 million which was even more user-friendly than expected.

Call it a “proof contract,” an opportunity for Yamamoto to show Edmonton that it’s worth signing a long contract for more money. The 23-year-old is betting on himself to reach the level he demonstrated in 2019-2020. And there are plenty of reasons to believe it will.

Even though his point production fell off a cliff last season, Yamamoto’s effort has never failed. In that regard, he was the same player, the only bitten snake he couldn’t miss once. He wouldn’t be the first young player to hit the skates after a breakout season. There is no shortage of All-Stars who have endured a “second economic crisis”.

The roster’s early projections led him to reunite with Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins in Edmonton’s Second Unit. Nugent-Hopkins himself has just had a below-par season and is expected to rebound as well. With Drasiatil continuing to do Draisaitl things, it’s not hard to imagine the trio doing magic again, with Yamamoto in the thick of the action.

Edmonton will have at least six 20-goal scorers

The Oilers have five players with several twenty-goal seasons under their belt, including Draisaitl (five times), McDavid (five times), Nugent-Hopkins (four times), Kyle Turris (three times) and Zach Hyman (twice). They also have Darnell Nurse and Jesse Puljujarvi, who, with 16 and 15 goals respectively in the shortened 2020-21 campaign, have scored at a pace that would have reached the 20-goal mark in a regular season. And the same can be said of Yamamoto two seasons ago. With the exception of the 32-year-old Turris, none of the players mentioned above have passed his prime; most just enter it.

In addition, Tyler Benson, Warren Foegele, Ryan McLeod and Brendan Perlini have scored 20 goals in the Canadian Hockey League and / or the AHL; all of them are under 25 and, in the right situation, could reach 20 at some point in the NHL.

So it doesn’t seem at all unreasonable to suggest that in 2021-22 the number of Oilers scoring 20 goals could be six or more, which would be the highest since 1991-92, 30 years ago.

McDavid to set new career points record

The Edmonton captain had a season for the ages in 2020-21, amassing 105 points in 56 games. His 1.875 points per game was the highest average of any player in the past 25 years, and McDavid set an all-time NHL record scoring one point on 57.38% of his team’s goals.

As impressive as his points total was, it was only McDavid’s third record in a season. His career high in the NHL is 116, set in 2018-19 when he played 78 games.

Connor McDavid led the NHL with 105 points in 2020-21. (Photo by Andy Devlin / NHLI via Getty Images)

In a normal season, 1.875 points per game projects to 153.8 points. Granted, it’s an incredible pace to sustain over 82 games, but McDavid is exactly the kind of generational talent who can do it. It’s also worth noting that he’s increased his points-per-game average every season since joining the NHL in 2015. And at 24, he’s not even in his prime yet.

So, if he plays close to 82 games, McDavid should set a new career high in points. And he could flirt with becoming the first NHL player to reach 150 points since Mario Lemieux with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1995-96.

Bonus: Oilers will finish first in Pacific Division

The Pacific Division won’t exactly be a row of murderers in 2021-2022. California is the rebuilding state of hockey as there is a lot of work to be done for the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks. The Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks appear to be stuck in neutral, and the Seattle Kraken are new to the game. Apparently only the Vegas Golden Knights are preventing Edmonton from finishing atop its division for the first time since 1986-87, when Wayne Gretzky led the Oilers to the best record in the Smythe Division.

Vegas is one of the favorites to win the championship, and after being thwarted by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2021 Stanley Cup semi-final, the Golden Knights were reminded that it was all about reaching. a peak in June, not in January.

As for Edmonton, there is a new energy in the whole squad, already palpable in the preseason, which suggests that they are going to give it their all from day one this season, and if some of the previous predictions come true, the Oiler’s upstarts could overtake veterans Vegas for the division’s top spot. The playoffs, of course, are an entirely different animal. But we’ll save the bold playoff predictions for next spring.

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