With the Oilers’ regular season right around the corner, fans are excited to see how this year’s roster shapes up. When looking at the Oilers’ lineup, it’s clear to see who the top two forwards are, but what about the third? Who do you think takes that spot?
We asked, you answered.
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Most Oilers fans agree that much as we love Kailer Yamamoto, the third spot does not belong to him, as the poll results showed only two percent of votes. Although Yamo has been a great player for the Oilers and his teammates enjoy playing with him, his offensive numbers are just not as good as other forwards on the team.
Yamo played 81 regular season games last season, scoring 20 goals and getting 21 assists for 41 points. His tenacious battle level and work ethic are just some of the many reasons he is loved by both the team and fans. His numbers don’t justify being the current third-best forward on the team, but this can change with time; he just needs to become a more consistent scorer.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins finished with 9% of poll voting, good enough for third place. Nuge is a valuable player for the Oilers both on and off the ice as a veteran leader. He touches many parts of the game, being a massive part of the Oilers’ powerplay and penalty kill, getting three shorthanded goals. However, in recent years, Nuge has dealt with injuries and his even strength numbers have been lacklustre.
In 63 regular season games last season, he scored 11 goals and posted 39 assists for 50 points; only seven goals and 15 assists of those points were scored at even strength. Could this year be different? Maybe, but it’s clear when looking at the numbers that he is not the Oilers’ third best forward.
Zach Hyman is the runner-up, getting 30% of the poll votes. Since Ken Holland signed Hyman last year as a free agent, he has been an essential part of the Oilers team. His high hockey IQ and incredible puck protection skills make him a consistent and reliable player on the ice. Hyman has been a key penalty killer alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and has scored timely goals on the powerplay. Hyman is a workhorse on the ice and is a valuable part of the Oilers’ locker room, helping his teammates promote a healthy winning culture. In 76 regular season games, Hyman scored 27 goals and 27 assists for 54 points.
Evander Kane is voted the third best Oilers forward by you, our readers and listeners, getting 59% of the total votes. Holland signed Kane as a free agent on January 27; this signing was undoubtedly met with some criticism from fans based on Kane’s past off–ice behaviour. We can confidently say that Kane’s on–ice play last season has been an essential part of the Oilers’ forward group. He developed chemistry quickly with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on the powerplay, helping provide them with a reliable scoring option. Kane also plays the game with the tenacity and grit that the team was looking for in the top six.
With Kane signing again as a free agent with the Oilers on July 13, I’m excited to see how he does alongside McDavid and Draisaitl for an entire season. In 43 games, Kane scored 22 goals and generated 17 assists for 39 points.
Do you agree with the poll results? If not, I would love to hear why in the comments!