The Edmonton Oilers’ season is now just under 20% of the way over as the team has played their 16th game. That’s plenty of games to start looking at which players are contributing to the team’s offence and which have been unsuccessful in that category. Using expected goals, we can look at which players are playing with high skill and finishing ability (or luck) and which players are undergoing some unlucky streaks and are more or less snakebitten.
Goals scored above expected
To calculate goals scored above expected, we can look at each individual goal output and subtract their expected goal output so see how many goals they’re scoring above or below expected. Ideally the acronym would be GSAx, but that’s already used for goals saved above expected, so bear with me with a modified acronym of individual goals scored above expected, or iGSAx to make it clearer.
For this breakdown, we’re using NaturalStatTrick.com‘s expected goal numbers at 5v5. While Edmonton is a team that relies heavily on its power play prowess, 5v5 game states will be a better assessment of how the team composition looks like for expected goal versus actual goal contributions. Only players with at least 100 minutes of 5v5 ice time are included. For the tables below, players are sorted in order of descending iGSAx.
It may come as no surprise that Connor McDavid leads the team with a whopping 3.17 iGSAx. His finishing ability alone will take shots with low probabilities of turning into goals and put them right past opposing goaltenders. Given that he has six goals at 5v5 on just 2.83 ixG is highly impressive. The next best player in iGSAx is Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who’s 1.28 iGSAx isn’t even half of McDavid’s.
Five forwards in total are above zero iGSAx while six are below. That said, while Evander Kane is below, it is by just 0.02, making him the team’s most “expected” scorer. Based on all the shots he has taken this season (prior to his injury), his four 5v5 goals falls right in line with expectations.
Right now, the team’s most snakebitten forward at 5v5 is surprisingly Zach Hyman. He’s been generating the most 5v5 offence on the team with a total of 5.20 ixG, but only has three goals to show for it. Once more of his shots start going in, his value to the team will be even more apparent than it already is.
The Oilers’ defence corps hasn’t done too much in the even strength scoring front— there has only been three 5v5 goals among regular defencemen. Darnell Nurse “leads” the way with 0.24 iGSAx, but with such low numbers, it doesn’t amount to much assessment or comparison at all.
That said, the one standout defender—for the wrong reasons—is Evan Bouchard. His ixG is already at 1.30 to lead all defenders, but he hasn’t been able to score just yet. Scoring isn’t the only way to show value as Bouchard has contributed in many areas to the Oilers’ blueline, but it was a big aspect to his on-ice performance last year. With just five assists in 16 games this season, he’s projected to land somewhere around 20 points in 2022–23, well below the 43 points he put up last year (12 goals, 31 assists).
Setting the expectations for Edmonton
Goals scored above expected is just one of many ways to assess how individual players fare on the ice. Looking at 5v5 differences between expected goals versus actual goals can help explain the way a player’s season is going when it comes to scoring goals (or not scoring goals).
For almost every team there will always be a mix of players who score more and less than expected, and this is true for Edmonton. However, good shooters who shoot often typically find ways to score more than expected, but there are a couple names that could use a boost in puck luck to get back in line with expectations.
Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire