Warren Foegele’s tenure with the Edmonton Oilers has not been as smooth of a transition as initially hoped for the 2014 third round pick. Acquired before the 2021–22 season, Foegele has already been extended until the end of the 2023–24 season at $2.75M AAV. The Oilers’ placed high expectations upon Foegele as the team perceived him to be a significant contributor within the Oilers’ top nine due to his analytically strong play with the Carolina Hurricanes. Foegele’s scouting report overviews a big-bodied forward who skates well, and who possesses the ability to step up physically and use his body to shield opponents away. Foegele is a tenacious, strong skating, and puck possession dominant forward, which the underlying analytics support.
However, the biggest knock to Foegele’s game is his consistency, which, when intersecting with his medium talent levels, indicates he must be at the top of his game regularly to be an impactful forward. The plague of inconsistency during his first season with the Oilers continually found Foegele in Dave Tippett’s doghouse, contributing to his fourth-line demotion and raising the ire of the fan base and media alike.
For a contending team constricted in a cap crunch at his current contract amount, the Oilers’ expectations surrounding Foegele have thus far been a revelation for the 2022–23 season. Either the coaching change or team support has helped breathed new life into Foegele’s game, contributing to his improved play rising through the ranks to seeing top-line minutes alongside Connor McDavid.
Foegele seemed to have his best years with the Carolina Hurricanes
Foegele began his NHL career with the Carolina Hurricanes. During his period of play of three seasons (four if you count the two games of the 2017–18 NHL season), Foegele posted still unmatched career highs. At the height of his Hurricanes tenure, Foegele’s conventional best year came during the 2019–20 season, scoring 13 goals and 17 assists, totaling 30 points while maintaining league average shooting percentage, a trend carried throughout his career.
Additional findings include never matching Foegele’s goal production to his expected goal production, a quantifiable statistic that depicts the odds of a shot becoming finding the back of the net. Throughout his seasons with the Hurricanes, the XG metric indicates Foegele’s value should have been worth an additional ten goals. Furthermore, other underlying metrics show Foegele’s play was above average in three of the four seasons, including the two-game stint in 2017–18, for either XG% or CF. This implied Oilers were receiving a player that controlled both shot quality and shot quantity, and who could make an impact with his physical presence.
How is Foegele currently looking for the 2022–23 season?
The 2022–23 season is Foegele’s second with the Edmonton Oilers –however, it is the first entire season under the tutelage of Jay Woodcroft. When comparing conventional statistics, Foegele sits tenth on the Oilers for points, fifth among Oilers players for hits, and is on pace for 12 goals and eight assists. Additionally, Foegele is exhibiting strong tendencies in puck control measurements, being second on the team in takeaways and eighth on the team in giveaways, a +13 differential.
Reviewing Foegele’s underlying metrics, they underscore a player performing similarly to his draft profile:
- his XG (sixth on Oilers) is on pace for 20 goals, eight below his current projection from his conventional statistics
- his XG rate is only behind Evander Kane, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Connor McDavid, Zach Hyman, and Leon Draisaitl and ahead of both former linemates Ryan McLeod and Jesse Puljujarvi
- he has posted a positive XG% (eighth on the Oilers), again ahead of Ryan McLeod and Jesse Puljujarvi
- he’s most robust underlying metric is his XG/60, which is the measurable rate of a shot finding the back of the net, where he currently sits third among all Oiler players, only behind Zach Hyman and Evander Kane
All of these results imply Foegele is producing quality shots from high-danger areas with a strong likelihood of beating the netminder. However, Foegele has struggled with CF%, indicating that although he is generating high-quality shots, he is not suppressing shot quality at the same rate.
Reviewing Foegele’s impact on different lines within the Oilers
|XG% Rank||Line||Min||XG%||XGF||XGA||XG Diff||XGF/60||XGA/60||XG/60 Diff|
Ranking Foegele’s impact on a per-line basis is potentially more tricky. However, by providing a minimum baseline of minutes played alongside each other, ~10 minutes, and the XG% underlying metric, Foegele’s impact can be compared between various line combinations. Although he has since been promoted within the top six to play alongside McDavid to fill the void left by Kane, most of Foegele’s minutes have been with Ryan McLeod centering his line, roughly 64%, followed by Leon Draisaitl, and then Connor Mcdavid.
Foegele has played his best when paired with McLeod and Puljujarvi, the fourth-best Oilers line by XGF. This combination of players also possesses the best XG diff, indicating that they control shot quality at almost 1 goal per 60 minutes. In Foegele’s limited exposure to McDavid and Hyman, the line has recorded a plus XG Diff and XG/60, implying they also control shot quality and shot quality rate per 60. Additionally, this line possesses the best XGF/60 between all Oilers lines, albeit in a small sample size of only 14 minutes.
Foegele’s linemates have also been able to suppress shot quality against them when he is also present. The combinations of Foegele-McLeod-Yamamoto and Foegele-McLeod-Puljujarvi have been the best Oilers lines at limiting XGA/60, indicating that when paired with either Puljujarvi or Yamamoto on the other wing of McLeod, either line blend can be considered a shutdown checking line assigned to cover other teams’ top forwards.
However, not all line mixtures exhibit successful performance. Foegele’s play declines alongside Draisaitl, especially when comparing the XGF/60 metric. When paired with either Nugent-Hopkins or Hyman on the other wing of Draisaitl, these two combinations provide the second and third-worst XGF/60 among all Oilers lines. This metric is further supported by both lines’ negative XG and XG/60 differences, indicating that these combinations do not control shot quality. The Foegele-Draisaitl-Hyman blend also posts the worst XG% of any line Foegele is a part of. Furthermore, although Foegele has spent much of his time this season alongside McLeod, the Foegele-McLeod-Ryan line is sixth worst XGA/60, signifying this may be a result of Derek Ryan’s play, as he has sub-league norms XG% and CF%.
Additional playing time going forward will only yield positive results
It is safe to assume that Oilers’ management is much happier with the Ethan Bear trade results this year. Without discussing Bear’s post-trade trajectory, the Oilers may have found a forward who plays well alongside Ryan McLeod and Connor McDavid, a fact supported by the eye test and underlying metrics. Additionally, Foegele has proved throughout his career that he is a strong player, capable of sliding into the top six and providing impactful minutes.
Although the results with Leon Draisaitl have not been favourable, continued opportunity alongside McDavid as the Oilers search for a Kane replacement may well be in front of them, as he was able to snag an assist in the latest contest against the New York Rangers.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire