At the beginning of each year, during training camp and at the draft, the discussion generally surrounds notable high-drafted prospects and younger players developing within the system. These selections can bring excitement and potential to fanbases. Though recognized at a different level, the unheralded later-round or undrafted choices or those acquired via trade receive less fervor. Nonetheless, this article depicts prospects of every type who have or are currently impacting the Edmonton Oilers.
Stuart Skinner is stealing the spotlight
|Season||Record||GAA (RK)||SV% (RK)||GSAX (RK)||GSAA (RK)||GPS (RK)|
|2022–23||12–10–1||2.88 (30th)||.914 (20th)||2.8 (27th)||6.98 (15th)||5.1 (13th)|
Stuart Skinner is one individual who generated quite a bit of preseason buzz and has been the subject of many articles written by myself and other sports content writers. Skinner has been a revelation for Edmonton as the Oilers’ offseason signing of Jack Campbell has faltered in his first season. However, this has allowed Skinner to steal the crease, and he has run with the opportunity.
In his 24 games played, which ranks 20th league-wide, Skinner has performed admirably, well above the league-average rate in most categories. Measured against conventional statistics, Skinner ranks 17th in wins, 20th in GAA, and 20th in SV%. Assessing more advanced metrics, Skinner sits 27th in goals saved about expected, 15th in goals saved should’ve average, and 13th in goalie point win shares among 57 qualified goalies (minimum ten games played). Skinner has been a significant reason for Edmonton’s win total and is generating Calder Trophy nomination discussion.
Heralded as a preseason Calder favorite following Dylan Holloway’s hat trick against the Vancouver Canucks, Holloway’s regular season performance has not translated as smoothly. Relegated to the bottom six, Holloway has predominantly played on the fourth line with Devin Shore and Derek Ryan and has not had the impact expected of a mid-first-round pick. Holloway has been tasked with the impossible of playing with these two individuals as linemates, as the line is continuously caved in by both shot control and shot quality metrics, a fact further supported by the eye test of watching the game. Holloway has shown better play via underlying metrics when paired with better talent, such as Jesse Puljujarvi, James Hamblin, and Ryan McLeod.
Independently, Holloway possesses above-league-average shot quantity control but is subpar at mitigating the opposition’s chances. However, Holloway leads the Oilers in shots not hitting the net, missing 42% of attempts. Though minimally contributing on the scoresheet, with only a goal and four points to show through 35 games played, Holloway has been physically punished by the other team, ranking third among Edmonton forwards.
As the season progresses, it may be time to evaluate if Holloway would be better served playing in the AHL, logging 20 minutes per night and developing on both the penalty kill and power play relative to playing eight to nine minutes per night with subpar linemates.
The minor swap of two disappointing prospects between Edmonton and St. Louis has proved an unexpected win. Though not considered a prospect anymore by any measures, Klim Kostin has been impactful every night, earning not only admiration from the fanbase and media but has been moved up in the starting lineup to flank Connor McDavid during tonight’s matchup against the New York Islanders.
Initially called up due to injuries, Kostin has gotten hot at the right time, logging three goals in the last three games for Edmonton. In total, Kostin has netted five goals and eight points, but it is the physicality and providing down-low dirty work with his body size and strength that Kosin is at his best. Between Oiler players, Kostin ranks second for hits, laying the body at 18.5 hits per 60 minutes.
The assessment of Kostin’s underlying metrics is not as favorable, being under the league norm in both shot quality and quantity mitigation. Though viewed as confusing trading a prospect defenceman for a depth forward, the Real Klim Shady is proving the trade a worthwhile investment.
Undrafted to the NHL, unheralded rookie James Hamblin nonetheless made his mark during his stint with the Oilers. Although it has only been for ten games, and Hamblin was held pointless, he provided Edmonton with much-needed depth and versatility at both center and wing. Hamblin posted a 64.3% draw-win rate in the faceoff circle, an excellent mark for the rookie, and should have netted an expected 1.4 goals, though he was unsuccessful at this task.
Interestingly, he posted very good line shot control and quality rankings when paired with Holloway, possibly due to previous AHL chemistry, and Puljujarvi, performing at or near the top of the Oiler line combinations.
Individually, Hamblin was above or near league average for controlling shots or mitigating quality chances. Even though the path to the NHL may not always be the smoothest or the easiest, Hamblin proved he deserves to play above the likes of Devin Shore.
Philip Broberg the lone defenceman
Similar to Holloway, Broberg had high expectations coming into this season. Even though it was stated the sixth defensive spot was Broberg’s to lose, he eventually lost out to both Ryan Murray and Markus Niemelainen, a place he has subsequently reclaimed due to the former and latter’s injury and offensive ineffectiveness.
The NHL is difficult to adjust to, even for a high first-round pick with first-pair defenceman expectations. However, growing pains surrounding defensive awareness have proven gaps in Broberg’s season so far.
Broberg has not flashed the offensive talent in the NHL this season but has proven to be reasonably sound at defense, albeit with a few bad miscues. Broberg did show his offensive potential at the AHL level, recording two goals and four points in only seven games played.
Broberg has spent most of his playing time with Evan Bouchard, recording above-league-norm shot control and quality. He proves he can generate offensively while maintaining defensive responsibility, even when paired with offensively-minded Bouchard.
Individually, the underlying metrics support Broberg’s play positive play-making and shutdown ability, indicating Broberg possesses the ability to be an NHL-calibre defenceman. If Broberg can continue his positive play, finding his offensive footing is the hopeful next step in a long career that has been teased throughout his prospect tenure.
Still over half a season to continue improving
As we advance, four of the five analyzed players, Hamblin is the exception, have provided Edmonton with depth on value contracts that hope to contend. Each player has individually proven they can play and effectively contribute to the team, even if it is not always on the stat sheet. In the case of Skinner, the generating of Calder buzz proves that it is not only Edmonton fans taking notice of the talent but league-wide attention to the Oiler’s starting goaltender.
Lastly, in the case of Hamblin, he can prove to be a helpful tweener who can have more significant success than Shore is currently providing.
Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire