Edmonton OilersNHL

The real test of the Edmonton Oilers’ depth compared to NHL divisional leaders

The Edmonton Oilers’ depth has been tested early and often this season, beginning with the injury to Evander Kane. Without solid scoring from the bottom-six, a team can only go as far as their superstars can carry them. Edmonton’s bottom-six is oft-criticized for lacking positive playmaking and possessing the ability to drive production.

A contrast to the NHL’s division leaders should provide further insight into how productive Edmonton’s depth has been during this season’s play. Although it has been difficult to deduce, the third and fourth lines have been constructed via various sources corresponding to ATOI, Daily Faceoff’s current lineups, and whether they meet the 10-minute benchmark of having played together during the season.

The Oilers’ bottom-six

EDMRyan McLeod 3rd4610$0.798M12.549.2%51%
EDMJesse Puljujarvi3rd369$3.0M354.8%55%
EDMWarren Foegele3rd437$2.75M2.5553.7%52%
TotalWarren Foegele-Ryan McLeod-Jesse Puljujarvi111526$6.55M3.9761.1%62.8%
EDMKlim Kostin4th7411$0.750M14.6745.8%49%
EDMDylan Holloway4th336$0.925M6.4954.8%55%
EDMDerek Ryan4th549$1.25M7.244.2%41%
TotalKlim Kostin-Derek Ryan-Dylan Holloway151126$2.93M8.8748.3%48.3%
G=Goal, A=Assist, P=Point, Slry=Salary, Pt/MSalary= Point(s) per Million Dollars in Salary per Line, XG%= Expected Goal Percentage, C%= Corsi Percentage

Edmonton’s depth players have posted substantial differences between lines. Although the point totals are similar, the fourth line has generated a more significant goal number. However, this could result from Klim Kostin and Dylan Holloway receiving increased exposure alongside Connor McDavid within the past 5 to 10 games, bloating their statistics. Due to the top-heaviness of Edmonton’s skilled players requiring large salaries, Edmonton’s bottom-six comprises cheaper veterans paired with younger promising talent.

Foegele, McLeod, and Puljujarvi

Between Warren Foegele, Ryan Mcleod, and Jesse Puljujarvi, each performs at almost league level per shot quality and quantity control. McLeod leads this line in points and Pt/Msalary, where he generates 12.5 points per $1 million salary. As a unit, the three have performed very strongly in underlying metrics, posting above what is considered to be the elite marker levels, generally believed to be the 55% benchmark. Although they register considerably strong play-driving tendencies, their lack of finish has generated an equal point total of the fourth line.

Kostin, Ryan, and Holloway

Constantly lauded for the line’s ineffectiveness, Holloway’s improved play and Kostin’s emergence have helped mitigate this line’s imbalance issue. Though the problem is far from resolved, the step-up provided by these two players has returned NHL tweeners like Brad Malone and Devin Shore back to the AHL or the press box, further lengthening the lineup with a more trustworthy talent for Jay Woodcroft.

Between the fourth liners, Kostin has been on a heater of late, receiving increased ice time due to his ability to find the back of the net, a fate shared by Dylan Holloway, as both players are providing high value on sub-$1M contracts. Kostin has the most significant Pt/MSlry factor among Edmonton’s bottom-six, a measure only expected to increase as his point total grows.

Although Holloway and Kostin perform at almost league-average shot control levels and above, the unit’s performance is weighed down by Kostin’s inability to mitigate the opponent’s quality chances. There’s finally Derek Ryan, who ranks amongst the worst of all Edmonton players in both non-conventional statistical categories.

Division Leaders Depth

BOSTaylor Hall-Charlie Coyle-Trent Frederic323769$12.3M5.661.9%58.8%
BOSNick Foligno-Craig Smith-Tomas Nosek111930$8.65M3.4745.3%40.3%
DALDenis Gurianov-Radek Faska-Luke Glendening101727$7.0M3.8648.1%44.4%
DALTy Dellandrea-Luke Glendening-Joel Kiviranta8210$3.3M3.0347.1%54.8%
VGKReilly Smith-William Karlsson-Phil Kessel324274$12.4M5.9759.4%52.5%
VGKWill Carrier-Nicolas Roy- Keegan Kolesar211738$5.8M6.5554.6%48.2%
CARJordan Martinook-Jordan Staal-Jesper Fast252954$9.8M5.561.8%63.2%
CARTeuvo Teraveinen-Jesperi Kotkaniemi-Seth Jarvis183250$11.1M4.562.5%61.3%
G=Goal, A=Assist, P=Point, Slry=Salary, Pt/MSalary= Point(s) per Million Dollars in Salary per Line, XG%= Expected Goal Percentage, C%= Corsi Percentage

Boston Bruins

Comparing Edmonton’s depth to division leaders provides insight into how the bottom six performs relative to teams above the Oilers in the standings. Boston is the definition of the current league class, possessing a 32–5–4 record, led by Hart Trophy candidate David Pastrnak and Vezina hopeful Linus Ullmark.

Contrasting each team’s depth, Boston’s third line has generated almost 2.5 times the points of Edmonton’s, though they have players with much higher salaries, roughly doubling that of the Oilers. The Pt/MSalary category—which seeks to balance point generation versus salary—also favours Boston, scoring almost two more points of value per million dollars. However, the underlying metrics imply almost even shot quality and quantity competency, indicating Boston’s talent possesses more remarkable finishing ability, yet both lines are play controllers.

The fourth line comparison favours Edmonton. The combination of Ryan, Kostin, and Holloway has better supporting metrics, XG% and C%, though both are below league average. Each line has netted roughly equal point totals; however, Edmonton’s fourth line provides more significant value due to generating greater point totals per $Million than Boston’s combination, as the Bruins pay their bottom line $5.5 million more for the almost exact point total.


Dallas currently resides in first place in the Central division, leading with a 25–11–7 record thanks to the play of young studs Jason Robertson and Jake Oettinger.

Between Edmonton and Dallas, the statistics favour Oiler lines among the various categories. The Oiler’s third-line dominates Dallas’ in both the possession and quality chance generation, as the Stars combination does not even perform at league norm levels and Edmonton’s records elite metric status. Both lines post similar conventional goal, assist, and point statistics, though Edmonton’s depth is slightly more valuable by a tenth of a goal per million.

Edmonton’s fourth line also shines compared to Dallas’. The Ryan, Kostin, and Holloway line provides better XG% and C% metrics, implying more control of shot total and chances, yet both are below league average. Edmonton’s line has more than doubled the Dallas production, supplemented by greater value per point than the Star’s roughly equally salaried fourth line.


In contrast to the leaders of their division, Vegas sits 11 points ahead of Edmonton in the standings, posting a Pacific division-leading 28–13–2 record.

Although Vegas pays their third line roughly double the total of Edmonton’s, the Kessel, Karlsson, and Smith combination have yielded far better point totals. Actually, compared to all division-leading third lines, this player blend posts the most outstanding point total; however, it also possesses the highest salary cap hit.

The non-conventional metrics further support Vegas’s domination relative to Edmonton’s play. For instance, the Pt/MSlry implies Vegas’s line nets roughly two points per million better than the Oilers, indicating enhanced value. However, Edmonton’s underlying statistics suggest that their third line is almost equal to Vegas’s by shot quality generation, and both are above league average at controlling puck possession.

Vegas’ dominance of its depth trend continues to the team’s fourth line. The combination of one of two fourth lines analyzed in this article possesses above NHL average chance quality levels. Compared to Edmonton, Vegas’s fourth line retains double the salary cap but does not provide the third line’s value. In contrast, Edmonton’s low salary offers more excellent value by collecting two points more per million dollars than Vegas’. Yet, although Edmonton may hold increased value, the underlying metrics of Vegas’ line are superior to that of Edmonton’s.


Carolina, like Boston, is one of the most dominant teams in the NHL. Though they may not retain the league’s most prolific scorers, Carolina’s strength is found within its strong play throughout lines one through four.

Reviewing Carolina’a line construction proved more difficult due to the fluidity of players constantly being rotated due to the team’s unbelievable talent depth. However, the Staal, Fast, and Martinook line are among the few playing consistently together, providing strengths in conventional and underlying metrics that further build the argument for top third line league-wide.

Compared to other division leaders, the line registers third in points, salary, and Pt/Msalary, sitting ahead of Dallas and Edmonton. Although the argument has continuously been made throughout the article regarding the Oiler’s underlying metric dominance, Carolina’s third registers at least equal or more significant measure in puck control and chance quality, indicating Edmonton is outclassed by Carolina’s third line.

The trend further continues surrounding the fourth line discussion. The length of the lineup allows for Carolina to deploy Teraveinen, Kotkaniemi, and Jarvis as a fourth line, completely outclassing Edmonton in conventional and underlying metrics. Carolina’s fourth line is one of the few that provide above-average play. The fiscal argument surrounding the value can be considered due to Edmonton’s low committed salary cap to the fourth line. Still, the talent and dominance of both metrics indicate the justification cannot be made to imply Edmonton’s fourth line is better than Carolina’s.

Overall depth comparison

Although Edmonton’s depth may not possess the conventional statistical results that most fans consider for success, there are positives to be taken away. First, although the third line does not register equal points to division-leading teams’ depth, Edmonton’s third line is adept at controlling puck possession and shot quality. A powerful ability to have within a third line, as this line is usually tasked with reacting to the needs of the top-six.

Second, the lack of salary committed is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it allows Ken Holland to save resources elsewhere within the lineup, like other defensive defencemen or goaltending. However, the talent deficiency is apparent as point generation does not equal other teams who garner results for their committed cap.

Overall, Edmonton does retain strengths in their depth that can contribute once Evander Kane returns and lengthens the lineup to a greater degree. Although the Oiler’s depth can be argued to be greater than that of both of Dallas’ lines and Bostons’s fourth line, it is challenging to overcome the committed cap and strength of Vegas and Carolina. However, an upgrade to Derek Ryan is required for success within the bottom six, as his conventional and underlying metrics do not support a productive player at the NHL level this season.

All stats courtesy of Hockey-Reference.com, CapFriendly.com, DailyFaceoff.com, MoneyPuck.com.

Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire

Darnell Holt

Hello, my name is Darnell Holt. I am currently an employee in the finance sector, focusing on agriculture. My background includes holding two degrees from the University of Saskatchewan, a Master of Science in Agriculture Economics and a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Business. However, I am a small-town Alberta boy with a love for analytics and a massive fandom for anything sports, especially for my home province Edmonton Oilers.

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