With the Edmonton Oilers coming off a huge 7–1 win over the San Jose Sharks on Friday and another win against the Vegas Golden Knights last night, the club has improved to 24–18–3, good for 51 points and the second wildcard spot in the Pacific Division. Most folks would have probably expected the Oilers to be better positioned in the standings by this time in the regular season, but part of the club’s struggles can be linked to certain players stalling and even regressing from the success they saw last season.
This spurs the question, which Oiler is underperforming the most so far this season?
We asked, you answered! Let’s take a look!
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Kailer Yamamoto has a fifth of poll votes. With four goals and 12 points in 31 games, he is on pace for roughly 27 points this season with a Points Per Game (PPG) of 0.39. This is certainly a step backwards for him, especially considering he finished last season with 20 goals and 41 points in 81 games with a PPG of 0.51.
This step backwards in offensive production could be linked to the many injuries he has had to face since the start of the season, including a concussion during the preseason that kept him out of the lineup in the Oilers’ first regular season game.
Although Yamamoto has had a slow start to the season, he has started to look more like himself as of late, with two goals and three points in his last five games.
Coming in at 42% of poll voting is Jesse Puljujarvi. He has four goals and ten points in 44 games and is on pace for roughly 19 points this season with a PPG of 0.23. Puljujarvi set a career-high in points last season with 14 goals and 36 points in 65 games, giving him a PPG of 0.55. When comparing the numbers, his PPG is down by 0.32.
It’s no secret that Puljujarvi struggles to finish plays and put the puck in the net, and the numbers this season certainly support that, but historically he has been pretty reliable as a defensive player, using his speed to backcheck quickly and break up plays.
As of late, his minutes have decreased and he is now being utilized on the third line where he has looked pretty good while trying to play a more physical game; Puljujarvi and Klim Kostin lead the team with two fights each.
Evan Bouchard has 28% of votes. With three goals and 18 points in 44 games this season with a plus-minus of -7, Bouchard is on pace for roughly 34 points and a PPG of 0.40. Bouchard had a rough first half of the season, specifically in his own zone and this step backwards in defective play is most likely linked to the departure of Duncan Keith in the off-season.
Bouchard finished last season with career-highs, scoring 12 goals and 43 points in 81 games while maintaining a plus-minus of 10 with a PPG was 0.53. When comparing the offensive numbers, he has seen a drop of 0.13 in PPG this season. Over the last five games, Bouchard has started to see success on both the defensive side of the puck and in the offensive zone while being paired with Philip Broberg on the third pairing; during this stretch, he has recorded four assists and maintained a positive plus-minus.
With 10% of poll voting is Brett Kulak. He has two goals and nine points in 44 games played this season with a plus-minus of four; Kulak is on pace for 17 points with a PPG of 0.20.
After signing a four-year $2.75M AAV contract with the Oilers over the summer, there were hopes by fans that Kulak would be able to step into a top four role and flourish this season, but unfortunately, those expectations have not been met. Although Kulak’s numbers this season are not that bad, it seems as though he has not been able to achieve the same defensive success he had last year during the 2021–22 playoff run.
Last season Kulak had two goals and eight points in 18 games played with a plus-minus of six; he also had a PPG of 0.44. During the playoffs, he had five points and a plus-minus of seven in 16 games.
That’s a wrap
Which players do you feel are underperforming this season? Let us know in the comments!
Thank you to everyone who took part in the poll, stay tuned for next week’s Sunday Census!
Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire