The Edmonton Oilers were on fire before heading into the All-Star weekend winning seven of their last eight games with only one overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, currently landing them in a wildcard spot. With the NHL All-Star weekend now wrapped up, the Oilers look to continue building on their success in their first game back against the Detroit Red Wings this Tuesday February 7.
Although the club did not have the start to the season that they would have hoped, mostly likely influenced by the injuries to Evander Kane and Kailer Yamamoto, the team has managed to cling onto playoff contention with the help of players who have stepped up.
That being said, which Oilers player has stepped up and surprised you the most this season?
We asked, you answered! lets take a look!
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Coming in at 29% of poll voting is Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Going into the 2022–23 season, most would expect Nuge to score between 50 and 60 points during an 82-game season. With him already at 60 points at the 50-game mark, its clear to see that he is having an incredible year. Nugent-Hopkins is currently sitting at 22 goals and 60 points, and is on pace for 98 points over an 82-game season—if attained he would set a new career high in points for a single season.
When compared to the 2021–22 season, Nuge scored only 11 goals, and 50 points in 63 games played. Just by looking at the difference in productivity, it’s not shocking to see that most fans have been pleasantly surprised by his huge jump in production. The most notable area contributing to his success this season is the fact that his shooting percentage is at a career-high of 19%, which is 6% higher than his career-average.
Zach Hyman has 10% of votes. He has undoubtedly built on his first season with the Oilers last year when he scored 27 goals, and 54 points in 76 games. He was an integral piece for the team throughout the regular season and playoffs. Fast forward to this year, Hyman is currently having his most productive season in the NHL, with 26 goals and 60 points in 49 games, and is on pace for 99 points in 81 games played.
After seeing a full season of Hyman on his new team, most fans would expect to see him get at least 60 points in a full 82 games and surpass last year’s numbers, but most people would admit they didn’t see this kind of production coming. The Oilers are now 50 games into the season, and Hyman has already hit the 60-point mark.
With 38% of votes is Klim Kostin. Kostin came to the Oilers on October 9 in a trade that sent his fellow Russian friend Dmitri Samorukov to the St. Louis Blues. Since then, Kostin had a short stint in the AHL, playing nine games for the Bakersfield Condors and collecting four points before being called up a while after the Kane and Yamamoto injuries.
Since his call-up, Kostin has nine goals and 13 points in 34 games, and played an essential part in helping the team get through a rough patch in December. He used his size and skill to help provide the team with a dimension that seemed to be lacking since the injury to Kane.
Not only has Kostin helped the team on the ice, but he has been an important character in the locker room and around the community taking part in many events and fundraisers, including converting a Calgary Flames fan at a community photo event.
When looking at the poll results, it’s clear that Kostin has been one of the most welcomed pleasant surprises this season for the Oilers, simply due to how small the trade was initially with the Blues.
Goaltender Stuart Skinner has about a quarter of votes. Skinner started this season tasked with the backup goaltender role for the Oilers, but after Jack Campbell struggled severely throughout the first half of the season, Skinner started to see more and more starts. Even though the team struggled in front of him for parts of November and December, Skinner stood tall, keeping them in games they probably shouldn’t have been in. Had Skinner struggled during this period, the team could be sitting in a very different position in the regular season standings, possibly on the outside looking in at a playoff spot.
Currently, Skinner is sitting at a SV% of 0.914 and a GAA of 2.92 in 28 games played. Skinner was selected to join his fellow teammates, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, at the NHL All-Star Games, an impressive feat for a goaltender in his rookie season. Most fans had high hopes for the rookie goaltender, but not many would have predicted him to be as good as he has been and also be selected to represent his club at the All-Star weekend.
That’s a wrap
Which players do you feel have surprised you the most 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