Edmonton Oilers

Oilers Sunday Census: Which Edmonton Oilers UFA is most important to keep?

Hello and welcome to our latest Sunday Census offseason edition. The Edmonton Oilers are well into their offseason now and as the playoffs have become quite boring to watch since their elimination, we begin looking forward to see how the Oilers roster could be improved. Which leads us to this weeks poll.

Want to take part in Sunday Census polls? We send them out every week on our Twitter at @oilrigEDM. Follow along or send in ideas for the next poll!

Tight race between Ryan and Bjugstad

I believe that we could all agree this was going to be a two horse race between Derek Ryan and Nick Bjugstad prior to voting. This would leave Mattias Janmark and Devin Shore as the odd men out.

That’s not to say that Janmark didn’t have a good regular season, however his struggles in the playoffs were noticeable. Janmark was a good bottom six pick up but if push came to shove I believe Ken Holland could find a replacement if not an upgrade for the same or less money than his $1.25M contract.

The Devin Shore experiment has not worked and he was a healthy scratch all playoffs. Even though Shore is 28 and still in his prime, I was surprised to find out he is listed at 6’1” and 206 lbs. “Visually” speaking he plays smaller than he is listed, even though he works hard and is not afraid to create body contact on the forecheck. It would be fair to say that his time with the Oilers has come to an end and someone else from the farm should take his spot. Shore is a classic tweener, a good AHL game that hasn’t quite translated to the NHL. That’s not to say he doesn’t find another NHL opportunity with another club.

Ryan plays a critical role on the team

Ryan has the same cap hit as Janmark however he can play centre and also top six minutes in a pinch when an injury occurs. I personally voted for Ryan but only because the Oilers were a completely different team in Game 2 versus the Knights as opposed to Game 1 when the Oilers laid an egg and Ryan was out with an illness. If only the Oilers could have mustered three more wins with Ryan in the lineup then his status as “the answer” would have been completely confirmed and we would be in the midst of the Conference Finals against the Dallas Stars, but I digress.

Ryan scored one goal and two assists for three points this postseason and his playoff 5v5 stats were CF 63.21% and xGF 67.9%.

Nick Bjugstad was a decent pick up at the deadline and has a lower cap hit of $900,000. A hulking 6’6” and 209 lbs bottom six centre who wins more draws than he losses; he a can also be bumped up when needed. At 30 years old there’s a good chance he has plenty left to give, so long as he doesn’t lose too many steps in the offseason and going forward. Bjugstad won the poll over Ryan by more than 10% however I was yet again surprised to see his post season 5v5 stats.

He had three goals in 12 games with a CF 40% and xGF 42.08%. Those are terrible numbers especially when compared to Ryan who was 23% better on CF% and 25% better at xGF%. That is actually the biggest discrepancy I’ve seen since I started researching and comparing 5v5 stats.

Should we keep more than one?

I voted with my heart but if I used my head I would have chosen Bjugstad. Ryan is near the end of his career and he did choose Edmonton over Calgary when presented with the exact same contracts. Ryan has also expressed his interest to finish his career with Edmonton. He is noted to bring a calm professional influence to the locker room as mentioned by Coach Jay Woodcroft.

The advanced stats aficionado’s (not a bad ten dollar word if I don’t say so myself) would obviously choose Ryan over Bjugstad based on the fancies. If we dig deeper and used the regular season 5v5 stats, the same conclusion would be drawn, however the discrepancy is much lower with Ryan still ahead on CF by 3% and 6% on xGF%. It is possible that a full season with Bjugstad on the team could produce better results in the future. It is also possible that Bjugstad simply did not play his best during this post season.

The easy answer would be to bring the two of them back as they both can play centre and move up into the top six when needed. If I absolutely had to choose and could only bring one back, it would be Bjugstad. You simply cannot teach size, you either have it or you don’t and Ryan is his senior by six years with a bigger cap hit. It definitely will be interesting to see how things pan this summer out and what their contract demands to stay will be.

With all that said, who would you bring back if you could only sign one?

Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire

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