Now that the season is over and the offseason has slowed down, it is time to reflect on the season that was. Over the next few weeks, we will be giving out grades and analysis on each player who played 19 games or more for the Edmonton Oilers in the 2022–23 season.
Overall, the season can be looked at as a success. Although the ending was disappointing, the Oilers finished the season with a 50–23–9 record, a total of 109 points. The first time they’ve hit 50 wins since 1986–87 and the most points since 1985–86. Things are looking promising for Edmonton’s competitive window, even though they only made it to the second round of the playoffs this season.
Plenty of players had noteworthy campaigns individually, either positively or negatively. Today let’s look into the 2022–23 campaigns for Connor McDavid, Evander Kane, Kailer Yamamoto, and Dylan Holloway.
Connor McDavid: A+
Does anything else even need to be said? McDavid leads the way with as high a grade as one can earn for his phenomenal performance in the 2022–23 season.
McDavid ended the season with career highs of 64 goals, 89 assists, and 153 points. He became just the sixth player in NHL history to hit 150 points and the first since Mario Lemieux in 1995–96.
Now finished his eighth NHL season, McDavid has never stopped finding ways to improve his game. In all but one season (the pandemic-shortened 2019–20 season), he has increased his point total year-over-year.
His goal last offseason was to find ways to score more. So he worked on his shot. That clearly worked as he won his first Rocket Richard Trophy by leading the league in goals scored. It helped him win his fifth (and third consecutive) Art Ross Trophy. As well as his third Hart Trophy.
To show just how significant an impact McDavid has on the Oilers’ performance, when he is on the ice, Edmonton has a 67.2% expected goals percentage. But when he is off the ice, that falls all the way down to 46.3%.
Impressively, in McDavid’s time on the penalty kill this season, the Oilers scored eight goals while giving up nine. According to Natural Stat Trick, of all players with a minimum of 50 minutes of time on the penalty kill last season, McDavid’s 47.1% goals for percentage ranked second best in the league.
His impact on the team, his leadership, and his offensive explosion in 2022–23 all contribute to his well-deserved A+ grade.
Evander Kane: C+
Evander Kane did not have the greatest follow-up season to his debut in the Oilers’ lineup back in 2021–22. It was a season marred by injuries that limited him to just 41 games, in which he scored 16 goals and recorded 28 points. The injuries impacted his offence, notably his shot, as well as the physical side of his game, as he had to be careful with certain aspects, such as avoiding fighting, due to the grotesque nature of the wrist injury suffered when he was cut by a skate blade.
That all being said, Kane was still able to score at a 32-goal pace, which is exactly what Edmonton needs in their top six. He did what he needed to the best of his abilities, given the circumstances. And he did make an impact physically as he was fourth highest in hits per 60 amongst regular players last season.
Even at his best, however, Kane tends to be a one-dimensional player and does not contribute much defensively. According to Natural Stat Trick, of Oilers players with more than 15 games played, Kane had the highest expected goals against per 60 at 5v5 play with 2.95. Also, his expected goals for percentage was third worst in those same conditions at 48.08.
Kane’s contributions were along the lines of what the Oilers needed of him, given some difficult circumstances. But his overall impact on the team’s performance left much to be desired.
Kailer Yamamoto: C+
The spark plug of the Oilers forward group, Kailer Yamamoto has shown himself to be able to play in nearly any role within the lineup. His versatility makes him incredibly useful. Unfortunately, after an injury-plagued 2022–23 season, he was only able to score 10 goals and 25 points in 58 games.
When he is healthy and on his game, Yamamoto can be a little bit of everything. Offensive creator with a scoring touch, net-front presence, power play time, physical presence (despite his size), and penalty killer. But he was unable to really make his presence felt or establish himself in those ways throughout this past season.
The injuries definitely played a role in how much he could contribute and the role he played. But even within that, it was hard to see him impact the game in the way he has done in the past.
Ultimately, he was unable to find his groove and it led to him being traded out in the offseason.
Dylan Holloway: C-
It was Dylan Holloway’s rookie season in the NHL, and unfortunately, it was filled with growing pains. In 51 games played, Holloway scored just three goals and had nine points. However, he only averaged 9:35 of ice time per game, indicating he maybe wasn’t given the ice time to fully showcase his skills. But even in the time he got, there was not much generated.
Holloway should be given lots of leeway for his overall performance, given it was his rookie year. And looking at some of the underlying numbers, the future is promising for him. His Corsi for percentage was 52%, placing him right in the middle of the team rankings. And according to Natural Stat Trick, at even strength, his expected goals for percentage of 52.7% and scoring chances for percentage of 54.22% also fall right in the middle of the pack on the Oilers’ roster. The fact that these numbers are both positive indicates that he is not having a negative impact on the team’s performance while on the ice, and even if he is not necessarily scoring or creating goals, the chances are there.
Holloway is a creative offensive player and it is not abnormal for a prospect developing into an NHLer to experience these growing pains. He is smart and filled with drive and talent. He will figure it out in time once he gets a bigger role in the lineup and some confidence at the NHL level. But his rookie season left a lot to be desired and he will be looked at to step up in 2023–24.
Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire