5-Year Projections for the Edmonton Oilers Young Stars
It is safe to say that the 2013 season hasn't quite played out the way that the Edmonton Oilers and their fans would have liked.
With the team on the outside of the playoff picture with six games remaining, it appears that this will be the seventh straight season the team has failed to qualify for the postseason.
The lockout-shortened season hasn't been all bad for the team as some of their young stars have had breakout seasons and have appeared on the threshold of becoming full fledged NHL superstars.
Some of the Oilers' young stars have also struggled at times this season, and have lower point totals than projected headed into the shortened schedule.
Here are the five-year projections for the Edmonton Oilers' young stars.
Unfortunately for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, his sophomore season hasn't gone quite as planned.
After registering 18 goals and 34 assists in his rookie campaign, 'The Nuge' has only managed to score three goals this season and a total of 22 points.
Though the points haven't been there this year, Nugent-Hopkins has continued to develop into one of the Oilers' most valuable players, and with another season under his belt he should be primed to take the next step in his career while entering his third season in 2013-2014.
In the next five seasons Nugent-Hopkins could develop into one of the NHL's premier playmakers, he has the on-ice vision and the elusiveness with the puck to avoid taking serious hits while finding his open teammates.
Assuming that he re-signs with Edmonton after next season, and continues to grow with the teams' young nucleus of players, his point totals should continue to rise.
RNH has the ability to be both a goal scorer and a set-up man, and while comparisons to Pavel Datsyuk may be unfair at this time, the potential is certainly there for the Burnaby native to climb the ranks of the NHL's elite.
2013-2014: 15G - 40A - 55P
Assuming RNH can regain the form he enjoyed in his rookie season, he should register at least 50 points.
2014-2015: 21G - 43A - 64P
This should be the year that RNH starts to take the next step, his fourth year in the league should see his offensive zone faceoff percentage rise, leading to an increase in points. He should also have filled out his slight frame by this point as well, making him even harder to take off of the puck.
2015-2016: 25G - 45A - 70P
It remains unseen whether or not RNH can take the next step but if he does continue to improve and grow with his teammates it's not a reach to assume he'll be at least a 70 point player by his fifth season in the NHL.
2016-2017: 28G - 45A - 73P
If Nugent-Hopkins hasn't made the jump to elite status in the NHL by now, his point totals will likely hover around the 60-70 point plateau. However if he has found his stride in the league and asserted his role on a team, the points could roll in.
2017-2018: 30G - 45A
It's hard to imagine where a player will be five seasons from now, but assuming that injuries haven't occurred and progression is being made, I think Nugent-Hopkins will hit at least 30 goals by this point in his career.
Nail Yakupov is probably the most interesting projection, in that the talented Russian sniper has already drawn comparisons with Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning thanks in large part to his propensity for wicked one-timers while playing on the powerplay.
Yakupov has had a pretty decent rookie campaign for the Oilers during this lockout-shortened season and currently ranks fifth in rookie scoring on the season with 10 goals and 13 assists.
Projections for Yakupov's development will hinge largely on who he ends up lining up with next season. He should slot into one of the Oilers' top two lines and will play alongside some other talented forwards, which should increase his point totals during his second year in the league.
Yakupov's situation is also interesting in that he could very well be one of the assets new Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish decides to part with in order to change the Oilers' dynamic in the next couple of seasons.
2013-2014: 25G - 21A - 46P
Barring the dreaded 'sophomore slump,' Yakupov has the ability to register at least 20 goals in his second year in the league. He shouldn't see any time on the third line like he did this season which should also help improve his numbers.
2014-2015: 30G - 25A - 55P
This could be the breakout season for Yakupov. After a full year in the NHL under his belt he should be well on his way to maximizing his potential.
2015-2016: 32G - 30A - 62P
This could be an interesting season as Yakupov could be on a different team by this point in his career. The Oilers have some big decisions as far as contracts for their young stars, with Nugent-Hopkins requiring a new contract before Yakupov is done with his three-year entry level deal.
2016-2017: 35G - 30A - 65P
Whether or not Yakupov is on the Oilers at this point should not subtract from the fact that the player is a pure goal scorer, and will rack up the goals and assists strictly because of his speed and his lightening quick release.
2017-2018: 43G - 30A - 73P
While Yakupov may not have the same skill set as Steven Stamkos, by this point in his career he factors to be a No.1 winger and will see a lot of powerplay time on whatever team he plays for, which should help to increase his goal output.
After leading the Edmonton Oilers in scoring during his second year with the team, Jordan Eberle has seen his nearly point-per-game pace significantly decrease during the 2013 season.
He is still third on the Oilers with 28 points, but after registering an impressive 76 points in 78 games last season, it's safe to say that the crafty winger isn't having the year he would have hoped.
Eberle has shown signs of brilliance during his three years in the league, and now thanks to a six-year contract he should continue to grow into one of the Oilers' leaders for some time to come.
2013-2014: 30G - 35A - 65P
Though Eberle has struggled during the lockout shortened 2013 season, he should see a return to form in a full year. Eberle could also benefit from the culture change promised by new GM Craig MacTavish and would flourish with his close friend Taylor Hall riding shotgun with him all season.
2014-2015: 31G - 40A - 71P
This should be the year that both Eberle and Hall start asserting their dominance in the Oilers lineup and Eberle will see his point total increase due to the fact that Hall should be registering more goals by this point in his career.
2015-2016: 25G - 40A - 65P
At this point in his career Eberle may defer more scoring opportunities to the pure goal scorer in Taylor Hall, preferring to play set-up man. Eberle will be in his sixth year in the league and will be used to the grind of competing against top-pairing defensemen every night.
2016-2017: 28G - 43A - 71P
Eberle may never develop into an 80 point player but should consistently hover around the 65-70 point mark thanks to his natural playmaking ability and the quality of players he should be surrounded with in Edmonton.
2017-2018: 23G - 40A - 63P
Assuming injuries haven't taken a toll on Eberle, he should have no problem registering a minimum of 60 points.
Taylor Hall has proven this season that he is the real deal.
The feisty winger has been an unstoppable force for the Oilers this year and currently leads the team with 41 points.
Hall has managed to avoid injuries this season, which could be a sign that he has started to learn the balance playing on the edge but not putting himself in danger of getting hurt.
If he continues this progression, Hall should prove to be the best out of the Oilers' cache of talented young stars.
2013-2014: 35G - 35A - 70P
Hall should continue to build upon his strong season this year entering next season, and will benefit from playing a full year. His previous goal scoring high was 27 goals, but should easily eclipse that in 2013.
This should also be the season that Hall assumes the captaincy of the team once Shawn Horcoff moves on from the Oilers.
2014-2015: 42G - 30A - 72P
Hall has improved every year and should build upon a strong campaign as he enters his fifth season in the league. Hall has already proven that he is a legitimate goal scoring threat but the 2014 season could be the year he breaks out and threatens to reach that 50 goal mark.
2015-2016: 45G - 26A - 71P
It is extremely hard to score 50 goals in the NHL these days, and though Hall has all the tools, and should have the linemates to help challenge that mark, he may not quite make it. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him reach 45 consistently if he continues to grow with players like Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins.
2016-2017: 51G - 25A - 76P
He may reach the 50 goal mark before this season, or he may not make it at all, but six years into the league - and barring any significant time missed due to injury, Hall should be at the 50 goal mark.
2017-2018: 42G - 21A - 63P
The wear and tear may catch up to Hall by this point in his career, and may see his point totals decrease due to games missed. If he can maintain his great speed at this point in his career he should have no trouble reaching 40 goals still.