The 2013-14 season will be an important one for the Edmonton Oilers, as the team looks to finally turn the corner in their prolonged rebuilding process.
Armed with a new general manager and a new head coach, the Oilers have made a few significant additions during the offseason that should help the team compete in the tough Western Conference.
The lockout-shortened 2013 season saw the emergence of Taylor Hall as a leader both on and off the ice, while players like Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins struggled at times.
It will be interesting to see how new coach Dallas Eakins composes the lines in Edmonton, but with the talent that he inherits, scoring should not be an issue.
Here is an early season stats prediction for the Edmonton Oilers’ top stars.
If RNH's shoulder is healthy he could put up significant numbers for the Oilers this season.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins' 2013 season was derailed due to a significant shoulder issue, and unfortunately for RNH, the injury may delay his 2013-14 season as well.
When his shoulder is healthy, there is no reason that Nugent-Hopkins couldn’t contribute significant numbers while centering a line with either Eberle/Hall or Nail Yakupov/David Perron.
If Nugent-Hopkins misses training camp, it will take a bit of time for RNH to re-establish his NHL game. But once he regains confidence and his endurance, the points should start to come.
Twenty-one goals, 35 assists, 56 points. It may take "The Nuge" a little bit of time to find his feet once he returns from injury after struggling to find the scoresheet last season. Nugent-Hopkins will have plenty of opportunities to get points due to the fact that he is the Oilers No. 1 center by default.
Nail Yakupov could have a breakout sophomore season with the Oilers in 2013-14.
It is safe to say that sometimes last season the Oilers’ former head coach Ralph Krueger mismanaged Nail Yakupov, at times playing the talented Russian on the third line and reducing minutes in tightly contested games.
Yakupov proved last year that he has top-six forward skill, with lightning speed and a dynamic shot that, if utilized correctly, could mirror the success that Tampa Bay has had with Steven Stamkos.
Entering his second season in the NHL and his first full season in the NHL, it will be interesting to see if Yakupov can maintain a high level of play as well as a high competitive level. But if he can, the sky could be the limit for the young winger.
Yakupov had great chemistry with Sam Gagner last year and should look to improve upon that chemistry headed into the new season. Factoring in a player like David Perron on the second line as well should only help increase Yakupov’s point total.
Twenty-seven goals, 33 assists, 60 points. Sixty points in his first full season in the league isn’t bad at all, assuming that Yakupov can avoid the dreaded "Sophomore Slump." Yakupov’s point total will depend on his ability to re-establish chemistry with Gagner as well as earn the confidence of new coach Eakins.
If Justin Schultz can handle the difficulty of a full NHL season, he could establish himself as a true point-producing defenseman.
Toward the end of the shortened season it became obvious that Justin Schultz wasn’t used to the rigors of the NHL schedule and, as a result, his play began to suffer.
Schultz proved that he was a dynamic offensive threat in the AHL, and his 27 points in 48 games with the Oilers showed that the ability was there for him to have an impact at the highest level.
Where Schultz struggled at times was in his own zone, often being caught pressing up the ice and surrendering scoring chances due to over-aggression.
If Schultz can withstand the wear and tear of a full NHL season as well as grow into his role as the offensive creator from the back end, his point totals should drastically increase, and Schultz will establish himself as a true rising star in the NHL.
Eighteen goals, 40 assists, 58 points. Schultz will benefit from a full training camp as well as the veteran presence of a guy like Andrew Ference on the roster, who will teach the young star what it takes to compete night in and night out. Schultz will establish himself as the power-play orchestrator this season and will see his points increase dramatically because of this.
David Perron could see an increase in point production with the talented teammates he is surrounded with in Edmonton.
The newest addition to the Oilers' already stocked cupboard of offensive talent, Perron represents a significant offensive upgrade over the departed Magnus Paajarvi and will be an excellent addition to the Oilers' top-six forwards.
Though injuries (namely concussions) have been a concern in the past, Perron plays the game with a certain tenacity that has been lacking in Edmonton for some time now.
If Perron lines up alongside Gagner and Yakupov, he should see his point totals drastically rise from the 25 points in 48 games he managed last season.
The former 20-goal man should easily be able to reach that platform again and has the potential to surpass career high point totals should he stay healthy.
Twenty-seven goals, 35 assists, 62 points. Perron could be the perfect addition to round out the top-six forwards in Edmonton. If he can continue to play a physical, gritty type of game and open up some ice for the smaller skilled forwards in Edmonton, Perron will reap the benefits and see his point totals increase.
Jordan Eberle is a gifted player whose chemistry with linemate Taylor Hall should continue to bolster his stats.
Jordan Eberle had a breakout 2012-13 season, where he nearly maintained a point-per-game pace throughout the entire year. While the lockout-shortened season saw a bit of a dip in his performance, Eberle was still able to register 37 points in 48 games.
Eberle is a gifted playmaker who also has a lethal set of hands, which should see the winger continue to amass points in bunches.
With the skill to play the facilitator to a pure goal scorer like Taylor Hall, Eberle should see a dramatic spike in his assist totals as long as he is healthy and riding shotgun to the dynamic Hall.
Twenty-five goals, 45 assists, 70 points. Eberle will get his goals but should see the majority of his points coming off of assists to the other skilled forwards on the Oilers roster. Eberle has the ability to eclipse 30 goals, but injuries have seen him somewhat alter his attacking style, so 20-25 goals should be a more realistic total.
Taylor Hall should continue to blossom into the leader for the Edmonton Oilers this season.
Taylor Hall had a breakout year during the abbreviated 2013 season and should continue to assert himself as the leader on the ice for the Oilers team.
Hall seemed to turn the corner last year, finding the balance needed to play the game with an edge but avoiding the reckless abandonment that has led to injuries in the past.
Defenses will key in on Hall, but thanks to the depth of talented forwards on the Oilers roster, Hall will still be able to find open ice, and his dynamic shot will result in more than his share of goals.
Thirty goals, 45 assists, 75 points. Hall will get goals, but it was his ability to find teammates last year that really helped his overall points total. Thirty goals is a legitimate mark for the speedy winger and one that could even be surpassed should Hall start the season off quickly.