One Prediction for Edmonton Oilers Top Stars in 2013-14
Devan Dubnyk gave up a couple suspect goals enroute to a 5-4 loss at the hands of the Jets.
If the Oilers are to have any chance of postseason play this season, they will need their core group of young players to step up and carry the club.
Guys like Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle will have to elevate their play in order to make up for some of the significant injuries to other stars like Sam Gagner and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Here is one prediction for the 2013-14 season for each of the Edmonton Oilers’ stars.
The Oilers are asking a lot of Taylor Hall to begin the 2013-14 season. With injuries to two of the club’s top center icemen, Hall has been asked to switch from his natural left wing position and fill in down the middle of the ice.
Hall certainly has the speed and the skill to be able to make the switch, and if he can continue to learn the art of winning faceoffs, the position change could prove extremely beneficial in the long run.
However, as the opening game against the Winnipeg Jets highlighted, Hall has a lot to learn about the subtleties of the position. Hall was responsible for a number of egregious turnovers that may not have been so costly had they not been down the middle of the ice.
If Hall doesn’t find a way to play a little more of a conservative passing game in his own zone, while maintaining his defensive responsibilities then it could be a long season for Hall and for the Oilers.
Hall has the sheer ability to be able to generate his own scoring chances but may struggle out of the gate as he adapts to a new position. Hall should still be able to generate around 25-30 goals this season, and about 65-70 points once all of the Oilers players get healthy and he can switch back to the wing.
Jordan Eberle had somewhat of a down season during the lockout-shortened 2013 season, failing to maintain the nearly point-per-game pace he had established the year prior to the lockout. This season, the Oilers will need a bounce-back year from the talented winger in order to mask some of the lineup deficiencies.
With Taylor Hall playing center, Eberle will have to facilitate the scoring opportunities for Hall as he figures out his new positioning on the ice.
The Oilers may also split the talented youngsters up in order to spread out the offensive production, at which point it will be on Eberle to elevate his game, no matter who his linemates are.
This will be a big season for Eberle to establish himself as a solid member of the core and to prove that his first two seasons in the league were not a fluke.
Eberle will be relied upon heavily and could very well see his point-per-game pace return as he attempts to score more goals. Eberle’s fantastic on-ice vision will result in the winger picking up around 40 assists and should contribute around 20-25 goals this season.
Having just signed a massive contract extension, now will be the time for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to take the next step in his career and prove to the Oilers and to his detractors that making the NHL in his rookie season wasn’t a bad move.
Nugent-Hopkins will miss the first month of season, and that will hinder his overall point totals, but if the rehabilitation process for his shoulder has aided the talented center in adding on strength, it could be more beneficial over the long haul.
There is plenty of room for growth for Nugent-Hopkins both physically and in his on-ice performance, and if Nugent-Hopkins can hit the ground running, he could firmly start to prove his doubters wrong.
It may take RNH a bit of time to readjust to the speed of the NHL, but with his dynamic playmaking abilities and the talented cast of players around him, Nugent-Hopkins should manage around 55 points this season, with around 25 goals.
Nail Yakupov is primed for a big season in 2013-14. After exploding for a respectable rookie campaign during the abbreviated 2013 season, this could really be a big year for the exciting Russian sniper.
Yakupov has the pure ability to score and should really establish himself as a threat on the power play with his incredible shot and phenomenal speed.
Another driving factor will be the fact that Yakupov has now seen all of the other young Oilers forwards rewarded with big long-term contracts and will look to get his share of the money as well.
A big season will go a long way in forcing the Oilers hand next season to resign the dynamo.
Yakupov will explode for 30-35 goals this season and around 30 points. Sixty points may not seem like much but will represent significant growth for the speedy winger. The points will come once both Gagner and Nugent-Hopkins are back and Yakupov can establish chemistry with a talented center.
It was time for the Oilers to give up on Magnus Paajarvi, which is unfortunate considering the Swede was a big and fast player, but the Oilers could not have asked for a better return than David Perron.
Perron may not be the biggest player on the ice, but he plays the game with a certain bit of tenacity that the Oilers have lacked on their top two lines for some time now.
Another bonus for the Oilers is that Perron has sublime offensive skills and the speed to be able to keep up with all of the young stars currently on the club.
This could be a big season for Perron as he establishes himself alongside the younger Oilers stars. Perron has both the goal scoring and playmaking abilities to generate 65 points this year for the Oilers with 25-30 goals.
Toward the end of last season, it became apparent that Justin Schultz wasn’t used to the grind of an NHL season and often appeared tired while on the ice.
Entering his first full NHL season, and armed with a full training camp under his belt, this season should be a better assessment of what Schultz can do at the NHL level.
His offensive prowess is undeniable, but where Schultz will need to improve to help the Oilers take the next step is in his defensive zone play.
Pairing with Andrew Ference will be a good thing for the young defender, as Ference will be able to cover for Schultz as he pushes up into the offensive play.
Schultz could have around 40 points by the end of the season and will be in line for a large contract extension, should he prove that he is able to maintain performance throughout an entire NHL season.