Pass-Fail Grades for Edmonton Oilers' Top Stars as 2013-14 Season Winds Down
The 2013-14 season didn’t take shape as new head coach Dallas Eakins and GM Craig MacTavish hoped it would.
The team struggled mightily out of the gate thanks in large part to a lack of defensive responsibility from the top-end forwards and suspect goaltending from netminder Devan Dubnyk.
MacTavish made headway in acquiring Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth, which has helped stabilize the goaltending position, but failed to make any other significant changes to the roster.
Edmonton also bid farewell to longtime Oiler Ales Hemsky, who was finally traded at the deadline.
The season has been one of highs and lows for the Oilers players as the team slowly adapted to Eakins’ new system and style of coaching.
Here are pass-fail grades for the Edmonton Oilers’ top stars as the 2013-14 comes to a close.
Nail Yakupov: Fail
Nail Yakupov’s second season in the NHL has been a tough one as the talented Russian winger had a hard time adapting to the increase of defensive responsibilities demanded by Eakins.
For the first time in his career, Yakupov was also a healthy scratch as Eakins attempted to get his message across to the No. 1 overall pick.
While his game has certainly improved since the halfway point in the season and it appears he has finally bought into what Eakins has been preaching, his season must still be viewed as a disappointment, thus the failing rating.
With trade speculation swirling around Yakupov courtesy of TSN's Darren Dreger (via David Staples of the Edmonton Journal), one can only wonder what the future holds for the dynamic scorer.
David Perron: Pass
When the Oilers acquired David Perron from the St. Louis Blues for embattled forward Magnus Paajarvi, they knew they were getting a dynamic scorer in Perron. However, it's the intangibles he's brought to the team that have been the biggest asset.
Perron is one of the only top-six forwards on the Edmonton Oilers who plays with a bit of tenacity and has an edge to his game, often getting under the skin of opposing players.
Perron has reached a career high in goals in his first season with the Oilers and has tied his career high in points (50) with over 10 games left in the season. It's not exactly a stretch to assume he eclipses that mark.
Perron is exactly the type of player that the Oilers need more of in the their forward ranks, and could be a mainstay as the prolonged rebuild finally turns the corner.
Jordan Eberle: Pass
Though Jordan Eberle only has 53 points in 69 games, he remains to be one of the most dynamic forwards on the team and his ability to change a game garners him a pass rating.
His point-scoring pace may be down this season, but Eberle is still second on the Oilers in scoring. A suspected knee injury may hamper his point totals down the stretch, though.
The flashes of brilliance coupled with his keen playmaking abilities and goal-scoring touch help to keep Eberle’s stock very high within the Oilers organization.
However, if Edmonton were to make a blockbuster trade, it's a player like Eberle whose name would almost certainly come up in discussions. His play this year has demonstrated his ability even though he has been stuck on a slumping team.
Sam Gagner: Fail
Last season Sam Gagner was one of the Oilers' best and most consistent players. He registered an impressive 38 points in the 47-game, lockout shortened season.
After suffering a gruesome jaw injury in the preseason, Gagner got off to a horrendously slow start. Though he appears to be turning his performance around, it is a case of too little too late for the former London Knights star.
With only eight goals this season, and 33 points, Gagner has struggled to assert himself as the second line center that the Oilers truly need.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: Pass
Though Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has been mired in somewhat of an offensive slump for the past month, the gifted playmaking center has still managed 47 points in 69 games. However, the main reason for his pass grade has been Nugent-Hopkins’ ability to stay healthy this season.
It appears the shoulder issues that have caused him to miss time in his previous two seasons have been corrected, and the Oilers organization should be quite optimistic over Nugent-Hopkins' future.
Nugent-Hopkins is paramount to any success that the Oilers' plan to have. If his shoulder issues are behind him, as it appears they are, then the future looks bright for Nugent-Hopkins.
Taylor Hall: Pass
Taylor Hall has apparently taken another step in his progression this season and has firmly cemented himself as the main piece in the Oilers offensive system.
Hall is another Oiler who missed some time in previous years due to injury, but has remained healthy this year and has shown that he has the ability to contribute night in and night out.
With 65 points in 64 games, Hall has carried the majority of the offensive burden for an Oilers team who has struggled this season.
The combination of speed, tenacity and a deadly shot make Hall a threat to score on every shift. If Hall can continue his improvement it should only be a matter of time before he is considered one of the NHL’s elite wingers.