Ryan Smyth has enjoyed a steller season thus far
Now 27 games into the NHL season and you'd be hard-pressed to find an Oiler fan complaining. The Oilers sit at 13-11-3 with 29 points and look to be in the hunt for a playoff spot till the very end. Sure, Magnus Paajarvi has been horrible and Ryan Whitney can't seem to get going, but there are many positives that the Oilers can build on.
Here are the top five Oilers so far this season:
Taylor Hall was off to a pretty good start until a shoulder injury recently sidelined him, but he's back at practice, which is a great news for the Oilers. He plays with so much energy that eventually it's going to catch up to him, as we now see with him missing some action.
He's a franchise type of player a team can build around. The Oilers are real fortunate to have numerous pieces of the puzzle. Taylor Hall has captain material.
After a season (and offseason) to forget, Nikolai Khabibulin has bounced back in a big way. Posting a .932 save percentage though 18 games has given the "Bulin Wall" some credibility back. At the start of the season, it looked to be a split decision on who would start every game, but Devan Dubnyk couldn't match the blazing start of Khabibulin.
It will be interesting to see what happens with Khabibulin. His $3.750 million cap hit is reasonable for the next two seasons. However, if the Oilers fall out of contention, it wouldn't be shocking if he was dealt to a contender.
If someone would have told you Smytty would return to Edmonton and would enjoy his best season ever in an Oiler uniform, would you have believed them? Well, it's true. What a season it has been for Ryan Smyth. He's been the ultimate Oiler; he's displayed all the qualities that has made him one of the most passionate players to ever lace up the skates for the Oilers.
He has 26 points in 27 games—that's not a typo. He's on a similar pace as he was in the 2000-01 season, when he collected 70 points with the Oilers—that was over 10 years ago.
This kid is something special. He's got soft hands and makes everyone around him better. Eberle had 43 points last season; he's on pace to crush that this season. The sky is the limit for the Canadian National team hero. All he does is produce whenever he's on the ice. He doesn't take many bad shifts.
His 28 points in 27 games is good for 11th in league scoring. He could win some NHL awards someday.
At the age of 18, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has stepped into the National Hockey League spotlight and is playing like a 10-year veteran. His 29 points in 27 games has set up RNH as the early favorite to win the Calder Trophy, but Oiler fans are drooling over the possibilities on offense with the Nuge emerging as a star so quickly in his NHL career.
Being drafted first overall comes with a lot of pressure, and it's safe to say he's exceeded expectations so far. Not many first overall picks can do that.