Oilers radio colour analyst Bob Stauffer answers fans submitted by fans about the team.
Which current Oiler will benefit the most statistically with the addition of McDavid?
— Dan from Calgary
The automatic assumption would be that a winger would be the biggest benefactor of getting a chance to play with a potential generational superstar like Connor McDavid, but I am going to go with a different approach. Put it this way, would anybody really be surprised if Taylor Hall finished in the top 10 in scoring this season if he played with McDavid? Probably not, given that Hall finished top 10 in scoring in back-to-back seasons before going through an injury-plagued 2014-15 campaign.
I personally feel that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be the player that benefits the most from the addition of McDavid, especially if Todd McLellan runs out a first unit PP that features RNH, McDavid, Hall, Jordan Eberle and Justin Schultz.
In San Jose, McLellan had a very good PP, and let’s not forget that RNH put up 52 points in 62 games (23 PP points) in his rookie season in 2011-12 when the Oilers PP finished third in the NHL.
The drop off in the Oilers PP the last couple of seasons (it did climb considerably under Todd Nelson in the second half of the season last year) I think effected Nugent-Hopkins’ production as did numerous match-ups against the opposition’s number one centre and top defensive pairing at 5-on-5. That too could change for RNH with the imminent arrival of McDavid.
Why are you so bullish on Justin Schultz?
–Fickle Fred from Fultonvale
Justin Schultz is far from a Norris Trophy calibre defenceman, but I’m amazed at how down a lot of the fans are on him right now.
Make no mistake, Schultz needs to work on getting stronger, more competitive defensively and becoming mentally tougher but, relative to NHL standards, he is still an inexperienced d-man who possesses very good offensive instincts and for me tremendous upside.
Florida GM Dale Tallon told me once that you don’t know what you have with a defenceman until he plays 300 games in the NHL; Schultz has played just over 200 games.
Since signing with the Oilers in the summer of 2012, Schultz has played for three different NHL rookie Head Coaches, in Ralph Krueger, Dallas Eakins and Todd Nelson.
In my mind, he played too many minutes 5-on-5 though he did get very favourable zone starts with all three coaches. The drop off on the Oilers PP, specifically during Eakins’ time didn’t help Schultz either. With the addition of Erik Gryba in the off-season and with Mark Fayne also a right shot, my expectation is that McLellan and Assistant Coach Jim Johnson might limit Schultz to say 20-21 minutes a game (down from 23), rarely using him on the PK.
Wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Schultz scored 10+ goals, had 40+ points and dramatically improved his +/- this season, and in the process working his way back into the hearts of Oilers fans.
Bob Stauffer is Colour Analyst on the Oilers Radio Network and Hosts “Oilers Now” each day Noon to 2:00 PM Monday thru Friday on 630 CHED and you can follow him on Twitter at @Bob_Stauffer