OUTSIDE OF MCDAVID, WHO IS EDMONTON'S MVP THIS SEASON? | Oilersnetwork.com - Edmonton Oilers News and Rumours


It's pretty clear that Connor McDavid needs to both, stay healthy and live up to expectations if the Edmonton Oilers are going to have any sniff at the playoffs this year. He shouldn't have to exceed expectations — after all, fans are throwing everything at this kid but the kitchen sink. But, if he can manage around the 80 points that everyone seems to think he's capable of, if and when he has a little help, the Oilers could make a bit of a run.

Let's say McDavid is successful. Let's assume he's good for 80-90 points. In the NHL, one player doesn't equal wins. Who needs to be the second best player on the team?

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Photo credit Dinur via Visual hunt  CC BY-NC-ND

Cam Talbot

Goaltending flat out can win you games. Outside of a few shades of excellence, the Oilers haven't had solid goaltending in years. This season may be the first time in some time that the Oilers and their fans may have answered the question, "do we have a legitimate starter"?

If Cam Talbot can consistently manage a .915-.920 save percentage, steal a few games here and there and play 60-65 games with no need to bring in the "monster", the Oilers will be a better team and do well beyond the 29th place finish from last season. If he struggles, the Oilers will struggle.

Oscar Klefbom

The Oilers need a big-minutes defender whose underlying numbers are strong, who can contribute on offense and who plays in all situations. Edmonton thinks that player is Klefbom. The problem is, he hasn't been healthy enough to prove he is what they think he is.

Having a strong partner (which the Oilers hope to have found in Adam Larsson) should help Klefbom add more to his game than even his impressive showing last year which gave fans such hope. If Klefbom falters, the Oilers are in real trouble. The depth on defense is undoubtedly better, but still unproven and an injury or slump away from really hurting Edmonton's chances.

Milan Lucic

Lucic came in as the replacement for Taylor Hall. He won't be that. But, Lucic having a strong season and contributing both on offense and changing the overall feel and personality of this team is no small feat, but no less important. As McDavid described it, Lucic adds some swagger to the team they didn't have prior to his arrival. If that's true, Lucic will be the leader of a meaner, tougher and nastier Pacific Division Oilers. 55 points should be considered a minimum contribution from Lucic.

Similarly, there needs to be real chemistry between McDavid and Lucic. It's not that McDavid won't up Lucic's game — because he will, but if these two can click, it could be fun to watch.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

He's was rumored to be on his way out. He had a disappointing season and he's coming off an injury-riddled campaign. If there is ever a time to show he can bounce back from last years' issues, this is it. A healthy and effective Nugent-Hopkins means the Oilers have a strong first and second line center combination that can spread the offense and make it harder for teams to defend. It gives Edmonton a dangerous second unit powerplay and it takes some of the pressure off McDavid.

Nugent-Hopkins is also Edmonton's defensive center. His job isn't just to score points and contribute offensively, but he's looked upon as a shutdown, two-way center. He's Edmonton's version of Patrice Bergeron or Pavel Datsyuk. Nugent-Hopkins will be pulling double-duty and he needs to do it effectively.

Todd McLellan

The first year coach got cut a little slack. A new team, new players and a strong history in other organizations, meant people knew McLellan was the right man for the job, even if the Oilers finished in 29th place. McLellan won't be afforded the same sort of flexibility this season. He needs to do a bang -up job of getting players like Nail Yakupov, Adam Larsson, Nugent-Hopkins and Jesse Puljujarvi contributing to this team in the right roles. There needs to be a system the players can work with, understand and hold each other accountable for. Most importantly, the players need to trust and play his game, which was a problem in the past.

There are others like Leon Draisaitl, Jordan Eberle, Larsson or Andrej Sekera that will need to play up to or past the abilities they've shown in the past. Edmonton needs a team effort, but at the very least it needs more than one guy to do all the work. If you can't pick McDavid, who's your MVP?

For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.

Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.


  1. Where does Nurse fit into the equation?

    1. I don't think he does yet. Nurse is still on the outside looking in from a time-on-ice perspective and the Oilers likely aren't relying on him to produce big minutes or big numbers this season. If they can count on him to make strides and improve his defensive game, while contributing a little on offense, they'll be happy as a pig in ...

  2. Adam Larsson having an MVP season would certainly push the team towards respectability.

    I'm a huge fan of Nuge so I'd like to see him put up 60pts in the secondary role, and give other teams something to think about away from McDavid.

    1. If Larsson can reproduce his year from 2015-16 in New Jersey that will be considered a good year. If he can add 15-20 points more than he had last year, that would be even better. I agree that Nuge (if provided 2nd line center minutes) should get 60 points if healthy.

  3. I hope they don't trade the Nuge. Over at Lowtides blog there was mention how bad depth at centre would become if the Nuge was traded. Basically an injury away from diaster if he's gone. Save the Nuge!


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