In an Edmonton Oilers news and rumors update, is there concern over the ice time being logged by both Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid? Ethan Bear is logging big minutes and does his emergence change the short-term plans as the Oilers consider trades? And, the Oilers announced an injury that could affect the team’s excellent special teams stats.
Big Ice Time Already Being Handed Out
As was pointed out by Elliotte Friedman in the 31 Thoughts post today, the Oilers are handing out huge ice time to both Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl who lead the NHL in that category. The only difference this year versus last year is that Draisaitl has more.
Friedman points out that it’s not a shock to see them carrying the mail in Edmonton but also writes:
While the captain is up 20 seconds, Draisaitl’s rise is a whopping 2:33. No forward has averaged 25 minutes a game since 2001-02. That was Pavel Bure, the second of two times he did it. The only others to cross that threshold are Jaromir Jagr, Paul Kariya and Joe Sakic.
The only player to take a bigger jump than Draisaitl so far this season is Matthew Barzal with the New York Islanders as he’s up almost three minutes per game.
Is this a concern for the Oilers who are off to a great start but might be tiring their big guns so early into the season?
Related: Oilers News and Rumors: Cave, Puljujarvi, Gauthier, More
Ethan Bear Giving the Oilers Options
Speaking of ice time, as Allan Mitchell of The Athletic points out, Bear is playing 19:22 a night (No. 3 among Oilers regulars), including 17:15 at five-on-five (No. 2 among regulars) and 1:08 on the penalty kill (No. 4 among regulars). That’s huge for a player who wasn’t considered a shoe-in to make the roster on opening night.
With the injury to Adam Larsson, Bear has been provided a big opportunity and he’s making the most of it. Mitchell wonders if that changes things come the trade deadline this year?
With Larsson back and Bear more experienced, Mitchell writes:
If Bear has shown an ability to be successful on a feature pairing with Nurse, that should open up all kinds of options for Holland. If the team can win games with a top-four group of Klefbom, Larsson, Nurse and Bear, it would allow the Oilers to contemplate trading Benning or Russell at the deadline.
source – “Ethan Bear’s early success with the Oilers and what it might mean at the trade deadline” – Allan Mitchell – The Athletic – 10-16-2019
Related: Larsson Injury Means Opportunity for Young Oilers Defensemen
Oilers Messaging: “Don’t Lose Two”
As the Oilers gear up to face the Philadelphia Flyers, the messaging seems to be, “Don’t lose two in a row.” Knowing five good games doesn’t make a season, the locker room understands that 10 games will give a better read as to what kind of team this really is and how the season could unfold for them.
“Don’t lose two, start with that,” said goalie Mike Smith, repeating the mantra about good teams not losing two games in a row. “We would have liked to get the last one, but we had a good road trip. Now we regroup and go home.”
The Oilers were visibly upset losing that game against the Blackhawks and that’s a good sign. This team does not want to let the habit of shrugging off losses get into their game or become an acceptable mentality. The idea here is be proud of how they’ve played so far this season but keep playing that way and not take for granted the fact they’ve put some important points in the NHL standings already in the bank.
Expect the Oilers to come out firing against the Flyers.
Nygard Out 2-4 Weeks
Unfortunately, the Oilers will have to keep their momentum going without the services of Joakim Nygard. He is announced as out of action for up to a month with a rib injury.
He hadn’t produced offensively on the scoresheet, but he was starting to find his game and was a strong special teams contributor.
Related: The James Neal – Edmonton Oilers Experiment