The Magnificent Seven are driving Edmonton Oilers’ early-season excellence

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Seven magnificent players are propelling the Edmonton Oilers off to a good start to the 2021-22 season.


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Those seven are, in order of excellence to date: Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid, Darnell Nurse, Zach Hyman, Mikko Koskinen, Cody Ceci and Jesse Puljujarvi, with honorable mentions for Kailer Yamamoto, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Evan Bouchard.

At Cult of Hockey, we rate players on all kinds of factors, like scoring goals and points, special teams, and physical play. My own opinion is more influenced by advanced analysis, namely the video review work that Bruce McCurdy and I do on grade A shots for and against the Oilers.

In each game, we repeatedly review the video of all Grade A opportunities, finding out and discussing which players made major errors on Grade A shots for and Grade A shots against, taking careful notes, recording them, and post them for public scrutiny.


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I’ve been doing this review process on goals since the 2007-08 season and on all shots of chance to score since 2010-11, with the focus on A-grade shots from 2015-16, McDavid’s first season.

During the McDavid Era, I have never seen such good results as we are getting now, in a admittedly small sample size, of Draisaitl in the center, Hyman in the wing and Nurse in the defense.

Puljujarvi and Ceci’s grade A shots with plus-minus numbers in uniform strength are also outstanding, improved by only a few players in the past seven years, while Koskinen is playing as well as he did in his 2019-20 peak season. with a save of .915 percent.

As for McDavid, he is having a typically excellent season, creating more in attack than he has ever done before even with strength, but he does have a few more defensive struggles than usual.


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When it comes to crosses, Draisaitl has +2.0 grade A shots per game, which is better than McDavid in his 2020-21 MVP season, when he was at +1.9 grade A per game (with a game defined as 15 minutes of IS time to play).

Drai’s current rate also tops the +1.6 Grade A plus-minus shots from his 2019-20 MVP season.

On the wing, neither winger has come close to the +2.4 Grade A plus-minus shots that Hyman is throwing right now. It is crushing him on both offense and defense. It is a two-way steamroller.

And nurse? He has the best number we’ve seen for a d-man in a top 4 minute role against tough competition. He has -0.2 Grade A shots per ES game, better than Andrej Sekera’s -0.3 per game in his stellar 2016-17 season (if you’re wondering why top d-men are in negative territory, and wingers tend to have more advantages less numbers on Grade A shots, it’s simple: wingers and crosses have the most offensive opportunity, so they will tend to make more important contributions to Grade A shots; the d-men, and then the crosses, they have much more defensive responsibility than wingers, so they will tend to make much more serious mistakes on Grade A shots against).


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There has been talk of improving the depth of the greasers this year. It’s fair to say that the Core-12 of the teams has vastly improved, the top 7 forwards, the top 4 d-men, and the # 1 goalkeeper who are at the heart of any winning team. Ceci and Keith have created a reliable second pair and the Oil now have enough forwards to complete two outstanding lines. Koskinen has thus far faced the challenge as the No. 1 replacement.

But the essential story of the Oil season to date is the fantastic work of the Magnificent Seven.

Can they continue like this?

I will not bet against McDavid and Draisaitl.

As for the other five, we’ll see. They haven’t reached these heights before, at least from what I’ve charted. But fingers crossed can keep it high.

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