After a few years of nasty injury runs, the Edmonton Oilers had been doing fairly well this season. To be sure, they weren’t 100% injury-free as the usual suspects hit the injured reserve list: Ryan Whitney went down early for his second prolonged absence in three years, while Ales Hemsky and Nikolai Khabibulin have done their usual multiple injury dance.
Since the trade deadline, though, virtually every offensive weapon left on an already emaciated Oilers roster has been felled by injury.
Sam Gagner is the latest victim – the Oilers announced earlier today that he will miss the remainder of the season with a severed tendon in his left hand. Prior to that, Taylor Hall was lost for the entire season after spraining his ankle thanks to a fight with Derek Dorsett.
Ales Hemsky’s latest injury also has him on the shelf for nearly the rest of the season. Combine those three injuries with the trade of Dustin Penner, and the four players who lead the Oilers in total points are all missing. The four players had combined for 72 goals, or 42.4% of the Oilers’ total goal-scoring.
If there was ever a time for the injury bug to strike, now is the time for the Oilers. They sit three points back of Ottawa for dead last in the league, giving them the best chance at the first overall pick in this summer’s NHL Entry Draft. The Senators briefly flirted with dead last, but a two-game winning streak combined with a two-game losing streak for Edmonton changed that in a hurry.
Incredibly, the 12 healthy forwards ranked by scoring look like this:
- Jordan Eberle, 36 points in 55 games as an NHL rookie
- Andrew Cogliano, 28 points
- Shawn Horcoff, 27 points in 45 games
- Magnus Paajarvi, 26 points as an NHL rookie
- Ryan Jones, 19 points
- Linus Omark, 18 points in 37 games as an NHL rookie
- Gilbert Brule, nine points in 37 games
- Liam Reddox, eight points and no goals in 30 games
- J-F Jacques, five points
- Zack Stortini, four points and presently in the minors
- Colin Fraser, four points
- Ryan O’Marra, three points and presently in the minors
The bottom half of the roster are all mired in single digit point totals, while players like Ryan Jones and Linus Omark have arguments as top-six forwards on merit.
It will be a death march to Game 82, but it should help ensure the Oilers are in the best possible draft position for the second season in a row.