It's hard to believe that hockey has been back for a full month but here we are. After far too many months of speculation, rumours, and line combinations we were finally able to watch the Edmonton Oilers and make some concrete judgements on the roster.
Here is a thought or two on every player through their body of work in January
Connor McDavid - McDavid has been his usually elite self but perhaps surprisingly currently leads the league in goals. One additional thing that has impressed is how he has improved in the faceoff circle (53.2%).
Leon Draisaitl - Draisaitl continues to be the strong big PP contributor for Edmonton but his line as a whole has been the team's best at 5 on 5 and some big credit deserves to go to him.
Ryan Nugent Hopkins - 10 points in 11 games this month but has been the streakiest of the top three, looking out of place at times and then elite the next.
Kailer Yamamoto - Has arguably been the Oilers most consistent player at both ends of the ice. Regression does not appear to be an issue for Yamamoto, though he is still firing on a SH% heater.
Dominik Kahun - Never looked too out of place in the top six but simply wasn't being rewarded until these last couple games. Hopefully this is something he can continue to build on in February.
Jesse Puljujarvi - It didn't take long for JP to force his way into the top six and while he hasn't scored yet he still generates plenty of chances and is looking more comfortable with every game.
Zack Kassian - Failed to provide much of anything with McDavid but is starting to gel on the third line. A bottom six role is where Kassian should stay.
Kyle Turris - Has been a disappointment so far and hasn't produced nearly enough offensively to make up for his defensive gaps. He may play himself out of this lineup soon.
Josh Archibald - Continuing to play as advertised and is a good energy fourth line player. One of the few guys I have liked on the PK this season.
Devin Shore - Won a job over Jujhar Khaira and helped dig the fourth line out of their possession black hole. A smart PTO signing,
Jujhar Khaira - Failed to make anything work and did not impact play in a positive manner at either end of the ice. He has had far too many chances and that may have been his last.
Tyler Ennis - A rough start to the year for Ennis, seemingly getting on his coach's bad side and was waived (though cleared) as a result. Has started to look a little more at home on the Oilers new look fourth line.
Alex Chiasson - Was waived today but will likely clear. Chiasson has not brought the energy that Archibald does or the ability to cash in some easy goals on the PP like Neal has. Not a good look for a contract year.
Gaetan Haas - Has only appeared in one game but despite that he skated very well. I think we could see Haas elevated in this bottom six that needs a stronger centreman.
Patrick Russell - Played a game
James Neal - I've actually been fairly happy with Neal since his return. He has somehow helped to stabilize the third line and was rewarded with his first two goals of the season last night.
Joakim Nygard - Skates like the wind but he never looks to have the ability to generate any real scoring chances or sustained pressure.
Darnell Nurse - The first couple games of the season were not a good look for Nurse or Bear on the top pairing but the big man has mostly shaken that off and is currently fourth on the team in points. There are still some egregious mistakes but the number has gone down.
Tyson Barrie - Despite 7 points in 11 games Barrie has struggled early. Last game was his best yet and it may be too soon to tell but the Oilers might now know how to utilize him on the top unit PP.
Adam Larsson - Leads all defensemen in hits and that is about the only good thing I can say about Larsson's early season.
Ethan Bear - Was sat early but since then he has looked like the Bear from last season; making smart passes under pressure with a calm demeanor.
Caleb Jones - Was also sat early but took longer to get another chance. Since coming back Jones has also played much better and a third pairing role looks to be where he is the most confident at this time.
Slater Koekkoek - Came in and impressed the Oilers fanbase by playing a simple uneventful game. He is Kris Russell if Russell knew how to complete a pass in his own end.
William Lagesson - Has now played in 2 of the 11 games this season and I don't have much else to say. A good 7th defenseman who you can bring in when needed but shouldn't be counted on for any key assignments.
Kris Russell - Continues to be Kris Russell
Evan Bouchard - Apparently has dealt with some back issues through the first month. Hopefully he recovers soon so that we have more to say about him next month.
Mikko Koskinen - Has had to play far more games early than any of us expected but if I had to give a letter grade I would give him a B-. Has bailed the team out a number of times but unfortunately he can't cover every bonehead play the team makes in front of him.
Stuart Skinner - Made his NHL debut last night with 33 saves on 38 shots. It was an eventful night but I don't think Skinner is quite ready for the big leagues.
Mike Smith - Continues to be out with a mysterious illness/injury
- The powerplay started off shockingly bad but has since returned to form. Currently Edmonton's PP sits top 10 thanks in large part to the Ottawa Senators.
- The penalty kill has been ugly. Last season Mike Smith and Koskinen both had unsustainably high SV% on the PK and I think we are seeing that come back to earth.