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Edmonton Oilers Miss Warren Foegele, Ryan McLeod – The Hockey Writers – Edmonton Oilers

Edmonton Oilers Miss Warren Foegele, Ryan McLeod – The Hockey Writers – Edmonton Oilers
Edmonton Oilers Miss Warren Foegele, Ryan McLeod – The Hockey Writers – Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers have been very active so far this offseason, with interim general manager Jeff Jackson earning praise for his work in free agency. After coming within one win of the Stanley Cup, the Oilers made several additions that fans are excited about, including forwards Viktor Arvidsson and Jeff Skinner.

Related: Oilers Free Agency Acquisitions Mean Roster Change Coming

But with the summer arrivals come the departures, and the Oilers are parting ways with a pair of forwards who have been a substantial part of their success in recent years. On Canada Day, Warren Foegele signed a three-year deal with the Los Angeles Kings. Then, on Friday (July 6), Ryan McLeod was sent to the Buffalo Sabres along with Tyler Tullio in exchange for Matthew Savoie.

Foegele, who was acquired by the Oilers in a trade during the 2021 offseason, spent three years in Edmonton. As an Oiler, he scored 45 goals and added 50 assists in 231 regular-season games and contributed five goals and seven assists in 47 postseason games.

McLeod, selected 40e overall by Edmonton in the 2018 NHL Draft, made his debut with the Oilers late in the 2020–21 season and has been a regular in the team’s lineup since then, scoring 32 goals and adding 43 assists in 219 regular season appearances and adding seven goals and six assists in 56 playoff games.

While Foegele and McLeod had their critics, and rightfully so, they both brought elements to the Oilers that their replacements didn’t necessarily provide. Here’s why they’ll be missed:

Foegele has influenced the game in many ways

Foegele provided the Oilers with depth in scoring, scoring a career-high 20 goals in 2023-24 while also dishing out a personal-best 21 assists. The winger has found chemistry at times playing alongside Leon Draisaitl, as well as Evander Kane and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Warren Foegele, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

But on an Edmonton team with a ton of players capable of filling the net, it was Foegele’s physical and defensive aspects that were most valuable to the Oilers. The 6-foot-2, 200-plus pounder often inspired his team, whether it was throwing the body, getting loose pucks or using his open-ice speed to create offense.

Foegele impacts the game on both ends of the ice and possesses the kind of multi-dimensional play that comes with a typical third-line player.

McLeod played a key role in the Oilers’ penalty kill

McLeod was a key part of Edmonton’s excellent penalty kill, which went 66-of-70 (94.3%) during the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He played the third-most shorthanded minutes of any Oilers forward in the postseason, trailing only Nugent-Hopkins and Mattias Janmark.

In Arvidsson, Savoie and Skinner, the Oilers added three forwards under six feet tall. The 6-foot-3 McLeod was the tallest forward on an Edmonton team that has learned at times in its history that skill doesn’t always trump size.

McLeod is also great at moving the puck. At the 2024 Oilers Skills Competition, he won the fastest skater event with a clocking of 25.1 mph.

Foegele and McLeod were the difference makers

Here’s how much of a difference Foegele and McLeod made for the Oilers: In regular-season games in which Foegele scored, the Oilers were 28-3-6 (.838 points percentage). In regular-season games in which McLeod scored, Edmonton was 24-5-1 (.817 points percentage), including 17-0-1 in the last 18 such games. The Oilers never lost a game in which both Foegele and McLeod scored.

Foegele had the fifth-highest total game-winning goals (GWG) for the Oilers of any player over the past three seasons; McLeod was tied for fifth on the team in GWG in 2023-24.

Oilers considered Foegele and McLeod disposable

Foegele has increased his goal and assist totals each season in Edmonton and based on the $10.5 million they gave him, the Kings seem to believe he will continue that streak.

McLeod never made the big move he envisioned in Edmonton, but he’s still young, turning 25 in September. Buffalo respected him enough to part with the No. 9 overall pick from just two years ago, Savoie.

The Oilers, meanwhile, deemed both former forwards disposable. And so Edmonton moves on, hoping that with players like Arvidsson and Skinner they can capture the championship they came so close to with Foegele and McLeod.