The question many people had coming into the 2019/20 Oil Kings season was how much of an impact could the offseason addition of Riley Sawchuk have on a team that was facing quite a bit of transition on their roster? Everyone knew the Oil Kings would have to find scoring from new places in the lineup if they had any hope of a successful season. Sawchuk has stepped up to contribute offense in spades.
The 20-year-old has turned heads to start his overage campaign. He has put up nine goals and 18 points in his first 14 contests. That’s enough to put him in the team lead for both goals and points. The forward is currently tied for second in the league for goals, and tied for seventh among the league for points. It’s clear that Sawchuk is taking full advantage of opening up his offensive ceiling in Edmonton.
Not everyone expected Sawchuk to produce at this rate in his last WHL season. However, his coaches were well aware that there was another level for Sawchuk to reach in his career.
“His game has grown since we got him here,” said Oil Kings Assistant Coach Luke Pierce,
“Brad [Lauer] has done a great job with him as far as pushing him to not just ride out his 20-year-old year and setting some expectations really high and at times, being hard on him.”
The trajectory of Sawchuk’s career point totals gave clear signs that his game had the potential to grow, with his points more than doubling in each following season since breaking into the league in 2016. Last season Sawchuk tallied 53 points in 67 games for the Tri-City Americans and is on pace to shatter those numbers this year in Edmonton.
Sawchuk believes his teammates have played a large part in his early-season success. Many of which are also benefiting from the injection of Sawchuk’s offense into the lineup, as well as his pivotal role on the Oil King’s special teams and impressive 55% success rate in the faceoff dot.
“I think we’re just coming together as a family, and we’re buying into the systems that Brad [Lauer] is telling us, and that’s leading to success,” stated Sawchuk after a game which saw him post two goals and receive the second star of the game.
“I’m happy [with my success], but it’s about the team, and with team [success] comes self success.”
Sawchuk will look to keep his hot-streak rolling this weekend as the Oil Kings take on the Saskatoon Blades at Rogers Place on Friday night, then head out on the road to Calgary to face the Hitmen.