The young Oilers left our city with purpose and confidence. They will arrive home a beaten group, their hard work and painful lessons having been on display for the watching world for 2 solid weeks. The first half is done, and the beatings will continue until the lottery show.
RE 12-13 FORWARDS
|SAM GAGNER RE||22||6||10||16|
|SAM GAGNER ACTUAL||24||7||14||21||+5|
|JORDAN EBERLE RE||22||7||9||16|
|JORDAN EBERLE ACTUAL||24||6||11||17||+1|
|LENNART PETRELL RE||16||1||2||3|
|LENNART PETRELL ACTUAL||18||1||3||4||+1|
|TAYLOR HALL RE||20||10||10||20|
|TAYLOR HALL ACTUAL||21||4||15||19||-1|
|NAIL YAKUPOV RE||23||6||7||13|
|NAIL YAKUPOV ACTUAL||24||6||6||12||-1|
|BEN EAGER RE||15||2||1||3|
|BEN EAGER ACTUAL||14||1||1||2||-1|
|DARCY HORDICHUK RE||13||0||1||1|
|DARCY HORDICHUK ACTUAL||4||0||0||0||-1|
|MAGNUS PAAJARVI RE||20||2||4||6|
|MAGNUS PAAJARVI ACTUAL||19||4||0||4||-2|
|TEEMU HARTIKAINEN RE||15||3||2||5|
|TEEMU HARTIKAINEN ACTUAL||16||1||2||3||-2|
|ALES HEMSKY RE||18||4||12||16|
|ALES HEMSKY ACTUAL||23||8||5||13||-3|
|ERIC BELANGER RE||23||3||3||6|
|ERIC BELANGER ACTUAL||21||0||3||3||-3|
|RYAN SMYTH RE||20||5||6||11|
|RYAN SMYTH ACTUAL||23||2||5||7||-4|
|RYAN JONES RE||21||3||3||6|
|RYAN JONES ACTUAL||8||0||1||1||-5|
|SHAWN HORCOFF RE||22||3||5||8|
|SHAWN HORCOFF ACTUAL||7||1||1||2||-6|
|RYAN NUGENT HOPKINS RE||21||7||13||20|
A few comments before we look at the defensemen. Gagner is the only guy who is outperforming his RE by any amount, and really 5 points is nothing (I know we should be doing this by percentage points–total points divided by total games, and we will do that at season’s end. But it’s boring). If we see a bunch of plus and minus one’s, that’s a good indication that we’re projecting reasonable. The only real alarm bell is the Nuge and I’d bet on him delivering 20 points in the second half if he were healthy. I’d bet a 2-4 that he’ll have surgery a few weeks after Horcoff returns–it’s an Oiler tradition. The end of season adjustment will also account for injuries to guys like Horcoff and Jones.
What does this tell us? Well, reasonable suggested the forwards would score 60 goals and they have scored 42. That’s a gap.
RE 12-13 DEFENSE
|JUSTIN SCHULTZ RE||22||2||6||8|
|JUSTIN SCHULTZ ACTUAL||24||5||8||13||+5|
|LADISLAV SMID RE||22||0||3||3|
|LADISLAV SMID ACTUAL||24||0||2||2||-1|
|COREY POTTER RE||4||0||1||1|
|COREY POTTER ACTUAL||14||0||0||0||-1|
|NICK SCHULTZ RE||24||0||3||3|
|NICK SCHULTZ ACTUAL||24||0||1||1||-2|
|THEO PECKHAM RE||17||0||2||2|
|THEO PECKHAM ACTUAL||4||0||0||0||-2|
|JEFF PETRY RE||21||1||7||8|
|JEFF PETRY ACTUAL||23||3||2||5||-3|
|RYAN WHITNEY RE||20||1||7||8|
|RYAN WHITNEY ACTUAL||17||2||3||5||-3|
Justin Schultz wins the first half, the guy would be on pace for a 40-point rookie season if this were an 82 game schedule. As it is, he is the strongest Oiler candidate for the Calder and having a fine offensive season. Defensively we’re seeing what we should have expected: moments of brilliance followed by periods of lost weekends. That’s what rookie defensemen do: they develop.
What does it tell us? No defensemen is really off the pace by enough to panic–Petry didn’t have a crooked number until last week. RE suggested the blue would score 6 goals in the first half and they have scored 10.
It is possible to get something out of a difficult period and the Oilers have such an opportunity with Magnus Paajarvi. Although the team has been struggling, Magnus has been performing well and carving out a role as a 2-way gem. The puck is headed in a good direction and he appears to be close to filling that 2-way role we’ve been talking about for years.
I think the Oilers recognize it–he’s sure playing a lot, 16:55 with three shots on goal last night–but losing organizations often make mistakes on emerging talents. One of the key items to look at now through the end of the year is the club’s handling of Paajarvi. They have a small window now where they can send him down, and I think it remains an option. I also think it would be a terrible decision. We wait.
Plenty of chatter about Steve Tambellini’s job being in peril, and that makes sense. You sure can’t let him hire another coach, the only guy crazy enough to step in might be Buchberger. No, I think the Oilers are at a point now where grade “A” coaching options would be looking for a more stable opportunity. The Oilers are going to get the “Columbus” options at this point, suspect Krueger is better than what might be available.
As for Tambellini’s replacement, I’ve felt all along Scott Howson is a likely option. Lowe and MacT are ensconced higher up and have no reason to place themselves in the fray–unless they want to do it. I do recall Lowe saying something about a return someday, and MacT has worked hard to get into his current position so maybe there’s a passion to be “the guy.” My guess is Howson and has been for some time:
If Howson is hired, I don’t think much will change. The buck stops at Kevin Lowe’s desk and as great a player as he was, and as tough a defenseman as he was, and as much as he’s done for the community as he has, Kevin Lowe is not a hockey empire builder on the team level. With the exception of a small window in 2006 his team building resume is poor, and I don’t think there’s an argument that anyone–including his closest friends–can make that suggests otherwise. The emotion that gave him his edge on the ice is perhaps not an asset in the board room. The Stanley Cup rings and personal reputation go a long way, but at some point results matter. I believe the fans and maybe the players are long past this point, we are simply waiting for the owner to make a move.
That may come soon.
I’ve been hoping MacT would be elevated to a position where he can impact the roster, but at this point it is probably better to bring in a strong GM with a lot of experience. I’d pursue someone like Jim Nill or Paul Fenton (assistant GM’s, but very experienced) and Katz must make certain that upper management gives the new man some air. I can see Steve Tambellini’s flaws, but am not certain he’s ever had the freedom to arrange a roster that matched his vision.
Either way, I don’t think this happens until season’s end. They’ll send a company man like Buchberger to the draft lottery because Tambellini is scouting in Europe, and then quietly announce that ST is now in charge of “NCAA free agent recruitment” because MacT’s role is changing. Something like that.
The Oilers acquired Mike Brown this week, but that’s not what they needed–despite what a lot of media have been saying. The Oilers problem is that they have too many kids in feature roles and when they run up against good teams it can get away from them in a hurry (that’s what we saw this week). It is NOT impossible to fix this, but the fact that Tambellini chose to address the “replace Darcy Hordichuk” hole before doing something about “man we miss Horcoff” and “the Schultz pairing can’t handle their current role” is another indication that Oilers management either can’t identify and address need or this season doesn’t matter.
At this point it’s beyond the pale. Oilers management is either teasing the fanbase with false hope (and then admonishing them when they fail to see the long term plan) or simply don’t know what makes an NHL team work. Either way, something has to give.
It is possible to fix this thing and have a better second half of the season. It is up to management to find NHL players who can step in to the positions currently occupied by the veterans who are struggling. We talked about this on July 1 before free agency got underway, and the club did add some of the things on their shopping list. We had identified Daniel Winnick, Mark Streit, a goaltender and an enforcer who could play as being elements of need, but the Oilers chose not to look outside for those things.
And here we are. Ryan Whitney’s issues are a major part of this season, the lack of a Winnick means the bottom 6 has no stable forces to help a Paajarvi find his way, and the club continues to pursue an enforcer option that fits their roster.
Other teams can find these player types, why can’t the Oilers? That’s the role of the next GM: the jacks and kings are already here, the role players–the guys who need to play at par or a little better in the secondary minutes–is an entirely doable item.
The fact that Steve Tambellini and Kevin Lowe have been unable to do it should not cloud our vision. Nashville had this about two weeks after their expansion draft.
Lowetide at High Noon hits Team 1260 today noon to 2 Edmonton time. Our guests:
- Terry Jones from the Edmonton Sun. We’ll talk brier and the Oilers, specifically this painful road trip. We’ll also discuss implications of another lost season on players and management.
- Bruce McCurdy from the Cult of Hockey. We’ll discuss his zone exits and what they are telling us about the Oilers, the current state of the team and who gets a passing grade through the season’s first half.
- Kirk Luedeke from Redline Report. Kirk has been a friend of Team 1260’s since the John Short days, and is a splendid resource for the draft. We’ll talk about some of the impressive NY/New England kids this year and get an idea about the depth of this year’s draft compared to a year ago.
- Darcy “Woodguy” McLeod from all parts Oilogosphere. Darcy has posted guest articles at Copper and Bue and here at Lowetide, the latest being an exceptional defense of Magnus Paajarvi this week. We’ll talk about Paajarvi, measuring success via shots on goal and what the numbers say about fixing the Oilers.
- Neal Livingston, from Tend the Farm. One of the brilliant people we’ve had a chance to encounter since the Oilers moved their farm team to OKC, Neal’s site is a joy and a valuable resource. We’ll talk about the season for Barons fans, and I’ll ask if any of the current Barons looks like they are matriculating toward an NHL job.
Comments and questions welcome, best way to reach me with comments and questions is lowetide_ on twitter or in the comments section. Thanks!