We’re starting to see what Todd Nelson’s doing with this Oilers team and with a 4-4-2 record I’d say we should start documenting things just in case he returns as head coach next season. Today we’re going to have a look at the young forwards, their boxcars for the season and what their usage under Nelson might tell us.
OILERS’ FORWARDS PLAYER CARDS 2014-15
|PLAYER||BOXCARS||CORSI FOR %||OZ STARTS||5X5 PER 60||5×4 PER 60|
|DEREK ROY||10, 2-5-7||50.3||63.2||2.01||3.33|
|BENOIT POULIOT||28, 10-5-15||49.7||56.1||1.98||2.93|
|TAYLOR HALL||40, 11-18-29||51.0||57.8||1.97||2.83|
|RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS||44, 11-16-27||50.9||59.1||1.89||1.51|
|JORDAN EBERLE||45, 12-16-28||51.6||61.2||1.70||4.02|
|MATT HENDRICKS||41, 6-5-11||46.9||18.1||1.46||0.00|
|TEDDY PURCELL||46, 5-14-19||51.8||57.0||1.25||4.00|
|ROB KLINKHAMMER||7, 0-1-1||51.7||45.9||1.02||0.00|
|MATT FRASER||9, 2-1-3||47.7||50.9||0.87||6.81|
|BOYD GORDON||41, 5-4-9||43.5||18.5||0.85||2.91|
|NAIL YAKUPOV||46, 5-6-11||45.8||65.5||0.85||1.93|
|ANTON LANDER||9, 0-3-3||42.7||44.9||0.59||9.44|
|LUKE GAZDIC||14, 0-0-0||44.4||64.3||0.00||0.00|
From here it looks like Nelson has most of three lines figured out:
With Purcell (whose speed is an issue but he can do some things) moving up and down the lineup as needed. He’s definitely in a utility role (PK, PP, EV) but has done well in the discipline and is just about the end of the offense (like a No. 7 hitter) on the current Oilers. The young forwards Nelson is giving minutes to currently are of considerable interest to me. Why? They’re getting PP time (and having success) and they are absolutely getting icetime (no 4 minute nights for a week here)—Nelson is giving them at-bats and a full chance.
NELSON’S HANDING OF HIS YOUNG FORWARDS SINCE JAN 1
|NAIL YAKUPOV||8gp, 1-1-2||13:51||18|
|MATT FRASER||7gp, 1-1-2||11:32||12|
|ANTON LANDER||8gp, 0-3-3||13:10||6|
I think Nelson trusts Lander in all situations (makes sense, they know each other well) he likes Fraser’s shot and may feel with Perron gone there’s an opening for a slower skill forward with hands. He may also be fascinated with the gap between Yakupov’s promise and delivery, or the club may be trying to get Yakupov’s value up before they trade him (NYC? Arizona?).
If I had to pick one of the three to hang around and spend a few years as an Oiler? I’ll go with Anton Lander. He should be able to play a checking role (center or wing) and won’t cost a lot. Fraser is a guy with a very important skill (first-shot scorer) and we should have a good idea by spring if he’s anything (he won’t get 500 at-bats but could get 250). Nail’s about 1200 at-bats into his NHL career and his per 82GP totals (17-18-35) aren’t going to get him to $6 million any time soon. The relationship between the Oilers and the player has never been Hall—Eberle strong and frankly I don’t know if the club can afford to spend another year on his development. These last 40 games are huge for Nail and if he’s getting 18 shots per 8 games surely to every God that’s prayed to some of those cannons have to go in. I bet Nail gets a more prominent role on the power play soon, either as a pump and dump or as an astute use of available talent.
I remain hopeful Yakupov emerges as a strong NHL player but at this point we should brace ourselves for an exit. The movie is almost over and this hasn’t looked like a happy ending since Ralph fired up the Skype.
2015 TOP 10
- (1) C Connor McDavid, Erie Otters (OHL) 22gp, 19-38-57 (2.59)
- (2) C Jack Eichel, Boston U (NCAA) 19gp, 10-22-32 (1.68)
- (5) R Mitch Marner, London Knights (OHL) 41gp, 33-53-86 (2.10)
- (4) C Dylan Strome, Erie Otters (OHL) 42gp, 28-49-77 (1.83)
- (3) D Noah Hanifin, Boston College (NCAA) 21gp, 3-9-12 (0.57)
- (10) D Oliver Kylington, Farjestad (SHL) 13gp, 3-3-6 (0.46)
- (6) D Zach Werenski, Michigan (NCAA). 18gp, 3-12-15 (0.83)
- (9) R Mikko Rantanen, TPS Turku (SML). 35gp, 3-11-14 (0.40)
- (11) D Ivan Provorov, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) 39gp, 11-40-51 (1.31)
- (17) Evgeni Svechnikov, Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL). 32gp, 16-30-46 (1.44)
This is a crazy good draft (my current top 30 is here) and this is a vital one for the Oilers. If they keep the Penguins pick, and win the lottery, Ed Snider would erupt like Mt. Saint Helen’s and the Oilers could walk away with (say) Connor McDavid, Jake DeBrusk and Mitchell Vande Sompel.
- Cody Nickolet on Debrusk: The son of Louie has a good frame, has power to his skating game, shows creative puck distribution skill while also possessing a goal-scorers mentality. He’s currently up over a point-per-game this year after posting 39 points in 72 games last season. I see DeBrusk as a solid pick in the 40-45th overall range but wouldn’t be shocked if some teams like him as a late 1st rounder. Source
- Brock Otten on Vande Sompel: Vande Sompel’s defensive positioning is outstanding and it helps to alleviate the concerns his lack of size may generate. Because he’s constantly moving his feet and anticipates the play so well, he’s not putting himself in many positions where he’s susceptible of being out muscled. And when he’s able to make a good play defensively, he uses his great speed to get the puck up ice quickly. Whether it be in transition, or on the power play, Vande Sompel’s head for the game in the offensive end is on display. I’m not usually a fan of rating undersized defenseman highly, but Vande Sompel has definitely won me over. Source
EARLY LOOK AT 2015-16 LINEUP
The Oilers will likely use that high first-round selection on a center and that may move Leon to LW. What does that mean? It could mean the Oilers will have three scoring lines (hahahaaha) but more likely we’re going to see another year devoted to kids batting high in the lineup:
Of course there will be mammoth changes but I’m fairly certain we can write Nurse, Draisaitl and Strone in pen for the start of the season. Balance does not exist in the Oilers playbook, friends.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN 1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Scott Burnside, ESPN. Perron in Pittsburgh and how about those Islanders?
- Jeff Hauser, Radio Hauser. NFL weekend included a classic first game and a deflating second one. We’ll talk.
- Dennis King, Oilogosphere Icon. Oilers at the deadline, NFL weekend, Nats get another starting pitcher.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide_ on twitter. Talk soon!