Todd McLellan mentioned at his media avail yesterday that older fading players, up and coming players and emerging impact players all needed to ‘mesh’ together as a team. If we look at the Sharks from any year, including last season, we can see what he’s talking about in this regard.
- Todd McLellan: “I think there’s veterans within this organization right now. Matty Hendricks, Boyd Gordon, Ference. The important thing is to blend that, you can’t have separation of older players with warrior wounds on them and younger players coming along without those wounds. You can have ‘the grizzled veteran’, maybe his game is more on the decline than an incline, and you have the young superstars coming up, they have to find ways to intermingle and to mesh so that their assets come out on a daily basis. I don’t know the group well enough yet to say that that exists, I think there’s work to do there. You have to create the right environment, the right foundation to bring that out.” Source
THORNTON LINE, 2014-15
- C Joe Thornton. 58.4% Corsi for 5×5. Sublime passer and playmaker, he’s a big center and has been one of the best in the business forever. He is slowing but remained an effective player in 2014-15. Scored 31 EV points in 1081 minutes and played most often with Pavelski (890) and Melker Karlsson (459 minutes).
- C-W Joe Pavelski. 56.9% Corsi 5×5. A fine passer and a prolific shooter, he scored 37 goals on 261 shots this season. Had 33 points (on 159 shots) at evens and played mostly with Thornton (890 minutes) and Melker Karlsson (497 minutes).
- W Melker Karlsson. 54.8 Corsi 5×5. Two-way winger just getting established as an NHL player, has good skill level and average size (he is 24 and this was his rookie season). 19 points in 721 EV minutes, mostly with Pavelski (497) and Thornton (459).
- L Tomas Hertl. 54.2 Corsi 5×5. Big skill winger, he has some durability issues and was not as strong offensively this past season. He played 1040 EV minutes and had 22 points, mostly with Joe Thornton (395 minutes), Joe Pavelski (364) and James Sheppard (228).
I think that’s the mesh. Todd McLellan’s style is to marry talents from different parts of the roster to come up with more depth and allow youngsters to flourish. Instead of placing Patrick Marleau or Logan Couture on this line, McLellan auditioned two young wingers (Karlsson, Hertl) on the line.
Applying that to the Oilers is easy, I’d argue Todd Nelson did just that with Pouliot being added to Nuge and Eberle. Of course, the Oilers also ran Tyler Pitlick with Taylor Hall and Nuge for an hour at evens last year—some days are diamonds and some days are stone. For fun, let’s see if we can marry the Oilers lines and pairings using this kind of thinking.
Does that look about right? Let’s try the blue:
Well, the idea has its limits.
WHO WILL FLOURISH IN A MCLELLAN WORLD?
There’s a real danger here in projecting any of these men into a McLellan system and touting an explosion. We can assume that Hall, Nuge, Eberle, Pouliot will flourish because that’s their established level of ability. I think McLellan’s track record with young players suggests we should be encouraged about the future of Yakupov, Lander, Klefbom, Nurse and others. That said, one or two of those names could be headed out the door, so it’s folly to make sweeping statements about any of this stuff.
Instead, it might be interesting to see if we can identify a group of Melker Karlsson’s in the Oilers system or on the roster. If Karlsson can make it to a big production line, what about Iiro Pakarkainen?
THE KARLSSON PROFILE
Melker Karlsson was signed as a free agent by San Jose on May 30, 2014 (Oilers would sign Pakarinen on June 15). The Hockey News profile tells us about Karlsson as a player:
- 6.0, 181
- Is solid at both ends of the ice and can produce good offensive totals at lower levels. Plays with a high skill level and can score goals, too.
- Doesn’t have ideal size for the NHL game, so he must get stronger in order to win enough board battles to stick in the long run.
- Solid, skilled two-way forward with a little upside.
- He arrived in the NHL last fall, age 24.
He scored 20GP, 5-5-10 in the AHL and then 53GP, 13-11-24 in the AHL. I’d say Pakarinen is a very good (almost identical) comparison.
- 6.1, 215 (even bigger, that’s a good thing based on Chiarelli’s verbal)
- Has pretty good size for the National Hockey League game, plus the ability to score goals at all lower levels. Can raise his game when the competition picks up, which adds to his overall value.
- Must prove he can make the necessary adjustments over time to become a consistent producer in the NHL. Also, he has played a fairly aggressive game overseas but can he do it in North America.
- Scoring winger with some upside.
- He arrived in the NHL last fall, age 23.
He scored at a superior rate in the AHL (39GP, 17-11-28) but didn’t get the same NHL push (17GP, 1-2-3) but did play with Anton Lander, Benoit Pouliot and Teddy Purcell. I’d say this fellow is a strong candidate to play on a McLellan team. The only difference between these two men is a ‘two-way’ description of Karlsson .
@Lowetide I was completely without hope and today I almost cried with the renewed hope that we long-suffering Oil fans so deserve.
— Josie (@josieoilerfan) May 19, 2015
It’s been so long, and so hopeless, and because of that the last month seems even more surreal. One day in the future maybe the last decade of Oilers fandom will have a name—the Oilers syndrome, perhaps—but it’s fair to suggest that the last month should represent a real and obvious turn north for the franchise. If we look at their history, there are surprisingly few forks in the road for the Oilers:
- 1979-1990: The Boys on The Bus Glory Years
- 1991-2004: Holding Pattern and Stayin’ Alive
- 2005-2006: The run for Stanley
- 2007-2014: The Shawshank Laundry Scene
Fair? I think that’s fair. So, this would represent the fifth stanza in Oilers history and the first one (ever) with the following items in tow:
- A rich and increasingly responsible owner
- A veteran GM
- A veteran coach
- Insane young talent in the organization
- The No. 1 overall pick in a year that houses a generational talent in Connor McDavid
Josie said it: The Oilers fans deserve this. Daryl Katz didn’t start his ownership with five years experience, he gained one year’s experience five times, but after that something happened, the tumblers clicked, and Bob Nicholson, Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan were the result. There’s plenty of work to do, but the way is clear and experienced men are at the helm.
Our long nation nightmare is over.
The Barons play tonight, G7 against Utica for the right to move on. A loss means the franchise becomes defunct, the scariest word in pro sports. I think they have a shot, fine goaltending and some good (but young) defense have held the team in. Brad Hunt and Matt Ford are leading the offense, OKC will need some secondary scoring to win tonight and of course Bachman to be brilliant (but he’s got that covered). I’ll have a GDT thread up at five.
Breaking: #Sens agree to terms with goaltender Andrew Hammond on a three-year contract extension ???
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) May 20, 2015
One wonders even more about Craig Anderson. I suspect the Senators will shop Robin Lehner, not sure if there’s a market based on recent performance and injury issues. I doubt Edmonton trades for Lehner with an eye to making him the starter—too risky.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
- 10:05 Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey. McLellan’s media avail: Best ever or best ever?
- 10:25 Open line. Your thoughts and tweets.
- 10:40 Jeff Krushell. Impact show tonight at 7 about the message we’re sending to kids and why it’s harmful. Incredible insight.
- 11:05 Bill Hoppe, Olean Times Herald. Mike Babcock’s decision day.
- 11:25 Antony Bent, FC Edmonton. Eddies tonight against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Clark!
- 11:45 Dave Jamieson. Argo’s sale going through today. 9 teams, 9 owners, 1 team named the Roughriders. Music!
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Rock the casbah at 10! TSN 1260.