On the night they drove old Rexall down, the crowd gave Todd McLellan an enormous ovation. It came as no surprise to me, I have long since become convinced the fans are onside with whatever this management and coaching group brings. Patience with some of the No. 1 overall picks is gone, but the new coach has all kinds of honeymoon time ahead.
- Todd McLellan responding to Terry Jones in regard to Oilers fans: “Well, they sure don’t want to hear the words rebuild and patience and I’m not using that. I think they want to hear that they are considered in the evaluation. So we have to start with them.” Source
This is one reason he is popular with the fans. Straightforward, no BS, and he takes responsibility. Man up, my Dad used to say. Works every damned time.
- McLellan: “You have to look in the mirror. I certainly know I can better, I made numerous mistakes. Did I set the tone with my body language? You have to start with yourself and that filters down to the staff.” Source
I think McLellan has a few things we can place at his door, but it is also true there was some progress over the year. Many are pointing to the save percentage as the only improvement, but there are some other things (and we will review them as time rolls along).
WAR ON ICE HIGH-DANGER SCORING CHANCES (YEAR OVER YEAR) (5X5)
- High-Danger Scoring Chances For-Against: 746-819 (683-851)
- High-Danger Scoring Chances Differential: -73 (-168)
- High-Danger Scoring Chances Percentage: 47.7 (44.5)
The year over year in most of the important areas either stayed the same or improved slightly, but it would be hard to suggest any of these disciplines represents a major win:
- Goals-For Percentage 5×5: 44.3 (39.9)
- Goals-For per60 5×5: 2.04 (1.93)
- Goals-Against per60 5×5: 2.56 (2.91)
- Shots-For per60: 28.4 (27.2)
- Shots-Against per60: 30.2 (29.6)
- Corsi-For 5×5 per60: 48.8 (48.1)
- Shooting Percentage 5×5: 7.17 (7.10)
- Save Percentage 5×5: .915 (.902)
- PDO 5×5 percentage: 98.7 (97.3)
Goals-For percentage is up over four percent, but for me the big news is the 5×5 save percentage and the improved high-danger ratio above. Corsi For is a little encouraging, but I am not enough of a math man to know if that is just randomness. Would be nice to hit 50 percent in that category someday.
- McLellan: “I’ve seen improvement in a lot of areas, but (the delinquent play) comes back in. It’s like a disease that you think you have cured, then it reappears. You’ve got to get it out of your system.” Source
The Oilers, over the years, have had more than their share of forwards who flew the zone. There are also a bunch of players who don’t haul ass without the puck, although I do think that has improved. In talking to Jen Lute Costella on the Lowdown yesterday, the mind reeled with the task of placing her brilliant work onto what we know about the town team. An example:
- Costella: Consecutive adds periods of possession together when the same team was on the attack, i.e. Team A enters the zone, has some meaningful possession of the puck, Team B is able to get the puck out of the zone, but Team A recovers the puck and goes back on the attack before Team B can establish any period of possession in their offensive zone. Source
The Oilers are Team B a lot, and I mean it. Costella’s work is universal, for all 30 teams, but when you read it, much of what teams do incorrectly sounds familiar to Edmonton. I do believe Todd McLellan is improving the team in this area, but it is going to take a lot of work. The high-danger scoring chances against (above) were not reduced a whole lot season over season. We know there are problems on defense, but if we are honest, many of the forwards jailbreak faster than Phil Lynott could lay down a base line. Delinquent play. Great phrase.
We talk about Chiarelli’s summer all the time (or I do, anyway), but what about McLellan? Well, you can tell a lot about a coach when looking at his own past. McLellan had a lot of success with a veteran team, but he doesn’t have that luxury here. So, what does he need?
- the new Dan Boyle (PP QB and a guy who can play in the heart of the order 5×5)
- Jason Demers (a RH minutes eater who can play a two way game)
- the new Joe Pavelski (RH C who can move up and down the lineup, and play wing)
Now, I would like them to add a Pisani, but suspect McLellan loves Korpikoski (in fact, I think he likes both Finns). Based on how he ran his team this past season, my guess is that McLellan’s wish list to Chiarelli excludes names like Mark Fayne, Anton Lander and Nail Yakupov.
Easy, right? Well, it is a wish list.
KUDOS to Manitoba's Wade Allison, a late'97 who jumped to #62 on NHL Central Scouting Final rankings from #192 at Mid-Term.
— Veritas Hockey (@VeritasHockey) April 12, 2016
Central’s final list is out and there are some interesting items. Instead of placing these thoughts in any specific order, I am just going to go random:
- C Pierre-Luc Dubois moved up from No. 7 to No. 1 on the NA lists. He has been surging on other lists and one wonders if he might break into the top 5 overall at the draft.
- D Charlie McAvoy moves up from No. 9 to No. 6, I have heard and read that he is trending as a prospect. Seems to have a nice range of skills. He shoots right.
- R Julien Gauthier is falling. I think it might be footspeed, or his Koufax numbers.
- D Dennis Cholowski moved way up, from No. 48 to No. 23. That is second-round territory.
- L Tyler Benson fell from No. 21 to No. 24. Considering the injury season, that is amazing. Scouts must love this guy.
- C Noah Gregor spiked in a big way, from No. 75 to No. 45. Skilled player, determined.
- G Evan Fitzpatrick has moved ahead of Carter Hart for No. 1 G NA. I don’t see it.
List is here.
- D Cam Dineen moved way up on the final list, he ranks No. 39 after being placed No. 117 mid-season. I had him at No. 33 on my last top 60. My ranking is purely on math, but the spike suggests he is visually appealing to scouts as well.
- D Wade Allison is an interesting cat. Tri-City Storm currently, on the way to Western Michigan.
- G Colton Point is an interesting player.
- G Veini Vehvilainen played 25 games in the Sm-Liiga and posted a .925SP. That is good.
- C Tage Thompson is a guy to watch. I have him on my list, he is a 6.05 RHC who stepped up offensively this season. CS has him at No. 20NA on their final list, that works out to late first-round when combining them. He may go higher.
- C Nathan Noel was No. 48 on my list last season. CS has him No. 171 overall this year, that is in the range where he may not get drafted. Maybe a post-draft signing? Nope. He is a 1997, so would have one more year of eligibility (unless a team did that training camp thing).
- C Tyler Soy was No. 75 on my list a year ago and he had a strong year in Victoria. CS has him No. 150 NA, that is right on the fringe of getting drafted.
- List is here.
Eugene Melnyk says no one on the #Sens, including Erik Karlsson is untouchable. He'll leave that up to the hockey people.
— Dan Séguin (@SeguinSports) April 12, 2016
The Senators are among a group of teams who should be vulnerable this summer. The Oilers are not a great match in reality, because Ottawa needs at least two defensemen. However, management there kept talking about adding a scoring forward before Bryan Murray stepped aside, maybe they are just ruffled enough to do something really dumb? Nah. I see they are looking for a veteran stay-at-home defender, though, and Mark Fayne would fit that bill. Maybe the two teams can do business again this summer.
Alex Khokhlachev's agent blames Julien for not giving a chance to his client,says #Bruins disrupted all the possible deals involving Koko1/2
— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) April 13, 2016
Chiarelli was Bruins GM when Khokhlachev was drafted, he is skilled, 22 and was over a point-per-game in the AHL last season. Lefthanded C, not a big player, suspect the wind won’t blow him to Edmonton this summer. Still, worth noting the connection.
30 Thoughts https://t.co/HO5i0B07Ra
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) April 12, 2016
If Elliotte Friedman mentions a name, it is not for nothing. So, Wideman, despite any misgivings you and I might have, has to at least be placed in the ‘possible’ section of the procurement pool for this summer (in my opinion). He had a 56-point season two years ago, but plummeted this past season, making his $5.25 million cap hit and $6 million salary next season an albatross. I would think Wideman would be at the very bottom of the shopping list, but this news tells us he is probably either on the list—or Calgary is pushing the idea as possible.
G Cam Johnson
D Troy Stecher
D Connor Clifton
F Travis St. Denis
F Brock Boeser
F Drake Caggiula
MOP: Drake Caggiula
— North Dakota MHockey (@UNDmhockey) April 10, 2016
As late as last night, Oilers were apparently in on two of these fellows (Stecher and Caggiula). I read somewhere (here) the decision by Stecher might come today. Maybe some good news for the Lowdown!
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy morning on the show, TSN1260 at 10. Scheduled to appear:
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey. We continue our postmortem on the season and look forward to summer.
- Jason McKee, Head Coach and GM for the Spruce Grove Saints. Looking forward to another final!
- Bruce Garrioch, Ottawa Sun. We will touch base on a truly unusual 72 hours in the nation’s capital. Garrioch might be the only guy who is safe!
- Jeff Krushell, Krush Performance. Jeff will chat some baseball and talk about a big show he has coming up tonight at 7 on TSN1260—Golf! Masters and more.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!