It is September. The leaves are turning, the mornings are cool and there is just a hint of fall. Beautiful, gorgeous, hockey, fall. Rain down on me, fall, and bring me the hockey.
The Edmonton Oilers have a helluva player in Benoit Pouliot. The man was effective across the board, as Corsica.hockey tells us:
- Pouliot—McDavid—Eberle: 56.30 Corsi for 5×5 in 147 minutes.
- Pouliot—Nuge—Eberle: 52.87 Corsi for 5×5 in 211 minutes.
- Pouliot—McDavid—Yakupov: 51.72 Corsi for 5×5 in 127 minutes.
Benoit Pouliot has a range of skills. In the Montreal game, it was he who cradled that ridiculous pass from McDavid and then shot early, catching Carey Price flat-footed. He is excellent (we have talked about this) at disrupting sorties, so he is naturally good at creative offensive off the forecheck. Benoit Pouliot is an underrated player in my opinion, and I am pleased he remains on this roster. That’s it. That’s all. I just think people overlook him and they really shouldn’t. If Las Vegas gets him a year from now, I will be unhappy. Helluva player. I would not be at all surprised to see him spend much of the season with Connor McDavid. Chemistry. It’s the real thing.
One of the frustrating things about this summer is that Peter Chiarelli’s trade target lacks obvious curb appeal. We will know 40 games into the 2016-17 season (I know some of you have watched snippets or games, but it takes time to find the range with a player, especially a defender) about what he brings. Aside from reputation, the boxcars and the Corsi’s, what do we know for sure?
- Darcy McLeod: If I were to just look at corsi and corsi WOWY’s I’d probably conclude that Severson is a better Dman than Larsson. When I looked a little deeper I found: -Larsson has the toughest zone starts in the NHL, while Severson had some of the easiest zone starts in the NHL.
-Larsson has better expected goal results with more players than Severson
-Larrson outperformed Severson in 7 of the 8 expected goal metrics that we examined with the centers despite having much tough zone starts.
-Larsson’s TOI% against elite forwards was almost twice as high as Severson Its pretty easy to conclude that Larsson is the better Dman when you include all of these factors.
SEARCHING FOR A CENTER
Jim Matheson has an article up at the EJ about the Oilers pursuing a center via PTO and Matty also confirms via Peter Chiarelli that Eric Gryba has been offered a PTO. Does that change anything? I would argue yes. The names mentioned in the article are pretty much what we discussed the other day, although I must say David Legwand would be an interesting get. As is the case with so many of these veteran centers, the slow boots are an issue but the Oilers should have room anyway. I think Legwand—Gryba would be facing very specific competition:
- Legwand would need to prove more useful than Anton Lander, who I have as 14F. You may have Iiro Pakarinen there, but one suspects Todd McLellan has the Finn penciled in as a roster player. Lander and Legwand (I am using him as an example) could both make the team, but only (imo) if Jesse Puljujarvi is sent down.
- Gryba would be in direct competition with David Musil (who is waiver eligible) and Jordan Oesterle (who is not waiver eligible).
ADD LEGWAND, GRYBA AND SUBTRACT PULJUJARVI
This is the team without Puljujarvi and represents the least impressive offense possible (in my opinion). Kassian could be productive this high in the order, but counting on it seems an unusual idea. As summer fades to fall, we will find out about Jesse Puljujarvi, and this roster represents the less dynamic option. I am bewildered by the lack of speed up front. You?
LEGWAND/GRYBA ADDED, WITH LANDER OUT
This is the roster with Legwand and Gryba in, plus Lander and (say) Musil out. If Puljujarvi is healthy and productive, I think this is probably the best possible lineup. The question I have? Is Legwand superior to Lander? Is Gryba a better option than Musil? I don’t know that answer.
I am uncertain Legwand/Gryba would move the needle, to be honest. For me, Lander has more potential than one year of Legwand. Gryba is probably more useful to coach McLellan than Musil, and since we are talking defensemen chances are both men would play a lot (Oilers will employ far more than seven blue this coming year). What are your thoughts on this?
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10, Lowdown with Lowetide—TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Darcy McLeod, Because Oilers. We will discuss Adam Larsson and Nail Yakupov.
- Colin Miller, FC Edmonton. Eddies brilliant coach discusses the season and the big game this weekend.
- JD Burke, Canucks Army. Vancouver is universally regarded as the weakest Western Canadian team. Is that fair?
- Corey Graham, Oil Kings PBP. Training camp is underway and things get going in a quick hurry now. How does the team look?
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!