G34 2016-17: OILERS AT BLUES

Connor McDavid is on pace to score 97 points this season, a lofty total and something we haven’t seen around these parts since Doug Weight roamed the Western Conference with his flying saucer rock and roll. I am sure McDavid is devoted to pushing his scoring totals higher, but the real point of all this is making the playoffs. Edmonton is in a good spot now—California’s NHL teams are suffering a power outage all along the eastern seaboard—and we arrive at today with something approaching hope. In a town without a playoff game for more than a decade, hope is a dangerous thing.

ROLL OVER BEETHOVEN, YEAR OVER YEAR

  • Oilers in October 2015: 4-8-0, goal differential -7
  • Oilers in October 2016: 7-2-0, goal differential +10
  • Oilers in November 2015: 4-7-2, goal differential -6
  • Oilers in November 2016: 5-8-2 goal differential -3
  • Oilers in December 2015: 7-6-1, goal differential -9
  • Oilers in December 2016: 4-2-3, goal differential E
  • Oilers after 33, 2015: 14-17-2, goal differential -15
  • Oilers after 33, 2016: 16-12-5, goal differential +7

G34 a year ago continued the hammer on a drum spiral, as Edmonton lost 5-1 to Colorado and Jack Skille. I had the Oilers scoring 226 and allowing same in my RE, arriving at a goal differential of zero. So far this year, the Oilers are 95-88 (+7) and on pace to finish 236-219—a goal differential of +17. Now, life doesn’t really work that way, but if you consider last year’s GD (199-242, -43), anything with a plus would be a monumental step forward. That said, Edmonton is -3 since Halloween.

There are 14 December games, and our line in the sand from those games (14 points) is certainly in range. After Nine games this month, Edmonton has 11 points—meaning a win and a tie this week (against St. Louis, Arizona and Oakland) would mean reaching the total before Christmas. The Kings and Vancouver wait for after Christmas, and if the Oilers could riff a nice little winning streak, we could talk trade deadline instead of draft in January. Should the Oilers secure 14 in 14, the club would end December with 40 points in 38 games. I bet Mr. McDavid and company are aiming higher.

OILERS DEFENSE—THE WOODMONEY SLEDGEHAMMER

Okay, a couple of things. We are dealing with nitroglycerin here, so be. very. careful. First, let me tell you that the experts in this field are very sensitive about sample size. If you make any sweeping statements based on these WoodMoney numbers, the math men and women will begin waving their arms around and speaking in tongues. So, let’s start at the beginning, go slow, and make no claims, post no bills, and see if we can spot points of interest.

  • Elite TOI/Total. This is pretty explanatory, we are looking at minutes against elite opponents/overall minutes.
  • Comp TOI Pct. Again fairly easy, percentage of overall time by player spent against elite competition.
  • DFF Pct. This is like Corsi for 5×5 percentage, only we are dealing with Dangerous Fenwick. So, we could call it hemi-Corsi—if we have enough water in the well to call it a full sample. Dangerous Fenwick is Fenwick with a risk evaluator—close shots get a bump in terms of danger.
  • DFF Rel Pect. This is like CorsiRel, and the key to the highway.
  • Most Common Mates. Again pretty clear, left (most) to right (least), they are the top 5 common teammates.

Now, there are some very interesting trends (DO NOT MAKE DEFINITIVE STATEMENTS LOWETIDE!!) in these numbers. A few I have observed:

  • Matt Benning is killing it. He has been spending 30 percent of his minutes against elites (that isn’t a massive distance from the leaders) and his DFF and Rel are top drawer. We don’t know what the future holds, but this is a strong debut.
  • Darnell Nurse spends less of his time against the elites, but he shows well and he plays a lot with Eric Gryba—I think that must count for something.
  • Andrej Sekera spends the most time and highest percentage of his time against the elites. That suggests Todd McLellan feels he is most able to handle the load—or that is something I would say if I hadn’t been informed about the ghastly error many make by jumping to conclusions based on too little information.
  • Among the Top 4D, Oscar Klefbom appears to be No. 4.
  • Anything you see? Darcy has promised to stop by and answer questions in the comments section, so please feel free to throw questions out there. Now, remember, Darcy thinks Adam Larsson is lefthanded, so you will need to have a workaround or a safe word to get out of the comments section.

FORWARDS 5X5/60, YEAR OVER YEAR

  • Connor McDavid is slightly above his performance a year ago, and this comes during a down period for him. All things being equal, that 5×5 number will rise before Christmas.
  • Leon Draisaitl is down, but not as much as we might have expected. Considering his main linemate last season was Taylor Hall, his slide is understandable. I give him credit, helluva season.
  • Jesse Puljujarvi has a 1.70/60 total at 5×5, that is excellent for a rookie. He needs to play, here or there.
  • Mark Letestu had a miserable 5×5 season one year ago (solid in the PP, as always), but has become a very productive even-strength player this season. I don’t give him enough credit for stepping in and replacing Nuge’s offense, but there is evidence of just that thing.
  • Patrick Maroon and Zack Kassian are in the range of expectation, suspect both men will get a push as the season rolls along (if BP and others continue to flag).
  • Anton Slepyshev showed well enough to stay in the NHL, you could make a strong argument that he should be the man to get called up when Puljujarvi is sent to Bakersfield.
  • Jordan Eberle is off the pace of one year ago, but Todd McLellan has to go the whip here. Edmonton simply has no real alternative to 14 on one of the top two lines.
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is down slightly (I buggered up the graph) from a year ago, but he put in a subpar year in 2015-16, so this is disturbing.
  • Milan Lucic and Benoit Pouliot are off their numbers of one year ago by an identical amount, and yet Pouliot gets the HS and Lucic gets the Royale with Cheese.
  • Tyler Pitlick. I swear to God this blog spent a lot of time mulling over his offense, especially at the junior level. Let it never be said we failed to contemplate his offense during his incubation period.

Photo by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved

TYLER PITLICK

  • Lowetide blog, April 2011: Pitlick’s offense (56gp, 27-35-62) ranked him 3rd among WHL rookies and his EV stats (56gp, 22-19-41) suggest he might be a player. His 22 EV goals rank him 2nd among Tigers during the regular season despite missing several games and playing only sporadically on the big scoring lineSource
  • Lowetide blog, Summer 2016: It is time for our annual discussion about Tyler Pitlick. When we last left the conversation, I was saying this blog will be the last outpost to give up on him—while acknowledging that the injury history and stalled offense made it probable he would not return. Incredibly, both Pitlick and the Oilers are willing to risk another winter on each other—and from the team point of view there are some good reasons for the investment. Last season in Bakersfield, among those men who played RW some or all of the time, the Estimated Primary points-per-60: Tyler Pitlick (1.906), Andrew Miller (1.814), Matt Ford (1.71), Anton Slepyshev (1.502), Greg Chase (1.439). Source

I am not claiming any foresight nor am I suggesting 20 goals this year (he is on track for 18). That said, I do think he played in some bad luck during those years. From 2011 fall through his final AHL game (so far), Pitlick posted 425 shots on goal, while scoring just 28 goals (6.6 percent shooting rate). Now, in college (draft year), he potted 11 goals in 72 shots (15 percent) and we have plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest the young man has a good shot. So, could he have been shooting in bad luck for his entire AHL career, obscuring some offensive ability? Turns out, the answer might be yes.

  • 2011-12: 130 shots, seven goals (13 would be reasonable expectation from a legit prospect)
  • 2012-13: 76 shots, three goals (8 would be reasonable)
  • 2013-14: 100 shots, eight goals (the fever lifts, this in in the range)
  • 2014-15: 36 shots, three goals (reasonable again)
  • 2015-16: 83 shots, seven goals (noticing a trend)
  • 2016-17 (NHL): 51 shots, seven goals (pay you back with interest)

Pitlick is ahead of the curve in the NHL, chances are we see a market correction on his NHL goals in the second half of the season. For the first two years of his AHL career, Pitlick shot the puck 216 times and scored 10 goals. I am no math expert, and cannot give you the odds on such a thing, but that seems to be a helluva weird result. Either way, the shooting finally sorted itself out and the young man is getting bonus goals in the NHL. I expect he will take that deal any time.

OILERS 5×5 SHOTS PER 60/FORWARDS

One thing the farmhands can learn from Pitlick this season? Start shooting the puck right away, beginning in the luggage area of the airport:

  1. Tyler Pitlick 10.39
  2. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 9.40
  3. Zack Kassian 8.52
  4. Jesse Puljujarvi 8.02
  5. Anton Slepyshev 8.00
  6. Jordan Eberle 7.84
  7. Connor McDavid 7.58
  8. Patrick Maroon 7.14
  9. Milan Lucic 6.89
  10. Leon Draisaitl 5.86
  11. Source

We have spoken about Connor McDavid and his need to be more selfish (it’s okay Connor, really!), but I think we can apply this to Drake Caggiula too (he is at the very bottom of the forward list, 3.24). Edmonton needs shots to the net, and Pitlick has been very good in this area. Drake Caggiula can help his line by shooting more.

FUN FACT

Tyler Pitlick ranks No. 16 in the entire NHL in shots-per-60 at 5×5 this season (200 or more minutes). He is in some fabulous company. Source

CONDORS SHOOTERS

Among Oilers prospects, who is shooting a lot this season? Encouraging news for fans of Jujhar Khaira:

  1. Jujhar Khaira 2.81
  2. Joey Laleggia 2.18
  3. Patrick Russell 2.05
  4. Joey Benik 1.89
  5. Greg Chase 1.54
  6. Jordan Oesterle 1.30
  7. Kyle Platzer 1.19
  8. Jere Sallinen 1.14
  9. Dillon Simpson 1.07
  10. Braden Christoffer 1.05
  11. Mitchell Moroz 1.00
  12. David Musil 0.83
  13. Ben Betker 0.80
  14. Griffin Reinhart 0.75

Tyler Pitlick averaged 2.17 shots per game during his AHL stay. I think a forward prospect who can reach 2.00 per game at least has a chance (depending on ice time per game) but shots do indicate how much time a player spends around the actual game on the ice. Some distant bell forwards on this list.

Tierney is a genius. Benning is fascinating on this, holy man. Rej is a warrior, an absolute warrior. Oscar and Larsson are battling, Darnell looks damned good too, even Gryba a little there, and Fayne. Who did I miss?

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

A fun show today, I also fill in for Dave Jamieson so it is four hours of old manning you to death on Edmonton Radio!! Yeah, you! TSN 1260, beginning at 10 this morning. Scheduled to appear:

  • Scott Burnside, ESPN. Christmas roster freeze and not much going on in trade talks. We will chat about the Metro Division, McDavid vs. Tarasenko in St. Louis tonight, and John Tortorella getting win No. 500.
  • Andy McNamara, TSN4Downs. Everyone loves the Cowboys. Argh.
  • Jason Gregor, TSN1260. McDavid’s ideal linemates: Who are they?
  • Sunil Agnihotri, Copper & Blue/The SuperFan. We are going to dig down on this defense. Are Davidson—Benning so good they could move up the depth chart as a pairing? The hell you say? Sunil susses it out at 11:25.

10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!

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416 Responses to "G34 2016-17: OILERS AT BLUES"

« Older Comments
  1. PunjabiOil says:

    Rocknrolla: Amazing for him to do that tonight at home with all his family there. What a true moment….sign this guys extension!

    Not only should the Oilers NOT sign him to an extension, they should also leave him exposed to the expansion draft.

    The video, while cute and all, should have no bearing to the next contract. This is a results oriented business and all emotion should be left at the door.

    I think people are overrating Maroon a bit, possibly because of his personality.

    Quality player, but probably a 2nd or 3rd liner at best that puts up solid possession numbers. While it would suck to have Vegas pick him, the smartest play right now is to protect Davidson.

    You pretty much have to protect Davidson. Quality defenceman are difficult to find (have a look at next year’s UFA list), he’s cheap, and young, and would have more of an impact on the team’s results than a depth LW’er.

    Maroon will be 29 at end of the season, and will have 1 year left on his contract when the expansion draft takes place. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 1 year after the expansion draft:

    1. Las Vegas may not want to pick a guy who is one year away from unrestricted free agency.
    2. After the McDavid extension, the key for the Oilers will be getting overperforming and cheap contracts in the bottom six. Maroon will be (rightfully) seeking a long-term contract and this may be his last opportunity to get one and secure life for his family. The team and player objectives are complete clash and would be difficult to accommodate. The Oilers can ill afford to pay fair market value and lucrative term once McDavid’s extension kicks in to depth players.

    They just can’t.

    I don’t think it’s a hard decision at all. Protect 4 forwards (RNH, Draisaitl, Eberle, Lucic), protect 4D (Larsson, Sekera, Klefbom, Davidson).

  2. Lowetide says:

    PunjabiOil:
    I don’t think it’s a hard decision at all. Protect 4 forwards (RNH, Draisaitl, Eberle, Lucic), protect 4D (Larsson, Sekera, Klefbom, Davidson).

    The issue for me Re: Davidson is health. Can he stay healthy?

  3. TheGreatMutato says:

    JDï™,

    If you like good country, it doesn’t get much better than Hayes Carll

    https://youtu.be/nKcrQKa-L_0

    And if you like good country covers of good songs, he does a great Tom Waits 🙂

    And a fun one for the holidays

    https://youtu.be/-yZMnEBGMR0

  4. Scungilli says:

    I like Davidson plenty, but I also wonder how much other teams may like him? Emerging, playing very well and cheap. I would trade him for a helpful rightie as the leftorium shall replenish.

  5. oilersfan says:

    This may seem like a stupid question but why doesn’t maroons son love with him in Edmonton?

    Are his mother and him divorced/estranged

  6. Yak Efron says:

    oilersfan,
    I do not know the particulars of Maroon, and everyones situation is different, but many times an athletes family live where they are originally from, due to extended family/support structure that is available to them that would not be in the city they would move to.

    With a pro athlete being away from home almost half the season anyways, and the possibility of being traded multiple times throughout their career, some choose to have their children grow up and attend school in the place where the significant other has a support structure to help raise their child. (Though they have financial stability, often a wife of a professional athlete may feel like a single parent due to their spouse being away so often in season, even if they live in the same place.)

    It means they get to see them less during the season, but possibly provides the child with a more ‘normal’ life, with the stability of their grandparents/uncles/aunts/cousins/long term friends etc.

  7. Philosophil says:

    TheGreatMutato:
    JDï™,

    If you like good country, it doesn’t get much better than Hayes Carll

    https://youtu.be/nKcrQKa-L_0

    And if you like good country covers of good songs, he does a great Tom Waits

    And a fun one for the holidays

    https://youtu.be/-yZMnEBGMR0

    Always thought ‘good country’ was an oxymoron, but you may have swayed my old and set ideas, sir.

  8. Philosophil says:

    Lowetide,

    RE: Pouliot subtle play at blue line –
    Lt, i thought exactly the same thing when the play occurred (hours ago, now) Great minds, or fools, maybe both 🙂

  9. Professor Q says:

    Scungilli:
    I like Davidson plenty, but I also wonder how much other teams may like him? Emerging, playing very well and cheap. I would trade him for a helpful rightie as the leftorium shall replenish.

    I’m actually thinking that we will soon see what happened with centre. We had stocked up on so many wingers but had no centre depth. Then by the time we had centre depth and added some D, too, we now have less depth on the wing than anything else. Due to trading players before prime or to fill other holes.

    I think we’ll see the same happen to the LD and RD.

  10. Professor Q says:

    Lowetide: The issue for me Re: Davidson is health. Can he stay healthy?

    Can Klefbom?

  11. Professor Q says:

    square_wheels:
    Watching the Yotes/ flames highlights. – Mc Ginn deserves a long suspension for that elbow.

    Shane Doan is a dirty cunt and deserves to have his faced kicked with a skate.

    Fuck him and the Coyotes.

    Oh dear…I suppose something happened?

  12. jake70 says:

    Yak Efron:
    oilersfan,I do not know the particulars of Maroon, and everyones situation is different, but many times an athletes family live where they are originally from, due to extended family/support structure that is available to them that would not be in the city they would move to.

    With a pro athlete being away from home almost half the season anyways, and the possibility of being traded multiple times throughout their career, some choose to have their children grow up and attend school in the place where the significant other has a support structure to help raise their child. (Though they have financial stability, often a wife of a professional athlete may feel like a single parent due to their spouse being away so often in season, even if they live in the same place.)

    It means they get to see them less during the season, but possibly provides the child with a more ‘normal’life, with the stability of their grandparents/uncles/aunts/cousins/long term friends etc.

    Not the first family of an Oiler to stay in the St. Louis area during season. Prongers say hi. 🙂

  13. russ99 says:

    Didn’t think it was possible to like Pat Maroon any more than I do, but there you go.

  14. russ99 says:

    PunjabiOil: Not only should the Oilers NOT sign him to an extension, they should also leave him exposed to the expansion draft.

    The video, while cute and all, should have no bearing to the next contract.This is a results oriented business and all emotion should be left at the door.

    I think people are overrating Maroon a bit, possibly because of his personality.

    Quality player, but probably a 2nd or 3rd liner at best that puts up solid possession numbers. While it would suck to have Vegas pick him, the smartest play right now is to protect Davidson.

    You pretty much have to protect Davidson. Quality defenceman are difficult to find (have a look at next year’s UFA list), he’s cheap, and young, and would have more of an impact on the team’s results than a depth LW’er.

    Maroon will be 29 at end of the season, and will have 1 year left on his contract when the expansion draft takes place. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 1 year after the expansion draft:

    1. Las Vegas may not want to pick a guy who is one year away from unrestricted free agency.
    2. After the McDavid extension, the key for the Oilers will be getting overperforming and cheap contracts in the bottom six. Maroon will be (rightfully) seeking a long-term contract and this may be his last opportunity to get one and secure life for his family. The team and player objectivesare complete clash and would be difficult to accommodate. The Oilers can ill afford to pay fair market value and lucrative term once McDavid’s extension kicks in to depth players.

    They just can’t.

    I don’t think it’s a hard decision at all. Protect 4 forwards (RNH, Draisaitl, Eberle, Lucic), protect 4D (Larsson, Sekera, Klefbom, Davidson).

    There’s a real question if Vegas will pick players with higher cap numbers, or go with less expensive futures players. As much as we may want them to pick Fayne, Pouliot or Maroon for the cap relief, I think they’ll be looking at Davidson and Broissoit.

    If we really want value contracts after McDavid’s ELC, we need to draft and develop skill players, something we’ve been poor at the last 10 years. We need to question if the amateur scouting and development staff, still rife with Oiler old boys is up to the task of what the Hawks were so successful at doing.

  15. who says:

    PunjabiOil: Not only should the Oilers NOT sign him to an extension, they should also leave him exposed to the expansion draft.

    The video, while cute and all, should have no bearing to the next contract.This is a results oriented business and all emotion should be left at the door.

    I think people are overrating Maroon a bit, possibly because of his personality.

    Quality player, but probably a 2nd or 3rd liner at best that puts up solid possession numbers. While it would suck to have Vegas pick him, the smartest play right now is to protect Davidson.

    You pretty much have to protect Davidson. Quality defenceman are difficult to find (have a look at next year’s UFA list), he’s cheap, and young, and would have more of an impact on the team’s results than a depth LW’er.

    Maroon will be 29 at end of the season, and will have 1 year left on his contract when the expansion draft takes place. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 1 year after the expansion draft:

    1. Las Vegas may not want to pick a guy who is one year away from unrestricted free agency.
    2. After the McDavid extension, the key for the Oilers will be getting overperforming and cheap contracts in the bottom six. Maroon will be (rightfully) seeking a long-term contract and this may be his last opportunity to get one and secure life for his family. The team and player objectivesare complete clash and would be difficult to accommodate. The Oilers can ill afford to pay fair market value and lucrative term once McDavid’s extension kicks in to depth players.

    They just can’t.

    I don’t think it’s a hard decision at all. Protect 4 forwards (RNH, Draisaitl, Eberle, Lucic), protect 4D (Larsson, Sekera, Klefbom, Davidson).

    Agree with all of this. He is a good deal now but his next contract is probably more than the oilers can afford. Too bad we signed Lucic.
    Mentioned this before but if the oilers can’t move poo or fayne and are desperate to cut salary would you expose Eberle and protect maroon. Don’t think I would but I bet they are discussing it.

  16. Pescador says:

    who: Agree with all of this. He is a good deal now but his next contract is probably more than the oilers can afford. Too bad we signed Lucic.
    Mentioned this before but if the oilers can’t move poo or fayne and are desperate to cut salary would you expose Eberle and protect maroon. Don’t think I would but I bet they are discussing it.

    I don’t believe you think this way if Eberle is scoring well at the moment, he is not.
    If you need cash for skilled players you buyout the Faynes on your roster.

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