RE 17-18 YOHANN AUVITU: SUBTERRANEAN

Yohann Auvitu’s path to the NHL is as unusual in its own way as Claire Alexander or Les Binkley. He brings a valuable set of skills to the Edmonton Oilers this fall and represents a smart bet. He’s going to need some help, as the organization has a lot of lefty blue, but those skills with the puck are going to be attractive to Todd McLellan. (Subterranean).

YOHANN AUVITU 2016-17

  • 5×5 points per 60: 0.54 (5th among regular defensemen)
  • 5×4 points per 60: 1.19 (one point in 50 minutes)
  • Corsi for 5×5 %: 49.8
  • Corsi Rel 5×5 %: 3.1
  • DFF Elite 5×5 %: 49.5
  • DFF Elite Rel 5×5 %:  1.1 (20 percent of TOI v. elites)
  • Shots on goal/percentage: 54 shots/3.7%
  • Boxcars: 25gp, 2-2-4
  • (All numbers via Puck IQStats.HockeyAnalysis.com and hockey-reference)

RE 17-18: 29GP, 3-5-8 (.276)

  1. What exactly did the Oilers acquire here? A skilled defender, good skater, excellent passer, gets pucks through the forechecker and to the net. He has some chaos in his game, but can scramble back very well. Intelligent player, makes good decisions. I like him. Video here.
  2. Is he Marc-Andre Bergeron? I think he bring less chaos and less creativity to the game than MAB but the similarities are there. This player takes far fewer risks, though, based on games I’ve seen him in.
  3. You have him basically doubling his point total. Yes, I think he’ll get power-play time and will have success. He makes great touch passes, gets pucks through and is mobile. Lots to like for the 5×4.
  4. How chaotic is his defensive game? We’ll have to wait and see. NJD are a funny team for defensemen, we’ll just have to see him in action during the season. The numbers look good in terms of possession, that’s a positive.
  5. Where do you see him playing? He might end up on the second pair but third pairing seems right to me. We’ll see, there is an early opportunity with Sekera injured.
  6. Is there a chance he forces his way into more playing time? Yes. I think that could happen. He’s a good bet, fun player, he’ll play well with skill. This was an astute signing and a solid bet.
  7. If he plays well, could we see him sign a longer term deal? There’s an opening, in my opinion. If 2018-19 sets up as Klefbom-Larsson, Sekera-Russell, Nurse-Benning then Eric Gryba is the 7D. Edmonton will have toughness on every pairing and could use a skill defender. I think Auvitu could win that job if the organization decides to have a more dynamic defenseman at the end of the NHL depth chart.
  8. Could he force a trade? I think that’s a bit of a stretch, he would have to overwhelm the season in order for the Oilers to contemplate something that drastic.
  9. What would be the options? They aren’t going to trade Oscar Klefbom and are all in on Darnell Nurse. Andrej Sekera and Kris Russell have NMC’s. The Oilers could ask one or the other (or both) to waive, but neither man is likely to do it.
  10. No room? Seventh defensemen play a lot.
  11. Who will be his competition for NHL playing time? If we block off the top 5D (everyone but Sekera) there are at least two open spots to start the season. Eric Gryba has the confidence of the coach, so I’ll suggest he makes the team opening night. After that? I like Auvitu over Ryan Stanton, Mark Fayne, Dillon Simpson and Keegan Lowe. None of the kids (Paigin, Bear, Jones) appear ready, suspect the organization sends them all to the minors at the beginning of the season.
  12. What kind of impact will he have in the minors? Based on reports, he was less effective in the minors and his defensive deficiencies were exposed. If  he is in Bakersfield, there will be things to work on and I imagine he’ll post some impressive boxcars. Prospect-Stats.com doesn’t paint a fabulous picture, he looks fairly mediocre.
  13. Why did New Jersey let him go? I don’t think they trusted him. His usage in the NHL was unusual in a couple of ways. He averaged 13:30 a game at 5×5, ranking No. 11 among the twelve defenders employed by the Devils last season. Auvitu also played over two minutes a night on the power play, third among NJD blue.
  14. Is there a risk here? Not at all. Auvitu’s contract is interchangeable with all of the minor league guys. If he is too chaotic, Edmonton can recall a more responsible defender.
  15. Why this song? I like the title, Auvitu is kind of stealth but could be a big help. It’s kind of a Sather signing. I think Auvitu can play in the NHL, the trick is to find a coach who believes in him. I’m looking forward to seeing him play in the organization this winter.

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30 Responses to "RE 17-18 YOHANN AUVITU: SUBTERRANEAN"

  1. OriginalPouzar says:

    While I think Fayne should be in the conversation, it seems the coaching staff doesn’t trust him so I think Auvitu’s competition for an opening night roster spot it with Stanton and Simpson

    Gryba will have the 6 spot with Sekera out and, assuming they carry 8, two of Stanton, Simpson and Auvitu should be on the team.

    I vote for Simpson and Auvitu.

  2. OriginalPouzar says:

    If you see him on the 2nd pairing, are you moving Russell to the right side and Gryba to the press box?

    I don’t want to see Russell on the right side on the 2nd pairing.

    I’m fine with Russell being 3RD but we know he’s going to get top 4 ES minutes.

    Basically my concern is what happens to Russell and Nurse when Auvitu is in the lineup? I can’t see it not pushing Russell to 2RD and I’m really against that – we saw what that does to our offence last year and we need our 2nd pairing to be able to transition the puck better (I know Auvitu can transition the puck but so can Sekera and that didn’t stop Russell from stifling offence).

  3. Lowetide says:

    OriginalPouzar:
    If you see him on the 2nd pairing, are you moving Russell to the right side and Gryba to the press box?

    I don’t want to see Russell on the right side on the 2nd pairing.

    I’m fine with Russell being 3RD but we know he’s going to get top 4 ES minutes.

    Basically my concern is what happens to Russell and Nurse when Auvitu is in the lineup?I can’t see it not pushing Russell to 2RD and I’m really against that – we saw what that does to our offence last year and we need our 2nd pairing to be able to transition the puck better (I know Auvitu can transition the puck but so can Sekera and that didn’t stop Russell from stifling offence).

    I agree Russell should be LHD and would suggest Edmonton would be better off with Russell third pairing LHD. That said, the organization has no hesitation about putting Russell on RHD so it’s a reality we have to deal with when discussing these things.

    The most dependable defender for the second pairing with Sekera out is (imo) Benning. If Auvitu is the best fit for Benning, I would play him there. Russell is the likely choice. Once Sekera returns, I expect your nightmare will return, Russell RHD with Sekera.

  4. OriginalPouzar says:

    Lowetide: I agree Russell should be LHD and would suggest Edmonton would be better off with Russell third pairing LHD. That said, the organization has no hesitation about putting Russell on RHD so it’s a reality we have to deal with when discussing these things.

    The most dependable defender for the second pairing with Sekera out is (imo) Benning. If Auvitu is the best fit for Benning, I would play him there. Russell is the likely choice. Once Sekera returns, I expect your nightmare will return, Russell RHD with Sekera.

    I would be extremely happy with Russell at 3LD – I think he’s actually be very good at 3LD (albeit overpaid). Can’t see it happening as we know the coaching staff trusts him and can be fairly certain he will get top 4 ES minutes – at least to start the year – if he has a tough start maybe McLellan will bump him down but, of course, I’m not going to cheer for him to not play well b/c it might create a more optimal lineup in my mind.

  5. Lowetide says:

    OriginalPouzar: I would be extremely happy with Russell at 3LD – I think he’s actually be very good at 3LD (albeit overpaid). Can’t see it happening as we know the coaching staff trusts him and can be fairly certain he will get top 4 ES minutes – at least to start the year – if he has a tough start maybe McLellan will bump him down but, of course, I’m not going to cheer for him to not play well b/c it might create a more optimal lineup in my mind.

    I think the organization may run Nurse up on the second pairing more than we think or want lol. We MIGHT see Nurse-Benning second pair at some point (until Sekera returns).

  6. deankb says:

    Im convinced OriginalPouzar is either Lowetide or the guy asking the questions in the RE series 🙂

  7. OriginalPouzar says:

    That would be interesting but I don’t see a Nurse/Benning 2nd pairing unless Russell is hurt or has regressed to the point where the coach loses trust in him (or, god forbid, one of the Swedes gets hurt before Reggie is back and Russell in getting 1st pairing minutes).

    Assuming Benning is at least treading water at 2RD, I would love for Nurse to make a big push for the 2LD minutes.

  8. OriginalPouzar says:

    If Nurse/Benning finish the season as the 2nd pairing on merit, that would likely mean we are true contenders, however, it would be a terrible thing for the cap the following season.

  9. OriginalPouzar says:

    deankb:
    Im convinced OriginalPouzar is either Lowetide or the guy asking the questions in the RE series

    I would love to apply for that question asking job!

    Nope, I’m just a guy obsessed with the Oilers – have been for as long as I can remember (and I’m 40 now).

  10. Richard S.S. says:

    Didn’t Auvitu also play LW? If he can do both LD and LW he can be 8th Defenseman and 14th Forward. He works cheap too

  11. OriginalPouzar says:

    I think that was in Finland that he played a bit of forward.

    I’m going to go off on a limb hear and posit that, if we have Auvitu playing wing this upcoming season, the season is NOT going very well for us.

  12. Lowetide says:

    OriginalPouzar:
    I think that was in Finland that he played a bit of forward.

    I’m going to go off on a limb hear and posit that, if we have Auvitu playing wing this upcoming season, the season is NOT going very well for us.

    And MacT becomes the coach! 🙂

  13. theDjdj says:

    I liked that highlight package there, LT. Some impressive defensive play. Clearly Ovi2’s most impressive skill is his shot. Has a decent slapshot and an accurate clever wrister. Has keen offensive awareness. If he makes the team I see him eating Benning’s 2nd unit PP time.

  14. theDjdj says:

    Also Lowetide, did you see the Foo Fighters covering Never Gonna Give You Up with Rick Astley https://youtu.be/sD1vXjpZ11E (to the tune of a reworked Smells Like Teen Spirit if my ear doesn’t fail me). One day too late for your Mark Fayne RE 😛

  15. Kinger_Oil.redux says:

    – Great post LT! I like that you you get on your hobby horse every once in awhile on a prospect, and become enamoured with him.

    – LT says: “A skilled defender, good skater, excellent passer, gets pucks through the forechecker and to the net” That’s not what I saw when he played. I saw what you mentioned next: ” a lot of chaos”

    – Fayne was bonafide top-4 D when he was acquired from NJ: Auvitu, he couldn’t make it

    – He’s an awesome story, i love guys like him: I just don’t think he’s an NHL D on a Stanley Cup contending team IMO.

    – If he plays anywhere near the 29 games in the NHL you project we are in trouble IMO. He doesn’t score, he doesn’t hit, he doesn’t generate offence, he’s small: stay away!

  16. Georges says:

    Can we fast forward to the Russell RE?

  17. Lowetide says:

    Kinger: This is the great thing about the RE! We get to come back at the end of the year and compare notes! 🙂

  18. Lowetide says:

    Georges:
    Can we fast forward to the Russell RE?

    Patience. 🙂

  19. Kinger_Oil.redux says:

    Lowetide,

    – Yes on that: I wish there was an easy search engine on your site, so we could do searches based on names, or dates, etc. Or maybe there is a way to do searches on your posts I don’t know about?

  20. OriginalPouzar says:

    Lowetide: Patience.

    Will you be factoring in his aging and cranky groin?

  21. Lowetide says:

    OriginalPouzar: Will you be factoring in his aging and cranky groin?

    The RE factors in all things except grit.

  22. Soup Fascist says:

    He can one time a puck accurately, it would appear. Not a long list of guys who can do that on the Oilers.

    Interesting skill set to have, especially on a TMac, shoot first ask questions later, PP. With McDavid / RNH making silky passes and Lucic / Maroon causing havoc in front of the net, you would think Auvitu may find his way onto a power play unit.

    Tough to put up big numbers with the Devil’s cap gun offense.

    Might surprise.

  23. OriginalPouzar says:

    Tough to put up numbers, however, given that “popcorn offence”, one might think a defender that could help it might stick with the big club???

  24. stush18 says:

    Was last urban auvitus first year playing North American ice surfaces?

  25. OF17 says:

    Lowetide: The RE factors in all things except grit.

    Whew. Glad it covers jam then 🙂

  26. Evilas says:

    This is the first of the 2 posts I submitted the day he was signed by Edmonton, for those interested:

    The following are comments taken from NJD HF boards by those who were familiar with him from SM-Liga after he was signed last year:
    Offensive minded dman with good skating ability, great hands and okay shot. Was named the best dman in Liiga (Finnish elite league) this season and was outstanding especially in the playoffs. His skating ability really showed up because of the bigger ice here in Europe.
    Auvitu needs to work on his defensive game if he wants to make the NHL. He is not extremely physical and often makes simple mistakes, although he has gotten better through the years. He came to Finland back in 2008 so he has come a long way since then.
    I think he needs first of all a good summer training and then time to get used to smaller rink and North American style of hockey. He should light up the AHL no doubt, but the big question for him is if he can work out his defensive game. I’d say he has good potential to become 25-40 pt player at the NHL level if everything clicks for him. Player comparison think of Marek Zidlicky.
    Thought I’d offer my two cents about Auvitu, who I’ve watched very closely for the past two years.
    He’s taken freaking gigantic steps during his stay at HIFK. The potential has always been there, but he’s grown to a ridiculously good defenceman. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G skater, seen as one of the best in the FEL. His stride and first step are so effortless and explosive. Uses this trait when defending his own zone, too, beating forwards easily. I think he had the Corsi% of any player in the Finnish league (while being top or near the top in other relevant stats), generating shot attempts like crazy. Has a blast of a shot too, which he often gets through the traffic.
    He is so poised out there, thriving under pressure and getting better in the playoffs. Was absolutely lights out this spring, scoring at almost a PPG rate in the FEL playoffs. For example, he had 4 goals and 7 points in 6 games against JYP in the semifinals. Led all the defencemen in playoff scoring, and was 6th overall with 7 goals and 13 points in 18 games.
    Should he get a fair chance, I’m sure you wont be disappointed. Absolutely gorgeous player with all the traits to aim for the top. He’s a bit of a slow starter, but gets progressively, or should I say exponentially better, as the season goes.
    Keep in mind though, he’s no Rafalski. It would be hard to match pretty much the best defenceman ever in FEL, but oh well. Like it has been pointed out here, you’ve had a pretty good eye for 26yo defencemen playing for HIFK.
    He really made something happen every shift and was often the speartip of the attack, like is seen in some of the highlights from this spring on the post by thethinglonger. Its still obvious that it cannot be foreseen how his skills translate to the smaller rink and more physical environment, but I bet he can atleast be a serviceable 3rd pairing defenceman and play the point in the 2nd PP unit. He seemed to thrive best when playing powerplay in an umbrella formation as the lone guy at the blue line, but I don’t know how Hynes and Co. organize the PP in NJ.
    Pair him with someone who can stay behind when he is rushing up attacking, and he’ll deliver, for sure. The way he played this spring is more than enough for fair minutes in The Big Show, but I understand that coaches might be wary of playing a player who is a relative unknown and arriveas from a smaller league. Him pairing up with someone like Adam Larsson is a pipe dream, but someone similarly equipped should be good. He and Swede Daniel Grillfors formed one of the best, if not the best, defensive partnerships in the Finnish league for the last two years, so maybe trying him out with a Swede isn’t that bad of an idea.
    Comments regarding the 2016 World’s:
    France had 5 regular defensemen injured.
    We played with 2 centers in defense, and 3 borderlines NT defensemen.
    So you can imagine Auvitu played A LOT.
    28+ minutes each game, PK, PP (often 2 full minutes, we didn’t really have someone else…….)

  27. Evilas says:

    And the second:

    More on Auvitu, and you know what they say, ” the more on, the better”….. No wait, that’s just me 😁
    http://thehockeywriters.com/frenchy-can-play-meet-yohann-auvitu/
    https://www.todaysslapshot.com/nhl-east/new-jersey-devils/devils-poised-breakout-yohann-auvitu/
    https://www.allaboutthejersey.com/2016/10/21/13357242/yohann-auvitu-a-bright-spot-in-the-devils-slow-start
    Here is a great week he had in Albany with some video highlights, scroll to the bottom for the videos and a blurb about his play:
    https://www.google.ca/amp/s/www.allaboutthejersey.com/platform/amp/2017/1/31/14447204/new-jersey-devils-prospect-update-1-31-17
    By all accounts he had an outstanding training camp, but perhaps because the Devil’s don’t offer much regarding an offensive mindset up and the NJD coach being risk-averse, this was the wrong team for him. That being said, now that he has gotten his feet wet in NA, perhaps he will be better prepared for sustained success….he will be very interesting to follow…
    A NJ writer’s take on YA’s season:
    https://www.google.ca/amp/s/pucksandpitchforks.com/2017/04/24/yohann-auvitu-deserves-another-shot-make-new-jersey-devils/amp/
    It’s has to be tough coming from Europe, even as worldly guy, never having been in North America and probably not knowing anyone in the Devil’s organization. And playing well, and then getting sent to the AHL…I can’t fathom, but I am sure it’s frustrating, exasperating, perplexing and a bunch of other words that end in “Ing”..
    When trying to suss out a cheap bubbling under RHD aquisition pre-Larsson last offseason, I kept circling back to Damon Severson. Part of the opportunity I thought was that I was reading that John Hynes seemed to really be busting his balls. I took it as he might make a quiet trade request, because he wasn’t seemingly being given much opportunity or shown much respect IMO.
    Similarly, this is how I have read the Auvitu handling by Hynes. We will see what coaches with good imaginations can do with him.
    *Note- this is also why I have been anticipating a trade of Fayne back to the swamp, where I am positive he would be welcomed by Hynes with open arms…

  28. russ99 says:

    Auvitu is an interesting pick up, but he’ll need sheltering.

    The Oiloblogosphere needs to stop this line of thinking:

    How chaotic is his defensive game? We’ll have to wait and see. NJD are a funny team for defensemen, we’ll just have to see him in action during the season. The numbers look good in terms of possession, that’s a positive.

    Possession metrics have nothing to do with defensive aptitude. All reports are Auvitu was a liability in the Devils’ zone without the puck. Adhere to CF% all you want but the way our defensemen play in our zone without the puck is an important aspect to winning hockey games.

  29. leadfarmer says:

    russ99:
    Auvitu is an interesting pick up, but he’ll need sheltering.

    The Oiloblogosphere needs to stop this line of thinking:

    How chaotic is his defensive game? We’ll have to wait and see. NJD are a funny team for defensemen, we’ll just have to see him in action during the season. The numbers look good in terms of possession, that’s a positive.

    Possession metrics have nothing to do with defensive aptitude. All reports are Auvitu was a liability in the Devils’ zone without the puck. Adhere to CF% all you want but the way our defensemen play in our zone without the puck is an important aspect to winning hockey games.

    Advanced stats are only relevant when convenient.

  30. Lowetide says:

    russ99:
    Auvitu is an interesting pick up, but he’ll need sheltering.

    The Oiloblogosphere needs to stop this line of thinking:

    How chaotic is his defensive game? We’ll have to wait and see. NJD are a funny team for defensemen, we’ll just have to see him in action during the season. The numbers look good in terms of possession, that’s a positive.

    Possession metrics have nothing to do with defensive aptitude. All reports are Auvitu was a liability in the Devils’ zone without the puck. Adhere to CF% all you want but the way our defensemen play in our zone without the puck is an important aspect to winning hockey games.

    Russ, the big part of the game now is getting the puck out of the zone and under control.One of the major issues with the Oilers in the playoffs pertained to passing the puck out well. In the very few periods Sekera was unavailable it became even more obvious. The way our defensemen play in our zone without the puck IS important in that they need to get the puck as soon as possible. Slow doesn’t cut it.

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