Reasonable Expectations, Oilers LW 07-08

If Kevin Lowe is on the phone tonight, it’s probably about a LW. Raffi Torres and Ethan Moreau are a lock (unless dealt) this fall, and Geoff Sanderson is going to get plenty of at-bats.

The questions surrounding left wing this season are:

Who’s going to be the other LW?

Which line will he play on?

If we can agree that subtracting Ryan Smyth from the depth chart and adding Robert Nilsson and Geoff Sanderson isn’t a winning formula, then the next question is “what can Kevin Lowe do about it?”

He’s running out of time to find the answer. Here’s how the depth chart looks tonight.

Raffi Torres: According to Desjardins he played the second toughest minutes among Oilers forwards last season (Pisani the toughest). He’d be the likely current choice to slot onto the top line, although not close to ideal (he’s getting better but doesn’t come close to being a complete player in the traditional sense of the word, he hasn’t been a PP option and despite quite a lot of NHL experience he apparently has confidence issues). Torres has been able to establish himself with Jarret Stoll on the 2line and it’s been an effective combination (especially when Pisani plays the RW). He’s an unusual player in all areas: not especially awe inspiring without the puck but able to get reasonable outscoring results, not a “sniper” but he’s scored 20 goals twice. His 3-year ppg totals in the NHL show nice growth (.425, .500, .414) considering the train wreck that was the Oiler ship in 06-07. He’s young enough to have another level.

  • ES points-per-60mins: 1.94
  • PP points-per-60mins: 0.40
  • Desjardins Quality of Opposition: 67/676
  • Prediction: 25-19-44

Geoff Sanderson: Still has terrific footspeed and he’s a shooter, but even with that resume I can’t see him spending a ton of time with Hemsky (obviously nor can Lowe or he would have declared same when the deal was made). He’s exactly the kind of guy who is made available in every expansion draft: past his prime, still famous enough to attract interest from the fanbase, and extremely likely to deliver lesser results than the previous season. Scored 11 goals against the Soft Parade last season. He isn’t useless but imo there are plenty of NHL teams he couldn’t play for next season.

  • ES points-per-60mins: 2.06
  • PP points-per-60mins: 2.45
  • Desjardins Quality of Opposition: 494/676
  • Prediction: 12-20-32

Ethan Moreau: His injury early last season was a complete fluke and he should be fine this year. Moreau has size and grit with some scoring ability, he’s what used to be called a “solid role player.” Ethan is a candidate for Oilers captain this fall and he is likely to spend the season on the 3line. It’s extremely likely he’ll break in another rookie/young player as he has done this many times since the breakup of the last Oilers de facto checking unit (Marchant-Moreau-Grier), and that will impact his offensive numbers. I’ve used his 05-06 season below and there are no Desjardins’ numbers due to the injury. He had 7pk points in 05-06.

  • EV points-per-60mins: 1.10
  • PP points-per-60mins: 3.85
  • Prediction: 10-10-20

Robert Nilsson: The stats below are for 05-06, his rookie NHL season with the Islanders. We can assume he played against the Soft Parade, but even with that his offensive output was decent for a first year player. Nilsson’s biggest problem appears to be lack of size and strength (he’s listed at 5-11, 183) and despite some fine puck skills the Oilers have so many options that are similar in terms of talent that Nilsson has very little margin for error (before they call up the next kid).

  • EV points-per-60mins: 1.56
  • PP points-per-60mins: 3.37
  • Desjardins Quality of Opposition: Unavailable
  • Prediction: 11-18-29

One of the things about Nilsson that’s always bugged me is Pierre Mcguire’s draft day rip of Nilsson. Mcguire’s choice was Zach Parise who certainly has had an excellent career, but at least in 05-06 they had comparable rookie seasons:

  • Zach Parise (20) at EV: 1.46 points-per-hour
  • Robert Nilsson (20) at EV: 1.56 points-per-hour
  • Zach Parise (20) on PP: 3.35 points-per-hour
  • Robert Nilsson (20) on PP: 3.37 points-per-hour

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2 Responses to "Reasonable Expectations, Oilers LW 07-08"

  1. Devin says:

    Moreau’s PPP/60 number is actually kind of surprising. Even in limited minutes he’s not the type of guy you’d expect to even stumble into points. Watch MacT throw him out there a ton on the 2nd unit now ;)

    So, how about Freddy Modin? Plays fairly tough minutes and outscores, has a strong resume and a nice contract for another couple seasons. He’s on a squad which is thin on D, and has Nash and Zherdev as LWs, so he might be considered expendable. I’d say he would be a better pickup than a Glen Murray in a lot of ways, though he’s not much of a PP guy. Seems like a guy Raffi could learn a lot from, plus, he’s huge.

  2. namflashback says:

    Good comparo re: Nillson and Parise. We all know how blind Maguire can get with his “young monsters.” Perhaps he’s too busy self-pleasuring himself to see the details.

    NJD uses the hard match at forward checking line approach, so Parise got 3rd toughest. MacT has tended to go PvP, so a 3rd or 4th ES line ends up being a little less skilled and given the “never cheat offensively” mandate.

    OK, observe the following:
    1) ANA went with a checking line and were successful.
    2) MacT/Lowe have traditionally liked to ease players into the scoring roles because:
    a) better for them long term
    b) less likely to inflate counting numbers and egos(see Oilers v. Comrie, Mike)
    3) However, Hemsky is signed to a long-term deal, so letting him run-up his counting numbers is not an issue
    and 4) for other players in the league, they will take notice of Hemsky and desire to play with him if he puts up a 100 pt season
    5) if Lowe had been successful in signing both Kariya and Nylander — we can be pretty sure that he wouldn’t use that line in a PvP situation

    Summary: Tells me we will see Nillson getting a shot with a soft place to land ala Parise.

    bonus prediction: HF board members will continue to deride MacT even though he will laregely be responsible for putting Nillson in a position to be successful.

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