Defending Taylor Chorney

With all the prospect graduating that has taken place this season on the Oiler list, I think the #1 slot is a contest between college men Riley Nash and Taylor Chorney (in photo). Word today from Jim Matheson that when the UND season ends Chorney may head to Springfield to play for the Falcons.

Much has been made of Chorney’s lack of offense this season compared to his own history. In last night’s loss to Michigan Tech (in OT), Chorney had no points but led UND with 7 shots on net.

Is he playing in bad luck? Has his offense dried up because of reduced offense for UND? Is it a league wide problem? Let’s look at these issues one at a time.

  1. Is he playing in bad luck? Aside from last night I don’t really see any evidence. The emergence of defender Chay Genoway may have cut into his powerplay time, but Chorney has 2 PP goals (Genoway 3) so he’s getting time with the man advantage.
  2. Has his offense dried up because of reduced offense for UND? Last season, UND was led on offense by Jonathan Toews and scored 153 goals (3.56 per game). They also scored 56 powerplay goals. Chorney was in on 20% of the team’s goals (31 points) and scored 9% (5) of the team’s PP goals. This season, the Fighting Sioux have scored 113 goals (3.05 per game). They have scored 31 powerplay goals. Chorney has been in on 17.6% of the team’s goals (20 points) and scored 6% (2) of the team’s PP goals. I’m no stat genius but it’s my opinion that the numbers are close enough that we can consider them random (read “luck”). I don’t think there’s any clear evidence based on the numbers that Chorney has taken a step backwards offensively.
  3. Is it a League Wide Problem? The WCHA scored 701 goals among 10 teams this season, in a total of 140 games (5 per game). In the previous season (06-07), the WCHA scored 760 goals in a total of 140 games (5.43 per game).

Offense is off league wide, on his team and Chorney’s numbers reflect that. To borrow a line from Guy Flaming’s recent HF top 20, Oilers development coach Bob Mancini says he’s learned “how to use his feet and stick position. What he’s learned to do is gain body position by using his skating and his feet now.”

The big issue for Chorney is size. The best quote in recent Oilers history from a management perspective was Geoff Ward. He is more credible to me because when he’s talking about prospects they aren’t all headed to the Hall of Fame. Here’s what he said about Taylor Chorney:

“He’s steady in all areas and that’s what sticks out to me the most. He’s a strong passer, moves the puck well and the thing I really like is that after he moves the puck he follows it up the ice so he’s always in a position to be the fourth man. He’s a guy that has tremendous upside and as a freshman right now he does a lot of things very well. I think in three years we’re going to be extremely excited to see how far he’s come.”

When looking at his season (37gp, 2-18-20, .540ppg) in context, I don’t think there’s much reason for alarm when discussing Taylor Chorney’s future.

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36 Responses to "Defending Taylor Chorney"

  1. mc79hockey says:

    LT

    Given that you’ve expressed your admiration for Bernie Parent on several occasions, I thought you might enjoy this: link.

  2. Lowetide says:

    Terrific stuff, Tyler. They playd about two seasons straight shorthanded I swear. I have his book from that era and a bunch of Shero stuff too, they are one of my favorite teams looking back. I was pretty pissed when they beat Orr for the Stanley, though.

  3. Bruce says:

    Nice link, MC. I particularly liked this part:

    He prepares carefully for every game with a psyching-up ritual that begins on the eve of the game. … Then after half a dozen or so beers, he retires for eight hours of sleep.

    Just a few Slapshot stereotypes in that article. Violence and goaltending … that’s hockey.

    Bernie Parent certainly delivered in spades on the second part of that formula. For those two Cup years Parent delivered as fine an extended display of above-and-beyond BRILLIANT goaltending I think I’ve ever seen. I loved Parent, even as I hated his asshole team.

  4. dawgbone says:

    The good thing about Chorney is that he’s progressed enough defensively that he doesn’t need big offensive numbers to be effective.

    Of course those numbers are helpful, but defencemen generally rely on the players in front of them to help their point totals, and I think losing a guy like Toews hurt everyone on that team.

    Hopefully he makes the jump to the AHL for the fall though.

  5. Doogie says:

    Just a few Slapshot stereotypes in that article.

    Just a few Slapshot stereotypes on that team. ;)

  6. Lowetide says:

    traktor: I would probably rank Petry about 5 or 6 overall, certainly behind Nash, Chorney, Peckham and probably Schremp.

    Reasons? I’ve read some things about his skating that are a worry, plus he’s 20 and this is his first year in the NCAA. Chorney as a for instance played in the NCAA at 18 and he’s 7 months older than Petry.

    Finally, Petry ranks 9th in team scoring for Michigan State and Chorney is 6th for UND. Plus the guy ahead of Chorney in scoring is 25 years old.

    Those are all factors that make me a little hesitant to give Petry a higher slot.

    I would probably rank Trukhno ahead of Petry too, maybe Dubnyk as well.

  7. Traktor says:

    From all the reports I’ve seen it talks about his skating as one of his top assets. Can you shed some light on this? Or maybe you have a link.

    I’m not sold that we can have Grebs, Gilbert, Pitkanen and Chorney all in our top 6 when Souray isn’t a true shutdown defensemen.

    If Kevin Lowe ranks his prospects based on organizational needs Theo Peckham could very well be Edmonton’s top prospect.

    I don’t really see a future for Chorney on this team. Maybe a Steve Downie for Chorney swap?

  8. Lowetide says:

    From an Inside College Hockey in May of 2006, Des Moines coach Regg Simon:

    “He’s an excellent puck handler and skater for his size. Jeff ran our power play and while he was only so-so offensively in the regular season, all of a sudden the points started coming.”

    Guy does an outstanding job but he’s talking to the Oilers’ brass and they love everybody (which is their job). However, the guys who can deliver offense, are excellent skaters AND have defensive ability at 6-3, 205 are all taken before 45th overall every season.

    It doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to like, though. I like all three of the college D (Chorney, Petry and Wild).

  9. Lowetide says:

    Re: Chorney’ role in the organization, I think he’ll come to the NHL just as soon as he’s ready. Right now the Oilers have one young guy who can outlet the pass consistently (Gilbert) and of course Pitkanen who has a wide range of skills.

    If Chorney has the puck ability his scouting report tells us he does, then he should be able to have an impact fairly soon.

    How long was Matt Greene in the minors? Gilbert?

  10. Black Dog says:

    I think it was here (it must have been here! :)) or maybe it was in Guy’s latest rankings that Chorney has also sacrificed a little offence for defence as he has concentrated on bringing a more well rounded game.

    Looking at the next wave I believe the plan is coming into focus. Next year I think they go with what they have right now for the most part, taking a wait and see on Stoll, Pitkanen, Smid and Torres (although Raffi may be gone, if they can move him). If these guys don’t keep trending upward (Smid), bounce back (Stoll) or look to justify the money they reportedly want (Joni) then they get moved and replaced by guys like Chorney and Nash.

    A steady flow of prospects.

    As much as I hated the Souray signing, among other issues, I have to say I love what they are doing in the draft.

  11. PunjabiOil says:

    Matt Greene played 26 games in the AHL before called up.

    Gilbert 48 games before being called up (possibly due to the injuries).

    There is no way though Chorney gets called up unless there is a case of injuries, or someone is moved. With Roy and his 1 way contract, that’s 8 defenceman on one-way contracts next season, should everyone be brought back.

    I think you’re being a bit harsh on Petry Lowetide. His offensive numbers took a huge step forward in his 19 year old season, and playing in the USHL made him sort of an uncertainty.

    People have had nothing but good things to say about him, and that’s including non-Oiler scouts. Theo Peckham over him? Can’t say I agree.

  12. Lowetide says:

    PJ Oil: I can see him making the team out of camp. Seriously.

    If we take next year’s top 4D and put them aside, like this:

    Pitkanen-Gilbert
    Grebeshkov-Staios

    We’re left with the untradeable Sheldon Souray, Mat Roy, Matt Greene and Ladislav Smid.

    Now, how many of the guys outside the top 4 can move the puck and make a headman pass consistently?

    You have to keep Souray at #5, but after that everything is negotiable. Breaking in Chorney after trading Smid might mean a few more errors but then again Smid makes lots of errors.

    I like Smid, can live with Greene and Roy is a non-factor. Nice 7th man.

    I can see Greene or Smid being dealt draft day if Chorney shows well with Springfield.

    And we haven’t even discussed Peckham.

  13. Traktor says:

    LT said: However, the guys who can deliver offense, are excellent skaters AND have defensive ability at 6-3, 205 are all taken before 45th overall every season.

    You mean like Shea Weber, taken 49th overall?

    It wasn’t Guy who selected Jeff Petry as the US Junior player of the year over players like JVR was it?

  14. Lowetide says:

    traktor: I’m not saying he’s nothing, I’m saying that imo he is not the best prospect in the system. As for VanRiemsdyk Vs Petry, do you think the Flyers would make a straight across trade considering the age difference, etc?

    Weber had defensive issues and is a poor comp for Petry since he was in the NHL at 20.

  15. Dennis says:

    Just throwing a couple of things out there.

    1: Evidence that supports LT’s theory that Chorney could rise fast is how Lowe’s fallen in love with the puckmoving D. The only real “defender” we have is Greene and even though Smid and Souray aren’t guys you wanting breaking plays, I think Lowe believes Souray possesses this skill and I think he thought Smid could do it too. So, yeah, if this kid can start a play, he does have a good shot.

    2: OTOH, I don’t think we can compare his possible ascension to that of Greene’s because you have to remember the way the D was constructed when Greene cemented his role as a regular. Basically, Ulanov and Cross were on their last legs so it was a lot easier to give Greene a bump then it would be to promote Chorney next year. Now I think he’d be coming up to battle a bunch of kids but if we take LT’s D depth chart as gospel, Chorney would have to supplant either Greene or Smid.

    It goes back to the first point to say Lowe’s obsessed with puckmovers but would he really do it at the expense of possible maturing defenders in 2 and 5?

    If you consider Grebs-Gilbert and Pitkanen as distributers and Souray and Staios as defenders, doesn’t it make sense to round out that sextet with one of Greene or Smid? Unless Chorney really impresses at camp, I vote yes.

    Anyway, lots of decisions for Lowe to make but even if he shelves Chorney for a season — or intends to do so before camp even breaks — we should still see one of Smid or Greene moved on trade day. I vote for Greene because Smid’s a better skater and passer. The latter skill’s not to the point of creating offense but it’s not an icing or TO waiting to happen like the one Greene employs, either.

    Pat: Just wanted to add here, I think Lowe deals off Torres on draft day. He can’t be silly enough to let Glencross go, can he??, and on the LW I think the Oilers select 18 over 14. And I think that’s a mistake.

  16. Traktor says:

    Will Chorney lay an elbow to Kesler’s face if he’s fukcing with Hemsky. Can Chorney patrol the blue paint after the whistle like Smid and give his goaltenders a sense of security?

    This team has 3 finesse defensemen in the top 4 and 3 finesse forwards under 6 foot playing in the top 6.

    This team should be looking to add toughness and grit not take away from it.

    A team full of offensive defensemen might fly in the regular season but you need the Matt Greene’s and Smid’s in the playoffs.

    Chorney has a future on this team the same was as Rob Schremp does. If he can beat out one of the skilled guys he’s in but he won’t take the place of a Matt Greene/Moreau.

  17. Bruce says:

    Just a few Slapshot stereotypes on that team. ;)

    True that. :~)

  18. Lowetide says:

    Traktor: Chorney isn’t going to be that kind of defenseman. I doubt he’s a wallflower but he’s not going to be Matt Greene or even Ladislav Smid.

    I think there’s plenty of evidence the Oilers feel they need to improve in that area. I haven’t looked but the Oilers 5-6 are Smid and Greene based on TOI even with all the injuries, right? Grebeshkov and Gilbert are well clear of those two now?

    The Oilers on the bubble on that blueline are Matt Greene and Ladislav Smid, I’m pretty confident in that statement.

  19. Traktor says:

    LT: I don’t disagree with you that Smid and Greene are on the bubble.

    I just don’t think the guy who will replace them will be a 5’11 offensive defensemen.

    This team needs to add a true shutdown defensemen.

    Maybe Smid + Chorney and Schremp for Volechenkov.

  20. Lowetide says:

    Traktor: The money has been spent on Souray for the shutdown guy. They have a PP specialist instead. I think Lowe and MacTavish still want a guy who can advance the puck and if it comes down to needing a tough guy Roy would draw in.

    One of those offensively limited defenders is likely to go imo and Staios, Souray and Roy will be the beef.

  21. Traktor says:

    I don’t think a team with Grebs, Gilbert, Pitkanen and Chorney all playing in the top 6 will make it far in the playoffs but that’s just me.

    Maybe if we had 2 true shutdown defensemen but Souray and Staios are average at best in terms of defending against the NHL’s best.

  22. Traktor says:

    Many of the posters who would like to see Smid traded are the same ones who didn’t see a future in Grebeshkov.

    Patience.

    This teams window isn’t for another 2 or 3 years anyways.

  23. Lowetide says:

    Traktor: I don’t think a team playing Smid and Greene will make the playoffs.

    Grebeshkov is maturing nicely, Gilbert is establishing himself and Pitkanen is flawed but exceptional. Staios is steady and Souray is a 5M specialist who can help on the PP and PK.

    How many of those guys can move the puck consistently (both passing and lugging it)?

    The Oilers do have too many one dimensional defenders I’ll give you that much. However, turnovers in bad places cost a lot.

  24. Traktor says:

    LT said: How many of those guys can move the puck consistently (both passing and lugging it)?

    I’m not sure how many but certainly more than the number of defensemen we have that can play against top lines and not bleed.

    Grebs and Gilbert might be defending well right now but a 7 game gritty playoff series is another story.

    I think we have a really nice mix right now but we need to wait for a few years.

    As always with Lowe though, expect the unexpected.

  25. Traktor says:

    It’s intersting how we differ in philosophy.

    I would rather have a defensive Greene/Smid on our third pairing and play an offensive Schremp up front.

    You would rather have an offensive Chorney on the 3rd pairing and play a defensive forward in place of Schremp.

  26. Lowetide says:

    Traktor: This isn’t my preference, this is what I think they’ll do. If you’re asking what I would do, the answer is trade Greene, keep Smid, tell Lowe to sign one of those reliable bargains from the Staios-Hejda tree he seems to be able to come up with and then wait for Souray’s no-trade clause to expire.

  27. Traktor says:

    How does Ossi Vaananen at 1.8 x 2 sound?

  28. Black Dog says:

    Dennis – not sure if you’re following this thread anymore.

    Re: LW – I would prefer to see Torres/Glencross on the 3rd/4th line but you and I know Moreau isn’t going anywhere so it will likely be Moreau/Glencross and Torres dealt.

    I guess they deal Torres conditional on passing a physical?

    The other thing I see is Lowe trying to have it all and keeping all three. I’d rather that then dealing Torres – Glencross could step right in when Ethan goes down.

    Say, September 15th ;)

  29. Black Dog says:

    LT and traktor – not sure if you caught this but it was in one of the dailies – MacT talking about the importance of having Joni in the lineup. Said we could see what happened when he was out vs. Colorado – then Smid and Greene were left playing top pair minutes.

    Not ready for that yet, probably in a year or two.

    MacT’s words, not mine.

    I think – and I’m in a weird frame of mind these days – that we could see this same group next year. I think Lowe is shooting for 2010 and beyond and he wants to see what Joni, Greene, Grebs. Gilbert, Smid have.

    I would agree with you LT – Gilbert and Grebs have clearance from the other kids and Joni is Joni. Smid and Greene are the guys who are being evaluated, imo.

    And Souray – when does that clause end, again?

  30. Lowetide says:

    Chorney with an assist on the 2nd UND goal, they are up 2-1 in the second period tonight.

  31. Mr DeBakey says:

    I think he’ll come to the NHL just as soon as he’s ready.

    Just like Laddy Smid did

    And we haven’t even discussed Peckham.

    Thank God
    I’m hoping the Oiler brass learned something from Smid & Gilbert –
    the contribution to winning each made in his rookie season.

  32. jon k says:

    Reading Ward’s comments on Chorney eerily reminded me of reading similar things about Jeff Woywitka. Good in all areas all around, but nothing stands out. Good but not dominant statistically.

    To a certain extent you never know until you see them playing in the bigs, I guess. Hopefully that’s not the case with Chorney.

  33. kanadienkyle says:

    I think Chorney will benefit from some time in the AHL. He has good skills but hasn’t been using them to the best of his ability lately (i.e. Not moving his feet alot, etc)

    The downturn in points likely stems from Genoway taking some PP time and filling the offensive defenseman role with the club. That and the fact that he didnt start shooting til mid January.

    He isn’t physical at all, but doesn’t play that kind of game. Its not a big deal most of the time (i.e. I saw him race a guy for the from the blueline to the corner. He never touched the other player, but came away with the puck). Other times it maddening (i.e. When two opposing forwards are whacking at the goalies pads and he is standing behind them without so much as one crosscheck to the back).

  34. doritogrande says:

    Chorney’s assist was on the eventual game winner. UND moves on.

    Jeff Petry’s Michigan State was not so lucky. They’re out of the CCHA championships. Not sure if they qualify for the Frozen Four. Anyone want to confirm?

  35. Lowetide says:

    dorito: I think Petry’s team will qualify through the backdoor (invite).

  36. fyvmvv says:

    I wouldn’t get too locked in on players fortunes at the collegiate level. They all have a long way to go in their development. I think the crop of rookies the Oilers will have to deal with when everyone is back in Sept. ’08 is quite a plateful for Lowe and the coaches. They will have some important decisions on the futures of some veterans and the young guns, who will be very hard to pass over.
    Decisions made at that time will tell whether MacT should be on the bus or under it.

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