Report Card Day

It’s been a topsy turvy first quarter of the 08-09 Oilers season. A great example is contained in this thread where you can read comments like “I would also have to say he must be one of the more challenging wingers to play with in the entire NHL as you know your role will be to watch him circle and try and find a soft spot to fire a one timer” and “the frustration with Hemsky is that he is now in his 7th professional season, and he’s making the same mistakes he made as a rookie.”

I have literally no idea exactly how difficult it is to score in the NHL but based on watching it for many years it’s pretty clear that it’s a ridiculous task. NHL coaches are fully aware of it and stack their rosters with people who can contribute to keeping the puck out of the net and then a few men to fly sorties into the opposition’s territory in hopes of a successful strike.

Right?

THAT’S why Ales Hemsky is so bloody important. The next time he’s playing poorly and turns the puck over 5 times in a game at the blueline, we need to remember that he’s still one of the best in the game at certain things and those things contribute to goals.

Do we really want to see an Oilers team that doesn’t have Hemsky?

Report Cards (In Percent)
  • 88%: Ales Hemsky- I projected him to go 18gp, 6-17-23 and he’s gone 20gp, 5-16-21. He’s a little behind in PPG but considering the start and the linemate shuffle I’d say our man Ales is having a stellar season. His EV/60 number is 2.10 now which is “in the range” for previous seasons (2.36 a year ago and 2.09 two seasons ago) and remains a ridiculous powerplay performer. I can say with confidence that if Ales Hemsky played for Vancouver we’d be in awe of him, but for some reason Oilers fans are slow to recognize greatness when it’s right in front of them. It’s probably because everyone who follows Gretzky looks a little less awesome.
  • 86%: Lubomir Visnovsky: I suggested he’d go 19gp, 3-10-13 and so far this season he’s 20gp, 4-8-12. That’s pretty close to bang on. I think he’s brilliant, and in fact Lubo makes other people better because of the number of “touches” he gets in games. Seriously, his “range factor” is off the charts, I’m always seeing Souray slow up because Lubo’s got the icing or a loose puck in the neutral zone being gobbled up by 71. He’s a puck hawk and he’s a very good one. I think you can make a strong case he’s been more valuable to this team than Hemsky, and I love Hemsky’s season.
  • 80%: Sheldon Souray- I projected him to be 13gp, 3-4-7 at the quarter pole, Souray is in fact 19gp, 7-8-15. Offensively, he’s been shocking. Seriously, the guy has a rocket launcher back there and when the puck hits the net there’s going to be trouble for the other side. I may be marking him too harshly, but Sheldon Souray has some chaos in his defensive game and for that he comes in below some other guys.
  • 75%: Shawn Horcoff- This fellow has a problem, and it’s the same as the one Gary Carter had with the Expos. When team’s don’t win, the fans define the reasons and then for some reason focus on the one guy who seems to be doing a good job in that area. With Carter it was RBI’s (“why can’t this team drive in runs? Gary Carter’s the cleanup guy, it’s his fault we’re losing!”) and with Horcoff it’s the faceoff circle. I mean he’s doing a reasonable job (50.1% in 421 faceoffs) but even MacTavish is rambling on about him needing to do better. Meanwhile Cogliano is doing so poorly that he can’t be used in important situations and the other PK C is being eaten alive as a penalty killer. Must be Horcoff’s fault. I suggested he should be at 18gp, 7-11-18 and he’s at 20gp, 5-6-11. I don’t think that’s a huge gap and he’ll have a better 20-game stretch down the line this season. I do worry about his coach, though.
  • 72%: Dwayne Roloson- I pegged him at 3.20/.899 and he’s currently at 3.02/.913 which is a nice season. I don’t really have any kind of read on the Oilers goalies this season, as it’s not clear to me that the #3 guy (Garon) isn’t really the number 1 guy. Either way, Roloson is definitely in the home stretch of his Oilers career and is playing well.
  • 70%: Andrew Cogliano- Reasonable expectations were pegged at 20gp, 5-6-11 and he’s at 20gp, 5-4-9 so would appear to be right on target. I shoud have taken some points away because Cogliano has not been able to step into that massive void up the middle that was left when Stoll and Reasoner left. No one could reasonably argue he was ready, but when the Oilers traded Stoll and allowed Reasoner to walk he must have been part of the plan (at least from the GM’s chair). He is not helpful in the FO circle and until recently was lacking in offense. He needs to be better, but I haven’t nicked him because this is an organizational flaw.
  • 69%: Tom Gilbert- His reasonable expectations were 20gp, 2-4-6 and he is at 20gp, 2-9-11 at this time. I’ve nicked him heavily because of inconsistent play, although much of that is rightly placed at the doorstep of his D partner Grebeshkov in this report card. He’s come on as of late but needs to be better the rest of the way.
  • 66%: Ethan Moreau- I had him going 13gp, 3-1-4 and Ethan is 20gp, 5-5-10 and playing with abandon. His number would be higher save for the usual dumb penalties and the fact that he’s played some of the season with skill players (thus making his offensive spike less surprising). It’s also a mystery to me that a team that appears to be ruddlerless on many nights hasn’t seen more leadership from him. He continues to be refreshing voice in that he speaks his mind but I can’t help feeling this club might be better if he was the one verbally arranging the furniture instead of MacT.
  • 65%: Marc Pouliot- Projected to go 19gp, 2-5-7, he’s currently at 20gp, 1-3-4 which is well within the range. I’ve been reading some of the comments about Poo and it looks to me like some of us have been on the ether and some of us are seeing the truth. To my eye, he’s a better player now than he’s been at any time save for the two spring’s where Pouliot looked like he belonged. If the Oilers keep him on the ice for 12 minutes a night all winter I’m pretty confident he’ll be an NHL player by the time I’m yelling at my kids on holidays. His EV/60 number (1.26) is not far from where it was a year ago and he’s a pretty good player when out there with actual NHLers (as has been observed many times by Dennis).
  • 62%: Jeff Deslauriers- I had him pegged at 3.50/.887 and he’s done way better, currently sitting at 2.44/.927 in 5 NHL games. If the Oilers lose the season they’ll play him a bunch but Deslauriers has played above expecations by any measure and his mark is less than expected only because they haven’t played him much this season.
  • 58%: Sam Gagner- I projected Gagner to be at 19gp, 5-8-13 and he is at 19gp, 1-4-5. That’s a big dropoff, folks. Let’s look a little deeper. After 19 games a year ago, Sam Gagner was 2-7-9, -8. This season he’s 19gp, 1-4-5, -3. So he’s off offensively but his plus minus number is improved and against a little tougher opposition and with less impressive linemates than one year ago (unless I’m reading Desjardins wrong). His Corsi number a year ago was -5.6 and this season it’s -1.3, and most impressively Sam Gagner’s attitude is what winner’s are all about. No finger pointing, no pouting, no “whoa is me” just a solid work ethic and a lot of try. I wish I’d been that way at 19.
  • 56%: Erik Cole- I pegged him at 18gp, 5-7-12 and he’s 20gp, 3-4-7. It’s off the pace by a little but that alone doesn’t explain the mark. He has been a disappointment in his own end where Cole seems unable to make simple decisions under pressure (at times) and in the offensive end where his passing and ability to take a pass appears subpar. I’m still a big believer in the guy and will absolutely agree MacT hasn’t handled him as well as he could have this season, but he needs to man up.
  • 55%: Dustin Penner- Projected to have a 30 goal season, he would be at 20gp, 8-5-13 based on my projections. Penner is in fact at 18gp, 4-1-5 and well off the pace anyone wouuld have hoped for him. Although MacT’s public comments about him seemed to light a short term fire it’s been my observation that players usually quit on a coach at some point and this would be my guess with this player. Dustin Penner is in a spot right now that players have been in since I was a kid, and his situation reminds me of Rod Gilbert when John Ferguson arrived in NYC, or Darryl Sittler arrived at work one day to find out Punch Imlach was the new GM. The difference is that Penner has a long term contract and if MacTavish stays then these two will have to find some kind of peace over time. I don’t see much evidence that Dustin Penner is going to be the player MacT wants him to be and I don’t see much evidence that MacTavish is going to give him special status. This can only get uglier and I’d suggest at some point will cut the team in two, much like the Al MacNeil-Henri Richard incident did in 1971 (although that’s a bad example since that team won the Stanley).
  • 54%: Ladislav Smid- He is playing his best hockey at this time. Playing decent minutes against decent opposition and not getting run over is his high water mark. I suggested he’d go 18gp, 0-1-1 and he’s gone 9gp, 0-2-2. His coach likes him so much as a defenseman he’s now on LW. Smid’s inability to create offense will end his NHL career. Score one for Dennis, but I swear by God Almighty there’s a player here.
  • 50%: Mathieu Garon- I said he should be at 2.75/.915 and he’s 3.41/.889. It’s a weird season for Garon, as he was the starter but had less rope than anyone since Louis Riel. It’s not clear to me in any way that Garon is the least effective of these three goalies and in fact one imagines we’ll hear from him before the end of the season one way or another.
  • 50%: Kyle Brodziak- Projected for 20gp, 3-5-8 and so far he’s 19gp, 2-1-3 but he’s looked lost for much of the year. I think last year’s rookie trio (Cogs, Gags and Brodz) are all experiencing what has happened to many players after solid rookie seasons: the revelation that their impressive season was exactly that, one season. You’re only as good as the last shift, so suck it up and get out there. I think he’ll be fine over the long haul but keeping the coach in his corner is pretty important.
  • 49%: Robert Nilsson- I thought he’d have a big season (projected 19gp, 4-9-13) but so far he’s 20gp, 3-4-7 and has been less than expected most nights. A guy like Nilsson doesn’t bring enough things aside from offense that he can stay in a lineup when not playing at a high level. He’s building the foundation of a journeyman career and that means a few stops along the way. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets shipped out at or before the deadline.
  • 48%: Steve Staios- Reasonable was 20gp, 1-3-4 and he’s 18gp, 1-1-2. There are some minus indicators here and maybe it’s just a slump but there should be some concern. He’s playing against soft opposition and his Corsi number is -14. This compares to -7.8 but against much tougher competition one year ago. I’d like some input here, but it looks to me like we should have a worried mind.
  • 48%: Jason Strudwick- Reasonable was 14gp, 0-1-1 and he’s at 17gp, 0-3-3 which is certainly comparable. Strudwick has played well enough to force Ladislav Smid into a different career path but it seems to me his being partnered with Staios may not be helping him. Strudwick’s stay-at-home style would perhaps be better suited to a Lubo or Tom Gilbert and I suspect he’ll eventually find his way up the depth chart.
  • 47%: Fernando Pisani- It pains me to put him here but the entire first stretch of the season has seen the Oilers struggle in areas (PK, EV) where they usually do well and one of the reasons they usually do well is Pisani. Reasonable expectations after 20 would be 19gp, 4-5-9 and he’s at 16gp, 2-4-6 which is off the pace but not an epic fail. Pisani’s mark comes because of his play away from the puck and believe me his calm feet and intelligent play were badly needed. Moving him to center might just be the worst move of the MacTavish coaching era.
  • 45%: Denis Grebeshkov- Projected to go 19gp, 1-5-6 and he’s currently 17gp, 1-7-8 so has covered the offensive bet. The reason for the poor mark is that Grebeshkov went brainless much of the way through the first 20. Seriously. He pinched in at bad times and he also left bad leaves all over the table for his partner Gilbert. If there’s a goat on this club for the first 20, and I’m not convinced we need to point one out since their record isn’t horrible, my vote would go to Grebeshkov. Very poor.
  • 30%: Zack Stortini- Well, we knew he wasn’t going to have a season like last year but I thought he’d be more than Wilfredo Tejada. I don’t think it’s his fault, really. Giving Stortini at-bats when he clearly doesn’t give you offense is like playing Bob Natal at first base: he can do it, but does it help you? You’d have to write a 4,000 word essay on how being purely physical overwhelms putting up even a dribble of offense with the minutes Zack is getting. One final word: I have nothing specific against Stortini, just a knowledge that when a team is having trouble offensively they shouldn’t devote 70 minutes of any season to a guy who is 0-0-0.
  • INCOMPLETE: Liam Reddox- A nice couple of games since arriving and I think he may stay up with the big club. This is a Buchberger special, as the numbers were better for a few farmhands.
  • INCOMPLETE: Steve MacIntyre: He had some interesting games and swayed the play a few times for the big club. I bet he has an NHL future.
  • INCOMPLETE: Theo Peckham: Played one game with the big club, suspect he’ll be back.

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55 Responses to "Report Card Day"

  1. Paulus says:

    Brilliant post, and a fine Riel joke-allusion.

    The team seems to have been yanking Garon’s chain when they named him #1 starter. I guess they hanged him out to dry. The Oilers will have to sever this knot at the goaltender position so as to execute more efficiently.

  2. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    Another candidate for a report card:

    In recent weeks, MacTavish has been openly critical of his players in the media, most notably his recent potshots against under-achieving winger Dustin Penner, who’s been a healthy scratch of late.

    MacTavish’s tirade over Penner has only fueled speculation he could be in danger of losing his job. Notable Oilers blog “Lowetide” suggested MacTavish’s comments are “a double-edged razor,” that eventually the players could grow weary of being publicly dumped on by their coach and could start tuning him out.

    If MacTavish loses the room, assuming he hasn’t already, his days with the Oilers could truly be numbered.

    http://msn.foxsports.com/nhl/story/8816950/'Canes,-Oilers-coaches-running-out-of-time

  3. BenJammin says:

    Nice post once again. It interesting how much coaching choices have affected the report cards this quarter. I agree that the Pisani-at-centre experiment hurt his play. I would argue that playing Cole on his off wing has made it more difficult for him too. The lack of ice-time an the PP and use of Penner on the PK has hurt his numbers too. All this reminds me of former MacT head-scratchers like Peca on the first line to start the season and using the Smyth-as-centre experiment.

    I’ve never been a fan of the MacBlender and I think MacT has made some growing pains worse. The Oilers runs (05-06 play-offs, the last 15-20 games of each season) always correspond to times when little, if any, line juggling is done. I realize chemistry is a tricky thing and I don’t claim to understand it, but I do think sometimes less is more when playing with lines and that is something that MacT could never be accused of.

  4. oilerdago says:

    Great post LT. I think you're bang on w/24 and am concerned that he's lost several steps. Other than that, I think the upside on the D could be very good as 77 and 37 have been better the last half dozen games.

    But I'm very consider that with the exception of 83, the forwards are under expectations. Have to think a lot of the juggling is the coaches having a lack of trust and for the good of the team as well as his own sanity MacT is going to have settle some things ASAP or he will lose the locker room. The situation w/27 is not healthy for this team.

    For my two cents, would think it's time to settle on 26 in the top 6 and 27/10/83 to get 2 guys who are critical (26 & 10) going.

    And it's time to settle the goalie thing once and for all. Please.

  5. doritogrande says:

    “It’s a weird season for Garon, as he was the starter but had less rope than anyone since Louis Riel.”

    I should hate you on principle for this joke, but I can’t help but continue to laugh.

  6. Oilmaniac says:

    I disagree with the Gagner favoritism, especially when compared with Nilsson…

    This season he’s 19gp, 1-4-5, -3. So he’s off offensively but his plus minus number is improved and against a little tougher opposition and with less impressive linemates than one year ago

    When? did gagner not have good linemates!? (at least the best the Oil could provide)… I guess the difference in score between Gags and Nils must be accounted to ‘attitude’… cus offensively nils has the slight edge… even with having spent time w storts and brodz…

    Then there is horcoff..
    LT: I suggested he should be at 18gp, 7-11-18 and he’s at 20gp, 5-6-11. I don’t think that’s a huge gap

    1ppg compared with .55ppg… that is a significant gap… but i agree with:
    he’ll have a better 20-game stretch down the line this season.

    I guess I shouldnt complain; thanks for putting this much effort into the ‘report card’ (and the blog in general) so that guys like me can nit-pick…

    cheers,

  7. YKOil says:

    One day I will post on my blog again _ I swear. When I do look for me to comment on:

    - the break up of a proven Penner/Horcoff/Hemsky line
    - the shuffling of Gagner to harder minutes (thus breaking up the soft minute munching 2nd line)
    - the lack of a 'Reasoner' type playing 3rd line FO man
    - the trade of a proven EV LW in Torres
    - the lack of a Glencross to solidify a proven 4th line
    - the pick-up of a RW who is forced to play LW for line-up purposes

    and the fact that Ted Nolan was fired because he wasn't developing the kids.

    Point being – Kevin Lowe tried to have it both ways, MacT has tried to make it work, and the team is no where near where it should be. I believe most of MacT's issues stem from toeing the company line.

    And it isn't helping anyone. Least of all Pisani and Cole.

    What GM in their right mind gets rid of BOTH their #2 & #3 depth-chart centers AND BOTH of their #2 and #3 depth-chart LW's in the same off-season – ESPECIALLY when their replacements are playing out of position or still, essentially, rookies?

    Blows my mind. It really does.

  8. Coach pb9617 says:

    Seriously, his “range factor” is off the charts

    I watch 3-4 games a night depending on schedule and I can say that without a doubt there is no other player in the NHL with the range factor as Lubo. The closest is Mike Green and he’s far afield.

  9. Coach pb9617 says:

    shoud have taken some points away because Cogliano has not been able to step into that massive void up the middle that was left when Stoll and Reasoner left.

    That’s not fair, he wasn’t given the chance for the first 10 games.

  10. Coach pb9617 says:

    No finger pointing, no pouting, no “whoa is me” just a solid work ethic and a lot of try. I wish I’d been that way at 19.

    You have blinders on here. He’s been making mental mistakes, the same mental mistakes for weeks.

  11. Coach pb9617 says:

    I don’t see much evidence that Dustin Penner is going to be the player MacT wants him to be and I don’t see much evidence that MacTavish is going to give him special status.

    Buh bye Mac.

  12. Coach pb9617 says:

    54%: Ladislav Smid

    Bullshit. 1 ES GA.

    This is at least a 75%

  13. Lowetide says:

    coach:

    On Gagner: He’s 19 and another Hemsky. He’s going to make mistakes but he’s also going to fly superior sorties one day soon.

    on Cogliano: He can’t be used in own zone draws because he’s horrible. Therefore, he can’t help on the PK.

    on Smid: I don’t know what to tell you, coach. I thought 54% was about right but if you think he’s had a 75% first quarter good on you. I would suggest that there might be something headed the other way just to justify the grade but it’s all good.

  14. Mark-Ryan says:

    I’d switch Lubo and Sheldon’s scores, but other then that, I would agree fully.

    I’d say Lubomir and his 16 giveaways have been at the root of more own zone chaos then Sheldon and his 9, and Sheldon has 6 more takeaways to boot.

  15. Lowetide says:

    But he (Souray) also gets passed like a house on the side of the road quite a bit too.

  16. Phil says:

    Great post, LT.

    I don’t know if Oiler fans are harder on their team than fans of other teams, but one thing I haven’t heard mentioned much about the Oilers’ first quarter is that they are 5 points ahead of where they were last year. Not to mention those 5 more points came with 3 less home games. Considering that the team has played far from it’s best hockey, I think this is significant.

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable that they play better in the second quarter – Cole and Vis are no longer strangers, the PP is coming around, and frankly the PK is as bad as it possibly can be, so I’m guessing that will get at least marginally better. There’s no reason to believe they can’t beat last season’s Q2 point total of 23 – I think 28 is possible if they show just a little improvement as a team.

    If that happens, they’re on track for 96 points and the playoffs. This is far from unrealistic at this point.

    Kipper looking like a chump tonight. A six year, $35 Million chump. Love it.

  17. Lowetide says:

    Phil,

    Yeah I think they’re doing okay with the asterisk at the bottom stating they are a cap team and should be expected to make the playoffs.

    I suspect this is still a dangerous time for some of these fellows, like Pouliot, Brodziak, Nilsson and Smid this could be a time when they get moved.

    That PK needs some help.

  18. Coach pb9617 says:

    On Gagner: He’s 19 and another Hemsky. He’s going to make mistakes but he’s also going to fly superior sorties one day soon.

    So your grade on Gagner is a potential grade and everyone else is a present grade? You have puppy love for him and your love for what he’s going to be is clouding your view of what he is.

  19. Matt says:

    47%: Fernando Pisani- It pains me to put him here but the entire first stretch of the season has seen the Oilers struggle in areas (PK, EV) where they usually do well and one of the reasons they usually do well is Pisani.

    Dennis keeps telling us that Pisani was the only fwd worth a crap on the PK so far this year. Is he wrong, or are you blaming Gary Carter for the Expos’ tepid offense? :)

  20. slipper says:

    You can’t hold LT’s negative bias toward Smid against him. LT, having been one of the early supporters of the kid, has recieved immeasurable ammounts of grief over this player, mostly from Dennis’ direction.

    It will take more than a 9 game Jan Hejda impersonation for Smid to win back LT’s heart.

    He’s wrong on this one, though. Smid has shown signs of improvement, should command very little on his next contract, and right now he wouldn’t command much in return in a trade.

    Grebeshkov is the Oilers’ bargaining chip on D.

  21. toqueboy says:

    i think you’re hard on grebs and easy on strudwick — if he’s moving up the depth chart, we’re in a bad spot moving forward.

    can brodziak be sent down if we keep reddox? i don’t understand why we aren’t sending a few guys down for a wake up a la rowbert last season

  22. HBomb says:

    Grebeshkov is the Oilers’ bargaining chip on D.

    Counting stats, RFA next summer, deficiencies in his own zone…..I’ve been throwing this out on occasion for awhile now.

    Between Grebeshkov’s situation, Nilsson struggling but on a cheap deal through 2010-11 and Penner’s current “status”, I wonder what rolling those three together could fetch the Oilers in a trade.

    Ilya Kovalchuk? Dare to dream Arnold…..I think he’s going to be on the trade market sooner rather than later, and I’d have to believe the Oilers would be interested and have the assets that might appeal to Atlanta.

  23. slipper says:

    In defense of Brodziak, he hasn’t been given the situational icetime or linemates to produce this season. The gap between defensive zone draws and offensive zone draws taken (Forty-Seven! more in the Def Z) would cause Jarret Stoll’s butt to clench. The forwards he’s spent the most EV icetime with are POO, Stortini, Nilsson and Steve MacIntyre- in that order.

    That’s just some ugly shit right there. There are no reasonable expectations.

  24. slipper says:

    HBomb: If his counting stats remain constant I can’t see why he wouldn’t ask for Tom Gilbert money. The Oilers cannot afford another lofty contract on D. They need bargains there.

    At some point Grebeshkov has to be traded.

  25. Phil says:

    LT,

    I think that, short of another post season miracle run, this team will never meet expectations if you hold them to the standards that their collective salary level suggests. It’s pretty obvious that there are a number of players who are overpaid a) for their contributions in the ’06 run or b) to attract them to play in Edmonton. To me, saying the Oilers aren’t living up to their salaries is mostly an indictment of Lowe. Mostly.

  26. YKOil says:

    HBomb, as much as I agree with you, right about now I would be happy just to have Reasoner back.

    BTW, am I the only one who marvels at the quality of the contracts Snow manages to nail down in New York? I am starting to warm to that Nielsen kid and he is signed for three more years at 533k a pop (only 55k this year). Look at his underlying numbers (face-offs, toi, etc) – staggeringly good player playing for peanuts.

  27. YKOil says:

    Ummm… that 55k number should read 500k.

  28. Lowetide says:

    Coach: Absolutely. Gagner’s a guy I’d be happy with even if his underlying numbers were also awful. But they aren’t.

    As for the Smid mark getting attention, you all do realize he’s played 9 games, right? I think 54% is pretty fair.

  29. slipper says:

    A 54% or C- rating just doesn’t make any sense.

    Are you deducting points for him getting injured?

    I guess the question is 54% of what; your previous projections and reasonable expectation? If that were the case, 9 games or 18 games played, he’s exceeded them all.

    A near even Corsi. A step up in competition. A 0.56GA/60.

    He’s finally producing evidence that you can toss back at Dennis and you seem ambivalent towards him. Why? Because he was traded for Pronger?

    Let’s not make more out of MacTavish playing him at LW than there is. It a far greater indictment of the Oilers’ forward depth than it is of Smid play at defense this season.

  30. slipper says:

    It should be noted that Smid had 6 points in the 88 Czech league game he played up to his draft year, so he obviously wasn’t drafted for his offence.

    He get absolutely no NHL powerplay time. So this idea that his lack of EV offence is his ticket out of the NHL flys in the face of the names like Jason Smith, Chris Phillips, Tyutin, Sauer, Clark, Foote, Brewer, Schultz, Klee, Hannan, Morris, Vochenkov, Rozival, etc,…

  31. Asiaoil says:

    Lord knows I respect the heck out of you LT – but the Smid bashing just makes you look bad. Kid was leakproof against tough opps until he took an elbow to the head – or was it MacT who took the head shot this year and started playing Smid at LW and Pisani at center? Anyway – he’ll be fine.

  32. RiversQ says:

    Nice post LT. I agree with much of the list. Hemsky and Visnovsky have been off the charts. Souray has done well – he’s brought a very good ST game to help offset some of the “drive-bys” he gives up and the fact he probably has to be babysat by 71 at EV.

    I would have defended the Horc grade a little more. His underlying numbers are off the charts – where the faceoffs are, his shot differential, Corsi diff, strength of opp, etc. All that and he is a plus player too.

    Everything is good except his shooting percentage is a little down. Now I doubt he finishes with his customary 12.5-13% this year because he is shooting a lot more than previous years, but I doubt he shoots less than 10-11% overall at the end of the year especially if he’s the down low one timer option.

    This made me chuckle though re: Gagner…

    So he’s off offensively but his plus minus number is improved and against a little tougher opposition and with less impressive linemates than one year ago

    I like Desjardins’ stuff, but the does Quality of Teammates have any value when:

    A) It’s just 20 games. Now I realize that applies to everything and this is a 1st quarter report card so it’s 20 games by definition, but the small number has special significance to this measure IMHO.

    B) We are watching all the games. I find this measure has some value for some random EC team I rarely see, but we have been paying attention here, LT. (if you’re not able to see the games and you give a crap, you’ve probably had a look at the shift charts too)

    We know damn well Gagner has had better linemates this year than last. Last year was almost exclusively the kid line (barring some early jumbling) while he’s had time with several vets this year including 3-4 games with Hemsky as his full time RW. Tougher minutes? Absolutely, but his linemates have been undoubtedly better.

  33. RiversQ says:

    I do think Smid has improved and I’d love to see him get Strudwick out of there. (That’s another thing that boggles the mind about MacT right now – why on Earth does he like this guy’s game?) However, Smid hasn’t been close to outstanding and LT didn’t fail the guy for gosh sakes.

    Smid has played just 107 ES minutes this year and he is -6 at Corsi. If he played as many minutes as Staios, one could argue he would be in the -15 to -20 range, which ain’t great.

    On top of that, if you look at Smid’s faceoffs, he isn’t exactly moving the puck in the right direction consistently. Smid has started more shifts with faceoffs in the off zone than the def zone and he’s finished more shifts with faceoffs in his own zone than the off zone.

    Why all the love? Did I miss something? Is LT grading on “most improved” or potential for anyone besides Gagner? ;)

  34. RiversQ says:

    I forgot this too…

    Asiaoil said…
    Kid was leakproof against tough opps until he took an elbow to the head -

    Judging by the underlying numbers, I’m not sure “leakproof” is the word.

    He has benefitted from an absurd .983 EV save percentage behind him and I guarantee that does not continue. And I will put money on that.

    If the underlying numbers stay as is, and that SV% regresses to the mean, Smid definitely won’t be looking “leakproof.”

  35. RiversQ says:

    YK Oil said…
    Point being – Kevin Lowe tried to have it both ways, MacT has tried to make it work, and the team is no where near where it should be. I believe most of MacT’s issues stem from toeing the company line.

    Quoted for truth. I’m looking forward to the blog posts, YK.

    Anyway, I don’t care what the titles say – Lowe built this team this year and the stink has to be on him as well. The team has big gaping holes in the lineup and that has something to with Lowe’s offseason this year and his last couple of offseasons too.

    MacT has made some wacky choices but IMO 95% of this is explained by personnel and development time. (Incidentally Dennis and HBomb are just wrong about the PK – I really don’t think the cavalry is waiting on the bench – guys like Cogs can’t start PK shifts in their own end and if you can’t do that what good are you right now?)

    I may take a crack at this 27-10-83 thing too. Something smells fishy there – I actually doubt that line was all that good. I don’t rate Penner at ES at all. I think Cole was fine there actually and I’d like to see that again.

  36. slipper says:

    I don’t think I’m taking so much offense to LT’s rating of Smid (I mean really, it’s arbitrary, we’re just blowing air here) as I am to the suggestion that the kid’s career is in peril. The guy’s got 150 NHL game under his belt at twenty-two years of age, and that’s a good sign for players of his ilk. His counting numbers are low so his RFA contract will be cheap, and he’ll already have 300+ NHL games by the age of 25.

    While we’re clarifying, the EV shooting percentage for when Smid’s on the ice is the lowest on the team. Adjust both save and shooting percentage to team average and he remains just a hair in the positive. Instead of leading all Oilers D for lowest GA/60 he’d probabley be a shade higher than Lubo, but still place well in 2nd.

    As for his -6 corsi, it works out that he’s been outshot by roughly 0.33 shots on net per game, and 0.33 blocked shot per game. Pretty insignifgant. I’ve seen game logs where defensemen take swings of +/-20 or more in the Corsi column in just one game. So one could argue that given the right linemate he could be a little above even.

    You’ve argued on behalf of the idea that it’s largely the forwards who drive these results, anyways. There’s only 3 or 4 forwards on this team who are making hay numbers wise. So, for instance, when playing with Horcoff and Hemsky, Smid has a Corsi of +15. Tom Gilbert is just +8, while Grebeshkov is -2.

    The faceoff and shift ending data is pretty much null. Who would argue that +/-3 in either category over 9games can speak to any signifigant trend?

    Re: Penner vs Cole.

    Penner sees a better attack zone faceoff differential than Cole, but his underlying numbers with 10-83 (+24) blow Cole’s away (+2).

  37. B.C.B. says:

    LT: thanks for the good long analysis. I enjoed it, but have some small differences.

    1) cole is ranked too high at 56%. In my books he should be failing. While he hits with regularity, I have missed his trademark cutting towards the center on a rush down the right wing (I would even care if he scored, I just want to see him shot more). He is what we got back for “Pit-cannot”, this is the exchange for our biggest barginning chip in the summer: if this is what we have got, then Lowe gambled and lost. Cole will to have a 06 Peca like stretch drive to impress me now.

    2) Penner ranked higher then Smid . . . Smid has less at bats, but actually tries even time, which is more then can be said about Penner.

    3) I may be on ether, but MAP at 65%. He hasn’t played with NHLers, so his results aren’t there. I wish I could get a mark like this (in one of my class) without doing anything. He has 0.2 pts/game, and that is terrible since he doesn’t hit, rarely goes it to the corners, doesn’t play PK, and seems to be coasting most of the time he is on the ice. If I am on the ether, kept it coming.

    What I really liked:

    1) Staois and Strudwick at 48%. These players have really under performed on the soft parade. If I was coach they would be rotated in/out with Smid, till they wake up or are off the team. I think this reminds us that one of the first things on Tambo’s wish list is a top 4 defensive man, or maybe a couple of 4-6 defensive men circa 06.

    2) Horcoff at 75%. there has been a lot of calling for his blood, but LT is right, he is not playing badly. Just remember 75% is not honour roll (allstar quality), and if Horc was in Grad school he would be on the edge of fluking out.

    3) I love lubo.

  38. HBomb says:

    slipper: If I’m sinking more money into a blueliner, I’m doing it via UFA run at Mike Komisarek OR dealing one of 44/71 in a package for Boumeester and going long-term with him (if he’ll do it). Hell, even option A might require dumping one of the big salaries on the back-end, but could you imagine a Gilbert/Komisarek pairing for the next half-decade? Anyways, Grebeshkov is a prime trade candidate at this point, as is Penner, and Nilsson is probably the one of the three ‘kids’ they’re most willing to move at this point. Problem is that both Nilsson and Penner are LW’s, so at least one LW would have to come back. Damn I wish we had kept Torres or Glencross….

    YKOil: I still wouldn’t want Reasoner back. I made the argument over the summer they either needed to a) find someone better than Reasoner to do that gig on the UFA market or via trade, or b) give those minutes to Pouliot to see if he’d sink or swim. The first option obviously didn’t happen, and MacT clearly didn’t like the second option (see the “Fernando at Center” experiment), but he might be forced to do it now that 34 is gone for an extended period of time.

  39. HBomb says:

    MacT has made some wacky choices but IMO 95% of this is explained by personnel and development time. (Incidentally Dennis and HBomb are just wrong about the PK – I really don’t think the cavalry is waiting on the bench – guys like Cogs can’t start PK shifts in their own end and if you can’t do that what good are you right now?)

    He sure as shit can do better than Penner/Gagner. Just be sure to put Cogliano with another center so he’s not taking draws (say 10-13, 18-51, then 78-26 for instance).

    I may take a crack at this 27-10-83 thing too. Something smells fishy there – I actually doubt that line was all that good. I don’t rate Penner at ES at all. I think Cole was fine there actually and I’d like to see that again.

    I agree with the second part of this, about giving Cole another shot, but it might require something outside-the-box to make it go. Specifically, trying Ales Hemsky at LW. He sets up there on the PP and plays all over the ice anyways, so why the hell not?

  40. JB-"jiggyman" says:

    I agree with most of your ratings, except a few that really stand out..

    I think the majority here are correct. Smid should be ranked higher. As I said preseason, rid the guy of Staios and you’ll see a huge leap in development this season. I still see Visnvosky and Smid’s ideal long term partner.

    Pouliot at 65%, I don’t think he’s done nearly enough to warrant the rating. Closer to 50% IMO. I see a career 4th liner here, although of course I still may be wrong. How you see him so far above Brodziak this season is beyond me.

    I love the Lubo grade. I’m glad I’m not the only one who sees how much Souray benefits from playing with this guy. He’s still adjusting to the team, but this contract will be well worth it. I wanted this guy as an Oiler for years, glad it finally got done.

    Strudwick IMO, should be rated higher than Staios at this point. I may have been premature calling Staios done two years ago, but the decline in play was too obvious. Anyone paired with Staios will predictably struggle. He’ll need PB time sooner than later IMO. Fortunately, the coach is now seeing him as the 5-6 he is.

    Last point, I think the gap between Gilbert and Grebs is much closer than you stated. Although I may be somewhat biased, as Gilbert has never really impressed me, and I hated, and still hate the Gilbert contract. Maybe your a tad harsh on Grebs though.

  41. RiversQ says:

    slipper said…
    The faceoff and shift ending data is pretty much null. Who would argue that +/-3 in either category over 9games can speak to any signifigant trend?

    Re: Penner vs Cole.

    Penner sees a better attack zone faceoff differential than Cole, but his underlying numbers with 10-83 (+24) blow Cole’s away (+2).

    Just picked out these two things because they point to the same problem – it’s too hard to parse such little data.

    Smid is a glass full glass empty kind of thing. Either way we’re talking about just 107min of ES TOI and if you break that down by forwards, etc, the sample size gets so small that it is to laugh.

    Same applies to Penner vs. Cole I would say – both players played a lot more with other linemates than with 10-83. (Just +1/0 EV for Penner as the LW and Cole +2/0 EV) Comparing results in a handful of games each is pretty tough especially when you used the Corsi swing argument on behalf of Smid earlier.

  42. RiversQ says:

    HBomb said…
    He sure as shit can do better than Penner/Gagner. Just be sure to put Cogliano with another center so he’s not taking draws (say 10-13, 18-51, then 78-26 for instance).

    It’s not just the draws though – Cogliano is pretty atrocious in his own end at ES and doesn’t look a whole lot better on the PK to my eye even though the role is better defined and the decisions are fewer. Sure he’s the best bet on the team to grab an SH breakaway, but that’s not the problem here.

    If you go by GF/GA (which I do not recommend because where the PK shifts start and end swings this hugely IMO) then Gagner has been pretty good and no Oiler really pulls away from the pack in either direction. Again small sample sizes abound, yadda yadda.

  43. RiversQ says:

    Ah crap, I effed up that Penner vs. Cole thing. It’s actually, 0/-2 EV and +2 Corsi diff for Cole at LW and +4/-1 and +24 Corsi for Penner at LW.

    Obviously bigger difference but the fact remains there are just a handful of shifts being covered here, (maybe 25-30?) so the numbers are all quite small.

    If you wanted to look at 27-10-83, you have to go back to last year and look at 10-83, with and without 27. Limiting it to 20 games this year is mostly pointless.

  44. RiversQ says:

    HBomb:

    I never should have said “Gagner has been pretty good” on the PK.

    Let’s switch that with “If the Oilers PK was a massive highway bus crash and Gagner were one of the victims, he might have a shot at an open casket.”

    There, that feels more appropriate because they are all getting crushed.

  45. HBomb says:

    HBomb:

    I never should have said “Gagner has been pretty good” on the PK.

    Let’s switch that with “If the Oilers PK was a massive highway bus crash and Gagner were one of the victims, he might have a shot at an open casket.”

    There, that feels more appropriate because they are all getting crushed.

    Ok, that’s better. To the point it made me chuckle.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go back to tossing pennies into a wishing well, while constantly thinking the following three words:

    “Roloson for Madden, Roloson for Madden, Roloson for Madden….”

  46. Black Dog says:

    Where’s Bruce’s essay on Stortini?

  47. Bruce says:

    Hey LT, as usual you give us lots to talk about. :) I agree with much of your commentary although your grading is peculiar in a spot or two. Not much chat about goaltending, but this made me raise my eyebrows:

    Roloson: 3-3-2, .500, 3.02, .913 = 72%
    JDD: 3-1-0, .750, 2.44, .750, .927 = 62% ???

    Sure Roli has played more games, but given that all three goalies have 3 wins each, I would suggest the guy who has played the least has accomplished the most. And if you’re ranking against expectations, that should work in JDD’s favour if anything.

    After his two big wins in the Swamp and MSG, JDD lost the one home game to Toronto where the whole team basically sucked, and has been PB’d ever since. Since then Roli has gotten four consecutive starts, three of them losses. I’m not sure what kind of politics is going on, either among the goalies or between MacT and upper management (theme: “I need more veterans, dammit, and I’m gonna play the shit out of the ones I got”), but it’s left me scratching my head on more than a couple of occasions.

  48. Lowetide says:

    Bruce: I nicked JDD (and Smid for that matter) because he was unable to put himself in a starting position. Rather a tough metric but I didn’t think it wise to give a number that was over 70% to someone who was a fringe roster player.

    INCOMPLETE may have been the fairer mark.

  49. HBomb says:

    LT: back in my school days, the first report card we got each year, after say a quarter of the year was a “progress report”.

    Comments on positives and negatives, but no grades. A couple months later, another report card WITH grades.

    And I just received an Oilers e-mail with the title “Tim Sestito recalled from Springfield”.

    Fuck you Craig MacTavish.

  50. Bruce says:

    Where’s Bruce’s essay on Stortini?

    BDHS: Since you asked … I think “incomplete” would be a much fairer mark than 30 frickin percent for a guy who has only received 70 minutes TOI. Hard to deliver offence from the pressbox or the bench.

    I’ll be the first to say Zack had a tough start. Last year he was solid when he was regularly in the line-up; in the second half of the season he played every game but one and was the Oilers leading plus player in that time with an impressive +10.

    This year for whatever reason he was given little opportunity by the coach to build on that. Call it a slow start if you want, but Zack’s track record is that the more regularly he plays, the better he plays. Instead, MacT screwed around with the Pisani at centre experiment at the expense of young players including Brodziak, Pouliot, and Stortini.

    I’ve said all along, for Zack’s line to be effective he has to be the least talented player on it. If you’re expecting offence from a line including Zack and either SMac or Bowl o’ Rice, well that’s just unrealistic. Poor Kyle Brodziak is showing the effects with an horrendous +0.74 GF ON/60.

    After our new pugilist MacIntyre got his face broken by Godard, Stortini was given a five-game stretch where he played 6-8 minutes each night. It appeared to me his game was coming around: in those games the Oilers went +1/-1 with 46 on the ice, with the minus coming in Detroit where he was one of 15 Oiler skaters with a -1 mark. In those games his line provided physical play and were particularly effective at drawing penalties, one of the strengths of the “Crosstiniaks” of 2007-08.

    Looking at BtN’s penalties drawn/taken metric, in 2008-09, of Oilers with at least 5 GP and 5:00 TOI/GP, Stortini ranks first in most PA ON/60 (7.5, tied with Hemsky) and second in fewest PF ON/60 (3.8, behind only Brodziak 2.6). To this point, his shifts are twice as likely to end with the Oilers PP unit taking the ice than the PK unit. Which is an indirect but important contribution to offence.

    Admittedly that’s from a tiny data set, but physical play without dumb penalties is what you want from your fourth line, isn’t it?

    when a team is having trouble offensively they shouldn’t devote 70 minutes of any season to a guy who is 0-0-0.

    I could say when a team is having trouble physically they shouldn’t devote 420 minutes of any season to a guy with 4 hits (Horcoff). Different guys bring different strengths, and to blame the guy who is 19th on the club in TOI for lack of offence is more than a little harsh in my view. I’d sure look at presumed offensive catalysts like Horcoff (0.95 ESP/60), Nilsson (0.79), Cole (0.78), and Gagner (0.77) before pointing that particular finger at Zack Stortini. Judging Stortini based on points is like judging Ales Hemsky based on giveaways.

  51. spOILer says:

    Horc is tough on the puck, though, in the DET kind of way, and so far I agree with the premise that’s one area where the hit stats might be misleading.

    Then again, when I think of Datsyuk’s hit on Celine last night, I wonder if we’ll see that brave edge from Horc before playoff drive time.

    Hitting certainly isn’t without value. It slows down skaters, helps territorial possession, breaks up plays, creates loose pucks for the hawks out there(like Horc, Vish).

    LT, matching that picture of Hemsky grinning with the Report Card topic is just priceless. Another liner outta the park over the LF fence;)

  52. Sean says:

    Hey LT, good list. I wrote mine here a couple days ago and just read yours. We differ on Grebeshkov and I havent seen Lubo as good as you but I missed 2 weeks of the road trip in Mexico so my ranking might be weighted too heavily on his first half dozen or so error prone games.

    HBomb: I love your suggestion on Kovalchuk. Your right, we do have the assests for such a trade. Kovalchuk is so one dimensional that I wonder of that would make Hemsky no longer a PVP player (surely he’d play with 83). MacT would probably hate him but he’d score so many goals it would be hard to hold on to.

    With Nilssons struggles, I also wonder if Schremp is catching him.

  53. Dennis says:

    It isn’t as much that I don’t like Smid as it is that I really thought we should’ve gotten more for Pronger and it irked me how the Oilers kept spinning how good the guy was.

    It isn’t and wasn’t true but he might still be able to get into the second pairing as a defender in due time. Though just like how I wanted to deal away Matt Greene before we decided to pay him, I don’t want to pay Smid either.

  54. Bruce says:

    It isn’t as much that I don’t like Smid as it is that I really thought we should’ve gotten more for Pronger and it irked me how the Oilers kept spinning how good the guy was.

    Dennis: Smid is good. He’s also 22. He’s not Pronger, but at 22 Pronger was just starting to scratch the surface of the player he ultimately became. It takes time.

    I don’t want to pay Smid either.

    Do you think he’s going to be expensive? His current salary isn’t unreasonable, the Oilers have arbitration rights (I think) and to be sure he hasn’t put up any big (positive :) numbers. In a one- or two-year deal he gets Grebs money, not Gilbert money. If they choose to lock him in long term he really needs to make a statement on the ice first. I pesonally hope he gets the chance again soon.

  55. Dennis says:

    I just always read the Smid arrival as more “Lowe will not do us wrong” hyperbole. I certainly want to see him playing over 43 because I want to know what we’ve got before we make a decision on him.

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