Reasonable at the AS Break (D- the Rest)

Theo Peckham is the only D callup for the Oilers so far this season. Considering age + wear-and-tear that’s a very impressive number. The Oilers do have Jason Strudwick as a #7 man on the roster and he’s played D quite a bit (especially early) along the blue.

Peckham played 11:19 (-2) against Pittsburgh on November 6, 2008 and that’s all she wrote from the minor leagues.

I think it’s reasonable to begin the conversation with the idea that Peckham is still the first callup option should the need arise. We do have half an AHL season to draw information from and I think this season is seeing some of the D who were “in the mix” fall away and it’s not certain who will fill the void.

First, some numbers. The Falcons have scored 104 goals and allowed 137 in the season’s first half (45 games, meaning they’re 2.31GF-3.04GA and a poor team by any measure). They have scored 37 goals on the PP and allowed 49 when the other team has a man advantage (or more). On the PK they’ve been outscored 4-7 and also trail in EN goals by a 2-7 count. One of the SH goals was also an empty netter at the end of the game (I’m including Mathieu Roy’s bizarre goal this week in this scenario btw) so we’ll count it only one time.

So my estimate is that the Falcons EV number is -14 (61-75) and we can safely say anyone who has played 40+ games and has a plus minus below -7 is doing an outstanding job. An average plus minus per game on the Falcons would be about -.104 (.311 divided by 3 as noted by Bruce in the comments). Let’s list all the Dmen by their plus minus per game (10 gp min):

  1. Taylor +.18
  2. Wild +.16
  3. Gabinet +.13
  4. Bisaillon +.074
  5. Hrabel Even
  6. Peckham -.073
  7. Young -.21
  8. Bina -.50
  9. Chorney -.51
  10. Roy -.63

Those who were “better than average” are in bold. Let’s quickly zip through the list. Roy’s falloff is fascinating and under ordinary circumstances I’d spend a lot of time talking about it. Jake Taylor hasn’t played the full season but he’s where you would expect an AHL veteran to be (at the top, beyond the prospects and suspects). Peckham isn’t at the top but is on the good side of the -.104 metric we agreed was zero at the beginning. Wild’s number is the most curious of the entire set because despite being a healthy scratch a lot this season (and he’s also been sent to the ECHL for 6 games) his number is superb against this backdrop (and about to get much better as you’ll see).

This would be the extent of the picture if it weren’t for the blogosphere’s own Jonathan Willis. His work on AHL toughness of minutes gives us a door to step through for the first time and offers us another dimension (I’m trying like hell to get a Rod Serling reference in here and almost called this post “Where is Everybody?”) and a glimpse into these defenders.

From the post at his site (Copper & Blue to the right, it’s also at ON but down the page) we get these toughness of minutes:

Heavy Lifting

  1. Theo Peckham: 1.834
  2. Cody Wild: 1.812


  1. Taylor Chorney: 1.693
  2. Josef Hrabal: 1.658
  3. Robbie Bina: 1.651
  4. Mathieu Roy: 1.608
  5. Ryan Constant: 1.571

Soft Parade

  1. Jake Taylor: 1.481
  2. Bryan Young: 1.476
  3. Sebastien Bisaillon: 1.309
  4. Mike Gabinet: 1.130

We see things more clearly. The tough minute men (Peckham & Wild) are the kids and in fact I believe Chorney would be in the tough minutes category (I’ve used 1.70 as the cutoff and then 1.50 as the second cut) save for a slackening of the rope in the final 10 games or so before the break. The Oilers appear to have decided that their best prospects will get the highest mountains to climb in AAA which is an interesting idea. They also HS Wild enough that I believe he’s an unlikely callup this season (despite having the best rating based on these numbers).

Either way, here’s how I’d list the callups based on these numbers:

  1. Peckham: Has good numbers and some experience.
  2. Wild: These are terrific numbers.
  3. Hrabal: I know they just dumpstered him but why?
  4. Bisaillon: He always shows well.

Roy looks done based on the numbers, I don’t know what to make of it. Jake Taylor’s toughness of minutes means there must be a reason he’s getting those minutes (I imagine they wanted him to make hay and he seems to have done so when in the lineup) and Bryan Young is a strange one (a defensive defenseman who can’t handle the tough assignments after 134 AHL games).

The big mystery in Springfield isn’t “what’s up with Roy?” or “why is Hrabal refusing an ECHL assignment?” or even “is Chorney any good?” The question from Springfield this season is “why is the top rated defender being HS’d and sent to Stockton?”

And that my friends is a head-scratcher.

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14 Responses to "Reasonable at the AS Break (D- the Rest)"

  1. Jonathan Willis says:

    Without knowing time on ice it’s difficult to say, but Peckham’s offense (18 points thru 41 games) is well past Wild’s (6 points in 25 games).

    I wonder what we’re missing – all down the line, the book on Wild has been that he’s an offense-first defenseman who’s a bit of a mess in his own end. This season, he isn’t putting up points, but he’s apparently doing well against tough competition.

    It’ll be interesting to see what happens over the back half of the season.

  2. Bruce says:

    So my estimate is that the Falcons EV number is -14 (61-75) and we can safely say anyone who has played 40+ games and has a plus minus below -7 is doing an outstanding job. An average plus minus per game on the Falcons would be -.311.

    Hate to quibble, LT, but I’m having a little trouble with your math/logic here. As I read that, the Falcons as a team are -14 EV = -.311 per game. Any individual player will only be on the ice for a fraction of a game, therefore the average player should have only a fraction of the minus. Given that 2 of 6 D are on the ice at any given moment, the average minus for the blueline corps should be much close to -0.1 than -0.3.

    Adding up the 10 guys you list, without reconciling for either GP or TOI. their average minus is around -0.14 which is a lot closer to my expected figure than yours.

    Therefore to say somebody at a gross -7 is doing an outstanding job is a bit of an overstatement. A guy playing 20 minutes per game (assuming equal splits on special teams) “should” be around -5. To qualify as “outstanding” I would set the bar a lot closer to Even, and be prepared to qualify that based on quality of minutes.

    Still, it’s pretty clear here that several of the guys are holding their own, but the three at the bottom are just getting killed.

    This has been an outstanding series btw. Well done.

  3. Lowetide says:

    Jonathan- Here are the specific breakdowns for each:

    Peckham 3-5-8
    Wild 1-4-5


    Peckham 41gp, 2-8-10 .244
    Wild 25gp, 0-1-1 .040

    And considering neither would get PP time in the show that is a strong consideration.

  4. Lowetide says:

    Bruce: Of course you’re right. I didn’t adjust for that even though I know better. THis is what happens when you start with a premise (“Peckham is having a good year”) as opposed to just running #’s.

    Still, at -.073 against toughs I’d say he’s doing fine. I’m going to change the original post to reflect same

  5. marriedtotheoil says:

    Well, I freely acknowledge that anyone can have a terrible game, but based on the game I saw in late November, my guess would be bad penalties, and bad judgement. He played with very little detectable hockey sense, always being the wrong guy in the wrong place, and actively botched plays. Also,it seemed like his sole wish was to return to his ancestral home the penalty box, and return there he would at any cost.

    But the 30+ years Falcons fans sitting behind me probably summed his performance in the game up best. “This guy can’t do anything right! How is he +8?!”

  6. Lowetide says:

    married: Good points and I think it must be something like that. Since you’re a Red Sox fan I’d compare it to the time Brunansky drove in 70 runs while having a horrible year. Sometimes luck goes for a long time.

    Enjoy your blog. You summed up the BoSox season (more wine) beautifully. :-)

  7. Coach pb9617 says:

    I’m fascinated by Wild’s numbers as well. This is supposed to be a waterbug with loads of offense and no idea where his zone is.

    Assuming we aren’t missing some glaring problem, these numbers seem to indicate more Andreas Lilja than Oleg Tverdovsky.

  8. B.C.B. says:

    I like the idea of our top defensive prospects playing against the best triple A pitching. Why hide them, if they learn to handle it in the minors, wouldn’t it be better to find out in their first couple of years in the pros.

    Young looks like he is no longer a fringe NHLer, but I like the fact Wild is handling the toughs with some degree of control: that is a good thing for the Oilers futures. We didn’t draft him, so any type of development is a good thing (if he can play as a 6th defensive man in the NHL I’d be happy).

  9. Asiaoil says:

    I’m not that impressed with anyone on the farm right now aside from Peckham. Even with him I think he needs one more year in the AHL before he’s really ready for the next step – otherwise he’ll have to be heavily protected or be in the PB as the 7th guy. No give him another year of the toughest pitching possible in the AHL and he may actually be able to contribute the year after.

  10. Ribs says:

    Married- Peckham’s gotta be smarter than Greene though, right? I sure hope so.

    Have hockey cards gotten so bad that Peckham is a “Marquee” rookie? Where’s the hologram foiled, scratch and sniff, golden fonted, “Top Mightiest Prospect”, Slava Trukhno card? I’d pay a mint for that thing.

  11. Asiaoil says:

    Peckham will probably have a career – but he may look a lot like Staios early on – depends on how patient we want to be with him. He’s still a long way off from making any real difference to a team.

  12. Jonathan Willis says:

    I’m excited about Peckham – hands down the best prospect on the farm, and in the running for best in the system.

    Still, there’s probably another NHL defenseman on Springfield’s roster, and Cody Wild would seem to be the guy, by the numbers. Chorney’s got the pedigree and nice comments down the line (including this season), but is ugly by the numbers.

  13. Matt N says:

    Is it possible Wild has some kind of attitude/ coachability problem? It doesn’t seem like the on ice performance is an issue, so that leaves off ice doesn’t it? Just to be clear I haven’t heard or read anything about him, just trying to deduce an answer.

  14. Coach pb9617 says:

    Is it possible Wild has some kind of attitude/ coachability problem? It doesn’t seem like the on ice performance is an issue, so that leaves off ice doesn’t it? Just to be clear I haven’t heard or read anything about him, just trying to deduce an answer.

    I don’t think anyone can find an answer to questions surrounding prospects. No one is plugged in down there and Flaming is too busy pimping his media empire to do the tough work.

    Wild’s numbers show the best defensive player on the blue, why is he scratched so often and why is he spending so much time in Stockton?

    What in the hell is going on with Chorney?

    Did Roy fall into a manhole?

    Why does Hrabal hate America?

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