Sudden Sam

We’ve been having a little bit of fun tracking Sam Gagner this season, following what was a difficult year for the young phenom. Early on, we wondered if he was just a slow starter but as the season reached the midway point and offense was just a rumor it became a concern. We’re at a point in the season where we can begin to compare players and their progress relative to previous high (or low) water marks.

Since it’s an off day, let’s run some numbers for Master Samwise:

EV Scoring (points per 60)
  • 07-08: 9-24-33 in 1009EVs minutes (1.96/per 60)
  • 08-09: 10-20-30 in 974EVs minutes (1.85/per 60)

PP Scoring (points per 60)

  • 07-08: 4-12-16 in 222PP minutes (4.32/per 60)
  • 08-09: 6-5-11 in 225PP minutes (2.93/per 60)

The EV number is within the range of randomness (read: luck) but the PP number is a disappointment. Gagner is 4th among forwards on the PP (Hemsky-Horcoff-Penner) and if anything should see more time with the man advantage a year from now. It has become somewhat in vogue to rip Ales Hemsky a new one every game or so, and Hemmer’s EV total (2.07) is not a huge leap from where Sam Gagner is today. It’s the Hemsky PP number (6.22) that is worthy of gasps and tells us the kid has a ways to go (Hemsky’s PP number was 3.53/60 at age 19 and his EV number was 2.28–in fewer minutes).

The Splits

  • 07-08 1st 40: 3-13-16 (.400ppg) -11
  • 07-08 2nd 39: 10-23-33 (.846ppg) -10
  • 08-09 1st 37: 3-11-14 (.378ppg) -1
  • 08-09 2nd 36: 13-14-27 (.750ppg) +1

A couple of things pop out: Gagner’s plus minus has improved substantially season-over-season. We know he’s not doing the heavy lifting on this club but that’s real improvement in a vital area before age 20 in the best league on the planet. Big, big arrow in the right direction.

Also, if we add the two first halves together (77gp, 6-24-30 .390) and compare that to the combined second halves (75gp, 23-37-60 .800) we get two completely different players.

Usually these things dissolve as soon as we recognize the trend, but there are Bret Saberhagen’s and Mike Grier’s in the world (Saberhagen could only dominate in odd years, and Grier scored 8 one year and 20 the next for a time).

What can the Oilers do about it? Suggestions are welcome.

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85 Responses to "Sudden Sam"

  1. hunter1909 says:

    What I like about Gagner is, even when nothing was going right for him he was working hard, not getting downcast, but not in that bullshit way 99 out of 100 other people might do this.

    I think he’s going to be a star in the NHL, just as soon as he stops looking like a hologram from Juniors come to play in the bigs.

  2. Woodguy says:

    What can the Oilers do about it? Suggestions are welcome.

    Keep using the modified 2-1-2 (kinda a 1.5-1.5-2) and also keep a player like Nilsson (doesn’t have to actually be Nilsson) on one of his sides so he can play catch with someone and not have to rely solely on work down low for puck possession.

    Have defencemen use the stretch and lob to keep the neutral ice spread which is key to give guys like 89 room to work.

    Have defencemen working behind him who can make the good first pass and not just ring the boards.

    This is a special talent and you can see that he is starting to mature and “get it”. His work in the tough areas has been Hemsky-like lately. He may be small but he’s not getting rammed off the puck as much anymore.

    Here’s to hoping he has good and relatively stable line mates next year, a fore-checking system that plays to their strength, and lots of PP time in a system where players actually move their feet.

    19 years old…..Quick sign him to a 20 year deal!!!

  3. quain says:

    I keep watching that goal he scored against Vancouver and it never gets old. The best part is the backcheck, he just mauls the Canuck for the puck and then he’s off to the races.

    I think another year of slow first half, strong second half is needed before we can call it a trend. I think it’s hard to attribute sucking in his first year in the league for 45 games to be unusual or part of his schema.

  4. anonymous says:

    If it’s a long term trend he’ll be an elite rental player.

  5. bookie says:

    The other day Gagner said he was happy with the new agressive style that the Oilers put in place against the ducks. It seemed like a dig that they have been too defensive focused.

    Today Moreau said this “The subtle changes we made in our system play really paid off. I think the changes Mac has made in our system play, are going to allow us to be more aggressive and take the play to the opposition.”

    Hemsky a few weeks ago said that the team wanted him to play a checking role.

    I think we can confirm that the team feels as though too much emphasis has been put on defense at the cost of offense.

  6. bookie says:

    I agree, this team does look good in the next year or two with both Gags and Hemsky…

  7. DBO says:

    real easy way to improve gagners consistency is to play him with hemsky. let our tow most skilled players feed off each other. Let the coach hide them if possible on line changes, and have horcoff with Penner and O’Sullivan do the heavy lifting.

    Kotalik/new guy – Gagner – Hemsky
    Penner – Horcoff – O’Sullivan

    You can play Cogs or Nilsson on the top line LW, or bring someone in. it also gives us a true skill line, while allowing horcoff to slide into the #2 spot, which is a better fit for him. That 2nd line becomes almost a checking unit, and allows our 3rd line to be softer (which is what it will be if we have cogs with PIsani and Nilsson).

  8. doritogrande says:

    Suggestions are welcome.

    Lock him inside the weight room for the summer because; a) He needs the muscle mass and quick-burst speed to add another dimension to his game, and b) to keep him away from Chad Moreau. Also, Gagner’s skating can improve. It’s okay right now, but can still be improved upon. Send him to Saskatchewan to that woman that made Stortini an NHL player.

  9. LittleFury says:

    I think we can confirm that the team feels as though too much emphasis has been put on defense at the cost of offense.

    What’s the excuse for their sucking on the defensive side?

  10. LMHF#1 says:

    One of our problems is that Gagner and Hemsky can't play together without a rather large and effective player alongside for some reason. I don't think we're going to manage to get this player sadly.

    Gagner's gotten better at faceoffs from what I can tell…or is at least being trusted with more of the close&late (as it were) draws.

  11. Bank Shot says:

    What’s the excuse for their sucking on the defensive side?

    Team design. Everyone knew the Oilers weren’t going to be a good defensive club coming into this season.

    The idea seemed to be that they were going to score a little more, especially on the PP, to compensate.

  12. godot10 says:

    Hemsky and Gagner at EV together is not likely to work, since each of them is better with the puck than without the puck.

    Hemsky, in particular, likes the puck a lot, and is basically a puck hog. He is too old to really coach him out of it. He is what he is. The Oilers have the “ideal” centre to play with him…i.e. Horcoff. Horcoff also makes it possible to play Hemsky tough minutes.

    Guy Lafleur was a puck hog too, and Lemaire did the checking for the two of them also.

    As for Gagner.
    1st 40 games…breaking into the NHL, as an 18-year old.
    2nd 40 games…figuring out he belongs
    3rd 40 games….sophomore slump, opposition figures him out, bad ankle, Nilsson slump.
    4th 40 games…sophmore slump ends early. Nilsson playing better. Adapts to opposition figuring out how to play him.

    MacT deserves a lot of credit for his handling of Gagner, but one has to admire Gagner’s attitude. He didn’t let the sophomore slump defeat him. He didn’t get down when things weren’t particularly going his way.

  13. Sean says:

    My homer opinion was that the beginning of the year was a big adjustment for him.

    1) Pressure on the team from high expectations
    2) His role changed with the vets coming back
    3) He wasnt an unknown commodity anymore and his space was reduced
    4) His ankle injury

    #4 likely had the biggest impact.

    I’m hoping next season he can come in an play strong from the start but nothing matters till he does it.

    Suggestions are welcome

    This team, not only Gagner, needs a guy like Milan Lucic or David Backes. Penner isn’t that guy, JFJ and Stortini aren’t good enough. Those players aren’t easy to find and drafting for need is a mistake so suggestions are welcome as to how to get that player ;)

  14. ian says:

    I saw the interview with Sam after the Van game and I was really impressed by his maturity and yes as posted earlier he has just stuck to his task.
    On a side note, the Oilers are consistently outshot implying that we are giving up defence for the sake of more offensive opportunities but we are not still not getting a lot of shots on goal why the disconnect?

  15. Bruce says:

    It’s the Hemsky PP number (6.22) that is worthy of gasps

    LT: Why am I not gasping? For starters these are raw numbers that include 5v3, whereas the metric most of us set the standard by is based on 5v4. BehindtheNet has Hemsky at 5.12 PPP/60, which ranks him 58th in the NHL among players with 40+ GP and 2:00+ PP TOI per. Be still my heart.

    Interesting also to see how powerplay production stats get turned on their head when looking at Goals rather than Points.

    1.88 Gagner
    1.59 Kotalik
    1.57 Nilsson
    1.43 Penner
    1.33 Horcoff
    1.28 Visnovsky
    1.00 Souray
    0.89 Hemsky
    0.65 Grebeshkov
    0.54 Gilbert
    0.53 O’Sullivan

    … with Andrew Cogliano (1.58 PPG/60) just missing the table cuz he plays a shade under the 2:00/GP threshold (1.93).

    Hemsky’s 31 PPP have him in a 4-way tie for 20th in the NHL, and his 4 PPG put him in a 34-way tie for 173rd. If he made himself a bit more of a shooting option our powerplay might be a lot more effective.

    It has become somewhat in vogue to rip Ales Hemsky a new one every game or so,

    Uh, yeah, sorry about that. Maybe expectations are just too high. I just don’t see anything gasp-inducing in Hemsky’s numbers, at EV or on the PP. “His” PP ranks 20th in the NHL in goals, 22nd in percentage, and his team sits on the outside of the playoff race looking in. So his production, while decent, can hardly be interpreted as a positive difference maker.

  16. rickibear says:

    Sam Gagner:
    Sept. 06-Apr.O7 London 53 games
    Aug 07 -Sept 9 07 Super Series 8 games
    Sept 07-Apr 3 08 79 games + pre season

    All as a 17 & 18 year old.

    This year his 19 yr old year.

    Games 1-30 .27Pts/gm
    Games 31-53 .48Pts/gm
    Games 54-73 1.1Pts/gm

    Is this year a trend. I would like to think the young man was experiencing the prolonged play effect more playoff run players have.

    You could see a difference in his play at the start of the year. He was more physically capable. Game 40 on he has looked like the young man in the super series only he making those plays against NHL players.

  17. DBO says:

    i will say i am pleasently surprised by gagner’s potential as a goal scorer. he seems to have a better shot then i thought. At first i figured he’d be hemsky light, but now I think he could become a 25 to 30 goal scorer as his strength and confidence increases. that is why i’d like to see him with hemsky. let’s run power vs power and see what happens. If you think of hemsky as a puck handler, i think he’d be more inclined to make quick passes if he knew he’d get it back. and that is exactly how Gagner and Nilsson play together. You could even use Kotalik on that line for one timers, and let the other two play pass back and forth.

  18. mc79hockey says:

    LT: Why am I not gasping? For starters these are raw numbers that include 5v3, whereas the metric most of us set the standard by is based on 5v4. BehindtheNet has Hemsky at 5.12 PPP/60, which ranks him 58th in the NHL among players with 40+ GP and 2:00+ PP TOI per. Be still my heart.

    I don’t know that the goals crack makes a ton of sense – Hemsky creates a lot of goals that the Oil score on the PP – but the Oilers are abysmal on the PP this year. With Hemsky on the ice, they’re barely cracking 6.0 G/60 at 5 v 4. Yikes.

  19. bookie says:

    What’s the excuse for their sucking on the defensive side?

    I am not saying that it is true, but I suspect some players feel as though they are playing a style that does not suit them and as such it handcuffs them. The psycology of an aggressive forcheck plays a role as well, we all remember how Torres could sometimes turn a game around with his play, but its hard to have those games when you are holding back a bit.

    So, players become tentative and as such less effective overall (both offensivly and defensivly). Its kind of like when a team is trying to hold onto a lead near the end of a game, in many cases (with the exception of some really defensive teams) it fails because the intensity is lost.

    My experience is that when the Oilers have problems MacT rolls back the aggressivness of play “play smarter”, “Eliminate mistakes”, “dont take unneccesary chances”, etc… These are all smart things to do, but I wonder if thinking about mistakes all of the time throws some young ‘gung ho’ players off their stride.

    I dunno, its a professional league and those things should not affect play, but we all know that psycology plays a HUGE part in NHL success still.

  20. godot10 says:

    //If you think of hemsky as a puck handler, i think he’d be more inclined to make quick passes if he knew he’d get it back.//

    When has Hemsky ever shown any inclination to be a give-and-go kind of guy? Watch him on the power play. He is NOT a give-and-go kind of guy. He hangs onto the puck until he can feed a perfect highlight reel pass through 5 sets of skates and sticks till it lands on the tape of a wide open player for a wide open shot. He needs linemates who can play without the puck. Hemsky to too old to fundamentally change the nature of his game.

    Gagner with Hemsky at even strength is an inherently bad idea. I’d actually even rather have Gagner run one of the power play units and Hemsky the other.

    1st unit…Hemsky, Horcoff, and whomever with Visnovsky and Kotalik on the point. It might be interesting to try Gilbert as the guy in front of the net.

    2nd unit…Gagner, O’Sullivan, Penner, Souray, and Grebeshkov.

  21. Woodguy says:

    real easy way to improve gagners consistency is to play him with hemsky.

    I agree with the others in this thread that it probably wouldn’t work.

    In addition to the reasons already listed, it also puts your two highest skilled players on the ice against the top two defensive pairing on the other team.

    You lose the ability to get some softer minutes for highly skilled guys.

    I think its important to make the opposition coach decide which line to play his top pair against, don’t make it easy and put them both on, especially when they are not well suited to play with each other.

    If the Oilers were deeper in secondary scoring then you might be able to get away with it, but as it stands I think it hurts more than it helps.

    I think 89 is starting to see #1 pairings already.

    I wasn’t tracking it closely, but to my eye Lemaire was playing Schultz against 89 as opposed to 83. Lemaire has a couple of good pairings for shutting down the O, but his best guy is Schultz.

    It was also Mitchell who 89 burned on his highlight reel goal, who is Vigneault’s go-to guy. Didn’t pay enough attention to the match ups to see if that was happenstance or by design.

  22. Woodguy says:

    My experience is that when the Oilers have problems MacT rolls back the aggressivness of play “play smarter”, “Eliminate mistakes”, “dont take unneccesary chances”, etc… These are all smart things to do, but I wonder if thinking about mistakes all of the time throws some young ‘gung ho’ players off their stride.

    I dunno, its a professional league and those things should not affect play, but we all know that psycology plays a HUGE part in NHL success still.

    This is a great point.

    Lackluster starts have been a problem with this team for a while. (while = years)

    Last year it seemed than the team didn’t start skating until GlenX made a big hit or other type of active play that got the guys “into it”

    With a more aggressive forecheck where more players are moving their feet from the get go, its not as tough to “get into the game”.

    With the more passive style where two of your forwards are dropping back to stand in the neutral zone, the blood doesn’t start pumping like it does when you are skating hard. You aren’t hitting as much to “get into it”, and its simply not as much fun to play…at least that’s what the team seems to say.

    A happy energetic Oiler team with the current roster gets into the playoffs this year, if they play a happy energetic system all year.

    MacTavish seems to change the forecheck depending on who they are playing, but has played 1-2-2 way more this year than last year.

    If you want to 1-2-2 trap against Detroit because 5 of 6 defensemen can make the first pass consistently to beat a 2-1-2 (or 1.5-1.5-2), then go ahead, but against most teams there really is no reason to be that passive…especially if your team is youngish, fastish and dislikes playing passively.

  23. knighttown says:

    I think we can confirm that the team feels as though too much emphasis has been put on defense at the cost of offense.

    What’s the excuse for their sucking on the defensive side?

    On a side note, the Oilers are consistently outshot implying that we are giving up defence for the sake of more offensive opportunities but we are not still not getting a lot of shots on goal why the disconnect?

    There seems to be fair amount of questions about style of play and since today is an off day, it might be a good time to release some of the work I’ve done on outshooting stats in comparison to the score of the game. The sample size isn’t huge yet (about a dozen games) but the results certainly imply a trend.

    Edmonton Oilers SF/SA (post all star break):

    If the game is tied:

    +12 shooting differential

    If the Oilers are behind:

    +13

    If the Oilers are ahead:

    -111

    A few of my conclusions:
    -Either “safe is death” in the new NHL or the Oilers don’t have the personnel to play the bend but not break style properly. I’d have to run other teams to see if they have similar splits.

    -Reading between the lines of Gagner’s, Hemsky’s and Moreau’s quotes, I’d assume they have no real issue with the way this team plays while tied or behind, but rather, the way they defend a lead.

    Concerns with this data:

    -like an terrible NFL team that leads the league in passing yards simply because they are always behind, does a team that is behind “usually” outshoot?
    -would Dennis’ scoring chance data follow this same trend?

  24. Bruce says:

    I don’t know that the goals crack makes a ton of sense

    MC: Eh? If you’re talking about the “crack” that Hemsky doesn’t score enough actual Goals on the PP, the numbers speak for themselves. He has been a perimeter player on the PP all year, doesn’t exploit seams to take the puck toward the net or even shoot it in that direction, which I see as a significant factor in the static nature of our powerplay that many folks have commented on.

    the Oilers are abysmal on the PP this year. With Hemsky on the ice, they’re barely cracking 6.0 G/60 at 5 v 4. Yikes.

    Yikes indeed. The Oilers’ production with Hemsky on the ice is only slightly better than with Hemsky off the ice, and in PPGF ON/60 he ranks just 6th of 11 players on the club who meet the 40 GP/2:00 PPTOI threshold. His contribution in assists is fine, in goals not so fine, and in “unofficial assists” not so fine. He’s not a shooter, he’s not a decoy, the puck goes through Ales and the results are nothing special.

  25. bookie says:

    Edmonton Oilers SF/SA (post all star break):

    If the game is tied:

    +12 shooting differential

    If the Oilers are behind:

    +13

    If the Oilers are ahead:

    -111

    This is exactly what it seems like when watching. This team plays terrified with a lead. It could be confidence or it could be that the stratagy of the game changes too much for this group.

  26. Jonathan Willis says:

    What can the Oilers do about it? Suggestions are welcome.

    If only the Oilers had some kind of summer boot camp – they could hold it in California, maybe – where Oilers players could work on off-season conditioning and muscle.

    Ethan Moreau seems like a gritty, in-shape guy – does he have a brother by any chance? Because if he did, I’d guess that guy could do a good job running the camp.

    Than, if Gagner attended, maybe he could get past his early-season slumps.

  27. Traktor says:

    The thing that I find remarkable is that Gagner’s confidence never dropped in the slightest. There was a stretch of games where he was having a negative impact on the team and you’d figure he would start getting pucks in deep and play safe but he just kept on challenging players and tried to make plays. The kid believes in himself and that’s half the battle.

  28. Schitzo says:

    The kid believes in himself and that’s half the battle.

    That was one aspect of drafting Gagner over the czech that I do really agree with. It’s purely an assumption, but it probably helps to have a dad who was in the NHL that you can call when you’re having a slump.

  29. Schitzo says:

    Edit: Unless your dad is Patty Roy, because his advice will be to go beat up a stripper or something.

  30. Lowetide says:

    Bruce said “BehindtheNet has Hemsky at 5.12 PPP/60, which ranks him 58th in the NHL among players with 40+ GP and 2:00+ PP TOI per. Be still my heart.”

    Interesting. I’m wondering Bruce how many of them would rank as actual PP performers. Your low-end qualifier probably allowed several fringe-types.

    How many who have played 65+ games and had 3.5+ PP minutes are ahead of him? You know, the 1st line PP guys?

    And then, how many of THOSE players are on teams that are elite PP teams (the Detroits)?

    Finally, how many NW division forwards have a better number using 65 games and 3.5+ minutes as the criteria?

    Hemsky has done well in the past in this area.

    http://lowetide.blogspot.com/2008/07/reasonable-expectations-08-09-hemsky.html

  31. Schitzo says:

    I don’t know how to do it, but can you filter Hemsky’s PP results to the time when Lubo went down? I’m suspicious that his numbers fell off a cliff at that point.

  32. Coach pb9617 says:

    LT, you seem to forget that the kid had a bum ankle for what may or may not be an extended period during this season.

    Have defencemen use the stretch and lob to keep the neutral ice spread which is key to give guys like 89 room to work.

    Welcome to the club wg!

    I think we can confirm that the team feels as though too much emphasis has been put on defense at the cost of offense.

    And I think it’s awesome that Moreau stays the company guy, nose a dull brown.

    real easy way to improve gagners consistency is to play him with hemsky.

    That takes him from Nilsson. He likes Nilsson.

    Send him to Saskatchewan to that woman that made Stortini an NHL player.

    Annie Savoy?

  33. Schitzo says:

    That takes him from Nilsson. He likes Nilsson.

    Not if Nilsson plays LW.

    It might make for the softest, most frustrating line we’ve seen since we paired up Hemmer and Samsanov, but hey.

  34. Icecastles says:

    Schitzo said…Edit: Unless your dad is Patty Roy, because his advice will be to go beat up a stripper or something.

    I am reading this killing time before an interview for a counseling job to help fellow students with their emotional and personal problems. Now I’m laughing out loud at this post… I hope no one asks me what’s so funny.

    A few people have mentioned we need a big physical checker to skate on the Hemsky line and make space for the danglers. I’m 100% playing devil’s advocate here, but wouldn’t that be exactly what thecaptainEthanMoreau should be good at? Again. I’m playing devil’s advocate here. But it does seem to make a certain amount of sense….

  35. Schitzo says:

    But it does seem to make a certain amount of sense….

    What we need is Moreau without the stupid penalties. The scary thing is that the closest we have on this team that meets that description right now is Zorg.

    Dare to dream, maybe one day it will be JFJ?

  36. GSC says:

    Lowetide,

    Growing up in Ohio as an Indians fan, as a baseball player during the summers before we had a year-round rink, and as just another kid named Sam, I just happened to be a pitcher.

    My dad gave me a certain nickname after Sam McDowell, the great lefty for the Tribe. I bet you can guess what that nickname was, and it sticks to this day…

    Thanks for the ride on the nostalgia train, which isn’t many years ago but still reminds me of those hot, humid, endless summer days when I’d toe the rubber.

  37. JRM* says:

    What can the Oilers do about it? Suggestions are welcome.

    They can Start by putting their heads between their knees and praying that Samwise in June is closer to his second half performances than the Mr. Un-October these numbers suggest..

  38. pboy says:

    You can’t play theCaptainethanmoreau with Hemmer because Captain Penalty doesn’t pay attention to the puck when he doesn’t have it and he goes offsides constantly. Moreau has decided that he is the newest incarnation of Bobby Orr and he needs to have the puck on his stick and be the one to carry it over the opponents blue line. With a guy like Hemmer who likes to make so many moves around the blue line, theCaptainethanmoreau would be offsides once a shift.

  39. Coach pb9617 says:

    Edmonton Oilers SF/SA (post all star break):

    If the game is tied:
    +12 shooting differential

    If the Oilers are behind:
    +13

    If the Oilers are ahead:
    -111

    This is awesome stuff – are you tracking this by hand KT?

    I like that everyone here ignores the 800 pound gorilla in the room when discussing the space clearing winger. The one that turns Hemsky into a top-shelf superstar.

  40. pboy says:

    But he’s so fat!!!

  41. Schitzo says:

    I like that everyone here ignores the 800 pound gorilla in the room

    Pfft, he couldn’t weigh more than 325, tops.

  42. jon k says:

    Jonathan Willis:

    If only the Oilers had some kind of summer boot camp – they could hold it in California, maybe – where Oilers players could work on off-season conditioning and muscle.

    Ethan Moreau seems like a gritty, in-shape guy – does he have a brother by any chance? Because if he did, I’d guess that guy could do a good job running the camp.

    Than, if Gagner attended, maybe he could get past his early-season slumps.

    Gagner is actually extremely committed to physical fitness and training in the offseason. It was touted by Lowe as being part of the reason they had him come up with management at the 2008 draft. Some garbage about being an example of what it takes to make the team at 18.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=db5_qG5KlsA

    The video is from the summer prior to his 18 year old season.

    His dad is also currently Director of Player Development for the Canucks.

    I’d wager he probably knows a thing or two about dedication in the offseason to becoming a better pro.

  43. Coach pb9617 says:

    Pfft, he couldn’t weigh more than 325, tops.

    Two people just stuck their heads in my office to see what I was laughing at.

  44. jon k says:

    “I like that everyone here ignores the 800 pound gorilla in the room when discussing the space clearing winger. The one that turns Hemsky into a top-shelf superstar.

    Ryan Smyth?

  45. Woodguy says:

    A few people have mentioned we need a big physical checker to skate on the Hemsky line and make space for the danglers. I’m 100% playing devil’s advocate here, but wouldn’t that be exactly what thecaptainEthanMoreau should be good at? Again. I’m playing devil’s advocate here.

    You don’t need a checker per se, but a larger body who can get the puck in the corner and pass it out, and also put the return pass in the back of the net….kinda like Penner. Although I think Hemsky would benefit from someone with more of a shooting mentality.

    Someone mentioned in one thread that Hemsky’s ppg with Penner on his line this year is 96pts over 82 games.

    96pts is fine.

    A real beauty for Hemsky would be Simon Gagne. At 6’0 195 he’s not a monster, but he’s tough on the boards and can do what Hemsky needs his LW to do and he’s can score.

    Not only that, but he’s Philly’s best rated penalty killing forward with 4.98GA/60 4v5 averaging 2.28m/60.

    Not sure you can pry him out of Philly, but they need to move some $$$ and I don’t think anyone is stupid enough to bite on Briere or Lupul(but this is the NHL, someone is probably stupid enough), and Carter and Richards aren’t going anywhere…..Hartnell will probably be moved…

    Put 27 with 89 and Gagne with 83 and your top two lines are very, very good.

    Or you put Gagne with Gagner and leave Horpensky alone.

  46. Schitzo says:

    Or you put Gagne with Gagner and leave Horpensky alone.

    Rod Phillips is on the train to having a stroke as it is. Why you gotta make it worse?

  47. jon k says:

    Just because I’m in a researching kind of mood…

    “Send him to Saskatchewan to that woman that made Stortini an NHL player.”

    That would be Liane Davis, daughter of recently passed Oiler scout, Lorne Davis.

    Apparently Eberle is going to her for work on his skating in the offseason. Checking the testimonials on her website it also seems Stortini is a repeat customer. Good on him.

  48. Dennis says:

    He doesn’t show his downswings in public but 89 himself admitted that he went through a stretch earlier this season where he was pretty much devoid of confidence.

    Overall, though, the kid should be gold and if 10 ever goes through another full season healthy, we should be a very good team at EV any season now.

    Looking at next season, though, I’m not really sure how the Oil plan on running things. If 27 were brought back to play PVP with 10-83, then you’re looking at 19-89-13-34 being four of the other top nine forwards and what we need is another pivot and another left winger.

    Just a thought but how about reuniting Moen-Pahlsson and having Pisani be the new Great Gazoo: Rob Neidermayer? Though, Pahlsson might not be the same guy and he’s probably looking for a payday considering he took a nice cut to do the tough sledding for the Ducks.

    Anyway, we really don’t know what the plan is and it depends on a few things:

    - does the org consider 13 a pivot?
    - is 27 done?
    - is 12 done?
    - is 78 done?
    - how about 18?

    I think the Oilers could potentially move away an affordable top nine contract in 78 and even I don’t know if I’d want to start ’10 having him play the 3rd line pivot. The ship’s probably sailed on him because they could’ve tried him and 51 this season in that role and instead they wasted it on 13.

    So, does 51 get that gig next year? Do you trust him in that role? If that happens, is 78 all of a sudden now a centre who’ll reunite with 22 with 46 on the right side?

    Could a guy like 46 be part of the PK problem, I wonder?

    And that’s just the forwards.

    There are a lot of questions heading into next season and given all the cash tied up on D and The Nutty Suppressor’s taste for big game along with the emergence of 37, you’d have to think that 77′s going out the door for a forward.

    Plus, there’s the netminding.

    I always go back to the fact that this team’s good at EV to make the playoffs but it’s the ST – the PK specifically – that’s killed this club.

    So, given all the pieces we do have here, do we have enough to fix the PK for next season?

    It looks like the coaching will have to change, we’ll have to bring in new players and/or some new guys will have to be cycled into the PK role.

  49. Icecastles says:

    “I like that everyone here ignores the 800 pound gorilla in the room when discussing the space clearing winger. The one that turns Hemsky into a top-shelf superstar.

    Ryan Smyth?

    No. Robbie Schremp.
    After a summer of Dinners With Dustin.

  50. mc79hockey says:

    That would be Liane Davis, daughter of recently passed Oiler scout, Lorne Davis.

    Boy what are the odds that not only is the best possible person for the trainer’s job related to the GM, the best possible person for the off-ice conditioning job is related to the captain and the best possible skating teacher is related to a former scout?

    Astronomical. Truly friends, we live in an amazing age.

  51. Coach pb9617 says:

    Someone mentioned in one thread that Hemsky’s ppg with Penner on his line this year is 96pts over 82 games.

    Over the last two years.

    I need to gather all of the Horpensky info and do a post on it so I don’t have to keep reposting it here.

    - does the org consider 13 a pivot?

    If they do, ‘the org’ should be beheaded.

  52. oilerdago says:

    //- does the org consider 13 a pivot?

    If they do, ‘the org’ should be beheaded.//

    …or shown the door?

  53. Coach pb9617 says:

    …or shown the door?

    Given the org’s “let them eat cake” attitude, I think a beheading is more fitting.

  54. oilerdago says:

    Text for Coach. Katz wants a word with you.

  55. Coach pb9617 says:

    Text for Coach. Katz wants a word with you.

    DAMMIT! I just got this on my phone:

    “The head is going nowhere”

  56. NormanMendoza says:

    mc79hockey –

    This isn’t a justification that makes it right, but there is a tendency in virtually all areas of employee recruitment/contractor selection which favours someone who “knows someone who you trust.” Not uncommon at all. I don’t find their level of cronyism much different than what I see in business regularly.

    They haven’t hired her though — as Steve Serdachny is there skating coach. (don’t know who he knows)

    Liane Davis had Stortini and Schremp sent to her. Not sure if Brodziak did too.

  57. jon k says:

    Mendoza:

    Liane Davis is indeed independent. Stortini and Schremp were sent to her because they have a common agent, Scott Norton who recommended they attend.

    It is interesting to note she seems to get a lot of business from first round draft picks in their 18 year old seasons.

    Free lessons for publicity purposes?

  58. jon k says:

    On an unrelated note, Boston is looking like a good team to come out of the East.

    They’ve got some very substantial talent being paid below value (Krejci, Kessel, Wheeler, Lucic) in addition to a defense that is anchored around Chara who has only gotten better over time.

    The nice thing for their fans is that the window might last another season as well. Though Krejci and Kessel are looking at big pay raises this offseason, as I noted in the previous post’s comments, Fernandez is coming off the books this season which will cover the difference in their salaries.

    Despite that, if I were a GM, I’d consider looking into whether they might be willing to part with Bergeron. He hasn’t performed to expectations since his return from concussion and the offense is doing well without any great contribution from him. He’s making 4.75 for another two seasons, but he has a track record of being able to murder lesser opposition and he’s not bad on the faceoff dot either (~54% this season).

    Buy low, sell high. Might only take a pick and a mid-high range prospect. Petry or Nash come to mind. Petry because I think management must be a little disappointed in his season, and Nash because of the possibility of a disconnect between what management want for him and want he wants for him.

  59. bookie says:

    I like that everyone here ignores the 800 pound gorilla in the room

    Pfft, he couldn’t weigh more than 325, tops.

    NICE, thats a 3 pointer!

  60. Doogie2K says:

    My experience is that when the Oilers have problems MacT rolls back the aggressivness of play “play smarter”, “Eliminate mistakes”, “dont take unneccesary chances”, etc… These are all smart things to do, but I wonder if thinking about mistakes all of the time throws some young ‘gung ho’ players off their stride.

    I dunno, its a professional league and those things should not affect play, but we all know that psycology plays a HUGE part in NHL success still.

    Ironically, playing not to lose is the surest way to do precisely that. The Oilers have spent a lot of this year playing not to lose, both to my eye (when I’ve watched) and by KT’s numbers (nice work, BTW).

    Or you put Gagne with Gagner

    Gene Principe just sprouted wood and he has no idea why.

  61. Quinn says:

    I have heard some grumblings about Chad Moreau’s training regimen. What is wrong with it? I am asking honestly, since in the MSM it is always given praise.

    Just looking for details.

  62. Backhand says:

    There are some great old articles (I think on HF) about Schremp and Stortini attending those summer camps in saskatchewan with Lianne Davis.

    Basically shows why one is in the NHL and the other isn’t.

  63. Woodguy says:

    I need to gather all of the Horpensky info and do a post on it so I don’t have to keep reposting it here.

    Please let us know when its up!

  64. danny says:

    knighttown:

    wow… thats a pretty startling statistic. Any idea how that meshes with the other teams in the NW? Is it a huge aberration of the norm like it seems it would be?

    I’m convinced the Oilers are more effective when theyre behind because the D help the forwards with puck support.

    I’d guess theres an increase in Scoring chances FOR and AGAINST, when the Oilers are losing, but by my eye, I’d bet that its a marked improvement in ratio when the Oilers get more puck support from their defensemen.

    Unfortunately, in terms of defensemen helping the forwards with any regularity, it simply doesn’t happen unless its late in the 3rd and we need 2 goals to tie it up.

    That said, our EV play isnt our achilles, but when the play remains in your own end everytime you have a lead, its something that likely can be fixed.

  65. knighttown says:

    @ Coach, Danny, Doogie

    Thanks, and a few answers. Yes, I am trying to track this manually by going through the play-by-play on NHL.com.

    Unfortunately, in terms of defensemen helping the forwards with any regularity, it simply doesn’t happen unless its late in the 3rd and we need 2 goals to tie it up.

    You’re theory on pinching and supporting d-men may be bang on. The Oilers are pretty poor at defending the cycle so it makes sense to keep the puck out of your own end as much as possible. One way to do that is to cycle the puck yourself but a two person cycle is impossible with our team of imps. However, when the center/strong side defenseman has the green light to close off the strong side wall the Oilers are quick enough to do some damage.

    The stats show they actually do attack when they are tied its just when they lead that they turn off the switch.

  66. Coach pb9617 says:

    I have heard some grumblings about Chad Moreau’s training regimen.

    It’s a running joke here. There are certain silly statements that the below-average fan likes to trot out about the Oilers and “Chad Moreau’s conditioning program causes all of the Oilers injuries” is but one of them. It’s taken on a life of it’s own here, much like the “Penner is fat” jokes.

  67. bookie says:

    Ok, I am telegraphing my cheering tonight because there are no games that directly affect the Oilers, BUT there are some indirect affects though.

    First, I want Detroit to lose 9-1 and for Datsyuk to score on his own net twice. This should have them in the mood to make a point by destroying the Preds on Thursday.

    I want the Flames & Kings to be a bloodbath of injuries, I want to see the all four goalies hurt and at least 9 or 10 guys from each team out for at least a week. We play LA, Cal, Cal next.

    If we fans just do our part and cheer correctly we can get the Oilers into the Playoffs (I learned that on a video from the Oilers site).

    Clap Clap?

  68. danny says:

    wait… you mean Penners not actually fat? I wonder if Matheson really is then?

    Knighttown, I remember a big concern of mine when we lost DVO and Peca, and brought in Sykora, that our puck possession would take a significant hit. Those two guys were gold at seperating the opposition from the puck… kind of pro-active puck recovery by being damn good in the neutral and weakside ice.

    Well we have only regressed in that part of the game, and all too often our defense are being backed in too far too quickly because of it.

    It just seems like weakness thats best covered by being proactive. Retain the puck in the offensive zone, give the smaller skilled guys a chance to succeed and bet that they can capitalize at a higher rate than you surrender by activating your defensemen.

    It all comes down to coaching styles.

    MacTs is definitely the superior with a proper roster built to implement it IMO, but this roster just don’t have the bodies up front to drive puck posession.

    I just would have liked to see him give it a shot, but for some reason the guy consistently fell down the same mineshaft all season long.

    He seems unable to fix something unless hes given the players he desires to accomplish it.

  69. Quinn says:

    Thanks for the clarification coach.

    So, is it better for Penner to be fat or to train the Moreau-way and be injured for half the season?

    Damocles’ sword, eh?

  70. Lowetide says:

    There are actually videos available that show the Chad Moreau method.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcFSOnumgZA

  71. Bruce says:

    How many who have played 65+ games and had 3.5+ PP minutes are ahead of him? You know, the 1st line PP guys?

    OK, let’s do something like that. First, however, a note about cherry-picking. I note your paramters are ones that Hemsky barely qualifies for; if you had said 4:00 a game or 70 GP, he would be excluded. But by putting the lower-end parameters at the “Hemsky Line” it will have the effect of excluding as many other players as possible while including Ales himself. (I know this principle well, cuz I’m not above using it myself on occasion. :)

    I initially chose 40 GP cuz I generally take a number around 1/2 of the total GP to weed out the Brules and Schremps of the world. A 40-gamer is an NHL regular. But let’s up it to 60. (BtN doesn’t offer a “65″)

    I also chose 2:00 PPTOI cuz the next threshold offered by BtN, 5:00, is only met by 5 players in the entire league (Kovalchuk, Phaneuf, Green, Ovechkin, Malkin). But a guy who plays 2:00 per is at least a PP regular, if not a first unit guy, so I cut it off there. For many studies I actually set this lower, at 1:00, to include the guys who play at least a little bit, but for this study I wanted the top minute guys. But BtN’s practical limit of 2:00 doesn’t restrict it quite enough.

    So let’s import the BtN data for the 60 GP guys only into a spreadsheet and take the top 150 guys in PP TOI/60, an average of 5 per team, and declare them the first-unit guys. (The cut-off is 2.88 minutes)

    Among those 150 guys Ales Hemsky ranks 37th in PPP/60.

    And then, how many of THOSE players are on teams that are elite PP teams (the Detroits)?

    The 36 guys ahead of him come from 14 different clubs, confirming the clustering effect you allude to. So let’s add one more parameter and only qualify the guys who lead their team in PPP production. This elevates Hemsky all the way to 15th. Which is as favourable a light as I can put on it, and it’s still just middle of the pack.

    I’m not saying he sucks and I’m not saying the team would be better off without him, but when you compare him to his peers playing heavy minutes and leading other powerplays, I don’t see a statistical argument that Ales is a difference-maker.

  72. Lowetide says:

    Bruce: Not quite the stated requirement (65GP), but we’re getting there.

    Now, how does Hemsky rank in the NW?

  73. Schitzo says:

    Bruce: Not quite the stated requirement (65GP), but we’re getting there.

    You’re bossy. I like that.

  74. danny says:

    Would it be better to talk in terms of percentile versus rank?

    Then you could knock off your highest and lowest divisions (PP%) and still have a ranking that isnt affected by the shaving of candidates.

  75. bookie says:

    Ok, here’s another way that I am cheering through convoluted channels for the Oilers.

    I hope the Flames go far into the playoffs.

    Why? They will be forced to keep Keenan on and Sutter will become available to coach in Edmonton, which is closer to the Ranch anyway!

  76. Bruce says:

    Bruce: Not quite the stated requirement (65GP), but we’re getting there.

    OK, let’s make it your 65 games, LT, it’s easy enough to do that manually from the short list. That excludes the guys with the 15-game injuries (like Selanne) and still includes the guys with 10-game injuries (like, conveniently, Hemsky). That drops 3 guys above Ales from the list who played 60-64 games, moving Hemsky all the way up to 34th. In fact, let’s just say “guys who have played 69 or more games” which allows us to ditch Mike Green while we’re at it, which bumps Ales all the way up to 33rd. :) The 32 guys above him all have more PPP/60 and more GP than Hemsky; I can’t pare the list any further without cutting Ales himself.

    Now, how does Hemsky rank in the NW?

    Limiting it to the 150 PPTOI leaders on the initial league-wide list, Hemsky ranks tied for third in the NW, behind the leaders of two division rivals (Cammalleri, M.Koivu) and ahead of the leaders of the other two. Again, middle of the pack. In the Western Conference, which is more to the point since Conference Standings Mean Everything, Ales ranks 24th.

    Relaxing the minutes requirement a tad, we get this for the NW:

    Player ….. PPTOI/GP .. PPP/60
    ——————————-
    1. Cammalleri . 3.83 … 6.31
    2. M.Koivu …. 3.34 … 5.52
    3. Kesler ….. 2.34 … 5.26
    4. Svatos ….. 2.25 … 5.19
    5. Hemsky ….. 3.90 … 5.12
    5. Nolan …… 2.93 … 5.12

    And if you change the metric to measure team success with the guy on the ice (PPGF ON/60), then a whole bunch of other guys enter the equation. I’ll limit this to guys with 3:00+/GP:

    Player …. PPTOI/60 . PPGF ON/60
    ———————————
    1. Brunette … 3.12 … 8.36
    2. Sundin ….. 3.22 … 8.06 (37 GP)
    3. Bouchard … 3.06 … 7.56
    4. Cammalleri . 3.83 … 7.53
    5. P.Stastny .. 3.90 … 7.52
    6. M.Koivu …. 3.34 … 6.95
    7. Hejduk ….. 3.75 … 6.87
    8. Iginla ….. 4.71 … 6.86
    9. Smyth …… 3.88 … 6.82
    10.Gagner ….. 3.06 … 6.45
    11.Bertuzzi … 3.97 … 6.34
    12.Langkow …. 3.71 … 6.33
    13.Hemsky ….. 3.90 … 6.24

    … with a bunch more guys like Penner, Kotalik, Nilsson, Kesler, Nolan, and Svatos falling just shy of the 3:00 threshold but posting PPGF ON ratios north of 6.24.

    Sorry, I’m seeing a bunch of things which say “okay” or “acceptable” or “decent”, but nothing that screams “EXCEPTIONAL”.

  77. Lowetide says:

    Bruce: You’ve made an excellent case.

  78. oilerdago says:

    On a completely different point, Tambellini was “brilliant” on 630 Ched tonite. When asked about Omark and whether they can get him signed he managed to ramble on and communicate absolutely nothing.

  79. pboy says:

    Thanks Bruce!

  80. Lowetide says:

    oilerdago: He’s plodding sure, but with little personality!

    He’s Matzah Balls.

  81. Bruce says:

    Bruce: You’ve made an excellent case.

    Thanks, LT, and I sincerely wish I was making a different one. Alas, it’s even worse than it appears; I just realized that last list of PPGF ON/60 was forwards only, I had clicked a tab and didn’t switch it back. So add Souray, Phaneuf, Aucoin, Edler, Liles, Zidlicky, and (sob!) M.A.Bergeron to the list of 3-minute men in the Northwest who are on the ice for more PPGF per unit time than Hemsky. In fact by my count there are 22 guys in the NW who have played 65+ GP and averaged 3:00 per game 5v4, and Hemsky ranks a lowly 18th by this metric.

  82. Coach pb9617 says:

    Is there a way to cross Hemsky’s PPP/60 [It would be better measured by the /4] when on the ice with Penner?

  83. Bruce says:

    Coach: Not that I’m aware of. TimeonIce.com and HockeyAnalysis.com can reveal that information at evens, but not on the PP.

  84. godot10 says:

    //On a completely different point, Tambellini was “brilliant” on 630 Ched tonite. When asked about Omark and whether they can get him signed he managed to ramble on and communicate absolutely nothing.//

    I know you guys don’t like it, but part of the job description of a GM is to obfuscate and to not say anything. It is much harder to do in a Canadian market where most fans are pretty knowledgeable.

    Brian Burke is the exception that proves the rule.

  85. Rick says:

    Seems to me that 90% of the Oilers offensive problems, both on the power play and even-strength is that they don’t shoot the puck enough.

    Stop with the cutesy passes and the bounce the puck around the board play and shoot the damn thing!

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