RE 09-10: Patrick O’Sullivan

Today’s post is brought to you by the number 259. That’s the number of shots Patrick O’Sullivan posted this past season in the National Hockey League. That’s 74 more shots than Ales Hemsky managed (Hemsky’s total led team forwards); the last time the Oilers had a forward with more shots it was 1998-99 and Billy Guerin was scoring 30 goals on 261 shots.

Because Patrick O’Sullivan was acquired at the deadline and because he did not perform especially well during a 19 game audition (2-4-6 -7) I think it’s easy to dismiss the importance of his acquisition.

O’Sullivan didn’t have a strong season in Los Angeles or Edmonton but there are plenty of good indicators for the future. He is 24-years old, has played in 207 regular season NHL games and I believe he’s landed the chance of a lifetime.

  • Boxcars: 81gp, 16-27-43 28pims
  • Shots: 259
  • Plus Minus: -6
  • Corsi: +7.2
  • GF/GA ON: 46-48
  • 5×5/60: 1.93 (LAK) 1.69 (overall)
  • 5×4/60: 2.48 (LAK) 2.05 (overall)
  • Quality of Competition: soft parade
  • Quality of Teammates: 3rd level
  • FO %: 41.4% in 99 sorties
  • 09-10 Cap Hit: $2.925M (capgeek)
  1. What do these numbers tell us? Players get traded for a reason and O’Sullivan was off the pace of his previous season. In 07-08 he was especially effective at even strength (16 EV goals and and 2.05 5×5/60) but faded a little this past season. Interesting to note the Kings never really have given him a lot of PP time (2:28 per game two years ago and 3:07 this past season) and he hasn’t done much with it. He had a solid Corsi but that number ranks in a 3rd place tie this season among Kings forwards and based on his linemates in LA it’s safe to say he wasn’t driving the bus. These are the numbers of a top 6 forward but it’s a stretch to suggest he’s a no-brainer option for the top offensive line and he’s unlikely to be an impact scorer unless surrounded by players better than him.
  2. How could the numbers be better? He’s certainly shooting enough and I think the Kings lack of an established group of forwards probably hurt him (their top 6 was a moving target throughout his time there). Rudy Kelly at BOC said this about his season pre-trade: Patrick O’Sullivan had regressed this season. I don’t think anyone will argue that point. Despite the fact that O’Sullivan had played mostly with Anze Kopitar and Jarret Stoll this season, he still couldn’t outscore himself from last year when he played with Michal Handzus. I don’t know what is was, maybe he didn’t like playing for Terry Murray as much as he liked playing under Marc Crawford, maybe the time off at the beginning of the season was bad for him, or maybe he just got unlucky. He wasn’t as dynamic offensively, wasn’t as efficient defensively, and looked somewhat disinterested all year. Whatever the reason, he was not the player we expected him to be.
  3. What about Penner? I think O’Sullivan and Penner are in competition with each other for both time on the 1line and 5×4 play. Penner has had a two season audition with Horcoff and Hemsky and that could mean O’Sullivan gets the early look this fall. He has speed and can aggressively forecheck, he can beat a man in a race and although he is young and needs work away from the puck it’s also true O’Sullivan won some trust on a line with Michal Handzus early in his LA career (he became known for a time as a quality PK man, the way Keon used to do it: forecheck like a demon and create chances on turnovers) so there’s a foundation there.
  4. What about Quinn/Renney? When you have two players fighting for one spot in the batting order it’s always best to spend your money on the player with the widest range of skills. I believe O’Sullivan’s speed, shooting ability and creativity will impress the coaches more than Penner’s size and hands. It also helps that one drove the previous coach crazy. Both are inconsistent but have a huge advantage in that other candidates also have issues (Nilsson) or are terribly young (Eberle).
  5. Will Quinn play him against tougher opposition? It’s a tough question. Should O’Sullivan end up with Horcoff and Hemsky and the coaching staff decide to match as hard as the other NW staffs then the answer is yes. However, I don’t think it has much to do with O’Sullivan’s talents and it would have to be considered a coincidence as opposed to any faith the Oilers are placing in the player.
  6. What Else? We don’t know Steve Tambellini well enough to mention this beyond a possibility because it does exist in humanity, but O’Sullivan is a player acquired by this management group and that carries weight in some circles. How much? No idea. Also, Dustin Penner was involved in a trade this summer in which the men in power for this organization signed off on, so that’s kind of a tell too. It should be mentioned there may be a short window here as the Daryl Katz ownership group will likely make another trip to Jurassic Park soon.
  7. What Else else? I’m not going to delve too deeply into the subject but for a very specific reason most of us are pulling for this guy.
  8. How Important is O’Sullivan to this team? Not especially outside of the money. Should O’Sullivan fail this season the Oilers can shuffle him off to the next town and his next contract will be in jeopardy. They should have a motivated player because of it.

By The Numbers

  • 07-08 5×5 per 60m: 2.05
  • 08-09 5×5 per 60m: 1.69
  • 07-08 5×4 per 60m: 3.07
  • 08-09 5×4 per 60m: 2.05

Patrick O’Sullivan isn’t the ideal solution to 1line L for the Edmonton Oilers, but he’s likely the best since Ryan Smyth left town. The projected number represents a healthy increase in offense, but I think based on the job he might earn (1line L with Horcoff and Hemsky plus PP time) and his age this should be a good season for Patrick O’Sullivan.

Prediction for 2009-10: 78gp, 28-28-56 (.717 per game)

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29 Responses to "RE 09-10: Patrick O’Sullivan"

  1. godot10 says:

    //He has speed and can aggressively forecheck, he can beat a man in a race and although he is young and needs work away from the puck it's also true //

    The "speed and can aggressively forecheck" means that he should be playing with Gagner and Penner (who would benefit immensely from that) , and not with Horcoff and Hemsky.

  2. misfit says:

    I remember someone (it may have even been you) making a similar comment about shot totals when we brought in Lupul. He had almost 300 shots the year before we traded the next 5 years of our franchise for him, but then went on to take only 172 in a full season in Edmonton. He had more than that in 56 games as a Flyer the following year.

    It makes you wonder how much of these players' totals are due to their own personal style of play, or the systems they play in?

    I'd like to see O'Sullivan get a shot on the top line, but I'm still not convinced Penner isn't the best option currently under contract with the Oil.

  3. Lowetide says:

    misfit: Absolutely. I was completely convinced Lupul would be a very good player and it certainly didn't happen. O'Sullivan has a wider range of skills but it could certainly happen.

    One thing going O'Sullivan's way: Quinn seems to cultivate offense a little better than MacT.

  4. raventalon40 says:

    I think it would benefit the Oilers and O'Sullivan to have him play against weaker opposition, since the Oilers still have the option of reunited the Horpensky line.

    By the way LT, "Strange Deadfellows" is now "An Oilers Refinery," thanks!

    The URL is:

    hxxp://www.oilersrefinery.tk/

  5. raventalon40 says:

    correction:

    *reuniting the Horpensky line

  6. mc79hockey says:

    I generally think that the NHL is pretty good at counting shots but there are a couple of cities that have problems. There's some evidence that Anaheim is one of those cities.

  7. Lowetide says:

    Great. Just freaking great. Can Lowe get another asset?

  8. quain says:

    Is it me? Is it me? How could I have possibly known the shot totals were inflated?

  9. mc79hockey says:

    Best part is, some of us were muttering darkly about shooting percentage when those particular deals went down and that was with the shot totals inflated.

  10. PDO says:

    Mc:

    Deals?

    The Lupul trade… is the multiple because of his contract as well?

    Big O'Sullivan fan. I think he's going to have a breakout year, and is one of the few guys on this team that I think will be a good bet to cover his contract and add some value behind it. I think he'll end up with Horcoff and Hemsky, and I think your boxcars are going to end up being pretty close.

    Love that he can PK too.

  11. mc79hockey says:

    Penner had some shooting percentage issues, IIRC.

  12. PDO says:

    Gotcha.

    Read "deals" and was thinking trades, not signings, for whatever reason.

    Great….

  13. rickibear says:

    Patrick o'sullivan is a career 7.5% shooting percentage player. Hmm 285 shots on the first line gets you 21 goals.

    Dustin Penner on a second line with horcoff and nilsson should get 185 shots. He is a 12.4% career shooter. Hmmm that gets you 23G.

    You complain about Nilssons game @ 2M. He was the tenth most productive set-up forward in the 07-08 season. The whole league.

    People want to waste first line shots on one of the worst shooters in the league.

    Please go away 24 year old Patrick Sullivan and take your 2.9M with you.

  14. Bank Shot says:

    Sure, O'Sullivan played with Handzus in 07-08, but only 112 minutes at ES. He played over 500 with Kopitar. He also played more minutes with Brown, Armstrong, Cammalleri, and Frolov then he did with Handzus.

    Out of those 5 players, all had a better corsi than O'Sullivan. Some played softer minutes, but O'Sullivan played the softest out of his two most common linemates, Kopitar and Brown and did worse in corsi and GAA/60.

    In 08-09 Patty again played lots of minutes with Brown and Kopitar and looked to be sheltered when not with them. His stats in qualcomp, and corsi look strikingly similar to NHL rookie Oscar Moller.

    In both 07/08 and 08-09 the majority of O'Sullivan's teammates had a lower GAA when they were playing with someone else. Handzus
    's goals against per 60 were almost double when playing with O'Sullivan for instance.

    All these numbers kind of lead me to believe that O'Sullivan is a waterskier. Makes a guy think that you could get equal results from a guy like Nilsson if you force fed him the best linemates all season long like POS has benefited from in his career.

    His PK numbers from 07/08 and 08/09 have him top two both seasons in GAA per 60 for Kings players.

    It would be interesting to see the splits for EDM/LA last season, but I'm left wondering just exactly what this guy can provide based on the numbers we know. Can't play tough minutes, can't kill soft, and makes good money.

    It's like he's Jarret Stoll without the size, grit, and great special teams talent.

  15. jdrevenge says:

    From what I can remember of watching O'Sullivan play a tonne of his shots were from the perimeter and weren't exactly high scoring areas. Could've just been me though.

  16. mc79hockey says:

    O'Sullivan's career ES shooting percentage is 6.3% which is really good…if you're a defenceman.

    I'm somewhat in agreement with those who think he might be a whipping boy by February – that's 6.4% over 445 shots, which is starting to be a reasonably sized sample. If he just likes to shoot from the outside…well, hope Quinn remembers Sergei Berezin.

  17. Traktor says:

    O'Sullivan's shot selection is worse than Ethan Rifles. It doesn't matter what the play calls for or how low-percentage, O'Sullivan is shooting the puck towards the net.

    That would never happen with Hemsky though because the moment O'Sullivan carried the puck from center ice over the blue line and took a low percentage shot he'd be looking for a new winger because Hemsky would be sulking and complaining about never touching the puck.

  18. Will says:

    Hrm, those aren't the most encouraging numbers on POS. Was hoping he'd cover the bet and more. Here's hoping he breaks with history and scores lots and at high rates from high % areas.

    re Nilsson: the guy is slick, but from my "saw him good" analysis, he likes to carry the puck hard down the boards into the zone, almost always button hooks at the circle, and looks for a pretty drop/cross pass. Would drive me crazy when he would never dump & chase when it totally looked like he should dump and chase, and rarely took the puck to the "hard" areas. POS may not be as much as a wizard with the puck, but I'd rather have him on the 1st or 2nd line blasting away since you already have two good handlers on each line (83 & 89). You'd hope either of those two guys would give POS better shot selection potential at any rate.

  19. misfit says:

    "One thing going O'Sullivan's way: Quinn seems to cultivate offense a little better than MacT."

    But wouldn't that benefit Penner equally? The thing is, with O'Sullivan being a guy who seemingly shoots from everywhere (at least that's his reputation), wouldn't he be better on a line with guys who are going to go hard to the net and get to rebounds (at least in theory)? Because just by looking at his shot totals and shooting percentage, he doesn't look like much of a goal scorer.

  20. PunjabiOil says:

    Rumour is that Calgary is in the mix for signing Tanguay.

    Given the cap space situation, if Tambellini allows that to happen, he should be fired on the spot.

    Or alternatively, forced to relocate to North Edmonton.

  21. Gord says:

    Ziggy Palffy seems to be improving with age… Scored 52 goals in 53 games last season…

    http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=4119

    Next closest goal scorer on the team scored 25 goals.

  22. Voxwah says:

    Hi LT,

    Great blog you have here with a very insightful group of posters. I learn something new everyday.

    I'm looking forward to seeing how some of our players develop under the new coaching staff. I think sometimes we forget that part of their job is to actually teach players new skills to improve their game.

    Someone like POS, who with a bit of guidance could turn a few of his lower % shots into higher % ones he could really improve his numbers dramatically.

    It would be awesome to see players blossom for a change in Oil silks instead of just maintaining the same level of performance they have had in the past years of their career.

    That could be said for a large number of players on the roster.

  23. Racki says:

    LT: I know you are not sold on Penner at all, and I don't blame you one bit. However I'd like to see him given yet another chance. Word is he's in better shape this year, and that may help. He also has to discover what kind of player he is, and the coach has to understand what kind of player he is as well. He's unfortunately not an angry wreckingball out there. But he's got a great set of hands, and if he can just get in front of the net and bang pucks in, he just might get near 30 again.

    My thoughts were a bit risky, but I had thought perhaps Quinn could take a chance and make O'Sullivan our #1C with Penner on the left side and Hemsky on the right. We're always playing it safe with Horcoff the #1, responsible centreman.

    But how about something like this for lines:

    Penner O'Sullivan Hemsky
    Cogliano Gagner ?? (I'm not sold on Nilsson, so this spot is TBA)
    Pouliot Horcoff Pisani
    Moreau Brule Stortini

    I've really been plugging Horcoff as our 3rd line center lately on other forums. I'm a big fan of us and always supported him, however I think he could be more useful on a line like that with some solid 2-way players. Moreau also fits much better on a crash and bang line like we have with line 4, and I think we have 2 decent scoring lines for our top six. Just my 2 cents.

  24. Racki says:

    P.S., to LT, I see you added my blog to your blogroll recently (www.puttingonthefoil.com).. thank you!

  25. mc79hockey says:

    Or alternatively, forced to relocate to North Edmonton.

    He can live in Cosh's garage.

  26. DanMan says:

    I don't even think O' Sullivans stats while here last year are relevant at all. He was a yo-yo between the top 3 lines. One thing that really impressed me was the amount of scoring chances he generated, and his fearlessness in driving the net.

    I think your pred is bang on LT.

    On a personal level this is a guy you want on your side.

  27. hunter1909 says:

    Not wanting to stir anything up, but whatever happened to Tambellini's big talk about getting bigger and meaner?

    He's starting to look like just another mealy mouthed shmuck.

  28. Hockey Noob says:

    @hunter1909

    First, I love the word choice in 'mealy.' I guess Tambi did offer Chris Neil a contract-but I didn't think that Chris at 2 million per is what he was talking about either. As for the build from within mantra, it doesn't sound like there's too much opportunity for that to help with our top six in terms of 'size' and 'grit'.

  29. uni says:

    I think O'Sullivan's potential is Sullivan, here's hoping he can reach it, and this season not in 3 years on another team.

    Also hope Quinn has learned from his previous experience, still upset at him for waiving a perennial 30 goal scorer.

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