There are times in a team’s history when they end up with a bunch of players who have very similar skill sets. I often mention the Houston Astros who collected a generation of first basemen who could hit homers, got on base alot via base-on-balls, hit for a little lower batting average than was socially acceptable and tended to spend about 5 years longer in the minor leagues then they would have today. Among the men on that list were John Mayberry, Cliff Johnson, Mike Easler, Nate Colbert, Keith Lampard; Bob Watson was similar but didn’t walk as much, there were a ton of these guys who signed with Houston in the late 60′s. There are other examples in sports history, but what’s important for us to learn about this is that when this happens:
- the team in question cannot possibly keep them all.
- the team in question sometimes keeps the wrong player(s).
- it can take a long time to identify the right player.
In the case above John Mayberry was sent away for a couple of arms and Johnson was traded 11 years after being drafted (it took him 8 years to make the show as a regular. Astros kept trying to make him a catcher despite his size–6.04, 225 and his being below average at the position).
The Oilers have a lot of players who have Nilsson’s skill set, and they cannot possibly keep them all. I think they may end up keeping the wrong player(s), but Robert Nilsson is probably not the one to keep. A guess at the depth chart for undersized skill men:
- Patrick O’Sullivan
- Sam Gagner
- Andrew Cogliano
- Robert Nilsson
- Jordan Eberle
- Linus Omark
- Rob Schremp
- Boxcars: 64gp, 9-20-29, 26pims
- Shots: 77
- Plus Minus: +1
- Corsi: -1.9
- GF/GA ON: 34-32
- 5×5/60: 1.22
- 5×4/60: 4.59
- Quality of Competition: 3rd level
- Quality of Teammates: very good 2nd level
- FO %: 40.0% in 10 sorties
- 09-10 Cap Hit: $2.0M (nhlnumbers.com)
- What do these numbers tell us? This fellow is a fair step below either O’Sullivan and Penner. Nilsson was facing less than stellar opposition and with good linemates and his 5×5/60 was the worst among forwards on the team. The next worst (tie between Reddox and MacIntyre) was 1.43 and it’s especially galling since his number in this category a year ago (2.37) was quality. I don’t know how muc credit to give in terms of GF/GA ON and the Corsi because it looks like he was swimming in blind dumb luck while going for a Sunday drive.
- How could the numbers be better? He got the at-bats (810 minutes, 8th among forwards at EVs) and he also got the bench a few times too. Nilsson is an offensive player so if he isn’t driving in runs what is he doing? Not much this past season.
- What about Cogliano? I have no idea what the Oilers are going to do with Quinn at the helm, but there’s little doubt all of these undersized guys can’t play in the top 6F. Should Nilsson win a top 6F job out of camp he’ll need to perform consistently in order to keep it.
- What about the Kid Line? Oilers have enough kids to have a line of them without Nilsson. Since he’s hanging by a thread (the only problem I see with moving Cogs to wing is that he apparently doesn’t want to go. Seems like a 5-minute conversation from the coach should take care of that) the pressure is on.
- Will Quinn play him against tougher opposition? Not in our lifetime.
- What Else? I’m a little surprised he’s still on the roster and wonder if the Oilers think he may have been mishandled. Seems like a long shot and it’s not like they could move him easily at 2M a year for two more seasons but all logic and good sense tells us he’s at the very end of the roster.
- How Important is Nilsson to this team? Someone will have to tell Kenta they’ve traded his boy. Beyond that, I’ve got nothing.
By The Numbers
- 07-08 5×5 per 60m: 2.37
- 08-09 5×5 per 60m: 1.22
- 07-08 5×4 per 60m: 2.66
- 08-09 5×4 per 60m: 4.59
Predictions Past 2007-08
- Predicted: 82gp, 11-18-29 (.354 per game)
- Actual: 71gp, 10-31-41 (.577 per game)
Predictions Past 2008-09
- Predicted: 77gp, 17-34-51 (.662 per game)
- Actual: 64gp, 9-20-29 (.453ppg)
Prediction for 2009-10: 70gp, 11-19-30 (.429 per game)