RE 09-10: Tom Gilbert

For those who believe you can’t be young, unique, have personality and a lust for life while playing hockey for the Edmonton Oilers, allow me to present Mr. Tom Gilbert. Much like a rock star, there seems to be a gap between what he “is” and what he “represents.” What he “is” at this point is an outstanding hockey player: Tom Gilbert might be the best defenseman on a club teeming with them.

The only question left is something called “established level of ability.” What does that mean? Well, in pure terms, we know what Albert Pujols is going to produce season over season: 40 homers, 125 rbi’s and something called “ops” that is over 1.00 (is that on-base plus slugging? why would they do that? is this a useful stat? please explain!) and 162 times a season he causes the opposition starter to have a bead of sweat run from the back of his neck all the way down the crack of his ass. That’s established level of ability: Albert Pujols is a walking barf bag for pitchers, the human ‘dead man walking’ for starters and the man who ends careers before they’ve started.
It takes some time, and Gilbert isn’t there yet. He’s not Albert Pujols, but Jesus H. he’s trending nicely as an NHL player.

  • Boxcars: 82gp, 5-40-45 26pims
  • Shots: 107
  • Plus Minus: +6
  • Corsi: -3.5 (4th of 4 among the good ones)
  • 5×5/60: 1.30 (best on team)
  • 5×4/60: 3.91 (best on team)
  • GF/GA ON: 65-60 (3 of 4)
  • Quality of competition: 2nd toughest among D
  • Quality of pairing: best available
  • 09-10 cap hit: 4.0M (capgeek)
  1. What do these numbers tell us? On a team with Visnovsky, Souray and Grebeshkov, he had the best season. He has size, speed, passing skills and can carry the puck very well, he’s quality on the PP (2-14-16) and at EVs (2-26-28). Gilbert has a wide range of skills and the areas where he’s weak (strong on the puck, reading plays quickly) are the domain of young defenders and he’ll get better. If Tom Gilbert were a poker hand I’d go all in.
  2. How could these numbers be better? He could have a touch of Behn Wilson in him (Behn Wilson was a half-bubble off plumb and it gave him an edge in every battle. youtube Behn Wilson). Other than that he’s quality. You want to see this over a period of years for established levels of ability but this was a first-rate season.
  3. What about injury? 82 games two years in a row I’d say we’re good to go.
  4. What about a trade? Seriously? 4M a year for a guy who moves the puck like this guy and he has an idea about playing defense. Fine, go ahead trade the guy and then watch him romp for a decade. I have no idea what kind of glue (Elmer’s?) the Avs were sniffing when they sent him here for Tommy gun but he’s signed through the summer of 2014 and would have to be considered one of the most valuable assets on the team.
  5. Will Quinn play him against tough opposition? Of course he will. Gilbert isn’t famous (yet) but he’s capable and doesn’t take stupid penalites. He has coverage lapses but when you fly as many sorties as any NHL top4 blue does in a season there are moments when you look exposed. He’s good.
  6. How will Quinn play him? I think his PP time may suffer. He certainly deserves time with the man advantage based on results but a new coach sometimes goes with the guy who has a longer track record.
  7. How important is Gilbert to this team? He’s the link between the Hemsky group and the Cogliano/Gagner bunch. Gilbert is a major player on this team, it’s obvious in all kinds of ways including a major contract with many years on it.

Predictions past 2008-09

  • Predicted: 82gp, 7-15-22 (.268 per game)
  • Actual: 82gp, 5-40-45 (.549 per game)

Prediction for 2009-10: 82gp, 9-31-40 (.488 per game)

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35 Responses to "RE 09-10: Tom Gilbert"

  1. Bruce says:

    From Wikipedia:

    On-base plus slugging (OPS) is a baseball statistic calculated as the sum of a player's on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
    The abilities of a player both to get on base and to hit for power, two important hitting skills, are represented, making it an effective way of measuring the player's offensive worth.

    The top ten Major League Baseball players in lifetime OPS, with at least 3,000 plate appearances through August 18, 2009:

    1.Babe Ruth, 1.1638
    2.Ted Williams, 1.1155
    3.Lou Gehrig, 1.0798
    4.Albert Pujols, 1.0547
    5.Barry Bonds, 1.0512
    6.Jimmie Foxx, 1.0376
    7.Hank Greenberg, 1.0169
    8.Rogers Hornsby, 1.0103
    9.Manny Ramírez, 1.004
    10.Todd Helton, 0.995

    A pretty impressive list, wouldn't you agree, LT? Helton — who is merely an excellent hitter as opposed to one of the greatest in baseball history — is there through park effects, something which is dealt with in the version of the stat known as OPS+, which is also in the article.

    Roughly speaking, OPS gives double credit to batting average which is a key component of both OBP and SLG, and single credit to walks and "isolated power" (extra bases on hits).

    I find OPS to be a damned useful stat which is excellent at identifying the very best offensive players in a single number. If only hockey had something as good.

  2. Lowetide says:

    Bruce: How does Tim Raines rate? Amos Otis? Reggie Smith? Crap, fricking baseball is like a pretty woman with long legs.

  3. HBomb says:

    OPS – perhaps the earliest "advanced stat" in all of sports.

    Anyways, I'll repeat what I've said many a time about Gilbert – he is the absolute LAST defenseman out of the current group you deal. Period.

    I have a ton of respect for Robin Brownlee, but every time I hear him suggest trading Gilbert for a forward because he's got "cachet", I shake my head. That's the kind of move the Leafs make.

    This team isn't contending until 3+ years out. After Souray's deal is done, and perhaps Visnovsky's too. He's a cornerstone, not a trading chip.

    To have gotten this player for what, 20 games of Salo at the ass-end of his NHL career? Potentially one of Kevin Lowe's best moves as GM (as I recall, they had a choice of one of three prospects – Gilbert, Keith Ballard, or Edmonton-born Johnny Boychuk; thank the good Lord they didn't go for the local kid).

  4. HBomb says:

    Speaking of baseball – the Red Sox sure landed a nice counterpunch today. Lost 20-11 to the Yankees last night, responded with a 14-1 drubbing of the Bronx Bombers this afternoon.

    Somehow, I don't think tomorrow night's Sunday Night Baseball matchup of CC Sabathia vs. Josh Beckett is going to be anywhere near as high scoring.

  5. Bruce says:

    LT: Saw your list and figured "Smith, Raines, Otis in that order", then looked them up:

    Reggie Smith .855
    Tim Raines .810
    Amos Otis .768

    I suspect that OPS from their era was on the low side in the historical sense.

  6. Lowetide says:

    It's that old line: you're going to win 50 no matter what and lose 50 no matter what, but those 62 games that are in the balance are what every summer is all about.

    I hate the Yankees, but the BoSox and their fans aren't what they used to be. I keep hoping Lou and the Cubs can overcome that fricking goat but apparently it's impossible.

  7. Lowetide says:

    Bruce: Reggie Smith. He sure shows up well on a lot of lists, wonder if he'd ever get into the HOF. Too bad he didn't play for the Leafs. :-)

  8. boopronger says:

    Wow. That sure is a lot of praise for Gilbert. I am a huge Gilbert fan myself but last year he was making bergeronesque mistakes on a pretty regular basis. I remember too many times when a Gilbert mistake turned into an Oiler loss. They were just too horrendous.

    However, he can clean up those mistakes (hopefully), but you cant teach the offensive skill that he has.

  9. Bruce says:

    LT: Reggie was a beauty. One of the most underrated players of his day. Hit .300 seven different times, with power and walks. Switch hitter, good fielder, fast, a "5 tool" player. Not quite HOF material by the loftier standards of baseball, but deserving of more consideration than he actually got, I'll reckon.

  10. Bruce says:

    I remember too many times when a Gilbert mistake turned into an Oiler loss. They were just too horrendous.

    Boopronger: Right you are. To name three, Martin Erat, Raffi Torres, Marty Reasoner all scored crucial, late-game goals off of Gilbert clangers that directly resulted in one-goal losses on home ice. Such blunders were difficult to forgive and impossible to forget.

    I hope you are also right that he can clean up that stuff, and I think he can. For all that he is 26 he's still a developing young player. For sure he brings lots of good things into the mix. A little more composure, a little more grit, and he'll be a good one for years.

  11. bookie says:

    Prediction – Gilbert blows our mind this year.

    I think he will benefit from being away from the precision style coaching of MacT.

  12. Coach pb9617 says:

    Bruce,

    A friend and I came up with an adjusted OPS — one that feeds into my love of all things baserunning.

    Include each stolen base as an extra base into slugging and subtract a base for each caught stealing.

  13. Coach pb9617 says:

    Raines gets an extra ~650 total bases :)

  14. Lowetide says:

    Loved Tim Raines. The day he came back after the holdout (May 1, 1987? or 1988?) at ripped a line drive homer in extra's at Shea remains one of my fondest Expo memories (along with el presidente el perfecto, Ray Burris 1981 fall, Johnson's triple and the first time I saw Larry Walker and Vladdy Guerrero hit big flies).

  15. Peter says:

    Crap, fricking baseball is like a pretty woman with long legs.

    And red hair. Do not forget the red hair.

  16. Bruce says:

    Include each stolen base as an extra base into slugging and subtract a base for each caught stealing.

    Coach: I love baserunning too, but SB are overrated. How about if you add one base to SLG for each steal, and subtract one hit/walk from OBP for each CS?

    That said, Raines and his 85% success rate would still come out well ahead of the game. He was a beauty.

    Crap, fricking baseball is like a pretty woman with long legs.

    LT: True dat.

    Speaking of my man Albert Pujols as you did so glowingly above, and speaking of baserunning as Coach did, did you see Albert break up a game in Dodger Stadium the other night? Leading off the 9th, tied 2-2, the Dodgers walked him for the third time in the game, so he stole second, forced a bad throw which advanced him to third, and scored the winning run on a sac fly. Not as sexy as a big fly, but every bit as effective.

    Fricking baseball, it's addictive.

  17. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    LT.

    "Half a bubble off plumb".

    Now, I have to ask is that phrase yours or one that you justifiably needed to pass on?

    In either case, I'm stealing it, just like you stole the photo and I will give you credit if it's yours.

    Sweet Jesus, that's a great line.

  18. mrzael says:

    Another outstanding thing about Tom Gilbert is his defensive stick. He regularly will strip the puck deftly from the opposing player and turn it up ice.

  19. Promethian says:

    Gibby's a keeper.

    Honestly, he's as all-around as you get on the blue. An edge would be nice but it is certainly not enough of a detriment to his overall effectiveness. He makes up for lack of grit with sound positioning, and as you mention LT, speed that is underrated. As he gets closer to 30 he'll just get wiser and less sketchy under pressure.

    My favourite part of his game is the "Pronger-pause" – the half-second delay that causes the forechecker to swoop the wrong way and allows the unhindered breakout pass. And his is good.

    Him being a RH is just the gravy on the roast.

    Don't you DARE trade this guy.

  20. Asiaoil says:

    Good heavens you don't trade anyone off the defense except Staios who is likely movable at the trade deadline – or in the worst case buried in the AHL for that 4th contract year which never should have been offered. You can skimp on the bottom pair with a top 4 like that – and pare the fat contracts in the top 9 forwards (Moreau, Nilsson, Pisani, Penner) to pay kids like Gagner and pull in another decent top line guy.

  21. hunter1909 says:

    Looks like Cobain, from a parallel(healthy) universe.

    I used to be more of a Red Sox fan, until they suddenly started winning those WS. The first one was awesome, stupendous, incredible, and unreal, then the second one came and all of a sudden goes the mystique.

    Similarly I find it absolutely fucking hilarious how the very same hockey fans who incessantly yap about how to grow the game, like they have a stake personally in it carry on hating the Leafs. If Toronto ever wins the cup, and I'm sure they will in my lifetime, lol, look out.

    Why they don't stick with that defence as is I'll never know. Lose Staois though, waive his ass out of here.

  22. Lowetide says:

    Half bubble off plumb is an old timey phrase my Dad used all the time. Literally it means your level (that thing you put on a ledge to see if it's perfectly even/flat/level) is half a bubble off perfect.

    As a phrase it means you're a little wacko, wrecked, not quite there. Andy Kaufman was a half bubble off plumb.

  23. Bar Qu says:

    It would be a fun comparison to see where Gilbert ranked at this stage of his career to Lidstrom at the same age. At least from the glowing praise here I am wondering what the potential ceiling is for him.

    And keep up the old timey phrases. I at least knew that one (who knows from where) and enjoyed its presence.

  24. mc79hockey says:

    Might want to tread softly with this phtographer LT – the CiO guys had some trouble with him.

  25. mc79hockey says:

    Here's the link to that post.

  26. godot10 says:

    Jay-Bouwmeester-lite.

    Gagner and Gilbert, the two guys you build around. And remember, Gilbert played all year with a bad back. And he plays in all situations (Visnovsky didn't kill penalties). Gilbert played tougher minutes than Visnovsky. Gilbert is the most valuable defensive on the team signed to a reasonable contract long term.

    Lidstrom and Rafalski and Niedermeyer and Bouwmeester aren't really physical either. You get other guys to do the physical stuff (Smid, Peckham),

  27. Lowetide says:

    Ouch. Thanks, Tyler. It is fixed.

  28. Bar Qu says:

    Gilbert 08-09 82 5 40 45 +6 26pim 107shots 4.7%

    Lidstrom 95-96 81 17 50 67 +29 20pim 211shots 8.1%

    Rafalski 99-00 75 5 27 32 +21 28pim 128shots 3.9%

    S. Niedermeyer 98-99 72 11 35 46 +16 26pim 161shots 6.8%

    By those (admittedly simple boxcars) Gilbert compares pretty favourably with Niedermeyer and Rafalski, while Lidstrom remains an all-world talent.

    (I hope I got this right- I suck at the numbers thing)

  29. Coach pb9617 says:

    Coach: I love baserunning too, but SB are overrated.

    Tell that to Whitey Herzog and Chuck Tanner.

    How about if you add one base to SLG for each steal, and subtract one hit/walk from OBP for each CS ?

    Hm, lemme play around with that.

  30. Coach pb9617 says:

    Half bubble off plumb is an old timey phrase my Dad used all the time. Literally it means your level (that thing you put on a ledge to see if it's perfectly even/flat/level) is half a bubble off perfect.

    My dad taught my son that phrase and now he uses it all of the time. It's weird to hear coming from a kid.

  31. Rick says:

    I love Gilbert when he's moving the puck up ice, but I hate him in the back. From making bad passes in his own zone to at-times awful man on man play especially behind the circles, he leaves a lot to be desired.

    If he can get his defensive play in line with his offense, he's a keeper. If he continued to be subpar in his own end (which I take from watching 80 Oilers games last year, not fancy stats) then someone would overpay for his offensive prowess and potential.

  32. Bar Qu says:

    Just a question – who is better Gilbert or Bouwmeester? Their boxcars are similar (and both played on bad teams this year) and from what I understand neither is terribly physical – correct me if I am wrong.

    Do they have the same future potential and if a team had to take one or the other, which is the better cornerstone?

    And Rick is right – Gilbert's a bit low on the +/- compared to the big three on my earlier post, but Bouwmeester's is even lower. I wonder if that is because they are on poorer teams in their development years versus what Lidstrom, Rafalski and Niedermeyer faced starting out?

  33. godot10 says:

    //I love Gilbert when he's moving the puck up ice, but I hate him in the back. From making bad passes in his own zone to at-times awful man on man play especially behind the circles, he leaves a lot to be desired.//

    He was playing stronger offensive players than Visnovsky and Grebeshkov, and last season, with a bad back most of the year. And Visnovskky did kill penalties much at alll. Gilbert did. Gilbert and Souray would the ohly two defenseman who really played in all situations.

    Brian Rafalski doesn't punish the opposition either. What you don't do is get rid of a Rafalski or a Gilbert. What you do do is pair them with a physical partner.

  34. geowal says:

    Half bubble off plumb is an old timey phrase my Dad used all the time. Literally it means your level (that thing you put on a ledge to see if it's perfectly even/flat/level) is half a bubble off perfect.

    Back in high school shop I had to machine up a plumb ?bob? (the metal deal hanging from a long string to check vertical levels in construction, so that phrase surprisingly has some meaning for me.

    Rather unusual expression though, as it combines the old fashioned metal level-check (the plumb) with the modern liquid level indicators (half-a-bubble off)

    Good stuff.
    I'm incidentally also suprised by the level of praise for Gilbert's season. I guess his defensive lapses and lack of grit stuck out like a sore thumb for me. I hope your bold predictions for his future are on the money.

  35. Bruce says:

    Brian Rafalski doesn't punish the opposition either. What you don't do is get rid of a Rafalski or a Gilbert. What you do do is pair them with a physical partner.

    Agreed on both counts, Bar Qu. As our current top 4 is constructed, that means Souray. Long term, I like Smid with Gilbert.

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