When The Whip Comes Down

I’ve been thinking about the Edmonton Oilers and the importance of a breakout season for young players. The Oilers are a summer away from giving out big paydays to Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano and it occurs to me that if both do well it could be a very expensive (plus Grebeshkov and a few others) rfa season.

I think the odds favor both having career seasons (up to this point) as coach Quinn has a history of getting more offense from his charges and the PP has to be better with coach Fleming in charge. How much should we expect from these fellows? Below is a list of 5×5/60 numbers from various young NHL players aged 19-21 (Gagner and Cogliano’s age last season):

  1. Sidney Crosby (21) 3.00
  2. Phil Kessel (21) 2.82
  3. Bobby Ryan (21) 2.47
  4. Jakub Voracek (19) 2.46
  5. Jonathan Toews (20) 2.40
  6. David Perron (20) 2.32
  7. Niklas Backstrom (20) 2.22
  8. Milan Lucic (20) 2.21
  9. Jordan Staal (20) 2.05
  10. Anze Kopitar (21) 1.99
  11. Michael Frolik (20) 1.94
  12. Patrick Kane (20) 1.90
  13. Bryan Little (21) 1.87
  14. Patrick Berglund (20) 1.83
  15. Guillaume Latandresse (21) 1.80
  16. Kyle Okposo (20) 1.71
  17. Peter Mueller (20) 1.70
  18. Sam Gagner (19) 1.69
  19. Andrew Cogliano (21) 1.69
  20. James Neal (21) 1.67
  21. Mikael Boedker (19) 1.60
  22. Martin Hanzal (21) 1.55

I may have missed one or two and did cut off the GP at a certain level, but these are most of the really good forwards who played in the NHL last season at ages 19, 20 and 21. A few questions:

  1. How many of the 19-year olds ahead of Sam Gagner (read: Jakub Voracek) on this list played either softer minutes or had superior linemates?
  2. If we know that the Hawks kids numbers a year ago (Toews was 2.17, Kane 2.32 in 07-08) can we expect a similar range for the Oilers kids next season?
  3. How much of the gap between the Oilers kids and Kessel/Lucic belongs to Marc Savard?
  4. Is Bryan Little overrated?
  5. How underrated is David Perron?
  6. Is there anything in these numbers that suggests Gagner or Cogliano will take a step forward this season without far superior linemates?

It looks to me like many of the young men on this list are riding shotgun with famous NHL forwards.

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64 Responses to "When The Whip Comes Down"

  1. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    What that list really shows you LT is how far down the Oilers "prospects" really are.

  2. Lowetide says:

    So, your contention is that if Sam Gagner had the same linemates as Bryan Little he'd have the same 5×5/60?

  3. speeds says:

    A couple of Voracek related questions for everyone. Off the top of your head (no cheating and searching stats online!),

    (1) How many Oilers, if any, had more points at even strength last season than Voracek? And who?

    (2) What would you guess Kane and Voracek's ES points totals to be?

  4. Lowetide says:

    Hmmm. Well, the Oilers top EV point-getter was Hemsky I believe so I'll pick him. Gagner and Horcoff were behind 83 but Voracek must have had a good number so I'll say just Horcoff from those two.

    So, Hemsky and Horcoff?

    Kane 40 and Voracek 30?

  5. speeds says:

    (1)
    Hemsky 35
    Voracek 34
    O'Sullivan LA?EDM 33
    Cole EDM/CAR 33
    Horcoff 32
    Gagner 30
    Cogliano 29
    Souray 29
    Gilbert 28

    (2)
    Kane 35
    Voracek 34

  6. Lowetide says:

    speeds: Did he play with Nash much? Huselius?

  7. DangerMan says:

    I guess the question is, how do famous forwards become famous? By playing with other famous forwards or is there a way they can just reach it on their own? If you mold one that can do it on his own, you'll have a truly special player.

    As for Gagner, I think there should be some talks about a new contract pronto. I don't think he will be getting any cheaper from here on out, unless he gets injured.

  8. SK Oiler Fan says:

    The Oilers sure aren't as deep of a team as some of the teams on the list:
    Pittsburgh – Crosby, Staal
    Washington – Backstrom
    Boston – Kessel, Lucic
    Chicago – Kane, Toews
    Montreal – Latendresse
    Annahiem – Ryan

    I'd say all of those players had an easier time of it due to quality of team. Of course Crosby can be left off any list in comparing 19-21 year olds.

    On a seperate note: As per Brownlee, we better find room for another smurf in the line combos. Comrie is close.

    Tambo better have something else in the works.

  9. Lowetide says:

    I saw that, credit to Brownlee. The guy could write a book about Comrie, I remember sitting in the coffee room at CFRN when the ugly period of Comrie-Lowe was going down and Brownlee knew the story 6-ways and up and down.

    Suspect his information is as good as it gets.

  10. quain says:

    Voracek played ~80 minutes with Huselius and ~70 minutes with Nash. Most of his time was with Umberger and Chimera. Not exactly world-beaters.

  11. Lowetide says:

    speeds: So. Umm. They drafted the wrong guy?

  12. quain says:

    He got 89 more offensive than defensive draws (Gagner got 28), so there's that. I'm too lazy to run Vic's shot app to figure out if the on-ice SH% was a bit high… but it looks like he had a better year.

  13. speeds says:

    It's still too early to be certain, but I liked Voracek more at the draft, and haven't changed my mind as yet.

  14. SK Oiler Fan says:

    And there's the size difference.

    Question: If Voracek were Canadian and Gags was Czech would we bring the "Did they draft the wrong guy" question up with more frequency and concern?

  15. Lowetide says:

    speeds: I was okay with either of them, said this the morning of the draft-"My ideal day would see Lowe pick Voracek or Gagner at #6, grab David Perron or Ryan McDonagh at #15 and then deal the pick at 30 with Matt Greene for a veteran blueliner."

  16. Bank Shot says:

    The Oilers sure aren't as deep of a team as some of the teams on the list:
    Pittsburgh – Crosby, Staal
    Washington – Backstrom
    Boston – Kessel, Lucic
    Chicago – Kane, Toews
    Montreal – Latendresse
    Annahiem – Ryan

    I'd say all of those players had an easier time of it due to quality of team.

    How many of those players contribute to the quality of their teams?

    I think you can defitnitely say that Kane and Toews are a big reason for the Hawks success. Ithink Kessel and Lucic also pull their weight. Staal, well he plays tough opps with the linemates left over from Malkin and Crosby's lines doesn't he?

    I mean, if Gagner, and/or Cogliano were better players, then the Oilers probably wouldn't have missed the playoffs last year, and one of them would have scored 30 on Hemsky's wing .

    I hope those two can become elite, but it looks like they are starting further back on the track for sure.

  17. Asiaoil says:

    Wanted Voracek at the draft and was none to happy when we passed for bogus reasons. How much nicer would a big offensive RW look on this team instead of another small center. Gags is a good little player – emphasis on "good" and "little" – while Voracek is big and more offensive. We had a gift fall in our lap with Voracek and looked the other way.

  18. raventalon40 says:

    How many of those players contribute to the quality of their teams?

    I think you can defitnitely say that Kane and Toews are a big reason for the Hawks success. Ithink Kessel and Lucic also pull their weight. Staal, well he plays tough opps with the linemates left over from Malkin and Crosby's lines doesn't he?

    I mean, if Gagner, and/or Cogliano were better players, then the Oilers probably wouldn't have missed the playoffs last year, and one of them would have scored 30 on Hemsky's wing .

    I hope those two can become elite, but it looks like they are starting further back on the track for sure.

    You could also say that the Oilers' top 2 lines was in shambles all season, and that there was no real top 2 lines, per se. How many people played up there?

    Hemsky, Horcoff, Kotalik, Penner, Cole, O'Sullivan, Gagner, Reddox, Moreau, Pisani, Pouliot, Nilsson, Cogliano, Schremp, Potulny … a lot of people got at least a cup of tea with the top 2 lines.

    Who amongst that group was better than some of the linemates that some of the rookies on LT's list had? Maybe Hemsky, Horcoff, and Cole, but the rest are themselves merely role players, and not leaders.

    As it has often been stated, this team is lacking actual NHL players, aka a veteran presence. We have a lot of young talent but not a lot of direction.

    Just about the only veterans playing key roles on this team are Horcoff, Pisani and Souray. I think Hemsky is nearing that point in his career where we find out whether we find out if we hitched our horse to the right wagon.

  19. raventalon40 says:

    F.Y.I., I left out Visnovsky because he was injured for a whole bunch.

  20. SK Oiler Fan says:

    Bankshot,
    Point taken.

    The players on that list are definately contributing to the quality of the team, thus helping other stars on their team post good boxcars.

    Otherwise know as Team Depth: A topic the Oilers know nothing about.

  21. PunjabiOil says:

    DashingsilverFox said…

    What that list really shows you LT is how far down the Oilers "prospects" really are.

    Must be leading a fun life trolling in not one, but TWO! internet message boards.

  22. DBO says:

    I would venture to guess no one on that list had as bad a pair of linemates as Cogs. So i expect more if he's given the opportunity. I really think Quinn will even out the lines with each one having a defensively responsible one, some size and some skill. That would help Cogs, especially if he gets to play on the wing ont he 1st or 2nd line. With Comire coming in i wonder if he gets first crack at that 1 LW, or he gets the 3 C position, with Cogs going to wing. Comrie is still a smurf, but he is a better all around centre then Cogs.

  23. Coach pb9617 says:

    Cogliano's numbers will improve when he moves to the wing, btw.

  24. DBO says:

    And if Comrie signs does that make Moreau a 4th liner, and jacques moves to the press box? Or does this signing mean somehting will happen to remove one of the smurfs? I've said it for months, but a swap of Cogliano for Dubinsky makes a whole lot of sense from a needs standpoint without throwing away youth.

  25. PunjabiOil says:

    Marc-Andre Bergeron went 14-18-32 last year, and declined a tryout with Columbus today.

    15-14-9-14 goals in the past 4 years playing 75-78-55-72 games respectively.

    I wouldn't be adverse to bringing him back as a 3rd pairing defenceman if there was room. Always liked that little fucker.

  26. PunjabiOil says:

    RE: Mike Comrie's impact on Nilsson

    Nilsson is one of those players, if nothing changes, that will be living in different area codes every 2-3 years throughout his NHL career.

    That said, I don’t want to move him just yet because his value is at an all time low. It was only 1 summer ago where everyone was arguing the $6M/3 year deal had potential for over-performance. Apparently he’s been working real hard this off-season and I would theoretically like to give him a good 20-25 games under a new coach to assess whether to retain him or trade/waive him.

    Which brings us to Mike Comrie. There’s room for him without having to make an immediate decision on Nilsson.

    Penner-Horcoff-Hemsky
    O’Sullivan-Gagner-Comrie
    Moreau-Pouliot-Pisani
    Nilsson-Brule-Cogliano
    Ext: Jacques, Stortini

    Will Nilsson probably be here next year? I doubt it. Guys like Omark, Eberle, MPS, and Nash should be challenging for a roster spot. But the key is to trade guys who may carry value at optimal times.

    Right now isn’t that time.

  27. Jfry says:

    so, the idea behind souray's contract is that we trade him this summer and clear up room for the two young studs?

    watching all the videos of the oil coming to town and doing interviews makes you realize how young this team is…the guys keep changing every summer…becoming men, moreso than boys.

    schremp actually looks like an athlete. i dare say there's no second chin on Penner and rumour has nilsson hitting the juice all summer like smid did last summer.

    is voracek on the getzlaf development curve? soft minute killer in his first contract and straight up stud in his second?

  28. Bank Shot says:

    Jfry you make a good point about Voracek. I think we can't really judge a player on the toughness of his minutes in his first couple of seasons.

    Frankly, a player should be getting soft minutes in his first season or two, and if he is doing well with them there is every chance that they will be able to play the tougher minutes down the road.

  29. Schitzo says:

    Don't forget, linemates are not the only indicator of how easy a time you'll have on the ice. You can bet that when playing against Columbus, coaches will go out of their way to ensure Nash gets the toughest matchups. After that, I'm assuming the priority is likely Huselius.

    Who do coaches key on in Edmonton? Hemsky, when healthy, but probably not to the same degree as Nash. After that… Gagner? Is he our second most "notable" threat?

    If so, I can see how he'd be less under the radar.

  30. uni says:

    Along that vein of player development, if Voracek turns out like Getzlaf I have a scenario I like to play out in my mind when I go to my happy place.

    I'm hoping Gagner goes home one weekend and finds the childhood dog he raised from a puppy slain, run over by a drunken [insert hated team name here] fan on a bender. A part of his childhood dies there on that doorstep and something snaps inside him. A new 'Killer' is born and Samwise returns to the league as the embodiment of the Doug Gilmour of old.

    JF Jacques being inspired by Gagner and playing like a bigger, more durable Wendel Clark would also be nice, but that would be icing.

  31. quain says:

    Don't forget that ESP/60 can be fairly volatile year to year. Gagner was at 1.96 and Cogliano was at 2.28 last season. It's not something that's going to climb in a linear manner.

    Given that Voracek spent 07-08 in the minors while Gagner was putting up near 2.00 ESP/60, I think it's fair to say that Gagner has won a season and Voracek has won a season.

    Let's just hope our guy wins the next.

  32. doritogrande says:

    A new 'Killer' is born and Samwise returns to the league as the embodiment of the Doug Gilmour of old.

    Great suggestion, but the kid seems tough enough to me already. Remeber the linebrawl against Vancouver when he sawed off against Ryan Kesler? That night I began to believe Sam Gagner was more than a Marc Savard type. Buddy's got a bit of Jarrett Stoll in him.

  33. doritogrande says:

    I haven't seen this anywhere else in your comments page, but Dean Millard of "Coming down the pipe!" is reporting that Milan Kytnar, along with Burke Gallimore and Derek Hulak are all going back to Saskatoon this year. This is coming from Kevin Prendergest, who argues that he'll get a chance to work on his offensive game in the WHL instead of fighting for ice time in Springfield.

    This makes little sense to me as next year he'll be trying to make the jump to the AHL and will likely be competing for playing time with Riley Nash. He's never going to be counted on as an offensive talent, so who cares if he can pop 30-35 goals in the Dub as a 20-year old? Not smart roster management.

    On the other hand, those Brandon-Saskatoon games are going to be great for Oilers fans.

  34. rickibear says:

    LT: I took your list and looked at the two year average. Some benifit from only playing one season.(voracek)

    Sidney Crosby (21) 3.19
    Jakub Voracek (19) 2.46
    Jonathan Toews (20) 2.285
    Milan Lucic (20) 2.21
    Niklas Backstrom (20) 2.2
    Phil Kessel (21) 2.195
    Patrick Kane (20) 2.155
    David Perron (20) 2.135
    Bobby Ryan (21) 2.13
    Andrew Cogliano (21) 1.985
    Michael Frolik (20) 1.94
    Anze Kopitar (21) 1.925
    Patrick Berglund (20) 1.83
    Sam Gagner (19) 1.69 1.825
    Peter Mueller (20) 1.755
    G Latandresse (21) 1.71
    Kyle Okposo (20) 1.71
    Bryan Little (21) 1.675
    James Neal (21) 1.67
    Mikael Boedker (19) 1.6
    Jordan Staal (20) 1.6
    Martin Hanzal (21) 1.485

    Suddenly Cogs is 10 and Gagner is 14.

    Heck lets look at 07/08 we will disqualify the players who were not drafted and not good enough to make the NHL.

    Sidney Crosby (21) 3.38
    Patrick Kane (20) 2.32
    Andrew Cogliano (21) 2.28
    Niklas Backstrom (20) 2.18
    Jonathan Toews (20) 2.17
    Sam Gagner (19) 1.96
    David Perron (20) 1.95
    Anze Kopitar (21) 1.86
    Peter Mueller (20) 1.81
    Bobby Ryan (21) 1.79
    G Latandresse (21) 1.62
    Phil Kessel (21) 1.57
    Bryan Little (21) 1.48
    Martin Hanzal (21) 1.42
    Jordan Staal (20) 1.15

    Heck Cogs was #3 and Gagner was #6.

    Since the last year was coach driven step back of around 20% for all players offensively. I think the question of step up is, well misleading.

    Did we have two young men who's numbers suffered under a mad coach last year. Maybe. More likely yes.

    I know what I observed the last two years and the data supports it.

    A better test would be to go to hockey reference and compare these players 2 year stretch by age.

    Cogliano (20-21)116th in history. Around: Marleau, Verbeek, Iginla, Frolov, Tocchet. 88th best 20 year old full season in history. By comparison Kanes 20 yr was 36th and toews was 47Th.

    Gagner (18-19) 20th best in history around: Nash, Lecavalier, Neely, Simpson. 15th best 18 year old season in history.

    I don't know 20th best! Step it up!

    Sam We expect you to improve your even play so you can have a 20 year old season like Kurr, Dionne, Muller, Sundin, Trottier.

  35. uni says:

    Dorito: It's not so much toughness I'm concerned about (although I'm pretty sure Kesler took it easy on Gagner) but intensity on the ice. Some players look like you just shot their dog when they're on the ice and play with some sort of internal fury. It'd be nice of Gagner had that same fire and rounded offensive-defensive all star ceiling.

  36. quain says:

    Since the last year was coach driven step back of around 20% for all players offensively. I think the question of step up is, well misleading.

    07-08: 146 5×5 GF
    08-09: 152 5×5 GF

    Stupid offense-sucking Craig MacTavish.

  37. Ribs says:

    It's too bad about Kytnar. I was going to be rooting for him to make Springfield. I suppose it might be best for him to stay away from that particular gongshow anyway. It's hard to be upset with the decision considering what a great fit he has in Saskatoon and the likeliness of him getting the shaft minutes in Springfield if he were to make the team.

  38. flamingpavelbure says:

    WoW, never saw that Guillaume was that good, In fact, he almost always played with 3rd liners like Lapierre and Kostopoulos, so now if we give him 2nd line, plus powerplay, it should be great breakout year for him. Guillaume Latendresse, the next big Power Forward of the league? (Well at least, of the Canadiens)

    Gionta-Gomez-Latendresse
    Cammalerie-Plekanec-Kostitsyn

    Hmmm it sounds nice.

  39. kris says:

    I don't know, that's probably good for Kytnar.

    He's the kind of prospect who has a longer development curve anyway, so there's no need to rush him into the AHL.

    And our AHL team is rounding out nicely at forward. If Kytnar had played, IMO, it would've been minimal minutes on the 4th line. That's not good for his development.

  40. kris says:

    BTW, it's totally off topic, but I was reading the TSN real-time blog describing the Phoenix bankruptcy court hearings.

    According to TSN, at one point,

    "Baum suggests that the NHL will pay a select group of creditors, while 'less fortunate' creditors will not get paid. League replies that they will take care of the select group or 'fortnunate' creditors. Baum is not happy that a) the state is only getting $2M out of a possible $140M, and b) the league would not be giving money to Moyes. "

    I know nothing about the law, but that sounds very good for Balsillie. I know it's only one issue, but if Moyes has to be paid, Balsillie has a shot.

  41. uni says:

    I can see the advantage of having a guy like Kytnar brought along slowly. He was good in the WHL but not dominant last season, so let him go back and log tonnes of ice-time as opposed to grinding out 4 minutes a night on the 4th line in the AHL. He gains more confidence and hopefully develops some. It's unlikely, but he did put up ridiculous numbers in his home league before coming over to North America so he may have better offensive upside than we think.

    I can also see the argument for letting him learn the AHL game since he's pushing 20ish, but that'll all depend on what type of minutes and situations he'll get there.

  42. doritogrande says:

    Uni:

    Surely he's a better option for AHL minutes at this point than, let's say, Ryan O'Marra.

    Next year he has to contend with likely Nash, Hartikainen, Cornet, possibly Lander for ice time.

    We signed no other kids on the forward side of our prospect list (I'm assuming, someone correct me if I'm wrong), now would seem the ideal year for him to break into the professional ranks with only veterans to supplant.

  43. Oilmaniac says:

    and the Ricki stepped up to plate..

  44. rickibear says:

    Stupid offense-sucking Craig MacTavish.

    Player:—07/08—08/09
    Horcoff:—2.59—1.59
    Nilsson:—2.37—1.22
    Hemsky:—2.36—2.08
    Cogliano:—2.28—1.69
    Brodziak:—2.09—1.62
    Gagner:—1.96—1.69
    Pisani:—1.55—1.81
    Penner:—1.24—1.71
    Moreau:—1.21—1.50

    Good thing penner pisani and moreau liked playing for MacT.

  45. quain says:

    Your claim was that MacTavish caused a 20% decrease in all offensive production.

    My response to that claim: The Oilers scored more 5×5 goals in 08/09 vs 07/08. It's fact.

    So, how exactly do you reconcile scoring more 5×5 goals year over year, with MacTavish reducing offensive production, of all players, by 20%? By my math, that means the Oilers should have scored 117 GF in 08/09… they didn't. They scored more. You need to explain to me how a 4% increase in ES offense reconciles with your claim of a 20% decrease in offense.

    Your list isn't even relevent to my criticism. Unless you want to move the goalposts and pretend like you claimed that SOME players lost offense. In which case my response is, SOME players gained offense.

  46. Smarmy Boss says:

    Kytnar is coming back to the Blades? Hot damn. We're gonna smoke Brandon.

  47. Smytty777 says:

    According to Team 1260, Oilers officially sign Comrie.

  48. Woodguy says:

    Comrie an Oiler as per Stauffer on his new show on The Team.

  49. Woodguy says:

    With Nilsson adding 15lbs this summer as per Matheson, I really, really, really hope they give him a real chance at camp.

    Nilsson can be a 60pt+ guy if he wants to play and treats his job professionally.

    Gotta give him another 1/2 year to make sure before letting go. Especially with the new coaching staff.

  50. kris says:

    Tambellini: We need to get tougher and grittier. We need size.

    Everyone else: And a PK'er and a 3C, too.

    Tambellini: Yes, that's right. Okay, here's my 3 step plan. Step 1, we get rid of Brodziak and Kotalik. They're fairly big and gritty and Brodziak was taking a lot of defensive draws.

    Everyone: Uh, okay.

    Tambellini: Step 2, we keep telling everyone we don't have any roster spots or cap space to sign a player, unless we get rid of a player. (Hopefully Penner, because he adds size to the lineup.)

    Everyone: But, wait. How will we get grittier and tough..

    Tambellini: Step 3, we sign the smallest player who can't take draws or kill penalties that you can find. Then we sit back and let the good times roll.

    Everyone: Will Hilary Duff be at the games?

  51. hunter1909 says:

    Okay, Comrie an Oiler, that's the end of hunter1909 following the Oilers.

  52. Schitzo says:

    Well, he meets one requirement ("we need more real NHLers").

    Grittier? Larger? Not so much.

  53. bookie says:

    If the contract is below $1,000,000 and there is a willingness to send him or someone else down to the farm if the situation warrents it, then I say its fine. It could be quite a deal.

  54. Smytty777 says:

    My only question is, why not Manny Malhotra?

  55. kris says:

    If the dollars are low, between 1-2MM, I think the signing itself is fine. And there's a small chance Comrie could really find his form.

    What bothers me is that they didn't sign the sort of player that we needed.

  56. Schitzo says:

    I've figured out the plan – there isn't a team in the NHL with enough goons to bully all of our small players.

  57. R3dm3n8c3 says:

    "Okay, Comrie an Oiler, that's the end of hunter1909 following the Oilers."

    So there is an upside to the signing.

  58. Ribs says:

    All of those people who bought Comrie jerseys at 75% off when he left can now rejoice.

    I really liked the guy up until the circus tent caught on fire.

    Pitkanen out for a month..geez. We didn't get too much use out of Cole but I'm kinda glad we dumped Joni when we did.

  59. Ribs says:

    Just thinking about those jerseys now…I suppose they have Gagners number on them. Boy will they look silly!

  60. Oilmaniac says:

    Smytty:
    "My only question is, why not Manny Malhotra?"

    Hey bro.. your not the only one asking…

    that was a great break down by someone above that post.. need toughness, pk'r, n faceoff guy…

    0/3

    -but hey.. 'expect the unexpected'..
    hehe, this fuggin team…

  61. Doogie2K says:

    My only question is, why not Manny Malhotra?

    He wanted too much money? He hates Edmonton? These are the only reasonable answers, I would think.

  62. logical thinking says:

    Cogs is too good a player to trade.

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