Taylor Chorney 10-11: Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright

Taylor Chorney and the Edmonton Oilers should be ready to part ways, move on to new challenges. Since turning pro in the fall of 2008, he’s a combined -80 overall (AHL and NHL). Chorney is undersized for his position and has been passed by several (many) blueline prospects since 2008. They include Jeff Petry and Theo Peckham, both drafted one year after Chorney.

However, the Edmonton Oilers have a galling tendency to hang on to their “tweeners” like they are silver and gold. The same team that flushed Kyle Brodziak and Jason Chimera for depth picks and declined the option on Marc Pouliot also hangs on the JF Jacques, Taylor Chorney and others like grim death. This summer, the Oilers are finally ready to part with Jeff Deslauriers. Apparently. In the fall, when the team is sending players to the AHL, don’t be surprised if Chorney stays while others go.

Taylor Chorney 10-11

  • 5×5 points per 60: 0.39 (7th among Oil D but DNQ)
  • 5×4 points per 60: 9.00 (1st among Oil D but DNQ)
  • Qual Comp: 6th toughest among D but DNQ
  • Qual Team: 6th best available among D but DNQ 
  • Corsi Rel: -13.5 (8th best among D but DNQ)
  • Zone Start: 48.8% (3rd toughest among D but DNQ)
  • Zone Finish: 48.6% (9th best among D)
  • Shots on goal/percentage: 13 shots/1 goal 7.7% (1st among Oil D but DNQ)
  • Boxcars: 12gp, 1-3-4
  • Plus Minus: -5 on a team that was -52
  1. What do these numbers tell us? This is a very limited view, but the returns have been consistent since he turned pro. He’s bleeding profusely as a defensive player. Chorney has been facing tough zone starts in the last two NHL seasons and second to third pairing opposition. Not ideal for a rookie, and he’s fallen flat with CorsiRel’s of -13.1 (last year) and -13.5 (this season). I think it’s a combination of being unable to play the position (he’s not a dummy, but is ill suited for the physical aspect of the game) and Quinn/Renney’s rolling the lines and pairings. I do believe MacT would have been a better mentor for this player.
  2. What about expected plus minus? He should have come in at about -2, so -5 isn’t tragic save for the fact that it took place in less than three hours work.
  3. How could these numbers be better? Chorney’s progress would be helped by an established, dependable NHL veteran. You could say that about every kid who’s come down the pipe since Ladislav Smid. Chorney played most often with Kurtis Foster (41%) and Theo Peckham (33%); not the worst partners on the club, but two youngsters is a recipe for disaster and Foster played in troubled waters all year long.
  4. What about injury? Chorney had a knee problem this year and an ankle injury one year ago. Eventually injury will rob him of his footspeed but that’s a distant bell. I don’t think it’s a big deal.
  5. Is there any hope? I don’t know. The Oilers think so, but he loses a lot of battles and he is not a big defender. Taylor Chorney was chosen by the Edmonton Oilers in a “perfect storm.” Post-lockout rule changes gave NHL teams (and fans) the belief that smaller, mobile puck movers would rule the earth and that the physical game would be reduced greatly. Although the game is different (you can’t clutch, hook, grab or molest like the old days) it’s also true that defensemen will engage in multiple battles for real estate every game. Chorney is not winning those battles. Maybe he should pull a Rafalski and play a few seasons in Europe, honing his skills. He’s smart and can skate, so there are some raw materials.
  6. Why did the Oilers draft him so high? It was the 2005 draft, same year as Cogliano. They came out of the lockout and were looking for speed and smarts. Both kids have that in spades. In fairness to the Oilers, they had locked and loaded on TJ Oshie but St. Louis plucked him right in front of the Cogliano selection.
  7. How Important is he to the organization? He is one of two defensemen drafted in the top 40 since 2000 (the other one is Alex Plante). Chorney was drafted in that 2005-07 cluster with Jeff Petry (#45 in 2006), Theo Peckham (#75 in 2006) and Plante (#15 in 2007). So far, Petry and Peckham are the cream of the crop. The club has another cluster (Hesketh, Bigos, Marincin, Blain, Davidson) a few miles behind in their development, and traded for Kevin Montgomery and Colten Teubert, further muddying the waters. Safe to say that Chorney will need to stand and deliver sooner than later.
  8. What’s the best possible conclusion? A draft day trade. Chorney (now 24) could use a change of scenery and he’s going the wrong way on the Oilers depth chart. He is not without talent, and could make the grade with a team in less turmoil. Young players need calm waters to develop. Taylor Chorney never had that opportunity.
Prediction for 2010-11: 34gp, 1-4-5 (.147)
Actual 2010: 12gp, 1-3-4 (.333)
Passed like a house on the side of the road

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