The NHL season is less than two weeks away, and we have a general idea about the Oilers roster. A small change or two is possible, but we’ve heard in the last 24 hours that players who might have seemed available may not be due to a more lax cap than expected and other factors.
For our purposes–and to the ire of many who read this blog–I have not made any changes in the numbers from the summer, aside from adjusting them to 48gp. Why? Guys (and ladies), I just don’t think there’s any realistic way to assess things at this instant and defend a decision. If I choose Colten Teubert to replace Andy Sutton, the GA goes up significantly (Sutton was a pretty good defenseman, Teubert is another unproven one) and although that may well happen I don’t have any real evidence aside from Teubert being one of 8 defensemen invited to the camp.
Steve Tambellini may end up changing the entire scenario with a signing or trade. That’s the problem.
In the summer, we’re in ‘fin’ mode. NHL teams have addressed their needs, their target additions are now roster players and we can mull over the possiblilities. Even though RE requires a certain amount of guessing, there’s still a thread of logic that shines through when the sands are not shifting. Currently, the sands are about to shift. My “guessing” at a solution ruins the RE. If Colten Teubert wins the Sutton job, it’ll mean he played so well the organization felt secure in sending away Theo Peckham or Corey Potter. If he plays well all year, my RE would suggest otherwise and again skew what we might expect from reasonable.
It is reasonable–based on all we know now and knew in August–for Colten Teubert to spend the season in OKC. Andy Sutton’s injury was unknown to us in the summer, and for me its best to proceed as if we are unaware of it. I will do a prediction post before the start of the season when the roster is set (but it won’t be RE).
THE TOP 6F (78 goals)
|RYAN NUGENT HOPKINS||42||13||26||39|
I’ve projected the Oilers to run these men as the top 6, with Gagner centering Hall and Hemsky while the Nuge plays between Yakupov and Eberle on the team’s soft minutes line. These numbers are from the summer–Eberle’s projection is unchanged despite AHL performance in 12-13–same with Yakupov in the KHL, Hall in OKC and on it goes.
THE BOTTOM 6F (36 goals)
I have Horcoff and Smyth playing with Paajarvi and Belanger between Jones and Hartikainen. Actually, I have Yakupov, Paajarvi and Hartikainen all over the roster (couldn’t make up my mind) but settled on this group for the RE. I’m certain there will be a lot of movement, with a nice spot for any of those wingers being the Horc-Smyth pairing coach Krueger mentioned on several occasions. Either way, the current situation looks like Hartikainen has pushed ahead of Paajarvi, and based on how they were used in the AHL this season it might behoove one to change the numbers. As with Eberle above, I don’t think there’s any good reason to do it aside from the current wind direction. We remain blisfully unaware of Ryan Jones eye injury.
EXTRA FORWARDS (5 goals)
I don’t think these guys will be regulars but anything is possible. Krueger has to get better performance out of his bottom 6, and my guess is he’ll go with two veteran centers, two veteran wingers and then Harski and Paajarvi. Eager could replace Paajarvi or Hartikainen, but the team won’t be better. Hordichuk is the least able player on the roster. Petrell is door number one for me, I’m not really certain why they re-hired him, so am prepared to be amazed or have my suspicions confirmed but there is no middle ground.
DEFENSE (12 goals)
I have Smid-Petry (with Petry getting plenty of PP time) and Whitney-Schultz (with both getting PP time) and again these were made before the AHL season began. Potter, Fedun and Teubert are the candidates to fill in Sutton’s role, in style and spirit Teubert would be the logical match but in fact Potter is the better option. It goes without saying this assumes good health for Whitney (39 games but his defensive performance is a question) and perhaps I’m testing fate by suggesting 4 of the top 6 will play in 40+ games.
- DEVAN DUBNYK: 32, 2.60 .917
- YANN DANIS 10, 2.90 .906
- NIKOLAI KHABIBULIN 6, 3.17 .897
I think Dubnyk will improve slightly from a year ago–remember this included Sutton on the D–and that Danis plays more and performs better than Khabibulin. I don’t think there are any surprises there, the club could help itself tremendously with a strong PP performance in the coming months.
2012-13 PROJECTION (48 GAMES)
TOTAL GOALS FOR: 131
TOTAL GOALS AGAINST: 138 (including 7 EN goals)
GOALS PER GAME AVERAGE: 2.73 (2.52 last season)
GOALS AGAINST PER GAME AVERAGE: 2.88 (2.83 last season)
I have the Oilers improving in GF-GA season over season from minus 25 (207-232) to minus 7 this season (131-138), albeit in 48 games (both seasons include EN goals for and against). Anyway you slice it the projection calls for an improvement. Is it enough to make the playoffs?
Up next: NORTH BY NORTHWEST