I have a really bad feeling that the Oilers may have a deal in place for Jack Johnson and to make room for him are going to trade Ladislav Smid at the deadline, and I’ll tell you why.
TEA LEAF #1 – BOB STAUFFER
Bob Stauffer is an employee of the Edmonton Oilers. He is the radio color analyst, and host of a daily hockey show called Oilers Now on the radio rights holder for Oiler broadcasts.
Bob generally has a better track record than most when predicting Oiler roster moves. He’s by no means batting in the .700 range, or even .500 range, but he hits a solid single more often than most.
A CALLER WHO GUESSED RIGHT?
On March 8th he answered a caller who suggested that DET likes Swedish players so Omark, Paajarvi or Lander would be a fit there for a bottom of the roster type coming back. Bob’s response was “Wow. You haven’t been intercepting any emails of late have you?”
Sounds like Bob knows something, and the most likely scenario is Omark and Whitney for a bottom of the roster type from DET. I really hope Paajarvi isn’t involved.
OILERS AND COLUMBUS “A FIT”
The caller then talks about Columbus having too many D and not enough skill and there might be a fit there. That sets Bob off to speculating about Columbus needing to move one of their expensive Dmen for talent up front.
At the end of his musings Bob’s conclusion is that he could see Edmonton and Columbus being a good fit trade wise, and that the Dman who would be available would be Jack Johnson.
Here’s the link to the podcast:
March 8th – 3rd half hour, call starts at 14:27 left (time counts down)
I really, really, really hope Bob is wrong on this one.
It may be that the Oilers know they really need to upgrade on the first pairing and in their eyes Jack Johnson is best guy available.
Jack Johnson is not the best Dman available. He’s not a good Dman, so its impossible to be the best Dman available, but more on that later.
TEA LEAF #2 LADISLAV SMID
Ladislav Smid is a UFA this summer has not not signed an extension.
As of March 3 the Oilers have had contract discussions with the Oilers.
If you have followed the Oilers for any length of time, this most often means the player is on their way out of town.
The same happened to Hemsky last year and he was signed at the last minute, so its not like they always follow the same script. They just mostly follow the same script.
Defenceman Ladislav Smid, an unrestricted free-agent July 1, says his agent Steve Kotlowitz hasn’t had contract discussions with the Oilers. Lots of NHL teams have been scouting the Oilers, knowing Smid is UFA this summer, also wondering if he might be in play for a trade April 3 because of that, if there’s no movement on a new contract. “There’s nothing going on,” he said. “I’m trying not to think about. Hopefully, we’ll start talking soon. We have a month to the trade deadline.” Is he worried about a trade? “I guess that would be an option, if I don’t sign a deal by then.”
With Bob Stauffer saying the Oilers have fit with Columbus, I think the Oilers may have decided to trade Smid and take on Johnson. This would be a mistake.
I think the Oilers recognize that they do not have enough good 1st pass Dmen on the roster to get the puck to the gifted kids and they want to upgrade. That is a good thing.
I’ve posted before that they might be looking at bringing Grebeshkov back, and that is a good thing.
Now the tea leaves looks like they are moving out Smid to make room for Johnson. That is not a good thing.
OILER’S HISTORY OF MAKING ROOM FOR A PLAYER
For some reason the Oilers never have actual competition for roster spots. I understand that in a cap world the realities of the contracts dictate that you kinda know who is going to slot where, but the Oilers do it by giving roster spots to unproven players, not to the better player.
1) Not re-signing Marchant in the spring of 2003 as Horcoff emerged to take his spot. Marchant was going to command more money than the Oilers wanted to spend. Marchant averaged over 19 minutes a night, Horcoff averaged under 13 minutes a night in 02/03
2) In the same summer as Marchant, the Oilers cleared out Cleary to make room for Pisani. The Oilers said Cleary needed “another opinion” and let him walk as Pisani emerged.
3) Moving Brodziak to Pouliot could take his spot. The Oilers admitted later that is exactly why they moved Brodziak. They wanted their 1st rounder from 2003 to solidfy a roster spot so they paved one for him. He still missed.
4) Moving Gilbert to make room for Justin Shultz. There was tons of smoke that Shultz might be coming. Moving Gilbert makes no sense unless he was coming. Right handed multi-tool Dmen aren’t plentiful.
Link to Matheson’s story on the Oiles trading Gilbert to make room for Shultz:
Matheson’s may have just made a mistake, but I think there’s more there.
WHY JACK JOHNSON IS NOT A TOP 4 NHL DMAN
I was going to write to explain why Jack Johnson is not a good NHL defenseman, but I ran across 3 articles that do a very good job explaining it, so I’ll link them and then add my own bit.
BATTLE OF CALIFORNIA
On August 2nd, 2011 Kings blogger Rudy Kelly from Battle of California (covers Kings, Sharks and Ducks) wrote this piece while Johnson was still a King:
The crux of the article is:
Overall, the Kings were +112 GF and -93 GA without JMFJ (+19, .546), and +55 GF and -72 GA with him (-17, .433).
The Kings are better without Jack Johnson. Or at least, every single defenseman on the team (except Drewiske) plays better without Jack Johnson. This despite the fact that Jack didn’t play the toughest minutes on the team (those go to Mitchell and Doughty). The evidence is circumstantial but poor people have been put to death with less. To put it in another way, Jack had both the highest GA/60 among Kings defensemen and the lowest GF/60. He scored less points at a per minutes basis than any other defenseman on the team, including Matt Greene and Rob Scuderi. There’s a lot of different ways you can show it, but Jack Johnson is just… bad. Bad bad bad.
Next we have 2 articles that came out the day after Johnson was traded to Columbus.
FEAR THE FIN
Writer “The Neutral” from Sharks blog Fear the Fin wrote this piece on Feb 24th 2012
The crux of that piece was Johnson’s offensive production and shot attempt differential vs all the other defensemen in the NHL was very poor.
Johnson was amongst the dregs of the NHLin every aspect, and put up those numbers while seeing 2nd pairing competition.
201st among 202
195th among 202
136th among 202
183rd among 200
195th among 200
185th among 200
143rd among 202
198th among 202
57th among 202
167th among 198
151st among 198
161st among 198
141st among 155
57th among 155
112th among 155
That’s an amazing list of futility for a Dman who is supposed to be a top 4 NHL talent.
Those are bottom pairing/AHL quality numbers.
COPPER & BLUE & FROZEN ROYALTY
The 3rd piece was the aptly titled “Jack Johnson Is Not Good” by Derek Zona at Copper & Blue
Derek had fun at Johnson’s expense by quoting Dean Lombardi talking about Johnson’s development curve in college:
“Jack was a thoroughbred out there. But he was all over the place. He was awful as a hockey player. As an athlete, you’re going, wow! Look at the way he skates, shoots, he can pass. But he had no idea where he was going. At times, he was playing forward at Michigan. You had no idea what position he was playing. But he had always been the star and he always got his numbers. Then he turns pro and for the first time, we’re telling him ‘whoa, just make the first pass and learn to play in your own end.’ How about making a read in your own end about the right guy to pick up? He was awful.”
That quote was from a piece done by Gann Matsuda on January 10, 2010, at Kings blog Frozen Royalty. Matsuda has been writing about the Kings since 1986.
Matsuda’s piece was entitled: Dean Lombardi: Jack Johnson Is Learning His Craft…Belatedly
Here’s a key paragraph:
Now in his third full season in the National Hockey League, Johnson has shown the offensive skill and athletic ability that made him a first round pick (third overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes. But his decisions in the defensive zone often leave people shaking their heads after he makes a bad read or blows a coverage.
The piece continues on about Johnson getting selected to play for team USA and how he’s getting better.
The problem is that his results haven’t been getting better. I learned a long time ago that perception is reality and the perception of Johnson is much, much better than his results.
THE BIT I WANTED TO ADD: JOHNSON WOWY
One area I like to look at is with and without you shot attempt differential. These show a very general effect the player has on their team mates in terms of shot attempt differential.
Here’s a charts showing how many of Johnson’s top 15 team mates (using TOI together) in the last 3 years fared playing with and without him in terms of shot attempt differential.
|YEAR||# OF PLAYERS BETTER WITH JJ|
|2009/2010||3 OF 15|
|2010/2011||2 OF 15|
|2011/2012 LA KINGS||0 OF 15|
|2011/2012 COLUMBUS||3 OF 15|
In all 3 years none of the players who fared better with him were defencemen.
This isn’t not a “be all end all” stat, and when a player is surrounded by much better players sometimes you can expect results like this, but usually its at the end of the roster.
OILERS NEED PUCK MOVING DMEN
The Oilers have trouble maintaining puck possession. I think a significant part of improving this is having more Dmen who can make a good first past. Right now its only Petry and J.Shultz (assuming Whitney is gone)
I’m reminded of the 08/09 season when the Oilers had 4 good puck moving D, but only Horcoff and Hemsky could take a pass. That year Gilbert, Souray, and Grebeshkov were in the top 8 scoring on the Oilers. Visnovsky was 11th in scoring despite only playing 50 games.
The top 5 Oiler scoring forward were Hemsky, Horcoff and Patrick O’Sullivan (who got most of his points as a King), Ales Kotalik (most of his points came with BUF), and a 19 year old Sam Gagner.
So back then they had good 1st pass Dmen, but hardly anyone to pass it to.
Now they have a bunch of players who can take a pass and create offence if they have possession through the neutral zone, but no one to pass it to them. Off the glass and out is a constant refrain this year.
Balance has seemed to elude Oiler management since the spring of 2006.
I’m not opposed to moving Smid if the plan is to replace him with a non-rookie, Actual NHL quality Dman who can move the puck and helps with possession.
There’s smoke that Oilers and Jackets are a fit from the rights holder station that has a solid background of being right.
The Oilers do not seem interested in signing Smid.
The Oilers are still a team that is in the early stages of looking at shot data stats for another opinion on a player, so they are one of the few teams that would actually trade for Jack Johnson regardless of what the MSM says.
I fear the Oilers are going to trade Jack Johnson and have to send back something like Paajarvi and a 2nd in a very deep draft where their 2nd will be in the 40′s overall.
If they get him, I’m sure they will trumpet his international experience playing for Team USA.
I’m sure they will trumpet the fact that he was a 3rd overall pick in his draft year.
I’m sure they will talk about his size, shot, physicality, grit, determination and compete level.
I’m also sure they will have traded for boat anchor.
They will have traded for a player who looks like a good player, but who’s results show that he isn’t.
The cornerstone of the Defensive Corps may be a guy who doesn’t make his team mates better and they will have paid a lot to get him.
I really hope that I’m reading the tea leave wrong.