WHAT TO DO ABOUT CENTER

There are already positives in regard to the Edmonton Oilers and their center depth chart. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be completely healthy and a year older. Nuge has been in the NHL for three seasons now, scoring over 50 points twice and playing beyond his years at center in the toughest conference in Christendom.  Sam Gagner no longer plays center for the Oilers, and defensively that’s a good thing.

There are issues. The Oilers plan to use their centermen as follows:

CENTER
RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS
NEW FELLOW
LEON DRAISAITL
BOYD GORDON
MARK ARCOBELLO/ANTON LANDER

If the Oilers could acquire someone like Cody Eakin or Patrik Berglund (or as bendelson suggested, Ainisimov from CBJ)  in there, without giving up the first-round pick or a needed defenseman, they could have a nice 1-2 punch and Gordon on the 4. If Leon the Professional can handle the job (and I think they’ll keep him) then Arco is the extra C and Lander is a utility outfielder.

HOW WILL MACT GET THIS DONE?

Let’s use Dallas and Eakin as an example. The Stars need two things: defensemen and cap room. The Oilers don’t want to give up a defenseman (or at least I hope they don’t) but could take on some salary.

MACT WORKING ON CENTER

Since taking over the team over a year ago, Craig MacTavish has added the following centers:

  • Bogdan Yakimov, Kyle Platzer and Greg Chase via the 2013 draft
  • Boyd Gordon and Will Acton via 2013 free agency
  • Leon Draisaitl and Tyler Vesel via 2014 draft.

Since he arrived, MacTavish has added one solid NHL center via free agency, but the really good work has been done below the NHL level. I’d guess that all of Draisaitl, Yakimov and Chase will play in the NHL at some point, and in the case of the Russian and German it might be sooner than later (this year). I think that’s a very aggressive timeline, but the talent is clearly there.

BACKDRAFT

Looking at other teams and their haul from the draft, it’s pretty clear the depth from this year’s crop was a problem. I did a ‘top 137′ in order to cover off all the Oiler picks (hahaha, I had three of six listed) and had No. 39 (G Vitek Vanecek to Washington) at No. 123. By the time the first Elvis came off the list at No. 76, my list was garbage. I’m going to post my complete 137 with names taken crossed off later in the week, I think it’s interesting and instructive. Not that my list is the authority, but it does give an indication of the wide open draft in 2014.

arcobello4

BIG WINNER THIS WEEK

The big winner this week (so far) among Oilers? Mark Arcobello. His name is No. 2 on the C depth chart and he’s probably the best option for 4line RW. Arco can also serve as ‘first best option’ for any number of roles. I’d say the Oilers have him in their plans based on what happened this week. In fact, I’d say there should be enough work for Anton Lander to get plenty of at-bats, too. Tyler Pitlick may be on the outside looking in, but that 4line RW job is there for the taking—if he has another impressive camp and can stay healthy, that would be ideal.

HELP FROM THE FARM

This is a point in the development timeline when the Oilers badly need one of these prospects/farm workers to step up. If we look at the NHL depth chart at forward, and extend it to the call-ups and the injury replacements, we easily see who needs to come through for the Oil:

 

LEFT WING CENTER RIGHT WING
TAYLOR HALL RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS JORDAN EBERLE
DAVID PERRON MARK ARCOBELLO TEDDY PURCELL
BENOIT POULIOT LEON DRAISAITL NAIL YAKUPOV
LUKE GAZDIC BOYD GORDON MATT HENDRICKS
JESSE JOENSUU ANTON LANDER*** TYLER PITLICK***
RYAN HAMILTON*** WILL ACTON*** STEVE PINIZZOTTO***
CURTIS HAMILTON*** JUJHAR KHAIRA*** IIRO PAKARINEN***
KALE KESSY*** BOGDAN YAKIMOV*** ANDREW MILLER***

 LOWDOWN

10am, TSN 1260, and we’re back! Guests include Scott Burnside from ESPN, Travis Yost from Hockeybuzz, we’ll replay interviews with Mark Fayne and Benoit Pouliot from yesterday’s free agency coverage. In hour two, it’s Bruce McCurdy from the Cult of Hockey, Ryan Pike from Flames Nation, and Dave Jamieson from TSN 1260.

Looking forward to it! @Lowetide_ or 10-1260 via text. Btw, I’m hanging out with the morning show beginning at 8 this morning.

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213 Responses to "WHAT TO DO ABOUT CENTER"

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  1. "Steve Smith" says:

    G Money,

    Senator, that was really uncalled for.

  2. Melman says:

    Woodguy: WTF Wilson?

    This confuses me greatly.

    maybe they’re going to put Scott on Marleau’s line until he signs off on his NTC

  3. Woodguy says:

    G Money:
    Speaking of stopgap centers … any thoughts on Michal Handzus?Is he done like dinner?Or could he last one more season and be a serviceable 2C?

    He’s done and its not close.

  4. Woodguy says:

    G Money: I’ve read “Steve Smith”.

    I’ve heard Steve Smith talk.

    Steve Smith, sir, is no “Steve Smith”.

    I know Steve Smith.

    I’ve met Steve Smith.

    You sir, are no Steve Smith.

  5. Woodguy says:

    Melman:
    Woodguy,

    Thanks WG.Anecdotally that makes some sense as at the beginning of the year I thought they’d be good, but nowhere near where they ended up.Similar to the season Edm. had the ridiculous SO success and you knew it wasn’t repeatable and inflated their record from (presumably) a D to a C-

    Having said that while they might not dominate like they did last year, it’s pretty hard not to consider them a lock for playoff spot.

    Actually the 17-4 record is just regulation wins.

    They went 9-8 in OT/SO games which is smack dab in reality.

  6. Lowetide says:

    Woodguy: I know Steve Smith.

    I’ve met Steve Smith.

    You sir, are no Steve Smith.

    I’ve run over Steve Smith.

    I’ve backed up and run over Steve Smith again.

    You sir, are no Steve Smith.

  7. G Money says:

    Woodguy,

    Excellent breakdown on your ANA prognostication.

    A couple of counterpoints, though:

    1 – I do believe it is established that sh% and W-L in one-goal games is dominated by randomness (I hate the word “luck” in that context). But I don’t believe the two are fully independent. A team with a bloated sh % will have an artificially bloated record, and I certainly think part of that will be a bloated regular season 1g W-L record.

    2 – So the reversion of ANA’s sh% will be part of the process of reversion of one-game W-L.

    3 – Some wag will point out that it means ANA should go 4-17 next year. Which of course is ridiculous. Random and therefore independent from year to year. Best bet is to assume a mid-point of distribution 1G percentage, which means the reversionist bet is 10-11 or 11-10.

    4 – So reversionally speaking (?), expect them to see a drop of 7 games, or 14 pts. Still puts them above 100 pts, and solidly in the playoffs.

    5 – In other words, I agree with your analysis – but still believe firmly that ANA is a lock for the playoffs, and not one of the ‘battlers’.

    And a final note on PDO (not aimed at you, just a general comment)… this is something people just don’t get about the concept of PDO and its reversion to 1.

    This is not a fluke or a mystery. It is a mathematical tautology. In any given game, and therefore also league-wide, sv% and sh% are inverses. Excepting the effect of empty net goals, they must sum to 1!. Imagine a single game played, with one team winning 3-2 and outshooting the other 30-28.

    Team A: sh% = 10%, sv% = 93%

    Team B: sh% = 7%, sv% = 90%.

    90+10 = 100, 93+7 = 100. Always has to work that way.

    So in the big picture, PDO must and always reverts to 1.

    Got a great goaltender? On your team, it may bloat your PDO a bit. But league-wide, it has the effect of depressing other teams shooting percentages. Reverting to 1. Always!

    Math.

    It works!

  8. G Money says:

    “Steve Smith”,

    Damn, I thought I was being complimentary to you, “Steve Smith”, and unkind to Steve Smith.

    Clearly I, sir, am no Shakespeare.

    P.S. I thought Steve Smith was a Hurricane, not a Senator.

  9. striatic says:

    G Money: Damn, I thought I was being complimentary to you, “Steve Smith”, and unkind to Steve Smith.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senator,_you're_no_Jack_Kennedy#Transcript

  10. G Money says:

    striatic,

    I know, I know! I’ve been channeling Lloyd since my very first post! I thought the whole Steve Smith, sir, is no “Steve Smith” was a kinda clever morphing of that, the Senator/Hurricane thing less so, but then again, I am one of those guys who finds me more entertaining than anyone else finds me!

  11. Rondo says:

    Viktor Fasth for Patrik Berglund

  12. bendelson says:

    G Money: I am one of those guys who finds me more entertaining than anyone else finds me!

    And that’s all that matters G.
    ‘Steve Smith’ taught me this a long time ago…

  13. Woodguy says:

    G Money:
    Woodguy,

    Excellent breakdown on your ANA prognostication.

    A couple of counterpoints, though:

    1 – I do believe it is established that sh% and W-L in one-goal games is dominated by randomness (I hate the word “luck” in that context).But I don’t believe the two are fully independent.A team with a bloated sh % will have an artificially bloated record, and I certainly think part of that will be a bloated regular season 1g W-L record.

    2 – So the reversion of ANA’s sh% will be part of the process of reversion of one-game W-L.

    3 – Some wag will point out that it means ANA should go 4-17 next year.Which of course is ridiculous.Random and therefore independent from year to year.Best bet is to assume a mid-point of distribution 1G percentage, which means the reversionist bet is 10-11 or 11-10.

    4 – So reversionally speaking (?), expect them to see a drop of 7 games, or 14 pts.Still puts them above 100 pts, and solidly in the playoffs.

    5 – In other words, I agree with your analysis – but still believe firmly that ANA is a lock for the playoffs, and not one of the ‘battlers’.

    And a final note on PDO (not aimed at you, just a general comment)… this is something people just don’t get about the concept of PDO and its reversion to 1.

    This is not a fluke or a mystery.It is a mathematical tautology.In any given game, and therefore also league-wide, sv% and sh% are inverses.Excepting the effect of empty net goals, they must sum to 1!.Imagine a single game played, with one team winning 3-2 and outshooting the other 30-28.

    Team A: sh% = 10%, sv% = 93%

    Team B: sh% = 7%, sv% = 90%.

    90+10 = 100, 93+7 = 100.Always has to work that way.

    So in the big picture, PDO must and always reverts to 1.

    Got a great goaltender?On your team, it may bloat your PDO a bit.But league-wide, it has the effect of depressing other teams shooting percentages.Reverting to 1.Always!

    Math.

    It works!

    Thank you.

    Pretty much.

    I did say ANA is the best of the fighters, but they might be a light lock.

    If they slide to the sad side of variance they are fighting.

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