HIGHER LEARNING

draisaitl capture2Man that Leon Draisaitl is a quick study. Seriously. I was onside with keeping Taylor Hall, was talked into RNH by Cam Moon and Steve Sedarchny, was convinced Yak City could score and absolutely certain Darnell Nurse (both times) should go back. Leon Draisaitl?  I chose my words carefully, suggesting that while I loved his future, a job should not be handed to the young man. That’s still my position, but in watching the big German read and react without the puck, you can see why the Oilers are excited about No. 29. He’s pretty cool.

  • Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey: Showed some excellent puck support in the defensive zone and moved the disc efficiently from deep positions. Positive results by all shot metrics. 5/8=63% on the dot, including 2 out of 2 in the d-zone. His 10th NHL game, something of milestone, but the evidence is mounting that this guy is learning pretty fast. Source

Now, he isn’t always in the right spot but there’s an aptitude in his play that suggests the 19-year old is going to shorten the learning curve compared to a few others we’ve seen along the way.

LEON DRAISAITL 14-15 PROJECTIONS (RE)

PPG NAME GP G A PTS
.515 LEON DRAISAITL 14-15 RE 66 12 22 34
.300 LEON DRAISAITL 14-15 ACTUAL 10  1  2  3

This doesn’t really tell the story—Leon should improve, play more and score more often as the season rolls—because what’s impressed me about Leon is his play in his own zone. There’s a mounting body of evidence—anecdotal in some cases, available to the naked eye in others—that the rookie center does in fact have enough awareness to retrieve loose pucks and anticipate/intercept passes. In a season where the Oilers are 4-5-1, Draisaitl’s -5

 LEON DRAISAITL PLAYER CARD

PLAYER BOXCARS CORSI FOR % OZ STARTS 5X5 PER 60 TOI/G
LEON DRAISAITL 10gp, 1-2-3 52.2 78.3 1.10 13:27

I think this shows Leon’s season more effectively. Incredible zone starts and a solid possession number, but the offense isn’t there. I can live with that, but Draisaitl is going to need to deliver more offense in this situation as the season rolls. He’s using two veteran wingers and he’s getting a major zone push.

THE VOLLMAN SLEDGEHAMMER

vollman sledgehammer 14-15

This is the first sledgehammer we’ve seen this season, and it’s CorsiOn to begin the year. We see Leon exactly where a good coach would have him, facing softer minutes with an enormous zone-start push. The blue is a nice color, he’s doing well save for the boxcars and that will come. As an aside, and we’ll go into depth on the GDT Saturday, it’s interesting to see the harsh treatment for Gordon’s line and the island that is Mark Arcobello.

ADMIT YOU’RE WRONG, JERK!

I remain convinced that giving Leon Draisaitl a job was not the correct decision, and am aghast at the smart people currently saying “what are you gonna do, there’s nobody else?” In my life’s experience, one of the worst reasons to justify anything is what are you gonna do?

That said, I would be less than honest if I didn’t say this Leon experiment is showing some very nice blue balloons. I’m impressed, and will admit defeat if he can score 1.50/60 at evens over the season.

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41 Responses to "HIGHER LEARNING"

  1. jimmers2 says:

    While accepting all the caveats of sample size as true, two things jump right out of the Vollman chart :

    a) Boyd Gordon and his accomplices are indeed real men. It is magnificent what they are doing.

    b) Half of the graph this year is blue. That colour was only a rumour last season.

  2. Cobbler says:

    This first sledgehammer shows a much different team than last year. The are getting a higher proportion of draws overall in the Ozone.

    This looks like different deployment of the forwards than previous years.

  3. 9,998,383,750,001 says:

    Bruce gave Leon a 7 and Arco a 2 for the Nashville game. One insurance policy fits all, or would the GM rather know whether he’s filling the large hole or the small hole before he pulls the trigger?

    I think Arco was promised an honest shot at a starting assignment, about a twenty game stretch to find his groove, so long as he’s at least halfway decent. The optics would be pretty difficult for player and coach if you’ve got a more expensive, more established guy sitting in the PB the whole time while the Draisaitl / Arco saga plays out. The outrage after dressing Arco every game over a four- or five­- game losing streak would be Marincin^2.

    On their behaviour to date, MacT and Eakins simply don’t believe that playing the first ten or twenty games of the season with both Arco and Drai in the line-up defines the season.

    If many other factors line up smartly under the out-perform column, there’s still time to adjust. If many early factors straggle into the under-perform column, you weren’t making the playoffs in any case.

    Drai could be weaned to 50% OZ starts by xmas. Do we mainly need more help on the PK, a big body to block out the sun against our western conference opponents, or some skill to carry a secondary scoring line?

    The all-purpose ANP centerman was unlikely to be an economical addition in the summer timeframe.

    The limited but still useful ANP centerman was more in our price range, but precisely which special purpose?

  4. Bank Shot says:

    Even if Leon’s production improves, playing him was and will remain a terrible decision in my mind.

    The Oilers could have easily added another couple of vet forwards.

    Imagine how much better the team would be with the Hall line getting Leon’s zone starts instead.

  5. Zelepukin says:

    I agree that giving Drai a job was the right decision, primarily because it was the only decision. Unfortunately neither Drai or Arco is really fulfilling what we need from a 2C – secondary scoring solution. Arco is more of a 3C, playing smart, making good defensive positional decisions and can give/take a pass with at least some level of skill.

    Drai will no doubt be our 2C for hopefully years to come. After 10 games though, his weaknesses are blatantly obvious. Foot speed isn’t there yet (which shows itself in the defensive zone) and although he’s got size/weight, his core strength is still that of a teenager. His offensive style is that of puck protection similar to big Joe and pretty much every game he gets a wake up a call from the opposition rag dolling him or easily knocking him off the puck. You can tell that’s something that has never happened to him before. Growing pains.

  6. book¡je says:

    What are you gonna do, there’s nobody else?

  7. theres oil in virginia says:

    book¡je:
    Whatare you gonna do, there’s nobody else?

    It is what it is.

  8. Woodguy says:

    9,998,383,750,001,

    Drai could be weaned to 50% OZ starts by xmas. Do we mainly need more help on the PK, a big body to block out the sun against our western conference opponents, or some skill to carry a secondary scoring line?

    Naaah, you want your kids to get an easy ride for as long as you can if you’ve decided that “there’s nobody else”

    Grab Ollie for as little as possible (we was free dammit!) push Acro to 13th F, pushing Acton down and shelter, shelter, shelter the young ones.

  9. nycoil says:

    Yak needs to watch video of Stamkos’ goal he just scored. Yak could learn from him on how to find that open spot to shoot from.

  10. nycoil says:

    Woodguy,

    You saw 5 teams interested in Loktionov? I wonder if Edmonton one of them.

  11. Lowetide says:

    book¡je:
    Whatare you gonna do, there’s nobody else?

    Grrrrrr

  12. Lois Lowe says:

    theres oil in virginia,

    Because Oilers.

    When Drai inevitably ends the season on the IR with a shoulder injury we’ll all quote our favourite Russian saying.

  13. Kmart99 says:

    Nail has to be a difference maker in the right direction if this team is going to stay competitive all season.

    With his skillset, he should be able to provide some depth scoring that most nonplayoff teams don’t have.

  14. Ryan says:

    Recently, I find myself thinking back to a Dellow post from 2009. Dellow did an analysis of cost per wins for NHL teams over something like a five year time span. The Oilers, predictably, were at DFL while teams like San Jose were at the top.

    Dellow had unearthed some quotes from San Jose management about how they had complex valuations on players, picks, etc, they used this data for internal contracts, free agents, and trades. These valuations were based on player production and other proprietary player stats. Their models included career arcs and aging. They had valuations for every player in the league. The fact that San Jose is able to sell high on players does not rely on blind luck. By 2009, they had been doing this for years.

    It’s 2014 today and the Oilers hopes rely on a rookie GM with an online MBA. It’s sort of like your average day trader trying to compete with a high-frequency trader. Good fucking luck.

    Other than the ‘Alberta disadvantage’ in terms of attracting free agents, the Oilers continued flaws in writing contracts (Petry, schultz) suggests that they’re continuing to play checkers while other teams play chess.

    This is sort of why I find our meme, “get good player…keep good players” hopelessly naive. Nauseating really…

    For the Oilers, they drafted the consensus number 1 during an unfortunate span of time. Out of the three, Hall is the only franchise player and he’s not a generational talent. RNH is merely a very good centre while Yakupov is a clusterfuck.

    Obviously, with a trio of Hall, Stamkos, and Tavares the Oilers would have had enough elite talent to lift them from the rubble…

    From a draft perspective, the Oilers haven’t found a forward from outside the first round in years. They’ve drafted Petry and Marincin–both decent but far from elite dmen. When you only find good players in the first round, you’re in our infinibuild hell. In short, there isn’t enough talent in our pipeline to elevate this team.

    Free agents aren’t lining up for discounts to play for a crappy team up north…SMB isn’t ripping balks out of the park… That being said the only opportunity to improve is through astute cap management (that ain’t happening) and lastly selling high on trades.

    Until the Oilers catch up on this front, hopefully we can continue to enjoy exciting bottom-feeding hockey.

  15. nycoil says:

    What are the realistic C options?
    In order of most likely to least
    Loktionov (money)
    Jokinen (minor asset)
    Bailey (medium asset, more than Jokinen, hasn’t played much C last year and this)
    Eller (significant asset)
    E. Staal (unlikely he waives NMC for Edmonton, ton of assets and crazy salary)

    Anyone else realistic?

  16. wheatnoil says:

    nycoil,

    Brodziak (Minor asset)

  17. RexLibris says:

    Just for interests’ sake I checked on the Flames’ Player Chart.

    Wow. Did the Oilers ever get rid of Smid at the right time. There’s getting buried and then there’s holding hands with Hoffa.

    Flames have two players in the blue in Hudler and Byron, Giordano and Monahan are close and the rest is a big old pile of poor possession castaways.

    Looking back at the Oilers’ chart, it seems to reinforce that Eberle isn’t right yet. Yakupov’s numbers, as mentioned, don’t jive, Arcobello just isn’t an NHL center, Mark Fayne is who I thought he would be, and Jesse Joensuu is due for some sort of back injury or something because he is having a great season so far.

    Really funny to look at the D. The Oilers love Ference, rave about him. Jeff Petry is a better Andrew Ference, but they aren’t sold on him just yet.

    Seriously though, anyone still upset about the Smid trade (not the return, just the trade) should go and list both the Edmonton and Calgary D on the sledgehammer and revel in just how bad it is for him right now.

  18. nycoil says:

    wheatnoil:
    nycoil,

    Brodziak (Minor asset)

    Ah, yep. Forgot. Thanks. Slim pickings for sure.

  19. nycoil says:

    RexLibris,

    As you say, I’m upset about the return, not the trade itself. Could have done A LOT better, in my opinion, and that’s not hind-sight trading. I was shocked at the measly return at the time. Smid had a lot of perceived value around the league. Unacceptable trade. It still irks me immensely to this day. Huge DOWN arrow for me with regards to MacT, even though LT has come around to thinking it a small up arrow based on how bad Smid has become.

    I’m not disputing he was traded at the right time and the player now is struggling to say the least, but the return was atrocious and what’s worse is he wasn’t shopped properly to maximize the return. The Oilers aren’t in a position to be handing out favours. The Oilers sucked at the time and needed all the help they could get. Garth Snow was desperate with the Vanek situation. Totally could have seen the Oilers obtaining a very nice asset (and probably filled one of the key centre holes) in return for Smid to the Island.

    From Friedman’s 30 Thoughts at the time of the trade:
    19. The minimal return the Oilers received for Ladislav Smid stunned some people. But ultimately, this will be decided by two things: How well Laurent Brossoit develops and what Edmonton does with the cap space. There weren’t a ton of teams who knew Smid was available, either. One exec expressed surprise at hearing the trade, while another scout said he’d known for about two weeks. I had heard Washington was very interested, which makes sense. But that was denied (I was denied more this week than in all of high school – impressive feat).

    http://www.cbc.ca/sports-content/hockey/opinion/2013/11/30-thoughts-wild-prosper-from-playing-puck-more.html

  20. RexLibris says:

    nycoil,

    Yeah, the return ticked me off too, especially because Feaster wasn’t in a position of strength either and young defensemen like Smid have been moved before for far better returns.

    Imagine a world where MacTavish trades Gagner during the summer of 2013 for a D and then trades Smid for a 2C.

    Yep, unicorns.

  21. Lowetide says:

    We just talked about Smid the other day, I recall saying something like ‘minor positive arrow’ Since then Willis has written that MacT fleeced the Flames and Rex says they got rid of Smid at the right time. MacT may not be Sam Pollock, but there’s no flies on him either.

  22. nycoil says:

    Lowetide,

    Yes, I prefer MacT to Tambo and think he is a league average GM. I read the Willis article, and was responding to what Rex wrote above. I still have issue with the return, but not with the act of moving Laddy; if that wasn’t clear, I’m sorry. I don’t like the Hemsky return or the Smid return. I like other things MacT has done. I hope Horak comes back and Brossoit pans out and I eat my words.

    And I only mentioned it because Rex did. Sorry to rehash.

  23. malinpaul says:

    I think the Oilers need to make two trades.

    add a top pair big D youngish = player X
    add a legitimate #2C slightly older = player Y

    the idea being in 2 years the team looks like this (if we sign petry):

    Hall-RNH-Ebs
    Purcell-Drai-Yakupov
    Pouliot-PlayerX-Perron
    Chase-Gordon-best of (Pakarinen, Khaira, Moroz, Pitlick, Joensuu etc.)

    PlayerY, Nurse, Klefbom, Schultz, Petry, Marincin

    besides Hall I am not really that over the moon about any of our wingers. ebs and yak I have big plans for, but who knows what happens with AHL, trades, injuries, free agency etc.

    key is we need to acquire two REALLY big pieces that we will have to sacrifice for.

    we need a C NOW (and the right pick up will be useful later). and I believe we will need an anchor D to be elite. actually I think the D is what will make us elite, if they pan out.

  24. malinpaul says:

    nycoil,

    the Jack Johnson for Carter Richards moves are BOLD moves that created a monster team. a great GM would look at our team and make some moves.

    fact is we drafted the consensus #1 three years in a row. what are the odds all three players are the right fit for one team’s system.

    I’d love to see a blockbuster trade that made our team better.

  25. Hammers says:

    Still think what Montreal did with Galynychuck & Boston with Seguin makes more sense play them on the wing and ease them in . We no what happened to Lander ( not that he was or is as good ) . Look what Winnipeg did with Scheiflie . So many examples of play the wing or go back or fail . I felt he needed to stay and would learn more but this is the school of hard knocks . Prey the kid learns but no thanks to McT or Eakins .

  26. Bank Shot says:

    RexLibris:
    Just for interests’ sake I checked on the Flames’ Player Chart.

    Wow. Did the Oilers ever get rid of Smid at the right time. There’s getting buried and then there’s holding hands with Hoffa.

    Flames have two players in the blue in Hudler and Byron, Giordano and Monahan are close and the rest is a big old pile of poor possession castaways.

    Looking back at the Oilers’ chart, it seems to reinforce that Eberle isn’t right yet. Yakupov’s numbers, as mentioned, don’t jive, Arcobello just isn’t an NHL center, Mark Fayne is who I thought he would be, and Jesse Joensuu is due for some sort of back injury or something because he is having a great season so far.

    Really funny to look at the D. The Oilers love Ference, rave about him. Jeff Petry is a better Andrew Ference, but they aren’t sold on him just yet.

    Seriously though, anyone still upset about the Smid trade (not the return, just the trade) should go and list both the Edmonton and Calgary D on the sledgehammer and revel in just how bad it is for him right now.

    I thought Fayne was supposed to be billed as a guy that pushes the river coming from Jersey? He plays more time with Hall-Eberle-Nuge than any other defenceman and has the worst corsi on the team.

    Smid plays with Engellend, The top player on the Flames corsi wise he plays with is Monahan and that is his 7th most common linemate.

    One player has a chance at success and the other doesn’t.

    If the Oilers are ever going to get better they need to stop trading players for picks and prospects. Mact continued the trend last season. We will see how Petry plays out this year.

  27. Lowetide says:

    nycoil:
    Lowetide,

    Yes, I prefer MacT to Tambo and think he is a league average GM. I read the Willis article, and was responding to what Rex wrote above. I still have issue with the return, but not with the act of moving Laddy; if that wasn’t clear, I’m sorry. I don’t like the Hemsky return or the Smid return. I like other things MacT has done.I hope Horak comes back and Brossoit pans out and I eat my words.

    And I only mentioned it because Rex did. Sorry to rehash.

    Actually, I was just rambling, not responding to you. I just found it funny that we all kind of see that deal differently. Which is fine, none of us has cornered wisdom.

  28. Curcro says:

    RexLibris: Arcobello just isn’t an NHL center

    I disagree with this statement. Arco is just barely over 50 games into his NHL career. His career path is not very different from David Desharnais. Take a look at where Desharnais was two years ago.

    Based on the same evidence Yakupov and Pouliot just aren’t NHL players. It does take time to develop and Centre’s in particular take a little longer to develop. In a more sheltered position like Draisaitl he would likely be in the Blue.

  29. gcw_rocks says:

    We see Leon exactly where a good coach would have him, facing softer minutes with an enormous zone-start push. The blue is a nice color, he’s doing well save for the boxcars and that will come.

    The problem is that by needing to give Leon the push, the oilers can’t deploy the Hall line like Vancouver does with the Sedins. Sheltering Leon and Yak is killing the team’s overall offence.

    You are bang on about the lack of alternatives being a horrible excuse.

  30. russ99 says:

    malinpaul:
    nycoil,

    the Jack Johnson for Carter Richards moves are BOLD moves that created a monster team. a great GM would look at our team and make some moves.

    fact is we drafted the consensus #1 three years in a row. what are the odds all three players are the right fit for one team’s system.

    I’d love to see a blockbuster trade that made our team better.

    As would I as long as its not with Philadelphia. 🙂

    I hold out much more hope in the future at center for Yakimov than Arcobello, as long as we leave him in OKC until he’s ready.

  31. russ99 says:

    gcw_rocks,

    Lots of other things are killing our offense worse than sheltering Leon and not giving the Hall line the juiciest ZS/QC. By my eye they’re doing pretty well anyway vs. the toughs.

  32. theres oil in virginia says:

    Lowetide: Which is fine, none of us has cornered wisdom.

    Oh, I cornered it once, but it somehow got away. I haven’t seen it since.

  33. gcw_rocks says:

    russ99:
    gcw_rocks,

    Lots of other things are killing our offense worse than sheltering Leon and not giving the Hall line the juiciest ZS/QC. By my eye they’re doing pretty well anyway vs. the toughs.

    The Hall line is doing OK, but far from great. This should be a dominant line terrorizing the other team’s goalie but they can’t because of where they start and who they are up against.

    But, I agree, it’s not the only problem and may not be the biggest.

    Wouldn’t you like the oilers to be able to deploy:

    Hall line- ozone push, mid to weak competition
    Gordon line – defensive zone starts, tough competition
    Perron line – mixed zone starts, mixed competition
    Pouliot line – defensive zone starts against weaker competition?

  34. russ99 says:

    gcw_rocks

    Not sure the Hall line really needs much more sheltering, if we can mix in more zone carries/passes to create space and get a man at the net instead of the endless dump-cycle.

    I’d really prefer a more traditional 2 scoring and 2 defensive lines:

    Hall – RNH – Eberle : offensive zone starts – mixed-to-weak comp
    Yakupov – Draisaitl – Purcell : o-zone – weak
    Perron – Arcobello – Pouliot – d-zone – mixed-to-tough
    Hendricks – Gordon – Joensuu – d-zone – toughs

  35. theres oil in virginia says:

    There’s some silliness lately about Nuge and Eberle being “nothing special” and “every team’s got players like this”, etc. WTF, mate?

    Eberle ranks 170th ALL TIME in the NHL for goals in the first four seasons of a players career, 27th among active players, and 3rd since 2010 (Ebs’ first year), behind Stamkos and Skinner (for players in the first four years of their career). Remove the “first four years of career” requirement and he falls all the way to 30th since 2010. Gasp! The bum. Where does Ryan O’Reilly (who everyone agrees is better than Eberle) rank ALL TIME? Oh, he’s close…882nd.

    Eberle started his first NHL season at the age of 20. Nuge played his third season in the NHL last year, at the age of 20. A train-wreck of a season for the Oilers, that some of you might remember.

    2010-11 Eberle @ 20: 69 GP — 18 G — 25 A — 43 P
    2013-14 Nuge @ 20: 80 GP — 19 G — 37 A — 56 P

    Nuge playing center and coming off of Oilers (shoulder) surgery. No one in the NHL can make the puck stay glued to his stick like Nuge can. No one.

    Nuge ranks 288th ALL TIME in the NHL for points in the first three seasons of a players career, 55th among active players, and 2nd since 2011 (Nuge’s first year), behind Landeskog. Somebody please argue that Landeskog is a more complete “all around” player than Nuge.

    Of course, Taylor Hall is responsible for anything good that any Oilers player attains. Because Taylor.

    All this drama over nothing. Ladies, it’s time to lay off the estrogen pills.

    (I apologize if any of the above is incorrect. It’s a good faith effort at truthiness. I got the stats from: Hockey Reference Also, the usual disclaimer about blame and Woodguy. I’m sure I can trace it back to him, if it’s wrong.)

  36. G Money says:

    theres oil in virginia: No one in the NHL can make the puck stay glued to his stick like Nuge can. No one.

    I like your message overall about the unwarranted criticism as to the actual ‘goodness’ of Hall, RNH, and Ebs in context. But the statement above is a little overdone, don’ t you think? Crosby? Malkin? Datsyuk? Kopitar? Getzlaf? The Sedins?

    Good company for the Nuge – but I think it’s also true that he’s just knocking at the door of being an elite centre. He’ll be among the best soon, I’m confident, but if we’re honest, he’s only just getting there right now.

  37. G Money says:

    gcw_rocks: The Hall line is doing OK, but far from great. This should be a dominant line terrorizing the other team’s goalie but they can’t because of where they start and who they are up against.

    Would rather see what the line does when Eberle is healthy before I conclude that.

  38. G Money says:

    Nice little summary of the Oilers this season, especially their struggles against the West, from (GASP!) Tychkowski in the Sun:


    For all the significant improvements we’ve seen in the 4-5-1 Oilers, like an elite-level first line, improved defence, a more aggressive philosophy, better breakouts and transitions and a group better able to withstand adversity, there is still a lot that seems to need work.

    Their determination around the net still has to improve. The Oilers can out-skate you, can outscore you, can steal games with their goaltending and can claim a distinct competitive advantage if you want to trade line rushes.

    But they’re not going to out-battle you around the net. They’re not built that way, they’re not wired that way.

    But it so happens that most teams in the Western Conference are. They make you battle for every inch of space.

    So the Oilers struggle.

  39. russ99 says:

    G Money,

    That’s spot on. The problem with doing that, it seems, is then we expose too much on D, especially when a defenseman other than Schultz is involved. The key will be picking spots to attack the high scoring areas and spots when to retain possession, cycle and look for an opening.

    I hope Eakins will come to that conclusion before we pile up too many more Western Conference losses due to low scoring.

  40. theres oil in virginia says:

    G Money: But the statement above is a little overdone, don’ t you think? Crosby? Malkin? Datsyuk? Kopitar? Getzlaf? The Sedins?

    No, I don’t think so. I’m not arguing that he’s the best at “puck pocession”. I’m saying that when he stickhandles, the puck looks glued to his stick. I’ve never seen anybody who matches that – granted I don’t have a lot of viewing experience of guys from the olden days, but no one currently in the NHL does it as well as he does.

  41. bretskigretzky says:

    Hall+Nuge+Scribbles+Ebs+Jultz+Perron+Yak+Nurse for Weber

    Fair yet?

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