OILERS NO. 7 PROSPECT (winter 2015): ANDERS NILSSON

by Lowetide

In a century where the Edmonton Oilers spent their days and nights mishandling talent, it’s wildly ironic to ponder this possibility: Solving the goalie problem by trading a distant bell draft pick. Anders Nilsson is still obscure—most Edmontonians wouldn’t recognize him at the local donair shop—but the young man has a glorious chance to win a starting job and seal off an area of unbelievable weakness in this city. His ranking should be regarded as a combination of talent and opportunity.

PREVIOUSLY NO. 7 ON THE WINTER LIST

  • December 2004: D Jeff Woywitka (278)
  • December 2005: L Alexei Mikhnov (2)
  • December 2006: G Devan Dubnyk (249)
  • December 2007: C Riley Nash (193)
  • December 2008: D Jeff Petry (335)
  • December 2009: D Jeff Petry (335)
  • December 2010: C Tyler Pitlick (27)
  • December 2011: D Martin Gernat (0)
  • December 2012: C Jujhar Khaira (0)
  • December 2013: D Anton Belov (57)

The eye rolls over over these names and the brain informs us about promising careers sent away, muscle-building products apparently misused in exotic places like Kosice, and college men judged to be unable to think on their feet. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, what a century to be alive!

nilsson capture

WHAT THEY SAID ON DRAFT DAY

  • Elite Prospects: A huge goaltender that is technically skilled. Nilsson has good hockey smarts plays with calmness and has good mental strength. Challenges the shooters and has been very consistent during his career, rarely having bad games. Furthermore, he is athletic and quite agile. Source
  • The Goalie Guild: Nilsson was really challenged in his homeland this season, as he doubled his minutes played for Lulea’s junior team in Sweden, jumping from 16 in 2007 to 37 games played in 2008. But he also doubled his shutouts (two to four) and improved his goals against average and save percentage just slightly. For a goalie that was ranked 5th in European goalie prospects available, being the first choice in Round 3 is an amazing accomplishment for Nilsson. Source

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OTHER VOICES

 

  • Anders Nilsson“I have done for three years in the AHL and I do not think it would be good for my development to play a fourth year in the AHL, That’s what I’ve said to them, since we have not started to go into contract negotiations.” (this was before the trade, he’s referencing the Blackhawks)
  • Goalie guru Kevin Woodley: “His size is his strength. He has a really good athletic base, he moves very well for his size. That is the strength, the weakness, at least early in his career in the NHL was that he moved too much. When you are that big and that long and you move too much you are opening up holes. Pucks go through you as opposed to using your size effectively, and you tend to open up and create more holes than you need to.” Source

PREVIOUS TOP 20 RANKING

  • Summer 2015: No. 22
  • Winter 2015: No. 7

SUMMER 2015 COMMENTS

  • Chiarelli on Anders Nilsson: “He’s a big goalie. He might not have been dealt the greatest cards when he came over (to North America). He had a strong year in the KHL. He had an average World Championships. I saw him in one game when I went over there. He’s still young for a goalie. He was excited to hear that he has a new start. The bottom line is there is going to be competition. There is going to be competition amongst the goalies and that’s why. We want that. It gives us insurance and it gives us competition.” Source
  • Lowetide: A .936 save percentage in the back yard is exciting, this guy did it in the KHL. He might not be the second coming of Tim Thomas, but this is at the very least a compelling curio for Oilers camp. Source

2015-16

  • Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey: Backup Anders Nilsson hasn’t exactly set the world on fire either, although he has sprinkled in a few strong games along the way. His last two appearances saw him post save percentages of .810 and .852 as he was lit up for 8 goals on 48 shots in a pair of Edmonton defeats. His own seasonal save percentage has dipped below the .900 mark to .897, barely ahead of Talbot’s .890. Source
  • Lowetide: De facto starter until further notice, he’ll need to have a terrible outing to lose the crease in my opinion. He’s a lesson to NHL teams, too. Unless Carey Price is available, chances are there’s a reasonable goalie swaying in the wind somewhere and available for a single Coughlin.  Source

THE FUTURE

Anders Nilsson owns an even-strength SP of .910 currently, that’s 16 points in front of Cam Talbot and ranks No. 31 among goalies with nine or more starts this season. That, my friends, is the definition of reaching for a positive. Why then does Nilsson rank No. 7 on the prospect list? Part of it is opportunity and the other part is his performance in recent games. Nilsson’s save percentages in his last five games are .939, .919, .810 (flu game against ARI), .852 (Hawks) and .950. I’m not convinced he’s a better goalie than Cam Talbot, in fact I think Talbot is clearly a better one based on resume. Doesn’t matter.

Between now and April, Anders Nilsson is going to get his opportunity and if he performs well enough it could mean a contract and NHL employment. Now, today, this instant, Todd McLellan is looking for his goalie, and his goalie had a .950 SP in the last game played by Edmonton. Goal is a weird position, and Nilsson’s current status has extreme value.

ILLNESS

One other thing: Nilsson’s pro career has one giant asterisk in the middle, and it pertains to B-12 and you can read a little about it here. If we place that illness inside his career numbers it creates a dip in performance that may end up helping the Oilers in a big way.

  • 2009-10 (Age 19) 27GP, .896 (SEL)
  • 2010-11 (Age 20) 31GP, .918 (SEL)
  • 2011-12 (Age 21) 25GP, .921 (AHL)
  • 2011-12 (Age 21) 4GP, .910 NHL
  • 2012-13 (Age 22) 21GP, .899 (AHL)*
  • 2012-13 (Age 22) 19GP, .896 NHL*
  • 2013-14 (Age 23) 29GP, .901 (AHL)
  • 2013-14 (Age 23) 19GP, .896 NHL
  • 2014-15 (Age 24) 38GP, .936 KHL
  • 2015-16 (Age 25) 9GP, .901 NHL

The 2012-13 season saw a massive fall in performance and he did not recover in the following season. Nilsson’s KHL performance last season got him to Edmonton and he’s in a battle for NHL employment currently. The two seasons that followed his impressive first NA season may have been impacted by his illness and recovery. If that is in fact the case, we see a very nice progression from first year pro through this season and Edmonton may have caught lightning in a bottle. Once again, I want to stress, these are early days and betting on goalies is a very dangerous game.

THE 2009 DRAFT

  • Magnus Paajarvi, No. 10 overall. Speedy winger is back in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues and seems to have some traction. Talented player who can’t score enough to stay in the lineup, but he has a chance now and it could be his last, best, one. No longer in the organization.
  • Anton Lander, No. 40 overall. Checking center who exploded on the NA scene in 2011 and won a job in the every day lineup. He took a long time to find his way in the AHL, but had been pushing for some time when he finally got his chance under Todd Nelson a little over a year ago. Currently on the NHL roster and doing some good things, but the offense has dried up and it’s a concern. Graduated.
  • Anders Nilsson, No. 62 overall. Drafted by the Islanders, acquired this summer by Peter Chiarelli. Picked up for very little, he could be that himself a year from now. Nilsson’s emergence could be something of value or he could be a flash in the pan. No. 7 prospect, Winter 2015.
  • Troy Hesketh, No. 71 overall. One of the last of the family of picks who were trumpeted as being “guys New Jersey was looking at”, Hesketh never made it out of the USHL.
  • Cameron Abney, No. 82 overall. Enforcer who played in Bakersfield last season, his AHL career games played is 18 and holding.
  • Kyle Bigos, No. 99 overall. Playing in Edinburgh this season.
  • Toni Rajala, No. 101 overall. Scoring well in the Swedish Elite League, just shy of a point-per-game.
  • Olivier Roy, No. 133 overall. Playing in Austria this season, he was one of the players involved in the Brossoit-Smid deal.
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Gordies Elbow

Cameron: As a Flames fan, I would like to endorse the ‘Trade picks for Talbot then flip him for struggling Leaf goalie’ strategy.

Or, we could just wait to pick up Ortio on waivers. That’s this week, right?

Kmart99

Is the Pacific on track to make 82 pts the playoff cutoff?

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

No Kmart. Nobody is thinking that.

JD_Wry

Frank the dog: Would he be defensively responsible enough?

That was my first thought too.

But in all seriousnessity, it would be great to see him take a walk with Buck for a couple of weeks, regardless of the position he’s playing.

And I could care less how he feels.

Johnny skid

Cameron: As a Flames fan, I would like to endorse the ‘Trade picks for Talbot then flip him for struggling Leaf goalie’ strategy.

as a flames fan do you endorse the laurent brossoit trade?

Cameron

AsiaOil:
I’ll throw this out there – but would only consider it if Talbot was to continue struggling through December.

Talbot and Nikitin (or even better Ference) for Bernier

Bernier is a quality goalie who is getting Dubnyked” by TOR mgmt for some unknown reason. Yes he’s being outplayed right now by Reimer who is on a totally unsustainable binge – but you could have predicted that Bernier would not be happythe way the summer went down. TOR mgmt basically did almost everything they could think of to say “we don’t likeyou much”. This is the first time he has ever had an SP under .912 – and if TOR is stupid enough to give him away for junk and a struggling UFA – then you do it. Reimer is a solid backup / 1B kind of guy who has a crazy season every 3 years or so, but he’ll be back to his usual .910 self soon enough. Bernier also has not been that bad this year – in spite of being 0-8 – he stood on his head in about 4 of those games and got zero goal support. Buy low if Talbot continues to struggle.

As a Flames fan, I would like to endorse the ‘Trade picks for Talbot then flip him for struggling Leaf goalie’ strategy.

Frank the dog

jp: I’d forgotten about that option.

With the D actually playing well lately, and with all the bodies back there, putting Schultz on the wing definitely makes some kind of sense at the moment. At least while he gets back up to speed.

I haven’t 100% given up hope on him as a useful defenseman, but the Oilers (when healthy) are just 1 forward short of unicorns….

Would he be defensively responsible enough? 🙂

Yeti

GCW_69: Really hoping TMac pulls a Burns and tries Schultz on the wing. Suspect he would be pretty good at it.

It would be great if we could put him and Smid on the fourth line.

AsiaOil

I’ll throw this out there – but would only consider it if Talbot was to continue struggling through December.

Talbot and Nikitin (or even better Ference) for Bernier

Bernier is a quality goalie who is getting Dubnyked” by TOR mgmt for some unknown reason. Yes he’s being outplayed right now by Reimer who is on a totally unsustainable binge – but you could have predicted that Bernier would not be happy the way the summer went down. TOR mgmt basically did almost everything they could think of to say “we don’t like you much”. This is the first time he has ever had an SP under .912 – and if TOR is stupid enough to give him away for junk and a struggling UFA – then you do it. Reimer is a solid backup / 1B kind of guy who has a crazy season every 3 years or so, but he’ll be back to his usual .910 self soon enough. Bernier also has not been that bad this year – in spite of being 0-8 – he stood on his head in about 4 of those games and got zero goal support. Buy low if Talbot continues to struggle.

jp

Lowetide,

No, certainly no one knows how this will turn out.

Hopefully a couple of the Oilers current crew will step up at some point and solve the goaltending problems long term though.

jp

GCW_69:

Really hoping TMac pulls a Burns and tries Schultz on the wing.Suspect he would be pretty good at it.

I’d forgotten about that option.

With the D actually playing well lately, and with all the bodies back there, putting Schultz on the wing definitely makes some kind of sense at the moment. At least while he gets back up to speed.

I haven’t 100% given up hope on him as a useful defenseman, but the Oilers (when healthy) are just 1 forward short of unicorns….

jp

LT, in your opinion what’s the gap between Nilsson and Broissoit?

Significant? Small? Coin toss?

I feel like Nilsson’s KHL season trumps anything Brossoit has done to this point (basically equivalent to Broissoit this year, but sustained over a full season). Though Nilsson also has some more negatives on his resume.

I feel like they’re very close, but was curious what you (and others) thought.

AsiaOil

I think you could go either way next week – start Nilsson against WAS and then go with Talbot against CAR – or do the reverse – or just keep playing Nilsson until the B2B games. CAR is certainly the more “winnable” game but the team should be ready for WAS this time. But right now the Swede is killing Talbot in the important category:

Nilsson: 4-4-1 WLO
Talbot: 3-8-0 WLO

The Swede is doing his job and WAS is the only bad game he played – plus the team was awful. Price would have been chased that night. Fact is Talbot has been relative junk for a month now and that has to change PDQ. Won’t speculate about options for now and hope it doesn’t get to that point.

GCW_69

admiralmark: I don’t think Schultz’s return is going to do either of these goalies any favors though.

That’s exactly what I was thinking. Watching the defence without Schultz feels like watching a real NHL defence most of the time. The game without Schultz, Gryba and Ference was sweet.

Really hoping TMac pulls a Burns and tries Schultz on the wing. Suspect he would be pretty good at it.

Oilander

Damn google translate! It changed “kids and alchohol” to “vitamin B12 deficiency”. Go figure!

B12?

….BINGO!!!!

*smiles over the disappointed groans of dozens of old ladies*

Zelepukin

Lowetide: I never say it out loud anymore, because the math is the math. But honestly, I think part of SP has to do with mindset and confidence. I don’t know if you call it ‘outliers’ or whatever, but Asia above makes a great point about the Washington game. I was there, and the entire team took a powder.

Hopefully they’ll adjust their gameplan similar to the Chicago game where you can’t give these offensive teams the time and space to make plays. Assertiveness and playing inside their jersey (as McL puts it) has proven effective. Of course part of that solution has to do with not have slow mofos in the lineup like Gryba or Ference.

LostBoy

Centre of attention:
Talbot will get his chance though, maybe sometime on this road trip. But if Cam lays another egg I think Nilsson runs away with it.

They tried Nilsson on back to backs last time up and he had a rough outing against Arizona (without a lot of help). There’s a good chance Talbot plays one of Detroit or Pittsburgh Friday/Saturday if he doesn’t draw in earlier.

spoiler

Lowetide: A .936 save percentage in the back yard is exciting, this guy did it in the KHL.

Missed this bit of writing in the summer… awesome line, LT.

I wonder how much of the improvement in SV% this season we can lay at the feet of better team play… learning the systems, Fs helping out more, smarter decisions, rookie D improving…?

Zelepukin

Hopefully he starts tomorrow and can show some redemption.

AsiaOil

Nilsson is .918 without that disastrous WASH game – pretty much matches what my eyes have seen this year. I like him as a backup with potential and the weird illness may have given us guy whose potential is not matched by his salary or what we gave up for him. Of course I feel pretty much the same way about Talbot (backup with potential) and his current play is what I was worried about right from the start. At this point, all you can do is play the guy who is doing well, and Nilsson is playing better. Talbot will get his chance again soon enough – but he’s used up a life or two already. If he’s still not getting his act together by the end of January then you need to consider plan B so that we have at least league-average goaltending next season.

admiralmark

At the very least this creates competition for the position. I suspect Talbot will be more focused now that the job isn’t an absolute given. I don’t think Schultz’s return is going to do either of these goalies any favors though.

Loyal2theoil

Fuck yeah Esks!!

Centre of attention

I love me some Anders Nilsson. Big, athletic young goalie with potential. Also he will be cheap, is an RFA and is hungry to establish himself after playing his way out of North America in early days. Motivation is huge in professional sports.

Interesting to hear that Anders lackluster start to pro hockey can be attributed to B12 deficiency. Guess that means there is more upside to him than we thought?

I don’t care who wears the sweater, I’m in the business of cheering for Oiler wins and if Nilsson is delivering he should play.

Talbot will get his chance though, maybe sometime on this road trip. But if Cam lays another egg I think Nilsson runs away with it.

My 2 cents.

jake70

Toni Rajala – I really wanted to see him get a few games in the NHL, see if he could waterbug it like Gaudreau is doing. But then I wanted to see Omark too.

RexLibris

Great read trying to make sense of a prediction double-whammy (prospect AND goalie).

The fact that he is playing in the NHL and winning games makes the Coughlin exchange a clear win, in my eyes.

dessert1111

Wow that draft looks bad. Especially if Lander doesn’t get back on track.