I believe it is reasonable to bet on the Edmonton Oilers choosing a forward in the 2016 NHL draft. The top three in this year’s selection appears to be written in stone (Matthews, Laine, Puljujarvi) and Matthew Tkachuk is going to be difficult to overlook at No. 4.
- Boxcars: 57gp, 30-77-107
- Even-Strength: 57gp, 20-43-63
- Power Play: 57gp, 9-33-42
- Penalty Kill: 57gp, 1-1-2
- Shots on Goal: 191
Those are exceptional numbers, as stand alone numbers they qualify as astounding. His NHLE (82, 14-35-49) totals are top drawer and the only real concern I have about him is the strength of his teammates. He is getting a lot of his points at evens, I regard that as a good sign:
- Mitch Marner 57, 21-43-64
- Matt Tkachuk 57, 20-43-63
- Christian Dvorak 59, 27-32-59
He is 6.01, 195 and the scouting reports on Tkachuk should give any NHL team a good feeling about his possible future. He is 4, 6-1-7 in the playoffs so far. This is an outstanding prospect. He isn’t Billy Guerin, but I think we can safely use the word rugged with this player.
- Dan Marr, Central Scouting: “Matthew is unique in that he brings a skilled and physical package combination to game situations in which he consistently contributes and impacts.” Source
Negatives? He is not a fast train. He is more playmaker than scorer and that may impact Edmonton’s decision. I believe he is a Peter Chiarelli-style player based on scouting reports I have read—like this one that talks about his eventual size/speed/skill combination:
- Todd Warriner, Sportsnet: “Like his attitude and work ethic to go along with excellent one ice awareness and small space skills. Still growing, getting stronger. As good as anyone below hash marks offensively, where the NHL game is played.” Source
ARE THEY BETTER AT CENTER?
When Peter Chiarelli took over the Oilers, the center depth chart (pro division) looked like this:
- C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
- C Anton Lander
- C Boyd Gordon
- C Leon Draisaitl
- C Bogdan Yakimov
- C Jujhar Khaira
- C Travis Ewanyk
- C Kellen Lain (RFA)
- C Kyle Platzer (newly signed)
Derek Roy was UFA, they had to decide on guys like Marco Roy but this was the group Chiarelli saw on the whiteboard, day one. What did Chiarelli do? Of the eight men above where a decision was required (remember, Platzer had signed and was turning pro), Chiarelli flushed three men (Gordon, Ewanyk, Lain) and he took the other five (plus Platzer) to training camp. Between April and September, Chiarelli would add the following centers:
- Connor McDavid
- Mark Letestu
No extra credit for drafting McDavid, but he was added under Chiarelli’s watch. Letestu was supposed to be a 4C who could slide up but he ended up being a 3C who didn’t slide down.
When we look at these numbers, it is important to remember that these five men (will) represent more than the total number of center ‘at-bats’ for the year. If we estimate (without OT) a center playing every minute of every game, we get 82×60=4,920 minutes. By my count, they have played in 18 OT games, so I will estimate 5,000 center minutes. These five men have played 5,019 minutes (with three games to go) and delivered 55 goals and 100 assists. Here are my estimates and the actual numbers for each player:
- Connor McDavid actual 42GP, 15-30-45 1.07 points-per-game
- Connor McDavid RE 70GP, 23-39-62 0.886 points-per-game
The young man actually outperformed my estimate and has a shot at 50 points in 45 games—an outstanding total in a league that will probably have fewer than three 1/1 players this year. Not a lot to be critical about here, the organization got him for half a season courtesy a giant slice of crappy luck—bulletin, it is a theme we will repeat as we get into the RE.
- Leon Draisaitl actual 69GP, 18-32-50 0.725 points-per-game
- Leon Draisaitl RE 41GP, 8-12-20 0.487 points-per-game
I don’t think anyone anticipated this season from the big man, he was a revelation for much of the year. It is too bad that he faded as the season wore on, that run from callup through end December (29, 8-22-30) was outstanding.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins actual 52GP, 11-22-33 0.634 points-per-game
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins RE 82GP, 22-41-63 0.768 points-per-game
He is a fantastic power-play pivot, so the overall numbers are better because of it. The Nuge has had a tough time since that illness, he was 31, 8-15-23 through mid-December (.742). He scores on 11.1 percent of his shots (career), I think he should shoot more.
- Mark Letestu Actual 79GP, 10-14-24 0.304
- Mark Letestu RE 71GP, 10-12-22 0.310
I think the RE pegged him right, but the season has been disappointing. About 50 percent of his offense came on the power play—that is far more than his career average before this year (27.8 percent). I think 3.79/60 at 5×4 is easily the strongest number he posted this year.
- Anton Lander Actual 60GP, 1-2-3 0.050
- Anton Lander RE 75GP, 12-15-27 0.360
Anton is having the ‘third-string catcher’ season usually reserved for the Marc Sullivan’s (and he had help from Haywood). My goodness that is a large miss in terms of estimate.
- Centers actual: 302GP, 55-100-156 0.517
- Centers RE: 339GP, 75-119-194 0.572
Incredibly, most of the miss (I am out by 8 goals if you compare apples to apples in GP) is Anton Lander. He scored a hat trick in one of the pre-season games I attended, thought he would have a big year. Question: Did Peter Chiarelli set up the center position for success? I think he did. When we look at the other positions the answer won’t be as rosy, but for me the issues we have seen during the year at center have (mostly) to do with injury and men playing too high on the roster.
The more I think about Chiarelli’s summer, the more I think he will deal from strength to address weakness—and that means leaving Taylor Hall on the roster. As I see it, Edmonton does have three areas of strength:
- Left-handed defensemen (Sekera, Klefbom, Davidson, Nurse, Reinhart, Musil)
- Another lottery selection (and that carries another big bonus contract)
- Young centers (McDavid, Nuge, Draisaitl)
All have potentially extreme value (if Chiarelli goes to market with Darnell Nurse, the No. 2 overall and Leon Draisaitl he is going to come home with an insane defenseman) but this remains a building team—trading off assets in their early 20s is unwise. What can PC do? Focus on Jason Demers, perhaps trade down from No. 1 to No. 2 overall (acquiring substantial assets), build up that farm system (because it is not very good right now). If a big deal is there, pull the trigger but I say no to a one-for-three and suspect that is what is going to be out there this summer.
— zach laing (@zjlaing) March 28, 2016
Lots of speculation over this, we chatted briefly about it yesterday. I would beware of small sample sizes in regard to Patrick Maroon, and we would do well to remember that BP has been an effective plug-and-play and possession player up and down the batting order. Can the Oilers get Sami Vatanen for him? Giddyup. Failing that, I keep him. A small item we might consider: If Pouliot gets traded, I would be even more convinced Chiarelli would chase Milan Lucic.
Matty putting things together over at the EJ, interesting bit of information. Jake Marchment was also rumored to be in that deal, so there are two names to keep in mind. THW’s Dustin Nelson has a nice story here that contains some information about Prokhorkin and others.
Note on college signings: If you are disappointed in the lack of signings for Edmonton (so far only Colton Waltz on a tryout for Bakersfield), suspect the club has targeted names like Troy Stecher and Alex Lyon—those are quality names. Patience is a virtue.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A terrific show this morning, please tune in at 10, TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Scott Cullen, TSN. We will discuss the crazy race for No. 30 overall—I don’t think Edmonton finishes there.
- Guy Flaming, Pipeline Show. Oil Kings had a tough night, refs appeared to be a factor, but still lead the series.
- Frank Seravalli, TSN. Keith suspension, major injuries around the league and some possible playoff matchups.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide twitter. Talk soon!