BLACK AND WHITE WORLD

by Lowetide

Drake Caggiula is 22, Matt Benning is 22. Nail Yakupov is 22. We think of Nail as a veteran and the two college men as kids just getting started, but in actual age we are dealing with two prospects whose time is now. Can these two men make the opening night lineup? I have Caggiula’s chances of doing that at 10 percent, Benning at 15 percent (here). Both men have things that will make them legit roster options (Caggiula: speed, skill; Benning: right handed, range of skills) and we should be prepared for deep training camp runs from both men.

It might work if we imagine both were drafted in 2012—maybe in the second and third rounds, in the same area as Mitch Moroz and Jujhar Khaira—and if we (in our minds) speed up their clock and act as though their window of opportunity to make the NHL begins now. I don’t believe either man will break camp with the big team, but do believe both players will make their NHL debuts in 2016-17.

NAIL YAKUPOV

I wrote an article last night at ON that received some fairly quick and spirited reaction about its main point (play Yak with McDavid means three scoring lines). In reality, I have been writing that same article all summer (I would estimate 20 times) because for me it is a very important subject.

My email was fairly full this morning with comments pro and no in regard to the article. I feel as though we are at a point where it is almost impossible to have a nuanced conversation about any Oilers subject. When we choose sides and remain firm on opinions there is very little to talk about, which is a shame. Why? The subject of Nail Yakupov has all sides and your opinions matter. That said, we can listen as well as we hear, and for me there seems a real disconnect about this player.

So, allow me to make a few statements that I believe to be true:

  • Three scoring lines is improbable, but not impossible with this roster. Nail Yakupov played well with Connor McDavid, but not as well with other centers. There is a window of opportunity here, but—and I have no favorite in this race, the numbers dictate my stance—the only spot where three scoring lines seem reasonable is Nail with McDavid. The one other possibility—not as strong—is rookie Puljujarvi with McDavid and Nail with Leon.
  • I received a lot of reaction talking about Nail not deserving the opportunity. I think we need to get away from this kind of thinking, it is old school. Who cares if he deserves it? I don’t. I do care about using the lineup in the most effective way.
  • Also included in the words sent to me is a frustration over my approach to Nail, specifically his flaws. One email was quite aggressive in tone, suggesting my view of Nail is skewed, that I do not see his flaws. I would like to remind you that we just went through the RE process and in Nail’s RE there was acknowledgement of his flaws. The idea of the RE is to take bias out and deliver the actual news:

 

  • What is the best thing about him? He is a talented skill player. Yak can stick handle, pass, shoot and has reasonable speed. There is an NHL player there, I believe that to be true.
  • What is the worst thing about him? He is making the same mistakes now as he did as a rookie. Whatever instruction he has received, it is either too much, not enough or delivered in a way he cannot understand or is beyond his aptitude.
  • Example? Late in the season against St. Louis, Darnell Nurse labored for 20 seconds to fend off a big Blues forward, finally getting the puck out past the blue line and to Yakupov. Nail took the puck, stickhandled back into the zone, passed the puck to Nurse (with the same St. Louis forward now bearing down on him) and skated off the ice. Nurse iced the puck, and Yak’s shift continued.

Folks, I understand the idea of having an opinion and getting our points across. In hockey, as in life, things are rarely black and white—in fact, most often we are discussing shades of grey—and when we reduce a conversation to a single line we are limiting logic and reason while also increasing the emotion. The subject of Nail Yakupov is a complicated one, and there are passions on both sides. Let us spend just a moment pondering facts:

 

  • Jordan Eberle—8-8-16 (2.63) with McDavid; 7-6-13 (2.24) with Nuge; 0-1-1 (0.47) with Draisaitl
  • Nail Yakupov—2-7-9 (2.63) with McDavid; 1-1-2 (1.45) with Nuge; 1-1-2 (1.52) with Draisaitl

Huh. Folks, at the very least, the Oilers have to consider using Nail with 97. Not only does it spread out the offense and make defending the team more difficult, it also allows Peter Chiarelli to Sam Pollock the player—increasing value, perhaps getting a better return in trade (no one should have reached the conclusion Nail is a long-term player here).

This is a complicated issue. This is also an important one. I think it requires more than ‘he hasn’t earned it’ as a response. I am also fairly certain Todd McLellan will attempt to find an effective place for Nail as long as he is on the roster. I believe that to be true, and with that stated the idea of McDavid with Nail is at least worth discussion. I hope we can have that discussion today, while also taking the time to listen to each other.

CURRENT 50-MAN LIST (48)

50-man aug 27

 

AHL CONTRACTS

These are men who have signed with Bakersfield and should be included in the Mark Arcobello, Andrew Miller, Josh Winquist, Marco Roy category.

  • L Scott Allen—A giant (6.03, 198) who came out of college (Alaska-Anchorage) and scored some with two ECHL teams last season. A former Spruce Grove Saints forward, he is on an AHL deal. You may look at him as a fringe player, but he is exactly the kind of prospect who routinely gets playing time ahead of Edmonton’s prospects. Keith Gretzky will be a hero for our times if he can stop that kind of behavior.
  • C-L Joey Benik—Another AHL contract, Benik is small (5.10, 174) and quite skilled—his St. Cloud State career totals (126 points in 137 games) are impressive. Interesting addition to the team, suspect ECHL time is likely.
  • RD Frank Simonelli—He is a righty blue from the Boston Bruins system, I would suggest he is the new CJ Ludwig.
  • LC Josh Currie—Effective AHL player, outperformed several prospects one year ago—and played more than those prospects.
  • R Jaedon Descheneau—St. Louis Blues (unsigned) pick in 2014, he finishes a fine junior career with the Kootenay Ice. Small and skilled, on an AHL contract with Bakersfield.
  • L Ryan Hamilton—No longer on an NHL contract, he will pull major minutes away from the kids—but is regarded as a solid veteran and mentor.
  • LD Mikael Tam—Seems a depth defender, could end up staying the entire winter in Norfolk.
  • Current AHL roster

STRAGGLERS

  • L Kale Kessy. Not qualified, destination unknown.
  • D Adam Pardy. UFA, destination unknown. Pardy has signed a PTO with the Florida Panthers.
  • D Eric Gryba. UFA, destination unknown.
  • D Nikita Nikitin. UFA, rumored to be heading to Omsk (KHL).
  • C Marco Roy. minor league UFA, destination unknown.

Pardy was a good option for Edmonton later in the year (remember the Adam-12 waiver run?) but the Oilers have 1,000 lefties and Pardy is another. Sail on, Adam Pardy, I think you can play in this league.

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

At 10 this morning, TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:

  • Darcy McLeod, Because Oilers. Best spot for Nail? Brossoit v. Gustavsson? Richards vs. Lander? More.
  • Jesse Spector, The Sporting News. Jays enjoyed three nights of Damn Yankees, now what?
  • Jeff Krushell, Krush Performance. Jays, safety in sports, training camp physicals.
  • Jeff Hauser, Radio Hauser. NFL regular season starts tonight!

10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!

 

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OmJo

Ducey:
I know everyone likes their stats but maybe we will come to the realization someday that just flopping out the points or Corsi WOWY is just part of the picture.

People are down on looking at zone starts but to me they signal usage. If you are getting a lot of DZS the coach looks at you as a defensive option and also likely plays you against tougher comp.

When Yak played with Connor, they had 36.4 OZFO, 17.6 DZFO and 46.0 NZFO.

When Yak played with Letestu, they had 26.3 OZ, 31.2 DZ, and 42.4 NZ.

When Yak played with Nuge, it was 29 OZ, 34 DZ, 36.2 NZ

Connor without Yak was 30.9 OZ/ 38.5DZ/ 30.6 NZ. Connor was 31.4 OZ/ 33.8 DZ/ 34.8 NZ with Eberle

Lots of numbers there, but the thing that stands out is the 17.6 DZS for Yak with Connor. So the numbers of Connor with Yak and Eberle might be similar, but its likely that Yak’s numbers were generated in softer minutes (better zone starts, easier comp) than Eberle’s.17.6 DZ starts for Yak with Connor is pretty strong sheltering. Its clear TMc did that on purpose. He likely picked his spots on opposition too.

So if you want to play Connor with Yak, you have to find a way to shelter Connor. That will be tough (especially on the road) and result on more pressure on Nuge and Leon.

This is really the horns of the dilemma.

If it is going to be power v power (I think it has to be if you have a player like Connor) then the proper RW is Eberle for Connor. Yak is going to do better in sheltered minutes (ie not with Letestu) and therefore I think the best C to play him with will be Leon (presumably Nuge with get his fair share of tough minutes).

To summarize the lines should be

Toughs (Connor)
2nd toughs (Nuge)
sheltered (Leon)
Dregs/ PK (Letestu)

Yak should be on the sheltered line.

What if the reason that Yak and McDavid had such a low number of DZone starts was because at this point in his career, McDavid was still getting used to the NHL game? He played what, 12-13 games before he got injured? Whereas, with Eberle, he was much more used to the game.

Not to mention, Pouliot was the only player on that line that was defensively-sound. I think it had to do with sheltering McDavid as much as it was Yak.

That said, if Yak can slow his game down a bit (the unpredictability of it, not his actual speed) I think a line of Maroon-Draisaitl-Yakupov would be very effective. And Maroon could have the same effect as Lucic would on him.

He looked good with Draisaitl and Hall (sigh) late last season, too. If I remember correctly once he was put on that line they weren’t producing as badly as prior to it.

OmJo

Hey LT, long time reader, first time commenter. Well, haven’t been reading for very long, since around May I started reading your stuff here and on ON and I just wanted to say (nothing new, I’m sure you get this a lot) you’re doing an incredible job covering the OIlers! You and the community here have really taught me a lot in only a few months on the Oilers and how to analyze players using advanced stats – I never could quite grasp them until I started reading the comments section on here. Really enjoyed the RE series and reading your articles during lunch/dinner/work breaks has become like a routine now.

To you and the community here, keep up the good work!

(Wanted my first comment to be something nice lol)

Jaxon

Re: Gregor’s article: Is Kessel really a driver? Maybe I need a definition of driver to clarify things. Aren’t his shot volume metrics quite poor to be considered a driver of the play? Super productive offensively? For sure. But a driver? I think that’s a stretch. Maybe I’m mistaken.

Jaxon

Interesting discovery regarding Taylor Hall. One of the hottest points streaks for Oilers forwards over the past few years pre-McDavid was during Hall’s last injury (out from Feb.2, 2015 to Mar.21, 2015) when:

Eberle had 25 pts in a 19 game stretch.(Feb. 9 – Mar. 21) – 108 pt pace

Nugent-Hopkins had 23 pts in a 19 game stretch.(Feb. 10 – Mar. 23) – 99 pt pace

Yakupov had 15 pts in a 17 game stretch.(Feb. 9 – Mar. 18) – 72 pt pace

Pouliot had 21pts in a 28 game stretch.(Jan. 9 – Mar. 22) – 62 pt pace

Lander had 16 pts in a 25 game stretch.(Jan. 29 – Apr. 7) – 52 pt pace

I believe this was the period when Pouliot-Nuge-Ebs got incredibly hot and Yakupov and Roy where clicking.

Also worth noting that Yakupov was on a 53 pt pace in his rookie season.

I think Lucic-Nuge-Ebs would make it a tough decision for opposition coaches on who to send their top pair and best line out against. I think Pouliot’s speed is a better match for McDavid than Lucic and Yakupov could find his scoring touch on that line. Maroon-Draisaitl-Kassian would be a tough line to handle and could really shake things up against 3rd line competition and Kassian played quite well with Draisaitl last year. That would leave Hendricks-Letestu-Pakarinen as a tough defending 4th line to get the puck out of the Oilers zone (with 2 players solid on the dot) and laying a few hits before going off. Slepyshev-Caggiula-Puljujarvi would be a great line down in Bakersfield getting 20 plus minutes per night in preparation for the NHL.

digger50

Water Fire:
I will be shocked if Lucic plays with anyone but McDavid unless it really doesn’t work. He wouldn’t have signed to play with anyone else, as a GM I would want him on the ice with Connor.

Go ahead Dion, have a go at Connor, hehe. You know Lucic is going to act like a royal bodyguard, the Oilers won’t be turning backs on their teammates anymore.

This is also why Nurse is on the team, and I’m sure Maroon, Hendricks and Kassian know what they are there for. And Talbot, I heard he hired Billy Smith as a skills coach this summer.

And by this logic, Gryba makes the team. I hope he does, I thought Gryba did well in his role.

Pouzar

Larsson on 3rd pair with Nurse?

N64

Elliotte FriedmanVerified account ‏@FriedgeHNIC 8m8 minutes ago
Team North America names Connor McDavid captain

Centre of attention

stush18: I actually love Tim and sid. Prolly one of the best sports shows out there.

I also love when Tim hosts different shows by himself. Has a bit of bob mcgowan in him.

I like their show but I don’t like when our management gets in front of microphones. lucky it was just world cup talk, and then a hint that “in the middle of camp we’ll name the Oilers captain” well in the middle of camp is right around when McDavid gets back so there you go.

stush18

Centre of attention:
Chiarelli is on Tim & Sid.

Brace yourselves.

I actually love Tim and sid. Prolly one of the best sports shows out there.

I also love when Tim hosts different shows by himself. Has a bit of bob mcgowan in him.

N64

up on website already

http://www.sportsnet.ca/shows/tim-and-sid-show/will-connor-mcdavid-captain-team-north-america/

not much news. oiler captain will be later on in camp.
and that there might be team na new tonight.

update: he did not tell them it was about to break in minutes!

Centre of attention

Chiarelli is on Tim & Sid.

Brace yourselves.

Alpine

I would like to see McLellan look into the pairings model for his six best forwards.

McDavid & Lucic look meant to play together, Lucic is the best left wing on the team and has lots of experience playing top comp.

RNH and Eberle have had good chemistry and results together for most of their career against top comp. Let them stay together and play a mix of elite and muddles.

Pouliot and Drai get the gravy minutes of the top nine. Pou has been a soft minutes killer his whole career and is the ideal vet winger for Drai to play with after losing Hall.

With this setup you can put Maroon on the 2nd line as the physical foil to the smaller Nuge and Ebs. And you have options with what you can for right wingers on the McDavid and Drai lines.

That’s the template I would look to go with. Has ample vet support for all 3 young centres and doesn’t leave any exposed. Putting Ebs on the top line will expose one of Nuge or Drai as only one will have a proper top 6 veteran on their wing.

N64

Centre of attention:
From Gregors article:

“Yakupov’s most productive stretch in the past three seasons was the final 28 games of 2014/2015 when he produced nine goals and 20 points. He played with Derek Roy on the third line. He flourished against lesser competition. Why not start him in a role where he was the most effective?”

Wait what? I thought Roy was our second line center after Drai went down? Gregor didn’t have enough coffee today, his memory seems to be on the fritz this afternoon.

So he’s signing Roy again? Someone out there has a theory that Lucic could be his new Roy.

#gimmeshelter

Bruce McCurdy

Louis Levasseur:
Bruce McCurdy,

I read Gregor’s post.I don’t think he was suggesting that Larsson should be paired with Nurse.I think he was suggesting that people would be up in arms if they did that, yet they think it’s ok to put Yak with McDavid, instead of Eberle.

That may be so. As I said in another comment on that Gregor post, “in fairness I’m not entirely sure I took his meaning in the way he intended”. By the time I got to Nurse-Larsson I was trying to control my blood pressure so may have been distracted.

Bruce McCurdy

Centre of attention: Agree, Pouliot is a beast. Really liked the signing when it happened and even more after watching a couple seasons of his play as an Oiler.

I feel like because Pouliot is a great two way player (best 2-way LW hands down), he would be well suited to mentor Drai & possibly Yak or Puljujarvi on the 3rd line. He can produce there, and cover for mistakes that the yutes are making. Pouliot could make up for the loss of even-strength minutes that comes with being on the 3rd line by getting a push on the power play, as Lucic is no power play specialist and I like Pouliot as a net front presence. Pouliot can tip pucks with the best of them when on the man advantage.

What are your thoughts on that idea? I think we see multiple combinations threw out the year, so perhaps reading this far into things this early is kind of silly. I guess reading too much into things is the entire premise of the blog though, so screw it give me your ideas on line combos heheh.

You touch on a key point, in that there are line combos at even strength and different ones on the powerplay. The coach will have his chance to find chemistry with various combinations in both game states.

Louis Levasseur

Bruce McCurdy,

I read Gregor’s post. I don’t think he was suggesting that Larsson should be paired with Nurse. I think he was suggesting that people would be up in arms if they did that, yet they think it’s ok to put Yak with McDavid, instead of Eberle.

But Gregor can be a prickly dude when somebody disagrees with him.

rickithebear

G Money: No, you have it exactly backwards.

Since every team starts every period with a faceoff at centre ice, every faceoff thereafter is an earned faceoff.So the effect is most distinctly not zero for teams.Bad teams will get pushed into their own zone a lot more than good teams.

So the effect of zone starts at the team level may be very significant.

But since by definition every non-neutral zone start is earned,adjustments for zone starts are meaningless at the team level.Zone starts are 100% symptom, not cause.

It is the reverse for players.The coach has a choice over which players start where.So zone starts and zone starts adjustments have some meaning for players.

Yet in the balance of where players earn their numbers, with on the fly shifts and earned zone starts dominating, and faceoff %ages constrained to a narrow band around 50%, unearned (coaches decision) zone start effects dwindle to very small numbers.

Teams: every zone start is earned so zone start adjustments are meaningless because they are 100% symptom. Despite the fact that if you calculate them, the overall zone start effects can have a large effect on the numbers.Meaningless, but large.

Players: not every zone start is earned, so zone start adjustments have at least some meaning as cause rather than symptom.Yet when you calculate them, the overall effective zone start impact is insignificant for most players.Meaningful, yet small.

No I think WE are confusing the term affect.

What you are stating is the critical occurance. open vs Fo start to Pocession.
I like to examine them in phases.

In a constantly flowing game like rugby it is phase play theat creates chaos.
and
the ability to score.
I like to find portions of other games (as many as possible) that can be related to similar play.
to analyize the open aspect of play.

Yet the coaches do have control of deciding who gets what comp, Teamates, Zone.
they do gretly affect the perception of a players ability.

When I say face offs have an affect.
It is the portion of the coaches decision I am trying to eliminate.
Not the measure of real open play.

the earned aspect is exactly what I am trying to identify.

that was most critical thought when I first started looking at True Goal Differential.
You have to see the data fro a given group of players who at even face similar comp; team; ZS
to get a gradualy building Expected goal dif range for that situation.

try to find the expected GF, SF, CF for forwards in a given situation both teams coachs puts them in.
trying to find the expected GA, SA, CA for Dmne in a given situation both teams coaches puts them in.

As you venture into the Data process you go thru.
You are discovering the influences out side open play.

striatic

Ca$h-McMoney!: I would argue it’s easier to protect the puck on your correct side.

Right, it depends on how adept you are at controlling the puck with only one hand on the stick. Drai is exceptional at this, but I think playing off-handed could benefit more players if they develop the skill.

Playing off handed wing, on the backhand, your body as well as your other arm protects the puck, the stick and the arm controlling the stick.

I’m not sure this skill should be unique to Draisaitl, as the puck and the parts of the body controlling the puck are inherently more protectable. Whatever your frame is, more of you is between the opposing player and the puck. You get the benefits of a quicker one timer but also puck protection, Yak only takes advantage of half these benefits.

fifthcartel

Bruce McCurdy,

If McLellan did this I would seriously question his coaching abilities.

Centre of attention

striatic: That’s a very interesting thought. I doubt it, but looking at what Draisaitl does on his off-hand playing RW and assuming that Possession is King, the ability to shelter the puck with the body in the way he does is very beneficial to maintaining possession in the offensive zone. That’s no really how Yak uses his off-handedness though, at least not by eye.

Yak’s problem is he gets the buzz-saw stick handling going when he tries to protect the puck. He gets good body position, but keeps chopping the puck back and forth so fast he ends up getting poke checked really easy.

Where as Draisaitl likes to drag it in one smooth motion and kind of dangle it out of reach of the opponent. Complete opposite to Yak’s style. You are much more in control of the puck when you’re not faking yourself out with over-the-top stick handling, IMO.

Louis Levasseur

blainer,

Totally agree. To be honest, I find it hard to believe that any of the coaches or management, including previous coaches (even Eikins) would treat Yak like sh1t or somehow mistreat him, such that he checks out.

Ca$h-McMoney!

striatic,

I would argue it’s easier to protect the puck on your correct side. The advantage to the off wing is that you have a superior shooting angle relative to the position of your feet (the puck is more square to the net giving you a larger relative target area) plus it’s much easier to get off a one timer or quick wrister after receiving a pass.

Drai can do what he does because he passes the puck on his back hand better than most do on their forehand. That and he’s Hossa like in his ability to shrug off defenders.

striatic

G Money: Pfeffer’s comment was interesting: he feels that within a few years, most wingers will be on their off hand. Sounds like he may have looked at that idea for the Canadiens.

That’s a very interesting thought. I doubt it, but looking at what Draisaitl does on his off-hand playing RW and assuming that Possession is King, the ability to shelter the puck with the body in the way he does is very beneficial to maintaining possession in the offensive zone. That’s no really how Yak uses his off-handedness though, at least not by eye.

Centre of attention

From Gregors article:

“Yakupov’s most productive stretch in the past three seasons was the final 28 games of 2014/2015 when he produced nine goals and 20 points. He played with Derek Roy on the third line. He flourished against lesser competition. Why not start him in a role where he was the most effective?”

Wait what? I thought Roy was our second line center after Drai went down? Gregor didn’t have enough coffee today, his memory seems to be on the fritz this afternoon.

Ducey

G Money:
Ducey,

So what you’re arguing is that the numbers can’t tell you much about the game, but you’re more than happy to read the numbers to imply that the coach doesn’t trust Yak.

And that’s your response to me telling you that you can’t read much into the zone start numbers because they aren’t very meaningful.

Perhaps it might be easier to just admit you’re not looking at the numbers asway to try and objectively understand what is happening, you’re just trying to find a way to read them in a way that supports the preconceived belief you have anyway?

Ah, Gmoney.

I hesitate to get into this with you because you always get prickly.

I am saying that WOWY numbers must be read in context. Part of that context is Q of C (which we don’t seem to be able to measure very well) and zone starts.

I understand your argument that not a lot of weight can be put on zone starts, but feel that they add to the context. I also feel that your dismissal of faceoffs isn’t all valid.

Its all there. Feel free to reread it.

I am quite sure I am in wrong in some regards but also fairly sure that Yak is going to have some problems in a feature role.

The other day someone elegantly pointed out that some subset of the analytics crowd seems to gravitate to stats as a way to bludgeon people over the heads during argument.

Please don’t be that guy..

Centre of attention

Bruce McCurdy: I did say “& other comments” & am deliberately conflating a few opinions just to stir the pot.

Also: Benoit Pouliot isn’t exactly chopped liver, & is by far the fastest portsider among the Big four. He too is a guy who would look good on just about any line IMO & certainly gives McLellan plenty of flexibility.None of this “we have to put Pou with X because he sucks with Y & Z” kind of logic.

Agree, Pouliot is a beast. Really liked the signing when it happened and even more after watching a couple seasons of his play as an Oiler.

I feel like because Pouliot is a great two way player (best 2-way LW hands down), he would be well suited to mentor Drai & possibly Yak or Puljujarvi on the 3rd line. He can produce there, and cover for mistakes that the yutes are making. Pouliot could make up for the loss of even-strength minutes that comes with being on the 3rd line by getting a push on the power play, as Lucic is no power play specialist and I like Pouliot as a net front presence. Pouliot can tip pucks with the best of them when on the man advantage.

What are your thoughts on that idea? I think we see multiple combinations threw out the year, so perhaps reading this far into things this early is kind of silly. I guess reading too much into things is the entire premise of the blog though, so screw it give me your ideas on line combos heheh.

Drew

Bruce McCurdy: Given his views on Yak vs yours, I recommend it only if your blood pressure needs a boost by, say, 50/30.

have been DMing Gregor for last 30 minutes on this and am frustrated as well. I really like his take on things most times but i am not agreeing with him at all.

G Money

striatic,

Now that the idea of defense handedness is well established, I was mulling a few weeks ago on the idea of winger handedness.

I put the idea out on Twitter, asking if anyone knew of work that had been done in that area.

Some folks with a much higher profile than I (a couple of LeafsNation guys, as well as Matt Pfeffer, formerly of the Canadiens) picked up on it and retweeted it. Most read tweet I’ve ever had.

Pfeffer’s comment was interesting: he feels that within a few years, most wingers will be on their off hand. Sounds like he may have looked at that idea for the Canadiens.

So I thought I’d see if I could test that idea, comparing wingers on their ‘on’ hands vs wingers on their ‘off’ hands, and see if there was any meaningful trend visible as far as points or shots or offense/defense.

One of the things I pulled is how many off-hand wingers each team has, and interestingly the Habs are on the low side (MTL 7 1 1 5 – the numbers in order meaning LW/LS, LW/RS, RW/LS, RW/RS, so the Habs have just one winger on each side playing off hand).

The Oiler numbers are identical: EDM 7 1 1 5

Bruce McCurdy

Centre of attention: Wait what?! I usually enjoy Gregors perspective but that is insane to expect that much from Nurse. And to shackle a novice like Nurse to the brand new addition Larsson who already has tons of pressure, is just asking for failure.

If anything try Davidson-Larsson before Nurse-Larsson. What was his reasoning behind his choice by the way? Haven’t had time to read the article.

Not sure how much reasoning was involved, though in fairness I’m not entirely sure I took his meaning in the way he intended. He did manage to list a top 4 without Sekera in it which is hard to fathom.

Bruce McCurdy

Centre of attention: I never said that. I bet Lucic will skate just fine with 97, and if the coach goes with that I think they will find success.

I just think Lucic is a more consistent even-strength producer and I think Nuge will be getting the even strength push so it makes sense to give him a strong even strength option like Lucic right?

Maroon is OK to get dragged along by McDavid a bit, but on Nuges line I don’t know if he can produce enough at even strength to help Nuge much with the heavy lifting his line will be doing.

McDavid can produce with lesser players, why not give the stronger option to Nuge in order to help prop up the second line? Just an idea.

Also on another note, when interview after signing here, Lucic discussed the possibility of play with all 3 of our skilled centers and would be fine with playing on any of their lines. Obviously everyone has their favorites, for example Lucic probably preferred Krejic and Kopitar, but frequently spent time with Bergeron and Carter and did just fine with no complaints.

I did say “& other comments” & am deliberately conflating a few opinions just to stir the pot.

Also: Benoit Pouliot isn’t exactly chopped liver, & is by far the fastest portsider among the Big four. He too is a guy who would look good on just about any line IMO & certainly gives McLellan plenty of flexibility. None of this “we have to put Pou with X because he sucks with Y & Z” kind of logic.

Spengler

kinger_OIL,

It would be hard to find a coach who valued winning less than development. But finding, and incentivizing, one who did, might be worth it. At the very least, we might see fewer AHL minutes going to guys who will neverreach the NHL.

Bruce McCurdy

G Money:
Bruce McCurdy,

Hmmm.Worth bothering to read?

Given his views on Yak vs yours, I recommend it only if your blood pressure needs a boost by, say, 50/30.

blainer

Louis Levasseur:
Interesting conversation between Stauffer and Ramenda regarding playing Yak on McDavid’s wing.I’m not a huge fan of either of those guys, but their comments about Yak’s practice habits last year make me wonder about Yak.They basically said he checked out for the last 1/2 of the season.

If that’s the case, no matter what the reason, he truly doesn’t deserve topminutes with McDavid.If he comes back in training camp with a better attitude and shows he is a professional in his work habits then give him a chance.

Don’t know if many here have experienced a job where they felt they weren’t treated properly for all the hard work they put in. As a boss i regularly compliment the staff at how well they are doing and it does help productivity.. even when some of those times i am flat out lying.

Now a lot of times i have had a bad mix of staff and had to change things up to keep everyone motivated. personalities clash in the office just like they do in the room and on the ice.

Yak lost interest .. of that I do believe. The team made changes that IMO will hep Yak. He also got a real lesson AND a wake up call from the Russian team.

I’d wager Chia and TMc are saying all the right things to motivate this player based on the fact they never traded him. Will it work.. i think it has a good shot.

The problem is if he struggles early he will need a change as the past will still be in the back of his mind.

I’m rooting for the guy but really think that both the team and the player are on a short leash. JMHO.

striatic

G Money,

Dang. I was just about to leave a comment asking you if you knew how big Yak’s drop off going from RW to LW is and apparently you’re doing a whole post on off-handedness.

G Money

omega4,

Those ARE the best numbers, no question!

Speaking of numbers vaguely related to Yak, I will be publishing my look at off-hand wingers today or tomorrow.

Some interesting outcomes there, not what I expected.

kinger_OIL

Sek-Larsson
Klef-Fayne
Davidson-Gryba

– That’s how I would roll: your two most accomplished D together.

– Fayne works well with a puck mover Klef

– Davidson plays on his correct side, with the best RD left… Nurse Griff can play with Davey if need be

On paper you have an above average top pair, an average bottom pair, assuming Davidson is fine, and probably a below average 2nd pair, but if Klef is real deal, they could be average. That’s good enough

Omega93

G Money: you’re just trying to find a way to read them in a way that supports the preconceived belief you have anyway?

I LOVE numbers that support my preconceived beliefs!

Spengler

stush18,

Nelson sort of represents the point I’m making. Let’s assume he’s great at player development (I’m not saying e is or isn’t, someone else can make that judgement). He’s no longer with the organisation though. Why? Likely as a result of being passed over for the NHL job. And maybe that was the right decision (again, not stating this as a fact just a hypothetical). Not everyone is suited for the next level. But now the organisation has lost that talent.

Additionally, could his player development have been improved if he hadn’t needed to worry about winning? If the rewards for development (in salary and bonuses) were more equitable with the rewards for winning (promotion to the nhl).

Justmy 84 cents.

Centre of attention

Bruce McCurdy:
Reading Gregor’s post on line combos he stresses how Yak can’t handle top competition, then goes ahead and pairs Nurse with Larsson. Alrighty then.

Wait what?! I usually enjoy Gregors perspective but that is insane to expect that much from Nurse. And to shackle a novice like Nurse to the brand new addition Larsson who already has tons of pressure, is just asking for failure.

If anything try Davidson-Larsson before Nurse-Larsson. What was his reasoning behind his choice by the way? Haven’t had time to read the article.

kinger_OIL

Spengler,

– Good idea! It would be tough for any coach or team though to not put winning first.

– I like the idea of on the farm team, you have like a skating specialist, shooting coach, etc.

– I’ve been to many AHL practices and it surprises me: they are no different than NHL practices: they don’t work on individual skills, its all about the team: practicing rushes, break-outs, etc.

– No concentration on individual skill improvement (except they have guys working on the goalies)

G Money

Bruce McCurdy,

Hmmm. Worth bothering to read?

Centre of attention

Bruce McCurdy: Let’s see if I have the reasoning down from this & other comments: Lucic can’t skate with McDavid therefore let’s put Maroon with McDavid.

I never said that. I bet Lucic will skate just fine with 97, and if the coach goes with that I think they will find success.

I just think Lucic is a more consistent even-strength producer and I think Nuge will be getting the even strength push so it makes sense to give him a strong even strength option like Lucic right?

Maroon is OK to get dragged along by McDavid a bit, but on Nuges line I don’t know if he can produce enough at even strength to help Nuge much with the heavy lifting his line will be doing.

McDavid can produce with lesser players, why not give the stronger option to Nuge in order to help prop up the second line? Just an idea.

Also on another note, when interview after signing here, Lucic discussed the possibility of play with all 3 of our skilled centers and would be fine with playing on any of their lines. Obviously everyone has their favorites, for example Lucic probably preferred Krejic and Kopitar, but frequently spent time with Bergeron and Carter and did just fine with no complaints.

Bruce McCurdy

Reading Gregor’s post on line combos he stresses how Yak can’t handle top competition, then goes ahead and pairs Nurse with Larsson. Alrighty then.

G Money

Ducey,

So what you’re arguing is that the numbers can’t tell you much about the game, but you’re more than happy to read the numbers to imply that the coach doesn’t trust Yak.

And that’s your response to me telling you that you can’t read much into the zone start numbers because they aren’t very meaningful.

Perhaps it might be easier to just admit you’re not looking at the numbers as way to try and objectively understand what is happening, you’re just trying to find a way to read them in a way that supports the preconceived belief you have anyway?

Centre of attention

Jethro Tull: I’d rather have Ebs score 30+ a season and be lazy than Yak trying to keep the plexi-glass industry afloat single handed.

I chuckled at this. And I agree. Kind of. Let me explain:

Everyone likes to quote Yaks per-60 numbers with McDavid and say “Look, he’s producing at Eberle levels!” but what they don’t stop and see is that lots of those are assists, some second assists where he just bumped the puck off the boards to McDavid who dangled the entire enemy team and scored by himself. Yak scored 2 friggen goals. 2 goals in 12ish games with McDavid is not enough. And I don’t care how many cake-walk assists you rack up. McDavid was scoring on about 25% of his shots early in the season, and Yak was just scooping up assists all over the place. If anything Pouliot played a more important role than Yak in that lines success.

Eberle meanwhile scored plenty of goals, and probably could have had more if lady luck had went his way! He had at least 10 point blank chances last season that any other day of the week he would of cashed. He almost looked surprised sometimes when McDavid would find him. Those goals are going to go in eventually, and 35 goals is definitely within reason with this player. He is also working hard on his one-timer this summer, which is good news. He was already on a 30 goal pace with 97 last year, what pace was Yak on? Exactly.

What I’m getting at is that I want a goal scorer on McDavids line. If Lucic is there, he is the pass-first winger and the dominant forchecker, the RW needs to be a gunner who can find a quiet spot around the net. Yak has a history of being that gunner, but like the comment I quoted said he has been killing the plexiglass instead of the goal netting.

When or if Yak gets his shot on target, he will find success in the NHL. He can still take and make a pass, but he can’t survive on only that when his job description reads “RW sniper”. Yak’s shooting% has resembled a downhill ski-slope for the last 3 years. That should not be ignored. Combine this with the bee swarms, and you have two solid reasons for the coach to not trust Yak on a premiere scoring line.

Even after saying all of this, I would still put Yak with McDavid. Just to see if Yak can get that shot on target when given a little more leash with 97. If Yak doesn’t cash some goals though, things won’t look good.

One suspects Nail gets a look with McDavid in training camp, if the goals don’t come the coach will find the goals somewhere else and Yak will be on the outside looking in. Sail on Sarnia Stinger, it is only a matter of time before the inevitable. Keep your chin up and shot low. Hope you find success where ever you go.

Sorry for turning this into a Yak eulogy but I feel sooner rather than later it’ll be about that time.

G Money

rickithebear: which according to you is zero affect.
for the team yes.

individual players.
the 24-30% is still damn important.

No, you have it exactly backwards.

Since every team starts every period with a faceoff at centre ice, every faceoff thereafter is an earned faceoff. So the effect is most distinctly not zero for teams. Bad teams will get pushed into their own zone a lot more than good teams.

So the effect of zone starts at the team level may be very significant.

But since by definition every non-neutral zone start is earned, adjustments for zone starts are meaningless at the team level. Zone starts are 100% symptom, not cause.

It is the reverse for players. The coach has a choice over which players start where. So zone starts and zone starts adjustments have some meaning for players.

Yet in the balance of where players earn their numbers, with on the fly shifts and earned zone starts dominating, and faceoff %ages constrained to a narrow band around 50%, unearned (coaches decision) zone start effects dwindle to very small numbers.

Teams: every zone start is earned so zone start adjustments are meaningless because they are 100% symptom. Despite the fact that if you calculate them, the overall zone start effects can have a large effect on the numbers. Meaningless, but large.

Players: not every zone start is earned, so zone start adjustments have at least some meaning as cause rather than symptom. Yet when you calculate them, the overall effective zone start impact is insignificant for most players. Meaningful, yet small.

Ca$h-McMoney!

OF17:
Oilers and Jets announce the rosters for the Heritage Classic alumni game. Going to be a fun one to watch!

http://oilers.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=892391

Who gets Bob Essensa?

stush18

Spengler,

I think the good coaches who develop players will get called up to the NHL. I might be oversimplifying it, but if the players aren’t developing and scoring, the coach and team isn’t going to be successful.

Cooper and Nelson are coaches that come to mind as a coaches good at developing and winning. Coopers coaching now. I’m sure Nelson isn’t far behind

delooper

OF17,

Nice lineup. I wonder if we’ll see a rat-trick.

Ducey

G Money: Correct.The total impact that zone starts have on a player is typically quite small.The zone starts have to get extreme before it becomes of significance.

This is a counter-intuitive result for most people, so let me explain as quickly as I can:

– The impact of an individual faceoff can be quite significant, especially if it is a faceoff win in the offensive zone, or a loss in the defensive zone

– However, the impact of all the faceoffs over a course of a season starts to get smaller and smaller in the context of broader play. This is how it happens:

– The difference between the best and worst faceoff teams is from about 45% to 55%.So in effect, whatever number of d or o faceoffs you take, over the course of a season, cut it in half.

– Faceoffs tend to occur in less than half of a players shifts.So the majority of a players metrics are actually derived from play where no faceoff occurred.In Yak’s case for example, he was on the ice for 636 faceoffs, encompassing 504 shifts, out of 1166 shifts (i.e. less than 50%).

– Then we have to factor in that faceoffs are often a symptom of a player’s skill. We can try and suss this out by look at true zone starts – the number of times a players shift started with a faceoff. This is where the coach’s trust shows.These tend to be again about 50% or less of the total faceoffs.

In Yak’s case for example, his true zone starts were 92 O and 92 D.His earned faceoffs were 100 O and 93 D.So his coach trusts him about 50%, and the rest of the time, Yak and his line are actually doing a decent job of driving the play into the O zone.So his zone starts make him look slightly more sheltered than he is – in fact, he’s bloating his own O zone starts by virtue of good play.

So you add all these factors up:
– in Yak’s case, he had 1166 shifts but only 92 shifts where TMc gave him an o zone start
– of those 92, his team would have won only about 50% of them, so in effect, his numbers are ‘bloated’ by winning 46 faceoffs out of shot metrics generated over 1166 shifts
– He also got 92 true d zone starts, which deficit is again cut in half … and happens to perfectly cancel out his o zone starts

So you’re left with the fact that Yak’s numbers (shots, points, whatever) are almost perfectly reflective of his on-ice results. The effect of zone starts on his numbers is essentially trivial.

Now what Ducey has done is shown that Yak got more preferential starts … or maybe he earned them … with McDavid. But the difference between those two numbers is probably equating to two faceoffs a game … cut that in half, and your impact is one o zone faceoff per game advantage, which in a game with 20+ shifts, still barely moves the needle.

Counter-intuitive, but true nonetheless.

Yak had 186 OZ starts, 177 DZ starts, and 251 NZ starts. That’s 5 x 5.

Ignoring the NZFO does not reflect reality. As a coach, I am a lot more comfortable putting a weak defensive player at center ice or at an “offensive” offside dot.

The Offensive faceoff vs the Defensive faceoffs seems even but this reflects all situations. As you will note, he was just sheltered with Connor. Not coincidently, this is the situation where he did the best offensively. Maybe this was Connor, maybe the zone starts had something to do with it

“True” faceoffs are equivocal. If I coach, I might put the weakest link on last on the fly to limit TOI and because I naturally want my best player out there first. Maybe I leave the previous RW on longer. All of these things could lead to Yak’s starting a shift on a faceoff. I would think this would have more of an impact with a guy like Letestu who is sent out to win a faceoff. As his winger was often Yak, he might have got sent out more due to the coaches trust in Letestu than Yak. A bunch of Yak DZ faceoffs might be from dumb icings. We don’t know.

Anyway, 600 faceoffs is not insignificant. I don’t know how many were with Connor. It gives you an idea of what the coach is attempting to do. This could reflect the way he changed Yak on the fly, etc.

Finally, just saying 50% of faceoffs are won or lost doesn’t reflect the fact that you still have to get the puck out of your zone. If Letestu wins the faceoff to Fayne in this own zone and Fayne still has to get the puck out, this in itself is perhaps a 50/ 50 proposition.

We have too much certainty from the analytics crowd. We can’t measure much of what happens in the game or why, yet people cite the stuff we can measure as if it is gospel.

In this case, we can just say “Yak put up the same numbers as Eberle and therefore he should be on the 1st line.” Or we can exercise some caution and try and figure out whether Yak will be able to handle the toughs. I don’t think his coach thinks he can. Maybe we should try and figure out why (besides saying he is an idiot). I think the zone starts gives us a sense that he might just have some trouble with Connor if they play the toughs.