In 2005-06, the Edmonton Oilers came within a whisker of winning the Stanley Cup. Their best player, ChrisPronger, was dominant defensively and impacted the offense as well. Pronger received one fifth-place vote for the Hart Trophy. That is typical of the kind of treatment high performance Oilers have received since 1990. In the 1980s (and 1990), the NHL voters had to give out awards to Edmonton players, because they kept winning Stanley Cups!
Since then, it’s been crickets. Imagine then the impact of Connor McDavid this season. Already the winner of the Art Ross Trophy as leading scorer in the NHL, he was nominated yesterday for the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player. I hope he wins it, but the nomination is a massive change in the weather for awards voting. Hopefully they didn’t write him in at the wrong position.
CONNOR MCDAVID 2016-17
- 5×5 points per 60: 2.89 (1st among regular forwards, No. 1 NHL)
- 5×4 points per 60: 5.96 (3rd among regular forwards, No. 24 NHL)
- Corsi for 5×5 %: 52.9
- Corsi Rel 5×5 %; 3.5
- DFF Elite 5×5 %: 55.2
- DFF Elite Rel 5×5 %: 7.3
- Shots on goal/percentage: 251 shots/12.0%
- Boxcars: 82, 30-70-100 (Won Art Ross Trophy)
- (All numbers via Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com and hockey-reference)
- Special thanks to GMoney and Woodguy for sharing the DFF’s
I think we are safe in describing McDavid’s 2016-17 as easily the best by an Oiler since the turn of the century. I’d have to go back and confirm, but it’s probably the best season by an Oiler since Messier in 1989-90 (129 points, 71 at even strength). Unforgettable season.
2017 DRAFT PROFILE: JOSHUA NORRIS
- Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst: C Josh Norris (US U18, NTDP | 6’1, 192): You’ll get varying opinions on which NTDP player not only had the best season, but also who projects to have the best NHL career. Norris, a playmaking center with size and native Michigander, can certainly have a solid case made for him. Not only does he lead Team USA in scoring with 51 points, but 22 of his team-best 23 goals were at even strength or shorthanded. Additionally, he is smart enough to use his physicality without taking unnecessary or emotional penalties. He’s committed to the University of Michigan.
- John Wroblewski, coach of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program Under-18 team: “He can hammer a puck. He can skate. He’s got a great first step. He competes, and he’s coachable. He’s got a lot going for him. I think he’s got a great deal of God-given talent. He is a heck of a kid and extremely coachable. Those items right there lead up to a player who has some ability and a bright future.”
In the coming days, I’ll be featuring a few prospects who may be available when the Oilers pick at No. 24 or No. 31. Norris is a lefty center, so we can expect Woodguy to call him the best young right-handed center in the Oilers system within two years.
Today was supposed to the Eberle’s RE day, but I decided to hold off since every blog has an Eberle story. I have read every negative word written about No. 14 in the last few days and it reminds me of the ugly part of Oilers fandom. As proud as I am of the crowd anthem when the electronics blew, it always galls me to see the mob mentality approach to a struggling player.
Oilers coaching and management have used fan pressure to motivate since the world began, famously on contracts like Paul Coffey back in the day. It must work, because they keep doing it. Eberle’s specific issue this spring comes on the heels of a fine second-half recovery (his 5×5 scoring was in the ditch for the first half of the year).
In a small sample size like the playoffs, a cold streak by an offensive player can be devastating to player and fanbase. However, it might be an idea to fill our brains with things other than rage when discussing these things. In the nine games previous to the playoffs, Jordan Eberle scored six goals and added three assists.
Eberle is a one-dimensional player, we all know this and it will not change. Perhaps the pressure that Todd McLellan’s media avail delivered to 14’s doorstep will inspire him. Logic and history dictate that regression will come in due time and Jordan Eberle will hear cheers from the Oilers crowd again. It’s also true that the Oilers are three games from elimination and regression bears no resemblance to the trains of Germany.
One way to observe a team heading north is the number of NHL debuts that occur in a specific season. In 2016-17, only four players made their debut in the highest league as Oilers (Jesse Puljujarvi, Matt Benning, Drake Caggiula and Dillon Simpson). Last year, there were three (Connor McDavid, Jujhar Khaira, Anton Slepyshev).
Seven players in two years is a small number compared to the MacTavish era.
- 2013-14 (8): Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marincin, Tyler Pitlick, Brad Hunt, Luke Gazdic, Taylor Fedun, Anton Belov, Will Acton.
- 2014-15 (11): Leon Draisaitl, Darnell Nurse, Brandon Davidson, Laurent Brossoit, Iiro Pakarinen, Jordan Oesterle, Bogdan Yakimov, David Musil, Andrew Miller, Curtis Hamilton, Tyler Bunz.
I think Todd McLellan is less devoted to mentoring at the NHL level, and more about winning. I have no quarrel with that template, and suspect we may see only Jesse Puljujarvi and Spencer Foo as young additions to the opening night roster in the fall.
MY EXPANSION LIST
- Goal: Cam Talbot
- Defense: Andrej Sekera, Adam Larsson, Oscar Klefbom
- Forwards: Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Milan Lucic, Jordan Eberle, Patrick Maroon, Zack Kassian, Jujhar Khaira
- Ineligible: Connor McDavid, Darnell Nurse, Matt Benning, Jesse Puljujarvi, Anton Slepyshev, Drake Caggiula, Nick Ellis.
I’m fairly certain this will not be the final list, because Peter Chiarelli may choose to add another qualifying forward (thereby allowing him to pull back Mark Letestu).
- Cirrently Eligible: G Laurent Brossoit, D Mark Fayne, D Kris Russell, D Griffin Reinhart, D Jordan Oesterle, D Dillon Simpson, D David Musil, C Mark Letestu, C David Desharnais, L Benoit Pouliot, R Tyler Pitlick, R Iiro Pakarinen.
I spoke to player agent Tom Lynn during the winter, he made a compelling case for the Golden Knights selecting Griffin Reinhart. Idea being that even if he peaks out as 5D, he should be a part of the team for years to come. General managers of expansion teams are looking to solve problems long term, makes sense since they start with 23 of them. for me, I would call Peter Chiarelli and tell him that Benoit Pouliot is my pick if Caleb Jones is part of the package. Edmonton’s cap issues (and the downward dollar) may make that deal possible.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A stacked show, beginning at 10 on TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Jonathan Willis, Oilers Nation. Can the Oilers win Wednesday? Who should win the Hart?
- Jason Rogers, Japers Rink. Capitals own the 5×5, is it enough? Plus Crosby play and reaction.
- Scott Cullen, TSN. Who should win the Hart, Ottawa and Edmonton playoffs.
- Kent Wilson, Flames Nation. Brad Treliving gets to finish what he started and is Ben Bishop the next Flames goalie?
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!