Yohann Auvitu’s path to the NHL is as unusual in its own way as Claire Alexander or Les Binkley. He brings a valuable set of skills to the Edmonton Oilers this fall and represents a smart bet. He’s going to need some help, as the organization has a lot of lefty blue, but those skills with the puck are going to be attractive to Todd McLellan. (Subterranean).
YOHANN AUVITU 2016-17
- 5×5 points per 60: 0.54 (5th among regular defensemen)
- 5×4 points per 60: 1.19 (one point in 50 minutes)
- Corsi for 5×5 %: 49.8
- Corsi Rel 5×5 %: 3.1
- DFF Elite 5×5 %: 49.5
- DFF Elite Rel 5×5 %: 1.1 (20 percent of TOI v. elites)
- Shots on goal/percentage: 54 shots/3.7%
- Boxcars: 25gp, 2-2-4
- (All numbers via Puck IQ, Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com and hockey-reference)
RE 17-18: 29GP, 3-5-8 (.276)
- What exactly did the Oilers acquire here? A skilled defender, good skater, excellent passer, gets pucks through the forechecker and to the net. He has some chaos in his game, but can scramble back very well. Intelligent player, makes good decisions. I like him. Video here.
- Is he Marc-Andre Bergeron? I think he bring less chaos and less creativity to the game than MAB but the similarities are there. This player takes far fewer risks, though, based on games I’ve seen him in.
- You have him basically doubling his point total. Yes, I think he’ll get power-play time and will have success. He makes great touch passes, gets pucks through and is mobile. Lots to like for the 5×4.
- How chaotic is his defensive game? We’ll have to wait and see. NJD are a funny team for defensemen, we’ll just have to see him in action during the season. The numbers look good in terms of possession, that’s a positive.
- Where do you see him playing? He might end up on the second pair but third pairing seems right to me. We’ll see, there is an early opportunity with Sekera injured.
- Is there a chance he forces his way into more playing time? Yes. I think that could happen. He’s a good bet, fun player, he’ll play well with skill. This was an astute signing and a solid bet.
- If he plays well, could we see him sign a longer term deal? There’s an opening, in my opinion. If 2018-19 sets up as Klefbom-Larsson, Sekera-Russell, Nurse-Benning then Eric Gryba is the 7D. Edmonton will have toughness on every pairing and could use a skill defender. I think Auvitu could win that job if the organization decides to have a more dynamic defenseman at the end of the NHL depth chart.
- Could he force a trade? I think that’s a bit of a stretch, he would have to overwhelm the season in order for the Oilers to contemplate something that drastic.
- What would be the options? They aren’t going to trade Oscar Klefbom and are all in on Darnell Nurse. Andrej Sekera and Kris Russell have NMC’s. The Oilers could ask one or the other (or both) to waive, but neither man is likely to do it.
- No room? Seventh defensemen play a lot.
- Who will be his competition for NHL playing time? If we block off the top 5D (everyone but Sekera) there are at least two open spots to start the season. Eric Gryba has the confidence of the coach, so I’ll suggest he makes the team opening night. After that? I like Auvitu over Ryan Stanton, Mark Fayne, Dillon Simpson and Keegan Lowe. None of the kids (Paigin, Bear, Jones) appear ready, suspect the organization sends them all to the minors at the beginning of the season.
- What kind of impact will he have in the minors? Based on reports, he was less effective in the minors and his defensive deficiencies were exposed. If he is in Bakersfield, there will be things to work on and I imagine he’ll post some impressive boxcars. Prospect-Stats.com doesn’t paint a fabulous picture, he looks fairly mediocre.
- Why did New Jersey let him go? I don’t think they trusted him. His usage in the NHL was unusual in a couple of ways. He averaged 13:30 a game at 5×5, ranking No. 11 among the twelve defenders employed by the Devils last season. Auvitu also played over two minutes a night on the power play, third among NJD blue.
- Is there a risk here? Not at all. Auvitu’s contract is interchangeable with all of the minor league guys. If he is too chaotic, Edmonton can recall a more responsible defender.
- Why this song? I like the title, Auvitu is kind of stealth but could be a big help. It’s kind of a Sather signing. I think Auvitu can play in the NHL, the trick is to find a coach who believes in him. I’m looking forward to seeing him play in the organization this winter.