If you’re projecting NHL scoring this week for fantasy purposes, add a few goals and points to Connor McDavid’s total. My spies tell me that he’s stronger and faster than a year ago, and even more delightful he’s gained a couple of feet on his shot. If 97 spent time on his marksmanship this offseason, veteran goalies may want to consider retirement. When the best work doggedly to be even better, complete dominance could be the result. Music!
LOWETIDE RE PROJECTIONS (FORWARDS)
My projections gave a handsome increase to McDavid, from 30 to 37 goals. Are you sure that’s enough? I’m no longer certain. Man. I’ll leave my projections as they are, but will say the increase in offense year over year that is being projected by my numbers is mostly 97. If he dances past the projected number, stand back!
MATH, AND YOU
It’s established that the Oilers have dabbled in analytics at the draft table. Marco Roy was a player Edmonton liked and math recommended, plus it’s possible the club used an analytics approach in 2015, 2016 and 2017. It makes sense to run these kids through some kind of model to see if there’s a way to suss out talent. Do you remember back on draft day 2014 when my list included names like Andrew Mangiapane and Reid Gardner? The only reason those players were on my list was their NHLE performance. They passed through the draft and the following summer (2015)—in a deep draft year mind you—Mangiapane was ranked No. 49 and Gardner came in at No. 77 on the Button 2015 list. Craig Button had a very successful scouting background before becoming an NHL general manager, but whatever math he is running this is a man whose draft list is stronger than most I see every summer. Maybe he doesn’t use math, maybe he sees these kids good without the calculator.
I’m not a scout and absolutely there are people who would have more sophisticated math models than me. However, each summer my little basement list makes an important point: amateur numbers DO matter and there’s a tipping point where size or speed or whatever scouts value gives way to the boxcar numbers.
WHO IS PAYING ATTENTION TO THESE NUMBERS?
I think the Oilers apply advanced math to the draft and teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning do as well. Back in the spring, I wrote an item called “Who on earth is Cole Guttman?” based on NHL equivalencies. The Oilers grabbed one of the stars in that article (Kailer Yamamoto) and Tampa Bay grabbed an obscure forward named Cole Guttman in the depths of the draft. Tracking the numbers, while also sending talented scouts to confirm ten fingers and toes, is a key element in drafting.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
We know the Oilers are paying closer attention to these things, the club has been spending some time with major league baseball’s Kansas City Royals in an effort to improve the overall development and assessment (source: Jeff Krushell). An example might be playing time being monitored more closely in the AHL (wrote about it here).
We always look at the draft on this blog, and this year I thought it might be a good idea to get a head start. Here are the OHL kids who are first-time eligible for this year’s draft, along with their estimated 5×5 points per 60 (Prospect-Stats.com) and Brock Otten’s rankings at OHL Prospects.
- LC Allan McShane Oshawa Generals 2.50 (No. 6)
- RC Akil Thomas Niagara Ice Dogs 2.06 (No. 1)
- L David Levin, Sudbury Wolves 2.06 (No. 16)
- LC Ryan McLeod Mississauga Ice Dogs 1.90 (No. 3)
- L Barrett Hayton, SSM Greyhounds 1.71 (No. 7)
Going into this season, McShane is the most interesting player for me in the OHL. He won’t go No. 1 (McShane is a smaller forward and lacks elite speed) but his scoring rates in the OHL at 16 were tremendous (62gp, 17-27-44). By the way, Kirill Maksimov posted a 1.86/60 estimated points-per-60 via Prospect-Stats.com), ranking him No. 27 in that category among OHL forwards who were 17 one year ago. That junior league develops so many good players even a prospect at that level may have NHL potential. The more I look at these amateur leagues, the more convinced I become of the Ontario league.
The 2017 draft gave me real hope for the Oilers and their use of math in the amateur procurement area. I have zero proof that the team applied a slide rule to the 2017 amateur class, but there are strong clues. Kailer Yamamoto had the third best NHLE equivalency in the draft (behind only Elias Pettersson and Nick Suzuki), Edmonton taking the young winger at a point in the draft where he was considered a massive bargain (I had him No. 11, he went No. 22).
Ostap Safin was one of the few skill forwards outside the first round that I really liked as a prospect, the Oilers grabbed him No. 115 overall (I had him No. 52). Perhaps most encouraging is Maksimov, a player who didn’t make my list but should have based on a late surge in scoring. After being dealt to Niagara, Maksimov had 19 goals in 33 games. If he posted that over an entire season? 35 goals in the best junior league in the world.
TRAINING CAMP ROSTER A YEAR AGO
A lot changes in one year, Edmonton’s training camp roster this time around is going to include a tremendous change in the “Bakersfield Condors” section of this chart. Gone are Eetu Laurikainen,, Jordan Oesterle, Griffin Reinhart, David Musil, Mark Fraser, Frankie Simonelli, Jere Sallinen, Mitch Moroz, Joey Benik, Scott Allen, Anton Lander, Tyler Pitlick, Taylor Beck and Jaedon Descheneau. Not everyone left because the Oilers had no interest, my guess is Griffin Reinhart and Tyler Pitlick would be welcomed back.
What does it mean? New general manager. If you look at that list, most of the group was procured by previous managers. Chiarelli brought in Reinhart, lost him to expansion. Brought in Sallinen, this year we didn’t see any pipeline from the European leagues. That’s one frontier the Oilers need to shore up, perhaps they did that with some of those summer moves.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A fun show to kick start the weekend, beginning at 10 this morning, TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Steve Lansky, BigMouthSports. Who will win the big fight this weekend? Are you ready for the hockey?
- Matt Cauz, CFL.ca. CFL weekend underway, big game tonight!
- Matt Iwanyk, TSN1260. Hard to know this Eskimos lineup without a program. Matthew will fill us in.
- Jeff Krushell, Krush Performance. Are the Dodgers historic?
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Weekend!