I’d love to know what kind of information Todd McLellan uses when making a roster choice. The biggest decision this fall is his second pairing, and to begin training camp he has chosen Kris Russell with Matt Benning. Why? If we run Puck IQ’s “elite” numbers, we see Benning is in fact a solid bet to replace Andrej Sekera based on his own past.
PUCK IQ, OILERS BLUE VERSUS ELITES
Benning spent 31 percent of his overall time on ice against elites, substantially more than Darnell Nurse and Eric Gryba. I don’t know that McLellan uses analytics like Puck IQ, but his Benning decision matches the metric. By that I mean, if we were sending an email to the coach about who to play in place of Andrej Sekera, Benning is next man up on this list. It doesn’t prove McLellan uses analytics, he could be using his eyes and experience to reach that decision. The fact that it’s the correct one bodes well no matter the process, but it would give us some measure of comfort to know the coach observes and values analytics.
DO TRAINING CAMP LINES MEAN ANYTHING?
I think there are things we can learn from a coach in terms of his mindset. For instance, Ryan Strome is going to get a push this season and Todd McLellan wants that chemistry to form early. Strome scored a goal in yesterday’s scrimmage, that’s a good arrow and a flood of shots by the former Islander will be very helpful.
Farther down the lineup, I’m not sure it holds the same kind of importance. Yesterday’s scrimmage featured defensive pairings Auvitu-Simpson, Lowe-Fayne and Lagesson-Bear. Caleb Jones and Ryan Stanton were the extra’s. I don’t think we can imply Dillon Simpson or Keegan Lowe are ahead of Ryan Stanton, nor that William Lagesson or Ethan Bear are ahead of Caleb Jones. I do believe these defenders are being observed and assessed and that the organization values them enough to invest important training camp time on them. But ranking these players based on usage in scrimmages? No. If Dillon Simpson plays six exhibition games and Keegan Lowe two, and Lowe isn’t injured, for me that’s a tell. We need more information and it starts tomorrow night.
OILERS PRACTICE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!
From 10:45 this morning until 1:30 this afternoon, the Edmonton Oilers will be holding an open practice. I’ve had many ask me when the team would be holding open practice and today’s the day! A great opportunity to see the team on the ice and I imagine there will be a scrimmage again today.
WHAT DO WE KNOW SO FAR?
- Ryan Strome is going to get the first shot on Connor McDavid’s line.We knew it, but actually seeing it sets all kinds of things in motion. Opponents are going to have a helluva time matching up if Leon Draisaitl can push a river, but the Strome piece was key.
- Jordan Eberle didn’t fit the ‘style’ portion of what Chiarelli and McLellan are trying to build, Strome is a bit of a different type. Strome will look more like a Bruins winger than Eberle did, so the grit/battle portion of the resume isn’t going to be a question. If Strome can shoot more often, something he did upon arrival in New York, this could work.
- Keegan Lowe is in the mix for first recall. If Auvitu is the 7D, then (imo) all of Lowe, Simpson, Fayne and Stanton have a chance. Not a one of them is a puck mover, that gives Auvitu a decided edge for that final roster spot. Lowe’s advantage? He plays a rugged and agitating style, moreso than Simpson or Fayne. Stanton is under consideration too. Fayne is a righty and that gives him an advantage in this area.
- Joey Laleggia and Kailer Yamamoto both got a push yesterday. Early days, but good arrows.
- Drake Caggiula got bumped down the lineup for a time during scrimmage (info courtesy Ryan Rishaug) and Yamamoto was elevated. Something to keep in mind, remember the isue for Caggiula, Slepy and Puljujarvi is offense in the coming year. This is a big item during training camp.
- Jussi Jokinen missed practice yesterday. Probably nothing, but something to keep in mind as we roll along.
- Jesse Puljujarvi is a player to watch this week. One of the three goals yesterday came from RW, Todd McLellan will want to see production from his starboard troops during the season.
- If the current lines hold, Ryan Strome’s number is going to rise and Leon Draisaitl’s is likely to go down. If both can hover around 1.80-2.00, we should see 35-40 points from both men in a full season. That kind of production, on two separate lines, would represent tremendous production.
- Woodguy mentioned to me the other day that Leon Draisaitl’s even-strength scoring offered another angle on his impressive season. The 2.36/60 number (compared to the 5×5) suggests Leon was fire 4×4 and 3×3. Makes sense, I wonder if Leon and McDavid run together a lot in those game states this coming season.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also enjoys an uptick in this metric.