Standing on the shoreline, first day of 2018

I was absolutely determined to fade draft coverage until January, even after the crabby start by the town team. Oilers fans have become draft experts over the years, to the point where thousands of northern Alberta residents intuitively know the difference in value between the No. 5 overall and No. 12 overall selection. Folks, we made it through December but my guess is January is going to see talk of missing the playoffs rise from a whisper to a scream.


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  • Oilers in October 2017: 3-6-1, goal differential -11 (7 points)
  • Oilers in November 2017: 7-8-1, goal differential -5 (15 points)
  • Oilers in December 2017: 7-5-1, goal differential +4 (15 points)
  • Oilers 2017-18: 17-19-3, goal differential -12 (37 points)

December was the first month of the season where Edmonton resembled a playoff team (15 points in 13 games projects out to 94.6 points over 82 games) but the wins dried up before the team could begin to pay back the sins of October and November.

I have no idea what these young men do in modern times, but suspect Mr. Jones (who is from my generation) may be projecting a distant past here. Either way, this is a few times this year coach McLellan has exercised his authority, not sure how many times a coach can do that and have an impact. I’m not going to do the numbers from last night’s game, watching it was punishment enough. If you want to suss through the numbers, NaturalStatTrick is your friend. From Daryl Katz to the lowest man on the employee roster, last night’s game is probably still on everyone’s mind this morning.

Look, you can argue Hall and Eberle and all else until the cows come home, but effort and push back comes from all teams who are engaged. I’ve watched some sad sack Oilers teams with little talent show more gumption than last night’s Oilers and that’s a damned large concern today.


  • December 2015: 7-5-1, goal differential -7 (15 points)
  • December 2016: 7-2-4, goal differential +3 (18 points)
  • December 2017: 7-5-1, goal differential +4 (15 points)

No matter what this team does, the resemblance between 2015-16 and this year keeps coming back like Sonny & Cher in Groundhog Day. Hard nose the highway in January, I don’t think these Edmonton Oilers can grab 15 points in the next 31 days (there are just 10 games).


  • Oilers 15-16: 15-21-3, goal differential -24 (33 points)
  • Oilers 16-17: 19-13-7, goal differential +8 (45 points)
  • Oilers 17-18: 17-19-3, goal differential -11 (37 points)

All that hard work that brought the team a 6-2-0 record leading up to Christmas has been given back since the break. Not much you can say, beyond they’ll remember this feeling next fall and perhaps that will steel them against the wind. The Oilers are seven points back of the final wild card spot this morning, if they’d won the three games after Christmas that number would be two points behind. If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.


  • On the road to: Calgary (Expected: 0-0-1) (Actual: 1-0-0)
  • At home to: Philadelphia (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual: 0-1-0)
  • On the road to: Montreal, Toronto, Columbus (Expected 1-2-0) (Actual 2-1-0)
  • At home to: Nashville (Expected 0-1-0) (Actual 0-1-0)
  • On the road to: Minnesota (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
  • At home to: San Jose, St. Louis, Montreal (Expected 1-1-1) (Actual 3-0-0)
  • On the road to: Winnipeg (Expected 0-1-0) (Actual 0-1-0)
  • At home to: Chicago, Winnipeg (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-1-1)
  • Overall expected result: 5-6-2, 12 points in 13 games 
  • Current results: 7-5-1, 15 points in 13 games

The Oilers outperformed my estimate by three points, and it’s difficult to be disappointed in the record in isolation. It ended poorly but if the Oilers go 43, 22-15-6 for the rest of the season (that’s what 15 points in 13 games looks like over 43 games) it would represent an improvement over the first half. If the Oilers do finish in that fashion, the final tally will be 82gp, 39-34-9, 87 points. Not enough to make the playoffs (or be in the race) but better than the current record projects (82, 36-40-6, 78 points).


  • First Round (No. 6 overall)—R Filip Zadina, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL). Another fantastic skill winger, he brings size and shooting ability to the game. He’s in the upper tier of offensive prospects in this draft, great motor. Shoots left.
  • Second Round (No. 37 overall)—LC Jacob Olofsson, Timra (Allsvenskan). They’re not fooling me again, there’s a sweet spot in the Swedish system pertaining to draft eligibles who flourish in the Allsvenskan. Great passer, speed, aggressive, skilled.
  • Third Round (No. 68 overall)—L Nathan Dunkley, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL). He’s 5.11, 185 and scoring over a point-per-game this year. He has good speed and a fine two-way reputation, Dunkley may end up being ranked higher on the final lists. For now, he’d represent great early in the third round.
  • Fourth Round (No. 99 overall)—LC Cole Fonstad, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL). Undersized center with a lot of skill and zero buzz. His offensive numbers (42 points in 37 games) and relative youth (he’s an April 2000) should mean he’ll get some love from scouts by June.
  • Fifth Round (No. 130 overall)—RD Ty Emberson, U.S. National Development Team (USHL). Impressive speed and skills, he projects as a puck mover with a good shot and the ability to retrieve pucks like a madman. Zero buzz, but he has a nice resume.
  • Sixth Round (No. 161 overall)—W Samuel Fagemo, Frolunda (SuperElite). Impressive climb through the Swedish system, he has good boots and an excellent shot. Dynamic with the puck on his stick, raw in other parts of the game.
  • Seventh Round (No. 192 overall)—L Riley Stotts, Calgary Hitmen (WHL). Inconsistent but very skilled winger struggled in Swift Current but seems to have turned the corner after arriving in Calgary.


Eric Rodgers blesses us with his numbers a few times each season, I posted on his November update here. These numbers are fresh, but I wanted to update you right away on the defensemen. For reminder purposes, here’s what the EV GF-GA totals looked like in November:

Here are the numbers for defenders since:

  1. Keegan Lowe 18-10 (+8)
  2. Ryan Mantha 15-10 (+5)
  3. Jamie Doornbosch 2-0  (+2)
  4. Ryan Stanton 11-10 (+1)
  5. Ben Betker 6-7 (-1)
  6. Mark Fayne 2-4 (-2)
  7. Ethan Bear 2-5 (-3)
  8. Caleb Jones 12-18 (-6)
  9. Dillon Simpson 7-16 (-9)

Miles to go on all of these prospects but the progress we’re seeing from Mantha is interesting (scored last night) and injury issues from Ethan Bear concerning (he missed last night’s game). Caleb Jones had a tough start, improved in December in this metric and has miles to go. We spoke at the beginning of the year about this trio needing at least one AHL season and that has certainly been driven home by the results. On the other hand, the NHLE’s (Bear 19.27; Jones 11.56; Mantha 9.64) and the estimated time on ice (Bear 21:54; Jones 20:26; Mantha 18:32) suggests the other two men are ahead of him (and that is my estimation). Thanks to Eric for the new math and I’ll have another post on the subject soon.

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219 Responses to "Standing on the shoreline, first day of 2018"

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  1. JD_High says:

    OriginalPouzar: 64.38%

    That’s probably an NHLe of 43%. Give or take. More or less. Here or there.

  2. jtblack says:


    nope. not at all

  3. anjinsan says:

    Katz (in NY we say Cats, not Kate’s, because that’s how you pronounce that nice Jewish name) is about $$$.

    The Oiler GM has constrained the team with bad, large-asset, terrible-trade decisions and terrible contracts.

    The Oiler team pushed real hard to go 6-2, but that wasn’t sustainable. The lack of scoring talent then made the team regress as of late. The real risk is McDavid grows …. hmmm … more interested in somewhere with real hope. You can’t have a GM that trades away assets to have hope.

  4. OmJo says:

    Woodguy v2.0:
    For those who are interested:


    Clendening only played ~300 minutes and 1/3 of it was with McDavid so it pumped his tires quite a bit.

    I was gonna say F but thought nah, that’s too easy.

  5. Lowetide says:

    Katz (in NY we say Cats, not Kate’s, because that’s how you pronounce that nice Jewish name) is about $$$.

    The Oiler GM has constrained the team with bad, large-asset, terrible-trade decisions and terrible contracts.

    The Oiler team pushed real hard to go 6-2, but that wasn’t sustainable.The lack of scoring talent then made the team regress as of late.The real risk is McDavid grows …. hmmm … more interested in somewhere with real hope.You can’t have a GM that trades away assets to have hope.

    I believe Mr. Katz is pronounced that way at his request.

  6. JD_High says:

    Lowetide: at his request

    Like Dougie Hamilton!

  7. Professor Q says:

    Katz (in NY we say Cats, not Kate’s, because that’s how you pronounce that nice Jewish name) is about $$$.

    The Oiler GM has constrained the team with bad, large-asset, terrible-trade decisions and terrible contracts.

    The Oiler team pushed real hard to go 6-2, but that wasn’t sustainable.The lack of scoring talent then made the team regress as of late.The real risk is McDavid grows …. hmmm … more interested in somewhere with real hope.You can’t have a GM that trades away assets to have hope.

    As an aside, it really is intriguing how the American-Jewish dialect evolved. Many American words were Germanized throughout their history to further separate from the UK (along with natural population drift – I think the US is made up of 27% Germanic descendants).

    The Jews on the other hand started pronouncing their German dialect and names differently, almost in the opposite way, influenced by the other aspects of the American English.

  8. Thinker says:

    JD_High: Wait… how many is a Brazilian?

    There are 2.5 million Brazillion people in Brasilia. Sounds like a lot.

  9. Scungilli Slushy says:

    SwedishPoster: McDavid does a lot of things at an absolute elite level. One of the very few things on the offensive side he doesn’t do at an elite level is decision making, it’s in NO sense bad, I’d even say it’s pretty good but it’s not as elite as the rest of his offensive game. He still hasn’t fully mastered when to make the simple play and when to try the difficult one, when to shoot and when to pass etc. Again I don’t claim it to be a weakness, it’s just a part where we could see improvement and it would make him even more efficient which would be damn scary to witness for the rest of the league. Considering the player I’m pretty sure he will near elite levels down the road, it’s one of those things that comes with experience in large part.

    I’d argue we ain’t seen nothing yet in regards to Connor.

    Agreed, and I’ll add I think he needs to develop a more dangerous shot. I think some of his decision making is not wanting to snipe. He spoke about it last season. That coach recently said if he starts shooting on the PP ‘we’re all dead ‘.

    If he’s a threat to score with his shot he’ll be unstoppable. Crosby had to develop his as well.

  10. Scungilli Slushy says:

    Scungilli Slushy,

    There aren’t too many RHD candidates out there that might be conceiveably available.

    I am spit-balling as well, but the list in order of probabily IMO might include:

    1. Letang – cost: Klefbom + Letestu and a 2nd
    2. Barrie (currently injured) – cost: Klefbom
    3. Faulk – cost: RNH
    4. Karlsson – cost: Klefbom, Yamamoto, Khaira + Bear or Samorukov + 2018 1st or 2019 1st
    5. Jones – cost: Draisaitl + salary retained

    Perhaps Trouba or Green, but Green is a stopgap and would be too expensive for a short term acquisition and Trouba would probabily cost Nurse and to me Nurse is more valuable to this franchise than Klefbom right now.


    We know how important a balanced D Corp is to strong play. Every team that is playing strong hockey has a strong top 4. A good top 4D is worth more than anything but an elite goalie or elite forward.

    So, trading Klefbom, Nurse or Larsson would be disastrous to the future without equal replacements. Sekera is a great player but too old to be part of the core down the road. I would trade Klef for a strong two way like Trouba, but only if one of the leftorium steps up first, I’m not sure any of them have more potential than third pair. Not enough offense.

    I’m not a fan of offensive d that can’t defend stoutly unless they score like Burns or Karlsson. I don’t want to pay Karlsson at his age.

    I don’t want to trade Nuge, but that might be the plan. If they could trade Nuge and a prospect D for Trouba Barrie or Faulk and a prospect winger or C that might work out. It would be easier on the cap. Sadly I,can’t see them running Nuge 3 C at 6 M forever.

    Despite the chatter I won’t be surprised to see few D changes until NMCs lift, nobody is going to do Chia any favours, they are all scared shitless that the Oilers figure it out.

    Klef Larsson
    Nurse Sekera
    Russell Davie Benning
    OV 2
    * Woodguy would know who is doing what now, but Trouba and less so Barrie and Faulk have shown well in the past.

  11. €v¥£€u§ says:


    So, I dug into it further. I thought I was on to something compelling about this team, since I remember in the past about top teams, specifically LA being undefeated when leading after 2, at the time it was a big deal. Turns out you are correct. I looked at 11 teams and then I stopped, because the results are pretty consistent, even with the terrible teams.

    So what I’ve learned is, the NHL is boringly predictable, unless teams are tied going into the third. Otherwise, if your team is behind after 1 period there is a 75% or greater chance that your team will lose. If they are trailing after 2, it is over 90%.

    The one team that goes against the grain is Vegas, who are 5-3-2 when trailing after 1 and 4-5-1 when trailing after 2. I’ll find some time tomorrow and post results of all the teams, if there are a few people interested in this. This will take me a couple hours probably, since I haven’t found these numbers on one page, this is imbedded on a page for each team.

    If anyone is interested in these numbers, reply with a yes and I will post it on tomorrow’s post.

  12. Justthestatsman says:



    If I did this right, this link has all the teams results on one page when leading or trailing after 1 or 2 periods. It doesn’t have records when tied.,gte,1&sort=winsAfterLead1p

    Considering their record, I’m actually kind of surprised the Oilers are doing as well as they are when leading after one or two periods. Proves your point about the predictability of the games.

  13. deardylan says:

    Christmas came right during our biggest winning streak of the season and killed it. Ouch!

    #PlayoffSophmoreJinx #TooTooMerry

  14. OriginalPouzar says:

    I’m pumped to watch this one tonight – a big division game. We keep telling ourselves that we are built to play in the division (and, so far, our record indicates that is true) and, if we are going to have any chance to make the playoffs we will have to dominate in the large amount of division games we have left.

    Lines at practice yesterday were completely jangled. I guess we’ll find out today if that was just to shake things up at practice or send a message or if coach plans to go with the new sets. I think he plans on going with the new sets.

    Personally, I don’t like it – things like Auvitu at forward (over actual NHL forward players like Kassian) don’t make sense to me and, at the end of the day, the lines aren’t the problem. This team is elite at even strength and is losing games in the crease and on special teams.

    I’d like to see Auvitu back in the lineup but I’d like to see him on defence with Davidson as the team had success when they used that pairing. From accounts, Reggie has struggled the last few games and could maybe use a game off.

    This game is nationally televised in the US – Go Oilers!

  15. Mr. D. says:

    Need 68% of possible point to make payoffs.
    Not possible if:
    A. We give up more than 2 goals per game as we can’t seem to match high scoring teams on a regular basis.
    B Our defense can’t win puck battles and giveaway the pucks. Fuck the puck mover bulls shit. A good pass is better than skating it.
    C. Goaltending doesn’t improve.
    D. Coaching gets respect from players. Certain coach has absolutely lost the dressing room.
    D. McDavid doesn’t score or assist twice in every game.

  16. OriginalPouzar says:

    Really looking forward to streaming Czech vs. Finland at 10am mountain from the office.

    Finally back in Canada and able to watch some prospect hockey – excited to see Safin and get my first look at Rasanen.

  17. Ryan says:


    Wait a minute, I am confused.

    I thought that the purpose of changing the lines was to fix our 28th Place all game state goaltending.

    Hm, that’s how you fix goaltending problems, isn’t it?

  18. frjohnk says:

    Ryan: fix goaltending problems, isn’t it?

    Fix the Dallas Eakins defensive scheme from our D. That would lower the amount of 10 bell chances our goalies experience each game. Allowing 3 on 1’s and 2 on 1’s on the rush and down low in our end in abundance is not a recipe for successful goaltending.

    Set a goal of not allowing one cross seam pass when on the PK for the rest of the year. It is probably more important to block a cross seam pass than it is to block a shot that is not from a cross seam pass on the PK.

  19. €v¥£€u§ says:


    Thanks for finding this, I didn’t see this info on the site. I have done some number crunching, which I will share later this morning.

    But definitely a team is up against it when they are trailing after 20 minutes. And clealry our favourite team has been digging a lot of holes. They’ve been behind after 1 in 12/39 games and came away with 9 points and after 2 in 15/39 and came out with 3 points – that’s a shitload of lost points…..

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