One of the things I do around this time of year is project individual NHL GP for the following season. It shows areas of strength and weakness and allows you to project things into the future based on the organization’s own established past. It also informs us about the organization’s thinking in regard to non-NHL players and what the plans are for the fall. Here, let me show you.
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- New Lowetide: Can Brad Malone find a role with the Oilers?
- Jonathan Willis: Edmonton’s pick at No. 10 has great value.
- Lowetide: Pontus Aberg has a chance to be a depth difference maker.
- Lowetide: Woodcroft walks the streets of Bakersfield
- Lowetide: Todd McLellan the only man standing after Friday coaching purge.
- Lowetide: The Oilers and Mikko Koskinen.
- Lowetide: Oilers summer to-do list short and sweet.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and Russia: A draft tragedy.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and the Republic of Finland
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and Sweden.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and the QMJHL.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: Oilers and the WHL.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: Oilers draft history and the OHL
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and the NCAA.
OILERS NHLE 17-18
These are my projections from last August for the Oilers, missed it by an absolute mile. I projected 257 goals (Actual: 229, -28) and 208 goals against (Actual: 262, -holy crap) in a year where offense rose 17 goals a team. In fairness to me, what in the actual hell. Some of my estimates (McDavid) are very close, others (Cam Talbot) are not. I estimated +49 in goal differential, Edmonton was in fact -33 in goal differential. On the positive side? Pretty sure this team will regress. On the negative side? Every other bloody thing.
The first part of the exercise for me is games played. In the RE box above, the biggest challenge was figuring out games played for non established NHL players. For McDavid, Lucic, Maroon, Nuge, Leon, it’s a matter of evaluating their own past and projecting it forward. If healthy, they’re playing 82 games.
So when Jesse Puljujarvi plays 65 NHL games (exactly my projection) I’m feeling good about that estimate. I had Drake Caggiula at 70, he played 67. On the other hand, I missed on Slepyshev (projected 70, he played 50) and Jujhar Khaira (projected 45, he played 69). Projecting roles for players who aren’t established is a really tricky item. You know what? It also tells us how many positions are likely to be devoted to players who are not NHL regulars. It tells us where the gaps are and that has value, especially at this time of year. If you know the gaps, you should be able to predict the summer. Should be able to predict the summer.
Auvitu said in an interview that he is now returning to Europe, he would also be interested in playing at KHL. He will not continue in the NHL.
— Päivi 🇫🇮 (@hockeyfan_fin) May 4, 2018
EDMONTON OILERS 2018-19 GP PROJECTION
The first step in my RE is to estimate games played for veterans/rookies who are locks for employment. It’s important to do it now because you can see areas of weakness (and strength). For this year’s Oilers team, balance is a distant bell. One final thing: GP incorporates projected role by specific players and their ability to stay in the lineup. Here we go.
- Goal: Cam Talbot (55); Al Montoya (5). I suspect this is what Peter Chiarelli sees for the goalie group, Montoya might be lost on waivers or maybe he grabs the backup job. Talbot has played 56, 73 and 67 games in his three Oilers seasons. The leftover games (22) will be filled by an outside source (more in a moment).
- Left Defense: Darnell Nurse (68); Oscar Klefbom (62); Andrej Sekera (58). Although we associate all of Nurse, Klefbom and Sekera as everyday players, each man has missed significant time in at least one of the last three seasons. One of the things this exercise does is reinforce the idea that six defensemen isn’t enough. The Oilers top three LH defensemen project to miss 58 games next year based on their own past. That’s a lot.
- Right Defense: Adam Larsson (75); Kris Russell (70); Matt Benning (68). The right side should be a bit more stable. There are 33 games available on this side, and Edmonton has a youngster (Ethan Bear) pushing. Of course, he won’t be the 7D, so that’s an area of need for the organization.
- Center: Connor McDavid (75); Leon Draisaitl (78); Ryan Strome (74); Jujhar Khaira (69). This is a fabulous depth chart at center, can’t wait to see the top two lines rolling. Strome has some nice underlying numbers, Khaira took a step forward. There’s very little left over if Khaira plays center (as we’ll see in a minute).
- Left Wing: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (66); Milan Lucic (81); Drake Caggiula (63); Pontus Aberg (69). There’s not a checker in the bunch and this lineup includes two guys who are still trying to find their way as NHL players, but the position boasts four potential regulars. This hockey club badly needs a two-way left winger.
- Right Wing: Jesse Puljujarvi (82); Ty Rattie (54); Zack Kassian (68). As is the case on left wing, no checkers and we have our first position on the roster where the Oilers have to make an addition. There’s simply no way for the team to begin the 2018-19 season without an addition or two.
PROJECTIONS OF NON-ESTABLISHED PLAYERS
- Goal: Mikko Koskinen (22). Peter Chiarelli talked about goaltending as a major issue and wasted no time in addressing it. He used about 35 percent of the available cap cushion, that more than anything reflects his thinking on what went wrong a year ago.
- Left Defense: Caleb Jones (25); Ryan Stanton (12); William Lagesson (2). There are 39 games available based on my projected GP for veterans, I’ve divided them up as you see here. This isn’t a position that can be solved with a Keegan Lowe or Dillon Simpson, and I see no reason to bring back Yohann Auvitu if there are no plans to use him on the power play.
- Right Defense: Ethan Bear (40); Eric Gryba (12). I have Bear playing half of the season in Bakersfield, it’s important to reiterate prospects don’t develop in a straight line. Counting on him for 40 NHL games is unwise, but we are here.
- Center: Brad Malone (22). The one position (providing Khaira is a center) where you can see the vision from beginning to end. I have no quarrel with this position although Strome’s contract number may change things.
- Left Wing: Tyler Benson (25); Joe Gambardella (24). This is the low ebb of the projected roster, Edmonton simply has to add at this position. Moving Jujhar Khaira over would solve the issue, but I’ve used him at pivot. Benson and Gambardella should be in the AHL all season. Full stop.
- Right Wing: Kailer Yamamoto (65); Cooper Marody (39); Cameron Hebig (20). Yamamoto makes this team unless Edmonton adds a player or two for starboard. As is the case with left wing, the depth chart is sadly lacking at this position. As a result, men like Marody and Hebig would be thrust into roles they aren’t ready for yet (and may not achieve).
MY NEEDS LIST
Based on Peter Chiarelli’s exit interview with the media, the general manager’s list is backup goalie (already addressed), a puck moving defender (hopefully RHD) and a winger or two. My list, with the understanding goaltending is no longer an issue (at this time):
- Veteran scoring right winger. This is basically replacing Eberle, in the short term. Eventually Puljujarvi and Yamamoto will nail down the top two spots but that’s too big an ask for next season.
- Two-way left winger. How many Oilers forwards are capable two-way players? Not enough. A 15-goal left winger who can penalty kill and mark his man would be a fabulous addition to the current group.
- Puck mover. In my opinion this isn’t a priority but if there’s a superior offensive defenseman to Klefbom and Sekera available, no harm in an upgrade.
- No. 7 defender. It isn’t a gigantic need and someone like Stanton could fill it, but the depth currently won’t be enough for a long, grueling season.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
No Lowdown today, the Canada-USA World Hockey Championships are on TSN1260 (tune in, outstanding pbp) this morning. I’ll join Dave Jamieson at 11:20 this morning to talk about the game. I hope you enjoyed this little exercise, ordinarily I would do this in a private post and you would never see it. Question: Would you like to see how I estimate time on ice? Power play? Let me know. If it’s too boring, I’ll keep it private.