Silver, Blue and Gold

by Lowetide

Zack Kassian, Kailer Yamamoto, Josh Archibald and Alex Chiasson scored 49 goals in 71 games during 2019-20. Calgary’s top four RW’s (Matt Tkachuk, Elias Lindholm, Dillon Dube and Sam Bennett) scored 66 in 70 games. How best to close the gap?

THE ATHLETIC!

The Athletic Edmonton features a fabulous cluster of stories (some linked below, some on the site). Great perspective from a ridiculous group of writers and analysts. Proud to be part of The Athletic, check it out here.

  • New Lowetide: The most potent lines in Oilers history
  • New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: On the time Dave Semenko fought Muhammad Ali
  • Lowetide: Why Jan Mysak could be a value pick for the Oilers at the 2020 Draft
  • Jonathan Willis: The Oilers overcame malice in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver to join the NHL
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Remembering Jacques Plante’s brief tenure with the Oilers at age 45
  • Lowetide: Oilers need to find (or get) real value in William Lagesson
  • Jonathan Willis: Flashback: When ‘Oil Change’ revealed key details of Oilers’ 1979, 2010 drafts
  • Lowetide: Edmonton’s Sports Hall of Fame should have 3 founding members
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Oilers forward Colby Cave dies at age 25
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘The world needs more Colbys’: Teammates and coaches mourn Colby Cave
  • Jonathan Willis: What does the Oilers best possible playoff lineup look like?
  • Lowetide: Why Jack Quinn is a perfect 2020 draft fit for the Oilers
  • Jonathan Willis: For one glorious fall, Alexander Selivanov was the NHL’s most dangerous scorer
  • Lowetide: Oilers’ five-on-five with and without Connor McDavid is improving
  • Lowetide: Bakersfield Condors forward prospects might need a history lesson
  • Lowetide: Craig MacTavish’s most important Oilers moment? Picking Leon Draisaitl
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: If play does not resume, 5 notable questions that will go unanswered in Edmonton
  • Lowetide: Making the call on RFA and UFA players on the Oilers’ 50-man roster
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Q&A: Scott Howson on new AHL job, Oilers’ unsung prospect and development updates
  • Lowetide: A look back at reasonable expectations and the Oilers fantastic special teams in 20

CURRENT 50-MAN

Players with asterisks are RFA, I moved off some restricted players from the list for clarity. I think the names here represent the group in question for contracts. They number 37, with Broberg a slide and the players in blue AHL contracts.

UFA’s include Tyler Ennis, Mike Green, Riley Sheahan, Gaetan Haas, Patrick Russell, Mike Smith, Brandon Manning, Markus Granlund, Tomas Jurco, Brad Malone, Josh Currie, Keegan Lowe and Shane Starrett.

ZACK KASSIAN VIA PUCK IQ

We have to remember who’s zooming who but this is an excellent playing card. In fact, it’s close enough for jazz in pretty much every category. I don’t believe the contract is a good one but after losing some useful forwards (Strome, Caggiula) since the fall of 2018 Kassian’s contract at least gives the roster some continuity. As was the case with McDavid, Kassian played a little more against elites and middles than the gritensity envelope.

KAILER YAMAMOTO VIA PUCK IQ

This is the best player card among all the forwards, great numbers across the board. Interesting that coach Tippett rolled Yamamoto about equally between elites, middles and gritensity. I still think KY lands on McDavid’s line at some point, possibly 2020-21.

ALEX CHIASSON VIA PUCK IQ

Chiasson played less against elites than middle and played more against gritensity base. He performs well against all three (relatively speaking) levels, and outscores all but the gritensity group (who are the Bermuda triangle for everyone but the McDavid line). Good player card.

JOSH ARCHIBALD VIA PUCK IQ

Archibald had similar deployment to Chiasson but less success. His PK work and chem with McDavid are two major positives. I think he and Sheahan probably land on the fourth line in 2020-21.

ON THIS DAY IN 2015

A miracle. The initial reaction is here and the mock draft is here. I still don’t really believe it.

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digger50

In some strange dream I watched this dominating third line emerge.
Benson Athanasiou. Jessie P

hunter1909

Harpers Hair: Russell for Brandon Sutter?

Vancouver has too many forwards and need D.

Always making with the local team nearby where you live post Edmonton. Oblivious to the reality that most Oilers fans loathe the Vancouver Canucks, and everything that goes with them.

I used to live in Toronto where I could and did see them play but who wants to read my opinions on the Toronto Maple Leafs? A team thats rated just above the Flames?

Then again I also used to live in Vancouver but the Canucks were easily laughed at and ignored.

ps: It’s great you worked at CKUA, literally a world class radio station.

hunter1909

BornInAGretzkyJersey: Soda bread is great because you can make a loaf in under an hour.
Sourdough is a massive commitment. You may or may not have the time or inclination.

The absolute best bread I ever ate used to be sold in Edmonton health food stores as German Rye bread.

OriginalPouzar

jp: I was thinking an actual player, like Ryan or Bonino (with plus or minuses added as appropriate). You’re absolutely right that Frolik for a 4th give hope. Either way it’s not an impossible trade.

Yup, that’s exactly the type of deal I was thinking. Could work.

I think the Oilers would have to add to a Russell/Bonino swap with a real asset as Bonino is actually value for this cap hit.

jp

I agree, hence the pluses or minuses disclaimer.

BornInAGretzkyJersey

Bonino would be a nice add. Unfortunately, I think the + on the trade would be punitive however, as NSH is more likely to dispose of Turris first.

I’d prefer him to the perennially injured Sutter as a 3C.

Otherwise I’d be looking for draft capital. A fourth round pick could provide real value. Bear and Jones are recent examples.

My CapFriendly future rosters usually hinge on moving Russell to (say) WPG for a 2022 4th to gain cap space and allow the younger prospects room to develop.

jp

Agreed on Bonino over Sutter, but Sutter is a good player if healthy. I’d move Russell for him and hope vs holding onto Russell.

McDavid-Draisaitl-Sutter-Sheahan-Khaira could be real good, if not it’s the same as this year.

And a 4th in return would be great too, but I’m not expecting that to be on the table. We’ll see.

Harpers Hair

OriginalPouzar: Is he (currently) healthy?

Done deal!

Yes he is.

jp

OriginalPouzar: So, Perrault?

The issue is finding that player with only one year of term left – if we are taking back bad cap, it can’t be for term.

I don’t think Perreault plays C any more does he?

But yes, you’d hope it would be someone without extra term.

jp

It’s worse than I thought, he’s not really even a secondary option now days.

Face-offs by year for Perreault:
15-16 203 (6th on the Jets)
16-17 189 (6th)
17-18 59 (8th)
18-19 53 (8th)
19-20 19 (13th)

OriginalPouzar

Harpers Hair: Russell for Brandon Sutter?

Vancouver has too many forwards and need D.

Is he (currently) healthy?

Done deal!

OriginalPouzar

jp: The most likely way that Russell gets moved I think is in exchange for an overpaid but competent 3C (a forward equivalent of Russell himself). There are a number of those around so maybe Holland can work that kind of magic and re-allocate that money to a more needed part of the roster.

So, Perrault?

The issue is finding that player with only one year of term left – if we are taking back bad cap, it can’t be for term.

OriginalPouzar

BornInAGretzkyJersey:
AA is already a better player than JP and JP isn’t coming back.Sail on, sailor.Shame, but (likely) true.You also didn’t mention Benson, who is likely to make some noise next year.

Scores of people in the blogging community to the MSM to the casual, street-level fan wanted to see Leon drive his own line.Even Leon chirped the media about that perception late in the year.T-Mac and Hitch weren’t able to pull it off.The difference was Tippett.Your consensus narrative is demonstrably false.

Finally, in a flat cap world where are you finding money for another two wingers to make unicorns realistic?Genuinely curious.

I agree with all of this except “the difference was Tippett”.

Coach T, and I LOVE his body of work as an Oiler coach, spoke all summer about Drai and McDavid as a pair and used them as a pair right up until after the Christmas break because he was forced to by them being the worst defensive duo in the history of hockey for pretty much a full month.

The split coincided with an extra top 6 skilled and high offensive IQ winger being added after some real development time – Kailer Yamamoto.

jp

OriginalPouzar: Recall he lost his job in the top 6 very shortly after signing the contract and it took a while to “get it back”.

He did, yes. As LT mentioned, there should be lots of fluidity in the top 6 going forward. FWIW, Draisaitl and Nuge have also ‘lost’ jobs on McDavid’s wing. I think Kassian is a good bet to play a majority of his minutes in the top 6 for at least the next couple of years.

The other thing is that Kassian is not useless when not playing with McDavid. His early season 2018-19 scoring was pretty much the low point of his career (scoring wise). His 18-19 “without McDavid” scoring has been often cited for what he really is but it’s not at all accurate.

I posted above that he’s scored 1.32 5v5 P/60 without McDavid since Jan. 2019. And in his pre-McDavid career (11-12 through 17-18, just shy of 400 games) he scored 1.49 5v5 P/60. That’s a high end 3rd line scoring rate (Tyler Seguin was 1.51 P/60 this year FWIW).

He’s a better hockey player than a lot are giving him credit for IMO. He may go off the rails like Lucic did, but $3.2M for a guy scoring 1.50 P/60 is not at all out of line.

jp

BornInAGretzkyJersey: The way the fLames offloaded Frolik to BUF for a 4th round pick gives me hope.
Same AAV. Less useful player.

I was thinking an actual player, like Ryan or Bonino (with plus or minuses added as appropriate). You’re absolutely right that Frolik for a 4th give hope. Either way it’s not an impossible trade.

Harpers Hair: Russell for Brandon Sutter?
Vancouver has too many forwards and need D.

Yup, that’s exactly the type of deal I was thinking. Could work.

jp

who: I think it’s more likely Nuge gets put with McDavid. I think Yamamoto is more important to Drai than Nuge is.

I think there will be lots of fluidity and all the line combos/pairs will get a chance to see what works.

I could well see Yamamoto’s combination of puck recovery/retrieval skills and ability to make plays being a great fit with McDavid. One piece of evidence in support of them working together is the minutes they’ve already played together.

Yamamoto’s 2 failed attempts to stick with the Oilers happened largely on McDavid’s wing. Despite not being able to score the Oilers have had 62% of the shots in 177 minutes that McDavid and Yamamoto have played together. The goals were only 5GF-6GA in those minutes but I think the shot totals are probably more indicative of what really happened.

Harpers Hair

jp: The most likely way that Russell gets moved I think is in exchange for an overpaid but competent 3C (a forward equivalent of Russell himself). There are a number of those around so maybe Holland can work that kind of magic and re-allocate that money to a more needed part of the roster.

Russell for Brandon Sutter?

Vancouver has too many forwards and need D.

BornInAGretzkyJersey

jp,

The way the fLames offloaded Frolik to BUF for a 4th round pick gives me hope.

Same AAV. Less useful player.

OriginalPouzar

Kinger_Oil.redux:
– Drai played a lot of RW.So did Neal.Our “best” RW was called up mid-season.I don’t get it

– Here are our “wingers” next year, kind of in order of potential for scoring: is this good enough?:

1) Nuge (unless Holland listens to Kinger)
2) Kailer
3) Kassian
4) Neal
5) Pool
6) AA
7) Nygard
8) Chiasson
9) Ennis
10) Archi
11) Jar

– To me, I see between this list, bring in new guy, maybe another Kailer surprise in the minors, 6 wingers to go the 3 C route, if you got Big 3C.Hopefully they give it a whirl for 20 games

– They broke up Drai and McD for 27 games.Before consensus was you couldn’t do that: and now people are sure that Drai is legit C.

–Now Kailer is bona-fide game-maker: he was a trending injury prone fail who wasn’t socring elite in AHL.Put him in the best situation for a winger in the last 15 years: wow.

– RNH as a winger was crazy-talk: wasn’t he the modern Dave Keon?

– 3C’s: just the tip…

1) Drai has played RW with McDavid quite a bit in the past but, this season, when he played wing it was almost mostly LW with Kassian as the RW

2) Seeing that list above shows they don’t have wingers for 3 lines with Nuge as a center. Nuge has shown to NOT be able to drive play with lesser wingers and that is exactly what he would get.

Your first listed winger you think has only had success due to his situation and not due to his skill/ability. Your 2nd listed winger is a career bottom 6 player that has learned how to play with McDavid, in stints. Your 3rd listed winger has scored at 4th line rates over the last two years (this year with much McDavid time). Your 4th listed winger is a player that won’t play for the Oilers.

3) Why do your lists keep showing Pulujarvi? Honest question – do you see him ever being an Oiler, including next season.

4) I do not agree that the consensus was that Drai and McDavid couldn’t be broken up – that was a fairly even split I believe and even those that thought they should be together generally agreed they could/should be broken up when there was more winger depth – Kailer provided that winger depth.

5) There were some that thought that Yamamoto was trending to fail. Of course, most that understand the reasonable timeline for development of not top 5 pick forwards understood that he was developing on par. Also, those that watched him in the AHL absolutely advised that he was performing well above what his box-cars in the AHL showed and was generally the best forward. Those that chose to look only at goals/assists/points, well, they were mis-led by those numbers.

jp

McNuge93: Yes, Holland probably would want to resign Green, but I don’t think its possible without K Russell being traded. And that’s not an easy trade with a flat cap. Holland would really need to work some magic. Green at a reasonable price would be a good mentor for Bouchard as they play similar styles.
Also, Green is better able to move up to top or 2nd pairing for short periods of time versus Benning or Russell.

The most likely way that Russell gets moved I think is in exchange for an overpaid but competent 3C (a forward equivalent of Russell himself). There are a number of those around so maybe Holland can work that kind of magic and re-allocate that money to a more needed part of the roster.

JimmyV1965

I’ve taped every Oiler game for the last few years. Just watched the 8-3 win over Calgary on Feb. 1. Awesome game. Oil dominated. I forgot that was the game Smith and Talbot had a scrap. What an exciting, entertaining game. The Sportsnet panel was gushing.

BornInAGretzkyJersey

Harpers Hair,

Soda bread is great because you can make a loaf in under an hour.

Sourdough is a massive commitment. You may or may not have the time or inclination.

If you’re feeling fetching, look up the Trappist monks of Belgium and how they harvested wild yeast.

Another avenue might be to go to one of the many local breweries/distilleries and ask/trade for a small amount. Not the same variety but it’ll work in a pinch.

BONE207

Lowetide: I have two reasons for marrying 97.

Hell LT…I only need one. You are one picky dude!…?

Kinger_Oil.redux

– Drai played a lot of RW. So did Neal. Our “best” RW was called up mid-season. I don’t get it

– Here are our “wingers” next year, kind of in order of potential for scoring: is this good enough?:

1) Nuge (unless Holland listens to Kinger)
2) Kailer
3) Kassian
4) Neal
5) Pool
6) AA
7) Nygard
8) Chiasson
9) Ennis
10) Archi
11) Jar

– To me, I see between this list, bring in new guy, maybe another Kailer surprise in the minors, 6 wingers to go the 3 C route, if you got Big 3C. Hopefully they give it a whirl for 20 games

– They broke up Drai and McD for 27 games. Before consensus was you couldn’t do that: and now people are sure that Drai is legit C.

– Now Kailer is bona-fide game-maker: a trending injury prone fail who wasn’t socring elite in AHL.

– So a guy who wasn’t a legit C, with a non-elite AHLer, became elite

– RNH as a winger was crazy-talk: wasn’t he the modern Dave Keon?

– 3C’s: just the tip…

BornInAGretzkyJersey

AA is already a better player than JP and JP isn’t coming back. Sail on, sailor. Shame, but (likely) true. You also didn’t mention Benson, who is likely to make some noise next year.

Scores of people in the blogging community to the MSM to the casual, street-level fan wanted to see Leon drive his own line. Even Leon chirped the media about that perception late in the year. T-Mac and Hitch weren’t able to pull it off. The difference was Tippett. Your consensus narrative is demonstrably false.

Finally, in a flat cap world where are you finding money for another two wingers to make unicorns realistic? Genuinely curious.

Harpers Hair

Another day at the supermarket and still no yeast for bread making.

Why are people hoarding yeast?

So, the alternative is Irish Soda Bread which requires no yeast…the leavening comes from buttermilk and baking soda.

This soda bread was an accompaniment to the Guinness Stew served at the wedding Mr. and Mrs. Hair at Kelly’s Pub in Ft. Edmonton Park on St. Patrick’s Day many years ago.

4 to 4 1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 Tbsp COLD butter
1 cup currants or raisins (we used dried berries)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 3/4 cups buttermilk

1 Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda: Preheat oven to 425°F. Whisk together 4 cups of flour, the sugar, salt, and baking soda into a large mixing bowl.

2 Work the butter into the flour, add currants or raisins: Using your (clean) fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal, then add in the currants or raisins.

Note…we used dried berries in lieu of the raisins…mmmmm.

3 Make a well, mix in buttermilk, egg: Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add beaten egg and buttermilk to well and mix in with a wooden spoon until dough is too stiff to stir.

4 Lightly knead dough and form dough mound: Dust hands with a little flour, then gently knead dough in the bowl just long enough to form a rough ball. If the dough is too sticky to work with, add in a little more flour. Do not over-knead!

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a round loaf. Note that the dough will be a little sticky, and quite shaggy (a little like a shortcake biscuit dough).
You want to work it just enough so that the flour is just moistened and the dough just barely comes together. Shaggy is good. If you over-knead, the bread will end up tough.

Transfer dough to a large, lightly greased cast-iron skillet or a baking sheet.
A cast iron skillet is highly recommended as the even heat makes a delightful bottom crust.

Using a serrated knife, score top of dough about an inch and a half deep in an “X” shape. The purpose of the scoring is to help heat get into the center of the dough while it cooks.

Transfer to oven and bake at 425°F until bread is golden and bottom sounds hollow when tapped, about 35-45 minutes. If you use a cast iron pan, it may take a little longer as it takes longer for the pan to heat up than a baking sheet.

Enjoy!

jp

jeetz: Turning 32 on year 4 is even better.

I really don’t think there is anyone on the roster that combines the speed and unpredictable aggression AND some scoring touch who can replace Kassian. Even if his offence is propped up by McDavid and he is a streaky scorer, I doubt he gets replaced easily.

Kassian is a modern day enforcer who can skate with McDavid, take a pass, score 15+ goals in a season. VERY RARE. This makes him worth every penny of the 3.2 million contract until he can’t skate with McDavid. Don’t forget, McDavid has said he wants an enforcer on this wing. It was suppose to be Lucic but we all know that did not work out.

I believe its the OTHER wing where Holland will look to find a more complete offensive compliment to McDavid. The other winger has to be a consistent 30+ goal scorer. Right now it is AA’s opportunity. Given the current salary cap projections and the 2 2nds Holland gave up to get him, he will get a real solid opportunity next season. I believe AA will probably get replaced before Kassian because Kassian brings other elements.

Kassianwill never have to be the consistent goal scorer the other winger will have to be.

If this is the line:

AA (30+ goals) McDavid (40+ goals) Kassian (15+ goals)

Everyone will be happy and worth their $$

I’m not quite as excited as you but Kassian is a rare player for sure.

And AA-McDavid-Kassian definitely has some intriguing potential, agreed.

who

Lowetide: I have two reasons for marrying 97 and Yamamoto:

1. The Draisaitl line will get stale and a shuffle is likely.
2. Kassian is unlikely to hold the job on 97’s line for a full season.

Now, when I say that people will come to Kassian’s aid, but I’m not saying Kassian will lose the role and never get it back. Lines shuffle all year long.

I think it’s more likely Nuge gets put with McDavid. I think Yamamoto is more important to Drai than Nuge is.

McNuge93

OriginalPouzar: I think Malone gets re-signed – I think they would like to get a bit younger with their veteran mentor in the AHL but, from accounts (mainly Yama), he was a major plus influence on the kids.

I think Lowe will sail on.Captain with leadership and all, his on-ice game tanked this year (and it wasn’t starting high).

With Khaira as a 4C option, I don’t see both Sheahan and Haas being re-signed and, given Sheahan is more established, can win faceoffs and PKs, I think Haas will sail on and P. Russell may be on the same boat.

I think Green will be re-signed as well and I don’t think I’m going to be happy.If he’s signed for the “veteran depth” role that I thought he was acquired for – 1 year at $2M then, sure, I’m in (as long as Rusty has been moved), however, given his useage in the two games, I think management and the coaching staff see him as a guy that is an every day player with 2RD potential and he may get 2 X $3M and I am NOT on board with that.

Smith could be re-signed, I can see it, however, here is hoping that Holland explores that vast goalie market – both free agents and trade.There are teams with 3 legit NHL goalies that should be looked at (ARI, NYR) and the free agent market is vast – Griess would be great if the new NHL economic landscape keeps his AAV under $3M.

Yes, Holland probably would want to resign Green, but I don’t think its possible without K Russell being traded. And that’s not an easy trade with a flat cap. Holland would really need to work some magic. Green at a reasonable price would be a good mentor for Bouchard as they play similar styles.
Also, Green is better able to move up to top or 2nd pairing for short periods of time versus Benning or Russell.

barry.moore23

Stan Weir took over for Sisyphus. The job was done in one hour.

I just made that up. 🙂

foster

Georges,

I’ve had a similar question about the PuckIQ numbers but I haven’t done an analysis. However the answer to my question might be part of the answer to yours: When teams line-match they’re typically trying to get checkers (maybe grittensity types) against Elite and looking for a low event saw-off. When teams play power vs power it’s a “track meet”. The goal % might be similar.

OriginalPouzar

jtblack: Can you take a stand on one side or the other?

It’s an overpay?
Team is better with him?
He’s good when he is good.
He is bad when he is bad.
You don’t believe he’ll regress, in the face of evidence that *most* power forwards his age do regress.

Come on OP. Give us a firm opinion

My opinion – the contract is an over-pay for the term.

Holland seems to have had need to get it done before the trade deadline and rushed to get it done.

Holland seemed to have a fear of losing the player for nothing in free agency and, although that would have been a tough result, to me, a 28 year old player who is not part of the core, is having a career season zoomed by stars and is wildly inconsistent, is not the player to give term to out of fear of losing him.

I said it before, at and after the deal was signed – it was real tough one for Holland as the player does make the team better, generally, but his stats are inflated and in isolation warrant more AAV and term than he should get and he’s already in his prime and likely to decline through the contract.

OriginalPouzar

dustrock:
I’d actually like to see Kassian’s numbers pre-and-post contract.

By eye I seem to recall, aeons ago as it was, Kass having a poor/ineffective stretch immediately after.

He’s exactly the type of player who should have regular 2 year contracts.

I’m not sure if this is in Kass’ defence, but his poor stretch started well before he signed the contract.

He signed at the end of January and his slump started pre-calendar turn.

He slumped for a while after but did start to find his game a bit down the stretch.

One of Kass’ big issues is consistency – he runs hot and cold and, when he’s cold, he hurts the team as a poor defensive player that is making poor decisions.

OriginalPouzar

pts2pndr:
What attributes are you seeing that would make Yamamoto a plus penalty killer? If he shows the ability to pk why in the world would you risk playing him where he is expected to block shots. He does not have the reach and is too valuable to be used to kill penalties in my opinion. This would be like putting a race horse pulling the Budweiser wagon.

He killed penalties in the AHL and was quite good at it.

He has the quickness, the edges and stick that are great PK skill – similar to his offensive zone forechecking skills – his tenacity is a PK skill.

I’m not concerned about him blocking shots on the PK – this isn’t 2002 – forwards don’t lay out to block shots on the PK like they used to and shot blocking is no longer a primary “skill” on the PK – shots from the point are way down and cutting off the seam pass and pressuring the puck carrier (and knowing when to do so) is primary.

I just checked and the top 13 Oilers as far as shots blocked / 60 on the PK were d-men.

Forwards don’t block shots on the PK with any regularity.

Georges

ArmchairGM:

“… and which forward line a defenseman is facing will affect his results…”

I picked each team’s 1D by TOI/GP to test this against the PuckIQ data:

Aaron Ekblad
Alex Goligoski
Alex Pietrangelo
Alexander Edler
Brent Burns
Charlie McAvoy
Damon Severson
Drew Doughty
Duncan Keith
Filip Hronek
Hampus Lindholm
Ivan Provorov
Jaccob Slavin
Jacob Trouba
John Carlson
Kris Letang
Mark Giordano
Miro Heiskanen
Morgan Rielly
Neal Pionk
Oscar Klefbom
Rasmus Ristolainen
Roman Josi
Ryan Pulock
Ryan Suter
Samuel Girard
Seth Jones
Shea Theodore
Shea Weber
Thomas Chabot
Victor Hedman

Here’s how they did on GF% against the different tiers:

Tier, Ave GF% (average GF% of all 31 defensemen)

Elite, 53
Middle, 51
Gritensity, 51
Overall, 51

A top defenseman’s results don’t vary based on the forwards he’s facing. The only variation is one that you wouldn’t expect. Top defensemen seem to do a bit better against tougher competition, which again is non-intuitive. I think this is because when top defensemen face off against tougher forwards, they play with their own best forwards.

Let’s compare the results of the 1D guys against defensemen lower down the team depth chart, around 5th on TOI/GP. Here’s who I came up with:

Ben Hutton
Brett Kulak
Carson Soucy
Dan Hamhuis
Henri Jokiharju
Jack Johnson
Joel Edmundson
Jordan Oesterle
Jordie Benn
Justin Braun
Justin Holl
Kevin Shattenkirk
Kris Russell
Luca Sbisa
Madison Bowey
Marc Staal
Mark Borowiecki
Matt Grzelcyk
Michael Del Zotto
Michael Matheson
Nick Holden
Nick Jensen
Nikita Zadorov
Olli Maatta
Radim Simek
Rasmus Andersson
Roman Polak
Scott Mayfield
Vince Dunn
Vladislav Gavrikov
Will Butcher

And here’s their results against the tiers:

Tier, Ave GF%

Elite, 50
Middle, 50
Gritensity, 48
Overall, 49

So, again, results don’t vary significantly based on QoC, and the variation we find isn’t what we’d expect: bottom pair defensemen perform the weakest against the weakest comp.

A really interesting thing to notice when you look at the overall results for this group vs. the overall results for the 1D group is that they’re not really that different: 1D’s have an overall GF% of 51, bottom pair D’s have an overall GF% of 49. Compare this to top F’s having an overall GF% of 53 vs. Gritensity F’s having an overall GF% of 48. The range of on-ice results is narrower for defensemen when compared to forwards. The best defensemen, as a group, don’t move the needle that much when compared to the bottom pair defensemen.

I’ve looked at the negligible effect that defensemen have on results before. I think this is one of the most interesting things about hockey analytics. Most of the variation in GF% can be attributed to forwards. And most of that comes from the variation in forwards’ ability to generate offense. Not in their ability to defend. Forwards get outscored not because they can’t defend, no, they get outscored because they can’t score.

The defensemen are basically a background against which the forwards determine winning and losing. Very few defensemen have a significant on-ice effect, where the results are clearly better/worse when they’re on the ice vs. when they’re off. Giordano is one, at least he used to be, haven’t checked recently. There aren’t a lot of Giordanos. Most defensemen, whether they’re top pair or bottom pair, are at the mercy of their forwards’ ability to score.

WPG is a great example this year. They lost Buf, Myers, Trouba, and Chiarot. Their 19-20 D corps was rag tag at best. I’d written them off. No way could they stay competitive in the Central. Doh!

jeetz

jp:
Kassian will actually only be 32 to start that 4th year, turns 33 Jan 24th (so he’ll be 33 for about 3 months of the deal).

The risk is he loses his job in the top 6 sooner than later. If/when that happens he’s instantly not great value (and at worst he’s a 4th line/PB guy being paid $3.2M).

I’m fine with the deal but there’s risk, just like there’s upside in the early years.

Turning 32 on year 4 is even better.

I really don’t think there is anyone on the roster that combines the speed and unpredictable aggression AND some scoring touch who can replace Kassian. Even if his offence is propped up by McDavid and he is a streaky scorer, I doubt he gets replaced easily.

Kassian is a modern day enforcer who can skate with McDavid, take a pass, score 15+ goals in a season. VERY RARE. This makes him worth every penny of the 3.2 million contract until he can’t skate with McDavid. Don’t forget, McDavid has said he wants an enforcer on this wing. It was suppose to be Lucic but we all know that did not work out.

I believe its the OTHER wing where Holland will look to find a more complete offensive compliment to McDavid. The other winger has to be a consistent 30+ goal scorer. Right now it is AA’s opportunity. Given the current salary cap projections and the 2 2nds Holland gave up to get him, he will get a real solid opportunity next season. I believe AA will probably get replaced before Kassian because Kassian brings other elements.

Kassian will never have to be the consistent goal scorer the other winger will have to be.

If this is the line:

AA (30+ goals) McDavid (40+ goals) Kassian (15+ goals)

Everyone will be happy and worth their $$

OriginalPouzar

jp:
Taylor Hall. Man.

I love the player, would love to see him return to the Oilers. But it would probably require all of compliance buyouts, Katz’s pockets remaining deep enough to use them, some gymnastics by Holland and of course Hall being willing to take something of a discount.

Someone floated ‘what if’ $7M X 5 the other day. It’s tough to see how Holland could swing it, but that would be a spectacular value vs cap deal IMO (assuming a flat cap).

That contract is still a year or two longer than I’d prefer but, yes, absolutely, I take that deal as long as there is a plan to still get Nuge re-signed and not have to gut the team to fit both of their UFA contracts in.

OriginalPouzar

Brantford Boy:
Of the UFA’s I see Tyler Ennis, Mike Green, Riley Sheahan, Gaetan Haas, Patrick Russell, Mike Smith (hides), and Brad Malone getting signed… more than likely Josh Currie and Shane Starrett.Not sure aboutKeegan Lowe.

Happy McDavid Day everyone…

I think Malone gets re-signed – I think they would like to get a bit younger with their veteran mentor in the AHL but, from accounts (mainly Yama), he was a major plus influence on the kids.

I think Lowe will sail on. Captain with leadership and all, his on-ice game tanked this year (and it wasn’t starting high).

With Khaira as a 4C option, I don’t see both Sheahan and Haas being re-signed and, given Sheahan is more established, can win faceoffs and PKs, I think Haas will sail on and P. Russell may be on the same boat.

I think Green will be re-signed as well and I don’t think I’m going to be happy. If he’s signed for the “veteran depth” role that I thought he was acquired for – 1 year at $2M then, sure, I’m in (as long as Rusty has been moved), however, given his useage in the two games, I think management and the coaching staff see him as a guy that is an every day player with 2RD potential and he may get 2 X $3M and I am NOT on board with that.

Smith could be re-signed, I can see it, however, here is hoping that Holland explores that vast goalie market – both free agents and trade. There are teams with 3 legit NHL goalies that should be looked at (ARI, NYR) and the free agent market is vast – Griess would be great if the new NHL economic landscape keeps his AAV under $3M.

OriginalPouzar

jp:
Kassian will actually only be 32 to start that 4th year, turns 33 Jan 24th (so he’ll be 33 for about 3 months of the deal).

The risk is he loses his job in the top 6 sooner than later. If/when that happens he’s instantly not great value (and at worst he’s a 4th line/PB guy being paid $3.2M).

I’m fine with the deal but there’s risk, just like there’s upside in the early years.

Recall he lost his job in the top 6 very shortly after signing the contract and it took a while to “get it back”.

jeetz

defmn: The 3.2 is a bit high but as I have argued here before all UFA contracts are high other than last minute bargain hunting as TC nears for players whose agents misjudged the market.

So complaining that UFA contracts are not good value is kind of a truism regardless of who is being discussed. If teams don’t want to overpay they just need to decide they are never hiring a player over the age of 27 and move along.

I don’t, personally, see that as a winning strategy but I don’t see any other way to avoid over paying on a UFA contract.

The other part of the contract that I think caused the most angst was the term but to me this worries fans more than GM’s because GM’s know that they can almost always mitigate that damage through trade should it become necessary.

So if you are Holland and you think Kassian can give you two good years you have to decide whether to pull the trigger or not knowing that you might be forced to buy him out or retain after that. Given the competitive nature of the NHL I think every GM signs the contract and decides to worry about the last two years when they arrive.

Kassian will be 33 at the start of the 4th year of the contract, not too risky. I think he will be full value the 1st 3 years but the last year may be a tough one for all parties (though it only costs 2.3 mil real money). Hopefully there will be a big salary cap jump once we pass the COVID mess and it wont impact the team too much.

I have to say, flanking McDavid with 2 really fast 3 million dollar men sounds pretty good on paper. AA and Kassian are big fast men though completely different players. Give them Tippett’s coaching and 15 games or so together and there could be some scary chemistry. There is some gambling there by Holland but saying a lot of potential with those 3 could be an understatement. That line could be a handful to other teams and a gift to us.

It sure would be nice to see strong dynamic Mcdavid and Draisail lines that are consistent for the next 2-3 years.

That alone would be worth the price of Kassian’s contract

jp

Kassian will actually only be 32 to start that 4th year, turns 33 Jan 24th (so he’ll be 33 for about 3 months of the deal).

The risk is he loses his job in the top 6 sooner than later. If/when that happens he’s instantly not great value (and at worst he’s a 4th line/PB guy being paid $3.2M).

I’m fine with the deal but there’s risk, just like there’s upside in the early years.

Munny

ArmchairGM: Exactly what I was going to say. The gap doesn’t really exist. And isn’t Tkachuk a LW?

I think when Mangiapanre is on the line, Turtle swims on the starboard side.

Munny

Jaxon,

Jaxon:
If Yamamoto played the same number of games as Lindholm, Kassian same as Tkachuk, Archibald same as Bennett, and Chiasson the same as Dube the Oilers come out equal.

Yamamoto 29G in 70GP
Kassian 18G in 69gp
Archibald 10G in 52GP
Chiasson 8G in 45GP.
TOTAL RW 65G in 236GP
to Calgary’s 66G in 236GP.

Gap closed.

Their best players were there the whole season and stayed healthy and out of suspensions.

Smart thinking. Well done.

Munny

Georges,

I’ve been wondering the same since it was revealed the Oilers black hole is versus Gritensity,

I think you might be on to something.

For eg the exclusion of defensemen might be muddying the picture.

Top end Dmen play a lot of minutes. Coaches talk about hard matching D pairs more then they do lines. So if your 3rd or 4th line is out there against the other team’s vaunt, they likely have their best D pairing lending a helping hand.

I think you hit on something with line mates though. Some teams, those with depth, spread the scoring. So how do you account for a Kessel (with Pitt) playing on the 3rd line with two gritensities, but is an elite scorer himself.

Do the possession numbers (CF/DFF) present the same patterns? Could be just the sample size of goals that’s creating these artifacts, although like you I suspect it might be more than that.

Munny

I see above ArmchairGM is thinking along the same “lines”. Good company.

Georges

See below for thoughts on defensemen and QoC.

defmn

jp: Good points.

I’ll add that IMO the Kassian contract has a decent chance of being a value deal, not just break even, for the first couple of years. It’s no guarantee, but what he’s done since Jan 2019 is clearly worth more than $3.2M per year. If he can continue he’ll bank value for a couple of seasons to offset any fall off that may happen later. IMO.

Could well be that it turns out to be value but I am content if it fills a RW spot in the top six for at least a year and a half.

I guess the main point I was trying to make is that as fans we tend to look at contracts as though they are written in stone whereas GM’s, I think, look at them as more fluid.

Not to mention that UFA’s have at least as much leverage as GM’s in contract negotiations. As a GM you are not always competing with market value so much as you are competing with the best offer the dumbest or most desperate other GM might make.

jp

Agreed on those points as well.

OriginalPouzar

Pierre LeBrun
@PierreVLeBrun
·
1m
NHL players have deferred their decision on the last paycheque until May 15. Sense is this will allow more time for the NHL and NHLPA to figure out if there will be games this season… Players have been debating whether to forgo some or all of the last paycheque to help escrow

jp

defmn: The 3.2 is a bit high but as I have argued here before all UFA contracts are high other than last minute bargain hunting as TC nears for players whose agents misjudged the market.

So complaining that UFA contracts are not good value is kind of a truism regardless of who is being discussed. If teams don’t want to overpay they just need to decide they are never hiring a player over the age of 27 and move along.

I don’t, personally, see that as a winning strategy but I don’t see any other way to avoid over paying on a UFA contract.

The other part of the contract that I think caused the most angst was the term but to me this worries fans more than GM’s because GM’s know that they can almost always mitigate that damage through trade should it become necessary.

So if you are Holland and you think Kassian can give you two good years you have to decide whether to pull the trigger or not knowing that you might be forced to buy him out or retain after that. Given the competitive nature of the NHL I think every GM signs the contract and decides to worry about the last two years when they arrive.

Good points.

I’ll add that IMO the Kassian contract has a decent chance of being a value deal, not just break even, for the first couple of years. It’s no guarantee, but what he’s done since Jan 2019 is clearly worth more than $3.2M per year. If he can continue he’ll bank value for a couple of seasons to offset any fall off that may happen later. IMO.

Georges

The PuckIQ numbers have been bugging me so I decided to look into it a bit.

First, I built a list of forwards based on total offense and EV TOI. One per each team with the additional condition that the player stayed with the team the whole year. With one player per team, I can make sure there’s no overlap or double counting of goals for and against.

Aleksander Barkov
Alex Ovechkin
Anze Kopitar
Artemi Panarin
Auston Matthews
Brady Tkachuk
Brayden Schenn
Christian Dvorak
David Pastrnak
Dylan Larkin
Eric Staal
Evander Kane
J.T. Miller
Jack Eichel
Johnny Gaudreau
Leon Draisaitl
Mark Scheifele
Mathew Barzal
Max Pacioretty
Nathan MacKinnon
Nico Hischier
Nikita Kucherov
Patrick Kane
Phillip Danault
Pierre-Luc Dubois
Ryan Getzlaf
Ryan Johansen
Sean Couturier
Sebastian Aho
Sidney Crosby
Tyler Seguin

Mostly high end players, maybe not the best in the league, but among the best options for each of their teams.

How did this group do overall on GF% against the different PuckIQ tiers?

Tier, GF%

Elite, 54
Middle, 55
Gritensity, 55

Their results didn’t vary with the quality of competition they were facing.

If “who you play against matters a lot” AND PuckIQ’s tiers do a good job of capturing QoC, should I be seeing this? Shouldn’t I be seeing GF% increasing from Elite to Gritensity as the competition gets weaker? Maybe it’s an artifact of the particular group of players that I selected. But I did select quite a few, one top forward from each team… if the inverse relationship is strong, I should be seeing it here, shouldn’t I?

Let’s try with another group. This time, I went to dailyfaceoff and identified the 3C’s for each team. My guess is these guys would be similar caliber Middle tier players. Some of them were recent trades but I decided not to make any edits. Stuck with the “currently 3C on dailyfaceoff” criteria. And here’s what I got for them.

Tier, GF%

Elite, 49
Middle, 51
Gritensity, 48

Again, no evidence that “who you play against matters a lot”. Results don’t vary in the expected way. They don’t vary that much at all. You can’t use PuckIQ’s QoC to predict results.

So I kept digging. WG shared the assignment of forwards to PuckIQ tiers for the 16-17 season on his blog. I pulled that list and the results in 16-17. I labeled each forward as Elite, Middle, Gritensity and then I added up how each tier of players did on GF% against each tier of competition.

Here are the results:

Tier, Against Tier, GF%

Elite, Elite, 56
Elite, Middle, 51
Elite, Gritensity, 53
Elite, Overall, 53

Middle, Elite, 51
Middle, Middle, 50
Middle, Gritensity, 50
Middle, Overall, 50

Gritensity, Elite, 49
Gritensity, Middle, 48
Gritensity, Gritensity, 47
Gritensity, Overall, 48

The tiers seem to at least work in categorizing forwards. Overall, Elite players do better than Middle players who do better than Gritensity players.

But, again, QoC doesn’t seem to matter. For Middle and Gritensity players, the results don’t really change based on the competition they’re facing. And, for Elite players, the results are non-intuitive.

I can think of 3 possibilities at this stage:

1. I’ve done something wrong. There IS a relationship between QoC and GF% AND PuckIQ has captured it.

2. PuckIQ has actually come up with some strong evidence that, in the big picture, QoC doesn’t matter. Forwards on a team will be themselves (good, bad, indifferent) regardless of the competition they’re facing. This is a novel and fantastic result.

3. QoC does matter. In large samples, CMD should do better playing against Adam Gaudette than he should against Elias Pettersson. Either PuckIQ hasn’t captured this or it’s difficult to detect the effect of QoC in the relatively small sample of a single season.

However, if it’s 1 and I’ve done something wrong, then I’d also be interested to see evidence of how PuckIQ has in fact captured the effect of QoC on forward on-ice results. I really can’t see it.

One tricky but illuminating tidbit here. Elite players have a 56 GF% against Elite players. That doesn’t make sense. Every GF in the category should also be a GA and things should naturally even out to 50. The fact that it’s a fair bit higher than 50 suggests that quite a few of the forwards in the Elite category play together. If these linemates score against an Elite player who doesn’t have an Elite linemate, then you’d get 2+ GF for 1 GA. It also seems that Elite players who play together tend to outscore Elite players who play solo. Which makes sense. The reasoning seems to play out in reverse for Gritensity players.

So the lesson seems to be that to outscore Elite competition you have to outnumber Elite competition, i.e., when you go head to head, your top line has to have more elite players than your opponent’s top line.

jp

Interesting observations George.

ArmchairGM

I think QoC makes more of a difference for defensemen than forwards, especially since puckiq.com doesn’t categorize defensemen at all – only forwards. Which defense pairing a forward is facing will affect their results, and which forward line a defenseman is facing will affect his results, but it’s been shown that which forward a forward is facing and which defense pairing a defenseman is facing has little overall effect.

QoT works in the opposite way IIRC.

Revolved

Very nice work and an interesting observation. My take is that there is a lot of context that is missed by the WoodMoney, such as zone starts and defencemen.

Whenever an elite player finds himself on the ice against weak forward competition, only a very poor coach would let that happen in his own zone with third pairing defencemen. I imagine a lot of elite vs gritensity seconds are clocked up while the puck is being moved out of the weaker player’s zone by first pairing defenders. That being said, it is still interesting that you see so little movement in the numbers, and I hope that Woodguy can weigh in on this.

Although not as much as in football, there are an awful lot of minutes in a hockey game where play is essentially dead. Sustained pressure is a rare event, and since everyone at ice level is so conscious of the context they find themselves in, they do everything they can to reduce the danger of such events as much as possible. Ie. If the third pair and fourth line find themselves with the puck dumped in by Crosby, they are unlikely to try a controlled exit, and will just dump it to centre so they can change. Those seconds still happened, but the players changed their strategy based on the situation.

Georges

Sharp.

BONE207

Perhaps we have to change the Gritensity designation to Fancy Stats Exempt. Just like evaluating Kris Russell or cat videos. Some things defy explanations.

ArmchairGM

BONE207:
As a kid, I got to play ball hockey with Gretz in front of our home. I played football with Kevin Lowe & a few others in front of my home. Great hockey related memories. However, the only 2 dates relating to hockey are January 13th & today. 5 years of the golden ticket & counting. I think I’ll spend the day watching YouTube videos of CONNOR.

Wow, incredible memories!

BONE207

As a kid, I got to play ball hockey with Gretz in front of our home. I played football with Kevin Lowe & a few others in front of my home. Great hockey related memories. However, the only 2 dates relating to hockey are January 13th & today. 5 years of the golden ticket & counting. I think I’ll spend the day watching YouTube videos of CONNOR.

ArmchairGM

dustrock:
I’d actually like to see Kassian’s numbers pre-and-post contract.

By eye I seem to recall, aeons ago as it was, Kass having a poor/ineffective stretch immediately after.

He’s exactly the type of player who should have regular 2 year contracts.

IIRC the ineffective stretch started a couple of weeks prior to the contract, around Christmas.

jp

I think so, was going to say the same.

Victoria Oil

IMHO, good GM’ing like investing requires patience. I think Holland could have done better by waiting, rather than by signing him just a couple weeks after what probably was the hottest streak of his career. GM”s can also benefit by being contrarian. Chiasson”s first Oiler contract was good. His second Oiler contract, after going on a heater in his late 20″s, was not so good.

Mr. Buffett says be fearful when others are greedy and be greedy when others are fearful.

I know, easier said than done…

Munny

Mr. Buffet also likes to rely on bailouts when his strategies go awry.

NHL GMs don’t have the same luxury unless compliance buyouts are re-introduced.

ArmchairGM

Jaxon:
If Yamamoto played the same number of games as Lindholm, Kassian same as Tkachuk, Archibald same as Bennett, and Chiasson the same as Dube the Oilers come out equal.

Yamamoto 29G in 70GP
Kassian 18G in 69gp
Archibald 10G in 52GP
Chiasson 8G in 45GP.
TOTAL RW 65G in 236GP
to Calgary’s 66G in 236GP.

Gap closed.

Their best players were there the whole season and stayed healthy and out of suspensions.

Exactly what I was going to say. The gap doesn’t really exist. And isn’t Tkachuk a LW?

ArmchairGM

pts2pndr:
What attributes are you seeing that would make Yamamoto a plus penalty killer? If he shows the ability to pk why in the world would you risk playing him where he is expected to block shots. He does not have the reach and is too valuable to be used to kill penalties in my opinion. This would be like putting a race horse pulling the Budweiser wagon.

In his very first game this season (New Year’s Eve vs Rangers) Yamamoto picked off a Panarin pass mid-air and burst down the ice for a breakaway empty net goal. That was the moment I thought he’d be a perfect option for the PK.

ArmchairGM

I could have sworn Tkachuk played LW…

defmn

BornInAGretzkyJersey:
pts2pndr,

Yammer was a plus PK player in BAK, his aggressive forechecking style caused a lot of havoc and turnovers.At least, that’s what I recall from various AHL updates posted here.

I think it comes down to how many minutes can he play effectively and in what discipline does he help the team the most.