I have different levels of belief about hockey fancy stats. I’m a fan of Corsi with shot differential, goal differential and recommend Puck IQ. I know Ethan Bear is having a good season (before injury) because his relative numbers are flying high above the rest of Edmonton’s blue. I trust five on five per 60 output because it’s the hardest place to score and the most common game state.
I don’t completely trust save percentage. All shots are not created equal and they don’t all come from the same distance. What’s more, although I’ve been told forever that I can trust SP because it’s goalie versus shooter, I’ve seen enough bad hockey teams to know pucks go in from the moon on poor clubs. A team that lacks structure, that is in constant chaos, that is outmanned or too young, all of those things contribute in my opinion.
Bad teams leave their goalie to stop the rebound and another, and another. In 1975-76, Gilles Meloche of the California Seals had an .890 save percentage, while Ken Dryden of the Montreal Canadiens sported a .927 save percentage. I don’t believe Meloche would have delivered .890 in Montreal; Dryden would have lost some points on that SP without Robinson, Lapointe and Savard in my opinion.
I don’t say anything, and use SP straight up, because we need something called “prevailing wisdom” and chances are the solution to the SP problem will arrive when I’m long gone and people drop by this site to see what “50 years after Lowetide” looks like. Be kind to the animals, my money is on the hyenas.
I’m proud to be writing for The Athletic, and pleased to be part of a great team with Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis. Here is our recent work.
- New Lowetide: If Dylan Holloway turns pro this spring, will it be with the Oilers?
- Jonathan Willis: Could an Ethan Bear trade improve the Oilers?
- Lowetide: Is Oilers centre Kyle Turris playing himself out of the NHL?
- Lowetide: Tinkering with the Oilers’ top six — what are the best line combinations?
- Lowetide: Philip Broberg and the Oilers’ Leftorium
- Lowetide: Jujhar Khaira, a waiver reset and the Oilers’ future at No. 3 centre
- Lowetide: What to do with the Oilers defence now that the rookies have arrived
- Lowetide: Mike Smith’s return calms the Oilers goalie hysteria — for now
- Lowetide: Bakersfield Condors are back, but true NHL prospects a roster rarity
- Lowetide: Dylan Holloway caps strong NCAA season with Hobey Baker nomination
- Lowetide: Oilers rookie Evan Bouchard’s 2021 NHL debut — a shift-by-shift review
- Lowetide: Edmonton Oilers report card for January
- Lowetide: Some of the Oilers’ Russian prospects less than a year from the NHL
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers need misfiring elements to come together — and fast
- Lowetide: 3 auditioning Oilers who should be given time to find their groove
- Lowetide: Oilers Kailer Yamamoto is the real deal.
- Lowetide: Is this peak Connor McDavid?
The Oilers value Stuart Skinner. At a guess, I expect the men who drafted him in 2017 (Bob Green, Keith Gretzky, scouts) are on his side when his name comes up in conversation.
Where is he on Ken Holland’s whiteboard? I think third, soon to be fourth when Anton Forsberg arrives back in Edmonton. How long will he be there? He needs a strong AHL season. Here are Skinner’s numbers going back to his draft year and his save percentage rank in the league he played in.
- 2016-17: 60 games, 3.26 .905 (WHL) (No. 15)
- 2017-18: 56 games, 3.07, .905 (WHL) (No. 14)
- 2018-19: 41 games, 3.16 .903 (ECHL) (No. 27)
- 2019-20: 41 games, 3.31 .892 (AHL) (No. 45)
- 2020-21: 4 games, 2.01 .916 (AHL) (No. 17)
So far in his career Skinner has peaked in the middle (11-20) three of five seasons, with a couple of early pro years outside what we might consider true prospect status. Is this the resume of a future NHL starter? No. What does that look like?
- 2003-04: 44 games, 2.51, .917 (WHL) (No. 10)
- 2004-05: 65 games, 2.69, .912 (WHL) (No. 12)
- 2005-06: 54 games, 2.54, .912 (WHL) (No. 12)
- 2006-07: 43 games, 2.56, .921 (ECHL) (No. 6)
- 2007-08: 33 games, 3.12, .904 (AHL) (No. 33)
- 2008-09: 62 games, 2.97, .906 (AHL) (No. 28)
Dubnyk was top-10 in his draft year and in the top-15 through his first three post-draft campaigns. He had plenty of wobble in the AHL, although he was taking on double the work season over season. Skinner’s junior seasons aren’t miles from Dubnyk, and his AHL seasons are distant relatives. What does an obvious NHL goalie look like?
- 1979-80: 43 games, 3.14 .911 (WHL) (No. 1)
- 1980-81: 59 games, 2.78 .908 (WHL) (No. 1)
- 1981-82: 48 games, 3.31 .899 (NHL) (No. 2)
Okay, well that was a strong progression and gives us an idea about how it can work if you pick in the top-10 overall and grab the right guy.
INJURIES AND RECALLS
We have some actual news from various parts of the hockey world. Slater Koekkoek is injured and that means the Oilers will need to rely more on youngsters Caleb Jones and (when healthy) William Lagesson on the LH side of Edmonton’s defence.
This could benefit Edmonton, although people won’t look at it that way and I don’t mean to imply that Koekkoek has negative value. However, if you look at the numbers, Jones was delivering handsome return for minutes invested when he was benched.
All of these numbers are five on five via NST. Koekkoeke’s TOI is skewed because his final game was mere seconds in length, but fair to say he was mostly a third-pairing option. Jones has better numbers across the board, as does Lagesson. One more thing: Edmonton will be a better team the moment Bear returns. Good player.
Edmonton recalled Theodor Lennstrom from Bakersfield to replace Koekkoek, who will be lost for the rest of the season. He will have to go through Covid-19 protocols and should be available around March 9.
Dmitri Samorukov, who is having what might be the best season by an Oilers defensive prospect, will miss the rest of the season. It’s a downer because there was hope he’d see action in Bakersfield, but this has been a strong year for him. Samorukov is the No. 3 defensive prospect in the system, behind Evan Bouchard (who is 34 games from graduating) and Philip Broberg.
OILERS ROSTER FIVE ON FIVE PER 60
This is a strong group of five on five per 60 numbers, with Evan Bouchard, Darnell Nurse and Tyson Barrie all showing well among defensemen; centers McDavid, Draisaitl and Khaira have delivered well based on their roles; wingers Ennis, Chiasson, Puljujarvi and Yamamoto all delivering solid to excellent offense.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260, we have two hours but may need more. The Oilers weekend sweep of the Calgary Flames is at the very least an exceptional moment in the season, and is possibly more. We’ll chat Raptors and NBA rookies with Paul Sir from the Basketball Show at 10:40, and Jason Gregor from TSN1260 talks Oilers weekend, Kailer Yamamoto’s injury and expectations of Caleb Jones return this week. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. 90 minutes from show time!