The Oilers Powerplay is Good

With the trade deadline approaching, the Oilers will have the chance to make some key decisions that can not only impact their push for the playoffs, but also their long term goal of building a championship contender. It’ll be important for the Oilers to retain, and possibly acquire more draft picks and prospects, as those will be critical building blocks moving forward.

The Oilers could address a number of existing weaknesses, including the center and right-wing depth up front, as well as their back-up goalie position. One could also make the case that the team should look to add an offensive defenceman to improve the defence core and potentially quarterback the powerplay. But as General Manager Peter Chiarelli indicated earlier this week, that might not be high on the priorty list.

Yes it’d be nice to have a pure powerplay d-man but I’ve been satisfied with [Andrej Sekera and Oscar Klefbom] on their respective units. Yes we could always improve our powerplay, is that the solution? It’s one of them but that’s certainly not on my shopping list this trade deadline. [On follow-up question as to how expensive it might be] You saw what it took to get a Top Four right-handed D [Adam Larsson] and you can extrapolate from there. (Source: Cult of Hockey, Edmonton Journal)

One area that the team has done well in this season is their overall powerplay. Now, looking at their efficiency with the man advantage, typically recited on game broadcasts and posted at, the team ranks 12th in the league with 20.4%. But, if you look at the actual goal scoring rate, as in how many powerplay goals they get per 60 minutes of powerplay time, they’re first in the western conference and sixth in the league with 6.85 goals.


Full article is at The Copper & Blue.

Talking Oilers on the CBC Edmonton News (TV)


Joined Adrienne Pan on the CBC Edmonton News this evening to talk all things Oilers. Full clip is here, starting around the 17:50 mark.

We covered quite a bit including the Oilers struggles since the all-star break, collecting only one win in the past five games. We also talked about the goal-scoring slump, only three goals at even-strength, and how they’ve done at different score-states this season. In case you missed it, I wrote a piece on this topic last week over at The Copper & Blue.

I also brought up the team’s declining shot rates and shared my thoughts on what the line combinations should be. As for the powerplay, which has only scored once over the past five games, I’m not too worried as they still rank in the top 10 when it comes to shot generation.

We also touched on the trade deadline and the possibility of adding a rental type player like Brian Boyle. Really not a fan of the player, and feel the team needs to focus on building a contender and retain picks and prospects.

One thing we didn’t touch on was how tough the rest of the month is going to be. Two home games that the team should be able to get at least 3 points from this week. And then after that it’s six games in eleven nights starting in Chicago, and then a back to back set against Florida and Tampa Bay. One day off, and then three games in five nights, all against good, experienced teams (Washington, Nashville, St. Louis). March is going to be a lot lighter, with 13 of the 15 games at home. Only one back to back set in March and it’s on the road in Anaheim and Colorado. But for the rest of the games in March, they’ll be rested and taking on a few teams that are on the second half of back to backs. Finish February with a 50% points percentage, and a healthy roster (McDavid, Talbot, Sekera) and I think the Oilers have an excellent chance of making the playoffs.





The Oilers in Different Score-States

The Edmonton Oilers are sitting in a great spot right now as the club has an even-strength (5v5) goal-share of 52.28%, having outscored opponents 102-94, which ranks them 11th in the league, and 5th in the Western conference. The Oilers PDO isn’t anything out of the ordinary as the team is relying on league average goaltending and has had a normal team save percentage over the course of the year. This is good news and suggests that the team’s goal production should be sustainable, as long as their top players, including McDavid, Talbot and Sekera, stay healthy.

What’s interesting is at what score-state (i.e., tie game, Oilers trailing, Oilers leading) the Oilers are scoring their goals. According to Travis Yost’s analysis over at TSN, the Oilers are a much more dominant team when they’re trailing in a game, as they run at a goal-scoring rate of 3.11 goals per hour, and have outscored opponents 42-21, which translates into the second best goal-share in the league with 66.67%. It’s definitely encouraging to see that the team has the ability to turn up the offence, however it’s a bit alarming that  the Oilers play so poorly when the score has been tied this season.

Score State (5v5) Goals For% Goals For/60 Corsi For% Corsi For/60
All Scores 52.28% 2.35 50.52% 55.51
Tied 38.75% 1.74 48.58% 54.78
Trailing 66.67% 3.11 59.18% 62.93
Leading 55.56% 2.42 44.22% 48.47

With the score tied, the Oilers have a 48.58% share of the total shot attempts (Corsi For%), which, along with their 54.78 shot attempts per hour, ranks them 22nd in the league. And in this score state, the Oilers have been outscored 49-31, which translates into the second worst goal share of 38.75%, only ahead of the Colorado Avalanche. Their 1.74 goals per 60 ranks them 26th in the league.

To get a sense of what might be going on here, it’s important to look at how the Oilers do with and without McDavid, who has been the team’s offensive driver all season. My initial thought was when the score has been tied, the team still does great with McDavid and does really poorly without him. But if we split out the numbers, we see that’s not exactly the case.


Full article is at The Copper & Blue.

Finding Offence

With only four goals in their last five games, it appears that the Oilers might be having some scoring issues at even-strength. The good news is that the team still ranks 9th in the league when it comes to goal-share, as they’ve outscored opponents 103-94. And they rank 11th in the league when it comes to their goal-scoring rate, sitting just above the league average with 2.35 goals per hour at even-strength (5v5).

League Rank Team Goals For% Goals For/60
1 Pittsburgh 56.54 3.03
2 Washington 65.26 3.02
3 Minnesota 60.40 2.97
4 Toronto 50.94 2.76
5 Columbus 55.28 2.72
6 NY Islanders 52.15 2.72
7 NY Rangers 52.07 2.71
8 Montreal 56.68 2.50
9 Detroit 50.00 2.43
10 Nashville 53.59 2.40
11 Edmonton 52.28 2.35

The Oilers offensive outputs have been a big improvement from years past as the clubs rate of goal scoring was typically below the league average and often near the bottom of the league.

Data: Corsica Hockey

What’s also been encouraging is that over the course of the season, the Oilers rate of goal scoring has remained pretty steady, even up until now. Over the past 25 games, the team has seen their rate of goal production dip just below the league average of 2.31, but it doesn’t appear here, at first glance, that there are major issues.

Data: Corsica Hockey

Now a big reason for the Oilers offensive output this season has of course been Connor McDavid. When he’s been on the ice, the Oilers create a lot more offence and scoring chances, and have generated 3.11 goals per hour. Without him on the ice, the Oilers rate of goal scoring drops significantly to only 1.96 goals per hour, which is around what Buffalo (1.96), Arizona (1.91) and New Jersey (1.91) are currently generating as a team this season. It doesn’t help that the Oiler forwards paid to generate offence are struggling all at the same time. Players including Milan Lucic, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Benoit Pouliot, all of which are experienced NHL players with past success, are below their historical averages when it comes to goal scoring and point production. If the Oilers intend on being a playoff team, with championship aspirations, they will need to find a way to generate more goals, especially with McDavid on the bench.

Full article is at The Copper & Blue.

Finding Help at Center

hanzalAn area on the roster that the Oilers could look to improve on is their center depth. With Draisaitl getting an extended stint on the top line with McDavid, there is a bit of a weakness as their current third liner is a rookie and ranks last on the team in points/60.

One player that will get some attention at the deadline is 29 year old centerman Martin Hanzal. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and with Arizona having been out of playoff race for a while now, the club will likely try to acquire picks and prospects for him. He’s coming off of a 5-year, $15.5 deal ($3.1 million AAV)

A quick glance at his numbers and relative-to-team stats tells us he’s a top six player that improves the teams overall play when he’s on the ice. He’s been pretty consistent over the last four years when it comes to shot rates and point production. This season, he’s seen his points/60 rate drop, which could be due to his on-ice shooting percentage drop from 9.04% to 5.86%, and his overall PDO is down to 96.57. What’s interesting is that his own individual shot rates (iSF/60) and individual shooting percentage (iSH%) are fairly close to his historical numbers, which makes me think his linemates are letting him down. Just a hunch at this point.

Season 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17
GP 65 37 64 42
TOI 873.1 493.77 792.78 552.53
G-A-P 10-15-25 6-11-17 9-16-25 6-3-9
P60 1.72 2.07 1.89 0.98
iSF60 8.32 7.17 7.49 7.71
iSh% 8.26 10.17 9.09 8.45
Sh% 6.37 9.75 9.04 5.86
Sv% 92.54 89.27 92.84 90.71
PDO 98.91 99.02 101.88 96.57

Here’s how his relative to team stats look like. I’ve included Corsi, Fenwick, Scoring Chances, Expected Goals and Goals at 5v5.


Now while Hanzal would be a fine rental for a playoff bound team looking to add depth, I don’t think it makes a lot of sense for the Oilers.

First, the Oilers really can’t afford to send away picks or prospects as their talent pool is quite shallow at this point. Second, the Oilers have to fill a few more holes on their roster before they can consider themselves legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. Now Hanzal could give their team a boost, but I doubt it’ll be enough to get out of the first round against San Jose or Anaheim. He’s also a left shooting player, something the Oilers have an abundance of, both up front and on defence. The other issue too is that Hanzal would cost a lot to retain. He’s 29 and coming off of a contract that paid $3.1 million per season. This will be his last chance to cash in, and you can bet a team will pay for an experienced centerman with size and good underlying numbers.

Now if the Oilers were actually interested in acquiring Hanzal at the deadline AND retaining him, they would have to move out one of the existing, heavy contracts and play him higher up in the roster to justify the deal. Really, this only makes sense if RNH is on the way out, and a cheaper third-line option was coming in. Again, the Oilers would be paying Hanzal significant dollars, which won’t make sense as he’s likely past his prime at this point.

Now, if the Oilers did want to add a centerman and were okay with paying him less than $4 million per season, they should probably consider someone younger who may be undervalued by the market. One player that could make sense is Nick Bjugstad of the Panthers. He’s 24, has size, shoots right and has four more years left on his deal that pays him $4.1 million per season. Issue for him is that he’s been dealing with injuries, and the Panthers have Barkov (21, $5.9 million per season until 2022) and Trocheck (23, $4.75 million per season until 2022) playing center ahead of him right now.

Season 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17
GP 76 72 67 23
TOI 980.62 917.19 810.09 253.11
G-A-P 15-18-33 13-14-27 9-8-17 1-1-2
P60 2.02 1.77 1.26 0.47
iSF60 9.06 9.94 8.52 7.35
iSh% 10.14 8.55 7.83 3.23
Sh% 7.95 7.11 7.23 1.45
Sv% 90.68 92.05 91.18 93.29
PDO 98.63 99.17 98.41 94.74

Bjugstad’s PDO is just abysmally low right now, and it’s hard to say what his career averages truly are. His individual and on-ice shooting percentages are the lowest on his team, and I suspect it’s a mix of his injuries derailing his season and his teammates that are impacting things.


The Oilers would be taking more of a risk with acquiring Bjugstad than with Hanzal, but the team would at least get Bjugstad in his prime. I don’t think this player is as bad as his numbers are this season, and would think he’ll get back to more respectable numbers eventually.

Another player that the Oilers could look at is Calle Jarnkrok, a 25 year old center, right shot, who is signed with Nashville for $2 million per season for the next five seasons after this one. His numbers are down slightly, which could be impacted by his poor on ice save percentage and slightly lower than average on ice shooting percentage. He doesn’t appear to be much of a volume shooter, but he can still contribute in a depth role.

Season 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17
GP 12 74 81 51
TOI 141.21 791.45 1023.79 580.66
G-A-P 2-6-8 7-10-17 11-12-23 6-5-11
P60 3.4 1.29 1.35 1.14
iSF60 5.1 6.82 5.86 7.23
iSh% 16.67 7.78 11 8.57
Sh% 16.42 6.57 7.34 6.62
Sv% 93.1 92.47 91.82 90.31
PDO 109.52 99.04 99.16 96.93


Jarnkrok is a little older, and he’s signed until he’s 30 at a very, very reasonable deal. The issue for the Preds is that they may not be able to protect him for the upcoming expansion draft as they have a core of defenceman worth protecting and have some no movement clauses for some of their forwards. Vegas would likely take Jarnkrok if he’s available, so it might in Nashville’s best interest to get something for him before they have to expose him.

Every move the Oilers make has to be geared towards winning the cup. With a need at center, the Oilers could get a rental like Hanzal at the deadline, but it would be in their best interest to find a reasonably priced contract for a player that is still in his prime. The objective has to be establishing a long term window where the team can be a legitimate championship contender. It makes little sense dealing away picks for temporary help when those assets could be put towards players that can help for the long run. And the Oilers have to take advantage of teams that may need to shed salary or ones that are in a tough spot because of the expansion draft.

Data: Corsica Hockey, Cap Friendly

Trading Kris Russell

With the NHL trade deadline one month away, the Oilers will have a chance to make some important decisions that could impact their short term goal of qualifying for the 2017 playoffs and the long term goal of establishing a window where they can be legitimate Stanley Cupcontenders.

In terms of short term needs, the Oilers could use an upgrade to their center depth as well as their right side up front. There’s also an obvious need when it comes to goaltending as Cam Talbot, who has arguably been the Oilers MVP, does not have a reliable backup that can give him a night off from time to time. There’s also a case to be made that the team could use an offensive defenceman to support the powerplay, but the team should probably refrain from spending significant assets to acquire. The issue for the Oilers is that they don’t have a lot to give up, as their own prospect pool isn’t very deep and the picks they have for the upcoming draft are needed to replenish it.

The Oilers do have veteran players like Benoit Pouliot and Matt Hendricks that could draw some attention at the deadline, but the Oilers are not likely to acquire significant pieces by moving either of these two. Both have struggled this season, although Pouliot does have a history of contributing to a team’s offence and could provide a team with skill and experience in a top six role.

Where the Oilers could tap into to address their short term and long term goals is their defence. For the first time in a long time, the Oilers have an NHL-calibre defence core, with Andrej Sekera, Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson signed with the team for the next four years on reasonable contracts. Add to that core Brandon Davidson, Darnell Nurse and Matt Benning, players that will be under team control for a while, and the Oilers have a group that should provide stability on the back end.

This brings us to Kris Russell who was signed by the Oilers to a one-year deal just days before the start of the 2016/17 regular season. Serving as a well-priced stop-gap, having Russell on the roster allowed the Oilers to keep some of their defensive prospects like Griffin Reinhart and Jordan Oesterle in the AHL to continue their own development. The Oilers have been able to rely on Russell quite heavily, as he’s led the team in average ice time per game and has a respectable goal-share of 51.6%. He has spent a significant amount of time with Connor McDavid this season, which would help his numbers, and he’s also been benefiting from a 94% save percentage when he’s on the ice for most of the season, which is not exactly sustainable.

We also know that a team or players on-ice goal-share is not a good predictor of future success, so we look at the share of shot attempts which correlates better with future goal-share. Russell currently ranks last on the team among defencemen when it comes to on-ice Corsi For% (score and venue adjusted) at even-strength (5v5), as the team has had 46.55% of all of the shot attempts with him on the ice. When he’s not on the ice, the Oilers have a Corsi For% of 52.37%, which is a significant jump. Now it can be expected that the share of shot attempts would improve when Russell isn’t on the ice as he has faced better competition, but it should not increase that significantly. For instance, when Adam Larsson, who has also been playing top lines, is on the ice, the team has a 50.31% share of all of the shot attempts. That share increases only slightly when Larsson is on the bench, going up to 51.52%.


Full article is at The Copper & Blue.

Talking Oilers on the CBC Edmonton News (TV) + Facebook Live

Joined Adrienne Pan on the CBC Edmonton News this evening to talk Oilers and preview the game against the Wild. We also touched on the upcoming deadline and the improvements the team has made in terms of shots and goals this season. Link to the full segment is here, clip starts around the 18:30 mark.

Just a quick note: I completely flubbed one of my responses and for that I apologize. I said that the Oilers played a lot of home games in January, when I meant to emphasize their six-game homestand. I also said that they didn’t play many back to backs in January when they actually played three sets. I take a lot of pride in the work and do my best to share the right information, and evidence to support my work. I prepare the best I can for TV and radio spots, and will definitely be better in the future.

Earlier in the day, Adrienne and I did another Facebook Live to talk Oilers and got some great questions from the community. Big thank you to everyone who sent their topics and ideas in. Below is the segment.