Looking into how the Oilers can best utilize Maroon this coming season

One thing worth watching in training camp is where forward Patrick Maroon will slot in among the group of forwards. The 28 year old was brought in to bring in size and versatility, and has also shown the ability to put up points, typically when on a line with offensive players. Maroon will cost the Oilers $3.0 million over the next two seasons, a fairly reasonable price point, before becoming an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2018.

Following his arrival to Edmonton from Anaheim on trade deadline day, Maroon played in 16 games and produced very well playing mostly with Connor McDavid and Jordan Eberle,  notching 14 points (8 goals, 6 assists). His points per 60 shot up to 2.84 at even-strength, highest among all Oiler forwards, up from the paltry 1.00 points per 60 he posted last season with Anaheim.

Without a doubt, Maroon benefited from playing alongside McDavid, as the rookie typically had a positive impact on any of his linemates when it came to possession and production. The two along with Eberle played a total of 119 minutes at even-strength near the end of the season, finishing with a Corsi For percentage of 47.49%, an Expected Goals For percentage, which measures shot quality, of 53.27%, and a Goals For percentage of 69.23%, good for second among all line combinations that played at least 50 minutes together. The trio scored 17 goals together, which translates into a Goals For/60 of 4.51, good for 24th in the league. Their success however seems to be driven largely by a higher than team average shooting percentage and save percentage, as their PDO was at 107.33. (Source: Corsica Hockey).

Full article is at The Copper & Blue.

The Gryba and Davidson Partnership

I didn’t think I’d ever say this, but I’m okay with the Oilers signing Eric Gryba to a Professional Tryout (PTO) agreement. The 28 year old, right shooting defencemen is expected at training camp, with a pretty good shot at making the team. It’s a low risk move that creates competition for one of the depth spots on the roster. And it should, in my opinion, make it harder for both Darnell Nurse and Griffin Reinhart to make the opening night lineup I have no hesitation in saying that both Nurse and Reinhart, who I think are good prospects, need extended time to develop at in the AHL. There is no harm in having these two play top pairing minutes, in all situations, against AHL-level competition in Bakersfield, until they’re ready to contribute on a consistent basis.

Back to Gryba, the things that he has going in his favor are his performance numbers from last season playing with young Brandon Davidson. They were one another’s most common defence partner, having played a total 279 minutes together at even-strength, predominantly as the third pairing on most nights, but did move up into the top four on occasion. Their 53.48 CF% at even-strength was second best among all Oiler defence pairings that played more than 50 minutes together (18 defence pairs in total). Source: Corsica Hockey.

Full article is at The Copper & Blue.

Couple Thoughts on Shawn Horcoff

rsz_game25horcAny hopes of Shawn Horcoff playing one more season in the NHL were put to rest this morning as he officially accepted a new front office role with the Detroit Red Wings. While I do think he’ll eventually be part of a coaching staff one day, starting off in a player development role suits him just fine for now.

He was absolutely one of my favorite players, mostly because he was a solid centermen, but also because his work was often overlooked and taken for granted. He was also a reason why I got into shot-based metrics like Corsi and Fenwick around the time the advanced numbers were taking off. Many times, you would see him play against the best lines, prevent bad things from happening, and then skate off the ice with nothing really to show for it. But when we started getting access to time on ice numbers and started to see how much the team relied on him to play against the Sakic’s and Yzerman’s, you began to appreciate how much he meant to the franchise.

He also represents to me an era of the Oilers that will never get a lot of praise, but one that I’ll always be attached to. Now I have nothing against the dynasty Oilers and obviously appreciate and respect their accomplishments. But I was too young to really be into hockey in the 80’s, and really have zero attachment to that era and those players.

Instead it’s been the Oilers since 1997 that I’ve had an attachment to and identify with. Every move the team has made, every season, the players, I feel like I have my own story to tell and my own interpretation of the events. So following the career of Horcoff, from his draft day to the 2006 playoff run, to the trade to Dallas, to his season in Anaheim, there’s a sense of loss with the news of his retirement, but also a renewed sense of connection to a player that accomplished a lot over the course of 15 seasons.

Below are the links to articles I’ve written about Horcoff. Included in those links are the numbers he posted as an Oilers, but also a review of his performance in Dallas, where he was a solid depth player, and Anaheim, where he continued to be a reliable utility player and saw his ice time gradually increase.

 

 

 

Oilers Line Combinations from the 2015-2016 Season

Jordan+Eberle+Jujhar+Khaira+Edmonton+Oilers+RZEoGjuR3KUlWith training camp a few weeks away, the discussion around potential line combinations will begin to ramp up. With Milan Lucic joining the forward group, and new prospects like Jesse Puljujärvi  and Drake Caggiula entering the system, along with older prospects like Jujhar Khaira and Anton Slepyshevpushing for spots, the possibilities are endless.

But before putting together potential line combinations, I thought it’d be worth looking at how the different line combinations did last season. In particular, I looked at the combinations that played at least 50 minutes together at 5v5, and focused on their possession numbers (CF%), their share of quality shots/expected goals (xGF%) and their share of actual goals (GF%). I’ve sorted the table by Corsi For%, but you can click the table’s column headers to sort the other metrics. Also included in the table below is the time-on-ice (TOI), along with the line’s PDO and percentage of offensive zone starts. Please note that the numbers have been adjusted for score state, zone and venue. Source: Corsica Hockey).

Full article is at The Copper & Blue.

Some reasons to believe in Anton Lander

After a pretty brutal 2015/16 season, where he only scored one goal and notched two assists, Anton Lander has a lot to prove to Oiler fans. He was coming off of a pretty good 2014/15 season, when he was promoted to Edmonton from Oklahoma City after Todd Nelson became interim head coach, scoring six goals and finishing the season with 20 points in 38 games. Expectations were certainly raised last summer when he was rewarded with a two-year, one-way contract extension that would pay him $925K in the first year and $1.05 million in the second ($987,500 AAV), and a very good showing at the 2015 World Championships where he played on the top line for Sweden.

One thing to consider is that of the 20 points he scored in 2014/15, 9 were on the powerplay, which was clicking at a very high rate with Todd Nelson behind the bench. With McLellan behind the bench, Lander did not get nearly as much ice time with the man advantage, and understandably so: the lineup was healthier than the 2014/15 team and the additions of McDavid and Draisaitl were going to push players like Lander off of the powerplay. Regardless, Lander’s respectable 1.49 points/60 at even-strength was sixth among Oiler forwards who played at least 400 minutes in 2014/15 (12 forwards total). What was also promising were his possession numbers over those 38 games. Below is how he ranked among Oiler forwards with at least 400 minutes of ice time. (Source: Hockey Analysis)

Lander finished the season with a +1.2 Corsi For percentage relative to teammates, which ranked him behind top six forwards like Hall, Eberle, RNH and Pouliot. Lander’s two most common linemates that season were Matt Fraser and Andrew Miller, both of which are fringe players today. Lander did spend 93 minutes with Hall as well, which would absolutely give his numbers a boost. When it came to the rate of generating shot attempts (i.e., Corsi For/60), Lander finished third on the team with a +3.80 Corsi For/60 relative to teammates, but ranked 8th on the team when it to the rate of shot attempts against.

Lander20152016

Fast forward to the 2015/16 season, and Lander’s productivity when it came to point production falls off of a cliff, as he finished the season with a 0.33 points/60 at even-strength, which was last on the team among forwards who played at least 500 minutes, and fourth last in the entire NHL. But when it came to his possession numbers relative to his teammates, Lander did not fare too badly.

Full article is at The Copper & Blue.

 

Adam Larsson Against Different Levels of Competition

Last week, I looked into the performance of the Oilers depth forwards and defence core against different levels of competition using the WoodMoney metric. What we can do using this data is parse out how individual players did against three categories of forwards, and add another level of information to our analysis. The full rationale for the metric, the methodology to classify players and the complete data-set can be found at Because Oilers.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the different competition groupings.

Elite: at least one elite player must be on the ice. No Gritensity players may be on the ice.

Middle: Elite + Gritensity on the ice, or 3 mudddles

Gritensity: Any time a gritensity player is on the ice except when with an Elite.

I received a couple of requests to look into how Adam Larsson did last season as a New Jersey Devil using the WoodMoney data. What we know from some of the more established metrics available at Corsica Hockey and Hockey Analysis is that Larsson played predominantly with Andy Greene, starting a significant number of shifts in his own zone and actually fared pretty well when it came to limiting shot attempts, scoring chances and goals. We also know that when it came to offence, Larsson is a bit of a black hole as the team didn’t generate a whole lot with him on the ice.

Using the WoodMoney data, we can look into how Larsson did against the different levels of competition, including his proportion of ice, shot attempts against and Dangerous Fenwicks against.

WM_-_Devils_Defence_-_TOI.0

Full article is at The Copper & Blue.