Joined Lowetide on TSN 1260 on Wednesday morning to discuss the Oilers. Full audio below:
- After 41 games, the Oilers are sitting at 17-21-3, good for dead last in a very weak Pacific division. The 17 wins ranks them 23rd in the league, but their 8(!) regulation wins is 30th. That to me is an issue. Good teams get things done in regulation and avoid the more luck-driven scenarios like 4v4/3v3 overtime and shootouts.
- The club has a 47.1 Corsi For% (even-strength, score adjusted – which factors in the score state), which is 25th in the league (Source: War on Ice). The Oilers appeared to make some improvements in November and early December when it came to possession, but that went south pretty fast in recent weeks. As we can see below, their Corsi For% trend at even-strength has remained under 50%, which can be attributed to the significant injuries to Klefbom, McDavid, Eberle and Yakupov, plus the lack of depth on defence.
- Without a doubt, Darnell Nurse has been playing way too high up the depth chart, but I really had no idea his underlying numbers were this bad. I wrote about Nurse’s season so far, and how he compares to other 20 year olds from the past five seasons [Copper & Blue]. I’m still a fan of the player and think he can play at the NHL level today. He’s just not a top pairing player yet. And there’s nothing wrong with that, he’s 20 years old. It’s seriously been reminding me of Ladislav Smid’s first season as an Oiler in 2006. He was also 20 at the time and got a tonne of ice time, despite getting dominated every night by more experienced players. It’s not an ideal situation, so hopefully the Oilers can bring in a at least two legitimate NHL defencemen and allow guys like Nurse to develop at the right pace.
- If anyone can justify the Oilers keeping Schultz past the trade deadline, I’d love to hear it. Not only has his offence dried up, but he’s clearly not fitting into the coaching staff’s system. In San Jose, a larger proportion of shot attempts came from the blue line compared to the rest of the league. This allowed the forwards to crash the net, make short plays and look for rebounds. As I found a couple weeks ago, Schultz hasn’t been able to get shots on net, having most of his shots blocked or not getting any shots at all. On top of that, Schultz isn’t getting as many high danger scoring chances (chances in close, as defined by War on Ice) as he has in the past, which makes me wonder what his purpose really is. I also found that McLellan isn’t exactly relying on Schultz when the team is down a goal or the game is tied. Graph below is courtesy of Hockey Viz.
- Signing Cam Talbot should definitely be on the list of priorities this month. He’s played well for the club, and appears to have shaken off that rocky start which resulted in losing ice time. He has a 90.69 save % (adjusted – which factors in shot location), which isn’t great as it ranks last among goalies with at least 20 games this season. But his save percentage has been trending upwards all season.
- I’d be happy if the Oilers could lock him up for 4 seasons at less than $4 million per. I’d prefer to keep the cost low, especially on goalies which tend to be replaceable (outside the elite ones) every summer. Talbot and his agent really do have full control in negotiations, as the Oilers have already invested two draft picks to acquire him and would be foolish to let him walk on July 1st. I’m hoping the fact that Talbot hasn’t started 100 NHL games yet and that there’s a decent backup in Nilsson on the roster, will drive his asking price down a little.
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