Finally into the homestretch, and I’m honestly just looking forward to the off-season. Hopefully Chiarelli and the management team have had enough time “assessing” the roster and will have more cap space to make some moves. We knew going into the season that making any trades would be from a position of weakness as the other 29 teams knew the Oilers contract count and salary cap issues. The trade deadline should see some contracts moved, with Purcell and Schultz definitely on the way out. I suspect that Hendricks and a couple more pieces from the bottom six (hopefully Korpse) draw some interest.
Here’s my radio spot from Monday with Lowetide on TSN 1260.
We discussed a number of things, including some hidden gems in the league and which defencemen I thought the Oilers should look into. I mentioned Matt Irwin, who was shipped to the AHL by the Bruins very early in the year. A while back, I dug into his numbers from the past few seasons as a Shark, and found that Irwin is definitely a volume shooter who has success getting pucks on the net. This is something that’s been lacking for the Oilers and will be critical for the team to have success under McLellan. Irwin is a left shot, which the Oilers are loaded with, but I think he’s worth a cheap contract, maybe even on a two-way agreement.
I also mentioned Yannick Weber, who, for whatever reason, is buried in Utica by the Canucks. I’ve always liked his game, and his underlying numbers indicate to me that he’s an NHL player. Again, he’ll be undervalued, so it doesn’t hurt to bring him in and have him compete for a spot. He’s only 27, has a right handed shot and has played 265 games at the NHL level.
I’m really doubting that the Oilers make drastic changes at the deadline. Other than shipping their expiring contracts out to get picks and prospects, I can’t imagine them doing much else. Dealing significant pieces (like say RNH or Nurse) should happen around the draft and into the summer instead of at the deadline when player values are completely skewed. It’s a market for teams that are making a run for the playoffs, so I wouldn’t expect the Oilers to get real value from trading a significant asset.
I really think the Leafs are looking like a sharp team right now moving their low value assets and expiring contracts for picks. While it’s true that the chances of draft picks from later rounds reduces, teams that load up on picks like the Leafs are simply increasing their odds of finding a solid pick. These picks can always be packaged with other picks to acquire players, similar to what the Oilers did to acquire Talbot last summer. The Leafs definitely understand this and have made some very, very smart moves over the past 12 months. I’d be curious to know how they would have handled the Oilers if they were in Chiarelli’s shoes last summer.
Something else that’s been somewhat annoying is hearing/reading suggestions that the Oilers need to move RNH or need to move Nurse, without getting into who would come back or replace the players minutes and assignments. I think fans (myself included) tend to look at the team from the inside out and often over value our own players before considering what a fair return would be. So yes, trade RNH if you must for a defenceman (who exactly, I haven’t been made aware) but then you have to consider who would take on the best competition and produce at a top six level. The only names that come to mind are Frans Nielsen (UFA 2016, 31 years old), Darren Helm (UFA 2016, 29 years old) and maaaaybe Lars Eller if he shakes lose from Montreal. I haven’t dug much further into this, but I haven’t come across any other potential replacements.
As for Nurse, I think you have to consider moving him if you get back a top two defenceman like Hamonic (who is also on an amazing contract, and is just entering his prime) or Tyson Barrie (see Alan Hull’s excellent article here). But if you see Nurse as a number one guy a few years down the road, you’ll probably hate any suggestions to trade the prospect. All I ask is if you want to toss around names of players that should be moved, I highly recommend you look into how their minutes will be replaced. It’s harder than you think, but it makes for a much more engaging discussion.
For the numbers people, G Money of Oilers Nerd Alert has published WOWY data for his Dangerous Fenwick stat (LINK). For more information on this metric that factors in shot distance, check out this background piece.
Also came across this from Zac Urback, who looked into shot location by defence pairing for the Oilers. How to read this: above the red line is shot generation, and below the red line is shot suppression. Green is inside shots/60, grey is outside shots/60. I definitely like these kinds of graphs as a quick check really to make sure what I’m seeing (or think I’m seeing) can be validated with data. And yes, we can confirm, again, that Klefbom and Davidson are good defencemen.
One last thing. I recently wrote an article on why the Oilers should consider bringing back David Perron, who will be a free agent this summer. I’ll admit that he was my favorite player when he was here, mainly because he had a good mix of skill and the ability to irritate opponents. I think the Oilers could really use someone like Perron, who similar to Pouliot, can play around the crease area and not always skate past it. Most of the feedback I’ve received has been more about him being a bad person off the ice, and how he has burned bridges with the Oilers and now the Penguins. I honestly have no idea, nor do I care, what his off ice issues are, since it’s all gossip. What I did find was that he’s had stretches where he struggled, but for the most part has been a positive impact on his team’s success wherever he goes. He’s lighting it up in Anaheim right now, so his value might go higher, especially if they go on a playoff run. But if the price is right, and a roster spot opens up, I really hope the Oilers make an offer to him.