Thoughts on the Oilers: Shot differentials, Player development, Perron traded

img005The club is sitting at a dismal 9-23-3 record. While most teams are staying competitive, the Oilers are making puzzling decisions on their prospects, sending away NHL players and getting outshot on a regular basis.

And the lower this team goes, it seems the more there is to talk about. Why is the team bad? How did it get this bad? Why does the powerplay struggle? Why can’t the goalies be goalies? The fun part of all of this is being able to go back and see all the things that lead up to this disaster. Remember when Draisaitl was described by MacT as being NHL ready? Or when Perron made those lovely comments about his team after the game against New Jersey?

Couple thoughts.

While it’s true that the Oilers were once offered Corey Perry and a pick for Mike Comrie, it’s difficult to say if he would’ve become the star he is today. Perry was selected in the first round by the Ducks in 2003, but left in juniors for another two seasons and then played around 20 games in the AHL before making the jump to the NHL. The Ducks didn’t rush Perry when he was a prospect and did the same for Ryan Getzlaf. The Oilers on the other hand didn’t even have their own farm team at the time and have developed a brutal reputation for rushing prospects and hampering their development (Gagner, Cogliano, and now Schultz, Yakupov, to name a few). So two things: hindsight is always 20/20 and the Oilers have been awful at drafting and developing players since at least 2003.

What we’re seeing from this Draisaitl situation is some of the flawed mentality of Oilers management when it comes to prospects. If Draisaitl’s rights were with a junior team that had a “winning culture” at the start of the year, there’s a good chance the Oilers would’ve secured the services of a veteran centerman like Derek Roy or Mike Ribeiro. That’s pretty unsettling knowing that the Oilers started the season with holes in their lineup, all because MacTavish didn’t like Prince Albert’s development program. It also makes you think of which players in the past were kept fledgling in the NHL only because their junior team didn’t meet the standards of Oilers management. And down the road, when another prospect makes the team at 18, we’ll have to question if the Oilers actually think the player is ready or if he’s there because the Oilers don’t like his junior or college team. Jujhar Khaira, who the Oilers pulled out of college to play in the WHL, comes to mind.

That Perron trade, wow. Unless that late first round pick the Oilers acquired from Pittsburgh is going to bring in a defenceman at the draft, I don’t see the point. I expected Perron to get dealt only because he had enough value to bring in a decent return (i.e., an NHL player to play defence). I thought Perron was outstanding last year. He produced well, possession numbers were good, and he seemed to be instilling some good habits into the roster. Basically everything you would want from an NHL player. This season has been brutal, no question, but the fact is he’s been extremely unlucky when it comes to finishing his chances. Michael Parkatti ran some magic and found that having this bad of a drop off in production is just unheard of. I’m sure the Penguins are aware of this and will likely see Perron bounce back, especially playing with experienced centermen.

It’s going to be amazing to play with any of those three guys, obviously. I just think the play starts from the middle, from the breakout when the d-men hit the guy in the middle. They’re the one that can bring a lot of speed throughout the neutral zone and then they kick it wide to getting it into the zone, they drive the net. – David Perron, Yahoo! 

I thought that was an interesting comment. Gives you a sense of what he looks for in a centerman and why it’d be important to have more than two NHL centermen on your roster. Perron spent most of his time with Arcobello, who struggled mightily this season and was dealt, and Draisaitl, an excellent prospect who really belongs in the WHL for now. Neither of those two had the speed or ability to drive to the net mentioned by Perron. It’s worth noting, that the Oilers’ analytics team played a key role in acquiring Perron. Here’s hoping they can work their magic again to find another gem for MacTavish.

Nice to see the Oilers collecting points with Todd Nelson behind the bench. But the shot differentials are just awful. In the past five games with Nelson as the head coach, the club has been outshot 169-115 (-54, all situations). That’s barely 40% of the total shots. The team wasn’t getting outshot nearly as bad under Eakins, but I’m sure once Nelson has his tactics established, that shot differential should (hopefully) improve.

Recommended Links

How Green Was My Valley – Lowetide

He Didn’t Want To Be Here – Coppernblue

Did Edmonton Oilers management mess up in not sending Leon Draisaitl back to junior earlier? Cult of Hockey

Oilers Positives and Negatives 2013-2014

oilers_sabres_hockey_30120629-e1391483874353

Source: O.Canada.com

It’s disappointing when something doesn’t meet your expectations. It’s even more disappointing when your expectations weren’t even that high to begin with.

My prediction at the start of the year was that the Oilers would finish between 10th and 12th in the west. RNH was recovering from shoulder surgery. Gagner got hurt in pre-season. And, compared to playoff teams from last year, the Oilers defensive core lacked NHL talent and experience. Add to the fact you had a coaching staff with very little experience and a very young top-six, I just couldn’t see this club making the playoffs as a wild card.

Going through my Oilers posts from this season, I’ve compiled what I think were the positives (believe it or not, there were some) and negatives.

Continue reading

Thoughts on the Oilers: Veteran experience needed

Source: Edmonton Journal

Source: Edmonton Journal

It continues.

The Oilers lost, as expected, to two quality teams on the road recently, but got a win against the Lightning last night at home. Next up are three games against legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. Let’s hope they can squeeze out a win to keep things (somewhat) positive around here.

Veteran experience

The Oilers did an impressive job over the offseason acquiring much needed experience to the roster. Adding guys like Andrew Ference, Boyd Gordon and David Perron through free agency and trade to fill specific roles gave some hope that the team could compete this year. Had an additional piece been added to the defense and had all centremen been healthy, this team could have had a legitimate shot at competing for a wild card spot in the West.

Unfortunately, this team is struggling and desperately needs some experience in the line up, even if it means moving out the younger prospects.

On top of all of the losing, fans have also placed a ridiculous amount of hope and expectations on young players. It’s so easy to do since we don’t know much about these prospects and let our imaginations and expectations trump reality. And it’s too easy to dismiss veteran players because their experience and performance is well documented, leaving it easy to judge and come to conclusions.

Hemsky

With the Olympic rosters about to be announced, Ales Hemsky was asked about his chances of making the Czech Republic roster. The Edmonton Journal article, with a very misleading headline, really emphasizes how Hemsky’s role has changed, which I think is great news for the Oilers.

“I have a different role on this team now,” Hemsky said before the Oilers were defeated by a combined score of 10-3 by the San Jose Sharks and the Anaheim Ducks. “I’m playing a different role than I have before so I don’t have as many points as I’d like, and I’m playing a different style, and that’s fine, but it may affect what they think.”

            Update: Hemsky Named to Czech Olympic Team – Lowetide

Regardless of the speculation, it would make no sense at this point to deal him for prospects. The Oilers need actual NHL players rather than potential players at this point. If moving him is part of a deal to land a defenceman or experience in the top lines, there should be no hesitation. But removing NHL players from a team desperate for NHL wins makes absolutely no sense.

Recommended Links

Re-sign Ryan Smyth? That’s a no brainer. – The Copper and Blue

Mambo Cogliano: Ducks forward signs four year extension  – Puck Daddy