Postcards from an Unstable Ran

 

August, 2011

August 29, 2011

 

By the numbers: The performance of our defense, 10/11

 

Preface

 

What follows is a year-end, high-level statistical reporting of the Edmonton Oilers’ defensemen. It includes category leaders, the median player per category (a lame attempt at identifying replacement value) and the free agent acquisitions: Cam Barker and Andy Sutton.

 

Goals

 

Player

Team

Goals

Goals per Hour

Dustin Byfuglien

ATL

20

0.64

Kurtis Foster

EDM

8

0.37

Tom Gilbert

EDM

6

0.19

Theo Peckham

EDM

3

0.14

Median (Niklas Hjalmarsson)

CHI

3

0.12

Ryan Whitney

EDM

2

0.14

Jim Vandermeer

EDM

2

0.11

Jeff Petry

EDM

1

0.08

Taylor Chorney

EDM

1

0.31

Cam Barker

MIN

1

0.07

Ladislav Smid

EDM

0

0.00

Jason Strudwick

EDM

0

0.00

Richard Petiot

EDM

0

0.00

Alex Plante

EDM

0

0.00

Andy Sutton

ANA

0

0.00

 

A sad reality. A reality that will be with us for years. Management is putting their money on the forwards for goal production.

 

Which is nice and all, until you have the man advantage.

 

There is no threat from the point on this list, outside of the guys that don’t play for us.

 

Foster was last year’s savior, perhaps Barker is this year. Mind you, Foster continued the tradition of an inability to reach half way up the leader board, so we shall see how this works out.

 

If I were Renney – and most days I am happy I am not – using four forwards and Barker/Whitney would be a serious consideration, and not just for the powerplay.

 

Assists

 

Player

Team

Assists

Assists per Hour

Lubomir Visnovsky

ANA

50

1.52

Ryan Whitney

EDM

25

1.69

Tom Gilbert

EDM

20

0.62

Kurtis Foster

EDM

14

0.64

Jim Vandermeer

EDM

12

0.64

Median (Derek Morris)

PHX

11

0.41

Theo Peckham

EDM

10

0.45

Ladislav Smid

EDM

10

0.38

Jeff Petry

EDM

4

0.34

Andy Sutton

ANA

4

0.42

Cam Barker

MIN

4

0.28

Taylor Chorney

EDM

3

0.94

Jason Strudwick

EDM

2

0.19

Richard Petiot

EDM

0

0.00

Alex Plante

EDM

0

0.00

 

Whitney was a shining light last year; he made the half-way mark against Vis and bettered him in per hour despite the disparity in line-mates.

 

The competition for the top spot on the leader board throughout the first half of the season, interlaced with the background – one of those rare, similar stats, just need a change of venue, win/win, my-guy-for-your-guy, trades – gave Vis vs. Whitney a Sosa vs. McGuire feel to it. Enjoyable, until destiny smashed her hammer on our head.

 

This is the second time that Chorney has showed up. Admittedly a small sample size – a goal and three assists in a little over three total time on ice in hours (ttoiih) – still it is some form of production.

 

That he – at least in term of per hour numbers – bested Petry, who subjectively seemed like a better offensive option with a larger sample size – over eleven hours – strikes me as incongruous. Probably a statistical anomaly, due to the short time Chorney spent on ice, but still, it has a contrarian feel to it.

 

Shots

 

Player

Team

Shots

Shots per hour

Dustin Byfuglien

ATL

347

11.03

Kurtis Foster

EDM

182

8.38

Tom Gilbert

EDM

106

3.29

Median (John Erskine)

WSH

58

3.22

Jim Vandermeer

EDM

57

3.03

Ladislav Smid

EDM

48

1.82

Cam Barker

MIN

44

3.10

Ryan Whitney

EDM

43

2.91

Theo Peckham

EDM

41

1.86

Jeff Petry

EDM

41

3.45

Andy Sutton

ANA

31

3.24

Taylor Chorney

EDM

13

4.06

Jason Strudwick

EDM

9

0.84

Alex Plante

EDM

5

6.67

Richard Petiot

EDM

1

2.29

 

This is not so much as disappointing as a reason to bring in Wolf from Pulp Fiction.

 

Should I put up a sign on my lawn that reads:

No Dead

Defensemen

Storage

before the rush starts?

 

Foster, who manages to get over the half-way to the leader mark – barely – and Gilbert are the only ones over the median.

 

It only gets worst.

 

Shots per Goal

 

Inclusion into the discussion has been expanded for this entry.

 

Player

Team

Shots

Goals

Shots per Goal

Marek Zidlicky

MIN

53

7

7.57

Lubomir Visnovsky

ANA

152

18

8.44

Taylor Chorney

EDM

13

1

13.00

Theo Peckham

EDM

41

3

13.67

Tom Gilbert

EDM

106

6

17.67

Median (John Carlson)

WSH

144

7

20.57

Ryan Whitney

EDM

43

2

21.50

Kurtis Foster

EDM

182

8

22.75

Jim Vandermeer

EDM

57

2

28.50

Jeff Petry

EDM

41

1

41.00

Cam Barker

MIN

44

1

44.00

Matt Carle

PHI

117

1

117.00

Ladislav Smid

EDM

48

0

Infinity

Jason Strudwick

EDM

9

0

Infinity

Richard Petiot

EDM

1

0

Infinity

Alex Plante

EDM

5

0

Infinity

Andy Sutton

ANA

31

0

Infinity

 

Vis blows up Whitney, all an Oiler freak can say is that the numbers don’t discern age, Matt Carle receives the Sean Avery – yes, we have named the “Futility Award” after him; why not, he is the likeliest to be putting it in his garage for the rest of the decade – runner-up award.

 

I don’t think we will be missing Foster any time soon, although Barker makes him look more like a peach than a lemon.

 

Hits

 

Player

Team

Hits

Hits per Hours

Luke Schenn

TOR

251

8.20

Theo Peckham

EDM

196

8.91

Ladislav Smid

EDM

145

5.49

Jim Vandermeer

EDM

122

6.49

Kurtis Foster

EDM

89

4.10

Tom Gilbert

EDM

69

2.14

Cam Barker

MIN

68

4.78

Andy Sutton

ANA

62

6.49

Median (Andrej Sekera)

BUF

61

2.28

Jeff Petry

EDM

48

4.03

Jason Strudwick

EDM

43

4.00

Ryan Whitney

EDM

29

1.96

Taylor Chorney

EDM

13

4.06

Alex Plante

EDM

4

5.33

Richard Petiot

EDM

3

6.87

 

This is a little more like it, and, I think, gives us insight into the team design that management is building.

 

Peckham comes closer to the league leader than we have seen in the last dozen spreadsheets; half of next seasons attendees are above the median and, other than Whitney and Gilbert, all are above in per hour.

 

Blocks

 

Player

Team

Blocks

Blocks per Hour

Dan Girardi

NYR

236

7.20

Tom Gilbert

EDM

172

5.33

Theo Peckham

EDM

123

5.59

Ladislav Smid

EDM

118

4.47

Median (Jaroslav Spacek)

MTL

90

4.77

Andy Sutton

ANA

87

9.11

Jim Vandermeer

EDM

78

4.15

Kurtis Foster

EDM

76

3.50

Ryan Whitney

EDM

67

4.54

Jason Strudwick

EDM

63

5.86

Cam Barker

MIN

61

4.29

Jeff Petry

EDM

49

4.12

Taylor Chorney

EDM

17

5.31

Richard Petiot

EDM

4

9.16

Alex Plante

EDM

3

4.00

 

Blocking shots: a process that separates men’s brains from their cranial enclosures.

 

Or is it the other way around?

 

Or, perhaps, a catch 22, chicken and the egg thing?

 

Recruiter: Sorry son, I can’t hire you to block shots, you still have your brain in your cranium.

 

Prospect: But, sir, please. I … I can’t get my brain out of my cranium unless I block shots.

 

Recruiter: I know. But that is just the way it is. It became policy after we noticed nobody blocks shots if they still have their brain in their cranium. Sorry. Try pulling a combine as part of your off-season work-out regime.

 

Either way – or perhaps anyway – we show well for the second time tonight.

 

Peckham, Gilbert and Smid are over or at the half-way to the leader mark and Sutton looks like an animal in a cage with a floor made of ice.

 

Sutton made the most of his nine hours of game time; he and Barker do seem like upgrades over Strudwick and Vandermeer. But they are also far from Shea Weber or Nicklas Lidstrom knock-offs.

 

And maybe that’s the point.

 

Postulating intent

 

Assembling pieces that mesh – like cogs in a clock – is both art and science, and a key component to building a successful team. Perhaps more important, though, is a vision of what the team should look like next year, in three years, in five.

 

Visions are commonly based on simple philosophical planks. For instance, as they build the forwards, the vision would seem to be: Strength down the middle, speed on the edges.

 

(Sorry Sam, maybe ask Smyth if he wants to trade places. Otherwise, there is the possibility that you will be called in to Renney’s office and the conversation will start with: “Management wants to move in another direction”.)

 

But what of these blueliners?

 

Where on the philosophical plank power-ranking would you put them?

 

Can you use negatives?

 

The pieces in-place – including the recent free agents and those coming up through the system – do not look like a search for the next Paul Coffey.

 

Rather it looks like a search for a new sink stopper.

 

Big, sloth-like guys; stay-at-homes. You won’t see these guys take a lot of chances. Not an initiation bone in their body, excepting one that got tattooed in Junior during one of those weird “Welcome to the Team” rites.

 

Which, unfortunately, is not exactly the type of initiation we could use.

 

But: They know their role – be in position to take care of things when the forwards fuckup or need a little physical support – they’re cost effective – being into Shea for seven million a year when the rookies come off their entry-level contracts could be challenging – and they are not cancerous – or even tumorous – in the locker room.

 

Such is the vision.

 

As a group, they were largely responsible for last year’s debacle. Replacing Vandermeer and Strudwick with Sutton and Barker is an upgrade, but a marginal one.

 

Nevertheless, they seem to fit into said vision.

 

Or Petry and Chorney pick up half a dozen goals each next year and I will forever regret writing the above.

 

Turnovers

 

The usual caveats apply: Turnover events – over all others stats that the NHL supplies us – can not be trusted to deliver any meaningful information when comparing players from different teams, different years or even analyzing home/away splits.

 

It is a travesty.

 

But there is a case to be made that when the same players are in front of the same judges, the numbers from the NHL can provide some insight into relativistic performance.

 

If – in response to the know inadequacies – we narrow the discussion to the defensemen that were on the team last year and will be here next year we are left with:

 

Full season: Giveaways

 

Player

ttoiih

Giveaways

Giveaways per Hour

Tom Gilbert

32.3

87

2.69

Theo Peckham

22.0

67

3.05

Ladislav Smid

26.4

59

2.23

Ryan Whitney

14.8

41

2.77

Jeff Petry

11.9

32

2.69

Taylor Chorney

3.2

11

3.44

 

 

First half

 

Player

ttoiih

Giveaways

Giveaways per Hour

Tom Gilbert

17.6

44

2.50

Theo Peckham

12.8

35

2.73

Ladislav Smid

12.5

31

2.48

Ryan Whitney

14.8

41

2.77

Jeff Petry

2.7

9

3.33

Taylor Chorney

0.7

2

2.86

 

Second half

 

Player

ttoiih

Giveaways

Giveaways per Hour

Tom Gilbert

14.7

43

2.93

Theo Peckham

9.2

32

3.48

Ladislav Smid

13.9

28

2.01

Jeff Petry

9.2

23

2.50

Taylor Chorney

2.5

9

3.60

 

Differential

 

Player

ttoiih

Giveaways

Giveaways per Hour

Tom Gilbert

(2.9)

(1)

0.43

Theo Peckham

(3.6)

(3)

0.74

Ladislav Smid

1.4

(3)

(0.47)

Jeff Petry

6.5

14

(0.83)

Taylor Chorney

1.8

7

0.74

 

 

Full season: Takeaways

 

Player

ttoiih

Takeaways

Takeaways per Hour

Tom Gilbert

32.3

43

1.33

Theo Peckham

22.0

30

1.36

Ryan Whitney

14.8

20

1.35

Ladislav Smid

26.4

19

0.72

Jeff Petry

11.9

16

1.34

Taylor Chorney

3.2

4

1.25

 

First half

 

Player

ttoiih

Takeaways

Takeaways per Hour

Tom Gilbert

17.6

21

1.19

Theo Peckham

12.8

24

1.88

Ryan Whitney

14.8

20

1.35

Ladislav Smid

12.5

7

0.56

Jeff Petry

2.7

4

1.48

Taylor Chorney

0.7

1

1.43

 

Second half

 

Player

ttoiih

Takeaways

Takeaways per Hour

Tom Gilbert

14.7

22

1.50

Ladislav Smid

13.9

12

0.86

Jeff Petry

9.2

12

1.30

Theo Peckham

9.2

6

0.65

Taylor Chorney

2.5

3

1.20

 

Differential

 

Player

ttoiih

Takeaways

Takeaways per Hour

Ladislav Smid

1.4

5

0.30

Tom Gilbert

(2.9)

1

0.30

Jeff Petry

6.5

8

(0.18)

Taylor Chorney

1.8

2

(0.23)

Theo Peckham

(3.6)

(18)

(1.22)

 

 

Smid showed improvement, second half over first, in both giveaways and takeaways. An impressive campaign. Once he realizes he belongs – that he is tough enough to hold his own; that he can project presence in the best league in the world – he will become the archetype of the vision.

 

We will crest as Pronger ebbs.

 

Chorney showed regression, although that could be more a result of the small sample size of the first half – 0.7 hours – than his realization that he is actually playing in the NHL finally sinking in.

 

Peckham’s degradation shows the effects of his style of game for over twenty hours, as did Gilbert’s, who play over thirty.

 

Lack of depth has impacts beyond having to play rookies.

 

Conclusion

 

This is a lackluster cast of characters.

 

It is also seriously depressing.

 

I don’t think I can do goalies.

 


 

August 22, 2011

 

Derek’s capitulation: A review of “The Arena Debate – Everyone has been here before”

 

He had had enough.

 

In response to negative feedback on the lack of coverage by coppernblue.com on the arena issue, Derek Zona wrote the above to explain the dearth of participation in the arena discussion.

 

“I can’t speak for my colleagues, I, however, have ignored the issue because … it’s been a foregone conclusion for a very long time.”

 

The article’s premise is that the arena deal is “pre-ordained” and the only appropriate response is not to write about it, rather – like a drive to Calgary – buckle up, hit the cruise, and wait it out.

 

I can understand why he feels that way.

 

Many days, I do to.

 

In the interview with Brad Humphreys, it was a recurring theme.

 

The owner not only holds all the cards, the game is played on his table in his basement. If a public official wants to play – and they all want to play, if only for the resume – he has to pony up.

 

Which is why they all play-out so similarly. If they start from the same point – the same inertia and mass, the same financial realities and political imperatives – they end up in the same place; it’s Newtonian physics.

 

“This same exact dance has happened hundreds of times across the continent in the last 40 years, from 8,500-seat minor league baseball parks and 18,500-seat soccer stadiums to vacant 17,700-seat hockey arenas and 67,000-seat football meccas.”

 

This impotency and lack of efficacy over the aforementioned Dance – the utter hopelessness of even thinking about battling the combined might of a mogul and a mayor – has gotten the better of Derek.

 

“So you see, it’s not that I’m ignoring this very important issue to the future or the Edmonton Oilers, it’s that I just don’t care.”

 

Sticking to the game plan

 

Our mayor has been successful – with skill that leaves me in awe – in keeping everyone dancing “This same exact dance”.

 

His first big hit was suppressing the consultant report on the best downtown location for an arena in which Katz’ site ranked fifth out of five, the second hit single was restricting council to evaluate, not explore, arena options.

 

(the Journal story, written by Scott McKeen, on the suppression of the site evaluation report has been taken down, but you can pick-up some quotes from it, as well the directive given to council, here).

 

Yes, the mayor has willfully guided us onto the mogul train, from which – it would seem at this point – there is no escape.

 

But there is something bigger here, more concerning than a mayor and a mogul cramming a couple of hundred million in debt down our throat.

 

Actions – keeping a taxpayer paid report, especially one that denigrates the party line, from the taxpayers, restricting council to only discussing proposals brought before them, essentially forbidding them from soliciting or searching for outside (i.e. non-Katz) solutions – speak louder than words.

 

Yet the response to this obvious manipulation of the process – whether in actions or words – has been, for the most part, absence. The lack of an uproar over the railroading is a testament to the apathy – in this case, the foregone conclusionitis variety – that Derek has contracted.

 

Further Testimony

 

As I finished reading the article, I poised myself for the backlash that commenters were certain to unleash: “Derek, you asshole, you have a responsibility to your readers to share your thoughts on this, or any, subject that involves the Oilers”, or, perhaps, “What? Have you lost your reproductive ability?”, or, hopefully, “I can see now why you’ve been connected with farm animals”.

 

I braced myself.

 

At first, it looked like expectations might be exceeded. The initial comment, in part, from mumbai max:

 

“What would happen if all bloggers stopped writing about things that were foregone conclusions, uninteresting, or just a plain old waste of time.”

 

“Get up on that soapbox and tell us what you think of the arena as an idea! Join the fray!”

 

But, sadly yet understandably, the conversation shifted: economics and politics, public vs. private, the Oilers’ balance sheet, the Collective Bargaining Agreement, currency fluctuations, bad math (sorry gcw_rocks, but a “$200M” investment that returns “338M” over ten years barely covers inflation and is not “the equivalent to making $53M per year in profit”. Please, in the name of all that is good and holy, put down the slide rule and step away from the keyboard) were the focus of the discussion, not the possibility – or the consequences – of Derek abrogating his duties.

 

The only other comment to address Derek’s acquiescence to fate – the theme of the article – came from another writer for the site, ryanbatty:

 

“I’ve been tempted many times to write about it, have even started a couple of times, but I just got the feeling I’d be pissing in the wind”.

 

Alas, there were to be no farm animals this day.

 

The impact of giving up

 

Arguably the highest profile writer on one of the, arguably, highest profile alternative (i.e. neither Oilers nor media owned) Oilers’ focused sites announces that he is bored (cruise control: Engaged) with the on-going discussion concerning a generational decision on the Oilers’ new home is met with: Apathy.

 

No “Come on, we need you on the front lines Derek” pleas.

 

No “We depend on you to keep us informed (opinionated?)” beseechments (demands?) at all.

 

Derek doesn’t care and nobody cares that Derek doesn’t care.

 

Where is the hate?

 

Apathy, it would seem, is everywhere.

 

And when press releases come out that define a new structure that is essentially the same as the old structure, it is easy to see how Derek, or anyone, can lose the fight against jadedness.

 

An aside: In the article linked above, “User Fees” have been capitalized as a one time sum. This is bullshit that crosses that thin line between misrepresentation and fraud.

 

They are represented, in the Sun’s article, as a line item that offsets, to a degree, the top line debt. In reality, they are an increase in cash flow – operating income – that will be used to support a debt offering.

 

It isn’t a buck and a quarter hit against the four-fifty needed, it is a loan, secured and retired by the projected revenues from the increase to user fees.

 

It is warranties like this that make me realize how much those guys mean to me. After this is all over, Standard & Poors will probably have to downgrade my life rating from AAA to AA+.

 

Is resistance futile?

 

As an alternative approach, inspired by Rob Chevalier, Oilers Blog concocted a financing spigot – reviewed by Derek so don’t let him tell you that he hasn’t written about the subject – that went nowhere because it didn’t have political capital or widespread interest.

 

Or because it was stupid, unrealistic, and probably the result of an alien visitation?

 

We’ll never know; the jury got bored and hit cruise.

 

And there’s the rub, the reason for Derek’s disenchantment: There are only two choices.

 

The gig has been managed so smoothly – only one potential site offered, Northlands cut off at the knees a la Braveheart, a funding model that has been static for the last three years – we only have two options: Buy in with the mogul or lose your team.

 

Derek may not have been despondent enough.

 

But is he right to react in such a manner? Shall cynicism rule the day? Is it “nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them”?

 

That depends on our ability to develop a viable alternative.

 

Here’s one I think you will enjoy:

 

What if we just built a rink

 

My sons learned to skate on a rink in the school yard across the street – we even picked up a pair of skates for my wife – and we would go out there after supper and push a chair around.

 

While the boards were a little rickety and the snow was removed by industrious kids holding a two-by-four nailed to a piece of plywood, the city came by every so often and flooded it, made minor repairs, kept it in working condition.

 

We have the experience. Toss in eighteen thousand seats, and I think we could handle it.

 

Down the community path

 

The foci of revenue is not butts in the seats or TV rights and ratings, but concessions, signage and parking.

 

What if we were to eschew those foci and forsake that revenue?

 

Picture Rexall in your minds eye. See the big, white, circular thing in the middle of a couple of acres of asphalt? It looks like a lucky building, one that freakishly survived a nuclear attack.

 

That’s the way it has looked for the last three decades. There has been zero ancillary growth.

 

The reason behind the design – and the resultant blight – was: Keep all the money in the building.

 

Instead of pissing articles – started but never finished – into the wind, why don’t we piss the revenues – from the standard model – into the wind and build a rink.

 

Not just any rink, mind you, but one that has good ingress and egress – for both attendees and presenters – allowing us to host events from monster truck shows to a biggest pig competition while sitting in nice seats – with WiFi access – ordering drinks from our phone.

 

You would have to:

 

- Build wide – wide, really wide, uber-wide, the key is moving the people efficiently and you need space to do that – concourses around the rink, lots of open space, places to sit, a specially designed smoking room with Keno going 24/7.

 

- Populate the concourses with access points to food, transportation, beer.

 

A stand alone facility – a sheet of ice with eighteen thousand really cool seats – surrounded by independent businesses, not a shell designed to monopolistically optimize revenue per attendee.

 

The cost to build such a beast would probably be around the present municipal commitment: $125 million. The equivalent, give or take, of another overpass.

 

Leave it to the free market

 

This proposal takes Katz’s hundred million off the table – in some respects it makes him a bystander – allowing him to invest it in the patron service industries that will – capitalism at its best – spring up and around.

 

I’d even give him right of first refusal.

 

So there you have it, a rink – for a hundred and a quarter – that is given to the Oilers – replacing a partner with a user, risk with cost certainty – leaving the Oilers’ profitability to Daryl’s ability to replace revenues lost from in-building sales with revenues from the ownership – and success – of businesses – the bars and hair salons, the hawkers of jerseys and hats, the restaurants and shoe repairers – that will organically arise around the new rink.

 

A separation of Katz and state.

 

As an idea, it is okay.

 

Will it go anywhere?

 

Of course not.

 

Which, I am sure, doesn’t surprise Derek.

 

It’s hard not to agree with – and succumb to – the hopelessness.

 


 

 

August 12th, 2011

 

By the numbers: The performance of our forwards, 10/11

 

What follows is a year-end, high-level statistical reporting of the Edmonton Oilers’ forwards. It includes category leaders, the median player per category (a lame attempt at identifying replacement value) and the new guys, free agent acquisitions that will change the franchise foundationally.

 

Prologue

 

I really didn’t want to do this. We were the last team in the league – for good reason – and any kind of numbers running is bound to induce suicidal tendencies.

 

The onslaught of lameness, of almost but not really, the reality. I didn’t feel prepared.

 

But curiosity got the better of me.

 

Our forwards

 

Note: An hour is the NHL’s time on ice per game multiplied by the number of games played divided by sixty minutes. The result does not match the NHL’s “Total Time on Ice”. There is presently no known reason for this.

 

A further note: I threw out some of the data when determining the median. NHL.com records 587 forwards as having played last year. When calculating the median for goals, as an example, I threw out all those that never scored (including, illustriously, three of our own) because I didn’t feel they should be part of determining the mid-water mark.

 

Arbitrary? Absolutely. The lesson: it is always better to write than read.

 

Goals

 

Player

Team

Goals

Goals per Hour

Corey Perry

ANA

50

1.64

Dustin Penner

EDM, LAK

23

0.94

Ryan Smyth

LAK

23

0.93

Taylor Hall

EDM

22

1.12

Jordan Eberle

EDM

18

0.88

Ryan Jones

EDM

18

0.97

Sam Gagner

EDM

15

0.75

Magnus Paajarvi

EDM

15

0.73

Ales Hemsky

EDM

14

0.98

Eric Belanger

PHX

13

0.55

Andrew Cogliano

EDM

11

0.47

Median (Jiri Hudler)

DET

10

0.60

Shawn Horcoff

EDM

9

0.61

Gilbert Brule

EDM

7

0.74

Ben Eager

ATL, SJS

7

0.58

Linus Omark

EDM

5

0.38

Jean-Francois Jacques

EDM

4

0.66

Teemu Hartikainen

EDM

3

0.86

Colin Fraser

EDM

3

0.26

Ryan O'Marra

EDM

1

0.09

Darcy Hordichuk

FLA

1

0.18

Liam Reddox

EDM

1

0.09

Alexandre Giroux

EDM

1

0.51

Zack Stortini

EDM

0

0.00

Chris VandeVelde

EDM

0

0.00

Steve MacIntyre

EDM

0

0.00

 

The top of the list plays for someone else.

 

The next we traded at the deadline, after that an acquisition.

 

Which brings us to the first organic – played for us last year, with be with us next – top scoring Oiler (and the only one to break twenty goals): A rookie.

 

The traditional “team scoring leader” – typically defined as a multi-year guy that floats in and out of title contention, makes the most money, gets all the hot chicks – is noticeably, painfully, absent.

 

You have to go down to the sixth spot to find one that fits “closest match”: Ryan Jones – Ryan Jones – and his eighteen goals, followed by Sam Gagner and his impactful fifteen.

 

As deserving of mourning as the dearth of goals may be, there is hope (quickly becoming a recurring theme of such discussions).

 

Hall increased his goals per hour significantly over the last half of the season: 1.04/hour vs. 1.27. This is supported subjectively: you can almost see him growing, like a mutant sea-monkey, dialing it in, the game slowing down around him.

 

Paajarvi’s rise – on his continuing path to stardom – was even more dramatic: 0.49/hour vs. 0.96.

 

Throw in Eberle’s 18 goals and we played three new hands at the blackjack table and all three paid.

 

Then there the pick-ups. Smyth can get it done, and Belanger scores at a rate of 1.1/hour over a fairly large sample (24.6 hours on ice).

 

Value

 

Belanger’s hours played – his sample size – is of interest for two reasons:

 

One, it is large; Cogliano recorded about the same and he is the Oilers’ leader. Next on the team was Paarvari with 20.5.

 

Secondly, it puts into perspective the money these guys make. Yes, there is a lot of activity around being a hockey player that is not represented by total time on ice in hours (ttoiih) and in many ways that is not fair; dedication to film studies, workouts, practice time, for good or ill, have a direct impact on the number and frequency of shifts. But if we accept the strict and rigorous guidelines of ttoiih, Belanger made $71,138.21/hour.

 

Hemsky: $273,224.04.

 

Assists

 

Player

Team

Assists

Assists per hour

Henrik Sedin

VAN

75

2.8

Ales Hemsky

EDM

28

2

Sam Gagner

EDM

27

1.3

Eric Belanger

PHX

27

1.1

Jordan Eberle

EDM

25

1.2

Andrew Cogliano

EDM

24

1

Ryan Smyth

LAK

24

1

Dustin Penner

EDM, LAK

22

0.9

Linus Omark

EDM

22

1.7

Taylor Hall

EDM

20

1

Magnus Paajarvi

EDM

19

0.9

Shawn Horcoff

EDM

18

1.2

Median (David Moss)

CGY

13

1

Ben Eager

ATL, SJS

10

0.8

Liam Reddox

EDM

9

0.8

Ryan Jones

EDM

7

0.4

Ryan O'Marra

EDM

4

1

Zack Stortini

EDM

4

1.1

Darcy Hordichuk

FLA

4

0.7

Gilbert Brule

EDM

2

0.2

Teemu Hartikainen

EDM

2

0.6

Colin Fraser

EDM

2

0.2

Chris VandeVelde

EDM

2

0.6

Jean-Francois Jacques

EDM

1

0.2

Alexandre Giroux

EDM

1

0.5

Steve MacIntyre

EDM

1

0.5

 

 

Once again, our best is less than half the league leader. Our second best, at least in terms of productivity: Linus Omark.

 

Linus Omark.

 

The lesson: We are getting young fast.

 

Smyth shows up again, as does Belanger, which bodes well, but it does not cover for the pain felt when looking upon the numbers that Hemsky and Horcoff put up last year.

 

They didn’t play a full season – about fourteen and a half hours each – but their per hour numbers do not bespeak “franchise player”. They don’t even speak “really, really good”.

 

There is reason to believe they are overrated.

 

Admittedly, Hemsky was our best player at the end of last year, but upon completion of the upcoming campaign, I doubt the majority will feel that he kept the title.

 

Shots

 

Player

Team

Shots

Shots per hour

Alex Ovechkin

WSH

367

13

Ryan Smyth

LAK

195

7.9

Taylor Hall

EDM

186

9.4

Magnus Paajarvi

EDM

180

8.8

Dustin Penner

EDM, LAK

173

7.1

Jordan Eberle

EDM

158

7.8

Sam Gagner

EDM

138

6.9

Andrew Cogliano

EDM

129

5.5

Eric Belanger

PHX

127

5.4

Ryan Jones

EDM

126

6.8

Median (Nik Antropov)

ATL

105

5.3

Ales Hemsky

EDM

100

7

Liam Reddox

EDM

85

7.7

Ben Eager

ATL, SJS

84

7

Shawn Horcoff

EDM

78

5.3

Linus Omark

EDM

76

5.8

Gilbert Brule

EDM

72

7.6

Colin Fraser

EDM

57

5

Darcy Hordichuk

FLA

32

5.9

Jean-Francois Jacques

EDM

28

4.6

Teemu Hartikainen

EDM

21

6

Chris VandeVelde

EDM

16

4.6

Zack Stortini

EDM

16

4.2

Alexandre Giroux

EDM

13

6.6

Ryan O'Marra

EDM

13

3.4

Steve MacIntyre

EDM

6

3

 

A couple of new guys, Hordichuk and Eager, look like significant upgrades.

 

Team changers.

 

Mind you by not having MacIntyre and/or Jacques on the roster could be considered an upgrade of sorts; rolling them over the boards tended to be some kind of an intimidation spasm, like driving along the highway and hike up the parking brake.

 

The NHL should add to their 5x5 stats – such as they are – an asterisk: *Really, these are 4x5 stats and should be reflected upon in that light.

 

As a talented rookie the anxiety and uncertainty – even fear – of walking into the next level’s locker room for the first time is mitigated by the proximity of ages. It is not till they hit the NHL do they attempt integration into a room with men, men like Steve MacIntyre.

 

Now Steve is gone, as is JFJ, leading to an interesting role reversal.

 

This year the tough guys – Darcy and Ben – are the new guys in the room, introducing themselves to last year’s rookies, who are now respected vets.

 

Room changing.

 

The lesson: Divesting MacIntyre and Jacques is a seismic philosophical shift with regard to toughness: a movement from a threat on the bench (beach?) to a threat on the ice.

 

Other then that, what can be gleened?

 

O’Marra doesn’t have a shot to make this team (double entendre mischievously intended).

 

 

Shooting Efficiency

 

Player

Team

Shots

Goals

Shots per Goal

Sergei Kostitsyn

NSH

93

23

4.04

Jean-Francois Jacques

EDM

28

4

7.00

Ryan Jones

EDM

126

18

7.00

Teemu Hartikainen

EDM

21

3

7.00

Ales Hemsky

EDM

100

14

7.14

Dustin Penner

EDM, LAK

173

23

7.52

Taylor Hall

EDM

186

22

8.45

Ryan Smyth

LAK

195

23

8.48

Shawn Horcoff

EDM

78

9

8.67

Jordan Eberle

EDM

158

18

8.78

Sam Gagner

EDM

138

15

9.20

Eric Belanger

PHX

127

13

9.77

Median (Jason Arnott)

NJD, WSH

169

17

9.94

Gilbert Brule

EDM

72

7

10.29

Andrew Cogliano

EDM

129

11

11.73

Ben Eager

ATL, SJS

84

7

12.00

Magnus Paajarvi

EDM

180

15

12.00

Alexandre Giroux

EDM

13

1

13.00

Ryan O'Marra

EDM

13

1

13.00

Linus Omark

EDM

76

5

15.20

Colin Fraser

EDM

57

3

19.00

Darcy Hordichuk

FLA

32

1

32.00

Liam Reddox

EDM

85

1

85.00

Chris VandeVelde

EDM

16

0

Infinity

Zack Stortini

EDM

16

0

Infinity

Steve MacIntyre

EDM

6

0

Infinity + 1

 

 

Kostitsyn is the winner, after discounting the list’s first six guys that – statistically – were in front; guys that came into a game, got a shot off, scored, and moved on to wherever they go (none of the six played in more than ten games). The next contender on the list scored more goals (27 vs. 32) but was five points lower (25% vs. 20%) in shooting percentage (Sid Crosby, the next Taylor Hall).

 

Great numbers by Jones, but regression to the mean is a good expectation. Belanger is a player, and Eager is at least in the conversation.

 

Hall, Eberle and Paajarvi show well – as far as this team’s standards go – and are expect to continue to improve, as they did during last season.

 

The Rooks

 

Player

Shots

Goals

Shots per Goal

Jordan Eberle

158

18

8.78

Taylor Hall

186

22

8.45

Magnus Paajarvi

180

15

12.00

 

 

 

 

First Half

 Shots

Goals

Shots per Goal

Jordan Eberle

78

9

8.67

Taylor Hall

125

14

8.93

Magnus Paajarvi

82

5

16.40

 

 

 

 

Second Half

Shots

Goals

Shots per Goal

Jordan Eberle

80

9

8.89

Taylor Hall

61

8

7.63

Magnus Paajarvi

98

10

9.80

 

 

This is exceptionally good news; more of that lighthouse keeper’s beam hope shit. All seriousness aside, if we continue trending, and the latest round of new guys perform, we have a real chance of hitting five hundred.

 

Methodology

 

Establishing the median requires settling on a sample range. Goals and assists were easy: If you don’t have one, you don’t count. But shooting efficiency was a little more challenging to filter. At the top, Kostitsyn jumped out, the half dozen ahead of him were easily ditched based on number of shots, games played, ttoiih, etc.

 

When looking for the bottom – the low water mark – another name leapt – like a late-night rabbit dashing across the road in front of my car, bunge jumping for a thrill, an invigorating break from all the eating and fucking – as the King Kong (Klown?) of the class.

 

Sean Avery fired off 137 shots to score three goals.

 

A fan – participating in one of those sponsored by a sandwich place intermission fun & games that requires sliding the puck from centre ice through the five hole on a caricature goalie taped to the goal posts with the slot along the ice about half an inch bigger than the puck in width and height – has better stats.

 

His mother is starting to give him tips.

 

If shooting percentage is sabermetric hockey’s OBP, Sean might want to work on his grocery store facing techniques.

 

He’s hockey’s version of the business premise: We lose money on every sale, but we make up for it in volume.

 

For the 2010/2011 NHL season, Sean Avery, you are our low watermark.

 

Having said that, do not allow stats to obscure the intangibles, of which Sean has in abundance, dork that he is.

 

Yes, I am still bitter over the sucker-punch on Smid early last year.

 

 

Hits

 

Player

Team

Hits

Hits per Hour

Cal Clutterbuck

MIN

336

16.79

Ryan Jones

EDM

152

8.16

Darcy Hordichuk

FLA

116

21.32

Jean-Francois Jacques

EDM

111

18.39

Gilbert Brule

EDM

95

10.07

Dustin Penner

EDM, LAK

90

3.68

Andrew Cogliano

EDM

89

3.76

Ben Eager

ATL, SJS

87

7.24

Colin Fraser

EDM

79

6.87

Liam Reddox

EDM

76

6.91

Eric Belanger

PHX

71

3.00

Median (Logan Couture)

SJS

60

2.56

Taylor Hall

EDM

48

2.43

Zack Stortini

EDM

46

12.15

Ryan O'Marra

EDM

41

10.65

Jordan Eberle

EDM

32

1.57

Shawn Horcoff

EDM

32

2.18

Ales Hemsky

EDM

29

2.02

Ryan Smyth

LAK

25

1.02

Sam Gagner

EDM

24

1.20

Steve MacIntyre

EDM

23

11.60

Magnus Paajarvi

EDM

22

1.07

Teemu Hartikainen

EDM

19

5.46

Chris VandeVelde

EDM

19

5.49

Alexandre Giroux

EDM

16

8.16

Linus Omark

EDM

13

0.99

 

Again we do not “hit” the half-way mark in the battle of our best vs. the league best. Hordichuk seems to have enjoyed his five hours (this could be fun). Eager and Belanger are above the median (what does it say when the question is not how close are we to the leader, but how far are we from the median?).

 

But the leaping this time is done by O’Marra and Brule’s per hour numbers.

 

Which are nice and worthy of mention, but unless one or both pick it up in some of the other statistical categories, they won’t be around long; the skills they bring to the table – and those they take off – are commonplace.

 

Blocks

 

Player

Team

Blocks

Blocks per Hour

Mike Fisher

OTT, NSH

89

3.54

Ryan Jones

EDM

57

3.06

Colin Fraser

EDM

54

4.69

Andrew Cogliano

EDM

46

1.95

Eric Belanger

PHX

45

1.90

Taylor Hall

EDM

37

1.88

Dustin Penner

EDM, LAK

30

1.23

Sam Gagner

EDM

29

1.45

Ben Eager

ATL, SJS

28

2.33

Magnus Paajarvi

EDM

25

1.22

Liam Reddox

EDM

24

2.18

Median (Chad LaRose)

CAR

23

1.05

Shawn Horcoff

EDM

20

1.37

Linus Omark

EDM

19

1.45

Ales Hemsky

EDM

18

1.26

Ryan Smyth

LAK

18

0.73

Jordan Eberle

EDM

17

0.84

Jean-Francois Jacques

EDM

17

2.82

Gilbert Brule

EDM

16

1.70

Chris VandeVelde

EDM

12

3.47

Ryan O'Marra

EDM

9

2.34

Zack Stortini

EDM

8

2.11

Teemu Hartikainen

EDM

6

1.72

Steve MacIntyre

EDM

4

2.02

Darcy Hordichuk

FLA

4

0.74

Alexandre Giroux

EDM

3

1.53

 

Smyth is getting older in that smarter kind of way. Hordichuk’s numbers concern: Where’s the toughness when you are blocking less than a shot an hour? Omark shows better than Horcoff, although it is unsure whether that bodes well or ill. VandeVelde is obviously deranged enough to make the team, which is good unless he’s your neighbour in what should be a quiet, little cul-de-sac.

 

But the story is Belanger and Hall. The table above tells us that they are both willing to step in front of a shot – possibly the most dangerous thing a man can do, for a good shot from the point is the epitome of harm’s way – and that is a tell, an indicator of desire, a hint of who wants it more.

 

On changes of possession

 

Gary Bettman and Co. treat turnovers in a disrespectful and abusive, moronic, myopic, malfeasant and self-depreciating manner.

 

In the NFL and NBA turnovers are seen as having a strong correlation to a win/loss record. They are duly recorded within a strictly defined context, and as such have respect and value.

 

If the NHL had respect for, and understood the value of, turnover statistics, this wouldn’t happen:

 

Turnover differential – Oilers 2010/2011

 

Giveaways

Home

715

Away

400

Takeaways

Home

221

Away

972

 

 

With Norman Bates walking away from doing the books for his mother’s motel to take up informing us on the ability of a team or player to gain or lose the puck, I can not add a leader, a median or the new guys to the mix and maintain a sense of commonality or relativity.

 

Giveaways

 

Player

Team

Giveaways

Giveaways per Hour

Dustin Penner

EDM, LAK

69

2.82

Andrew Cogliano

EDM

46

2.44

Taylor Hall

EDM

45

2.28

Jordan Eberle

EDM

41

2.01

Sam Gagner

EDM

38

1.89

Linus Omark

EDM

35

3.74

Magnus Paajarvi

EDM

35

1.70

Ryan Jones

EDM

33

1.77

Ales Hemsky

EDM

32

2.23

Gilbert Brule

EDM

29

3.08

Shawn Horcoff

EDM

24

1.64

Colin Fraser

EDM

20

1.74

Ryan O'Marra

EDM

17

3.52

Liam Reddox

EDM

12

1.09

Jean-Francois Jacques

EDM

11

1.82

Steve MacIntyre

EDM

7

3.53

Teemu Hartikainen

EDM

5

1.44

Zack Stortini

EDM

5

1.32

Chris VandeVelde

EDM

4

1.16

Alexandre Giroux

EDM

1

0.51

 

 

Even in this skewed, satanic version of coughing it up propensity, Brule, Omark and O’Marra stand out, and so they should.

 

They are abysmal puck owners.

 

With Brule and O’Marra it is understandable; it would appear that these two are only inspired by objects of desire that are corporeal, as though inanimate objects – pucks and sticks – don’t fit in their world-view.

 

But Omark? That is less easily understood, and more worrying.

 

He played more in the second half – 3.5 hours vs. 5.8 – and his giveaway rate went exponential – 2.55/hour vs. 4.6.

 

Why?

 

Brule and O’Marra are bumping up against their ceiling.

 

Omark is still looking.

 

Horcoff, and Paajarvi are our standouts, leading to thoughts of Horcoff as the third line centre and Paajarvi a suitor for my daughter’s hand.

 

Takeaways

 

 

Player

Team

Takeaways

Takeaways per Hour

Jordan Eberle

EDM

56

3.16

Dustin Penner

EDM, LAK

45

2.49

Taylor Hall

EDM

45

2.47

Ryan Jones

EDM

38

2.75

Linus Omark

EDM

33

3.00

Sam Gagner

EDM

33

1.86

Andrew Cogliano

EDM

32

2.32

Shawn Horcoff

EDM

29

1.55

Colin Fraser

EDM

27

2.62

Magnus Paajarvi

EDM

25

1.62

Liam Reddox

EDM

23

1.53

Ales Hemsky

EDM

17

0.93

Gilbert Brule

EDM

9

0.65

Ryan O'Marra

EDM

8

0.58

Chris VandeVelde

EDM

6

0.35

Jean-Francois Jacques

EDM

6

0.85

Teemu Hartikainen

EDM

4

0.23

Zack Stortini

EDM

4

0.56

Alexandre Giroux

EDM

1

0.07

Steve MacIntyre

EDM

1

0.29

 

 

They say that speed kills; absolute speed kills absolutely.

 

Okay, they don’t say that, but some how it is fitting – on a thirtieth place team – that the hourly leaders are rookies: Eberle and Omark.

 

The rest of the story

 

There must be made mention of Omark’s redemption.

 

He was wisely berated over his giveaway rate – and thrown into the Brule/O’Marra clique because of it – but he was the only one to bring something to the table; his takeaways went exponential squared: 2.6/hour vs. 7.2, first half vs. last.

 

The kid can play on my team any time.

 

Reading minds

 

It looks like strength down the middle, speed on the wings, is their blueprint. The Oilers website lists:

 

Left Wing

Centre

Right Wing

Ryan Smyth

Shawn Horcoff

Ales Hemsky

Talyor Hall

Sam Gagner

Jordan Eberle

Magnus Paajarvi

Eric Belanger

Linus Omark

Ben Eager

Gilbert Brule

Ryan Jones

 

On the other side of the back-up goalie:

Darcy Hordichuk

 

Sure, this line-up has 0.500 written all over it, but it will be an exciting 0.500. With this group it is easy to look at the upside, to dream of after-season games, but that would be a mistake.

 

When the injuries hit the lack of depth will be revealed, pulling back the black curtain on the farm teams, introducing more young men into the full spectrum dominance that is the NHL. It is then that we will lapse back into the “rebuilding, lower expectations mode” without consciously admitting how bad we are.

 

Epilogue

 

Our forwards have changed, whether it be through maturation (Hall, Eberle, Paajarvi, Omark), attrition (MacIntrye, Jacques, Stortini, et al.) or acquisition (Belanger, Eager, Hordichuk, Nugent-Hopkins).

 

Improved?

 

Yes.

 

The best?

 

Far from it.