Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Big Changes Needed For the Oilers, With an Emphasis on "BIG"

With the '13-14 season set to kick off with realigned divisions, the Oilers are set to take on new division rivals Anaheim, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and San Jose. What does this mean? That they will be facing the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Anze Kopitar, Martin Hanzal and Joe Thornton with more regularity than ever before and that's just the first line centers!

All four teams have bigger and/or grittier core players than the Oilers do and if we play each team six times a season we will play over a quarter of our '13-14 regular season games against them. We will be playing more regularly against the likes of Perry, Ryan, Getzlaf, Etem, Beauchemin, Allen, Souray, Steckel, and Smith-Pelly the Ducks don't have a shortage of big and hard to play against players.

Then you have LA with Kopitar, Brown, Richards, Carter, Clifford, Nolan, King, Doughty, Greene and Stoll leading their charge of playoff tested and proven players.

Next up Phoenix with Doan, Hanzal, Vermette, OEL, Boedker, Morris, Korpikoski, Stone and Klinkhammer who make life miserable for the opposition with their physical play, size and stifling defense.

Lastly San Jose with Thornton, Marleau, Couture, Wingels, Burns, Stuart, Shepherd and Burish who as a whole isn't as physical as the other three teams that I've listed, but they have a lot of size in their top six and present match-up problems for our team in their current form.

As I see it Mactavish needs to move out guys like Gagner and Hemsky and beef up our forward core. While Gagner did show some improvement this season he is still a player type that we have in droves and in my opinion the player that has the lowest upside in that group. Hemsky on the other hand is even easier to cut ties with with the emergence of Nail Yakupov late in the season.

Next up we have our bottom six. Unless Mactavish buys out Horcoff like he should from where I sit, Horcoff will once again be the "anchor" of our third line, the question is will he be an anchor in a good sense or just a flat out boat anchor that drags the line down. Mike Brown is signed through next season and brings some much needed toughness to the team. Anton Lander might well be ready to take over as the fourth line center punting Eric Belanger clear off the team.

With Horcoff and probably Ryan Smyth returning that is 33% of our bottom six that does not play a very physical brand of hockey. Lander and Brown add varied amounts of grit and that leaves just two more spots in the bottom six. Ideally we'd be pushing hard to sign both Bryan Bickell and Cal Clutterbuck. Adding those two would make us a much tougher team to play against even if we roll out with cream puffs like Horcoff and Smyth in our bottom six.

For the top six ideally we could add a bigger and better defensive center than Gagner and/or a guy like Lucic to flank Gagner and Yakupov. This team simply cannot stay as small and weak down the middle and in key positions if we expect to hang in there when things get hairy out on the ice. It's time for MacT to go to work and it's time for Hemsky, Gagner, Horcoff, and Smyth to find new places of employment if MacT's first priority is winning in short order.     

Monday, April 15, 2013

Could MacT Fans Who Are Also Gagner and Hemsky Fans Be In For a Rude Awakening?

While fans of Craig Mactavish are likely rejoicing right now with MacT once again taking on a prominent role in our organization, their celebrations might soon turn to surprise or even disgust before the Oilers even start their first full season with MacT in the GM chair.

Mactavish talked about looking for Lucic types of players, if there's one thing that Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky aren't, it's guys that are big, tough, and hard to play against. A post on HF today got me to thinking that Gagner's time here is about to run out after 7 more games. Spector on 1260: I've had lots of hockey conversations with Craig over the years. Gagner gets moved this summer.

Could we finally have a GM that sees that having RNH and Gagner as our top two centers simply won't cut it? Could we see MacT's "genius" get called into question if/when he sends #89 packing because he still sucks on draws and isn't strong/defensively sound enough to battle the leagues bigger centers?

So then what if Mactavish doesn't stop there and he punts Ales Hemsky out of town as well? Hemsky definitely wasn't standing up for his former bench boss just prior to his last days as Oilers coach and I'm sure that MacT remembers that and that he might quite enjoy dishing it back to Hemsky.

IMO both of these players need to be shipped out of town before we really make a push. Neither player has the ability to dominate games when they are played physically. Neither player will win you many much needed board battles either.

If the team that Scott Howson left behind in Columbus is any indication, he will be a great asset to our team in terms of bringing in grit and value FA's. How ironic, after years of chirping Tambellini, MacT might be the guy that runs Gagner and Hemsky out of here.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Where Does Justin Schultz' Offensive Stats Rank Among Recent High D Picks From The NCAA? Part 2

I guess it shows how long it's been since I've blogged, it looks like a number of changes have been made, so I'll continue the rest here!

Firstly here are Schultz' stats, he was drafted in '08

Freshman Season: 43 6-16-22
Sophomore Season: 41 18-29-47
Junior Season: 37 16-28-44

He seems to be way up the ladder in 2nd and 3rd year production, however one thing that catches my eye is that there are three high scoring Wisconsin Badgers on the list and the lower scoring McDonagh, Brendan Smith, Schultz, and Gardiner. Is it a great system in Wisconsin for offensive D, or do they just recruit some of the best D talent around?

Obviously the Badgers are a big NCAA program, but Schultz' stats are in between Smith's and Gardiner's in their junior years, although he is far superior to their Sophomore stats. Four high end D were drafted out of their program in a 2 years span! 

Erik Johnson
Freshman Season: 41 4-20-24
Best NHL Season: 79 10-29-39

Jeff Petry
Junior Season: 38 4-25-29
Best NHL Season: 73 2-23-25

Jamie McBain
Junior Season: 40 7-30-37
Best NHL Season: 76 7-23-30

Brendan Smith
Sophomore Season: 31 9-14-23
Junior Season: 42 15-37-52
Best AHL Season: 57 10-24-34
Best NHL Season: 14 1-6-7

Ryan McDonagh
Sophomore Season: 36 5-11-16
Junior Season: 43 4-14-18
Best NHL Season: 82 7-25-32

Jake Gardiner
Sophomore Season: 41 6-7-13
Junior Season: 41 10-31-41
Best NHL Season: 75 7-23-30

Nick Leddy
Freshman Season: 30 3-8-11
Best NHL Season: 82 3-34-37

Justin Faulk
Freshman Season: 39 8-25-33
Best NHL Season: 66 8-14-22

Could Schultz be one of the best of the bunch? The stats would say that the answer is yes, quite frankly if he turns out to be as good as the top 20% of this list he'd be a tremendous signing. Here's to hoping that the Oilers can pull it off and bring back the player that the 2nd round pick that went to Anaheim as compensation for the Dustin Penner offer sheet yielded. 

Where Does Justin Schultz' Offensive Stats Rank Among Recent High D Picks From The NCAA?

Now naturally there are no guarantees that he signs with the Oilers, but just how special is this kids offensive game relative to 1st and 2nd round offensive defensemen picks that went the NCAA route? Let's look at the list since the turn of the century.

Ron Hainsey
Sophomore Season: 33 10-26-36
Best NHL Season: 81 6-33-39

Ryan Whitney
Junior Season: 38 9-16-25
Best NHL Season: 81 14-45-59

Keith Ballard
Junior Season: 37 11-25-36
Best NHL Season: 82 8-31-39

Duncan Keith
Sophomore Season: 15 3-6-9
Best NHL Season: 82 14-55-69

Ryan Suter
Freshman Season: 39 3-16-19

Best NHL Season: 79 7-39-46

Matt Carle
Freshman Season: 30 5-21-26
Sophomore Season: 43 13-31-46
Junior Season: 39 11-42-53
Best NHL Season: 77 11-31-42


Jack Johnson
Freshman Season: 38 10-22-32
Sophomore Season: 36 16-23-39
Best NHL Season: 82 5-37-42

Matt Niskanen
Sophomore Season: 39 9-22-31
Best NHL Season: 80 6-29-35