If You Weren’t Feeling Bad Enough…

Jonathan Willis
December 29 2009 04:52PM

One of the few North American professional teams performing worse than the Edmonton Oilers right now are the Springfield Falcons, Edmonton’s AHL affiliate. Mired in a 15-game losing streak, they’re only two games away from going winless in December.

For folks looking for a positive take, skip to the end.

Injuries and recalls haven’t helped matters. Since Devan Dubnyk joined the Oilers, the team has alternated between backup Aaron Sorochan (.871 SV%, fail), ECHL goaltender Andrew Perugini (.874 SV%, fail) and 2005 Ducks’ draftee J-P Levasseur (.878 SV%, fail). With Dubnyk in Springfield, the Falcons are one game over .500. With Dubnyk gone, the Falcons are 1-15.

Other players who have missed significant time one way or the other include Chris Minard, Liam Reddox, Taylor Chorney, Theo Peckham, and Dean Arsene. That’s a pretty significant list of veterans.

Still, this isn’t something that can be pegged on missing players. The goaltending has certainly been the biggest problem, but other issues abound. For example:

  • Liam Reddox, who played 46 NHL games last year, has eight points and a minus-14 rating through 27 games. The latter number is the worst of any Springfield forward.
  • One player on the team is in double digits in goals, and Colton Fretter has 9 of his 14 on the power play. Nobody on the team can score at even-strength.
  • Ryan Potulny, who played all of 14 games with the Falcons, sits ninth among forwards in goals (3) and seventh in points (8); the latter number is as many as Ryan O’Marra has managed all season.
  • There isn’t a single forward on the team who could accurately be labeled a prospect.

That’s just the forwards. On defence, there’s one bright spot: Theo Peckham. Aside from that, it’s a mess. Just for fun, let’s look at the Springfield defense corps by plus/minus. For further laughs, we’ll project those numbers over 82 games.

  • Theo Peckham: +4
  • Johan Motin: -6
  • Jake Taylor: -17
  • Dean Arsene: -21
  • Alex Plante: -23
  • Chris Armstrong: -24
  • Cody Wild: -30
  • Matt Nickerson: -30
  • Taylor Chorney: -103

Johan Motin’s been an occasional healthy scratch and is probably being worked in slowly. Aside from him, the list includes good (Peckham), bad (Taylor) to worse (Nickerson) and simply awful (Chorney). In fairness to Chorney, he’s only played a dozen games and he’s probably playing tough opponents, but I see no reason to believe that last year’s team-worst minus-29 was a fluke. In 95 professional games, Taylor Chorney now has a minus-54 rating.

THE END: Devan Dubnyk and Theo Peckham have promising NHL careers, based on their AHL performance this season.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
December 30 2009, 02:14PM
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Pajamah wrote:

That's like saying our record is indicative of Heatley, Hossa, Jagr not being here

A teams record can't be indicative of pieces they don't / have never had

their record is indicative of their talent level, based on the team they ice on any given night. Now if you want to say it's indicative of not having Dubnyk,Potulny etc. I'd give you that

Bad example. The point of the article was to show the dire straights of the orginazation because of a poor AHL team, when the AHL is no longer the only (or arguable the best) development league. 2-3 high end prospects and a handful of role player prospects is pretty good. It doesn't matter where those guys are playing.

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#52 Bucknuck
December 30 2009, 02:33PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Bad example. The point of the article was to show the dire straights of the orginazation because of a poor AHL team, when the AHL is no longer the only (or arguable the best) development league. 2-3 high end prospects and a handful of role player prospects is pretty good. It doesn't matter where those guys are playing.

The only player down there with NHL talent is Peckham... and maybe Chorney. So naturally the team is a bottom feeder. It is a bad team, Jonathan is right.

My point was that it isn't an indication of the success of the scouting staff.

The three most exciting Oiler prospects (Omark, Eberle, MPS) are not playing on your farm team, and the four prospects (Dubnyk, Schremp, Stone, Potulny) that were going to be A-liners on that AHL squad are all now playing in the NHL.

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#53 SquidRx
December 30 2009, 02:53PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Bad example. The point of the article was to show the dire straights of the orginazation because of a poor AHL team, when the AHL is no longer the only (or arguable the best) development league. 2-3 high end prospects and a handful of role player prospects is pretty good. It doesn't matter where those guys are playing.

Thanks OOB. That was very much what I was getting at. All of our prospects are not playing for the Falcons right now. The argument can be made that all our best prospects are not playing for the Falcons right now. As such, the record of the Falcons may not be the best indicator of right now of the Oilers organizational talent depth.

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#54 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
December 30 2009, 02:54PM
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Bucknuck wrote:

The only player down there with NHL talent is Peckham... and maybe Chorney. So naturally the team is a bottom feeder. It is a bad team, Jonathan is right.

My point was that it isn't an indication of the success of the scouting staff.

The three most exciting Oiler prospects (Omark, Eberle, MPS) are not playing on your farm team, and the four prospects (Dubnyk, Schremp, Stone, Potulny) that were going to be A-liners on that AHL squad are all now playing in the NHL.

That is my position as well.

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#55 OilBaron
December 30 2009, 03:42PM
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@Jonathan Willis

You have an agenda of pumping up the tires of Dubnyk, not really sure why. Or fat Theo Peckham. Both solid AHL players. MacT syndrome?

When you say the Falcons biggest problem is goaltending it's like saying the forward and defense crew is so good they are getting let down by the goalies and that isn't the case.

This is a bad team that at best when healthy was a middle of the road team. The Falcons aren't winning because they don't have enough talent to score or enough talent to cut down on the shots and quality of shots.

The Falcon's biggest problem is it's arcitect, Kevin Predergast. He's the guy who commanded the draft table and stocked this team with the likes of Cody Wild and Colin McDonald. He's the guys who makes this team in the offseason (or should be making this team in the offseason) and failed to fill the ranks with quality players.

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