Comparing 2010-11 With 2009-10

Jonathan Willis
November 26 2010 02:41PM

While the addition of some quality young players to the team has made Oilers games more watchable than last year, I’ve been curious to see how the team has a whole has improved from last season’s debacle. After all, the point of a rebuild is to slowly improve, and ideally we’d see this team making gradual steps forward.

One quarter through the season, how does this group compare with the 2009-10 Oilers?

The following chart shows some of the key places we might look for team-wide improvement:

Season 2009-10 2010-11
Points 62 62
GF/Game 2.51 2.48
GA/Game 3.39 3.86
SF/Game 28.3 25.5
SA/Game 33.1 35.6
PP% 17.3 13.6
PK% 78 67.5

To recap what that chart says: compared to the 2009-10 Oilers, this year’s team a) scores marginally less, b) gets scored on more frequently, c) gets fewer shots, d) sees more shots against, e) has a worse power play and f) has a worse penalty kill.

I sincerely hope that’s the most damning thing I ever say about this team, because despite my modest expectations I was disheartened when I looked up the actual data.

The special teams shift has been this club’s biggest problem. Not only are both special teams units significantly worse this season than they were last year, but the Oilers spend less time on the power play (down to 3.86 power-plays per game from 3.98 last season) and more time killing penalties (from 3.72 kills per game up to 3.95) than they did one year ago. After allowing 67 goals while short-handed, they’re currently on pace to allow 105, and after scoring 52 power play goals a year ago they’re on pace to tally just 43. That shift has hidden marginal improvements at even-strength, where the Oilers are on pace to be minus-50 after putting in a minus-52 performance one season ago.

It’s still early, and so there is still an opportunity for this team to turn things around. But to date the influx of talent and change in coaching staff hasn’t had the desired result, because if the Oilers keep up this pace it will turn out that last season wasn’t rock bottom after all.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, 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 Ryan14
November 26 2010, 05:04PM
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@MoJo

The presence Struds has in the room outweigh the marginal improvement Belle would bring to the team, let alone the possible asset we would lose depending on who would have to be sent down to make room for Belle.

The NHL is not as easy as "call this guy up and send this guy down", or "sign ___________," or "trade Gilbert for _______." Every move has direct and indirect consequences.

Lets say, for arguments sake, the Oilers send down Vandy, and call up Belle. A week later, a d-man gets hurt. In an attempt to bring Vandy up, he is picked off waivers (where his salary would be half I believe). Now the Oilers depth is down 2 players on the back end. All so we could replace one #6/7 d-man for another #6/7 d-man. Not really worth it.

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#52 The Other John
November 26 2010, 05:16PM
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Jonathan I kneew we were worse than last year but SHEESH!!

Why is it that NOW that everyone is suggesting the Oilers are "artfully tanking". Other than catching lightning in a bottlein 06--- Pronger giving us 30 minutes of quiet ice each and every night and Rolosen being ON ABSOLUTE FIRE, what has this team done in 8-10 years.

At the start of the year Tom Renney actually said "we can compete for the playoffs" ...... not "we are artfully tanking for a draft pick". Think he would say that today about the abomination of a roster that Tambi has assembled?

We have not had a RH center that can win a draw or kill a penalty for 2 1/2 years. Were we "artfully tanking then"? or were we just abysmally managed by KLowe and STambellini? Because we have been very bad for a long time.

We have 1 thing going for us right now --Stu McGregor and his draft picks but that is about 1/5th of what is required to run a successful team and NOTHING about this management group inspires anyone to actually believe they could manage a convenience store

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#53 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
November 26 2010, 05:20PM
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Is anyone listening to Gregors show? Man Spec is embarrassing, his NHL/CFL conversation was a joke. He's constantly contradicting himself.

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#54 Tayranchula
November 26 2010, 06:11PM
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Hey Willis just wondering how Bigos and Hesketh are turning out (both players havent been mentioned in Oilers D prospects recently).

I watched Bigos plently while he played in my hometown of Vernon and he quickly became a crowd favorite cuz he could do everything so well at his level (I do know it is only Junior A).

Another question is: the Oil have had so many draft picks being Dman recently would it really be usefull to draft Adam Larsson if they have top pick again? The Oil lack that top end Centermen and Courturier is just that.

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#56 Freezing Weather Fan
November 26 2010, 09:28PM
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Jay Dub, I've got absolutely no problems with you, and enjoy your statistical side of analysis a lot. It's always good for a sense of perspective. The only thing I have to say is...

What happened to positive Friday?! :(

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#57 Matt Henderson
November 26 2010, 09:38PM
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It's hard to jettison a bunch of vets, overpaid and underperforming as they may have been, replace them with rookies and expect things like shots against to go down.

This team is bad, but they have so much more potential to get better than last year's group. Khabibulin's ECHL save percentage was not expected either. I was hoping he could at least put up Deslauriers-like numbers, but that appears to have been a pipe-dream.

Nonetheless, ELPH is fine by me. I can watch this team lose like the losingest bunch of losers that ever lost for the rest of the season.

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#58 magisterrex
November 26 2010, 10:08PM
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I don't see any way this can go straight through the season. The kids are getting better each game, which is a huge difference over last year. It's a long, long way until the finish line.

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#59 Biowolf
November 26 2010, 11:07PM
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Last year the Oilers had Souray and Visnovsky on D. Look what they got now.

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#60 Wreck'em
November 26 2010, 11:10PM
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Last year we started out a decent team and ended up being losers. This year we start as losers and will end up a decent team. I would expect gradual improvement this year as the kids find their roles. The Oilers have 3-6 defensive prospects in the system, no #1 or #2 studs. Larsson might fill a nice void, if there wasnt also the huge void at 1C.

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#61 Racki
November 26 2010, 11:47PM
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While many people disliked thecaptainethanmoreau, Souray, Staios, and maybe even Pisani, losing a big chunk of our veteran core and some other players who've been around longer than 20 games (Ex. Stone / Potulny) is a huge hit to the team. It will eventually get better though, as the guys we have on the team now have a pretty high top end (whereas the majority of the aforementioned vets and non-rookies aren't overly talented either).

Anyways, this team really got much more inexperienced by the time this season started and quite quickly at that as we jettisoned all the "dead weight". But while those guys (Moreau, Staios, etc.) might have plateaued long ago, there is still a lot to be said about that NHL experience that we lost.

I'm not too worried though. And hell, even if this team does tank again, I'm fine with that too, as the top 3 prospects (currently) all sound like great options.

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#62 Horcsky
November 26 2010, 11:50PM
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@Racki

Staois may be on the downside of his career, but he scored a nice one against Philly today that jerk!

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#63 Coco crisp
November 27 2010, 01:30AM
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To be honest with you guys, from the beginning of this season, I wad hoping we could get a top 3 pick. Why not? I know enduring a long season of eye bleeding hockey is rough but I would to have a couturier in the line up.

Also - what if we called up Sheldon souray? Or omark. Can't hurt much of tambo isn't afraid of another season of last place finishes.

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#64 DSF
November 27 2010, 07:01AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I'd argue that this team is in Season Five of the rebuild. The rebuild started the minute Kevin Lowe sent Chris Pronger away for magic beans.

The problem is that management didn't realize it until about the halfway point of last season.

If management didn't realize it and took steps to counteract it (trading for Visnovsky and signing Khabibulin for example), the rebuild did not start five years ago.

In fact, other than drafting, which is a normal course of events for all teams, the rebuild hasn't even started yet since tearing down the roster is not complete.

I guess you could start the clock ticking when Tambellini announced two thirds of the way through last season that he was indeed the GM and started purging contracts but that job isn't finished yet.

Bear in mind he still believes Khabibulin is the team MVP, JFJ and other AHL quality players still populate the roster and he is still sitting on "assets" that are not suited to a long term strategy.

Using the example of the latest "rebuilt" team, the LA Kings, Lombardi moved out every player he thought had no long term future with the team ( Visnovsky, O'Sullivan, Frolov) and started plugging holes with players who fit his window to win.

The Oilers are still in the tear down phase because Steady still hasn't made those decisions and acted upon them.

While he finally chose a couple of goalies after mulling it over for a year and a half, he still has major decisions to make among the small forwards, Eberle, Gagner, Cogliano, Brule can't all play in the top six where they are most suited and yet they're still on the roster and the team seems determined to turn Paajarvi into a mule

Rebuilding the defense is not underway either unless you believe Vandermeer and Strudwick are the answer. Any fool can see each and every Oiler defenseman is playing at least one level above their capability and until that is addressed by acquiring two top pairing defensemen, WYSIWYG.

Those defensemen do not exist on the roster or likely in the system unless Marincin reaches above his projected potential and he is years away.

Steady needs to start using his assets to acquire players who will fit a window to win and, unfortunately, his only truly valuable assets are Hemsky and Penner and Gagner if he can trick someone.

So far, the team is nothing more than a smoking hole in the ground with a couple of nice rookies to help sell tickets.

The rebuild begins when he starts adding the pieces the team needs long term.

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#65 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
November 27 2010, 09:49AM
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DSF wrote:

If management didn't realize it and took steps to counteract it (trading for Visnovsky and signing Khabibulin for example), the rebuild did not start five years ago.

In fact, other than drafting, which is a normal course of events for all teams, the rebuild hasn't even started yet since tearing down the roster is not complete.

I guess you could start the clock ticking when Tambellini announced two thirds of the way through last season that he was indeed the GM and started purging contracts but that job isn't finished yet.

Bear in mind he still believes Khabibulin is the team MVP, JFJ and other AHL quality players still populate the roster and he is still sitting on "assets" that are not suited to a long term strategy.

Using the example of the latest "rebuilt" team, the LA Kings, Lombardi moved out every player he thought had no long term future with the team ( Visnovsky, O'Sullivan, Frolov) and started plugging holes with players who fit his window to win.

The Oilers are still in the tear down phase because Steady still hasn't made those decisions and acted upon them.

While he finally chose a couple of goalies after mulling it over for a year and a half, he still has major decisions to make among the small forwards, Eberle, Gagner, Cogliano, Brule can't all play in the top six where they are most suited and yet they're still on the roster and the team seems determined to turn Paajarvi into a mule

Rebuilding the defense is not underway either unless you believe Vandermeer and Strudwick are the answer. Any fool can see each and every Oiler defenseman is playing at least one level above their capability and until that is addressed by acquiring two top pairing defensemen, WYSIWYG.

Those defensemen do not exist on the roster or likely in the system unless Marincin reaches above his projected potential and he is years away.

Steady needs to start using his assets to acquire players who will fit a window to win and, unfortunately, his only truly valuable assets are Hemsky and Penner and Gagner if he can trick someone.

So far, the team is nothing more than a smoking hole in the ground with a couple of nice rookies to help sell tickets.

The rebuild begins when he starts adding the pieces the team needs long term.

"the rebuild hasn't even started yet since tearing down the roster is not complete."

I don't think you ever see a roster that is "completely torn down", and I'd guess the Oilers have been stripped away as far, or farther then any of the rebuilds we've seen recently.

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#66 madjam
November 27 2010, 10:13AM
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LIGHT A FIRE UNDER UPPER MANAGEMENTS -SSES. Start moving some of diminutive overload of players out of here for bigger upgrades . At least start on a proper rebuild this year . These people need more assessment time before determining which ones should go ? If they do then they should go first and formost , and Katz bring in someone that will do something about it ! We have purged long enough , and this long term cycle leaves little to believe they'll fair any better with current upper management over the next few years . They simply can't meet their goals in an adequate and timely manner .

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#67 madjam
November 27 2010, 10:55AM
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NEW PROPOSAL ! Time for Oilers Nation to give new direction to meet targets of future team . Oiler nation writers , etc. contact other gm's around league to see whom they might be willing to trade or deal for , for any and all of our players . Oilers nation will assess and only present viable options to our managerial team for approval . Drafts past, present and future all open for negotiation in these regards .

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#68 Fatso
November 27 2010, 01:26PM
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Talk about blind hate for Horcoff, I think its Blind love. I feel sorry for Hall he has to sit by him all the time and hear him talk on what he should and shouldnt be doing thats like hearing Miley Cyrus talk about Welding. Maybe he should sit with Strudwick and learn how to play D too.

WE need better vets

On the other hand.

Hemsky and Eberle will be top point players this year for the oil.

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#69 madjam
November 27 2010, 04:48PM
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Matt Henderson wrote:

I dont think that Ken Holland would appreciate Wanye calling to find out if they would move Franzen for Penner. Something tells me your plan is just a bit flawed.

Might be faster and get better results than normal channels , at the rate they are going .

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#70 Logan Hupka
November 27 2010, 10:03PM
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Tayranchula wrote:

Hey Willis just wondering how Bigos and Hesketh are turning out (both players havent been mentioned in Oilers D prospects recently).

I watched Bigos plently while he played in my hometown of Vernon and he quickly became a crowd favorite cuz he could do everything so well at his level (I do know it is only Junior A).

Another question is: the Oil have had so many draft picks being Dman recently would it really be usefull to draft Adam Larsson if they have top pick again? The Oil lack that top end Centermen and Courturier is just that.

- Yes the Oilers do not have a #1 Centre but the do not have a #1 Defenseman either. Even if Sean Coutier is the #1 overall pick favourite they would be stupid not to take Larsson. How about trading Ales Hemsky to obtain Both After 2 Maybe 3 Losing Seasons do you really think he will resign. WakeUp..

What about trading Penner at the dead line to get another 1st rounder or young defenseman.

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#71 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
November 27 2010, 11:54PM
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The people that need to "wake up" are the ones that think theirs a good chance of trading for a top 3 pick.

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