Spring Arrives in the Hinterland

Lowetide
March 20 2011 08:27AM

We're at the point in the draft cycle where hockey men use hyperbole to describe the future. Ken Hitchcock has Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as a cross between a young Joe Sakic and a young Pavel Datsyk; Sean Couturier`s last name should be 'Staal' according to the comparables; and Adam Larsson is better than Lidstrom at this age. Apparently.
 

What does it all mean? Hell if I know. As a fan, I like to look at the numbers and try to apply common sense to them. For instance, Adam Larsson is still a kid but is playing in a man's league. So, despite the impressive numbers of RNH and others, we need to pay special heed to what the big Swedish defender is doing now that the playoffs have arrived.

How is he doing? Well. His boxcars are 6gp, 0-2-2 -2 but as with all boxcars it's a black and white photo in dire need of color. Here's the back story on his playoff:

  • Game 1: 24:24 TOI even, 1 shot on goal and 2 hits in a win
  • Game 2: 23:19 TOI -1, 2 shots on goal and 1 hit in a loss
  • Game 3: 22:45 TOI even, 1 shot and 3 hits in another loss
  • Game 4: 24:37 TOI even, 2 shots in a win
  • Game 5: 21:47 TO! 1 assist, 3 shots on goal 2 pims and 3 hits in a win
  • Game 6: 22:14 TOI -1, 1 assist, 3 shots and 2 pims and 1 hit in a loss
  • Game 7: today

He's averaging 23:11TOI during the post-season after averaging 18:44 during the regular season. Here are the Skelleftea blue with their playoff time-on-ice per game:

  1. Adam Larsson 23:11
  2. Tim Erixon 22:11
  3. David Rundblad 20:20
  4. Fredrik Lindgren 20:04
  5. Niclas Burstrom 18:18
  6. Ivan Majesky 15:18

Based on their experience and skill sets, I'd suggest that Rundblad and either Erixon or Lindgren are getting the powerplay minutes, leaving Larsson to evens and PK. We talked about Larsson and his scouting reports here and we know that the Oilers have a laundry list of needs rolling out over the next several years.

As we get closer to the draft--and with the understanding that some of these CHL forwards are kicking out the jams and making big impressions--it is becoming increasingly difficult to argue against Jim Matheson's logic (stated most recently here). Last night, the Edmonton Oilers "hockey winter" reached a climax as the Avalanche drove the Oildrop further down the elevator shaft.

Spring arrives today, and with it the promise of renewal and growth. Staring at the numbers and sifting through the things our good friend math can tell us, Adam Larsson is extremely likely to be the best player available on draft day. Full stop.

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on Team 1260.
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#101 FastOil
March 21 2011, 02:55PM
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I think it is very important to try and assess the whole package a player has, although it is certainly very hard.

Often discussions on rookies flow toward points, but there is a lot more to being a dominant player at the NHL level. Crosby is 37th for points in a season QMJHL and a lot of the names ahead I don't recognize.

A forward as dominant at evens, full package and big as Couturier is just too hard to overlook for me in a year that doesn't really have super elite offensive talent.

He is just what Hall and Eberle need - a big 2 way face off winning centre who has elite skill. Putting an offense mostly smaller centre with them sounds like a regular season phenom line that looks a lot less dangerous come playoffs. The only thing that would turn me away from Couturier is a problem with competitive drive. Physicality is less of a concern becuase along with it will come injuries - leave that for the grinders.

The decision for me is Couturier or Larrson. If I was GM and with Cout falling in the rankings, I would be looking for a deal for a top 5 and hope to get Couturier and Larrson. You can't lose easily with 2 of the top 5-6 this year, the players who would be dealt are likely gone anyway, and the "rebuild" gains some legs.

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#102 oilbaron
March 21 2011, 02:56PM
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it seems to me that if you look at the standings and making an educated guess, the teams from 30-27 dont really need centers. if we take larsson than i would think that colorado would take landeskog(sp), leaving both centres RNH and Coutourier falling a bit. if we could use our 31st along with LA's pick and maybe even one of our prospects like Hamilton to move up into the top 10ish range we could land a kid like huberdeau who is in the same mold as RNH is this just wishful thinking or something that tambo could try to do?

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#103 zarf
March 21 2011, 04:14PM
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I don't really put very much stock into the argument that the Oilers shouldn't be taking Lidstrom, er, Larsson with their pick because "on average defencemen take five years to develop."

Got a couple of reasons why I disagree with that notion.

One, who says it takes "five years?" Citation? Proof?

I realize Lidstrom was a 1989 draft, but he had a 60-point rookie season three calendar-years later. So, that's less than five years.

Drew Doughty was a pretty good d-man in his rookie year. So was Tyler Myers. And Ed Jovanowski. And Redden. And Chris Phillips. And Bryan Berard. And Cynthia Phaneuf. Etc. Etc.

Granted, not all of those dudes above made the NHL right out of the draft, but some of them did ... and I'll bet the ones who did were better than three or four of the dudes the Oilers are putting on their blueline right now.

And that's the thing, people.

Presumably, Larsson won't just help the team in five years. He should be able to walk onto that blueline next fall.

Guys like RNH and Couturier sound like they're gonna need another year in junior. Nothing wrong with that, but how many of you who aren't patient enough to wait for Larsson are patient enough to wait that extra year or three before you see any of those other centres?

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#104 FastOil
March 21 2011, 04:55PM
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Oilbaron I don't see why not. It might not happen, but you have to try.

I think the Oilers (and Leafs) are in the unique position of being financially strong and terrible. The other lottery teams have financial pressures, the need to hit the cap floor, etc.

They have more pressure to succeed sooner, a good GM might should be able to offer a good trade and pull that off. It will take value, but that is ok for a top pick - much better than what they got for Penner.

It's when GM's offer little that those picks don't move. So if it's LA's first and one of the 5-6 non core or yet to be solid journeymen etc do it. Take a first for next year or 2013, whatever.

I would like to see the "rebuild" get some legs. Accelerate the draft acquisitions. I have a feeling there are a few guys not in the long term plans anyway, and icing a bad product or a platoon of rookies doesn't seem to bother them, some would say it's even a plan.

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#105 Clyde Frog
March 21 2011, 05:26PM
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The statement it takes 5 years is based off the stats.

Look at Pronger, Phillips, Redden and more and you will see them become productive and have positive +/-'s starting around their 5th to 7th year.

Phaneuf (Not a top 5 pick) came on like gangbusters and then vanished 4 years later. He is the exception, not the rule. Doughty is having half the season he had last year, sure he could pull it back... But again it would be the exception compared to Hedman, Bogosian and all the others.

Tyler Myers is a perfect example of taking a shot in the 10+ range and hitting a home run, do we need to list all the failed prospects? He wasn't even a top 10 pick.

Lidstrom, the great Lidstrom. Yes as a 3rd round pick he came in like gangbusters, a 3rd round pick... Again home run, exception NOT the rule. Also umm, 1989 was a LONG time ago as well, just saying.

The stats are all there on your favourite top 5 drafted dmen, go look yourself on Hockeydb and be amazed at all the excellent dmen who required time to become the wonderful players they are now.

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#106 Brownlee loves the word meow
March 22 2011, 10:19AM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Well done!

Meow thank you OB1

All of you stop laughing right meow!

All right meow, where were we?

I am sure some of you may have realized this, but the characters in the movie who are in this scene's names are...

Mac & Foster

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#107 Brownlee loves the word meow
March 22 2011, 10:40AM
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Meow, again for anyone still talking about couturier... Tambi not mentioning his name in the kids they are looking at, might give you a hint that he might have slipped a bit more than people realize. I dont think Tambi ever forgot to mention Hall when he was talking about who they were looking at last year. Anyone getting there hopes up and wanting Couturier, should probably take a step back and realize that he might not even be a consideration now...at least as far as the first overall pick is concerned.

Also, I find it funny that people just get on bandwagons of players with out doing any type of research. Just because the kid has size isnt a reason to choose him... I have seen a lack of effort and intensity from the guy..but thats just me. A little thing called youtube might be the easiest source to get a feeling on what each player can bring to the table. I have a lot more respect for a guy that plays in the whl with 3 less inches and 20 less pounds on him than i do of a guy in the Q with the advantage of height and weight. If couturier played as hard as Landeskog he would be a lock...but he doesn't.

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#108 FastOil
March 22 2011, 05:24PM
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Compete level seems to be the knock on Couturier.

Many players that make an impact at the NHL level already had the skills in junior. Doughty, Myers, Duschene, Toews.

People complare RNH to Sakic, I think pretty much only because he's small. The thing about Sakic's scouting report, which has been posted a few times in the Oilogosphere, is that it shows he played the same way in junior as the NHL. His game was rounded.

He didn't have holes to fix in his game. His defensive game was there, tailored to his size, face offs, compete level, skating, a good shot. I don't think RNH is that rounded. Kris Letang's report reads the same way - a complete effective player - I am surprised he went 3rd round after reading it, he's not even that small and shoots right. We took Chorney - ouch. The Oilers missed a lot of talent in that draft.

The Oilers have drafted many guys that need to be better at something (like grow and be bigger), and it's a risk. Couturier is already a really dominant (based on his huge lead in +/-)full game centre, so unless there is something really wrong with this guy I'd take him. If he keeps falling down the list, move mountains to get another top 5-6 pick and get Larrson and a quality centre.

There is more to winning hockey games than scoring points. The Oilers have lots of skill and can't win. Strome or RNH may get a few more points than Couturier, but for us to have an evens outscoring top line, the centre needs all the skills, not just offense. And somebody has to have some size.

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