Brett Ferguson

Jonathan Willis
August 30 2011 03:14AM

Yesterday, we looked at one of the undrafted players that the Oilers are going to take a closer look at – undrafted defender Wesley Vannieuwenhuizen. He isn’t the only unsigned player hoping to earn a professional contract that the Oilers have invited, though. Brett Ferguson, a teammate of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in Red Deer, is another – and he’s an interesting prospect.

Ferguson first came to my attention when I was researching Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Back in June, I sat down and went through the scoring numbers for all of the decent offensive forwards in Red Deer, and found something interesting about Ferguson: he was the highest scorer on the team at even-strength. The reason his point totals weren’t more impressive was because he wasn’t getting power play time.

That’s basically where I left things. Ferguson’s scoring numbers at even-strength were nice, after all, but he’s also an older player – he was eligible for the 2008 NHL Draft, and at his age he should be putting up big WHL numbers.

What makes Ferguson more interesting is some of the work that Scott Reynolds has been doing lately. The gang at Copper & Blue do a lot of good work, but Reynolds’ statistical work with junior players is almost unparalleled. He went back through WHL game-sheets and ran a modified version of my Quality of Competition strategy for the Red Deer Rebels, trying to determine the calibre of opposition each player was on the ice against.

I’m going to quote Reynolds’ paragraph on Ferguson in its entirety (there’s lots of other good stuff there on Nugent-Hopkins, including his surprisingly good goal-scoring rates at even-strength that’s worth looking at too):

Finally, one last non-Nugent-Hopkins note: Brett Ferguson looks fantastic by the numbers. I know that he was twenty years old during 2010-11, and maybe every junior club has a guy that plays the toughs, drives offense for his line, and leads his team in even strength scoring, but I kind of doubt it. At 6'1'', the guy isn't tiny either. He's a free agent now, and even though I didn't think about it much at the time, I'm now pretty pleased that the Oilers invited the left winger to their development camp earlier this summer. If he's back in the fall, I know that I'll be cheering for him to make the AHL roster and work his way up.

That’s the gist of it: Ferguson was on the top even-strength line, playing a power-vs.-power role while running up impressive offensive numbers and posting a plus-31 rating (far and away the best of any forward not on Nugent-Hopkins’ line).

It might be nothing more than the natural dominance of an older junior player largely competing against youngsters. On the other hand, there’s the distinct possibility that Ferguson is a late-bloomer, and might someday develop into a reliable NHL checker. Either way, it’s nice to know the Oilers are going to take a longer look at him.

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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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#1 Brodie
August 30 2011, 03:59AM
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Greetings from London, England. People here know about West Ed Mall but not the Oilers. Get to work PR department.

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#2 justDOit
August 30 2011, 07:35AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

They didnt play on the same line.

I feel so Dumba!

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#3 Archaeologuy
August 30 2011, 11:18AM
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@Bob Cob

Wouldnt the same have held true for St Louis or Penner, or the myriad of other players who were never drafted but play in the NHL.

It's way more likely that he isnt a late bloomer and that his success is based on age, size, and strength, BUT saying that the scouts would have seen his upside if it was there is assuming a lot.

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#4 Archaeologuy
August 30 2011, 01:31PM
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http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=374780

What the hell is in the water in Philly? 4.25 mill a season for a guy that had 40 points last year?

Crazy sauce.

Edit: Gagner at 2.275 or JVR at 4.25? I know who I would rather have.

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#5 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
August 31 2011, 01:52PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Obviously it's reflective, but ONLY for Gagner. Nobody else. And that fluctuation is clearly due to his inability to handle the pressure of more responsibility. And just look at his playoff numbers. Not a single point in 4 years. What a bum! Trade him for a bag of pucks and some skate blades as long as we dont have to throw in another pick to get it done.

I wonder if the league knows that it's MVP was the worst defensive forward on his team (40+ games)??

Someone probably needs to tell Atl that Kane is actually worse defensively then Schremp and that they cut the wrong guy.

Think Carolina knows that Tlusty is better defensively then Stall?

Who would have guessed that Mike Modano was better defensivly then all world defensive forwards Datsyuk and Zetterberg? Hard to believe a Selke finalist was worse defensivly then a guy on his last legs.

I guess Tambillini should have won the Selke over Kessler, I mean he did have a better GAON/60.

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#6 I tried it at home
August 30 2011, 03:54AM
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Hmm amazing what you can do with a little insomnia. As youve said, its nice that the Oilers are going to take a longer look at Ferguson, but in the end, Im just sick of waiting, long shots, obscure role playing additions, and all the various spare pieces we've spent the summer chewing over. Start.Training.Camp.Now.

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#7 pelhem grenville
August 30 2011, 04:17AM
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Brodie wrote:

Greetings from London, England. People here know about West Ed Mall but not the Oilers. Get to work PR department.

...that's not possible Brodie

...our Wanye has spent a lot of time across the pond promoting ...er...himself & his dancing bear

...forgot about that...

little known fact...do the Brits know the Canadian Navy dismantled its' fleet of submarines at WEM just recently? and replaced our fleet of jumping dolphins with some seals...but not the Navy kind?

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#8 Archaeologuy
August 30 2011, 04:11PM
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@TigerUnderGlass

To me, half a season and one playoffs is not enough to warrant that kind of payout. It's banking huge on a guy that's been playing behind two really talented Centres.

I just had a conversation with a coworker and he loved the deal. I asked him if he would give Gagner the same deal. He looked at me like I was crazy (likely true).

I asked him why it was a good deal to give 22 yr old X who has never scored more than 40 points 4.25 million a year but not good to give 22 yr old Y who has never scored less than 40 points the same money.

The answer I got was that JVR has more potential. Maybe, but that's a lot of money to bet on potential.

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#9 Wax Man Riley
August 31 2011, 05:01PM
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@Archaeologuy

I cannot forget about it. I believe in looking into advanced stats, and that there is some value in them. However, I then remind myself about this article.

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#10 Archaeologuy
August 31 2011, 05:11PM
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@Wax Man Riley

The Shocking part of it all was that he said it with no tongue in cheek. He actually meant it. No ~s at all. Just pure madjamian craziness on the page.

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#11 pelhem grenville
August 30 2011, 04:06AM
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...so much for making his [RNH} teammates better...why is this 'man' undrafted with EV numbers as good as you say?

...is it because of his age or is it because he is a late bloomer amongst the youngins'

...nevertheless JW the more i hear about little known facts such as Ferguson's numbers, the more i think and am convinced RNH will be a Red Deer Rebel this season...

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#13 pelhem grenville
August 30 2011, 05:36AM
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...@work now

it's my boss over my shoulder not mom so i'd be smart to make one last comment about RNH and his less than famous undrafted teammates...

can he lead this Rebel bunch to a Memorial Cup Championship and be the MVP like someone else we know?

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#14 justDOit
August 30 2011, 07:11AM
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So did Hopkins make Ferguson look good last year, or vice versa?

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#15 Archaeologuy
August 30 2011, 07:15AM
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@justDOit

They didnt play on the same line.

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#16 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
August 30 2011, 08:18AM
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So what exactly is he? Is there any non-stat info on the guy?

Looking at basic stats and basic stats alone the guy really doesn't jump out as anything special. Has two LW's ahead of him on PPG with a similar +/-.

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#17 madjam
August 30 2011, 09:48AM
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Maybe a diamond in the rough ? Doubtfull , but worth a try i suppose . Tams has hired a managerial entourage to assist him in decision making , so how much freedom does he have in his own faith in making decisions . Reminds me of the lion and the ant . The ant works without supervision with incredible productivity until lion steps in to manage him and try and make him more productive . The lion then adds all these specialists to try and make ant more productive . etc.. The outcome with each additional specialist or managerial extention extention just makes ant work harder , but with less productivity . Eventually the lion blames the ant and thus fires the ant instead of the managerial overkill . The ant moves on and becomes productive again away from the beaucratic overkill that destoyed his productivity .

Like the ant , maybe less is more and Tams needs to put more faith in his own abilities to make decisions on his own ?

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#18 Shapeman
August 30 2011, 09:53AM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

So what exactly is he? Is there any non-stat info on the guy?

Looking at basic stats and basic stats alone the guy really doesn't jump out as anything special. Has two LW's ahead of him on PPG with a similar +/-.

that's because Kudrna and Person played with RNH, and on the PP. As Jonathan stated Ferguson had the best number not on RNH's line and had almost no power play time.

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#19 Bob Cob
August 30 2011, 10:48AM
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What kind of numbers did he put up prior to this year? I think its a case of playing against younger and inexperienced players. He's not a late bloomer, if he was he would have been drafted because the scouts would have seen the upside that was there. I hope he makes it and good on the Oilers for giving him an invite, it doesn't hurt to keep restocking the shelves should they offer him a contract.

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#20 Zack
August 30 2011, 11:21AM
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After being to a few handful of games this past season and the one before I can tell you Ferguson is a dominate force on the ice, with or without the puck and is popular among the fans. It could be do to his age or size but I'm actually quite surprised that no NHL team has taken a look at him. I thought for sure he was drafted.

If he did pan out to the NHL level he could probably be a solid 3rd liner if all stars aligned and he reached his absolute maximum potential however I think he'd compliment the team in OKC.

This guy isn't afraid to chuck knuckles either.

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#22 firemedic136
August 30 2011, 12:00PM
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@madjam

Props! So zen-like.

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#23 ubermiguel
August 30 2011, 12:39PM
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A very interesting stat. Let's just watch this Ferguson kid at camp and see how he plays against men before we start complaining about advanced stats or Tambo's management style etc.

Thanks zackman35 for the observations.

This will be a very interesting camp, at the very least OKC will end up with a very good team, which is great for the big club in the long run.

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#24 striatic
August 30 2011, 01:39PM
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i remember this guy standing out in the previous analysis post.

this is exactly the kind of guy you should be inviting to an NHL training camp.

solid stats despite not being in a "showcase" role in junior, discounted on account of age. let him prove he can play against men in TC.

he probably won't, but there is nothing to lose by inviting him. worst case scenario, he sets a benchmark for the drafted prospects to beat.

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#25 Wax Man Riley
August 30 2011, 03:46PM
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My guess is that Ferguson is tearing it up due to being older and more physically mature than his competition.

You never know, however. the kid is getting his shot. HE may step up...

...Or he may turn into a different kind of Ferguson

Ya well that's my opinion.

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#26 TigerUnderGlass
August 30 2011, 04:03PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=374780

What the hell is in the water in Philly? 4.25 mill a season for a guy that had 40 points last year?

Crazy sauce.

Edit: Gagner at 2.275 or JVR at 4.25? I know who I would rather have.

I'm not sure if I am remembering this right, but the bulk of his points came late in the season and he played well in the playoffs.

Early int he year he was healthy scratched a few times even.

I think they see his second half as a breakout a la Getzlaf and Perry when they were the 3rd line for most of the season but by the playoffs they were the de facto top line.

These kinds of deals are a product of the cap, where teams pay on what they expect a player to do, not what they have done already. I expect to see it more and more often as managers look for ways to get value.

The same thing happened in the NBA when they brought in the cap. It used to be veterans getting all the money but teams had to start shelling out earlier and earlier trying to catch value. It can work out beautifully at times and it can backfire horrendously. (see players on 10M/YR deals not even dressing) Pro scouting is obviously very important.

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#27 gord962
August 30 2011, 04:45PM
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@Archaeologuy

Most of it has to do with what else JvR brings to the table. He is big, fast and plays physically (107 hits by JvR vs 24 for Gagner). All Gagner brings is goals and assists. If all you are looking at is the boxcars, this signing looks ridiculous. A lot of Gagner's draftmates are starting to hit their stride - Couture just signed for 2yrs, $5.75 after a great rookie campaign. I would take either one of those guys over Gagner right now. Let's hope Sam steps up this year and make me eat my words.

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#28 DieHard
August 30 2011, 05:02PM
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Ferguson is simply on a pro tryout to see if he's worth a tryout for OKC. If he makes it there it will be a minor club contract. Then just take it from there.

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#29 Archaeologuy
August 30 2011, 05:10PM
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@gord962

Its the new NHL and the salary cap is enormous, but I still have a problem paying 1 million a season for every 10 points scored.

It just seems like too much too soon. The established level of production is way too low. Obviously the Flyers think the kid is for real and they see him every day, but still. The signing could be a steal if the guy progresses as they expect. I've just seen so many promising young players in Edmonton do exactly the opposite that the gamble seems too risky for me.

I wouldnt have done it.

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#30 TigerUnderGlass
August 30 2011, 05:18PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

To me, half a season and one playoffs is not enough to warrant that kind of payout. It's banking huge on a guy that's been playing behind two really talented Centres.

I just had a conversation with a coworker and he loved the deal. I asked him if he would give Gagner the same deal. He looked at me like I was crazy (likely true).

I asked him why it was a good deal to give 22 yr old X who has never scored more than 40 points 4.25 million a year but not good to give 22 yr old Y who has never scored less than 40 points the same money.

The answer I got was that JVR has more potential. Maybe, but that's a lot of money to bet on potential.

I don't disagree with you at all, but betting on potential is precisely what the cap brings.

As more GMs get desperate to find higher quality value contracts more and more will bet on deals like this when they think they've found a gem.

Players in decline will start to see less and less, unlike the past where veterans got more just because they were veterans.

This is actually why the NBA ended up having to bring in tiered contracts - so the young guys don't take all of the money from the vets.

The only way to build anything resembling a dynasty is to make a few big gambles on potential unless you get very lucky in the draft.

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#31 Bruce
August 30 2011, 06:57PM
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I like Ferguson a whole lot. I saw Red Deer play quite a lot last year and the kid never seemed to have a bad or even mediocre game. As mentioned he never played with RNH at all, which would have been interesting. The PP was generally the RNH line with Kudrna and Persson, along with Byron Froese (Ferguson's centre) and point man Alex Petrovic. Ferguson's special team was the PK, where Red Deer posted a fantastic record.

He was particularly strong in the playoffs, and had an excellent summer camp with Oilers, although he had to leave the 3-on-3 early after blocking a shot with his face (!!). He's got balls of steel and is a character guy through and through.

I was pleased to hear he was getting the invite back to rookie camp, he certainly deserves it. I understand that he's got a solid offer from the U of A Golden Bears if nothing works out on the pro side, which as a Bears fan would be great but as a Ferguson fan I'm kind of pulling for him to get a shot at pro.

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#32 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
August 30 2011, 08:26PM
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gord962 wrote:

Most of it has to do with what else JvR brings to the table. He is big, fast and plays physically (107 hits by JvR vs 24 for Gagner). All Gagner brings is goals and assists. If all you are looking at is the boxcars, this signing looks ridiculous. A lot of Gagner's draftmates are starting to hit their stride - Couture just signed for 2yrs, $5.75 after a great rookie campaign. I would take either one of those guys over Gagner right now. Let's hope Sam steps up this year and make me eat my words.

Fortunatly you win games by outscoring your opponent, not being bigger and faster.

Not sure I'd pay 2 million for an extra hit per game.

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#33 DSF
August 30 2011, 10:05PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Fortunatly you win games by outscoring your opponent, not being bigger and faster.

Not sure I'd pay 2 million for an extra hit per game.

Thing is...being bigger, faster, tougher and more skilled normally results in outscoring your opponent.

JVR scored 28 goals in total last season.

Gagner scored 15.

Most observers count a goal at twice the value of an assist since two assists are available on every goal.

JVR was also +15 last season while Gagner was -17.

JVR scored 36 even strength points last season...Gagner scored 32.

Gagner's PPTOI/G was 2:56...JVR's PPTOI/G was 1:19 yet Gagner was only able to score 9 PP points to JVR's 4 despite Gagner benefiting from almost three times as many PP minutes.

Gagner played the 7th toughest opposition among Oiler forwards while JVR played also played 7th toughest.

Looks like JVR is leaving Gagner in the dust.

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#34 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
August 30 2011, 10:30PM
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DSF wrote:

Thing is...being bigger, faster, tougher and more skilled normally results in outscoring your opponent.

JVR scored 28 goals in total last season.

Gagner scored 15.

Most observers count a goal at twice the value of an assist since two assists are available on every goal.

JVR was also +15 last season while Gagner was -17.

JVR scored 36 even strength points last season...Gagner scored 32.

Gagner's PPTOI/G was 2:56...JVR's PPTOI/G was 1:19 yet Gagner was only able to score 9 PP points to JVR's 4 despite Gagner benefiting from almost three times as many PP minutes.

Gagner played the 7th toughest opposition among Oiler forwards while JVR played also played 7th toughest.

Looks like JVR is leaving Gagner in the dust.

Thing is.... being bigger, faster, tougher and more skilled is irrelavant until it equals out scoring your opponent.

Looks like JVR had a nice 30 - 40 game stretch.

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#35 Archaeologuy
August 30 2011, 10:33PM
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@DSF

So we're just going to include Playoff totals and pretend they happened in the regular season? Nice. Run those numbers again just regular season, if you dont mind.

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#36 Wanyes bastard child
August 30 2011, 10:45PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

So we're just going to include Playoff totals and pretend they happened in the regular season? Nice. Run those numbers again just regular season, if you dont mind.

He's just going to ignore you, you know that eh.

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#37 DSF
August 30 2011, 11:00PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Thing is.... being bigger, faster, tougher and more skilled is irrelavant until it equals out scoring your opponent.

Looks like JVR had a nice 30 - 40 game stretch.

Gagner: GFON/60 2.79 GAON/60 3.81

JVR: GFON/60 3.13 GAON/60 2.32

It would appear that being bigger, faster and tougher has indeed led to JVR out scoring his opponents.

Sam...not so much.

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#38 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
August 30 2011, 11:01PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

So we're just going to include Playoff totals and pretend they happened in the regular season? Nice. Run those numbers again just regular season, if you dont mind.

Don't forget his typical game of flat out lying to try and prove his point.

A quick look at NHL.com shows that Gagner played almost exactly double the PP minutes vs JVR in the regular season instead of the triple that he's trying to tell us.

Crazy enough Gagner also produced better then double points on the PP.

The real question is why wasn't he sent down the plank where he blongs, when his buddies were?

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#39 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
August 30 2011, 11:04PM
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DSF wrote:

Gagner: GFON/60 2.79 GAON/60 3.81

JVR: GFON/60 3.13 GAON/60 2.32

It would appear that being bigger, faster and tougher has indeed led to JVR out scoring his opponents.

Sam...not so much.

Same old song and dance. A .25 difference in SV% from starting goalies + an extra 66GF for the Flyers might have had a bit to do with that.

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#40 DSF
August 30 2011, 11:07PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

So we're just going to include Playoff totals and pretend they happened in the regular season? Nice. Run those numbers again just regular season, if you dont mind.

I know its not the Oilers way...but at contract time, playoff performances are taken into account.

No one is pretending, unless you want to keep pretending that playoff goals aren't as important as regular season goals.

BTW, JVR outscored Sammy 21 goals to 15 in the regular season too, although Gagner did manage quite a few assists (6) with all that time on the PP.

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#41 DSF
August 30 2011, 11:09PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Same old song and dance. A .25 difference in SV% from starting goalies + an extra 66GF for the Flyers might have had a bit to do with that.

Same old song and dance excuses.

If Sam could play defense at all, the goalie's save percentage would likely have been much better since he wouldn't have been facing 5 bell chances every night.

And the extra 66 GF of course included the extra goals that JVR scored, right?

Funny how that works.

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#42 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
August 30 2011, 11:12PM
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DSF wrote:

Same old song and dance excuses.

If Sam could play defense at all, the goalie's save percentage would likely have been much better since he wouldn't have been facing 5 bell chances every night.

And the extra 66 GF of course included the extra goals that JVR scored, right?

Funny how that works.

Ya right. Gagner must have played great in front of DD and horrible in front of Bulin....That must account for the .025 pick up in SV% by DD.

Gagner put up decent numbers, not his fault most of the rest of the team didn't.

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#43 Archaeologuy
August 31 2011, 06:52AM
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Wanyes bastard child wrote:

He's just going to ignore you, you know that eh.

I'm just feeding the troll I guess, but the FOX news like way DSF spins every bit of information into a damnation of Gagner is pathetic and should be exposed.

Give him long enough and he could come up with reasons why Patty O'Sullivan is better than Gagner.

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#44 Oilcruzer
August 31 2011, 08:18AM
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Any bloodlines to Scott Ferguson?

(Traded for Musil's Dad)

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#45 Archaeologuy
August 31 2011, 09:21AM
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http://joeposnanski.si.com/2011/08/29/statistics-and-stories-2/?xid=cnnbin&hpt=hp_bn10

I liked this story about Stats and Sports. It's centered around baseball, but it's still applies to the hockey experience.

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#46 TigerUnderGlass
August 31 2011, 11:42AM
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I see JVR as having turned a corner too, but in my mind the biggest question is how much linemates had to do with it.

He spent less than 5% of his EV minutes without Richards, Carter, or Giroux.

It is interesting to note that in the regular season he played the bulk of his time with Richards, but in the playoffs he spent it with Giroux.

I wonder how much their belief he has turned a corner and a perceived chemistry with Giroux had to do with the team feeling ok with sending Richards and Carter out.

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#47 Archaeologuy
August 31 2011, 12:08PM
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@TigerUnderGlass

The more information that comes to light, the bigger this gamble seems to be. They could hit a jackpot or bust out. Lucky for them the Salary Cap just seems to go up and up. Add in another Canadian team and it should rise some more. By the middle of that contract 4.25 mill could be pretty average.

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#48 DSF
August 31 2011, 12:25PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Ya right. Gagner must have played great in front of DD and horrible in front of Bulin....That must account for the .025 pick up in SV% by DD.

Gagner put up decent numbers, not his fault most of the rest of the team didn't.

Gagner had the worst GAON/60 of all Oiler forwards (and in the entire NHL) at 3.81 (min 50GP)

Eberle, a raw rookie, was next at 3.08 and Cogliano was next at 2.89.

Last time I looked, all those players were subject to the same goaltending performances.

Also of note, both Eberle and Cogliano played tougher competition.

If those are "decent numbers", I would like to know what you think crap looks like.

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#49 madjam
August 31 2011, 12:32PM
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DSF wrote:

Gagner: GFON/60 2.79 GAON/60 3.81

JVR: GFON/60 3.13 GAON/60 2.32

It would appear that being bigger, faster and tougher has indeed led to JVR out scoring his opponents.

Sam...not so much.

JVR could be next Kesler as far as Flyers perceive him in coming years . If so , then the extention should be well within reason and expectations . Remember Clark made an offer sheet on Kesler , but lost out . Phil. might not get him that cheap come end of next year , and someone might up the stakes with an offer sheet on JVR .

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#50 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
August 31 2011, 01:07PM
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DSF wrote:

Gagner had the worst GAON/60 of all Oiler forwards (and in the entire NHL) at 3.81 (min 50GP)

Eberle, a raw rookie, was next at 3.08 and Cogliano was next at 2.89.

Last time I looked, all those players were subject to the same goaltending performances.

Also of note, both Eberle and Cogliano played tougher competition.

If those are "decent numbers", I would like to know what you think crap looks like.

His offensive numbers were decent.

The GAON/60, though broken down individually is stll a team stat.

I've never claimed Gagner to be a good defensive player, I'd peg him as below average at this point, however not horrible.

We've already been over it, but here's some of the "best" defensive players in the league last year by the GAON/60 metrix:

Jeff Tambillini

George Parros

Frolov

Some of the worst defensive players were:

Alfredson

Callahan

Dubinsky

Also 2 years ago Gagner had the 3rd best GAON/60 on the team.

Do you really think he went from 3rd best defensive forward on the team to worst defensive forward in the league from year 2 to year 4?

Or do you maybe think that it isn't the most reflective stat.

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