Ten Points: Roster decisions, the magic bullet, and the Oilers as a small market club

Jonathan Willis
August 15 2012 11:48AM

1. Potter or Peckham? The Oilers face an interesting choice this fall (if there’s hockey): do they keep both bubble defenders on the team and run with eight defencemen or do they trade one/try to slip one through waivers?

My vote was to trade Andy Sutton at the last deadline – purely because he’s not a guy who is in the long-term picture due to age and he has some value – but since the Oilers didn’t do that they now face a choice. I’ve long been a fan of Peckham and I think he can be a regular third-pairing guy if all goes right, but I don’t think that limited upside makes it worthwhile to hang on to him. Potter’s cheaper, not a penalty magnet, and has a wider range of skills, plus I think Peckham’s nasty streak gives him some value on the market that Potter lacks. I’d prefer to see Peckham dealt, particularly since this situation is going to happen again next year when Oscar Klefbom makes the jump, and probably every year after for the foreseeable future.

2. How much leash does Khabibulin get? With the Oilers undoubtedly hoping to make big strides this year, what happens if Nikolai Khabibulin struggles early on? I tend to think that in the last year of his deal the team will be less patient – perhaps even willing to plug Yann Danis in as backup if the veteran Russian falters. On the other hand, this is a contract year for Khabibulin and by all accounts his workload is going to be lighter – I wouldn’t be surprised if he turns in a serviceable performance as a backup goalie.

3. Magnus Paajarvi. There’s no doubt in my mind that Magnus Paajarvi belongs in the NHL next season on merit. Derek Zona has been pushing this at the Copper and Blue and I think he’s clearly right: Paajarvi’s a more useful NHL’er than Lennart Petrell or Ben Eager, to name two current Oilers. My one worry is development: ideally, Paajarvi’s offensive game develops, and I’m not convinced a depth role in the NHL (where he’d likely be consigned) would do that better than a top-six role in Oklahoma City. I’m more bullish on Paajarvi than most Oilers fans are, I think, and because of that I’d hate to see him consigned to a long-term checking role after one bad season where absolutely everything went wrong.

4. The statistical magic bullet. It doesn’t exist. Some of the more doctrinarian members of the statistical community think that Corsi (suitably finessed to account for zone starts and team strength) gives all the information anyone needs to make a hockey decision, but that’s simply not the case (an obvious example is the discussion here). Lots of things matter – some we know about, like role and linemates (again, looking at the Iginla example, look at the shift in Corsi with and without Jokinen and Bouwmeester – I’m not a Flames guy but it sure looks to me like role had a major impact on Iginla’s disappointing season). Finishing ability – while difficult to sustain and overrated by analysts at large, in my opinion – still needs to be taken into account; dismissing it entirely is not sensible. Then there’s the fact that things we don’t know about matter. We can’t compensate for what we don’t know but humility is required – as new evidence becomes available, beliefs will need to shift, and the idea that we’ve got it all figured out because we know how many shots a player was on the ice for is crazy.

5. The Red Queen’s Hypothesis. Named after a comment in the book Through the Looking-Glass, the Red Queen’s hypothesis is a fancy term in evolutionary thought that basically conveys the idea of an arms race: species need to be constantly improving and adapting just to stay in the same place, relative to its peers. It’s something that I think holds true for hockey: if a team isn’t constantly improving, it’s regressing. Some of that improvement – especially early on – can come from the maturation of young players, but over time clubs need to learn to use trades/free agency to augment an older core. That’s the long-term concern with the Oilers’ rebuild model, and something we’ve seen in some cities. Chicago, for example, has gone from a plus-48 team that went to the Conference finals to a plus-62 team that won the Cup to a plus-33 team that lost in the first round to a plus-10 team that lost in the first round. It doesn’t happen to all teams that make the leap (Pittsburgh, to cite one example, has had some recent playoff flops but recorded more regular season wins in 2011-12 than they had in any other post-lockout season) but it does happen to teams that aren’t able to continue to adapt after the young core comes off entry-level deals. Assuming the Oilers make the jump to contending team, will they be able to stay there? I don’t have the answer to that question.

6. Scotty Bowman. Further on that last point, it also applies to coaching. Here’s Chicago G.M. Stan Bowman talking about his dad’s coaching style in the book Behind the Moves:

The one thing my dad’s always been so good at, I think, is he’s been able to adjust…. [F]or a guy who’s ‘old school’ and has been around so long, he’s incredibly progressive and willing to try new things, willing to do things which are not the norm, and that’s what made him successful as a coach … he was very unpredictable … I think all coaches today are kind of – I don’t want to say programmed – but they’re led to do a certain thing. So if you can force yourself to try things maybe a little different or take a different approach, it’s going to give you that advantage. Ironically I think what makes him so exceptional is that he didn’t think he had all the answers…. I remember my dad would ask me – when I was in high school – after a game, ‘What did you see? Well, what do you think is wrong?’… Sometimes, I would say things, and then in the next game [his team would] do it and I’d think, ‘My God, he actually listened to what I had to say.’… He could care less where the idea came from. It really makes no difference to him. All he cares about is winning.

7. The only reason the Oilers can rebuild the way they have is thanks to the fans. This should be obvious. If, at the end of the day, the Oilers rebuild succeeds in creating an elite team, it will be thanks to the loyalty of fans, who have continued to pay good money year after year to watch a terrible NHL team. In other markets, a drop in attendance (and consequently a drop in revenue) would have forced a shorter rebuild.

8. The Oilers are a big-market team. The Edmonton Oilers are the seventh-most expensive team to watch in the entire NHL (warning: PDF). Despite this, and despite being a terrible hockey team, they sell out every night. How many markets in the league would support that? It doesn’t matter how many people live in the city, or what the size of the potential television market is, or any of the rest of it: all that matters is the number of people willing to pay to watch hockey. It’s higher in Edmonton than it is in the majority of NHL markets; ergo, the club is a big-market team.

9. It is in the Oilers’ interest to appear to be a small-market club. The Edmonton Oilers are negotiating with the city for support in building a new arena. Naturally, the city wants to hang on to NHL hockey; it’s easier for the Oilers to extract money if the perception is that there’s some danger in relocating. Obviously, there’s an incentive for the team’s ownership to play up that risk. Of course, as we’ve just pointed out, a team that sells out the building despite prices well above average and a club well below average is pretty much a dream scenario for an NHL owner.

10. Donald Fehr’s long-term goal. It’s been suggested to me that the NHLPA’s objective is to limit damage in this CBA negotiation and try to set things up for a decisive win the next time around. I don’t think that’s the case. I think the NHLPA needs to get into a position where they have leverage in CBA negotiations if they are to exist as a viable entity long-term; to do that, they need to create a scenario where the vast majority of owners are making money – because owners making money will lose more money every time there’s a labour stoppage. The best way to do that is to stabilize small markets – hence the push for revenue sharing. Once all NHL teams are generating significant income, the league will have much less incentive to lockout players.

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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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#2 The Soup Fascist
August 15 2012, 12:06PM
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Not sure what constitutes a "more useful NHLer". Is it not based on the "role" that is available to be filled? In reality, as it sits, there is at most one spot in the top nine. RNH, Hall, Yak, Eberle, Hemsky, Gagner, Smyth and Horcoff (right or wrong) are virtual locks. There are some that say Jones belongs in top 9, but that is a discussion for another time.

If Paajarvi is not able to be better than a Harti or Jones in the top 9, he is USELESS as a 4th liner. I think you are alluding to that in your comments. But to say Paajarvi is more "useful" than (a focused) Eager or Petrell, has to be put in context. He is certainly more talented, but on a 4th line, no where near as effective.

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#3 Craig1981
August 15 2012, 12:12PM
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Good read, but I disagree with "big market". A market is the potential that is there. The oil are a small market team the has done a great job capturing the market that is there. When NYI are a big market team, but have done a terrible job capturing any of it.

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#4 will
August 15 2012, 12:12PM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

Not sure what constitutes a "more useful NHLer". Is it not based on the "role" that is available to be filled? In reality, as it sits, there is at most one spot in the top nine. RNH, Hall, Yak, Eberle, Hemsky, Gagner, Smyth and Horcoff (right or wrong) are virtual locks. There are some that say Jones belongs in top 9, but that is a discussion for another time.

If Paajarvi is not able to be better than a Harti or Jones in the top 9, he is USELESS as a 4th liner. I think you are alluding to that in your comments. But to say Paajarvi is more "useful" than (a focused) Eager or Petrell, has to be put in context. He is certainly more talented, but on a 4th line, no where near as effective.

Good call, Paajarvi get's pushed off the puck and is useless on the forecheck. Watching him dodge players, when they had the puck in the offensive zone last year was maddening. However, I do understand when he has the puck, he's third on the team for making the play go in the right direction, and that's important. But his shot percentage is abysmal and there's no physicality to his game. So he can't be a physical checker on the third and forth lines, but he's also not good enough to be a finisher on the top two lines.

Thus, down in the minors he has the chance to improve in either of these two areas and become one player or the other. I'd like to see him develop into a more physical checker that drives the play and is able to shut down top lines, while still contributing 15 goals a year. That in my mind is a very valuable player. Hopefully, however, they can put him with some skill and see how he does. After all, his rookie season was very impressive in what he managed with such crap ice time.

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#5 russ99
August 15 2012, 12:14PM
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Corsi is like OPS in baseball.

A good overall tool, but weighted in favor of higher producing players and shouldn't be used to compare two entirely different types of players, like slugger vs. speed/doubles guy in baseball and offensive defenseman vs. stay-at-home defenseman in hockey.

Good points in this article. Makes me continue to believe that the rebuild is still scheduled to end when the arena opens.

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#7 WhattaMike
August 15 2012, 12:15PM
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Good read JW. All strong points to make....but...IMO, Paajarvi is not going to be able to upstage the four others positioned for the top six forwards right now, being Nuge, Hall, Ens, Yakupov...and then there's Gagner and Hemsky.

The third line of Horcoff, Smyth, and then Jones...is about where he could go at this time, with Jones being put down to the fourth line. However, if he could show at scoring touch here then he becomes more viable to move up through injury times.

I also have to say that with Petry, Justin Schultz, and maybe a healthy Whitney, as powerplay point and offensive type guys, Potter is the one who should be trade bait more than Peckham due to the physical toughness issue.

The Oil still need to make some moves to open up the 50 man roster so as to ensure much higher caliber players are traded for and that there is no overabundance.

Just my opinion dude.

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#8 dessert1111
August 15 2012, 12:22PM
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I am happy you made point 4--I think it's important and many people fall into the trap that you described.

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#9 WhattaMike
August 15 2012, 12:22PM
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Oh yeah sorry, I forgot to add that if Hartikainen can put up similar points comparable to Paajarvi and play hard good hockey, in a third line role, and he has the smack, hit, and bull doze attitude always/physicality, then unfortunately Paajarvi is in the same boat as Omark is with too many of the same player types here.

Don't get me wrong though, cause I am rooting for this kid too, but too many of the same does not help out the weaknesses the Oil have.

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#10 The Soup Fascist
August 15 2012, 12:24PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I disagree with the idea that the fourth line needs to be handed over to "energy" guys. Remember, for example, the Nilsson - Brodziak - Stortini fourth line? It was extremely effective at out-scoring other units.

I'd bet that in head-to-head matchups, Paajarvi - Belanger - Eager outscores and outplays Petrell - Belanger - Eager the vast majority of the time. That matters more than the hit or two per game Petrell adds to the conversation, IMO.

That is where we have to agree to disagree. If the Oilers had more size and grit in their top 9, I would be more open to your suggestion. The fact is Petrell brings a component NO ONE else brings up front, other than Eager IF he is playing well. I would argue Petrell's physical play and PK availability trumps the little bit more offence Paajarvi would add, especially playing with the "black hole" and the RW of the day.

If we are worried about Paajarvi developing offensively, he is infinitely better off playing in OKC on a top line or as we likely both hope he is able to play as a top 6 LW, pushing Hemsky to 3rd RW and Jones to 4th line.

For that to happen though he needs to stop flying up the wing and then fluttering a wrister off the boards at the first sign of trouble. He has it in him, just not sure what happened last year. Sophmore jinx? (crosses fingers).

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#11 raretomediumrare
August 15 2012, 12:24PM
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A lot of people are saying Paajarvi's low shot percentage is evidence of unlucky bounces, and it will just automatically improve. I'm pretty sure if he keeps taking wristshots as soon as he crosses the blueline, he will never get these lucky bounces he needs.

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#12 will
August 15 2012, 12:26PM
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I also have to disagree with the trading of Sutton, You could not have asked more from him last year, and for a defensive core that was terrible, it was nice to see him play solid. Another year of having him as both a depth defender and a big time physical presence will be welcome. PLus the guy seems like he really likes to be here. I wonder how the season would have been affected had Shannahamer not come down so hard on what appeared to me to be clean hits. I for one, am glad he resigned.

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#13 Lexi
August 15 2012, 12:26PM
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JW,

I'm glad you made pt 7. I think one of the most underated part of the rebuild is there is no precedent for a team outside Toronto/New York to be this bad and still be in the top 3rd in revenue. Look at Pittsburgh, Washington and even Chicago's attendance when they were at the beginning of their rebuilds. I think in a way the Oilers are exploiting this as teams like Dallas and Anaheim can't afford to go that route so they go and sign Whitney/Jagr and Sourey/Allen instead of allowing for one bad year and getting Jones/McKinnon, who could be those team's saviors.

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#16 The Soup Fascist
August 15 2012, 12:33PM
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To add, where we may have missed the boat (and this will be considered sacrilegious my many) is bringing back Smytty. Love Smytty's passion and his history with the Oil, but his footspeed and lack of actual aggressiveness are taking a spot that would allow Paajarvi to play on the 3rd line LW.

A bigger, grittier, faster 2nd line LW type would have added some much needed size / grit in the top 6 and allowed room for a more skilled guy like Paajarvi to be in a better environment for development.

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#18 book¡e
August 15 2012, 12:36PM
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I can't find the link to the OilersNation Art Gallery containing all of the fine Photoshop artwork generated here as well as Wanye's collection of MS Paint Art. Can someone tell me where it is?

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#19 OilLeak
August 15 2012, 12:38PM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

Not sure what constitutes a "more useful NHLer". Is it not based on the "role" that is available to be filled? In reality, as it sits, there is at most one spot in the top nine. RNH, Hall, Yak, Eberle, Hemsky, Gagner, Smyth and Horcoff (right or wrong) are virtual locks. There are some that say Jones belongs in top 9, but that is a discussion for another time.

If Paajarvi is not able to be better than a Harti or Jones in the top 9, he is USELESS as a 4th liner. I think you are alluding to that in your comments. But to say Paajarvi is more "useful" than (a focused) Eager or Petrell, has to be put in context. He is certainly more talented, but on a 4th line, no where near as effective.

Really? What does Eager do better than Paajarvi on a 4th line? Take more penalties? Oh boy, whatever will the Oilers do without that skill? Perhaps win more hockey games, crazy I know. I heard eager Eager likes to throw his fists around from time to time when he's in the mood; valuable stuff. Paajarvi on the other hand drives possession and draws more penalties, the exact opposite of Eager. Could a player who's actually good at hockey on the 4th line make the Oilers a better hockey team?

So I ask, what's more valuable, playing with the puck or chasing it? Paajarvi helps with the former, Eager helps with the latter.

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#20 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
August 15 2012, 12:39PM
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The thing with Potter/Peckham is they play different styles, both bring you something different and it will depend how the other 6 look. I could see them going with 8 defenders to start the year.

Bulin - Any sort of lockout and he probably retires.

PRV- AHL unless he looks way better.

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#22 book¡e
August 15 2012, 12:42PM
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I think it is worth pointing out that the key factor in the financial success of the Oilers has do to with the economics of the region. Certainly fan loyalty, the relative level of interest in NHL hockey and hockey in general, and so on are factors, but when our economy was in the tank for a decade in the 90s, you could buy a $10 ticket to an Oiler game and then have your pick of seats in the 'gold' section because it was half empty.

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#23 Will
August 15 2012, 12:44PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I thought both suspensions were fair, but I agree that Sutton brings a lot to the table - and on merit, there's no reason for the Oilers to have traded him last year.

My concern is age: he isn't a part of the long-term solution, and the Oilers a) could have received an asset back and b) could have given a guy like Peckham a little more rope this year.

It didn't happen, and I'm fine with that, but I think it was the best way to maximize return.

I see what you're saying about not being part of the long term, but isn't our long term currently being developed in the minors? So in the mean time shouldn't we be looking for the best possible stop gaps? For a big physical player that was pretty solid defensively, playing as our number 7, maybe there's a cheaper option, but I think Sutton brings more to the table. He seems great with the kids, great in the room, always a positive attitude, and I didn't see him take a shift off all year.

As for the suspensions, maybe they were fair, my point was more would they have even been applied had Shannahan not taken over this year? And how those suspensions obviously affected Sutton's game. I think management has identified that Sutton is good for the team, and he'll receive yearly contracts as long as our prospects aren't ready, and as long as he continues his level of play. In terms of a 6-7 D man, I see what's coming up in our prospect pool, but for now I can't think of a better option. Hell, I really wanted to get a Sutton jersey this year. I have only been playing hockey for two years and found my biggest contribution to my team is my size, attitude, and work ethic.

Finally, another good post. I enjoy your work and how there's always room for discussion, yet you back up your decisions very well.

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#24 WhattaMike
August 15 2012, 12:46PM
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@Jonathon Willis

I do agree with you that overall, Paajarvi has more skill sets and defensive abilities than Harty does, but it's that will/attitude to be more physical and grind it out that he lacks than Harty and Smyth do, of which then opens up room to set up the guys like Ebs, Hall, Yakupov and Hemsky.

The problem here is that it is going to come down to Hemsky being traded or not, IMO. This then opens the door for both Harty and P Paajarvi.

I also agree with you on Sutton too. He has been a pleasant surprise except the suspensions. But he is more valuable right now as a stable six/seventh role player/mentor for teaching Peckham, Teubert, even Plante, etc, than Potter would be.

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#25 The Soup Fascist
August 15 2012, 12:46PM
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OilLeak wrote:

Really? What does Eager do better than Paajarvi on a 4th line? Take more penalties? Oh boy, whatever will the Oilers do without that skill? Perhaps win more hockey games, crazy I know. I heard eager Eager likes to throw his fists around from time to time when he's in the mood; valuable stuff. Paajarvi on the other hand drives possession and draws more penalties, the exact opposite of Eager. Could a player who's actually good at hockey on the 4th line make the Oilers a better hockey team?

So I ask, what's more valuable, playing with the puck or chasing it? Paajarvi helps with the former, Eager helps with the latter.

Note my comments in brackets prior to mentioning Eager's name. A discontented Eager who thinks he is a top 6 guy is of no use to anyone.

HOWEVER, there were 6 - 10 games last year where I thought Eager was extremely effective and exactly what the Oiler's need. A big, tough exceptional skater who can be a pest and back it up - and a little wacky - Ask the Sedin's if they shoulder check a little more when he is on the ice. The odd well-timed "stupid" penalty is not a bad thing IMO.

I realize showing up for 12% of the games (actually more like 25% because he sat a fair bit) is unacceptable. But before I write off Eager I want to see if a) the concussion at the beginning of the year had some long lasting effects and b) Ralph can push his buttons better than "fairplay" Renney.

He is by everything I hear a very good teammate. I would see what happens the first 20 games before pulling the chute on this guy.

Edit: Better try something because we are stuck with his contract for two years.

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#26 etownman
August 15 2012, 12:51PM
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So many things can happen before a choice has to be made! Are there injuries? Does a trade materialize & one of the guys is a part of it? Is Smid included in a much bigger trade, or Sutton? This is what training camps are for & the test of time!

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#27 OILERSORDEATH
August 15 2012, 01:35PM
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Maybe Paajarvi should go train with Nick and Nate Diaz for the summer? He'd come back with such a attitude it would be perfect!!

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#28 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
August 15 2012, 01:38PM
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For two yrs now we've continued to try and hammer this square peg into a round hole. Paajarvi's just not a fit here. Not only is he one of the easiest players in the league to intimidate, his battle level is low and he's consistantly steering clear of the difficult areas on the ice. The Oilers have enough non confrontational players in their lineup.

Might not be a popular decision but the Oilers would probably be better off bringing JF Jacques back with the fab 5 here to support. Atleast he ventures into the areas Paajarvi dare not go.

The Oilers believed in Jacques, Quinn believed in Jacques, and now with a new team/coach/system, who knows what could be achieved. There's little doubt the Oilers need a JF Jacques type player rather than another soft underacheiver like Magnus. Jacques would certainly be an inexpensive training camp invitee experiment.

Can't believe my innermost thawts made its way into this entry.....this summer can't end soon enough.

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#29 raretomediumrare
August 15 2012, 02:17PM
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@Jonathan Willis

I agree. I think quality of shot is the major problem with looking at shot % though, as well as looking at actual number of shots. Anyone can get shots on net.

Another, not really related point. I would love to see statistics of how many breakaways T-Hall gets, and how horrifically low his scoring percentage is. Somehow breakaways aren't quality chances with hall

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#31 BurkeTheTurd
August 15 2012, 02:26PM
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@ JW

I am very shocked/don't believe the PDF about average ticket prices. I know its not your research but to see the Oilers only have an average ticket price of 70, while the Jets have 98. I would assume the Oilers is higher than the Jets as the Jets fans had great season ticket holder prices when they came back to town. Also I can't recall paying less than 70 ever to sit in the high section of level 2.

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#32 Pouzar99
August 15 2012, 02:28PM
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Interesting comments on the Oilers as a market JW. The building revenue is good and will be great in the new arena. The area where they trail the big moneymakers is TV revenue. Some teams have their own TV networks, like the Rangers. I assume the Leafs and Habs get a much larger cut from HNIC etc ad the Oil likely get chump change from SN and TSN. Would be interesting if, say Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg could have a pay TV network, showing all three teams games, plus team related shows, repeats, and other sports stuff. Probably not enough programming to make it work. MSG has the Knicks and the NYR which helps and, of course a massive market of 20 or 30 million folks, most of whom are not NHL fans however.

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#33 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
August 15 2012, 02:42PM
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BurkeTheTurd wrote:

@ JW

I am very shocked/don't believe the PDF about average ticket prices. I know its not your research but to see the Oilers only have an average ticket price of 70, while the Jets have 98. I would assume the Oilers is higher than the Jets as the Jets fans had great season ticket holder prices when they came back to town. Also I can't recall paying less than 70 ever to sit in the high section of level 2.

I don't believe it either, turd.

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#34 Old Retired Guy
August 15 2012, 03:08PM
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The best thing for Paajarvi might be another year with OKC. Some guys just take longer to develop (especially Fins and Swedes that played their junior hockey in Europe.)

One more year to learn to adapt to life in North America; to get stronger, learn how to hit and take a hit, and to drive to the net, etc (develop into something more than a perimeter player)

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#35 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
August 15 2012, 03:09PM
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@Jonathan Willis

Feel the Oilers are just wasting their time on Paajarvi. Jacques as well was a .75 ppg player in the AHL. Does Magnus really have anything on JF, manly brawniness aside?

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#36 Old Retired Guy
August 15 2012, 03:20PM
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It will be interesting to see which players are most affected by the coaching change.

When Paajarvi does get his shot at playing with the big club maybe Krueger can have a positive affect on a young european like Magnus??

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#37 DieHard
August 15 2012, 03:33PM
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If things were done properly (meaning not needing to rush your prospects), Paajarvi would be busting into the league this year and maybe even next year.

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#38 FastOil
August 15 2012, 03:43PM
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Maybe Pajaarvi is soft, timid, etc.. The thing is, he's a 40 point player who spends time at the right end of the ice and can slot in anywhere.

The same player who is also tough, hits like a truck and knows how to agitate effectively is very rare and very expensive.

Should they go for that guy. Sure, but chances are that deal takes Hemsky or a top 6 winger, so Pajaarvi is still on the team. We need some effective role players and he can be that.

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#39 Sliderule
August 15 2012, 03:52PM
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MPS is going to start the season assuming there is one in OK city.The oiler coaches have him pegged as too timid and not able to finish.

Like Lander last year Hartikanen will be given the opportunity to succeed or fail in the big show. MPS will have to put up good boxes in the AHL in order to get another shot at the NHL with the oilers.I suspect if they had been able to trade him for a decent defender he would have already been gone.

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#40 RexLibris
August 15 2012, 04:02PM
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Great read, Jonathan. I like the Lewis Carroll reference in particular. It has some relevance to what I was just writing about the Flames since 2004.

Point 1. I'm more in the Peckham camp if only because I think Potter has peaked and trading Peckham right now would feel like selling for cents on the dollar. That being said, at some point it comes time to fish or cut bait, and Sutton is what Peckham needs to become, so the duplication makes one or the other expendable. More on that later.

Point 2. I think Khabibulin gets moved at the deadline. Perhaps to the Islanders, they seem to like collecting older goaltenders (John Grahame, Nabokov). I don't think the Oilers receive Strome or Reinhart in return, though.

Point 3. Paajarvi is a tough one. I'd like to see him develop into the left-winger that we need. I think having both he and Hartikainen developing is good for the team as it provides some insurance for prospect development.

Point 4. I'm not a stats guy, but this reminds me of Dan Gardner's book, Future Babble (thanks to KW for the suggestion), where he talks about "experts" who fail to make allowances for what they don't know when doing predictions and their subsequent propensity for error.

Point 5. I've argued this here at ON for a few years now. In my view this past and the two upcoming drafts will become Stu MacGregor's most important. Our draft position is likely to change (please dear God let it change!) and the team will need to acquire developing talent to account for the natural attrition of a successful team. Locking up a core is one thing, but maintaining a strong supporting cast is something else entirely. The progression of players like Pitlick, Hamilton, Marincin, Gernat, Reider, Pelss, Simpson, Musil, Zharkov, Khaira, Moroz and others will be critical in this regard.

Point 6. Absolutely. Learn and adapt or perish. This has some bearing on the constant refrain of fans every spring when they talk about the "new template" for winning being an exact copy of whichever team won the Stanley Cup. Trying to mimic that roster will mean a team is always two or three years behind the curve.

Point 7. I have made this argument, and variations of it, over FN in regards to whether or not the Flames could rebuild. The Oilers have a luxury that the Predators, Ducks, Lightning, and Hurricanes do not. When other fans try to use the patience of fans as a slight against the team and its followers it strikes me as being a crass and cynical argument. What kind of fans would we be if we were to abandon our team the moment they struggled? Support does not equal blind devotion.

Point 8 and 9. I agree with both of these in the sense that the Oilers are a big-market team in terms of revenues, both gate and corporate, but they have also saturated that market, in my opinion. The only untapped fans in the Edmonton and Northern Alberta region are the ones that aren't born yet.

Point 10. True. Fehr must know enough to know that if the players can negotiate an agreement that allows the league to grow annual revenues of around $5 billion four years from now then the players will be along for the ride. Fehr, despite my intrinsic dislike for the adversarial process he and Bettman both exemplify, appears to advocate the most sane approach: get it right and both sides win.

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#41 Bucknuck
August 15 2012, 04:14PM
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I think point 10 is HUGE. I really don't want to see a lock out/strike, and all it will do is piss off the marginal fans which is counter to what the NHL or NHL PA wants (I would hope).

I hope that the players understand that in order to push for more revenue sharing they are going to have to give up a little bit on their end so the big money teams will buy in to it. They should not be getting more than half of league revenue. They just shouldn't.

I absolutely believe that a salary cap is necessary, and also a limit on the length of contracts.

I think Fehr would love nothing more than the publicity that a work stoppage would give him, and that scares the sh#! out of me.

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#42 Lofty
August 15 2012, 04:36PM
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How do Philly, Chicago, Toronto, Van, Pitt, and Washington exceed 100% for home attendance? Is it the winter classic factor?

Pittsburgh fans sure have it good. Cheap tickets, cheap food, free programs and most importantly, cheap beer. All while watching Malkin... and sometimes Crosby.

The list of NHL barns shows how small Edmontons rink really is. 2,500 more seats X $70 a ticket + $20 in concessions X 41 games is almost $10 million a season. That's a free roster every 6 years. I would also assume that each seat is worth more than $20 in concessions and merchandise on average.

Question: What was the last home game that the Edmonton Oilers did not officially sell out?

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#43 The Soup Fascist
August 15 2012, 04:48PM
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Bucknuck wrote:

I think point 10 is HUGE. I really don't want to see a lock out/strike, and all it will do is piss off the marginal fans which is counter to what the NHL or NHL PA wants (I would hope).

I hope that the players understand that in order to push for more revenue sharing they are going to have to give up a little bit on their end so the big money teams will buy in to it. They should not be getting more than half of league revenue. They just shouldn't.

I absolutely believe that a salary cap is necessary, and also a limit on the length of contracts.

I think Fehr would love nothing more than the publicity that a work stoppage would give him, and that scares the sh#! out of me.

Not sure thay is totally fair. Obviously both these guys have egos the size of all outdoors. However Fehr, was president of the MLBPA for 23 years and there was only one strike in 1994 (granted it was a doosey).

I have no horse in this race other than being a season ticket holder. This is mostly a case of millionaires fighting with billionaires. Both need a reality check. But I would hope both teams would want no or virtually no loss of the season. Hopefully sanity prevails.

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#44 Puck JammeR!
August 15 2012, 05:15PM
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I really do hope that were keeping Peckam over Potter. Hes a great success story with his mom raising him all alone and evrything he's had to overcome. I used to play Men's league with some black guys too and you wouldn't believe how nice these guys were just a great group! Go Theo! were routing for you!

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#45 David S
August 15 2012, 05:19PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

But, playing in Canada, it's always been reasonable to expect a far more devoted market than a city in the southern United States has.

The Oilers don't have great fan support because they're especially good at engaging with fans - compared to a lot of teams, they're actually not that good at it. They have great fan support because people in Edmonton *love* hockey. Thus, the market of hockey consumers is way bigger relative to the size of the city than it is in a place like Long Island.

For a hockey team, the size of the city doesn't matter if the market for hockey consumption isn't there.

Sorry, but we are indeed a small market team. The market for hockey consumption must also be considered to be the size of the potential TV audience. Although we have a sold out arena every night, the TV reach is substantially less than other "big market" teams.

The Oilers revenue generation opportunities are tapped out at the rink/local level. The only way they can make more money (other than raise ticket prices) is to increase their TV rights fees, which will be determined by viewership reach. This is the primary driver behind the new arena. The new corporate suites are the only way the team can generate additional ongoing revenue.

We get to watch most games here on TV because the local viewership is strong, but you go out of the immediate market and it's Montreal/Toronto/Vancouver as the big draw teams for out-of-town games. When I lived in Calgary I got a gut full of bad Eastern conference broadcasts when Calgary wasn't playing.The only thing that saved my sanity was watching grey-market Oilers games with a sweet hi-speed internet connection.

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#46 Dog Train
August 15 2012, 05:26PM
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Thoughts on a few of those points: -I prefer Peckham the player to Potter but I agree that there is probably more trade value with Peckham. Still, if it comes down to risking one of them on waivers, I would rather send down Potter. Especially with Schultz, Petry, Whitney and maybe another forward commanind the point spots on the PP. I am not sure that I see a role for Potter as much as I can see Peckham helping out on the PK.

-The Oilers need to coach to win this season. If Khabby does not give us a better chance to win then Danis, then Danis needs to get some games in the NHL to spell Dubnyk. I think that in a limited role and with a hopefully better team in front of him, Khabby can provide a serviceable season.

-I still feel like Paajarvi can develop into a two-way top-six winger. I would like to see him given an opportunity on a line with Gagner and Yakupov. As much as management and fans are clamouring for a presence like Hartikainen, Paajarvi is more NHL ready for a top-six role seeing as he has already done it and produced a solid point total in his rookie season.

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#47 ubermiguel
August 15 2012, 05:35PM
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The Oilers are a Big Market team? Sort of.

Hard salary cap + strong economy + rich owner, ok, we can run with the Rangers and Red Wings of the world.

In the old days no/soft salary cap + oil prices drop + community ownership, we were small market. If the economy softens again, or if the hard cap disappears, of if Katz's pharmacies under-perform, we're in trouble.

And as a couple of other posters have mentioned already, we've probably maximized the revenue already. That's one benefit of the EIG days, they ran a tight and efficient ship.

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#48 Jay Gray
August 15 2012, 05:42PM
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The biggest reason I believe the Oilers are so successful on the financial side of things is people in my age group 25-40 grew up when Gretzky and the boys were running things. We grew up as Oiler fanatics, and in turn are willing to shell out any extra money to show our support. Whether that be on tickets, merch, memorabilia, etc.

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#49 DonDon
August 15 2012, 06:07PM
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Jonathan

The question you did not post is does the owner finally want to see this version of the Oilers start to win games and compete game in, game out.

At this point it is difficult to determine. The only changes have been drafting Yak, being lucky enough to pick up Schultz the Younger in FA and replacing Renney with Krueger as head coach. Otherwise, it has been stand pat, again.

I hope we get some idea in training camp. If the roster constitutes the same old, same old, then we can prepare for another lottery pick and a disappointing season, sans playoffs, a version of the movie Groundhog Day.

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#50 DieHard
August 15 2012, 07:59PM
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Jay Gray wrote:

The biggest reason I believe the Oilers are so successful on the financial side of things is people in my age group 25-40 grew up when Gretzky and the boys were running things. We grew up as Oiler fanatics, and in turn are willing to shell out any extra money to show our support. Whether that be on tickets, merch, memorabilia, etc.

Yes and the Eskies too.

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