FOUR MINUTE WARNING

Lowetide
July 15 2013 02:59PM

 

The Edmonton Oilers may not add to their current group of forwards for the coming season based on GM Craig MacTavish's words in his latest interview. If true, the bottom 6F look slightly better in some areas and the same or worse in others. How will coach Dallas Eakins get around it? Increased minutes for his top 6F, reliance on the wisdom of the pro scouting department, a winger from his AHL team and perhaps a Baron or two when things get tight.

TIME ON ICE 2012-13

The Oilers under Ralph Krueger employed a 4line rotation that saw Nail Yakupov (12:04) and Eric Belanger (10:47) get about the same even strength time on ice. More stark, the Hall-Nuge-Eberle line played about 15.5 minutes at even strength, about 2 full minutes less than league leaders like Steven Stamkos and Ilya Kovalchuk. Edmonton could easily push their 1line (and their 2line) during games and rotate the bottom 6F's less often. 

Why would they do that? Because in today's NHL any game that can offer points in the standings is vital, and because the Oilers have a massive gap between their 1line and their third and fourth lines.

How would they do that? There are designated times during each game where a television timeout allows the coach to re-set his lines. Coach Ralph Krueger often passed on the opportunity, I think that's one area where the new coach can have an immediate impact.

Other strategies to gain the edge? Offensive zone starts for the best available forwards and monster own zone faceoffs for Boyd Gordon (he's used to it--and good at it!) feeds into an area of strength for the hockey club.

Anything else? The really curious item for me last season was the PP TOI for the top guns. Hall, Nuge and Ebs averaged just 3 minutes a night, while 23 NHL forwards averaged 3.5 minutes per night or more with the man advantage. 

There are 25 NHL players who averaged more than 20 minutes a night on ice a year ago, 35 two years ago. The Oiler leader this past season was Sam Gagner at 19:24, with Hall--the best player on the team--averaging only 18.5 minutes a night. Increasing that number by 90 seconds or two minutes for Hall's line--with a similar increase for the 2line--should give Edmonton more firepower and make them less reliant on the bottom 6 forwards. 

If the Oilers can move some of those depth minutes to the front line of forwards, the results--shot differential, goals for and against--should head in a better direction. The keys are the Hall line, the Gagner line being much better than a year ago, and Boyd Gordon.

THE PRO SCOUTS

If the pro scouts (on both sides of the pond) got it right, Jesse Joensuu may end up being a hidden gem from the free agent frenzy. Signed to a 2-year contract with the Oilers, he's a physical player with skill and some ability

THE HOCKEY NEWS ON JOENSSU

The Hockey News offers an excellent thumbnail sketch on all NHL players and prospects and is a good starting point. Joensuu is exactly the type of player Edmonton used to acquire during the Sather era--a 2nd round pick who struggled with an NHL team not known for succesful talent development-- and hopefully Craig MacTavish inherited it from his old GM/coach.

EAKINS MEN

The Oilers acquired two of Eakins Marlies (Ryan Hamilton and Will Acton) and those two players along with some of the AHL Barons (Anton Lander, Mark Arcobello, Martin Marincin, Taylor Fedun along with recently signed Richard Bachman, Brad Hunt) provide some needed depth. The blueline is especially strong.

I think the Oilers will probably add some training camp invites or late summer ufa additions (guys like C's Marty Reasoner, David Steckel, Jerred Smithson, along with wingers like Brandon Yip, Chuck Kobasew, Peter Mueller) depending on cost and availability. The club up front is pretty exposed currently if they lose someone to injury and MacT will want to cover up the holes as best as he can before September and training camp.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Photo Credit: -J. Nilsson Photography
Model: Daniela Marin

It has been less than a perfect summer so far, but the improvements in the roster are up the middle--G, D and C--along with added skill and experience in David Perron. A guess at opening night lineups might look like this (C-L-R):

  • Nuge-Hall-Eberle (Arcobello likely slotted in for injured Nuge)
  • Gagner-Perron-Yakupov
  • Gordon-Jones-Hemsky
  • Lander-Smyth-Jonessu
  • Smid-Petry
  • Ference-J Schultz
  • N Schultz-Belov/Larsen
  • Dubnyk/LaBarbera

Those top 2 lines need to play a larger portion of the game, that 3rd line has to be getting most of the available own zone starts, and the 4th line needs to be effective when called upon. The Oilers remain a rebuilding team in transition, but the summer moves have been reasonable and should improve the team next season.

If coach Eakins can grab 4 minutes in total time from the bottom 6 forwards and hand it to the top 6 forwards, the Oilers may be able to move up the standings enough to make the trade deadline meaningful.

A veteran left winger for that 3rd line wouldn't go amiss either.

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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 TSN 1260.
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#1 OilersBrass
July 15 2013, 03:03PM
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Hey Lowetide, can you confirm or deny the rumors that Edmonton has been showing interest in trading for Phaneuf?

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#2 Beans
July 15 2013, 03:09PM
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Klefbom will be on ze team!

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#4 LinkfromHyrule
July 15 2013, 03:10PM
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a lot of people seem to think that our bottom 6 is gonna doom our team next year, but honestly, I don't see it as quite that bad. Our 3rd line is actually pretty decent(provided Jones rebounds at least a bit). The fourth is definitely not pretty though, too many question marks for my liking

hopefully training camp will let some OKC guys breach the lineup

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#5 Walter Sobchak
July 15 2013, 03:10PM
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Whats scares me is The third and forth might be ok at home, they will get exposed on the road.

Jones belongs on the forth line and Hemsky is a top six talent....IF Hemsky is not traded do you want to decrease his value further by playing him less?

The other players minus Smyth should be in the AHL to start the season, or we just have the Hartikianen, Lander,Paajarvi model that has failed the last three years.

If they have stong starts in the AHL then you can bring them up, if the struggle at the NHL level.............. who's the top 5 draft pick this year?

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#6 OilersBrass
July 15 2013, 03:16PM
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Lowetide wrote:

I can't, sorry. If they are interested in him, Phaneuf could certainly help imo.

Wrote about him here

http://oilersnation.com/2012/3/13/el-kabong

and here

http://lowetide.ca/blog/2013/07/double-dion-kablammo-el-kabong.html

Lol "double Dion"

Good article on your site. I wouldn't mind Phaneuf on the Oilers.

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#7 northof51
July 15 2013, 03:26PM
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Thanks L/T for the post. I was trying to make the same point about Kruger but I don't have "any credentials" and "nobody would listen to me". With Kruger gone, the Oilers as a team are better.

That said, Kovalchuk (24:44 TOI/G), Stamkos (22:01), St. Louis (21:59), Giroux (21:10), E. Staal (20:59), Semin (20:56), Duchene (20:55), E. Kane (20:27), Eriksson (20:07), and J. Staal (20:06) all missed the playoffs last year. TBL and CAR were particularly dependent on a small group of forwards to carry the mail and while statistically (boxcars) they were up to the task, the rest of the team couldn't pick up the slack.

Simply put, the 3rd and 4th lines will have to be better next year.

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#8 russ99
July 15 2013, 03:33PM
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LT - That Hockey News site is fantastic!

I've been looking for something like this for a long time.

I've been using a combination of hockeydb, TSN.ca, hockeysfuture and capgeek to hunt down player info, but this has most it in one place.

Props!

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#9 HardBoiledOil
July 15 2013, 03:33PM
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so far this team is only marginally better on paper....hopefully our young gunz and DD will mature even more and pull us into a playoff spot.

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#10 oilbaron
July 15 2013, 03:37PM
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I really don't ever see Phaneuf coming here, particularly because he is so overpaid.

Really like the look of the current lineup, and I think there is already more depth here than most people realize. Between Mctavish, Eakins and Father Acton I'm pretty sure they're acutely aware of all the details, and (despite what MacT said last night) they might not even be done making moves yet.

I'm most concerned about Eakins coaching style, I just hope it gels with the kids and still lets them optimize their offense. If he can manage that... I can't wait for playoffs!

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#11 Smokey
July 15 2013, 03:40PM
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Having a three holes in your bottom six is going to mean three things. Weaker penalty killing, less of an ability to roll 4 lines wears down your top lines especially on back to backs, and less offensive making the Oilers as a whole easier to check.

Relying on Hamilton and Acton, Jones, Jonesuu, Lander to fill holes and compete at a level essential to making the playoffs is MacT's bad joke. Bottom six is no better then last year, and the whole forward group is smaller as a whole. Maybe he should not of announced the major over-hall day 1.

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#12 Will
July 15 2013, 03:41PM
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I know we improved last year in terms of standings, but after looking at the numbers, especially things like puck possession and shots, it seems the team may have actually regressed. I wonder how much of that was due to Krueger's coaching style?

He really would throw out some weird combinations with lots of time left, especially if he was trying to hold onto a lead, effectively allowing the opposition to bombard Dubnyk.

It's tough to talk about the team and how the new additions will work considering there is a completely new coach and system to consider.

What do you think will make the largest impact: A decent back-up to Dubnyk

The retooling of the forwards with additions like Perron, and Gordon

The development of young starts Schultz and Yakupov

The subtraction of Whitney and addition of Ferrence and Belov

The new coaching?

Obviously it is likely to be a combination of all of these things, as one greatly affects the other, however, my money will be on the subtraction of Whitney and additions of Ferrence and Belov. This is especially true if Klefbomb does what many of the Oiler rookies have done and exceeds expectations.

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#13 oilbaron
July 15 2013, 03:48PM
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"my money will be on the subtraction of Whitney and additions of Ferrence and Belov"

was thinking the same thing

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#14 Shredder
July 15 2013, 03:51PM
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I have to say that I liked Hall paired with Yakupov...they are slightly similar players although less than what most people would say.

I'd make my first line: Hall - Gagner - Yakupov

Then you add the grittiness of Perron (not to mention a good shot and pass) to the sublime passing and finishing of Ebs & Nuge (I see that being a natural compliment) I think you get a top notch line #2 (or 1B).

Top 6 looks real good, and I was really hoping Eakins would play them more.

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#15 Craig1981
July 15 2013, 03:53PM
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@Lowetide

I have to ask. Where did you get the photo of my Spanish teacher I had when I was in Ecuador from (yellow swimsuit)? I FBed her and she is dieing to know how it made its way to Canada

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#16 Will
July 15 2013, 03:58PM
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Shredder wrote:

I have to say that I liked Hall paired with Yakupov...they are slightly similar players although less than what most people would say.

I'd make my first line: Hall - Gagner - Yakupov

Then you add the grittiness of Perron (not to mention a good shot and pass) to the sublime passing and finishing of Ebs & Nuge (I see that being a natural compliment) I think you get a top notch line #2 (or 1B).

Top 6 looks real good, and I was really hoping Eakins would play them more.

I like this idea a lot. The only problem being Hall and Yak like to set up at the same spot, and Gagner is pretty abysmal down low as he can't seem to win puck battles along the wall. Neither can Nuge but he is such a good passer that the puck is usually on its way before a puck battle even begins.

Having said that, I imagine this is how the season will start out as Nuge likely won't return for a bit. I imagine if that Gagner line produces, they probably won't mess with it.

Getting excited to see what Perron can do on a higher flying team, as well I can't wait to see how much the defence has improved with new additions and the added benefit of a training camp.

Too early for predictions but it's nice to see a real live hockey team as oppose to a bunch of young talent.

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#17 Daniela
July 15 2013, 04:02PM
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hello,, is a great surprise see my picture in bikini here,, how was possible????? thank you

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#18 Daniela
July 15 2013, 04:02PM
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hello,, is a great surprise see my picture in bikini here,, how was possible????? thank you

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#19 OILERSORDEATH
July 15 2013, 04:03PM
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Shredder wrote:

I have to say that I liked Hall paired with Yakupov...they are slightly similar players although less than what most people would say.

I'd make my first line: Hall - Gagner - Yakupov

Then you add the grittiness of Perron (not to mention a good shot and pass) to the sublime passing and finishing of Ebs & Nuge (I see that being a natural compliment) I think you get a top notch line #2 (or 1B).

Top 6 looks real good, and I was really hoping Eakins would play them more.

@ Shredder Totally agree man, a nightmare for Dman to those two coming down

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#20 Jerry
July 15 2013, 04:04PM
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Trade Kevin Lowe

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#21 Norm
July 15 2013, 04:05PM
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Yet another attempt by Oilers ownership to sell another load of just be 'patient there is a plan'.What has been done so far is not enough to convince me to spend $400/500 to take my spouse to an Oiler game.

Mactavish is rookie lightweight of a Gm. That is now obvious.

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#22 Rocket
July 15 2013, 04:18PM
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LT

I think TOI totals are really indicative of how this team will control the pace of play in games this coming season. The top lines (at least in the first half of the season), should really be playing more. Especially on the PP, the kids need more time.

Last year it was frustrating watching Krueger put Horcoff & Hemsky out there on the first unit PP at time. Hopefully Eakins fixes that. Anyway, special teams play doesn't concern me. 5on5 will really determine the fate of The Oilers.

More TOI for Hall please.

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#25 David S
July 15 2013, 04:25PM
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Daniela wrote:

hello,, is a great surprise see my picture in bikini here,, how was possible????? thank you

This CANNOT possibly be real.

But in case it is...

*Tucks shirt. Sits straight up. Sucks in gut.*

Helloooo Daniela!

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#26 David S
July 15 2013, 04:27PM
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*Hottest WDIAM babe EVER!

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#27 Craig1981
July 15 2013, 04:49PM
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@David S

Scouts honor, true as true.

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#30 15w40
July 15 2013, 04:55PM
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So if the Oilers keep Hemsky around do they try for a 3rd semi scoring line and bring up one of the offensive guys like Rajala or Arcobello to play the other wing with Hemsky and Gordon?? on the 3rd line.

If your going to be small you might as well be a threat to score using MacT's thinking. Unless big Finn 2.0 has some offense to contribute on the 3rd line.

Looks like Lander is the default 4th line centre with the Smyth and Jones??

Maybe play Hemsky up the line-up with RNH and Hall to see if you can get his offensive #'s to balloon and increase the trade value?

There will be teams looking for offense in the 1st part of the hear and if Hemsky catches fire trade him then and slide Yak right in there.

Hemsky with Gagner didn't seem to be a good combination on the defensive side of centre.

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#31 Henry
July 15 2013, 04:57PM
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It is starting to sound like Lowe/mact have pulled the chute on 2013-14 already. Looks we have been told by the corporate shill to lower expectations. Lovely.

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#32 Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate
July 15 2013, 04:58PM
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Sign Marty Sakic, err...Joe Reasoner, err...you know who I mean for the 4th line C slot.

If he's as good as that guy he was compared to he ~could fill in for the injured Baby Nuge~

@David S....Line up starts behind me bro.

@Daniela....How you doin'?

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#34 Craig1981
July 15 2013, 04:58PM
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@Lowetide

She was actually very excited about it. I told her to get back to you.

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#35 Mikey
July 15 2013, 05:00PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

Whats scares me is The third and forth might be ok at home, they will get exposed on the road.

Jones belongs on the forth line and Hemsky is a top six talent....IF Hemsky is not traded do you want to decrease his value further by playing him less?

The other players minus Smyth should be in the AHL to start the season, or we just have the Hartikianen, Lander,Paajarvi model that has failed the last three years.

If they have stong starts in the AHL then you can bring them up, if the struggle at the NHL level.............. who's the top 5 draft pick this year?

If you think Gordon is a AHL player, your view and hockey opinon is garbage.

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#37 The Soup Fascist
July 15 2013, 05:02PM
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Craig1981 wrote:

She was actually very excited about it. I told her to get back to you.

Not half as excited as some .......

P.S. I suddenly think I should increase my Spanish vocabulary, which currently consists of "dos cervezas por favor" .... and "Badges ?? .... we don't need no stinkin' badges (in a bad accent)"

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#38 David S
July 15 2013, 05:03PM
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Lowetide wrote:

David, I'd like to get some clarity if possible. I've removed the image because Daniela seemed most unaware, and won't post it again until I'm certain she's okay with it. I retrieved it from a site that allows usage, but from her reaction it sounds like she was shocked.

Although I think it's a cool story (you knowing here and reading the blog--what are the odds???) I also want to be respectful to her.

I'M TELLNG WANYE!!!!!!!

BooOOooOOoOOooOOoOOOoo!!!!!

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#39 Lofty
July 15 2013, 05:22PM
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LinkfromHyrule wrote:

a lot of people seem to think that our bottom 6 is gonna doom our team next year, but honestly, I don't see it as quite that bad. Our 3rd line is actually pretty decent(provided Jones rebounds at least a bit). The fourth is definitely not pretty though, too many question marks for my liking

hopefully training camp will let some OKC guys breach the lineup

Maybe a question for Lowetide but what is the NHL average TOI for 4th liners?

Didn't the Tampa Bay Lightening run through the playoffs with one outstanding line?

I'd think the top two lines play 70% of the game and are the most important part of most teams. Third line has PK responsibilities so they're around 20% to 25%, should leave 10% to 5% for the 4th line. 6 minutes or less per night for the 4th line? Lander, Smyth and Brown should be able to hold the fort for 3 or 4 short shifts a period.

A good 3rd line is one thing, but is the 4th that important?

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#40 Rama Lama
July 15 2013, 05:23PM
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I get the feeling that Mac T is tempring our expectations on getting additional help........might be wise to under promise and over deliver? Sure beats the alternative.

From any measure it's painfully obvious that the ship is not complete. Yes it has a sail, a keel, a good rudder, but also comes with a big hole right in the back of the hull. All the prefessional writers have mentioned this so unless they are all wrong ( Stauffer excluded) there should be another deal brewing in the background.

THe availability of the Nuge,( full rehab see's him returning in mid-October) to me is the greatest concern. I hope that he packed on some pounds and added some leg strength, everything else is there in spades.

Any chance Allan on giving us an update on the Nuge and where his headspace is at, given all the current roster changes? I'm curious about our lack of an legitmate enforcer protecting our skill.......just don't see Brown being able to keep anyone in check.

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#42 Lofty
July 15 2013, 05:27PM
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15w40 wrote:

So if the Oilers keep Hemsky around do they try for a 3rd semi scoring line and bring up one of the offensive guys like Rajala or Arcobello to play the other wing with Hemsky and Gordon?? on the 3rd line.

If your going to be small you might as well be a threat to score using MacT's thinking. Unless big Finn 2.0 has some offense to contribute on the 3rd line.

Looks like Lander is the default 4th line centre with the Smyth and Jones??

Maybe play Hemsky up the line-up with RNH and Hall to see if you can get his offensive #'s to balloon and increase the trade value?

There will be teams looking for offense in the 1st part of the hear and if Hemsky catches fire trade him then and slide Yak right in there.

Hemsky with Gagner didn't seem to be a good combination on the defensive side of centre.

Just leave Hemsky on the 3rd line. He can skate circles all day long while Jones and Gordon play in the crease and go to the net. Should also be playing against other 3rd line players which can't hurt.

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#43 Lofty
July 15 2013, 05:29PM
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Lowetide wrote:

At evens, 4line centers are usually 9.5 to 12 minutes. A lot of centermen people think are 3rd liners are not. Boyd Gordon for instance, was clearly the #3C in PHX last season.

Interesting, much more than I thought.

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#45 Lofty
July 15 2013, 05:46PM
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Lowetide wrote:

Yeah, it's a lot. Greg Campbell from Boston at evens was 11:12, Jay McClement was 11:31 in Toronto, Riley Nash was 11:44 in Carolina. I'd say Belanger at 10:47 was a hair higher than the average, and maybe Brad Richardson at 10:19 was average. somewhere in there.

I found this article from D. Wagner of the Score:

http://blogs.thescore.com/nhl/2013/06/04/how-does-the-boston-bruins-fourth-line-compare-to-the-fourth-lines-from-other-playoff-teams/

Looks like 8 to 11 minutes for playoff teams this year. The PPG isn't much of a surprise...

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#46 Spydyr
July 15 2013, 05:58PM
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Sure the top two line guys should play a few more minutes a night,Ralph missed the boat on that.

That being said you do not win in the three month long grind that is the Stanley Cup playoffs without rolling four lines.Every contender has four good lines.

The upgrades Mac-T has done to the third and fourth line so far, are marginal at best.

If you put Gagner and Yak on the same line expect it to be a minus line.Neither can play defence.

Looks like another year outside the playoffs.It must be the master plan right,right?

Not like Katz will let the cat out of the bag.

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#47 madjam
July 15 2013, 06:14PM
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Gordon an upgrade on Paajarvi acceptable , and Perron an upgrade on Horcoff is reasonable expectations . I forsee a reasonable upgrade on Whitney and Potter .

Bottom six as shown is subpar in comparison to our other divisional rivalries , and defence better but still weak . Some still available like a Kobasew and/or Steckle might help marginally . Bottom six currently subpar in physical department to most and not very assertive in that regard either . Defence still lacks toughness to get us going in positive direction even though it is slightly better .

Weak enough that Nurse might be a bet to be pressed into action this year , as we still need that physical upgrade to challenge other divisional rivals for playoff s[pot . In a nutshell -on ice operational requirements above development in certain times . We see it all the time including our last 3 top junior picks , and each one did rather well considering .

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#48 Rama Lama
July 15 2013, 06:28PM
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madjam wrote:

Gordon an upgrade on Paajarvi acceptable , and Perron an upgrade on Horcoff is reasonable expectations . I forsee a reasonable upgrade on Whitney and Potter .

Bottom six as shown is subpar in comparison to our other divisional rivalries , and defence better but still weak . Some still available like a Kobasew and/or Steckle might help marginally . Bottom six currently subpar in physical department to most and not very assertive in that regard either . Defence still lacks toughness to get us going in positive direction even though it is slightly better .

Weak enough that Nurse might be a bet to be pressed into action this year , as we still need that physical upgrade to challenge other divisional rivals for playoff s[pot . In a nutshell -on ice operational requirements above development in certain times . We see it all the time including our last 3 top junior picks , and each one did rather well considering .

If Nurse is pressed into the Oilers this season, I will lose all respect for the new management team!

He is a kid, a string bean kid, that by any reasonable measure is NOT ready for prime time. I can think of no one else except maybe LA with DD, where this has worked.

Let the kid play another year in junior and one in the AHL, add some muscle and then earn his spot.......anything else will not do him justice.

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#49 DSF
July 15 2013, 06:54PM
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Good grief.

If Taylor Hall plays an additional 2 minutes per game, he will play an additional 164 minutes extra next season. (if he plays a full 82 game season)

At his current scoring rate of 3.16 P/60, that would yield an additional 8 points over the course of a season.

Let's assume, based on that, and ignoring he's taking ice time from someone else who could score, the Oilers score an additional 8 ES goals next season (best possible case).

That would mean, all else being equal, the Oilers would score 133GF and 134GA.

18 teams last season had a 5V5 F/A equal or better than 1.00.

Since PP success varies widely from season to season, expecting much progress in the standings based on more ice time for the top 6 at evens doesn't get you very far.

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#50 15w40
July 15 2013, 07:23PM
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Whew!! I was beginning to wonder if the sun was going to come up tomorrow......

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