2013-14 Division Rivals: Edmonton Oilers vs. Anaheim Ducks

Jonathan Willis
August 12 2013 08:31AM

The Edmonton Oilers have moved to the new Pacific Division, and with the summer free agent splurge all but over it’s a good time to see how they stack up against their rivals. We start with the Anaheim Ducks, who with 66 points last season would have led all teams in the new division.

For forwards, I’ve used points from last season projected over an 82-game schedule, for defencemen time on ice per game in 2013, and for goalies their 2013 save percentage. Players in italics did not play a significant number of games in the NHL in 2012-13; red indicates numbers come from the AHL or Europe while green indicates a previous NHL season.

Forwards

The exact combinations obviously involve a bit of guesswork, and the Ducks combos in particular are a little more difficult because I’m not as familiar with them. I’ve left last year’s successful Cogliano/Koivu/Winnik trio together, and plugged in Dustin Penner on the top line for now – though of course newcomer Jakob Silfverberg may get the job, or Kyle Palmieri or Matt Beleskey (both of the latter saw some time with Perry and Getzlaf last season).

There are two obvious things that jump out about the chart above. First, the Oilers have seven players who were on pace for 40+ points last season; the Ducks have only four (though we’re splitting hairs a little given Cogliano and Bonino). Second, the bottom half of the Ducks roster looks a lot more potent than the same part of the Edmonton depth chart.

Assuming head-to-head matchups with these lines, I like the Getzlaf trio a little better than the Oilers’ kids right now, but not a lot better. For the second line matchup, I think Edmonton’s group is a better bet – Cogliano’s coming off a career-best season, Daniel Winnik has never hit 30 points in the NHL and Saku Koivu turns 39 in November. If all goes well, the Ducks have a solid group there, but a lot could go wrong. Luckily for Anaheim, they have bottom-six depth the Oilers can’t match – while I wouldn’t especially want to bet on Bonino and Beleskey, the other four guys in the group are all young and have significant upside. Anaheim’s been top-heavy for years, but they finally have a young NHL group that can address that problem.

Overall, Edmonton doesn’t match up terribly in the top-six but their depth group doesn’t look particularly good compared to the Ducks.

Defence and Goaltending

On defence, the Oilers match up pretty well in the two through eight slots; I would even be inclined to give them the edge in the depth game. The difference is in the number one slot: Francois Beauchemin is a fantastic defenceman and until they show otherwise the Oilers don’t really have a comparable all-round rearguard on their roster.

In net, I’m not convinced that Devan Dubnyk is worse than any of the goalies on the Ducks’ roster, but backups don’t come much better than Viktor Fasth and Frederik Andersen is an incredible prospect with upside that Richard Bachman simply doesn’t possess.

Again, it’s competitive but the Ducks have a lead overall in my view.

Overall

I’m not convinced that the Ducks will end up winning the Pacific Division; they rode the percentages last season and weren’t able to consistently out-shoot the other team. In the three full seasons leading up to last year, the Ducks fired at an 8.6, 8.4 and 8.2 shooting percentage at even-strength; last season they fired at a 9.4 percent clip. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but over a full season that alone works out to roughly 15 goals. Still, I feel comfortable guessing they’ll likely outperform the Oilers next season.

This is a team that the Oilers could catch with a strong season.

Recently around the Nation Network

At NHL Numbers, new writer Travis Yost breaks down every Western team's Corsi - that's shots, missed shots and blocked shots, which gives us an idea of which team controls possession - and the Edmonton Oilers in particular don't fare so well. Click the link for the shiny graph, though this segment from his conclusion may discourage our readers:

Just stare at it. Don't look away. Don't even blink. If you're an Oilers fan who watched even-half of last year's circus, you are a masochist for awful hockey. And if you made it through the entire season, you deserve the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Click the link above to read more, or check out some of my recent stuff:

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 DSF
August 12 2013, 01:47PM
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John Chambers wrote:

I seem to recall a lot of "blue sky" valuations on both Anaheim's as well as Minnesota's prospects prior to last season.

Let's see how DSF's favorites turned out:

Peter Holland - 5 pts in 21 NHL games, and 39 points (and minus -13) in 45 AHL games. This from a guy drafted 5 spots after Paajarvi. Specifically you said Anaheim wouldn't be a legitimate trade destination for Gagner because of Holland's inevitable emergence. Huh.

Charlie Coyle - 14 points in 37 NHL games, and 25 points in 47 AHL games. A far better pick than Tyler Pitlick indeed, but certainly not a difference maker on the Wild last season. Will almost certainly have a middle-6 role this season however.

Mike Granlund - just 8 points in 27 games. Bummer. I actually had high hopes for this player after a near PPG performance in the AHL at the beginning of last season. Like Coyle he'll probably play on the 2nd line this year.

These aren't bad players by any stretch, but to think that players with limited NHL experience will play meaningful roles on their clubs next year ... well that's just little boys' with hockey cards logic now isn't it?

Your analysis is pretty meaningless without the context or role, responsibility, TOI and injury.

1) Peter Holland - The Ducks, with two veteran centres in Getzlaf and Koivu can afford to bring him along slowly. He was 12th among Duck forwards in TOI/G last season so it's not surprising he didn't shoot the lights out.

2) Charlie Coyle - Here's a tidbit from the Wild website. Please note that Coyle scored at a 20+ goal per game pace in only 37 games which is pretty good for a 20 year old rookie.

"Coyle made a huge impression with Wild brass last season after being promoted from the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League. The 21-year-old was so impressive he found himself playing right wing on Minnesota's top line alongside center Mikko Koivu and left wing Zach Parise. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound native of East Weymouth, Mass., had eight goals and six assists in 37 games in his first taste of NHL hockey.

He's unlikely to start this season on Minnesota's top line -- veteran Jason Pominville is expected to play right wing with Koivu and Parise -- but Coyle could remain a top-six forward. The question of where he'll play is likely to depend on center Mikael Granlund, another 21-year-old who's vying for a job. Should Granlund make the team, it is conceivable Coyle could be his right wing, with veteran Dany Heatley on the left side."

3) Mikael Granlund - tough season for him after suffering that high ankle sprain.

My "little boy hockey card" sees a line of Heatley - Granlund - Coyle next season depending on how Granlund performs.

Otherwise Coyle, a natural centre, can slide in.

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#52 Quicksilver ballet
August 12 2013, 04:32PM
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Only position that remains in doubt in the Pacific division, is who finishes last, the 6th and 7th position. Those positions are a lock for both the Oil and the Flames. Have to be drinking plenty of Kev's koolaid to not realize the Oil will be looking up at the butt hole of the Anaheim Ducks. That 1/4" woofer, won't be a pleasant sight I imagine.

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#53 Harry
August 12 2013, 08:58PM
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2004Z06 wrote:

"Goes out every single season and produces"? Really? Didn't produce much last season. I think this season will determine if Ebs is the real deal, or just another average player with a Horcoff-esque contract. I am hoping for the former!

Please tell me your not compairing Horc to Eberle?! They are world apart in term of pure skill. Eberle will easily be a 60+ point guy year in and out. Horcoff, not so much

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#54 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
August 13 2013, 07:13AM
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@DSF

Try and look beyond the end of your nose.

says the guy with more misses then a blind guy swinging at a baseball....

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#55 DSF
August 12 2013, 10:18AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

You like Emerson Etem and Nick Bonino (and their combined 43 career NHL points) as two-thirds of the second line?

Um.

As stated...that projected lineup is straight from the Ducks website.

I assume they have some insight into what management is thinking.

I also assume your projections are entirely based on last year's performance with no consideration given to changing roles or progression by young players.

For example, you have Silvferberg on the 3rd line and pegged him at 39 points when it's more likely he plays on the top line with Getzlaf and Perry where he should be able to surpass that number without breaking a sweat.

You also have Emerson Etem on the 4th line when it's much more likely he will get 2nd line minutes and blow your 22 point projection out of the water.

And, of course, there is no provision for the likely return of Selanne which would bump Penner to the 3rd line and he is likely good for 25 goals and 50 points if he returns.

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#56 DSF
August 12 2013, 10:38AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Do me a favour: link to it. In any case, projecting Etem and Bonino as second-liners given their careers to date is blue-skying regardless of the source.

And as much as I value the contribution of the webcrew of ducks.com, given that Koivu, WInnik and Cogliano finished 3, 4 and 6 in forward ice-time on the team last season, the website can call them third liners all they want - I'm not buying it.

Finally: those point totals are simply last seasons numbers projected over 82 games. The wording in the article above is confusing, so I'll make it clearer, but I wasn't trying to peer into the future.

Here ya go:

http://ducks.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=679431

Regarding ice time, remember than Silvferberg wasn't with the team and Etem was just starting to find his way playing in only 38 games.

I don't think it's much of a stretch to project him playing more games with more minutes going forward especially since he tore it up in the playoffs against Detroit. (3G 2A 5P +4 in 7GP)

Projecting last year's numbers straight across isn't very helpful and I would think the whole purpose of this series is "trying to peer into the future".

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#57 **
August 12 2013, 11:01AM
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I watched the entire season. Please send my medal encased on a 22k gold frame encrusted with diamonds.

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#59 OilClog
August 12 2013, 12:44PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

NHL.com was specifically referring to him as a fantasy team pickup; personally I wouldn't be surprised if Eberle put up ~70 points but I haven't put a lot of though into it yet.

is it because he already has, and every blogger in the universe seems to hate on Ebs. The guy only goes out every single season, and produces. Let's keep questioning his abilities until he retires, then continue to say he can't do this can't do that some more! whoop!

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#61 Harry
August 13 2013, 10:52AM
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DSF wrote:

Suggesting Coyle didn't have a meaningful impact is just ridiculous.

Maybe try this C depth on for size Sparky:

Sasha Barkov

Drew Shore

Shawn Matthias

Marcel Goc

Scott Gomez

Nick Bjugstad

Quinton Howden

And, yes Huberdeau is a natural centre although he won't play there.

I find myself reading this comment again this morning and laughing my ass off. You seem so sure in your statement that FLA has a good if not great depth chart at center?! If your going by those players that you listed off I have to say that you know absolutely nothing about.hockey

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#62 DSF
August 12 2013, 12:39PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Anything can happen - Patrice Bergeron cracked the Bruin's roster after being a second round pick, and it was the right call - but history suggests Horvat won't be ready and if Gaunce wins the job that probably says more about the Canucks options than Gaunce. Similarly, Kellan Lain's professional debut last season doesn't exactly inspire confidence.

But that's tomorrow's conversation.

As you say anything can happen.

And, interesting that you used Patrice Bergeron as an example since that is the player I've heard most often used as a comparable for Horvat.

Don't really know anything about Lain's few games in the AHL but I doubt that the Canucks are counting on a 6'6" 225 pound 4th line C to score a lot of points.

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#63 DSF
August 12 2013, 02:40PM
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John Chambers wrote:

Getting back to the point - none of the three had a meaningful impact to their teams in '13 as you said they would.

So tell me again about all these upcoming players from other organizations who will provide depth THIS COMING SEASON, or should we just compile a list 10-deep of Florida's centre depth (and include wingers) and form a bizarre narrative about how they're all superior to Sam Gagner.

Bjugstad, Shore, Brad Isbister, Jay-Z, Mimi from the Drew Carey Show, etc

Suggesting Coyle didn't have a meaningful impact is just ridiculous.

Maybe try this C depth on for size Sparky:

Sasha Barkov

Drew Shore

Shawn Matthias

Marcel Goc

Scott Gomez

Nick Bjugstad

Quinton Howden

And, yes Huberdeau is a natural centre although he won't play there.

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#64 2004Z06
August 12 2013, 03:38PM
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@OilClog

"Goes out every single season and produces"? Really? Didn't produce much last season. I think this season will determine if Ebs is the real deal, or just another average player with a Horcoff-esque contract. I am hoping for the former!

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#65 Fatbob24
August 12 2013, 10:16PM
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Smythyyy wrote:

Ebs never made excuses but the guy was playing with an injured hand (fractured finger I believe). With that said, I don't know how you could say 'he didn't produce much last season' when he was on pace for 63 pts (projected over 82 games) last season -- good for 3rd on the team. If anything, with a healthier season and RNHs receovery; I could expect Eberle's number go up next season.

Yeah, well they better! He signed a big boy contract and he's going to earn it or I'm gonna get grumpy!

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#66 DSF
August 12 2013, 10:22AM
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@Mikey

Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen are very good young defensemen.

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#67 Mikey
August 12 2013, 10:48AM
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DSF wrote:

Are the Oilers betting on Justin Schultz?...yes they are.

Yep, but at least he has half a year in the NHL. Still not a very good bet in my books

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#68 DSF
August 12 2013, 11:19AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Thanks. That article is actually repackaged content from NHL.com, not originally from the Ducks' website. NHL.com does a pretty good job (here's their Oilers depth chart) but they're doing the same thing I'm doing - projecting a lineup they feel is reasonable.

As for using last year's numbers, there's a lot that goes into projecting next year's numbers and I'd rather let people form their own conclusions anyway.

Here is your projected lineup for tomorrow piece.

http://canucks.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=679770

A couple of notes based on what I'm hearing:

Kassian will likely play on the top line with Burrows moving to Kesler's wing.

Brad Richardson is pencilled in at #3C (as per the link above) but Brendan Gaunce and Bo Horvat will be given every chance to try and crack the lineup.

The #4C position will be a dog fight between Gaunce, Schroeder, Santorelli, Horvat and NCAA free agent signing Kellan Lain.

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#69 DSF
August 12 2013, 11:59AM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

Hmmm. Interesting the blogger in the piece you highlighted does in fact have Richardson as 3C. He is listed with the Canucks as a RW and IIRC primarily played RW (when in the lineup) in LA with Curt Fraser as his centre.

If that is the case I feel much better with Boyd Gordon as the #3 centre in Edmonton. His offensive numbers are unlikely to be stellar, but I like him much better than Richardson.

I think that is just the Canucks fall back position.

They really want Gaunce or Horvat to win the job in camp but with rookies you never know.

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#70 DSF
August 12 2013, 12:26PM
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Interesting move by the CBJ.

They've hired player agent Bill Zito as their AGM.

http://bluejackets.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=680011

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#71 oilerjed
August 12 2013, 01:03PM
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@oilclog

ummm did you just say that Gretzky would play behind Nuge?????? Nuge is good and all but cmon. You even have the benefit of seeing what 99 did throughout his career and before he went pro. What has RNH done that would make you think this? This statement is asinine.

Edit: ok Now that I reread it I see that I may have added a letter to getz. My bad

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#72 Smokey
August 12 2013, 01:00PM
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@DSF

Goshaweful defence and goaltending is their Achilles heal. Forward depth and talent is as good as the Oilers.

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#73 DSF
August 12 2013, 08:43PM
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@Citizen David

Oh, good grief.

Try and look beyond the end of your nose.

Barkov, Shore, Matthias, Bjugstad and Howden are all very young players.

Shawn Matthias scored 21 points last season.

Boyd Gordon scored 14.

Scott Gomez scored 15 points last season.

Anton Lander scored ONE.

The Oilers #5C is likely Arcobello who scored ZERO points in the NHL last season.

You'll note that Matthias scored more points than Gordon, Lander and Arcobello combined.

Anything Gomez scores, likely more than Gordon, Lander and Arcobello combined, is just a bonus.

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