POWER PLAY

Lowetide
January 24 2014 10:45PM

In recent days some Oiler fans have expressed that Aaron Ekblad's offensive numbers are similar or superior to those of Darnell Nurse in his draft year. Is this true?

Last spring, I compared three 2013 draft eligibles and their offense by discipline. I found that Darnell Nurse's numbers were skewed due to a lack of powerplay time. Nurse at even strength had an impressive draft season.

Nurse's even strength scoring as a 17-year old were well shy of Seth Jones, but beyond another outstanding puck mover from the 2013 draft, Josh Morrissey.

How does Ekblad compare?

  • EV: 34, 3-9-12 .353
  • PP: 34, 10-10-20 .588
  • PK: 34, 1-0-1 .029
  • TOTAL: 34, 14-19-33 .971

At even strength, Nurse and Ekblad are comparable. Nurse has the edge, but this is mid-season and that could change. I think it's fair to suggest both players will get enough offense from their EV totals to be considered "two way" defensemen—there are no Laddy Smid stay-at-home defensemen in this look at the blue.

Ekblad appears to be an outstanding power-play talent. I don't know enough about him to say he's going to be an impact player above the OHL, but at age 17 he's certainly an impact player in the discipline at the junior level.

BROCK OTTEN, OHL PROSPECTS

Brock Otten is a fine blogger and reports on the OHL via his brilliant OHL Prospects blog. Here, he discusses Ekblad and his season during a mid-year review:

  • 1. Aaron Ekblad - Defense - Barrie Colts
    Everyone knows about his ability defensively, but it's certain aspects of his offensive game that have impressed me most this year. In particular, his ability to get his point shot through to the net and his ability to control the point have really improved to the point where I think he has definite powerplay QB potential at the next level to go with his shutdown ability in his own end.

Otten's observations are reflected in the Ekblad numbers.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

There's a long way to go this draft season, and Aaron Ekblad has his issues. Skating has been mentioned, and the fact that he appears to be the only man in the group (the other prospects have "projectable size") is also in some reports.

We should probably start talking about Ekblad's power-play performance in the first half of the OHL season. His numbers on the powerplay for his age are sparkling.

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on Team 1260.
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#51 toprightcorner
January 25 2014, 11:52AM
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Low wrote:

Lowtied has all of the weakest links of articles in the Nation! Please give up!!! Last article was to bring back Hartkinen now ekbal. As if the funs have patient to wait another rebuilt after another. May be it is worth it to watch, how this team plays a physical opponent like Kings or Ducks. Our top six players are mejets and as a result they disappear. Beside they have no clue how to defend and play the most minutes. That is the biggest problem of ours.

Nothing makes a person look dumber then misspelling the person name you are trying to troll.

I'm sure LoweTIDE wont lose sleep if you skip his articles and readers will be happier if you also skipped posting comments.

The one thing I like about Lowetide is that he provides insight and articles on things we would otherwise not consider. He doesn't just want to present solely a good read but create debate where we expert wannabe's can share our thoughts.

Maybe stick to reading articles that are meant for a grade 3 audience and it will match your spelling level. May I suggest the high quality writings of Eklund, he would be more at your speed.

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#52 toprightcorner
January 25 2014, 12:06PM
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Frank the dog wrote:

Looking more and more to me that this is little more than a stare down between Hall-Eberle-Gagner-Jultz with Yak as a wannabee, and the Coach of the Day.

Drop your level of play as soon as you don't like something the coach is forcing you to do.

They played well for Krueger only as long as they agreed with what he was telling them. As soon as he tried to crack down on the defensive side, they put him into a 10 game losing streak.

This approach succeeded in evicting Quinn, Renney, and Krueger, and may well succeed with Eakins, right now it's neck and neck.

Not sure which is the pack leader, in the last doc I watched, it was declared to be Eberle.

When comparing that collection of sublime talent, not many people will stick with the coach as opposed to trading one's elite talent away at a discount.

MacT is a well qualified GM doing the best job anyone could have done in the circumstances. Eakins has always worked well in the past with young people despite the mantras of the assorted trolls and naysayers. Both are intelligent, capable men. Fixing this team is obviously not as easy as fire the coach or trade our elite for top tier players.

It's somewhat obvious that most elite players do not want to play in Edmonton, or they will only play here for a huge premium.

The players that MacT has accumulated bear testimony to that, and it's not for lack of trying.

If you take a look at each step MacT has made, each one has visibly improved the team.

So yes we have been losing for 8 years, but if this team is fixable then MacT and Eakins may represent our last and best chance. If the players win over Eakins, then the only coach with any chance of success, would likely be Todd Nelson, who clearly enjoyed the young core's trust and respect. But he'd also be out the door as soon as what he wanted went against what the young core wanted.

So for us to get back to winning, in fact it's the coaching carousel that has to stop, and the young core that has to be won over.

As Yak is clearly the weakest link in the chain, he is the most likely to break first. The outcome will either be a genuine NHL star, or a KHL player that ends up never going anywhere.

So yes, the losing is painful, and I may refuse to watch them when they are listless and dispirited, as they were when MacT traded Dubs, who was obviously part of the clique.

But it seems to me, that MacT and Eakins are the best available coach and GM for now. I do think that Eakins should be given the chance to select his own assistants, which will likely happen over the off season if he is still here then. But the core problem is actually how to persuade the clique to play two way NHL hockey of their own accord. FWIW

I have felt the same at times, you mentioned "docs you watched", would be interested if you could share.

I believe Eakins is the first coach since MacT that hold players accountable and most of the elite guys we have drafted grew up so skilled they were never held accountable and that is tough to take.

Some players could believe that if Eakins has a worse record than Kreuger, he too will be fired.

to me Eberle and Gagner seem to be the ones that show signs of trying for offence but lacking on effort on defense. just watch how many times that when the buck is turned over that they turn the wrong/long way which takes themselves out of the play, or they stop, pause for a second and then skate hard so they will never catch anyone but look like they are working hard getting back.

I think Eakins could spot the culprit and just hope MacT will get them off the team

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#53 dougtheslug
January 25 2014, 12:39PM
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Frank the dog wrote:

Looking more and more to me that this is little more than a stare down between Hall-Eberle-Gagner-Jultz with Yak as a wannabee, and the Coach of the Day.

Drop your level of play as soon as you don't like something the coach is forcing you to do.

They played well for Krueger only as long as they agreed with what he was telling them. As soon as he tried to crack down on the defensive side, they put him into a 10 game losing streak.

This approach succeeded in evicting Quinn, Renney, and Krueger, and may well succeed with Eakins, right now it's neck and neck.

Not sure which is the pack leader, in the last doc I watched, it was declared to be Eberle.

When comparing that collection of sublime talent, not many people will stick with the coach as opposed to trading one's elite talent away at a discount.

MacT is a well qualified GM doing the best job anyone could have done in the circumstances. Eakins has always worked well in the past with young people despite the mantras of the assorted trolls and naysayers. Both are intelligent, capable men. Fixing this team is obviously not as easy as fire the coach or trade our elite for top tier players.

It's somewhat obvious that most elite players do not want to play in Edmonton, or they will only play here for a huge premium.

The players that MacT has accumulated bear testimony to that, and it's not for lack of trying.

If you take a look at each step MacT has made, each one has visibly improved the team.

So yes we have been losing for 8 years, but if this team is fixable then MacT and Eakins may represent our last and best chance. If the players win over Eakins, then the only coach with any chance of success, would likely be Todd Nelson, who clearly enjoyed the young core's trust and respect. But he'd also be out the door as soon as what he wanted went against what the young core wanted.

So for us to get back to winning, in fact it's the coaching carousel that has to stop, and the young core that has to be won over.

As Yak is clearly the weakest link in the chain, he is the most likely to break first. The outcome will either be a genuine NHL star, or a KHL player that ends up never going anywhere.

So yes, the losing is painful, and I may refuse to watch them when they are listless and dispirited, as they were when MacT traded Dubs, who was obviously part of the clique.

But it seems to me, that MacT and Eakins are the best available coach and GM for now. I do think that Eakins should be given the chance to select his own assistants, which will likely happen over the off season if he is still here then. But the core problem is actually how to persuade the clique to play two way NHL hockey of their own accord. FWIW

With all due respect, the notion that "the Oilers played for Krueger only as long as they agreed with what he was telling them. As soon as he tried to crack down on the defensive side, they put him into a 10 game losing streak" is rather far-fetched. Check the facts.

The Oilers beat Calgary 8-2 on April 3, 2013, to move into 8th place in the Western Conference. They then went on the road and lost in quick succession to Vancouver, LA and Anaheim, the last one a heartbreaking 2-1 loss that effectively sealed their playoff fate.

There was no 10 game losing streak. They lost 3 more game, RNH was shut down for shoulder surgery, and they went 3-3 the rest of the way (bad news in retrospect because it cost them a higher draft pick).

Under Krueger both PP and PK were top ten in the league. Players were motivated, and progressed. They did not have Krueger fired. That was MacT, on a whim hiring an AHL coach who had the notion that AHL tactics would work at the NHL level.

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#54 toprightcorner
January 25 2014, 01:10PM
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If Ekblad's skating is suspect then pass. How many top 4dmen are there that cant skate? A good dman that can't skate usually has a long career in the minor leagues.

I say use the pick in a package for a proven top pairing dman. That's more important than a possible dman in 3-4 years.

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#55 MessyEH
January 25 2014, 01:44PM
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Krueger got shafted... for sure. That may be why there is so much venom towards Eakins.

The roster is better.

But the players are under performing.

Who knew trading Horcoff would have such an impact.

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#56 Rick Stroppel
January 25 2014, 02:11PM
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Frank the dog wrote:

No, just an uninformed person.

FACE IT, JOSH OILER IS A JACKASS

Please re-read Josh Oiler's post # 6 above. In it he:

1. Says that MacTavish did something to Poile "without Vaseline". Funny, if you are an imbecile. 2. Claims MacTavish won the trade big time AFTER THE PLAYERS HAVE PLAYED TWO GAMES WITH THEIR NEW TEAMS. Astute hockey comment? 3. Says he is going to buy a Hendricks jersey and a "vintage" MacTavish jersey. I hope he tells us where you go to buy a vintage MacTavish jersey.

ALL HIS POSTS ARE AS BAD AS THIS.

I think this clown actually knows his posts are BS. For the most part, like Lowtide, I actually find the MAJORITY of posts here thought-provoking and sometimes quite funny.

Josh Oiler is uniquely idiotic. I was exaggerating when I said I trash his comments without reading them. Usually I read the first sentence or two, it's all I can take. He is literally wasting our time.

As for Josh Oiler: PLEASE IGNORE HIM. Do not prop him, or trash him, or respond to his stupid grade 5 arguments. Maybe he will go away.

Just my opinion.

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#57 PaperDesigner
January 25 2014, 02:21PM
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Low wrote:

Lowtied has all of the weakest links of articles in the Nation! Please give up!!! Last article was to bring back Hartkinen now ekbal. As if the funs have patient to wait another rebuilt after another. May be it is worth it to watch, how this team plays a physical opponent like Kings or Ducks. Our top six players are mejets and as a result they disappear. Beside they have no clue how to defend and play the most minutes. That is the biggest problem of ours.

Lowetide's writings are literate, subtle, wryly humourous and intelligent.

This post is barely readable, subtle as a bullet to the head, humourless and shows a lack of intelligence about the Oilers problems.

I think I see where the disconnect is.

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#58 Batfink
January 25 2014, 03:27PM
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Frank the dog wrote:

If you had ever studied organizational behaviour, or had any experience of any kind at a senior management level, then you would have some comprehension of what I am talking about.

However as I have said elsewhere, people who lack knowledge or experience are still free to make comments like yours. So fire away, buddy, Im sure there are more than a few people who would join your chorus. BTW, You obviously watch AA I don't, never have, never will. As for your other comments: This manifested itself when Quinn was coach, and he said as much, as quoted on another blog a while back. I have a pretty good idea of what they go through to get to the NHL but do you have any idea of how Junior coaches behave with players of this level of talent that consistently win games for them? As in give them breaks not given to other players? The are not lunatics, they are mostly intelligent, capable, millionaires who have grown up in a generation of entitlement. One has to have a high level of drive to get to the NHL, and whereas most players have to learn the next level of play in the AHL, these players mostly skipped that level and as such have never been forced to learn those fundamentals until now. Witness Hall's treatment at the hands of Lindsay Ruff, and Hitchcock's comment about Eakins and the Oiler, and you may begin to understand. Go back to Jonesy's presser and you'll see that even he understand that Eakins systems are pretty much NHL standard, and much different to the OHL etc.

Let me see, I completed 12yrs in the Army, the final 4 of which were in a senior managerial role. In order to take up that post, I had to complete a set of civilian management courses accredited to the IMI (feel free to google) and a multitude of military management courses. After my service, I thought I had done with schooling, but my new job sent me straight back to management school. I'm not saying I'm a good manager, but I have dabbled before. Enough to know that leadership starts at the top. You've heard of 'the buck stops here'? It is a mantra of modern management. Eakins is the leader, and I could and have spouted for hours on the pro and cons of his management style.

When you are the de facto leader, you take responsibility for ALL aspects for both success or failure. If his players do not respond to his style, HE must change it until he finds a way to get across what he needs to. Whatever other misgivings Eakins gives me, he does not come across as weak willed.

I did not literally mean the players are lunatics. It was an analogy. That is like a metaphor. Or possibly a simile. What I meant, and I suspect you knew, is that the players do not run the team.

You see, I did play sport, good enough for semi-pro, but not for the bigs. Hence my foray into the military. I know EXACTLY how coaches treat players. And I know how other players treat players who are A55 hats.

I do watch Ancient Aliens from time to time, but I am not enough of a fan to call it 'AA' yet ;-) I watch it with my daughter to laugh at the next hypothesis and guess which crack pot will be coaching the Oilers next year.

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#59 Frank the dog
January 25 2014, 03:35PM
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toprightcorner wrote:

I have felt the same at times, you mentioned "docs you watched", would be interested if you could share.

I believe Eakins is the first coach since MacT that hold players accountable and most of the elite guys we have drafted grew up so skilled they were never held accountable and that is tough to take.

Some players could believe that if Eakins has a worse record than Kreuger, he too will be fired.

to me Eberle and Gagner seem to be the ones that show signs of trying for offence but lacking on effort on defense. just watch how many times that when the buck is turned over that they turn the wrong/long way which takes themselves out of the play, or they stop, pause for a second and then skate hard so they will never catch anyone but look like they are working hard getting back.

I think Eakins could spot the culprit and just hope MacT will get them off the team

IIRC the documentary was Oil Change, when they were all playing in OKC, and hanging around together, it was generally acknowledged that Eberle was the social leader of the gang. I've seen the comment in other places as well, IIRC on LT's blog.

The problem is this is a bit high stakes to simply cut and slash. I suppose you can cut and slash in Junior, and in the AHL and at the lower levels of player in the NHL, but it's a bit different when you are talking about the core players of your rebuild, and they know that too.

That doesn't mean that these young men are bad, just that they are a bit misdirected right now.

Having to dump one or more of them for less than full value would represent a loss, and having any of them leave in an antagonistic manner would also represent a loss for the Oil.

There was a very interesting blog by LT elsewhere a while back, that talked about how Dallas turned around as a team as soon as the GM at the time moved a player that no-one suspected he would trade. It turned out later that the player represented "darkness" on the team, and once that was removed the dynamic of the team changed as a whole.

The question, if we have the same problem here, is who is the darkness? This is not a new discussion, as LT knows, but with all the constants except for the assistants changed, that's starting, from a people management perspective anyway, to look like the case and the rest of the league knows that.

I tend to agree with you, I see Ebs as primary, and Gags as secondary. Tough nut to crack, for sure.

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#60 Wax Man Riley
January 25 2014, 04:44PM
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toprightcorner wrote:

If Ekblad's skating is suspect then pass. How many top 4dmen are there that cant skate? A good dman that can't skate usually has a long career in the minor leagues.

I say use the pick in a package for a proven top pairing dman. That's more important than a possible dman in 3-4 years.

Cam Barker anyone?

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#61 Rod from Viking
January 25 2014, 07:41PM
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dougtheslug wrote:

With all due respect, the notion that "the Oilers played for Krueger only as long as they agreed with what he was telling them. As soon as he tried to crack down on the defensive side, they put him into a 10 game losing streak" is rather far-fetched. Check the facts.

The Oilers beat Calgary 8-2 on April 3, 2013, to move into 8th place in the Western Conference. They then went on the road and lost in quick succession to Vancouver, LA and Anaheim, the last one a heartbreaking 2-1 loss that effectively sealed their playoff fate.

There was no 10 game losing streak. They lost 3 more game, RNH was shut down for shoulder surgery, and they went 3-3 the rest of the way (bad news in retrospect because it cost them a higher draft pick).

Under Krueger both PP and PK were top ten in the league. Players were motivated, and progressed. They did not have Krueger fired. That was MacT, on a whim hiring an AHL coach who had the notion that AHL tactics would work at the NHL level.

Doug I usually agree with you but Kruger was hired partly on Hall's and Eberle's request and the team finished very poorly last year, on hind site I wish Eakins would have been hired as an assistant but he wasn't .This team needs the assistants to be shown the road letting Eakins hire his own, a couple more veteran gritty defence men that can play and are winners, and a trade that shakes up the core . If this hasn't changed the teams fortunes by next November give Dallas the boot.

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#62 dougtheslug
January 25 2014, 10:23PM
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@Rod from Viking

I agree the team finished poorly, but that was because they were, in fact, an inferior team, and once the big boys on the west coast ramped up their game for the playoffs, the Oilers were left in the dust. For sure roster improvements are needed.

My point is that the players aren't to blame for the coaching changes so far. As has been documented here and elsewhere, Tambo sacked Renney for his own reasons, and MacT discharged Krueger not at the dictate of the players, but because he saw something shiny and new in Eakins.

The team may have quit on Eakins, but I think it is because Eakins is not up to the job, not because Hall, Eberle, RNH et al are spoiled brats, a story which a segment of posters seem to be trying to sell. Andy P's account of the Oiler's quitting on Krueger was pure fiction, as I was trying to document.

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#63 Rod from Viking
January 25 2014, 10:59PM
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Good comments as usual. I am not blaming the players even though it may look like it, this team has a losing culture that has been caused by management, all the things the young guns have we're probably offered not demanded. To me this season was a combination of a coach that is used to coaching players that will do anything the coach says to make it too the show not knowing how to handle first overall picks and veteran NHL's and having to work with incompetent assistant coaches, poor goaltending,poor defensive play, tough schedule to start and injuries that put Hall at Center with the wrong line mates .

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#64 dougtheslug
January 25 2014, 11:46PM
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@Rod from Viking

Can't argue.Your last sentence pretty much says it all.

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#65 Jagar Rajab
January 26 2014, 01:58AM
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fall for hall fail for nail bad for ekblad next year will be "we did it for mcdavid"

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