The greatest indicator of an NHL player’s ability has just been released, and it shows troubling news for the Oilers. I’m not talking about hockey pool guides, or the NHL awards show, or even discussing each player on an individual level with the GMs of all thirty teams. No, I’m looking at rankings that really matter—the ones found on EA Sports’ NHL 09 (thanks to Greg Wyshynski for finding these).
It becomes immediately apparent that the Oilers have some areas of concern:
Clearly, Gagner isn’t looking to build upon his stunning rookie season. We’ve looked at specific areas of his game to see where problems will come from:
Offensive awareness: 75 (tied with Smid, Pisani and Brodziak)
Passing: 78 (just ahead of Brodziak and Staios)
Wrist-shot accuracy: 70 (tied with Brodziak, Moreau, Pisani, Souray and Gilbert)
Clearly, Gagner isn’t interested in having an offensive game. If only he were more offensively aware! Fortunately, he’s working on one area of the game where this team is also in trouble: faceoffs.
With the departures of Jarret Stoll and Marty Reasoner, fans knew that this team could have trouble winning draws. The news is even worse than that. Here are key Oilers faceoff men, ranked by ability:
Clearly, Shawn Horcoff’s injury was worse than we thought, destroying his faceoff game.
There are, however, some reasons for cheer:
OilersNation favourite Gilbert Brulé has had an awesome off-season, at least, according to the drunk squirrels at EA Sports. He ranks ahead of Sam Gagner in all areas of the game, with the only exceptions being faceoffs and defensive awareness. Fortunately, Gagner’s been working on turning into Kris Draper, so he should be able to help minimize Brulé’s defensive shortcomings.
Oh, and don’t worry about Brulé’s headspace—he plays an offensively aware (85), and disciplined (82) yet aggressive (84) game; clearly showing that he’s got it all figured out. And you thought his one goal last season meant that he would have trouble offensively.
Ever worry about the Oilers’ lack of a legitimate enforcer? Worry no longer. Between heavyweights Strudwick (88), Moreau (88), Souray (86), Staios (85) and Cole (85), the team has toughness covered. And if that weren’t enough, Zach Stortini is both an elite fighter (92) and hitter (88).
In all seriousness, though, EA Sports puts out a decent hockey video game, even if they clearly just flip coins to decide how good players are in certain areas (Steve Staios—most poised Oiler, etc.). Still, the next time that somebody tells you that the Oilers should trade for Ruslan Fedotenko since he’ll score 40 goals if he plays with Hemsky like he did in his video game, you won’t have to feel bad when you ruthlessly mock him.