Patrick O’Sullivan: Better Than You Think He Is

O'Sullivan

The trade deadline move that sent Erik Cole and a fifth round pick to Carolina in exchange for Patrick O’Sullivan and a second round pick was roundly praised in the media (and by me). It was more than a little disappointing when O’Sullivan didn’t bring the same form to Edmonton that he had in Los Angeles.

The basic numbers show us a startling drop-off:

  • Los Angeles: 62GP – 14G – 23A – 37PTS, +1
  • Edmonton: 19GP – 2G – 4A – 6PTS, -7

On the other hand, I really don’t think that O’Sullivan’s counting numbers are fully reflective of his play, for a couple of different reasons. The first item is shooting percentage. Players get hot and cold, but generally they revert back to their career shooting percentage after a while. Here are O’Sullivan’s numbers over his career:

  • 2006-07: 44GP – 5.4 SH%
  • 2007-08: 82GP – 10.0 SH%
  • 2008-09 (LA): 62GP – 7.0 SH%
  • 2008-09 (EDM): 19GP – 3.4 SH%
  • Career: 207GP – 7.5 SH%

In Edmonton, Patrick O’Sullivan’s shooting percentage was less than half of what it was in L.A., 45% of his career number, and one third of his total from last season. Even if we were to imagine that he converted at the same rate he did in L.A., he would have scored twice as many goals.

The second item is on-ice shooting percentage. The first item looked at O’Sullivan alone, whereas this measures the shooting percentage of all of O’Sullivan’s line-mates when he was on the ice. Let’s do some comparisons (all numbers at even-strength):

  • O’Sullivan in Edmonton: 5.1 On-Ice SH%
  • O’Sullivan in Los Angeles: 7.5 On-Ice SH%
  • Edmonton Team Average: 8.8 On-Ice SH%
  • Worst Edmonton Number (Steve MacIntyre): 5.9 On-Ice SH%

I think it’s pretty clear that O’Sullivan’s number in this category is largely a result of luck. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that better players help the play stay alive and thus help generate better chances for their line-mates, thus bringing up their on-ice shooting percentage, but for O’Sullivan’s number to be so low is farcical. His numbers are below a) his average in Los Angeles, b) the Oilers’ team average (and I think it’s fair to say that O’Sullivan is an above-average offensive player) and c) Steve MacIntyre’s team-worst 5.9 on-ice SH%. The Oilers took 156 shots at even-strength with O’Sullivan on the ice. If we were to bump O’Sullivan’s numbers up to his performance in Los Angeles, it would mean that he was on the ice for 4 more goals for at even-strength. If we were to bump that number up to the Oiler’s team average (since on-ice shooting percentage is 80% a result of line-mates anyway), that would mean O’Sullivan was on for 6 more goals for. Not only would that likely inflate his assists totals, but it would almost erase his -7 rating.

The third item is on-ice save percentage. Vic Ferrari conclusively showed that this is completely independent of the quality of an individual defending forward; rather, it’s affected by quality of opposition, quality of goaltender, and to a large degree by random variance. In other words, whatever the save percentage was behind Patrick O’Sullivan, we can be relatively certain that it wasn’t of his doing. Did that have any effect on his plus/minus (all numbers again at even-strength)?

  • Patrick O’Sullivan’s On-Ice Save Percentage: .913
  • Edmonton Oilers’ Team Average Save Percentage: .925

Patrick O’Sullivan was on the ice for 173 shots against at even-strength. 15 goals were scored against while he was on the ice; if we were to adjust his on-ice save percentage to the team average, it would only be 13 goals against.

The combination of these three effects to reduce O’Sullivan’s counting numbers is incredible. If we compensate for all of these factors (and assume that he would have continued to post assists at the same rate for projected goals) the difference is stark:

  • Actual: 19GP – 2G – 4A – 6PTS, -7
  • Projected: 19GP – 4G – 7A – 11PTS, +1

That’s nearly double the output and an 8-goal swing. This isn’t to say that we should discard O’Sullivan’s actual performance; every player has hot streaks and cold streaks and over the course of the season these things tend to even out. The problem is with small sample sizes; when we start to break the season down into 20-game chunks, we can get a distorted picture because very few players produce four identical 20-game segments. Sometimes, the bounces go their way and they produce better results than are reasonably sustainable. In Patrick O’Sullivan’s case, his results (as compared to his actual play) were unreasonably low; over the course of a season they would certainly have been better. The lesson is not to underrate him based on the 20 games that closed out the season.

  • Hippy

    Hemsky's 1st 6 seasons = 421 GP 331 pts .7862 ppg
    Lecavalier 1st 6 seasons = 467 GP 327 pts .7002 ppg

    but yeah, Lecavalier is hands down way better for twice the price.

    Chris wrote:

    Hemsky and LeCavalier both broke into the league the SAME year: LeCavalier has scored 669 points to Hemsky’s 331. MORE THAN TWICE AS MANY! ROSE COLORED GLASSES!

    Uh, last time I checked 1998 and 2001 were not the same year. In fact, if my math skillz serve me correct, and they rarely do, then they are 3 years apart. *pats back*

  • Hippy

    @ Ogden Brother:
    I never said they used the whole cap, but the Oil need more money to offer FA's given the losing history and lack of top line players to lure others (not to mention being stuck in the boonies of the NHL)

  • Hippy

    @ Archaeologuy:

    Does

    "The Oilers spending to the Cap"

    Not mean spending the whole cap?

    "Oil need more money to offer FA’s given the losing history and lack of top line players to lure others"

    And here's where your whole argument falls down. You want to not overpay some guys so we can over pay other guys?

    Even when we were offering "more $$" the team still rarely gets who they want. We need to forget the UFA savior, it aint happening (and if it does they will be such an overpayment that thier really isn't a benifit) Us FA's for complementary pieces like a 3rd line center and a shut down #4 dman.

  • Hippy

    @ Archaeologuy:

    I already corrected my mistake. I had typed a whole bunch of stuff.. was going to compare either career totals or numbers since to Hemsky enterd the league.. while editing and rearranging my thoughts I bumped the post button with the laptop mouse… I couldn't EDIT it because this website lacks an edit feature… I pointed out my mistake but knew you guys would jump on this so my explanation was brief. (comment 117) Thanks for pushing your advantage though.

    It takes a number of special players to actually win a cup. There isn't enough to work with here. I don't see Cogliano or even Hemsky ever being the key ingrediants to achieve the ultimate prize. Pronger and Smyth were such players. Pisani and Roli acted like such players when the orginization caught "lightning in a bottle" The pieces the Oilers need haven't arrived yet… Gagner may become a key member of a truly great squad; but the Oilers need to start drafting and drafting well starting THIS year. That is the real hope… It's time we realistically examined our expectations for next season.

  • Hippy

    Ogden Brother wrote:

    I think you better read again. No one said Hemsky is the better player. KOOLAID!

    I used LeCavalier as an example…remembering the rhetoric that floated around this website when it was thought Vinny was available. Many, many Oiler fans tried to argue that Hemsky was the better player… And again, just tonight: Archaeologuy wrote:

    Did you know that Lecavalier only scored 1 more point than Hemmer but played 9 more games. And that’s with Marty St.Louis on his wing. Just saying.

    And:Ogden Brother wrote:

    Interestingly enough, Vclav only had 14 more points then Horc this year and his 82 game pace last year was for 16 more points…. yet Vclav is going to make 10 10 10 10 10 million for many many years to come. Just saying

    So a dominant centerman… a guy who will easily score more than a thousand points in his career is being compared to Horcoff and Hemsky. I'm quite okay with accusing you both of wearing rose colored glasses, or drinking the Koolaid. I'm just sayin…

  • Hippy

    Ogden Brother wrote:

    Does
    “The Oilers spending to the Cap”
    Not mean spending the whole cap?

    I meant it to be at or near the cap, you're nitpicking.

    Ogden Brother wrote:

    Oil need more money to offer FA’s given the losing history and lack of top line players to lure others”
    And here’s where your whole argument falls down. You want to not overpay some guys so we can over pay other guys?

    Ok, so let me get this right. I suggest that overpaying under-producing players is bad and prevents the Oilers from signing or acquiring better players, and you disagree? THEN you call me a hypocrite because I think that the Oilers need to fill some of their holes via free-agency but they might need to pay more than Detroit, San Jose, or Anaheim?

    So in this care-free world you live in where the Oilers can throw the Cap max at a roster that cant make the playoffs HOW does the team get better? Magic? It wont be through trades because no one will take on salaries when the Cap falls. It wont be through Free Agency because there is no room. It wont be through development because they cant afford to re-sign the kids. So how exactly?

    The foresight being thrown my direction here is unbelievable. Ive got one guy saying spend to the Cap max on a non-playoff team, and another guy saying pick up the MAXED out contract of a guy who isnt even the best player on his own team AND has a no trade clause IN EXCHANGE for a relatively cheap contract of a guy who produces roughly the same or better. This is Bizarro land today.

  • Hippy

    Chris wrote:

    Ogden Brother wrote:
    I think you better read again. No one said Hemsky is the better player. KOOLAID!
    I used LeCavalier as an example…remembering the rhetoric that floated around this website when it was thought Vinny was available. Many, many Oiler fans tried to argue that Hemsky was the better player… And again, just tonight: Archaeologuy wrote:
    Did you know that Lecavalier only scored 1 more point than Hemmer but played 9 more games. And that’s with Marty St.Louis on his wing. Just saying.
    And:Ogden Brother wrote:
    Interestingly enough, Vclav only had 14 more points then Horc this year and his 82 game pace last year was for 16 more points…. yet Vclav is going to make 10 10 10 10 10 million for many many years to come. Just saying
    So a dominant centerman… a guy who will easily score more than a thousand points in his career is being compared to Horcoff and Hemsky. I’m quite okay with accusing you both of wearing rose colored glasses, or drinking the Koolaid. I’m just sayin…

    Yes a dominate center with a 7.8 cap hit until the age of 40 can be compared to a 5.6 center and a 4 winger…. player for player he's hands down better then Horc and probably better (was anyways, still …. maybe) then Hemsky. You are ignoring the whole picture though.

  • Hippy

    Archaeologuy wrote:

    Ogden Brother wrote:
    Does
    “The Oilers spending to the Cap”
    Not mean spending the whole cap?
    I meant it to be at or near the cap, you’re nitpicking.
    Ogden Brother wrote:
    Oil need more money to offer FA’s given the losing history and lack of top line players to lure others”
    And here’s where your whole argument falls down. You want to not overpay some guys so we can over pay other guys?
    Ok, so let me get this right. I suggest that overpaying under-producing players is bad and prevents the Oilers from signing or acquiring better players, and you disagree? THEN you call me a hypocrite because I think that the Oilers need to fill some of their holes via free-agency but they might need to pay more than Detroit, San Jose, or Anaheim?
    So in this care-free world you live in where the Oilers can throw the Cap max at a roster that cant make the playoffs HOW does the team get better? Magic? It wont be through trades because no one will take on salaries when the Cap falls. It wont be through Free Agency because there is no room. It wont be through development because they cant afford to re-sign the kids. So how exactly?
    The foresight being thrown my direction here is unbelievable. Ive got one guy saying spend to the Cap max on a non-playoff team, and another guy saying pick up the MAXED out contract of a guy who isnt even the best player on his own team AND has a no trade clause IN EXCHANGE for a relatively cheap contract of a guy who produces roughly the same or better. This is Bizarro land today.

    Because I'm fully aware that:

    1. The FA (for premier players) market is small and getting smaller

    2. The smaller the FA market the more leverage… and choice the handfull of FA's have… meaning Edmonton is highly likely to be near the bottom of that list, winning or losing record

    3. FA signings rarely work out to the signings team anyways, so if the team somehow manges to get past point 1 and 2, theirs still a high probability that the deal will end up being a poor one.

    Your ideas are fine in theory, unfortunatly they are almost pointless in reality.

  • Hippy

    Chris wrote:

    It takes a number of special players to actually win a cup.

    So he won the Conn Smythe that year? I thought it was Richards. And Khabibulin had a lot to do with that also.

    What kind of a player does it take to go to Game 7 of the Cup finals with your starting goalie unable to play in the last 6 games?

    As for your mistake, i didnt see that you corrected it before I jumped on it.

    Chris wrote:

    So a dominant centerman… a guy who will easily score more than a thousand points in his career is being compared to Horcoff and Hemsky. I’m quite okay with accusing you both of wearing rose colored glasses, or drinking the Koolaid. I’m just sayin…

    Quite obviously I managed to Compare them pretty well, and Lecavalier is hardly "Dominant". As for Ogden Brother, his comparison was to show how much better Horc's contract looks in light of the fact that he wasnt even 20 points behind a Max Cap player. You arent even able to clearly see that the both of us made valid points. That's a tell tale sign of the Rose Coloured Glasses. You havent responded about Lecav not being the best plyer on his team or having his stats padded by better players, you havent responded about the first 6 season production of the two players in question.

    Now i need to go to bed. We can continue this in the morning or move on to another topic.

  • Hippy

    @ Archaeologuy:
    My point isn't about Vinny. LeCavalier was an EXAMPLE. (Probably a poor example)… My point is about Oiler fans loving and over-evaluating the players… You guys keep finding new and innovative ways to prove LeCavalier is over-rated, and new ways to prove Hemsky is under-rated, or that Horcoff's contract isn't that bad… Everybody is wonderful, Shremp is tradeable, and so on. (Not you guys specifically)

    Even suggesting a guy like Hemsky, or Cogliano, or any key ingrediant of this LOSING franchise is tradeable draws GALES of ignorent and emotionally based protest. Someone has to go. A player of quality will be moved to obtain a top six forward. Bet on it… Tambellini made it very clear that changes will be made.

    *Smiles imagining Dennis' reaction to the news when Pouliot is finally moved for a conditional sixth round pick*

  • Hippy

    @ Ogden Brother:
    @ Archaeologuy:

    I don't mean to be arguing with youguys specifiically. I come to this site often and have read your stuff. Our views are generally more in step; particularly during the season.

    I'm just back on stage one of the Roilercoaster.

    Stage One: Watching OTHER teams play in the playoffs. This stage generally leaves me frusterated and angry. It's also an eye opening experience, insofar as I'm exposed to more hockey, being played at a high level, by other franchises. It's a chance to evaluate what the other guys have… During this stage, I grudgingly shake off the notion that the mighty Oil are the greatest hockey squadron in the world and possess all of the leagues greatest most under-rated players who just need the right coach, ref, or Chad Moreau workoiut to become Stanley Cup Champions once again. Stage One is often accompannied by springtime rants about how much the Oilers suck.(Often to uninterested friends and family who just want to have a quiet BBQ)

    Stage Two: Build up to the Draft and Free Agency. The Cup had been awarded… I try to forget the previous season even happened, and begin to look forward with cautious optimism/ giddy enthusiasm. Spend countless hours discussing who the Oilers should sign, draft, etc. and why…. as if it really matters what I think.

    Satge Three: Training Camp/ PreSeason. THis is where I put on my OILER GOGGLES, abandon all reason, and surrender to the notion that THIS is finally the year it all comes together. This is the year that aquisition x rebounds, is happy to be an Oiler, and adjusts quickly to playing a new position and leads the Oilers to their first 100pt regular season in 20 years.

    Stage Four: Reality sets in. The team is still marginal. Hemsky is still spotty…. It's probably the coaches fault… and so on.

    I've been doing this for years. Have a laugh at my expense when in three short months my doom and gloom meter completely reverses…

  • Hippy

    @ Chris:

    I get what youre saying. My only point was that Lecav will not be a Crosby, Malkin, or even Getzlaf, and thus his contract cant be justified in the least.

    Chris wrote:

    *Smiles imagining Dennis’ reaction to the news when Pouliot is finally moved for a conditional sixth round pick*

    LOL

    And for the Record. Horcoff's Contract IS bad if he cant find better form. I will never relent on my disgust with the contract, but there are worse ones out there.

    I think i'm going through similar stages as you. Right now I'm pretty willing to argue with everyone about anything. There is no rhyme or reason.

  • Hippy

    Comparing Hemsky to Lecavelier is laughable. It really is.

    I saw somebody point out points in his first 6 seasons? As Mark Twain once said, there's lies, damn lies, and statistics man. Spin Doctor man?

    146 goals for Lecavelier, 93 for Hemsky.

    5 Times over 30 goals for Lecavelier, Twice over 40, Once over 50.

    ZERO times over 25 ever for Hemsky.

    Now, do I think Vinny's worth the money he's gonna get? No I don't. But he's surely to god a better player than Hemsky is, without question. Personally, myself, I weight scoring goals a lot higher than assists, always have. The comparison is apples to oranges is all I'm saying.

    Bottom line for me though, holding on to all the smurfs is a mistake. The team won't get any return on the likes of Horcoff/Penner/Nilsson, so something is going to give here.

    It frightens me they have another smurf coming in Eberle too. Where does he fit? The farm team is in shambles. It's a bigger mess, more than a tweek away, from making the playoffs. The goaltending situation is less clear today than it was at the start of the season with the 3 ringed circus. Personally, I think Tambo should go after Harding via trade, I think he could be had.

  • Hippy

    Archaeologuy wrote:

    I think i’m going through similar stages as you. Right now I’m pretty willing to argue with everyone about anything. There is no rhyme or reason.

    I think we're all in that state!

  • Hippy

    J-Bird wrote:

    Comparing Hemsky to Lecavelier is laughable. It really is.
    I saw somebody point out points in his first 6 seasons? As Mark Twain once said, there’s lies, damn lies, and statistics man. Spin Doctor man?
    146 goals for Lecavelier, 93 for Hemsky.
    5 Times over 30 goals for Lecavelier, Twice over 40, Once over 50.
    ZERO times over 25 ever for Hemsky.
    Now, do I think Vinny’s worth the money he’s gonna get? No I don’t. But he’s surely to god a better player than Hemsky is, without question. Personally, myself, I weight scoring goals a lot higher than assists, always have. The comparison is apples to oranges is all I’m saying.
    Bottom line for me though, holding on to all the smurfs is a mistake. The team won’t get any return on the likes of Horcoff/Penner/Nilsson, so something is going to give here.
    It frightens me they have another smurf coming in Eberle too. Where does he fit? The farm team is in shambles. It’s a bigger mess, more than a tweek away, from making the playoffs. The goaltending situation is less clear today than it was at the start of the season with the 3 ringed circus. Personally, I think Tambo should go after Harding via trade, I think he could be had.

    Why is this so hard for people to understand?

    No one is claiming Hemsky is hands down better player then Vinny. People are claiming that age and contract included, Hemsky is probably the more valuable asset at this time.

  • Hippy

    I do sometimes wish the Oilers had picked up Olli Jokinen. Not seriously, because he cost a lot and isn't a complete player, but just because I've enjoyed the reappraisal of Daymond Langkow over in Calgary.

    In the Southeast, Jokinen scored 38, 39 and 34 goals and 89, 91 and 71 points. This year in the Western Conference he scored 29 goals and 57 points. Which total is closer to his value to a team?

    Erik Cole's another fun example.

  • Hippy

    J-Bird wrote:

    As Mark Twain once said, there’s lies, damn lies, and statistics man.

    It think it's hilarious that you followed this quote with a statistic.

    People like statistics when they fit comfortably into their preconceived notions. People dislike statistics when they challenge their preconceived notions.

  • Hippy

    J-Bird wrote:

    Comparing Hemsky to Lecavelier is laughable. It really is.
    I saw somebody point out points in his first 6 seasons? As Mark Twain once said, there’s lies, damn lies, and statistics man. Spin Doctor man?

    You wanna have more fun? Take a look at Hemsky's 1st 5 to Iginla's 1st 5.

    For the first half of his career Iggy was constantly called out for not producing the way his talent was capable of doing, for not going to the next level. Sounds familiar? Dont count Hemsky out just yet. I'm not ready to say he's plateaued.

  • Hippy

    Who said I'm counting Hemsky out? I'm just saying, apples to oranges comparing Vinny to Hemsky.

    And Willis, you obviously missed my point, I was just showing how you can sciew stats to make a point the other way. Stats are fun that way. You've done a great job of it for some time. I don't discount them, but you can have fun making a point for sure.

    Archaeloguy, how's Hemmer's 6th season stack up to Iggy's 6th? There's those stats again. 😉

    Round and round we go.

    I think as Oil fans we can all see Hemsky's potential. One has to wonder when and if he'll acheive it?

    Thoughts on Harding?

  • Hippy

    @ J-Bird:
    Yup, that was the Olympic year was it not? That's when he became a legit superstar. I fully expect Hemsky to keep getting better over his current contract, and surrounding him with some people that have similar skills can only help.

    Lecav and Hemsky arent the same kinds of players, but their production offensively can be compared except for 2 out of 10 seasons. I dont want to repeat myself but Hemsky hasnt had the benefit of playing with St.Louis, Prospal, or Richards to pad his stats.

    I dont know much about harding, so i cant say much about him. I say find out how much khabibulin wants then make a decision. I doubt he'll come cheap, but who knows. They could always go with Roli for another year, but if they can get something better and more long term then OK.

  • Hippy

    Chris wrote:

    Smiles imagining Dennis’ reaction to the news when Pouliot is finally moved for a conditional sixth round pick*

    Dare to dream Chris, dare to dream. It will be a good day when that waste of a roster spot is gone.

  • Hippy

    Ogden Brother wrote:

    Rebuilds rarely take 2 seasons, ask Chi/St Louis/LA/Pits/Washinton/NYI/Atl etc etc etc.

    And how many of them had a 1st overall pick in the mix? Or multiple top 5 picks?
    Keep battling for 8th and remain in mediocrity.

  • Hippy

    RossCreek wrote:

    Ogden Brother wrote:
    Rebuilds rarely take 2 seasons, ask Chi/St Louis/LA/Pits/Washinton/NYI/Atl etc etc etc.
    And how many of them had a 1st overall pick in the mix? Or multiple top 5 picks?
    Keep battling for 8th and remain in mediocrity.

    You think this city would have handled 4 years in the lottory? … post lockout.

  • Hippy

    Archaeologuy wrote:

    Someone here is drinking the Kool-aid of the 10 million dollar man and it isnt me.

    FYI
    just like Horcoff isn't making 7 million a year, Lecavalier isn't making 10 million a year. His sap hit is 7.7 (slightly less than Brad Richards).

    I'm just sayin

  • Hippy

    J-Bird wrote:

    Personally, I think Tambo should go after Harding via trade, I think he could be had.

    I agree, however I saw yesterday that Backstrom got hip surgery. I wonder if that would alter Minny's thoughts on moving Harding (whenever & whoever their new GM is).