The Powerplay Options

One of the most constant sources of frustration for fans of the Edmonton Oilers over Craig MacTavish’s tenure with the team was the ineffective powerplay, and that’s certainly something the Quinn coaching staff will look to address. Who, though, are the Oilers most effective powerplay performers?

Because so little of the game is spent on the powerplay, it’s difficult to get a good idea of a player’s proficiency on the powerplay from a single year – the numbers are just to small. With that in mind, I’ve taken a look at the Oilers powerplay options and gone back over the past three seasons to see how they’ve performed.

The statistics are presented as follows:

Player Name – Total Points – Total Icetime – PTS/60 minutes of ice-time

Forwards

  1. Ales Hemsky: 86 – 867:20 – 5.95 PTS/60
  2. Shawn Horcoff: 60 – 759:04 – 4.74 PTS/60
  3. Dustin Penner: 49 – 775:35 – 3.79 PTS/60
  4. Sam Gagner: 27 – 453:38 – 3.57 PTS/60
  5. Robert Nilsson: 19 – 319:31 – 3.57 PTS/60
  6. Andrew Cogliano: 16 – 327:21 – 2.93 PTS/60
  7. Patrick O’Sullivan: 28 – 581:32 – 2.89 PTS/60
  8. Fernando Pisani: 9 – 263:21 – 2.05 PTS/60

What I See

Ales Hemsky is not only the best powerplay option on the team up front, but he’s the best by a wide margin. Honestly, he should get double-shifted with the man advantage – even if it means reducing his even-strength ice-time.

Shawn Horcoff’s numbers are surprisingly good – I’d expected him to show poorly here. On a team with a very good powerplay group Horcoff might get bumped to the second unit but the Oilers don’t appear to have other options. It’s too bad, because Horcoff’s needed at even-strength and on the penalty-kill and if Sam Gagner could step up it would make things much easier for this team.

Dustin Penner’s contributions aren’t solely reflected in his point totals. David Staples has touched on this previously, and he credits Dustin Penner with playing a screening role on 22 goals where he didn’t get credit for an assist – and that’s just this past season. The powerplay functioned best with Penner on it this past year – scoring 6.88 goals per sixty minutes, a higher total than with any other Oiler.

Robert Nilsson and Sam Gagner are fine second-unit options, and might see their points totals increase if placed on the top unit. That said, neither has proven they can displace the established options (Hemsky, Horcoff and Penner). It would be a positive if Gagner could surpass Horcoff in this particular category this season.

Andrew Cogliano and Patrick O’Sullivan, despite very decent scoring numbers at even-strength, have not been able to contribute positively to the powerplay, and should not be used as regular options with the man advantage. This applies even more to Fernando Pisani.

To finish up, I’d like to see the following two powerplay forward combinations:

  • Penner – Horcoff – Hemsky
  • Nilsson – Gagner – Hemsky

If Ales Hemsky isn’t capable of playing for the entire powerplay, there may be a chance here for Rob Schremp to grab a role. Schremp, as I’ve noted previously, is a liability at even-strength but over his entire career he’s been money on the powerplay. If Pat Quinn were willing to do something unconventional with his fourth line – namely turning it into a specialist line – or if Schremp can improve dramatically at even-strength, he may just stick as a powerplay specialist. This team needs one more competent forward.

Defense

  1. Sheldon Souray: 76 – 901:48 – 5.06 PTS/60
  2. Lubomir Visnovsky: 72 – 1020:43 – 4.23 PTS/60
  3. Denis Grebeshkov: 16 – 246:58 – 3.89 PTS/60
  4. Tom Gilbert: 26 – 460:03 – 3.39 PTS/60

What I See

There isn’t much room for argument here. The Oilers have four very decent options, with the only problem being that the two best – Sheldon Souray and Lubomir Visnovsky – both play similar roles (left-handed one-timer from the point). This may necessitate putting them on different units.

Sheldon Souray is a powerplay beast – although he did have the advantage of playing on an incredible (seriously, this was a league-best unit) powerplay in Montreal, where he collected 48 points in just one season. Even keeping that in mind though, Souray’s gold with the man advantage – possibly the best powerplay shooter in the NHL. Lubomir Visnovsky isn’t as good as Souray, but he’s still highly effective.

Tom Gilbert and Denis Grebeshkov look bad in comparison to the other two players, but they still post very decent totals for powerplay defensemen, and there’s nothing to worry about with this group.

  • Hippy

    sittingatmydesk wrote:

    To finish up, I’d like to see the following two powerplay forward combinations:
    Nilsson – Gagner – Hemsky
    yo J-dub, whos is going to shoot on this unit, or wil it be the obvious, back to the point, we need somebody else with a different dynamic, and more of a shooter first mentality..

    Who's going to shoot on either unit? The top group combined for 17 goals (Horcoff – 8, Penner – 5, Hemsky – 4) while the bottom unit combined for 14 goals (Gagner – 6, Nilsson – 4, Hemsky – 4). It was the defensemen (who combined for 21 goals) who led the way.

    This team could use a powerplay sniper (Schremp?/Potulny?), but both Horcoff and Gagner are willing to fire the puck.

    Fun with Hemsky:

    Even-strength: 19G – 16A – 35PTS
    Powerplay: 4G – 27A – 31PTS

  • Hippy

    I'm betting Quinn, Renny, Flemming, or whoever takes over the dismal PP, will encourage Hemsky to keep his feet moving when he has the puck. The whole PP, including Hemsky, was too static last season… Hemsky has the skill (unlike many of our other forwards) to consistantly deliver the puck accurately while on the move… it's time to move the angles, open up new lanes, and pressure the opposition positionally. This is something the "kid line" was able to do in 2008 when they got hot…

  • Hippy

    One of the best things this team has going for it this year is low expectations and therefore no pressure. And of cource there is a new Coaching team in place. I am curious to see how Penner and Nilson play under Quinn and company. I am also curious to see the style that Quinn goes with.

  • Hippy

    To finish up, I’d like to see the following two powerplay forward combinations:
    Nilsson – Gagner – Hemsky
    yo J-dub, whos is going to shoot on this unit, or wil it be the obvious, back to the point, we need somebody else with a different dynamic, and more of a shooter first mentality..

  • Hippy

    @ Ogden Brother:

    Just great. Now our fight has dropped off the main page. Stortini was specifically recalled from the Hamilton Bulldogs January 19 2007, a move in reponse to Hemsky taking a bad hit from Boogaard in Minnesota the previous tuesday on the 16th. I refereced a Brownlee article from that very day, prior to Stortini being recalled that clearly sets the context by which Zach was recalled. Poor Zach was billed to the fans as the next enforcer; and was expected to fill the void left by Laraque. This wasn't a fair expectation. It wasn't Zach's fault he got off on the wrong foot with the fans… he was placed, by the Oilers into an unfair situation.

  • Hippy

    Hemsky=AWESOME wrote:

    our PP should have at least 1 play that has proven time and time again to put pucks in the net.

    The feeling I got from watching games last year was that we -only- had 1 play on the powerplay. Once people clued in to the fact that Souray was our top scorer, they were able to figure out a counterattack that didn't involve a flamingo pose in front of the net.

  • Hippy

    Let's get that backdoor one-timer from Hemsky to Horcoff working again (no strikes from Horcs) and our PP should have at least 1 play that has proven time and time again to put pucks in the net.

    Shremp QB on the PP…Hahahaha Love it! Never happen but it's still a great idea. Cuz if he can't make it there in Sept. here, then he's got no hope cracking the big squad. Now let's just hope he gets the chance.

  • Hippy

    JW: When you say 'even strength', do you include the stats for 4-on-4?

    With all the stupid late-game penalties we took last year, it seems the best way to ice our powerplay beasts more often would be to play a more disciplined game.

  • Hippy

    Ogden Brother wrote:

    One of the few legit beefs the masses had against Penner: The man should have been on the PP… alot.

    Oops, should read: One of the few legit beefs the masses had against MacT: Penner should have been on the PP…alot.