Do Pre-Season Stats Mean Anything?

They say hindsight is 20/20. When it comes to tracking prospects in training camp, even hindsight spends a lot of time guessing.

The Edmonton Oilers have so many good rookies you’d swear we skipped a season for a lockout. It is very difficult to handicap the field. Sure Hall is a lock, Eberle a strong contender and Pääjärvi is right there too. Behind them are Linus Omark, Chris Vande Velde and Teemu Hartikainen. Let me ask you a question: if Linus Omark lit it up in pre-season, would that get him a job? Does a strong pre-season align the tumblers and unlock an NHL job? Here are the rookies who played 2 or more pre-season games over the last 5 pre-seasons for the Edmonton Oilers.

Fall 2005
  1. Zack Stortini 3gp, 1-0-1, 20pims +1
  2. Marc Pouliot 4gp, 1-0-1 -4
  3. Rob Schremp 6gp, 1-0-1 -2
  4. Dan Smith 5gp, 0-1-1 -1
  5. Kyle Brodziak 4gp, 0-1-1 E
  6. Danny Syvret 4gp, 0-1-1 E
  7. Jani Rita 7gp, 0-1-1 -4
  8. Brad Winchester 6gp, 0-0-0 -3
  9. Matt Greene 4gp, 0-0-0 -4
  10. JF Jacques 3gp, 0-0-0 -1
  11. Yan Stastny 3gp, 0-0-0 -5
  12. Mike Morrison 2gp, 0.48 .978
  13. Troy Bodie 2gp, 0-0-0 +1
  14. Mathieu Roy 2gp, 0-0-0 -3

Men who broke camp with the big club in bold and the ones who got at least a cup of coffee with the Oilers are in italics. Of the 14 rookies who played more than one pre-season game, 11 (or 79%) would eventually spend some time in the NHL in 2005-06. Ironically, two of three kids who scored a goal didn’t make the team and were not recalled (Schremp and Stortini). All three of the players who didn’t play for the Oilers in 05-06 on this list eventually played in an NHL game (Stortini, Schremp, Bodie). So, lets have a look and see if the "more than one pre-season game" rule applies for the following seasons.

Fall 2006

  1. Patrick Thoresen 6gp, 1-4-5 +2
  2. Alexei Mikhnov 5gp, 2-2-4 +1
  3. Rob Schremp 5gp, 2-2-4 -2
  4. Marc Pouliot 6gp, 2-0-2 +1
  5. Jonas Almtorp 3gp, 0-1-1 +1
  6. Sebastien Bisaillon 2gp, 0-1-1 +2
  7. Ladislav Smid 6gp, 0-0-0 +3
  8. Jan Hejda 6gp, 0-0-0 +1
  9. Mathieu Roy 4gp, 0-0-0 +1
  10. JF Jacques 4gp, 0-0-0 E
  11. Tyler Spurgeon 3gp, 0-0-0 +1
  12. Zack Stortini 2gp, 0-0-0 E
  13. Slava Trukhno 2gp, 0-0-0 +1
  14. Bryan Young 2gp, 0-0-0 E
  15. Troy Bodie 2gp, 0-0-0 E
  16. Danny Syvret 2gp, 0-0-0 E
  17. Kyle Brodziak 2gp, 0-0-0 E

Players who made the roster in bold, and it is clear each of them got a long look in training camp. This season (10-11), there should be several rookie forwards getting 6 games or so in pre-season as the coaching staff needs to get an idea right away about their level of ability at a higher level of competition. Of the 17 players listed, 14 (or 82.3 %) got at least a cup of coffee in the show during the 06-07 season. Slava Trukhno, Jonas Almtorp and Tyler Spurgeon all played 2 or more games and didn’t make an NHL appearance, thus ruining my wonderful 2 pre-season game theory. Bastages.

Fall 2007

  1. Andrew Cogliano 5gp, 4-3-7 +3
  2. Kyle Brodziak 5gp, 3-2-5 +1
  3. Slava Trukhno 3gp, 1-2-3 E
  4. Sam Gagner 4gp, 2-0-2 +1
  5. Tom Gilbert 4gp, 2-0-2 +1
  6. Tim Sestito 2gp, 1-0-1 E
  7. Rob Schremp 3gp, 0-1-1 +1
  8. Troy Bodie 2gp, 0-1-1 +2
  9. Jonas Almtorp 3gp, 0-0-0 E
  10. Ryan O’Marra 2gp, 0-0-0 -2

Three forwards make the grade in the fall of 2007, and give us the most likely scenario for Hall, Pääjärvi and Eberle. Gagner had that summer tournament that gave him some momentum and I remember MacT gushing over both Cogliano and Brodziak during training camp. They really did force the issue. Gilbert was also a rookie in 2007 fall, making the rookie crop in bold one of the best Oiler fans have seen in many years. Schremp was the only cup of coffee from this season, so only 4 of 9 (44.4%) turned the trick and although Sestito, O’Marra and Bodie have since appeared in the NHL, Trukhno and  Almtorp did not make an NHL appearance during a regular season game in the North American stay.

Fall 2008

  1. Rob Schremp 4gp, 0-2-2 -2
  2. Liam Reddox 2gp, 1-0-1 -1
  3. Tyler Spurgeon 3gp, 1-0-1 +1
  4. Taylor Chorney 4gp, 0-1-1 -4
  5. Slava Turkhno 2gp, 0-1-1 -1
  6. Tim Sestito 2gp, 0-1-1 +1
  7. Theo Peckham 3gp, 0-0-0 -3
  8. Jeff Deslauriers 2gp, 2.81 .921
  9. Colin McDonald 2gp, 0-0-0 E
  10. Steve MacIntyre 2gp, 0-0-0 -1
  11. Guillaume Lefebvre 2gp, 0-0-0 -1
  12. Mathieu Roy 2gp, 0-0-0 -1

Men who made it in bold and the callups in italics. 7 of 12 (58.3%) made the NHL during the 2008-09 season. Eberle by the way played in 1 pre-season game and did get on the scoresheet. Interesting that Spurgeon and Trukhno once again make the list but never got close to the NHL in a regular season game.

Fall 2009

  1. Ryan Stone 5gp, 0-3-3 +4
  2. Jeff Deslauriers 5gp, 2.35 .918
  3. Taylor Chorney 4gp, 1-0-1 E
  4. Alex Plante 3gp, 0-1-1 +3
  5. Rob Schremp 3gp, 0-1-1 E
  6. Devan Dubnyk 3gp, 2.54 .898
  7. Jordan Eberle 4gp, 0-0-0 -1
  8. Johan Motin 2gp, 0-0-0 E
  9. Bryan Young 2gp, 0-0-0 -1

Stone was the only rookie to play opening night, although Deslauriers was on the roster. Chorney, Plante and Motin would also play during the year. Schremp was claimed on waivers and had a solid year on the Island. Dubnyk would also make his NHL debut. Eberle played in 4 games but didn’t get a lot done, but it makes for an exciting fall 2010. I should mention that 2 rookies who played 1 pre-season game ended up in the NHL: Ryan O’Marra and Colin McDonald.

I think this fall will most closely resemble 2007, when the Oilers took Gagner and Cogliano directly from junior and college respectively and Kyle Brodziak forced his way onto the roster with his fine play.

Finally, since at least two exceptional talents are going to be rookies in the NHL this season, I thought it might be an idea to post the top 20 rookie seasons by Edmonton Oilers:

Forwards (the 2007-08 rookies in bold)

  1. Jari Kurri (80-81) 75gp, 32-43-75
  2. Jason Arnott (93-94) 78gp, 33-35-68
  3. Dave Lumley (79-80) 80gp, 20-38-58
  4. Glenn Anderson (80-81) 58gp, 30-23-53
  5. Sam Gagner (07-08) 79gp, 13-36-49
  6. Andrew Cogliano (07-08) 82gp, 18-27-45
  7. Raimo Summanen (85-86) 73gp, 19-18-37
  8. Miro Satan (95-96) 62gp, 18-17-35
  9. Jaroslav Pouzar (82-83) 74gp, 15-18-33
  10. Mike Grier (96-97) 79gp, 15-17-32
  11. Kyle Brodziak (07-08) 80gp, 14-17-31
  12. Rem Murray (96-97) 82gp, 11-20-31
  13. David Oliver (94-95) 44gp, 16-14-30
  14. Ales Hemsky (02-03) 59gp, 6-24-30
  15. Jozef Beranek (91-92) 58gp, 12-16-28
  16. Todd Marchant (94-95) 45gp, 13-14-27
  17. Dean McAmmond (93-94) 45gp, 6-21-27
  18. Martin Gelinas (89-90) 46gp, 17-8-25
  19. Mats Lindgren (96-97) 69gp, 11-14-25
  20. Scott Fraser (97-98) 29gp, 12-11-23
  21. Jason Chimera (02-03) 66gp, 14-9-23
  22. Mike Comrie (00-01) 41gp, 8-14-22
  23. Jarret Stoll (03-04) 68gp, 10-11-21

The Blue

  1. Tom Gilbert (07-08) 82gp, 13-20-33
  2. Paul Coffey (80-81) 74gp, 9-23-32
  3. Randy Gregg (82-83) 80gp, 6-22-28
  4. Marc-Andre Bergeron (03-04) 54gp, 9-17-26
  5. Steve Smith (85-86) 55gp, 4-20-24
  6. Dan McGillis (96-97) 73gp, 6-16-22
  7. Kevin Lowe (79-80) 64gp, 2-19-21
  8. Tom Poti (98-99) 73gp, 5-16-21

I wonder how many Oiler fans know Tom Gilbert holds the rookie scoring record for Oiler defensemen. I also wonder if anyone can pass Samwise this season, or even approach the Arnott number or (steady now) touch true greatness and the wonder that was Kurri.

Fun stuff ahead.

  • Why do people still think Comrie’s a center… the Pens signed him as a winger… last season, Comrie said his preference was to be on the wing. I don’t think he has the skating to play center anymore. Good signing by the Pens… Comrie will look good alongside Crosby.

        • Come on now Ender… Lou never opened *THIS* loophole, and that’s what drives me nuts about all the flack Lou/Devils/Kovalchuk took for this contract.

          Why is it “Loophole Lou” (at least in this instance), yet its the “brilliant management team” and smart Kenny Holland in Detroit. Not to take anything away from them, but why was there no fuss until Lou did it. It can’t work both ways – if Detroit was so smart, why isn’t Lou… if Lou’s opening loopholes, why wasn’t it Ken Holland and *HIS* loopholes?

          Having said all of that, I’m glad the league is putting the kibosh on these deals in the future (just as I’m glad they saw fit to include Ilya’s deal as the final deal of this kind).

          • Ender

            I’ll concede that Lou didn’t invent this particular tactic. He just decided ‘If you’re going to do it, don’t bother with any of that guilty posturing crap and stop pretending to be legitimate. The hole is there, so rip the sumb@#%$! wide open and jump through it with both feet.

            I think that’s why the league picked this contract. Not because it was Lou specifically, but because it was Lou who decided to utilize the exploit all the way without remorse. After this, well, who wouldn’t follow Lou’s lead?

          • Chris.

            On the flip side, signing a 39-yr old veteran to even a 5-year deal doesn’t pass the smell test, so I don’t see how you can regulate an allowable term length.

            A contact signed by a 39 year old (anyone over 35) will still count against the cap after the player retires. The simple solution is to have the cap hit remain post retirement on all contracts regardless of the players age at the time of signing.

    • Ender

      I don’t think you can have a cap on years. If a team is foolish enough to offer an 18-yr old a twenty-year contract, I think it’s reasonable to assume the kid could honor it. Terribly irresponsible and hopelessly optimistic on the part of the team, but I don’t see any issue about the deal potentially being legitimate.

      On the flip side, signing a 39-yr old veteran to even a 5-year deal doesn’t pass the smell test, so I don’t see how you can regulate an allowable term length. The best you can do is follow what the NHL have proposed and say “You live and die by the ‘main’ part of the contract you signed. You want to cripple yourself? Go ahead, but it will no longer buy you any advantage over another team.”

  • Chris.

    For the record I think Hossa like deals are fine. They are essentially a lifetime contact. Why shouldn’t a team be able to average out the evolving earning potential of a player they have committed to long term? My beef is that the cap hit disappears if the player retires before the conclusion of the contract. (I know this is essentially the same point I made to Ender)