Back in the summer I wrote several posts about reasonable expectations. I think they’re valuable because the brain can play tricks on us in mid-season. We see a kid like Jordan Eberle adjust quickly, play miles beyond his years and less than 20 games later we adopt that level of ability as the norm and forget all about the progress. "Reasonable expectations" re-boots the brain and gives us a nice starting point to the season.
The original rookie "reasonable expectations" post is here, and I’ll review each of the names below in the order listed back in July.
- Taylor Hall: July 31 Reasonable boxcars: 74gp, 20-20-40, 16 minutes a night and he plays on every line. He will get more PP minutes than the other two rookies and because of it will lead the group on scoring. Confidence is a huge deal for any #1 pick, and this kid seems to have a lot of it. He’ll need it. Currently: On pace for a very similar boxcar season (13-22-35) to the one I projected. I think he’ll probably run the final number beyond 40 because the kid is improving all the time. Lordy he’s a talent, and in fact he’s making adjustments without the puck at a very nice pace too. Having a #1 overall pick means there’s always something to look forward to every game. He’s a beauty. Hall is getting 17 minutes a night so it’s "in the range" of my prediction, although Eberle is playing more with the man advantage. His relCorsi number is quality considering the circumstances and the only real concern is his 5×5/60 number (1.31) but that’s really splitting hairs. RE result a match after 18 games.
- Magnus Pääjärvi July 31 Reasonable boxcars: 66gp, 13-18-31 on 14 minutes per game. Although he is more physically mature than Hall, there’s going to be a gap in terms of where he should be on the ice and where he’ll be drawn to; I think he might earn the trust of the coaching staff down the line, but this season will be a learning curve much like the one described above (in regard to Hall). I don’t think he’ll approach Hall’s boxcars, but should say most of the shortfall will come due to different opportunities. Hall is extremely likely to get the push. Currently: on pace for an extremely similar boxcar (9-19-28) although the young man is playing every game and I thought he’d get some PB time (which may come). He’s the one rookie who has looked like a pure rookie on many nights, but the math thinks he’s a solid player already. His 5×5/60 number (1.43) is 2nd best among the rookies and as I mentioned in the original post Taylor Hall is definitely getting the push (not being critical, stating a fact) from Oilers management and coaches. Playing 14 minutes a night (as predicted) and with lesser mates and his relCorsi reflects it. The one thing I think we should be a bit concerned about is that he’s been a perimeter player for an extended period here. That’s why his scoring chances have dried up and that will continue until he heads back into traffic. That’s the one reason why I’d keep him in Edmonton: the problem is here and if he goes to the AHL his speed will no doubt make it easier for him to gain clearance. He’s an outstanding prospect, might as well let him learn things here unless he loses confidence (I don’t really see that at this point). I wish Renney would give him some PP time, a goal or assist right now might see him catch fire. MPS is ahead of the other two rookies by a wide margin in one important category: plus minus. RE result a match after 18 games.
- Jordan Eberle: July 31 Reasonable boxcars: 72gp, 12-17-29 on 15 minutes a night (with several on the PK). Jordan Eberle sees the game extremely well, and I think it might end up landing him a job as an NHL center down the line. For now, he’ll be on the same NHL rollercoaster as Hall and Pääjärvi, although it is possible he sees extended time on the PK (depending on whether or not ST signs someone in August or September). Currently: Unlike Hall and MPS, this young man has exceeded all the numbers and is a solid Calder candidate at this time. Eberle projects to finish 18-36-54 which is miles past the reasonable expectations I predicted for him. I also suggested he’d play 15 minutes a night (Eberle’s TOI: 18:25 per game) and not get much PP time (2:27 a night). I did suggest that he’d PK and in fact the young man is one the ice for about 2 minutes a night in that situation. His 5×5/60 (1.69) leads the rookies and is a match for Hemsky, and his relCorsi is in the black although it trails Taylor Hall’s impressive number.Note: Smartest rookie I’ve seen in forever. Man he’s clever, and I still think he might end up playing center for this team at some point in time. RE result is not a match. Eberle is well beyond reasonable expecations at this time.
- Theo Peckham: July 31 Reasonable boxcars: 51gp, 0-8-8 with 5-6D minutes. With most defensemen the boxcars don’t tell half of the story, and in Peckham’s case it wll be less than that. If he’s reading plays and reacting at speed by Valentine’s Day, we’ll have a player. Currently: Things are going very well for Wreckum. He did not impress in TC but the waiver danger kept him on the roster. Since opening night, he’s been doing well on the 3rd pairing and is perhaps a future top 4 defender with this team. His 1-4-5 +2 boxcars stand out on this team and are beyond what I’d projected and one doubts he’s going to end up with 25 points this season. Still, he’s delivered solid play and his grit and nasty streak are a welcome sight on a team that has been too tame most nights. It’s no fun to play against Theo Peckham, and how many defensemen can you say that about on the current Oilers? RE result is not a match. He has become the player I’d hoped for by Feb 14 already and passed that by a little too. His 17:34 a night (2 minutes on the PP per game) will likely increase as the season wears on.
- Devan Dubnyk: July 31 Reasonable expectations: 20gp, 3.12 .901, and if Khabibulin’s case blows up then double the starts. Over at Lowetide, I posted a longer RE about Dubnyk. If you’re interested, it is here. Currently: NK’s age is catching up to him and Dubnyk won the day over the other goalie (Deslauriers) at least for now. Dubnyk is in the NHL’s top 20 in terms of SP (.924) although he hasn’t played enough to qualify among the league leaders yet. His SP number is way beyond NK’s (.879) and it is completely reasonable to suggest that Khabibulin’s age and injury history mean we are looking at the actual man in terms of 10-11 goaltending with DD. His nickname ("the big Easy") could be better (what about Flex Plexico? Orel? Orly? Demon Hunter? No?) but his play in a small sample so far this season gives hope for the future. RE is a match. The GAA is close and the SP is in a small sample so we’ll wait before getting too excited. He’s got his chance, and looks like he’s mature enough and good enough to give it a good shot. Good for him.
- Shawn Belle: July 31 Reasonable expectations: There’s a chance he makes the big club out of camp (especially if Souray isn’t here) but I’m betting he’s a recall due to injury. I wonder how much he’s played on the PK in the minors. 40gp, 1-3-4. 520 minutes. Currently: Just recalled and playing well. He is certainly going to get a long look while he’s here and I suspect that after Smid returns the organization will at least consider placing Strudwick on IR or he’ll retire. I know I’ve said this for a long time, but for crying out loud Edmonton Oilers this isn’t fair to anyone. Not Strudwick, not Belle, not the paying customer not the goaltenders. Jason Strudwick got more out of his career than anyone could have hoped for (including Strudwick) and perhaps it’s time for him to coach the minor league defensemen. Just saying. RE is not yet a match because he’s only played in 2 games and I projected him for 40. However, I think there’s a very good chance the young man stays.
This is a helluva rookie crop. Just ridiculous.