Spring Arrives in the Hinterland

We’re at the point in the draft cycle where hockey men use hyperbole to describe the future. Ken Hitchcock has Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as a cross between a young Joe Sakic and a young Pavel Datsyk; Sean Couturier`s last name should be ‘Staal’ according to the comparables; and Adam Larsson is better than Lidstrom at this age. Apparently.

What does it all mean? Hell if I know. As a fan, I like to look at the numbers and try to apply common sense to them. For instance, Adam Larsson is still a kid but is playing in a man’s league. So, despite the impressive numbers of RNH and others, we need to pay special heed to what the big Swedish defender is doing now that the playoffs have arrived.

How is he doing? Well. His boxcars are 6gp, 0-2-2 -2 but as with all boxcars it’s a black and white photo in dire need of color. Here’s the back story on his playoff:

  • Game 1: 24:24 TOI even, 1 shot on goal and 2 hits in a win
  • Game 2: 23:19 TOI -1, 2 shots on goal and 1 hit in a loss
  • Game 3: 22:45 TOI even, 1 shot and 3 hits in another loss
  • Game 4: 24:37 TOI even, 2 shots in a win
  • Game 5: 21:47 TO! 1 assist, 3 shots on goal 2 pims and 3 hits in a win
  • Game 6: 22:14 TOI -1, 1 assist, 3 shots and 2 pims and 1 hit in a loss
  • Game 7: today

He’s averaging 23:11TOI during the post-season after averaging 18:44 during the regular season. Here are the Skelleftea blue with their playoff time-on-ice per game:

  1. Adam Larsson 23:11
  2. Tim Erixon 22:11
  3. David Rundblad 20:20
  4. Fredrik Lindgren 20:04
  5. Niclas Burstrom 18:18
  6. Ivan Majesky 15:18

Based on their experience and skill sets, I’d suggest that Rundblad and either Erixon or Lindgren are getting the powerplay minutes, leaving Larsson to evens and PK. We talked about Larsson and his scouting reports here and we know that the Oilers have a laundry list of needs rolling out over the next several years.

As we get closer to the draft–and with the understanding that some of these CHL forwards are kicking out the jams and making big impressions–it is becoming increasingly difficult to argue against Jim Matheson’s logic (stated most recently here). Last night, the Edmonton Oilers "hockey winter" reached a climax as the Avalanche drove the Oildrop further down the elevator shaft.

Spring arrives today, and with it the promise of renewal and growth. Staring at the numbers and sifting through the things our good friend math can tell us, Adam Larsson is extremely likely to be the best player available on draft day. Full stop.

  • You’d think that would be hard to do – you’d guess there would be more than one player with 34 plus minus points/goals of Couturier.

    Looking back (quickly, so I’m sure I missed some – If anyone notices someone else, please post it, it would be appreciated), really the only top F prospect that so thoroughly dominated his teammates in terms of +/-, in the CHL, was Crosby.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        I don’t know what to make of his shooting percentage, because I don’t have a lot of people to compare it against as the OHL and WHL don’t track it. I’d check it against his number last year, but for some reason last year’s don’t seem to be up on the Q site.

        Is it normal for players to shoot at 16-20% in junior, and then drop to 12-13% as they move into leagues with better goaltending? I don’t know.

        But, for comparison:

        Huberdeau – 42 goals on 195 shots = 21.5%
        Couturier – 36 goals on 221 shots = 16.3%

  • JaroslavPouzar

    great post…

    sign and trade for d-men… let someone else develop them over 3 years. Doughty is the exceptioon to top 5 D men taken in the top 5 over the last 5 years tyo make a stong impact…
    RNH is the guy we need.
    I saw him snipe a goal last night that only a future NHL stud can score.
    Take the governor off Hall and Eberle by giving them RNH…

    • Jodes

      Sign a Dman, like who? Unfortunately Steve Tambellini and Kevin Lowe don’t do their homework when he signs free agents it seems. It’s like this is his checklist:

      1) Past Their Prime (Khabi)

      2) Injury Prone (Khabi, Souray, Foster)

      3) Small

      4) Not Physical (Foster, Fraser)

      5) Borderline NHL/AHL skill (Fraser)

      His track record speaks for itself.

      As for trading, just who are they going to trade?

  • I would like to know more about Landeskog. His numbers alone dont scream #1 overall pick at all. He’s not even close to the leading scorer on his own club. He’s been injured and he’s at about a 1.27 PPG, but compared to Strome’s 1.63 PPG, RNH’s 1.54 PPG, or Couturier’s 1.67 PPG he’s way off pace.

    He must have some serious supporters to rank him #1. The math doesnt add up for me, so there has to be a lot more about the kid than his production.

    I cant help but think GL #1 would be a mistake. I need some convincing that this guy is #1 material.

    • Crash

      LOL, a little bit ironic that you want to question the Central scouting rating when last year you were all on board with whatever Central Scouting had to say….

      But I agree with you, I don’t know what it is that gets him rated #1….you’re right, it doesn’t add up so I’m not buying that he is the BPA as RC stated. What is it he has done to earn this rating?

      I find that what always happens is people get too caught up in what is going on in the present over a short period of time (one season) and they rarely look at things over a longer stretch of time.

      I also agree with you that the Oilers should take themselves a Center…whichever one they think is the best….I lean towards Couturier (consistency over the last 2 yrs) and RNH but if the Oilers go Huberdeau or Strome it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

  • bigrroberto

    Everyone said paajarvi was going to be the best of the big 3 because he was “playing in the sel with men” and look what happened there. Not that he’s been bad but not quite on the same level as Hall and Eberle.

    Now look at the argument everyone’s making about Laarsen. “he’s going to be the most nhl ready because he’s playing in the sel with men”.

    If I’m picking, I’m picking either RNH or Couturier, in that order.

    We need someone who can skate with Hall and I believe that RNH is that man. Living in Red Deer I’ve had the luxury of watching him a bunch and he can flat out fly.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    If you check Dittricks story on RNH on oiler website you will read negative comments on him from Stu{small,etc}
    If they plan on drafting Larsson they better get their hardhats on for the abuse they get from fans when he starts throwing snow like he did in WJ game against Canada

  • oilbaron

    Any chance and sorry if it’s been posted and answered already, that the oilers will take Larsson with the 1st pick if hey win he lottery and then use our 31st along with LA’s 23ish pick to move up into the top 10 and pick a center. Is this draft deep enough so these two picks will make it able for us to move up?
    People say that defenceman take much longer to developed and because of this we should draft Larsson first but if were able to move into the top 10-13 I say we take the stud defenceman and build our d around him

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    So Larsson’s team won game 7 by a score of 3-2, and are on to the next round of their playoffs. Larsson again had the greatest TOI on his team with 24:47, and he had 2 shots, 0 points, even +/-, and 2 PIM.

  • Peterborough

    exactly how long did lidstrome take? How long did Hedman take to lead his team in average time on ice? We need this guy and you can’t trade for them. Gotta get them and hold on and not let go and just hope like crazy there isn’t some horrible “incident” and his wife makes him leave town. 🙂

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      History actually tells us that you can trade for him.

      Hell the Oilers themselves had trade for 4 guys since the lockout that are considerd 1st pairing guys (at least)

  • treblecharger

    Pretty convincing piece by Matty. I immediately start to think about Tambo moving Gagner and the Kings pick for a Top 5 and get a centre after they get Larsson.

  • NamelessNed

    The one thing that confuses me about Huberdeau is that he only takes like 5 faceoffs a game unless what I think is faceoff on the QMJHL website isnt faceoffs). Drafting a centre with skill is not enough we need one that will win some faceoffs. Is anyone able to compare the top 4 centres faceoff skills?

    • Lowetide

      Oh, okay. I got it. So yeah, I was reading the shots on the profile page as total shots.

      Either way, it makes way more sense when figuring out shot percentage. 🙂

  • m@s f@s

    Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. We can shed weight like Foster, Fraser, etc. We have the wingers coming, we even have SOME d-men coming, another trade to obtain a #1 defender can be made. IMO, it would be done last to show what the player had to work with, and it would involve 1st rd pick(s). Give our forward talent with vision a center with some talent and vision.

    P.S. Try to get Benjamin Conz

  • NamelessNed

    I’m in the same boat as most, not sure if using top pick for a dman is a great idea. I like the Larsson/Lidstrom comparison but the thing that bothers me is Lidstrom was drafted in the 3rd round, 53rd overall. Either way I have faith that Stu will make the right choice. Hope Steve and Kevin can make a few right choices in the off season to help this team

    • Jodes

      I have lots of faith in Stu to make the right choice.. Its Steve and Kevin that I have no faith in anymore.

      I’m not banking on any changes in the off season from those two. Their track record speaks for itself.

  • Clyde Frog

    If you are having wet dreams about Laarson playing men and therefor his numbers have more weight than the kids in the CHL, please remember the size of ice he is playing on…

    He is developing a skillset for making 1st/2nd passes, cycling for time and angling people off that just won’t work in the North American rinks. Not saying he won’t learn them, but just like Paajarvi’s magnificient wide drives it will take time of him to adjust.

    Especially the passing and time, defense men can’t hide on the ice, have to mix it up physically and face the largest transition in the jump.

    Saying he is playing with men is great for adjusting him to wrestling with men, but ignoring he is honing his skills on a much bigger ice surface is a misnomer. The first time he steps on the ice with Minnesota or Nashville will be a painful night for him.

    Taking a defensemen top 3 without having them stand head and shoulders above the competition is a gamble, no two ways about it. We have already looked at the development time of some of the bigger names already and they all had a lead time of 5-7 years before they produced like a top 2 player. The only 2 exceptions were Doughty and Phaneuf, Doughty is way too early to measure and Phaneuf fell off the tracks and was traded for a bag of pucks.

    • Peterborough

      I think Hedman would be a good gatekeeper as to what will progress like as though their style is different their developement path is similar. If Larsson is going to lead this team on TOI in two years then yes he is worth the gamble.

  • Clyde Frog

    I think everyone’s gotta calm down a bit about the draft this year. It’s pretty obvious that there are three, maybe four kids who are all roughly even in terms of talent, value and potential. I think you can make a pretty good case for any of them going first … or fourth.

    But yeah, I’d take Larsson first, but I should mention that I’ve never seen him play. Other than Couturier, I haven’t seen any of them play.

    But if the Oilers don’t win the lottery and they end up picking second (they can’t drop any further than that, right?), they’re still going to end up with a darn good player.

    I’m actually a little more relaxed about this draft than last year.

  • Clyde Frog

    Look at the track record for D in the top 3 over the past 20 years. It’s no where near the list for quality that you see in F’s. Also, look South to Calgary, they’ve got the Stud D and have for years (Dion/JBow. plus other very strong D men) and they’ve been pretty middle of the pack the entire time WITH an allstar goalie carrying them. Also very little playoff time during those years (outside of the one year; which goes equal with us). And both teams that beat Cal and Edmonton in the SCF’s, had 1C’s FYI. The hurricanes had D by committee and were down right week there if you remember. The reason the Flames go no where and Iggy has such a hard time, is that he does it by himself. He’s never had a 1C and the team will never win because the big games because of it. Draft the CENTER.

    • Clyde Frog

      Fair enough.

      But my concern is this: Are those two centres (RNH and Couturier) going to be better players than Larsson will be?

      I just don’t know.

      My hunch is that they’re all roughly equal right now, but I think we all know it won’t turn out that way.

      And, I guess, then you go with “best player available.” And that, in my opinion for what it’s worth, is Larsson.

      I’m concerned about RNH’s size and Couturier’s wheels and heart. But, like I say, I haven’t seen either of them play very much, so I could be wrong.

      Couturier, plain and simple, didn’t show up when the chips were down in that last game of the WJC. That’s not fair, I know, but that’s all I know.

      RNH looks like a small six-footer, as opposed to a large six-footer. Yeah, he could be Joe Sakic. But he could also be Brian Sakic.

  • Brownlee loves the word meow


    were mentioned by Tambi during the season ticket holders Q&A on Sunday…in that order.

    Does Coutourier get forgotten if he is the guy they think they might draft?
    Dont think so, read what you will into it, but it seemed pretty apparent to me that those 4 are the ones that came to Tambi’s mind right off the bat. Strome seemed like a bit of an after thought, but seemed like they were interested in looking more into him.
    More description about scouting RNH and Larsson came out of his mouth when mentioning their names tho.

    As for the size of RNH..same height as hall, just the weight issue. sick hands, sick shot, same type of accolades as hall..he is a winner.

    People questioning landeskog should give their heads a shake. Guy that loves to hit, and is a great scorer, fights…and wins the fights…and he is a leader…Seems to me that is a guy that is the best overall player, and probably why he garners so much attention.

    I would shy away from drafting a D-man with first overall, seems like a waste to me…yes we need one, but we have some in development already, and have a second pick in the first round…get another star forward with the first overall, leave it to the scouts to get a d-man with the next pick, or trade gagner(or insert midget here) and la’s first to move up.

  • Clyde Frog

    LT, looking forward to your article on Couturier. Could you help us out by comparing this years top C’s to previous years? Interested to know how RNH/Couturier stack up against Seguin/Tavares.
    I’m in the drafting a top C camp, Couturier/RNH/Strome as opposed to chancing a defensive prospect.
    I defer to Stu, of course, because if its a 1D vs a 2C, then he’s right to pick the D.
    Also, LT, could you explain why Couturier has slid down the rankings recently? I am very interested to see how this draft class unfolds.

  • Brownlee loves the word meow

    Take a look at the Montreal Canadiens. They have a good defense by committee. Hamrlik, Spacek, Gill, they picked these guys up as UFA’s. I have more faith in cobbling together a defense than trying to invent a top C.
    Also, last year, Hall was always the consensus #1 pick, but then late in the year there were doubters, CSS came out with Seguin #1, and we all went crazy. In the end, the guy with the consistent pedigree was the right pick.
    According to that rationale, I still like Couturier this year, but I haven’t done much research yet.

  • Brownlee loves the word meow

    I would be a huge fan of Larsson at #1, Mark McNeill with LA’s first, and a top goalie at 31. McNeill is an Edmonton kid, hopefully of the Getzlaf variety at 6’2”, 210, and has an offensive upside. He looks like he can handle himself pretty well to:


    #9 in black

    ranked at about #20, it would go along way to solidy grit in the top 6. Or imagine McNeill/Pitlick/Hamilton as a 3rd line in 3 years.

  • Brownlee loves the word meow

    I think it is very important to try and assess the whole package a player has, although it is certainly very hard.

    Often discussions on rookies flow toward points, but there is a lot more to being a dominant player at the NHL level. Crosby is 37th for points in a season QMJHL and a lot of the names ahead I don’t recognize.

    A forward as dominant at evens, full package and big as Couturier is just too hard to overlook for me in a year that doesn’t really have super elite offensive talent.

    He is just what Hall and Eberle need – a big 2 way face off winning centre who has elite skill. Putting an offense mostly smaller centre with them sounds like a regular season phenom line that looks a lot less dangerous come playoffs. The only thing that would turn me away from Couturier is a problem with competitive drive. Physicality is less of a concern becuase along with it will come injuries – leave that for the grinders.

    The decision for me is Couturier or Larrson. If I was GM and with Cout falling in the rankings, I would be looking for a deal for a top 5 and hope to get Couturier and Larrson. You can’t lose easily with 2 of the top 5-6 this year, the players who would be dealt are likely gone anyway, and the “rebuild” gains some legs.