Reasonable Expectations

David Staples caused a little conversation today with his recent article "Ryan Smyth rocks it on the road, while Nugent-Hopkins drops it." I’m thrilled at the title, which is at least as long as some of mine. As for the idea behind it, well what is reasonable? What should we be expecting after 17 games?


I spend a few hours every summer trying to estimate "reasonable" boxcars for Oiler players. It’s a fun item, I don’t pretend to have any special ability at the discipline (thank God, it’d be a tough thing to defend) but it does give us an idea about each player. What should we expect from Oilers forwards at the 17 game mark?


  1. Ryan Smyth 4-5-9 (10-7-17) +8
  2. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 3-6-9 (7-7-14) +5
  3. Jordan Eberle 5-6-11 (4-9-13) +3
  4. Ryan Jones 1-3-4 (3-3-6) +2
  5. Shawn Horcoff 4-5-9 (3-6-9) EVEN
  6. Lennart Petrell 1-2-3 (1-1-2) -1
  7. Ales Hemsky 2-4-6 (0-4-4) -2
  8. Ben Eager 2-2-4 (0-1-1) -3
  9. Anton Lander 1-3-4 (0-1-1) -3
  10. Linus Omark 1-2-3 (0-0-0) -3
  11. Taylor Hall  8-6-14 (3-7-10) -4
  12. Eric Belanger 3-6-9 (0-3-3) -6
  13. Sam Gagner 2-6-8 (0-2-2) -6
  14. Magnus Paajarvi 4-4-8 (0-1-1) -7

Players in bold have exceeded "reasonable expectations" and in the cases of Smyth and RNH I’d argue that it is a significant item. Mr. Staples point about the road trip can be argued (I’d suggest the kid performed well based on age and toughness of opponent), but overall the season has been good for Ryan’s and Jordan’s.

The blue is a little harder to read, as their RE is all about the offense and doesn’t reflect their defensive play. Still, it’s worth having a look at if only to measure expectations for the offensive side of their game.


  1. Corey Potter 0-3-3 (2-6-8) +5
  2. Colten Teubert 0-0-0 (0-1-1) +1
  3. Tom Gilbert 1-5-6 (2-4-6) EVEN
  4. Andy Sutton 0-1-1 (1-0-1) EVEN
  5. Jeff Petry 0-2-2 (0-1-1) -1
  6. Theo Peckham 1-2-3 (1-1-2) -1
  7. Ryan Whitney 0-2-2 (0-0-0) -2
  8. Ladislav Smid 0-2-2 (0-0-0) -2
  9. Cam Barker 1-3-4 (1-0-1) -3

Not much here beyond Potter having a very nice early run and Gilbert covering his bet during a fine start. Barker’s expectations are based on his powerplay time (I assumed he’d play a lot) and he does have a marker (along with Potter and Gilbert) but is behind expectations based on his current games played.

That’s one thing I should say: the estimates are based on the GP currently compared to the number I estimated.


Ryan Smyth, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Jones, Shawn Horcoff, Corey Potter and Tom Gilbert are as good or better than predicted. Magnus Paajarvi could be seeing time on the farm, Sam Gagner should feel some pressure and Taylor Hall is off the pace. 

It’s early, this is an exceptionally small sample size. Fussy britches here should have kept her gun in the holster. But there’s trouble brewing in Dodge City.

  • Spaghetti - Team Facalto

    When you’re right 75% of the time you are usually wrong the other 25. Lets hope they pick it up because it could be another long season if it continues like the last 3 games have.

    Any idea when Hordichuk gets back in the line up?

    • Wanyes bastard child

      But, but, but… you can see her nipples…

      Question floating around out there LT, can Magnus be sent down without clearing waivers? Im curious as well, not sure how ELC/age/games played and what not works eh.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      Oh… what a relief! And here I thought I’d have to lodge my first objection to an LT lady… whoo, what a load off!! First lady wins hand down!

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    LT, it would be interesting to compare these results with projections for goals against… ie. GF are down for a lot of players… but i wonder if this is mitigated somewhat by the fact that I imagine we’ve let in a lot less goals as a team than you would have expected too.

  • Puritania


  • Zack

    Ah, thanks for the source! I know PRV is struggling but I think sending him down would be taking a few steps backwards in a few respects.

    A) It would probably be bad PR for management
    B) Psychologically damaging, especially with all the hype that ST put around the trio last year?

    I’m not trying to argue against your point, heck I would consider it too however I just can’t see management following through with something like that.

    • Wax Man Riley

      I think PRV should be sent down. Forget “psychologically damaging,” he isn’t performing. Send him down to A)Send a message B)Get some top unit playing time for some games. Get that confidence back.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis


        I gotta agree with Wax here. I don’t think management looks bad when they manage their assets with care for their success. They look bad when they fail their assets. Right now MP’s potential is being untapped. He is getting limited minutes and for whatever reason isn’t scoring/being productive. He’s only 20 and is ripe for some grooming.

        also part of management’s job is to take the fall. They can’t be worried about how they will be perceived. Or rather, development, production, progress, etc. are infinitely more important than PR perceptions.

        I also don’t agree on the psychological damage. If a player is that fragile they won’t be able to meet any of the adversity life, let alone hockey, offers. No player makes it this far without some set-backs, it’s healthy if anything.

        Look at our weakest player psychologically – for seemingly unclear and non-hockey reasons – Brule. If we look at his production in the A and this article (unless it is blowing smoke):

        here we have an example of a player somewhat damaged by who knows what… rallying to better himself and turn his career around. So even in the worst case scenario I think of… time in the A is a benefit. If someone is truly so fragile or damaged by the experience, I would suggest they have deeper problems than getting their boxcars in line with expectations.

        also… it isn’t inconsistent for ST to tell the world he’s got some awesome kids coming up through the system and also decide they are not ready. having awesome potential and not being ready are not mutually exclusive.

  • Little Buttcheeks

    The young guys will have their ups and downs. It’s a good thing that Smyth is ripping it up. What we need is some scoring from that 3rd line. Calling Paajarvi and Gagner. We need those guys to get going and soon.

  • LT, How much weight do you put on TOI ? I only ask that because i’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Gagner and PRV had to be way higher last season compared to this year.

    I’m far to lazy to look up the average last year, but I’m also guessing that PP time also must be reduced?

    IMO I’m also going to suggest that Horcoff ice time and Smyth have to come down in order to give a little more time Gagner, I’m afraid if this kid doesn’t get more ice time we are going to have bad situation on our hand.

  • OilLeak

    Paajarvi and Hall are in a bad place right now, Pajaarvi a little more so then Hall; Paajarvi doesn’t possess the quality shot or the power forward mentality that can help break through a slump.

    Paajarvi needs to beat up some lower level opposition for a while to get his confidence back again. Some time in OKC playing on a line with Hartikainen should help. I believe Paajarvi is capable of some offense, he just needs to believe that he has that ability again and he’s not going to get that by playing under 10 minutes with the dregs on the 4th line.

    Also, send Lander to OKC as well, he’s getting killed out there; Linus you’re up.

    • Wax Man Riley

      Agreed, I don’t think sending Paajarvi down is a bad thing at all and it doesn’t ruin him or look bad in fact I would argue it is management being smart and using the farm for what it is (development) and letting MPS find his groove.

      How good would Paajarvi-Lander-Hartikainen look in OKC? I think that could be a very dangerous 3rd line in a few years in the NHL (Maybe even 2nd?)

      I like what Lander has done but I wouldnt mind seeing him and MPS playing together in OKC, call up Omark and see what he can do back up on the big league roster. If he performs let Paajarvi gain some confidence in the AHL and when he looks ready ST can make a call on Omark or Gagner for a trade.

  • Talbot17

    looks like hall has a pit stain in that pic

    Id try hemsky-PRV-Gagner on a line for 2-4 games before sending PRV to OKC. To be frank, he just doesnt suit belanger and needs someone with a little more playmaking capability to get him the puck. Belanger can still get 30-45 points with PP time and on the 4th line

  • A-Mc

    Can someone explain to me why people are attacking Taylor hall so much?

    If you look at the #’s, he may be behind your expectations of him, but he is still getting chances and making good passes.

    Before the Miss came home last night, me and the kid were watching some of the Chicago replay, and Of the 1.5 periods i managed to sift through, Hall had a couple great chances – one in particular that rang off the cross bar after he carried it in around the D.

    The kid has drive and he goes hard all the time. He’s getting some good opportunities that just haven’t paid off this last road trip.

    I don’t understand how his name would come up when we discuss a lack of Oiler Offense. There are 20+ guys responsible for offense, and more than half of them are no where to be seen.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      I’m not sure you aren’t arguing with a straw man here. LT is simply noting Hall is off his expectations and the roughest criticism I can find in the comments is this by Oilleak:

      “Paajarvi and Hall are in a bad place right now, Pajaarvi a little more so then Hall”

      saying Hall’s in a bad place is probably an overreach. But it’s not particularly harsh.

      For my part, I would definitely agree Hall needs to adjust his game. For me it’s not his production that is at issue. To me it looks like he is trying too hard to force the issue on his own – like he is frustrated and overcompensating. I’ve seen a lot of spark from the guy – I don’t question his commitment or energy – but it has led to more turnovers and broken down plays than scoring chances of late imo.

      • A-Mc

        It’s not particularly in this thread, It’s just something I’ve been noticing over the last week or so on OilersNation and other sites. A Comment here, a comment there. It’s becoming more common and the 1 comment in this thread reminded me that it’s something i wanted to ask about.

        I don’t notice any more or less turn overs from the kid line. They’ve always played a risky game with the way they feed a streaking player across the ice and their attempts at Fancy “threading the needle”-like passes.

        To ME, it seems like people (the community) are a little PO’d that our road trip didn’t go so well so they are looking for players to blame, and Hall just happens to be a small part of that and i guess i just don’t understand that mentality.

        • Romulus' Apotheosis

          Fair enough… I’m in the “saw him good/bad” camp so I don’t have any stats to back me up (do any citizens want to crunch the numbers on turnovers for the kids?). And I’m not saying he’s been terrible. but, he looks sometimes when he moves with the puck out of his end like he’s forgotten he is on a team and they are there to help.

          you are clearly seeing different things. so unless someone can post the stats I’m happy to wait until the next game and take another look.

  • A-Mc

    Looking at the Give Away numbers on, The top 10 for edmonton looks like this:

    1. Tom Gilbert – 14
    2. Taylor Hall – 13
    3. Ryan Smyth – 13
    4. Jordan Eberle – 12
    5. Eric Belanger – 11
    6. Shawn Horcoff – 11
    7. Jeff Petry – 11
    8. Ryan Jones – 10
    9. Ryan N-Hop – 10
    10. Corey Potter – 9

    Of the top 10, there are arguably 6 of them that shouldn’t be up there with Extra Special Attention being paid to Gilbert, Smyth and Horcoff.

    It doesn’t appear that the flamboyant play style of the kid line is contributing any MORE to Give Aways than any other line. As a team, it’s still a concern though.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      thanks for looking that up.

      Well, that does put him tied for second on the team. The more I think about it. the more particular plays stand out and kind of burn in my brain and become patterns even if they aren’t, although those numbers seem to bear me out (does that make sense?)

      I’m thinking of this play late in the Boston game in particular. see the Marchant goal (i don’t know if this link will work):,2,214&fr=false

      twice the kids failed to get out of the zone; first RNH (not shown on replay) then Hall… both looked overeager and were extremely exposed… Boston didn’t hesitate to take advantage.

      Not sure why… but that image stuck with me and colors my interpretation of the road trip to some extent.

  • A-Mc

    Part of the problem is that some of these guys don’t know how to play with each other. Belanger and Paajarvi need to be better linemates. Support each other in the offensive zone and maintain possession of the puck. Scoring chances will follow.

  • A-Mc

    Also, if you look at the +/- of those top 10 give-away offenders, Only a couple are actually into the negatives.

    Gilbert -6
    Potter -3

    The rest of the guys are 0 or better.

    Our top two offense lines contribute the most Give aways. Of the two lines, you’d expect the kid line to have a disproportionate amount of give aways as compared to the Horc line, but that isn’t the case. (Kids: 35, Horcs: 34).

    Although you could argue that the Horc line sees more Ice time and therefore Give-aways per 60mins would show the kids giving away more often.

    I Guess my point is that, it looks like the oiler community has bigger fish to fry than to pick on the kids. Why are Vets turning over pucks so often? Why are half our offensive players completely inert? Why doesn’t my fridge keep itself stocked with cold beer?


  • RexLibris

    I heard a quote one time that stuck with me: statistically speaking I ought to be right 50% of the time. I’m never right at home, therefore I MUST be right at work.

    Might be worth a try employing that logic, LT. I know I have.