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.

  • Dominoiler

    i Dont understand the love for RNH.. Thank you Godot for reiterating the argument against RNH, without out even mentioning how slight he is.. that can change, but it will take years.. (that prob shouldnt be an issue, but in my opinion that does bring him down when compared to Larsson already being able to compete with men..)

    BPA.. the Oil still have a few more years of drafting high to fill ‘need’..

  • DSG

    On a totally different tangent… With the Barons in the lineup we actually looked more like a hockey team. Guys with size, that have varying puck skills (higher level of puck skil than JFJ, which isn’t saying much) and can skate. What stuck out was the smaller guys flying around this ice without the puck… Reddox looked effective and Cogliano looked like his usual ineffective self. Fans are begging for this team to make some decisions and it is becoming more obvious each passing game… We need to cut bait on our smaller forwards to get to a manageable level… I think that leaves Eberle and Gagner on the team… That is about it…

    Personally, I think Cogs is a terrible hockey player… Every time I watch him attempt to play hockey by skating real fast my opinion gets stronger… Seriously, I think there is a chance this guy will be out of the NHL in 3 years…. Will be an interesting summer for him.. His 1 year/1 million deal is up and I can’t see a reason why the team would resign him to a contract that is any richer… I just hope he is playing somewhere else.

  • Lowetide

    godot10: RNH’s PP production is about the same as Gagner’s in his draft season. I’m not sure we have enough evidence (over a long period) to suggest it’s disproportionate. It is compared to Taylor Hall or Sean Couturier, but is that the case over several seasons worth of lottery picks?

    I don’t know.

    Stats for above players (in terms of EV and PP percentage) is here.

    http://oilersnation.com/2011/3/15/rnh

  • DSG

    Larsson is the guy you pick if you go #1, #2 you pick Landeskog. They are the best players out there and you can’t argue with the fact the Oilers need a stud defenceman. Is it a more pressing need than a centerman? I would say they are even but you are getting a shot at a stud defenceman not a superstar centerman so you take it. RNH is a couple of years away from being NHL ready and Couturier has a skill set that isn’t matching with #1 center. Strome is going to be the best forward out of this draft in 5 years time.

  • Shapeman

    Hmmm now that I think about it I could almost see us not picking a defenseman becaus next year the top 5 is supposed to have 2 really good defenseman from the WHL in Griffin Reinhart and that other kid whose name escapes me…

  • book¡e

    RNH gets a disproportionate share of his points on the PP. At even strength he is thoroughly mediocre. His goal scoring rate at even strength is poor for a so-called elite prospect. His assist production at even strength is ordinary for a so-called elite prospect.

    Courturier, in particular, and Larsson( to a lesser degree) are suffering from the recency effect. New bright shiny things attract greater attention, and one begins to see the imperfections in things that have been around awhile.

    I’m on Team Larsson. 20-25 minute per game defensemen that can play in ALL situations are rare and beautiful things.

    Opportunities to snag a defenseman are much rarer than the opportunity to snag a centre. Centres are also much more available in the trade market.

    • The Farmer

      I dont disagree with your point of the recency effect, but how can you say centers are much more available on the trade market, outside of “Big Joe” when do the elite centers ever get moved, (Pronger has been moved twice since then)

  • JaroslavPouzar

    RNH. Full Stop. Stop the madness of suggesting we need to draft Adam Larsson.Stop the “I think we a number 1 defence” arguement. We need RNH. The arguement for drafting RNH. Nash. Has he ever had a number 1 center? No. Look at the numbers he puts up. What would they be if he had RNH or a Brad Richards giving him the puck? Hall and Eberle need a complimentary player. They need, not want, need a center who for the next 10 years will get them the puck and lead this team to playoff glory.Do we want to waste this opportunity this draft on a dman? We have been complaining for years about the lack of a number 1 center. Suddenly we fall in love with the idea that we need to get the “franchise dman”. PIttsburgh, Detroit,and Chicago won thier CUPs because they were deep at center. Yes you need the dman who can play 23-25 minutes. But last I looked Whitney was capable of producing those kind of numbers. It would be a blunder to let this opportunity pass us by. The only way I see the Oilers drafting Larsson is if they plan on another 30th place finish next season. The almost 14 thousand who watched Friday nights Red Deer vs Oil Kings game got a taste of that future. I don’t think any of them would say that RNH is not the player we should take this June. Hall and Eberle need a center. Tell me they don’t.

  • Lowetide

    JACKASS FIVE – The Oilers fifth sequel in the 1/2 decade old ring around the toilet bowl . Oiler cult fans lining up in droves for the next season of NHL hockey Oiler style ! The Spoof produced by Lowe and Directed extra ordinarily by Tambellini heads into it’s fifth season of sellouts with a cult of fans whom can’t wait for the next rendition of this classic series . Will Renney still be in charge of set direction ? Next years show may be an Oscar perfomance if they can pull off another year of sold out performances . Owner of studio of Katz Productions must be thrilled with the results his managerial and script people have made this series so popular . What new actors will be cast into next years show that will tantillate the fancy of previous spoofs ?

  • John Chambers

    It might be interesting to see what other teams picking in the top 5 feel their needs are. For example, given that The Avs have Stastny and Duchesne as their top 2 C’s, what interest do they have in the ‘Nuge if we’re poised to take Larsson.

    I was hypothesizing scenarios where we would trade for The Av’s pick, but we don’t have anything they want outside guys we’re not willing to trade.

    But, if Stu is intent on drafting a C, perhaps we swap picks with the Avs and get them to include O’Reilly or their 1st in 2012.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Build your team from the net out. Dubnyk looks like a solid option going forward. Add Larsson (who at 18 is playing the most minutes on his team in the playoffs. If that isn’t a tell on how solid he is and the confidence his coach has in him. Not to mention that he eats up Even and PK minutes something we desperately need), a healthy Whitney and another solid vet and suddenly you have a decent defense. As you pointed out LT, Hall at centre makes a lot of sense, and it allows us to draft BPA with our 2nd 1st rd pick. Add Lander to that centre core, and you can move one of Cogs or Gagner to address other needs. The cupboard is pretty much full with prospects, so hopefully this summer we see some young potential pieces moved to solidify our NHL depth, and not our AHL depth.

    I know they wouldn’t be world beaters tight now, but if this is our defense going forward, I feel pretty good about our chances to compete.

    Whitney-Larsson

    Gilbert-Smid

    Petry-Peckham

    PP – Whitney-Larsson 1st pair. Gilbert-Petry 2nd pair
    PK – Whitney-Larsson 1st pair. Smid-Peckham 2nd pair.

    Draft Larsson, add a vet or two up front, and let Dubnyk play 55 games and we will compete for a playoff spot.

  • The RNH campaigners will be out in full force the next few weeks..

    It’s too bad Edmonton can’t afford to draft and develop this kid, he’s gonna be a beauty..

    If Tambi wasn’t able to land Taylor&Tyler, or Brayden Schenn…

    Don’t expect the Oilers to magically land another top 10 pick..

    This is a 6 year plan not a race for 8th.

  • John Chambers

    We always talk best logic on this site. We try to pick the best pick, to fill the big needs. What make the best sense for the Oilers? You can not count on Lowe and Dithers to make good moves the majority of the time. For every good move we have three bad moves that move us backward.

    Unfortunately, the Oilers can not come out of their “hockey winter” with the Mr. Dither’s and the President. As fans we drink the koolaid and believe we can not sign or trade for a center that is better than Horcoff or Gagne. Money talks and bulls*@*”t walks. We have money, sign someone that can play first line, until we grow something out of the stable. We get beat night after night because Horcoff gets beat night after night. He is now a third line center. Use him there.

    We drink the koolaid and believe a quality defenceman will not sign or be acquired in a trade. That is crap too.

    So if we want to draft Larsson, do it. Don’t rush him and let him grow. In the mean time, go get a better center than Horcoff. Sign him for three years, until we are fighting for the playoff spots. If we don’t, hello 30th place again next year.

    • Lowetide

      Larsson’s previous SEL season showed he had more offense but as Woodlief says in the linked item “I see him more as a number two who’s going to eat a lot of minutes and be maybe a 40-45-point scorer.”

      He’s strong, tough and can impact the defense. His NHLE from last season was about 82gp, 5-17-22 and he might have posted similar numbers this season if not for Rundblad’s emergence.

      • Tha Legion

        So basically he wouldn’t put up Alex Pietrangelo’s offense in his prime? hmmm, I was a Couturier man, but now I’m leaning towards RNH, which suprises even me.

        • Lowetide

          No, I think he’ll post offensive numbers. However, we don’t have access to things like powerplay minutes and the majority (by percentage) of offense produced by defensemen comes with the man advantage.

          I believe Larsson played on the PP a year ago (at least some) with Skelleftea, and his numbers were slightly better than Rundblad’s.

          Rundblad in 09-10 was 47gp, 1-12-13 and Larsson was 49gp, 4-13-17. This season, Larsson was injured and (I think) didn’t get as much PP time. His numbers (37gp, 1-8-9) were dwarfed by a blossoming (and older) Rundblad who had an enormous season (55gp, 11-39-50, one of the best offensive seasons from a D in SEL history).

          I’m not saying Larsson has that offensive ability, but that his boxcars would have been way better with good health and increased PP time.

      • Meers22

        Until mid January when injures started to pile up the two greatest needs on the Oilers were the need for a top 2 defenseman, and a first line centre. Although, I do not believe, like some, that Tyler Piklick is the answer, I still think that Edmonton needs to go with a defenseman. Top defensemen are rare and hard to come by.