By the time the calendar turned over to December, Taylor Hall was starting to find the range. The tremendous start by Justin Schultz should have been fading and the machine that is Jordan Eberle could certainly be excused for flagging. What DOES the December scoring in OKC reveal?
THE TOP DRAWER
- Jordan Eberle 8, 7-6-13 (1.625ppg) 22 shots (2.75 per game)
- Justin Schultz 8, 5-4-9 (1.125ppg) 20 shots (2.5 per game)
- Taylor Hall 8, 4-4-8 (1.00ppg) 31 shots (3.875 per game)
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (did not play in December)
- Yann Danis 6, 2.49 .925
Eberle’s hot start gave way to a watershed month that has him at the top of the AHL scoring race (along with Schultz). Schultz has slowed a little, but is thus far enjoying a "season for the ages" as a rookie defenseman in pro hockey. Both players have shattered what we might expect for them this season, and both are 10 points ahead of the nearest competitor in the scoring race.
Taylor Hall has his timing back, and the points are coming. However, that shots on goal total suggests we’ll see more offense in the coming months and that Hall is once again pushing the river. The Nuge is in Ufa, but will no doubt return to the Barons in the new year (barring a CBA).
Yann Danis has returned to the MVP form of one year ago and could end up seeing NHL action if the lockout ends in January.
THE MIDDLE DRAWER
- Mark Arcobello 8, 2-8-10 (1.25ppg) 22 shots (2.75 per game)
- Magnus Paajarvi 8, 2-3-5 (.625ppg) 19 shots (2.38 per game)
- Chris VandeVelde 8, 0-4-4 (.500ppg) 7 shots (.875 per game)
- Teemu Hartikainen 8, 2-1-3 (.375ppg) 12 shots (1.5 per game)
- Martin Marincin 7, 0-2-2 (.286ppg) 13 shots (1.86 per game)
- Josh Green 8, 0-2-2 (.250ppg) 9 shots (1.125 per game)
- Taylor Fedun 7, 0-1-1 (.143ppg) 10 shots (1.43 per game)
Arcobello jumped onto the top line when RNH flew to Edmonton, and he’s settled in as a productive member of the group. Paajarvi is doing a little better as the season wears on, perhaps making that battle for an NHL roster spot a little tougher for the Oilers to figure out (I felt–and feel–Hartikainen has earned a job).
Chris VandeVelde is imo clearly established as the first center called up, moving ahead of Lander and House on the depth chart. Hartikainen has struggled a little, but there’s nothing a good game couldn’t cure and he’s also been moved off the scoring lines recently. Martin Marincin has had a tough month but we should expect that, and Taylor Fedun has improved his play over the last month but its in defensive area and not reflected in the stats.
Josh Green has been injured, so his disappointing December is likely to be followed by a strong Jan/Feb.
THE BOTTOM DRAWER
- Anton Lander 8, 1-3-4 (.5 ppg) 7 shots (.875 per game)
- Nathan Deck 8, 0-3-3 (.375ppg) 7 shots (.875 per game)
- Tanner House 4, 1-1-2 (.5ppg) 3 shots (.750 per game)
- Colten Teubert 8, 1-2-3 (.375ppg) 6 shots (.75 per game)
- Jordan Henry 6, 0-2-2 (.333ppg) 10 shots (1.667 per game)
- Tyler Pitlick 7, 1-0-1 (.143ppg) 8 shots (1.14 per game)
- Curtis Hamilton 8, 0-1-1 (.125ppg) 8 shots (1 per game)
- Dane Byers 8, 0-0-0 (nil) 11 shots (1.38 per game)
- Alex Plante 4, 0-0-0 (nil) 2 shots (.50 per game)
- Phil Cornet 4, 0-0-0 (nil) 4 shots (1 per game)
- Ryan Martindale 1, 0-0-0 (nil) 1 shot (1 per game)
- Olivier Roy 2, 3.02 .898
Lander has recovered some this month, getting a goal and three helpers–most coming after he got a push up the depth chart. Nathan Deck has been outstanding alongside Justin Schultz, and the future will tell us how much is Deck and how much is the opportunity to play with JS.
House and Teubert are improving as the season wears on, Pitlick and Hamilton are still waiting for the engine to turn over and Dane Byers and Alex Plante are having a tough time. Roy hasn’t played much, he’s been slightly better of late.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
The top drawer is full of goodies and they remain fresh and productive. The middle drawer has some nice things, with Paajarvi and Arcobello trending and perhaps Marincin and Hartikainen flagging towards Christmas.
The bottom drawer remains a bit of a junk drawer, with Pitlick, Hamilton and Roy struggling. However, Anton Lander and the "came out of nowhere" Nathan Deck have a chance to move up a drawer if they continue to play at this level.
Merry Christmas, everyone! We’ll talk again on Boxing Day about the WJ’s and Team Canada. All the best, LT.
(some photos in this article courtesy Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved).