Should the Edmonton Oilers go after Jordin Tootoo?

Jordin Tootoo, the well-known fourth-line pest and energy guy, is going to be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Should the Oilers go after him?

The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson certainly thinks so. Here is what he had to say this past weekend about the possibility:

Jordin Tootoo is an unrestricted free-agent July 1? Do the Oilers need his energy? Yeah, they do. And Tootoo needs a change of scenery. He’s been in Nashville too long. I know The Tootoo Train sometimes goes off the rails, but he’s tempered his over-aggressiveness in the last year. Tootoo, who went through the NHL’s substance abuse program and isn’t drinking any longer, doesn’t seem to fit in Hockeytown any longer judging by only playing two playoff games, but I think he’d be a good fourth-line get-the-crowd-and-the-bench-going guy here. When he’s on his game, he can skate, shoot, disturb, fight, but it depends on the price point. He made $1.35 million this past season with the Predators.

With a reporter as connected as Matheson, it’s always an open question whether he’s speculating on his own or if he’s hinting at something that he’s heard but can’t go on the record with.

Tootoo’s not a bad player. Based on his full NHL career, he’s good for six goals per season and a little under 20 points, which isn’t terrible production for a fourth liner. He’s not a finisher by any stretch but he does take a lot of shots, as Matheson notes.

Does he bring value as an agitator? To some degree. With this sort of player, I always look at penalties drawn. An agitator having a really good year – like Patrick Kaleta in 2009 – can draw up to four times as many penalties as he takes. A fourth-liner can justify his continued NHL existence with those sorts of numbers alone.

Tootoo’s been just okay in that regard this season, but in years past he’s been excellent. Via behindthenet.ca, here are his penalties drawn relative to penalties taken. The “full season” category shows how many extra power plays Tootoo would generate for his team over a projected full season (based on his three-season average of just over 700 minutes played):

Season Ptake/60 Pdraw/60 Difference Full season
2011-12 1.0 1.2 0.2 2
2010-11 1.0 1.9 0.9 11
2009-10 0.5 2.0 1.5 18
2008-09 1.8 2.2 0.4 5
2007-08 1.4 2.0 0.6 7

Tootoo’s a fourth-liner of average talent otherwise, but in a good year his ability to draw penalties puts him over the top.

The one problem is where he fits – if the Oilers remain committed to an enforcer on the team, that means that Tootoo, Eager and the goon would take up three roster spots, and that’s just too many to spend on that sort of player. If on the other hand the Oilers opted to replace the Hordichuk/MacIntyre role with a guy like Tootoo, or to bring in someone like Zenon Konopka (a fighter who can play too) then I could see him being a solid fit.

I do have my doubts that Steve Tambellini is seriously looking at him, though. Tambellini’s been clear all down the line that he’s looking for a certain type of player, character-wise, and I’m not sure that Tootoo fits. Here’s some of what Tootoo had to say less than a month ago after being a healthy scratch for much of Nashville’s series against Detroit:

“Ultimately, I get whose decision it is, but I’ve been here in every playoff game in the past and I think right from the beginning of the series, you’re told you’re not playing and … what the (expletive)?”

“For me, (expletive), you can only get bag-skated so much and mentally it’s (expletive), it’s straining, it’s frustrating.”

“When you get shut down and told you’re not playing, it (expletive) burns. After doing everything right, it just (expletive). … I’m (ticked) off because I’m not able to do what I love to do and that’s playing the game.”

Given that the Predators were ahead three games to one in the Detroit series when Tootoo made those comments, and that he had gone minus-seven with just a single assist over the final 15 games of the year, a profanity-laced tirade to reporters probably did nothing to endear him to management.

Personally, I think too much gets made of those sorts of comments – Marek Zidlicky’s tamer statement helped get him run out of Minnesota, and he seems to be doing okay in New Jersey – but it is the sort of thing that seems like a poor fit with Tambellini’s management style.

I’d be fine with Tootoo as an Oiler. I just don’t think it’s going to happen.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

  • Oilers Coffey

    HELL YEAH!!!
    Bring in the Tootoo Train!

    Jordin is exactly the type of player that the Oilers need, He is what we thought we were getting in Eager. Skates, Hits (Everybody), Creates Energy, Knows his role to a T, Fights ANYONE.
    Ive stated and had twitter conversations with @EdmontonCritic over the course of this past season. He is exactly the type of player the Oilers need.

  • Clyde Frog

    @PlayoffBound2013

    I never said anything about his amazing fit, I questioned your attacking him as being too small. Internet Oiler Gurus have this amazing ability to classify a player based solely on their height and raise “better” players on these boards simply because they are taller.

    Tootoo is an excellent 4th line energy kid, he hits, is physical and is effective at that role. His “size” should never be a factor simply because he is very good at his role currently.

    The fallacy that finding a “bigger” player would some how make the role more effective is what is pushed around on these posts a lot. It is just that a fallacy, if a kid produces 60 points and is a + player it doesn’t matter how big he is.

    If a kid trucks people and pushes the energy level up effectively, again it should never even come up a size issue.

    Also the fact that he posted 30 points and would have been in our top 9 players production wise last season is a plus. Is it an abberation, maybe… But again ignoring talent because it didn’t hit a certain height, especially when its proven NHL talent is a JOKE.

    Its a joke when we do it with our potential draft picks, its a joke when we do it classifying potential player worth in trades and its a joke when we measure our own by it. “He potted 45 points!” Yeah, but he is only 5’10”, those weren’t real points…

    Do I want Tootoo on this team? Sure, he is effective and skilled at what he does, do I want to pay him 2.5+ to get him? Nope.

  • Truth

    Absolutely they have to take a run at Tootoo. He is the type of player the Oilers need.

    The other day Gregor(at least I think it was him) had a great comment from talking with Stu MacGregor regarding a player who they may shy away from due to the player’s penchant for crossing the line once in a while. MacGregor mentioned something along the lines of it not being such a bad thing that the guy plays with an edge.

    The Oilers need WAY more of an edge, hence the Sutton re-signing IMO. Hordichuck brings a great attitude to the role but isn’t much of a hockey player and Eager thinks he’s too much of a hockey player and doesn’t have the right attitude to be playing the role. Tootoo is the perfect mix, just a wrecking ball who knows his role and is an NHL player. Off-ice problems are off-ice problems and it seems as though he has dealt with all of them anyway.

    And I must add; God forbid he is a bear hunter.

  • RexLibris

    @truth

    MacGregor said something to the same effect in his interview with Brownlee about the draft. When asked about Henrik Samuelsson and that he plays close to, if not over the edge sometimes, MacGregor’s comment was something to the effect of “do you think that’s a bad thing?”

    I’m alright with the Oilers having a crazy train (no JFJ reference here!) on the roster. Maybe not an Ogie Oglethorpe, but at least someone that gets the opposition thinking about him rather than RNH, Hall and Eberle.

    I just don’t think we ought to spend all of our time trying to buy that when we could draft and develop it for the long-term.

  • Size is only part of a player’s ability. For the most part I feel it’s overrated. Just a little comparison here between “big” Oilers and other teams “small” forwards.

    Ryan Jones – 6’00 200-lbs 79 games played – 33 points – 42 penalty minutes. +/- -7 *119 hits

    Jordin Tootoo – 5’10 195-lbs. 77 games played – 30 points – 90 penalty minutes. +/- -5

    *151 hits

    Cal Clutterbuck – 5’11 213-lbs 74 games played – 27 points – 103 penalty minutes. +/- -4

    *208 hits

    Ben Eager – 6’2 230– lbs 63 games played – 13 points – 107 penalty minutes +/- -1

    *73 hits

    Lennart Petrell – 6’3 220-lbs 60 games played – 9 points – 45 penalty minutes +/- -10

    *122

    Personally I think the Oilers are incredibly soft team to play against!

  • PutzStew

    Size matters if smaller players are soft to begin with . When most of players also play soft , such as Oilers do often , you remain at bottom of the NHL . Losing breeds softness as well .

  • PutzStew

    JW –
    Is there any indication in his past that Eager can be anything more than a 4th liner?
    Also, how do Eager and Hordi compare to someone like Tootoo on the penalties taken vs drawn ratio?

  • Clyde Frog

    @Madjam

    Oh Madjam… Soft players are soft regardless of their size. Actually I’ll posit their size has MUCH less to do with anything over their mental/physical commitment to the game.

    For those who disagree, like the amazingly accomplished Hockey Scholar like Madjam (Who brought us such wisdom as “RNH can’t play he is too small and soft, also he can’t score because too many points are assists and came on the Powerplay!”), look at how Philadelphia ran a much larger Penguins teams show in this very playoffs.

  • Reality Check to the head

    In an ideal world we could sign Tootoo, but would also need the Big guy to support him and the rest of the Oil…my focus is on getting the big guy who can skate and punish.

  • Raider Jesse

    I want no part of Tootoo. Not only was he not good enough to play for Nashville in the playoffs, but preventing the slightest chance that some idiot starts blowing a train whistle at Oiler games like they do in Nashville makes this a no brainer.

  • misfit

    I like Tootoo. But what I don’t like, is paying $2M a year (which I could see him getting as a UFA coming off a career year) on a 4th liner who doesn’t play special teams.

    We have Ben Eager. Yeah, we could probably trade Eager (or at the very lease send him to the minors) and replace him with Tootoo and probably see an improvement. However, just like when we replaced Jacques/MacIntyre with Eager/Hordichuk, just because you’re upgrading your 4th line, it doesn’t mean it’ll result in a dramatic improvement to the overall fortunes of the team.