GDB 29.0: SHARK HUNTING…UPDATE RNH OUT

Breaking News: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is sick and will not play tonight…Rishaug just reported from the rink. So Oilers will have to dress two non-centres tonight. Ouch.

After a gutsy third period got them a win over Nashville on Sunday, the Oilers need to attack the struggling San Jose Sharks early tonight and get them on their heels. The Sharks have been one of the worst teams in the league since February 1st.

The Sharks are a woeful 5-10-6 after starting the season with seven straight wins. The Sharks outscored their opponents 27-12 in their first 7 games, but they’ve been outscored 59-36 in their last 21.

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They Sharks are struggling and if the Oilers want to stay in the playoff hunt tonight is a game they need to win.

The Sharks don’t have any offensive depth. Joe Thornton (27), Patrick Marleau (23), Logan Couture (21) and Joe Pavelski (17) are the only forwards with more than ten points.

The Oilers have way more scoring depth. Sam Gagner (27), Taylor Hall (26), Jordan Eberle (20), Ales Hemsky (17), Nail Yakupov (14) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (11) are in double-digits, while Magnus Paajarvi has 6 points in his last 8 games.

The Sharks are ahead of the Oilers in the standings, but right now they are not playing like a superior team.

LINEUP

Hall/Horcoff/Hemsky
Paajarvi/Gagner/Yakupov
Jones/Nugent-Hopkins/Eberle
Brown/Smyth/Petrell

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Smid/Petry
Whitney/J.Schultz
N.Schultz/Fistric

Dubnyk

The only change might be Hartikainen coming in for Jones, but after listening to Ralph Krueger yesterday I think he’ll stick with Jones. Jones couldn’t do any activity for the entire month of January, due to his eye injury, and that hurt his conditioning. Krueger feels Jones is getting better every day and feels the extra time between games has allowed him to improve his cardio. It sounds like he wants to give him a few more games and see if the improved conditioning will help Jones.

TRADING WHITNEY

The Oilers are in the midst of their first playoff run in four years and yesterday Jonathan Willis and David Staples suggested it would be wise to trade Ryan Whitney. Let’s look at this a little closer.

There is no doubt Whitney struggled early this season, but lately he has played better, especially offensively.  After the nine-game road trip, where Whitney scored three goals, he admitted that despite his offence coming around he still needed to work on his gaps and his overall defensive game. No one is arguing he can’t improve there.

He’ll never be considered a great defensive D-man, however, he does excel on the powerplay and that is why trading Whitney at this point of the season would be a step backwards.

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  • 37% of the Oilers goals have come on the powerplay. They rely on their PP more than any other team in the NHL, and Whitney is the best PP D-man they have. The Oilers have no adequate replacement on the roster, and considering they rely that much on the PP to score, I don’t see why you would risk trading away your best PP D-man while you are at the start of a playoff run.
     
  • Staples ad Willis suggested Corey Potter could fill in. The same Potter who has 0 points this year. First off he shoots right, and the Oilers 2nd PP unit is set up so a left shooting D-man quarterbacks the powerplay. So, outside of replacing Whitney with an inferior PP player, you are now going to adjust their system, even though the Oilers PP has been very effective at 22.9%. I say, pardon.
     
  • Staples suggested Potter was great on the PP early last season, but then he lost PP time to Whitney. Let’s look at that. 
Player  Team Pos  GP  PP TOI PP TOI/G 
 
Corey Potter EDM D 62 153:24:00 2:28
Ryan Whitney EDM D 51 115:02:00 2:15
Jeff Petry EDM D 73 93:26:00 1:16
Cam Barker EDM D 25 58:01:00 2:19
  • In fact, Potter averaged more PPTOI/G and he had 38:36 more PP time all season. Potter finished with 11 PPP, while Whitney had 10. Potter had six of his PPP in the first 9 games of the season, and then produced only 5 in the remaining 57. He had a great start to the season, but I don’t think we should use a good nine-game stretch as the basis that Potter is an above-average PP player. 
     
  • In the 21 games Whitney has played this season the PP is 21 for 78, 26.9%. Whitney has been on the ice for ten of those goals and has five points. In the 7 games he sat, the PP was 4 for 31 at 12.9%.
     
  • In the six games Potter played while Whitney sat, Potter played 11:48 on the PP scoring no points and he was on for one PP goal. He averaged 1:58 of PP time in those games, while Whitney plays 2:38.
     
  • It is clear that Whitney has a much bigger impact on the PP than Potter. 
     
  • Whitney is even better than Justin Schultz when you look at PP time=production. Whitney has played 55 minutes of PP TOI and he’s been on the ice for 10 PP goals. Schultz has 155 minutes of PP TOI and he’s been on for 15 goals. Schultz is a rookie and he’s already a very good PP player, and I expect he’ll be even better in the future, but right now Whitney is still more productive.
     
  • Unless you believe the Oilers are suddenly going to become a productive ES team, I see no reason why you trade Whitney. The organization wants their young players to experience "playoff-like" games, and if they want that to happen they should keep Whitney because he helps the PP. And right now the Oilers can’t win without a successful powerplay.
     
  • The other suggestion was that you could replace Whitney with Jeff Petry. Petry is already playing 22 minutes a night, and he isn’t dominating. Adding more minutes and giving him less rest won’t make him play better, nor will it make the PP more effective.
     
  • Trading him for a draft pick is pointless, absolutely pointless, at this juncture of the season. The Oilers need to play meaningful games, and stay competitive now, rather than add another 2nd round pick that might, slim chance, help them in four years.
     
  • It is clear Whitney is very good on the PP, and considering how much production they need from their PP to win games, it makes little sense to move Whitney him. The Oilers do not have an adequate replacement. If the Oilers are out of it after the next seven games, then for sure you look at moving him, but if they are in the mix I wouldn’t move him for a draft pick.

 QUICK HITS

  • Last night Daniel Alfredsson become only the 57th player in NHL history to record 1,100 career regular season points. He is also one of the rare players who had his best offensive season between the age of 30-35. He had 78 points at 30 years of age, 80 at 31, lockout at 32, 103 at 33, 87 at 34 and 89 points as a 35-year-old. Impressive.
     
  • He’s likely to become only the 11th player with 1,100+ points to play for only one team/organization for his entire career. Can you name the other ten? *Answer below.
     
  • The Columbus Blue Jackets are 7-0-4 in their last 11 games and are now tied for 8th place. They only way they keep winning is if Sergei Bobrovsky keeps standing on his head. The Jackets were outshot in 9 of the 11 games, by a margin of 297 to 362. They are giving up 33 shots against in this unbeaten streak. They also played 9 of those games at home and a whopping nine of them went to OT.  They were 3-2 in SO and 2-2 in OT. It is great for fans in Columbus to have their team in the hunt, but they will need to tighten up defensively to stay competitive. Bobrovsky has a .966 SV% in their last nine games. Incredible.
     
  • The Oilers had almost a perfect last few days, and they didn’t even play. There were no 3-point games involving teams in the playoff hunt, and the Sharks, Predators, Flames, and Coyotes (twice) all lost. Now it is up to the Oilers to win.
     
  • Carey Price is getting a lot of hype for the Vezina, and deservedly so, but Tukka Rask has been stellar with for the Bruins with a 1.92 GAA and 0.928 SV%. If Bobrovsky continues his stellar play he’d have to be considered.  

PREDICTIONS….

 

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers score three minutes in, and skate away with a 4-2 win led by two goals from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Devan Dubnyk is much better in the first frame tonight than he was when the Sharks lit him up for six goals in 20 minutes in the home opener. (Easiest prediction ever.)

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: With only one goal in his last 20 games, Nail Yakupov is the second one on the ice for warm up. As he is circling the ice he stops at the top of the right faceoff circle and motions to Paajarvi to come over. Paajarvi stops and after a brief moment, he smiles and laughs. Yakupov looks at him seriously and then Paajarvi mouths something to him. Yakupov smiles and says something back, then he skates away. Paajarvi looks a bit perplexed, but then continues his warm up.

Yakupov scores a PP goal in the 2nd period, and after the game he explains the what happened during warm up. It turns out Russian are very superstitious. Yakupov asked Paajarvi to say, "ни пуха ни пера!" which roughly translates to "neither fur, nor feather!" which means good luck.  Then Yakupov replied, "К чёрту!" which means, "To the Devil," which is a way of securing good luck. Yakupov explains Russians do this before important tests, and since he tonight was considered a "good test" for the Oilers he thought he’d try it. 

TRIVIA ANSWER

** Daniel Alfredsson is now the 11th player in NHL history to play for only one team/organization and score 1,100 points.

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Alfredsson sits 57th all-time in scoring with 1,100 points. Senators
Mike Bossy:            52nd with 1,126. Islanders
Nicklas Lidstrom:  50th with 1,142. Red Wings.
Bobby Clarke:         42nd with 1,210. Flyers
Jean Beliveau:       39th with 1,219. Canadiens.
Alex Delvecchio:    33rd with 1,281. Red Wings.
Gilbert Perreault:   32nd with 1,326. Sabres.
Stan Mikita:             14th with 1,467. Blackhawks
Joe Sakic:               9th with 1,641. Nordiques/Avalanche
Mario Lemieux:      7th with 1,723. Penguins
Steve Yzerman:      6th with 1,755. Red Wings. 

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR


  • TayLordBalls

    while I am not an expert, it seems to me that most major injury takes 3-4 months playing time, for the player to get back to previous strengths.

    Whitney is just coming around now and is an asset, not a liability.

  • No Fistric? nooooooooooooooooooooooo!

    I get that Krueger doesn’t want guys sitting for too long, but I also don’t care.

    Fistric hasn’t been nearly as slow as his reputation. He’s quick enough to get there for the hits.

    His defensive game is good.
    He leads the team in +/-.
    And when he starts hitting, it seems the rest of the team follows.

    Potter on the other hand… fail.

  • The only issue for Whitney on the PP is…the Oilers generate the least amount of shots per hour when he’s on the ice of any other PP option on the team (25.2/60). To put that in perspective, the worst PP shot rate in the league is this year is 38.3/60.

    The reason he has decent PP point total is the Oilers have scored on over 26% of their shots at 5on4 with him on the ice. Really, really effective units score on about 15% of their shots long-term and the league average is about 12%.

    Now, you can assign that sky high conversion rate to something Whitney does, but that would make him the most effective PP quarterback in the league by a very wide margin. In reality, he’s probably been fortunate, particularly since the team doesn’t generate a high volume of shots when he’s out there.

    I don’t know if Potter or Petry would be better in his stead though. This year no one other than Schultz has spent enough time on the PP to make a meaningful comparison.

    • Jason Gregor

      If you only ever go off stats, rather than combine them with watching actual games and seeing how much better he moves the puck than guys like Potter or Petry, you come up with explanations like this.

      League average has nothing to do with this. The Oilers PP is good, and it would be asinine to move a player, for a pick, because you are worried about their SH% dropping.

      Whitney is much better at moving the puck than either Petry or Potter. That allows the Oilers quicker movement on the PP. It is a big advantage.

      And tell me why trading him for a 2nd round pick, which has a 15-20% of working out makes sense.

      • Truth

        “And tell me why trading him for a 2nd round pick, which has a 15-20% of working out makes sense.”

        I’ll take a crack at it, however I am no stats/odds expert.

        Bodog currently has the Oilers odds for a Stanley Cup at 50/1, or 2%. Say 10/1 of that is their margin, leaving 40/1, or a 2.5% chance that the Oilers win the cup this year. If the Oilers lose Whitney from the lineup for the rest of the year I would argue that the 2.5% chance does not get cut by any significant amount. At 2.5%, who cares, they aren’t doing it this year with or without Whitney.

        I would rather see Whitney shipped away for a 15-20% chance of acquiring an NHL player than to be kept on the roster to the end of the year and lost to free agency for nothing. It is true that Whitney is on a nice run at the moment, but what happens when he returns to the form he was in at the beginning of this season? He ends up not in the lineup and the Oilers get nothing in return.

        I don’t think the odds for picks developing into players in the later rounds would be worth it, however. If Whitney makes that much of a difference to a team, as you are alluding to, a team (such as Pitt, who are being given a 5/1 shot at the cup) would be more than willing to offer something of value for his services in the playoffs this year alone.

        Of course, a trade for an actual NHL player would be best. But losing him for nothing is inexcusable at this point in the Oilers rebuild.

        Edit: I apologize, I didn’t see that you replied to me prior to me posting this. But, yes I am fully assuming the Oilers are not re-signing Whitney. Stafford for Whitney just an example of something the Oilers should try to acquire, throw in a pick.

  • Truth

    I think the key point is missed on the Whitney trade item. Whitney is a free agent in the off-season and is likely not to be re-signed prior to going to market.

    Also, last place Colorado is 4 pts lower than the Oilers and 6 out of a playoff position, and Calgary is 2 pts lower than the Oilers and 4 pts out of a playoff position with 1 game in hand on the Oil. Everyone is in a playoff race.

    Losing Whitney to free agency for nothing in return is horrible asset management. Does anyone believe the Oilers are going to win the cup this year with Ryan Whitney? How much do the odds change when Whitney is removed?

    It would not be worth it to trade him for a pick outside of the first round. However, if the Oilers could possibly get a 1st for him or a legitimate hockey player in return they do it.

    I realize fantasy trade proposals are often just that, but I would like to see Whitney be moved for a player like Drew Stafford out of Buffalo.

  • ghostofberanek

    Hey all, long time reader of Oilersnation, and finally decided to sign up and chime in.
    I really don’t think trading Whitney is a good move right now, the Oil simply won’t get enough for him to make it worth it. Also, why all the talk of trading Gagner? He’s our first point-a-game center since Doug Weight (if I’m not mistaken) who’s still years away from his prime. He’s small, but if he produces, then so what?

  • Unless the Oilers are going to re-sign Whitney then they HAVE to trade him. Yes, its nice that they are in a playoff race but Whitney has been good (better) for 2 weeks. He could go back to being a complete liability as soon as this little warm streak ends.

    If he walks for nothing then all the Oilers get out of keeping him is 20 games of mediocre hockey. This is being touted as a very deep Draft year. A 2nd round pick is a good return and with so many teams bunched up I doubt there will be many sellers. The Oilers could potentially get VERY good value for Whitney.

    Will not having Whitney in the lineup really negatively affect the team? Maybe, but he wont be here next year so they better learn how to play without him now.

    • Jason Gregor

      He could just as easily continue to play well, since he’s coming off an injury.

      And deep draft, deep schmaft…The 2nd round pick, might, big might, be a player in four years. The Oilers need to compete now, and stop hoping for more kids to help them.

      Go look at teams that continually lose…they trade away NHL players for picks, and never get better.

      • Ducey

        And deep draft, deep schmaft…The 2nd round pick, might, big might, be a player in four years. The Oilers need to compete now, and stop hoping for more kids to help them.

        Go look at teams that continually lose…they trade away NHL players for picks, and never get better.

        Great teams trade away NHL players for picks all the time!!

        In June Philly traded Bobrosky to CLB for three picks, ANA traded Vishnovsky to NYI for a pick. In July STL trade Crombeen for two picks. Recently, Dallas traded EDM Fistric for a third.

        Last Feb WPG traded Oduya for two picks. CHI traded Scott for a pick, Buffalo traded Gaustad for a first round pick, DET traded Mike Commodore for a conditional pick.

        The Oilers have a surplus of 5/6 Dmen. Trade the one you can.

        The second round pick the Oilers could get might be the player that puts them over the top in 2 or 3 years.

          • Sure, and then we look back and shake our heads at them for getting nothing.

            If the Oilers keep Whitney but miss the Playoffs by 1 point OR keep Whitney but he lands back in the dog house during the stretch then what was the point?

            He was a healthy scratch 6/7 defenseman all year until the last 2 weeks. Getting a pick in the top 60 for him would be an excellent value.

          • Jason Gregor

            All what ifs…just like the draft pick…And it isn’t excellent value, it is 15-20% potential of something…I don’t deem that excellent, you do. Fine.

          • Jason, that draft pick is 15-20% potential of something. What the Oilers get on July 1 when Whitney signs for another club is guaranteed 100% going to be nothing.

            Conversely they could get a prospect who is more of a known commodity or choose to re-sign Whitney themselves.

            In any of those scenarios the Oilers Franchise ends up ahead of what happens when they let someone walk for nothing.

          • Bucknuck

            What they get for the next 20 games is a proven d-man who is improving daily. This translates to a better shot at the playoffs and provides the kids with a legitimate vote of confidence.

            Those things are worth more than a 15% chance at 3rd pairing d-man in 4 or 5 years.

          • Bucknuck

            Holy Crap, Arch. I DISAGREE With you. Mark it on the calendar because it doesn’t happen very often.

            To me, losing Whitney for nothing is ok as long as they have a shot at the playoffs. It will be worth that pick (magic beans) to have a shot at Lord Stanley.

            For example. Look at the Ryan Smyth Trade.

            Nisson – gone
            O’Marra – crap
            1st rnd pick – Riley Nash – gone.

            I think they might have been able to sign Ryan Smyth to a contract if they would have shown a little faith. And they may have made the playoffs.

            Sometimes it takes balls to hang on to an impending UFA. I am curious to see if Tambellini has any. I know Lowe does.

          • RexLibris

            I’m with you. If Whitney would net a 2nd round pick I’d make that deal.

            Partially because I think that the Oilers need to restock their prospect cupboard. Pitlick and Hamilton are nearing their best-before date, Rieder, Bigos, Musil and Gernat are all needing contracts. This is the best time to stock up and let those picks mature gradually.

            There is also the outside chance that they could trade two or three 2nd round picks for a late 1st.

          • outdoorzguy

            There is nobody in the organization who has the skill, the ability or the authority to do any of these things like trades, signings or anything to improve this team. I’m afraid this management team will do something stupid last minute and trade Gagner who really has been our best player for something like a fifth round pick.

          • outdoorzguy

            Nope. Timid Tambellini has the skill level to pull that trade off..if he gets permission from Loser Lowe, who might have to call Katz in Vancouver. Does Katz know we played tonight?

          • DSF

            What are the chances that Whitney plays well enough to get the Oilers into the playoffs?

            Considering their chances right now are about 19.8 percent WITH Whitney, I wouldn’t think they’d be significantly different without him.

            If the Oilers plan to re-sign him (which would be a big mistake in my opinion) then, keep him for the rest of the season.

            If not, see ya later.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        “The Oilers need NHL players.”

        They’ve been parading out supposed NHL players all along during these last 3 yrs Jason. These 1st,2nd and 3rd yr NHLers happen to already far better the the alledged veteran core. Let these kids blaze their own path. The current group of supposed veteran leadership have never accomplished anything before worthy of emulating.

        Deadwood out, and another 18 yr old in, is a step in the right direction. Screw bringing in overpaid/underachieving UFA veterans. Target kids near/at the end of their ELCs. The price may be a little high, but atleast they don’t come with built in cap concerns.

  • 106 and 106

    Let me be the FIST to say Whitney has served his time admirably as an Oiler and the two points tonight are the biggest ones yet! Fire it up BOYS!

    (PS: First FIST, super-pumped!)

  • Chilly Canadian

    Thank you for defending Whitney! He’s been doing much better lately. Going to my first Oilers game this year tonight, can’t wait!

    GDP: Oil win off the back of Hallsy, 5-3
    OGDP: Rishaug gets Thornton going with a pre-game interview
    NSOGDP: Mike Brown gets his first Gordie Howe Hat-trick, with a fight in the first, an assist in the second, and an insurance goal in the third. After the game, reports come from OKC of Ben Eager weeping in the corner of his hotel room.

    • Oilfred

      Looking at the draft class and the prospect pool of the team, I’d say you’re right about any or the UFA’s they don’t sign.

      This could be the “Watershed” draft that LT’s aways talking about.

  • Bucknuck

    If Sam Gagner plays 13 more seasons with the Oilers (up to age 36) and averages 60 pts a season, he will break the 1000 pts mark.

    It just shows what an impressive accomplishment that Alfredsson has acheived.

  • justDOit

    When you combine the years of losing (and losing horribly), with the sniff of opportunity this season and the approaching trade deadline, and then factor in all the sideways opinions of rabid fans, you really need to be wary of falling victim to the Dopeler effect – which is the tendency of stupid ideas to appear smarter when they come at you rapidly.

  • Truth

    Gregor, why can’t Whitney be dealt for a pick to a playoff team and that pick (and other picks and prospects) get dealt for a better, younger NHL player from a seller at the deadline who would be here going forward?

    • Jason Gregor

      You are moving him with the hope you get someting. That is risky. Also, I don’t see many teams trading young players for picks at the deadline. Usually deadline deals, involve proven player for picks.

      Of course if a great deal turns up that results in the Oilers getting a player that can help, then I’d deal Whitney. But realistically I expect his return to be picks and prospects that won’t help them stay in the playoff race this year.

      • Ducey

        The Oilers have 28 points with 20 games left. So, that would mean 13 wins and a shootout or OT loss to get to 55 points.

        They are very unlikely to make the playoffs and 13 games of Whitney won’t make much difference anyway.

        Trade him.

        • Ducey

          Don’t fall in love with point targets. Other than Chicago & Anaheim, there appears to be an incredible amount of parity in the West. It might continue or some teams might get hot and separate themselves. The Oilers have as good a chance as others if only they can get hot at home and catch a few breaks.

  • geoilersgist

    I don’t understand why all the Whitney hate. The guy came off a big surgery and looks by eye to be rounding into a comfortable/confident game.

    Hopefully the boys can pull out a win here and turn it into a 4game streak. Just win in regulation tonight thats all they need.

  • StHenriOilBomb

    Here are my guesses: Lemieux, Yzerman, Sakic, Beliveau, Richard, Stasney, Bossy Lidstrom, Esposito (did he play anywhere other than Chi?), Brind’Amour (Hartford/Carolina only?)… can’t think of any others… Probably another Hab in there…

    now to look at the answers…

    • 2004Z06

      Esposito plated for the Bruins and the Rangers, Brind’Amour played for St Louis and Philly and I think Stasney played for New Jersey as well as Nordiques.