The Edmonton Oilers forwards and the possession war

It’s no secret that the Oilers have been losing a lot of games, and those struggles are reflected in the possession numbers of their forwards. Some – people like David Perron and Jordan Eberle – have done relatively well despite the team around them. Others have floundered badly, and some of the names on that list are extremely surprising.

The Chart

I’ll briefly explain the statistics above, all calculated using five-on-five data collected from

  • Corsi/60 is the total of all shot attempts for minus all shot attempts against when a player is on the ice, divided into average 60-minute chunks. So in David Perron’s case, in an average hour with him on the ice the opposition averages one shot attempt more against the Oilers than the Oilers manage.
  • On-ice SH% is the percent of shots the Oilers take that go in the net with a given player on the ice. So Jordan Eberle’s 10.3 percent isn’t his personal number; it’s his number plus that of all of his teammates when he’s on the ice.
  • On-ice SV% is the same as shooting percentage, except of course that this time it’s goalie performance with a given player on the ice.
  • PDO is the combination of shooting and save percentage, and typically regresses to 100 (though it tends to be a little higher for skilled players and a little lower for fourth-liners).
  • ZoneStart is the percentage of non-neutral zone shifts started in the offensive zone. Here Nail Yakupov’s 68.8 percent means he starts two shifts in the offensive zone for every defensive zone shift he starts.
  • QualComp is each player’s rank among forwards in ExtraSkater’s quality of competition ranking (based on the average TOI of the opposition players each Oilers forward has seen.

Highlights and Lowlights

Taylor Hall has been a Corsi beast for years; this season the Oilers are getting killed with him on the ice. He’s taking on the toughest matchups but clearly needs some help. Interestingly both he and Ales Hemsky have significantly better numbers when they play away from each other.

Jordan Eberle and David Perron are unsurprisingly doing quite well by these numbers, but so too are Mark Arcobello and Ryan Smyth. Arcobello, of course, has been a healthy scratch recently this season and never even got a chance last season because he’s seen as too small for a fourth-line job, while Smyth was given up for dead by many portions of the fanbase. Both guys look like solid contributors here.

Poor, poor Boyd Gordon. Not only is he facing a brutal zone start (he gets more than four defensive zone shifts for every offensive zone draw he takes) but the goalies aren’t making saves (0.865 save percentage) when he’s on the ice. His numbers here are pretty good given the context.

Less good: Dallas Eakins’ physical fourth line. The duo of Will Acton and Luke Gazdic are getting lit up by the opposition; thus far the Oilers have gotten away with it because the goalie has been making saves with that duo on the ice (0.959 save percentage for Acton, 0.982 for Gazdic) but eventually that will stop and these two will get shown for what they are. It’s particularly galling given that they’re playing terrible opponents and getting lots of time in the offensive zone.

An interesting contrast to Acton and Gazdic are Ryan Jones and Ben Eager. Jones and Eager seem less willing to provide the physical play that a guy like Gazdic does, but they’ve done a much better job (in tougher minutes, too) of not letting the opposition ragdoll them in the shots column.

Another unsurprising find: Nail Yakupov and Sam Gagner are struggling here. Yakupov’s problems in the early season are well-documented, and his Corsi numbers bear it out (and are more damning given the minutes he’s playing), while Gagner has of course been problematic since coming back from a pre-season injury.

What else stands out here?

  • 24% body fat

    oh if I could take this line from the above stat explanations and go back in time a few threads ago. See pkham, SV% IS truly a Goalie stat.

    On-ice SV% is the same as shooting percentage, except f course that this time it’s goalie performance.

  • wiseguy

    I have heard MacT and the organization are big believers/followers of analytics but is Eakins? Given a lot of the suspect coaching so far I think not. Do you know JW?

    • justDOit

      Early in the season, Eakins was asked this in a presser. He replied that he does indeed look at the adv stats, but he makes decisions based on the coaching staff’s impressions as well as the stats – not too much emphasis on either.

    • I don’t know the answer to that. His hesitancy to use Arcobello would certainly seem to suggest that if he’s using stats he’s not using these ones (or scoring chances, for that matter, where Arcobello also excels) as a key plank in his decision making.

      • I was going to look but I assume someone has done the math already and you know about it.

        Do 4th liners not usually have a lower shooting percentage than other players. ie. Could the 4th lines high onsv% not be related to the fact that they usually play 4th liners as well?

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    I have been wailing incessantly since Arco has been pulled out of the lineup!!!! I live in Calgary and the monkeys at the zoo would be able to figure out that Arco should be in the lineup. What is wrong with this picture??? I don’t get it. You need heavies on the 4th but certainly you don’t need 3 do you? Give your head a shake Eakins.

  • 24% body fat

    This team sucks. Lots to like though. Replace N Schultz, Potter, Larsen, Grebeshkov with Ekblad, Nurse, Klefbom, Fedun.

    Let them develop next season in the NHL and get there feet wet. That way everyone is ready when McDavid joins the oilers.

    Play off run in 2016.


    here come the trashes.

    Oilers fans this is our fault for continuously buying merchandise, and going to games, and giving away generous arena deals, and not holding the organization accountable for an inferior product.

    What do you do when you buy a faulty inferior piece of electronics. You take it back and demand a refund.

    Over under on Trashes +36.

      • 24% body fat

        I agree, I do think they will be an upgrade on the number 4 – 7 though. My comments went on why I thought we should do this. And that is so we get McJesus.

        The losing doesnt look like it will stop anytime soon so we might as well get a shiny new toy to tide us over.

        • At some point, I think you have to say ‘no more tanking’ and actively try to win. The Oilers have been at that point for a few years now. I think it’s pretty clear that MacTavish recognizes this, though so far his efforts haven’t worked out.

          • 24% body fat

            However they arent actively tanking, they are just losing. I believe the three rookies would be an upgrade. Two of them are big and nasty with skill. Unless Hemsky is traded for a power forward that can slot top 9 and some how a top 4 dman (a regular team top 4, not oiler top 4) than we are stuck in limbo. And seeing how the oilers top 6 forwards are not tradable according to Mac T how are we suppose to get these guys. You could move the 1st rounders, but this years is too valuable so it is too late and only an idiot would trade next years if his team sat in a lottery position like the oilers.

          • Please show us any example where throwing three rookie D into an NHL lineup was a good idea. We’ve done that here in Edmonton with forwards and it hasn’t worked out so well. Whereas if you look at most competent teams you might see one or maybe two new guys being broken in at the most. And even then they don’t get prime time for a couple of years.

            Oilers on the other hand…


          • 24% body fat

            I didnt say it was a good Idea, I said it was an upgrade. And While they are all young, Klefbom a mid first rounder has had a few years to develop, Nurse an early first has had an extra year and is ready and Ekblad is an exceptional player and more than physically mature. They are a clear upgrade over the bottom 4 guys we have now.

            And since when does this management do anything right other than the perron trade.

            Gagner was ready for the NHL period. It was not his development that held him back it was the team situation and five different coachers. Look even today on good teams the best of rookies dont produce the way he did as a barely eligible player in the league. HE was not old for his draft but extremely young. Situational not rushed.

          • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

            This is what I don’t understand about DSF’s “the Oilers could have drafted Perron” argument.

            I personally like the way they acquired Perron. If they’d drafted him, he probably wouldn’t be nearly as good as he is today.

      • Serious Gord

        true, but that seems to be the plan of attack:

        miss the playoffs this year, probably miss next year, then make the playoffs in 15-16 and contend in 16-17. The problem is that by then there will be RFA issues all over the place…