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.

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

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.

  • 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.

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

  • I honestly don’t see why Petry doesn’t get more PP time and less PK time. He has a pretty balanced skill set, but he’s heavily used in defensive situations. This time could probably be eaten up by Fistric or N. Schultz instead.

    I’d also say that Justin Schultz is our best powerplay d-man, not Whitney. Yes, Schultz is likely bagged, and he can’t possibly get any more powerplay time. But to say Whitney is our best powerplay defenseman is a fallacy, IMHO, and seems like you just forgot we have Justin Schultz.

    That said, I wouldn’t go trading away Ryan Whitney for the first thing we can get… but if he can address other needs, I’d still say you have to consider it. Jeff Petry or another d-man can replace the whopping 5 power play points Whitney has brought us this year.

    Ryan Whitney is hot, and that is bumping up his value and enamoring fans to him again. But after watching him struggle the past couple years and the injury problems, I’d say it’s not a bad idea to consider moving him.

    The Oilers powerplays should be largely driven by Hall, Yakupov, Nuge, Eberle, J. Schultz, and to a lesser extent Horcoff (since someone has to gain puck possession). Whitney fits in there, but I don’t think he’s an irreplaceable part.

    Edit: also of course Gagner and Hemsky key players on the PP too

  • The question regarding Whitney then becomes how much of the PP succeeding is because of him and how much is it because of plain old luck?

    For instance, the puck is going in with Whitney on the ice, but the Oilers aren’t generating a heck of a lot of shots, nor is Whitney contributing many points on the PP (right now he’s 8th on the team in PPP/60). He’s also benefitted from a 26.67 shooting % while he’s on the ice.

    So is this just a hot shooting phase while Whitney is on the ice or is it something more?

    I don’t disagree that, right now, he’s one of the 2 best D options for the Oilers PP… but I’m not sure I agree with your sentiment that the Oilers have to keep him because of that. You have to counter that with the fact that he’s still bleeding a lot at ES.

  • StHenriOilBomb

    6 of 10… not too horrible. Should have had Clarke. Didn’t remember Stasney as a Devil. Delvecchio scored 1100?!? I guess that’s what a 25 year career will do.

  • I think the argument for trading Whitney is about not losing a player for nothing. True a second round pick might turn out to be nothing in four years. But relying on Whitney to get better, or any one on the team for that matter seems like a bad way to run a team. Especially after so long of a wait.

    Also, as the season goes on, don’t the whistles get put away? Thus negating Whitney’s effectiveness due to less penalties?

    I mean how effective is a guy who is leaky defensively, bu happens to play half a power play each night?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!)

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    the player you want is the one LT and Zona were pointing to last Summer:

    http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=77829

    http://www.capgeek.com/player/1135

    http://www.behindthenet.ca/nhl_statistics.php?ds=30&s=32&f1=2012_s&f2=5v5&f4=C+LW+RW&f5=ANA&c=0+1+3+5+4+6+7+8+13+14+29+30+32+33+34+45+46+63+67

    He’d look pretty effing amazing on that 3rd line right now with RNH and Ebs. Huge upgrade on Jones and it would give Hartikainen time to ripen in OKC

    But such a player really isn’t done any justice by being associated with Brown… apples and oranges.

    Klefbom needs a whole year in OKC with minor exceptions for injury call ups. Any push to rush him should be taken as a sign the mgt. is still not ready to be given the keys to the car.

  • A-Mc

    That’s why i say a Brown type but for the 3rd line. 3rd line players make atleast a 1M jump over 4th liners.

    It’s too bad Klefbom got hurt. I’m really curious what he will bring to the team. I’ve heard people say his ceiling is quite high (2-4), but then i’ve also heard that he’s likely a solid 5/6 guy over his career. These statements contradict each other, so i’d like to see him for myself.

    I hope he’s atleast healthy for Training camp next year. And i definitely want him playing in OKC at the minimum – he’s too far from watchful eyes over there in europe.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    I think Peckham is going to be worth a lot more than a Brown-type on the market, even sidelined as he’s been.

    The question over the next couple of weeks will be Fistric and Peckham: who gets signed, who gets shipped out.

    My guess is both Whitney and Peckham are out by the deadline. Fistric is signed and the team stunts Klefbom by rushing him into the NHL, or picks up a D in the off season.

  • A-Mc

    It’s suspicious how all of Peckham’s injuries linger so long, while he conveniently sits on IR.

    I think the team is pulling some BS there, so they can keep an extra man on the roster because they don’t see value in peckham but can’t send him to OKC with out losing him.

    I think if there are any trades for the Oilers this trade deadline, they are going to move Peckham. The guy can’t grow if he never plays and he does the organization no good by taking a roster spot and costs money.

    I could see a Peckham + Pick for another Brown but w/ a tad more skill so he can slot into the 3rd line