Michal Handzus is not the answer. He isn’t close to the answer. The answer doesn’t take his calls.

Sportsnet’s Mark Spector had an article up on Thursday (h/t Lowetide) in which he considered the Oilers’ off-season plans through the lens of a discussion with Craig MacTavish. It’s a good piece, but the suggested additions range from the adequate to the truly horrifying.

In the last category is Michal Handzus.

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Spector:

Up front they require help at first- or second-line centre, but that’s an unlikely prospect. A more reasonable hope would be some second- or third-line size, like a Daniel Winnik or perhaps a Michal Handzus.

Let’s talk a little about the season Handzus just had.

WOWY

Common
Linemates
Minutes Corsi Together Corsi Apart Difference
Patrick Kane 310 50.9% 56.9% -6.0%
Kris Versteeg 259 53.3% 54.7% -1.4%
Brent Seabrook 234 54.0% 57.3% -3.3%
Duncan Keith 230 55.1% 56.9% -1.8%
Patrick Sharp 217 53.0% 58.2% -5.2%
Niklas Hjalmarsson 207 50.6% 53.8% -3.2%
Nick Leddy 200 53.1% 57.8% -4.7%
Johnny Oduya 199 45.1% 54.4% -9.3%
Brandon Saad 107 55.2% 58.0% -2.8%
Sheldon Brookbank 102 43.2% 53.4% -10.2%

The above chart shows the 10 players who spent the most time with Michal Handzus last year, as well as their Corsi percentage with him and without him. Every one of them was better apart.

The Rest of It

Craig MacTavish10

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Some of what we’re seeing above is the Jonathan Toews effect, but not nearly enough of it can be blamed on looking bad in the shadow of a superstar.

Handuzs ranked 10th among the Blackhawks’ regular forwards in Quality of Competition. He started more than 60 percent of his non-neutral zone shifts in the offensive end of the rink. Despite this, and despite playing regularly with Patrick Kane, he had one of the worst Corsi numbers on the team. Even that was better than the playoffs, where the exceptional Blackhawks were out-shot by a brutal 112-62 margin with Handzus on the ice.

Handzus’ scoring has also all but disappeared. He had four goals this year; he’s had six in his last 98 regular season games. At 37 years of age, it’s not likely that his scoring is about to reappear, either.

Where’s the upside here? Are the Oilers so arrogant as to believe that they can find a scoring touch in a player who couldn’t light the lamp with Patrick Kane on his wing? Do they think that a guy who got hammered on the Blackhawks in pretty much every statistical category is going to recover in Edmonton?

The Good News

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

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    • Zarny

      Puff, puff, give man; don’t bogart that J. It sounds like primo sh*t if you think there is a reality where Phx parts with OEL for a collection of maybes.

      This isn’t NHL 14. Volume doesn’t compensate for quality.

      If, and it’s a ginormous IF, Phx or any team trades arguably a top 10 D in the league it will cost Edmonton a core component like Eberle or at the very least Yakupov plus the 3rd overall this year and/or the 2015 1st round pick.

  • With the potential trades going in for Spezza, the Oilers could easily put together a better package of a player, a prospect, and a pick. Reports are saying from the ducks guys like Bonino or Cogliano? Pffttttt. I think Edmonton could do better.

    Gagner, Marincin, 2015 2nd rounder.

    Then resign Hemsky and go grab either Heatly or Penner for your third line. Draft Draisaitl and give Yak some soft minutes on the third line.

    Hall, Nuge, Ebs

    Perron Spezza Hemsky

    Penner Draisaitl Yak

    Hendricks Gordon Pinnizotto

    There. The average size of the team just took a huge leap forward. The team has three scoring lines with a great mix of vets and young skill. The top two lines could both really be a first line on almost any NHL team. And the pressure comes of Yak and our new shinny pick which both get some sheltered minutes on the 3rd line.

    Sure the Defence is still miserable, but this is going to be a year where Mac T can fix the forwards or the defence, not both. And really what our defence needs most is time for our prospects to develop, so you might as well fix the forwards.

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    Nicholson is the perfect addition to the management team.

    Ramsey is the perfect addition to the coaching staff.

    Marchand and Kulemin would be the perfect additions to the third line.

    • PutzStew

      Lets get one thing straight. Nicholson was not brought in to make this a winning team. If the powers that be wanted this team to be a winner, then Lowe would be gone, Bucky and Smith would be gone, They would have brought in a way more qualifies person to be GM intend of MacT, MacT would still be TSN, Atkins would be wrecking another team, Smyth would have been forced to retire at least one year earlier and Edmonton Tax payers would not be on the hook to help line Katz pockets for the next 35 plus years.

      Nicholson did one thing very, very well with Hockey Canada. He turned a none profit entity into an extremely profitable source of income for many. That is why he was hired. To make more money. No other reason. It is all about money. Don let yourself be fooled.

      • Serious Gord

        Add to that that Nicholson is the pent ultimate Fokker acquisition – he is Katz and Lowe (and laforges) biggest friend in hockey canada. His hiring is the biggest addition to the Katz playground. And he will only protect Lowe and laforge – not move to replace them.

        And he is the second of two 61 year old hires in a row. Difficult to see how they will reinvent and rejuvenate at this stage of their careers.

        • BlazingSaitls

          60 is the new 50, lol. The human-brain is a miraculous thing. Barring any ailments we can learn till the very end. We should all be so lucky to be active in a job one loves. Harper will raise retirement to 67-70 yrs soon so might as well do something you love 🙂

          Quit being ageist dude. I felt this news was anti-climactic but its far from bad.

    • Harry2

      Why do yu continue to add better players to edms roster than they currntly have and proceed to bury them on the 3rd line?

      Marchand wouls instantly be our new #2 RW. Get a grip

    • paul wodehouse

      Nicholson is named vice chairman of Entertainment for OEG…he’s the one who’s gonna hire the new DJ so Oiler fan dancing can follow and dominate

    • A-Mc

      Yes- bold moves like these will for sure end up with us BOLDLY out of the playoff mix for another year and selecting in the top 5 again next year. This latest Katz hire is just another one of Lowe’s buddy’s with a great resume with Hockey Canada.
      Let’s face it folks, Maggey the monkey can select a Team Canada team. They certainly don’t need to add more insulation for six rings- they need to get rid of the cancer along with the rest of the boys club.

  • paul wodehouse

    Coaching staff.. Eakins Ramsay and Oates.

    Trade petry for couturier
    Trade 2015 or 2014 1 round pick, musil, and 2015 2nd round pick for saad and bickell.
    Trade gagner for anisimov
    sign orpik, stralman, B. Boyle and or nikitin.

    Hall- Nuge-Yak

    Bickell- couturier- eberle

    Saad- Anisimov- perron

    Gazdic/gordon- boyle- pitlcik/Hendricks

    Klef- Schultz

    Marincin- Stralman

    Ference- Orpik

    Nikitin/Fedun

    • Spydyr

      Trade petry for couturier Trade 2015 or 2014 1 round pick, musil, and 2015 2nd round pick for saad and bickell. Trade gagner for anisimov sign orpik, stralman, B. Boyle and or nikitin. Then wake up you are dreaming.

    • Zarny

      I see “99” past the blunt to you.

      The players you covet would certainly help the Oilers, but there is no reality where Petry gets you Couturier nor is Chicago going to trade Bickell and Saad for picks and prospects who are 4-5 years from contributing while they are in the middle of their window to win Cups.

      Reality…trades have to actually be based in it.

  • PutzStew

    Hey Jonathan

    Thank for another very good read. You did use fancy stats but just enough to state your point and not take over the article. Please teach some of your less talented colleges how to do this.

    And while I agree with you, They will overpay him and bring him in and he will enjoy a slack retirement type of job, while the fans trash him. That’s the way it goes here.

  • Sean17

    I am truly scared of what Sportsnet NHL coverage will be like when they have guys like Spector, Lawton and Kyperos on the payroll. Oh and the best big mouth, Doug Maclean. What a piece of crap. It is really amateur hour on that network. Hopefully they weed out those d-bags, weed out PJ Stock and Healy from CBC and shoot Maguire. Get Freidman, Mackenzie and Draeger.

    • Bloodsweatandoil

      Well said Sean17,

      I’m not a fan of Ferraro either. To think of it,I cannot stand the in-between the benches bantor. Ferraro talks down to the audience and tries to educate everybody, while Healy doesnt know what side of the fence he sits on and over talks the game commentator constantly.

      For a 58 billion dollar monopoly, how much more are us viewers going to have to pay to watch hockey and cover Roger’s investment, I dont think advertising will cover that.

      • Sean17

        I actually don’t mind Ferraro, but he has gotten more arrogant on TSN. You’re right Healy is always trying to cut-off the play-by-play crew to say something stupid.

        • John Chambers

          Ferraro’s arrogance, IMO, is part of his charm and what makes him a good commentator. He seems really engaged and for whatever reason I find his criticisms of coaches, players, teams, to be astute and, at any rate, more entertaining than when Pierre McGuire does it.

  • Sean17

    Spector is a moron. He is the epitome of a talking head. Says nothing, knows nothing. Spouts off stupid comments about a game he has never even played. Truly one of the worst broadcasters. I always FWD through his garbage on Sportsnet.