gordon common 2

Boyd Gordon had severe own-zone starts one year ago, and that’s unlikely to change in the coming season. The Edmonton Oilers will use Gordon as a defensive zone security blanket and a penalty-killing machine. How will they use Nuge? Arco? Leon? Let’s have a look. 


  1. Ryan Nugent Hopkins 16:09
  2. Sam Gagner 15:21
  3. Mark Arcobello 12:17
  4. Boyd Gordon 11:27
  5. Anton Lander 10:38

I think Lander probably makes the team as 13F and sits some nights plays a winger/utility role other evenings. It makes sense that Arcobello’s role increases, perhaps to the point where he plays Gagner’s minutes, leaving his 12:17 to rookie Leon Draisaitl. Perhaps the German rookie can help Nuge with those silly large minutes, maybe not.

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Gordon? In his role this season, I suspect his EV minutes will be own-zone minutes, so the fewer the better.


oilers 13-14 vollman sledgehammer

The C’s on the Sledgehammer are all over the map, which is good because these are clearly defined roles:

  • Coach Eakins was giving a major zone start push to the Nuge line, and that’s just good business. For their part, opposition coaching staffs were hammering Nuge with the best available arsenal, and in the west that’s blue steel.
  • Gordon is getting the shaft in zone starts, his offensive numbers are going to be hopeless again this season and much of it will be due to his starting on his own 10-yard line every drive.
  • Arcobello is in an interesting spot on the graph, he’s at the stepping off point for actually playing tougher opponents. It seems to me the most reasonable bet after Nuge/Gordon is to elevate him into the Gagner role—tougher opposition, while giving Leon the zone-start push enjoyed by 89 one year ago. Fair?
  • Lander had tougher zone starts than anyone but Gordon, and he’s the obvious choice to step in for Gordon if something happens. I don’t think Edmonton would run him in as drastic a spot as Gordon, but let’s hope it never gets to that point.



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Don’t you dare show Wanye this horrible graph, he’d shoot me. His ‘paint’ work is the stuff of legend. However, it does work for our purposes, and reflects what we were discussing above. Nuge and Gordon stay where they are, we ask more of Arco in qual comp and he remains about the same/similar in zone starts.

Leon? He joins Benoit Pouliot and (probably) Teddy Purcell in a soft parade ‘perfect fit’ offensive line that (hopefully) delivers more than 30 EV goals.


  • The Last Big Bear

    Thoughts? Okay, we need to trade for a real center rather than rely on AHL depth in Arcobello, Lander, and an 18 year old rookie.

    It’s honestly kind of pathetic. Just think if any/all of them get injured. Yikes.

  • The Last Big Bear

    My thoughts are that there is ONE centreman on this team that has ever scored 10 NHL goals. Or even finished a season on pace for 10 goals.

    Think about that. No reasonable person can honestly believe that this team is doing everything they can to win this season with ^that^ centre depth chart.

    I cant help but conclude that the deliberately weak centre ice position is the “safety valve” which will allow MacTavish to improve the team as a whole, without missing out on a potentially franchise-altering high draft pick.

    You don’t have to call it a tank, but it looks like a tank, walks like a tank, and I’ll be darned if it won’t quack like a tank by Christmas.

    • The Last Big Bear

      What a ridiculous statement. MacT has added NHL players where there were weaknesses at defence,goal and depth forwards. Time will tell if these players will improve the team this season. I’m sure MacT understands they need a second line centre and more depth at that position and something could happen via trade. I see a GM doing all he can to improve his team not tanking it like you are suggesting wow.

    • srelio

      Exactly, everyone knows that teams are willing to give up their second line centers for almost nothing in return. With top centers this easy to get Mac T wouldnt have to weaken any other part of the line up to improve at center. When Mac T came here the only thing he needed to worry about was our center depth as every other part of the team was great. Seeing as the seasons already started theres no way he could possibly make another move to address the weakness at center. Plus whats with that Arcobello, he played terrible while filling in for gagner last season, i cant believe hes getting another chance after that performance. As you evidenced, goals are the only important thing when addressing a players ability and arco only had 4 in half a season(dont mind his 14 assists, we all know those are worthless). Yep youre right on all counts, clearly its a tank job with no effort to improve in the standings.

  • You know, I wouldn’t have so much of a problem with Draisaitl starting as one of the team’s four starting centermen if he grabbed the single available spot there ahead of Arcobello and Lander legitimately.

    I feel like you can’t get that sort of zone start situation. Nugent-Hopkins needs to take on tougher zone starts in addition to the top minutes, and still somehow come out on top. It’s asking an awful lot.

    I believe MacTavish thinks he can wait and see, and make a deal during training camp or early into the season to fix the center position if Arcobello and Draisaitl are not up to snuff. If he was looking for an experienced bottom six centerman, maybe. But a guy who he needs for a two way role? I don’t think teams let them go without a fight.

    • The Last Big Bear

      All 6’3″ and 210lbs of Olli Jokinen was sitting next to the phone for almost 3 weeks after July 1, thinking back fondly on his most recent season where he scored 18 goals and 43 points while taking the most defensive zone starts on his team.

      The Oilers couldn’t match the 1-year $2.5m deal Nashville was offering?

      • toprightcorner

        You seriously think Olli Jokinen would even consider going to a major hockey market? That guy likes to hide when possible, he couldn’t wait to get out of Calgary and Winnipeg was getting to be too much, he wouldn’t come here for $3.5. Just cause another team signs a player to a certain contract doesn’t mean they would sign the same contract here in Edmonton.

        Brad Richards signed for $1 mill in Chicago, do you think he would sign for $2 mil here? of course not, players go to teams where they can get what they want; over paid, cup opportunity, Canadian team or a place to hide in a small market.

        • The Last Big Bear

          1) After being traded away from Calgary, Olli Jokinen immediately returned to re-sign in Calgary as a UFA. Then he signed as a UFA in Winnipeg.

          So yeah, I do seriously think he’d consider signing as a UFA in a Canadian hockey market, because after playing in one, he subsequently signed back-to-back UFA contracts to do exactly that thing for both of his subsequent UFA deals.

          What makes more sense, the wildly inconsistent narrative that you just made up on the spot, or the notion that Edmonton didn’t make him a bigger offer?

          2) I’m saying that Jokinen, or another veteran UFA, would *probably* sign in Edmonton if they made the highest bid. That’s how these things usually work.

          What makes more sense, that these mid-30s players possibly on their last contracts would turn down millions of dollars and/or years of contract security to not play in Edmonton, or that Edmonton didn’t make a bigger offer?

          3) You are correct that these are factors that can weight a player’s decision. Getting overpaid, getting more icetime and opportunity than your ability warrants, playing in a hockey market, etc.

          Funny, because I’m pretty sure Edmonton can offer those exact things.

          So what makes more sense, that none of the UFA crop wanted to play in a hockey market, AND none were interested in getting more icetime and opportunity, AND none of the UFAs were interested in cashing in with the highest bidder?

          Or that Edmonton just wasn’t actively pursuing veteran UFA centres?

          • otter2233

            So if the Oilers sign Jokinen for 2 years/$4 million per season would you say “Job well done MacT” or “Good grief! What an idiot!”??

            The only thing the Oilers could offer more than Nashville is more money and who’s to say Nashville doesn’t just up their offer, “Hey guys, let’s get in a bidding war for OLLI JOKINEN!!!!”

            What other veteran UFA centre did you want to overpay this summer??? Roy? Riberio? Manny Malhotra?

            The Oilers centre depth is no doubt terrible but signing mistakes isn’t the answer either.

          • The Last Big Bear

            Actually, I think Jokinen for 2 years at $3.75m-$4m would be pretty much great.

            I’m perfectly willing to give credit to the Oilers when they acquire a good contract. Perron has a great contract. Fayne has a good contract. Gordon has a bad contract, but he’s invaluable to the Oilers. Hendricks has a bad contract, but he’s the guy MacT wanted, and there’s a premium to be paid to get the exact guy you want. Both tendies are on sound contracts. Hall and Eberle are on great deals.

            Im not blindly hating here. The opposite in fact. I think the Oilers COULD have landed these players.

            I would have been 100% on board with a 2x$3.5m for Jokinen, 2x$4m is pushing it, but would unquestionably deliver more than Mark Arcobello. Derek Roy at $2m is a reasonable gamble, but almost certainly better than Arcobello, and even if Arcobello beats him out of camp, nearly half of Roy’s contract could be buried in Oklahoma, so ‘no harm no foul’.

            Ribiero might be the only UFA centre I would have advised against. Without knowing the full details of his situation, id say he’s probably not a great influence.

            But basically every veteran UFA is a better option that Mark Arcobello. Overpaying a stop-gap vet isn’t great, but what’s the point of carrying cap space and a 26 year old with 4 career NHL goals?

          • otter2233

            Again you’re assuming Nashville doesn’t match 2 yrs/$4 million for Jokinen. Nashville doesn’t even need to match in reality because there is no state tax in Tennessee. Roy at $2 million wouldn’t have bothered me either but see previous sentence.

            I guess my biggest issue with your previous posts is that you seem to believe in order to have signed one of these vets the GM would have only had to offer more money and there would be no push back from the competing bidder.

            Would you sign Saku Koivu? He had a decent season last year… A positive vet presence…

            And no one is untouchable, ask Sather, Gretzky, Messier, Weight, etc. If you have to include Perron in a package to get a #1 centre or top flight D man you do it.

      • otter2233

        Of course the Oilers could and perhaps even did match or outbid Nashville but if they did what makes you assume Jokinen would choose Edmonton over Nashville??

  • Serious Gord

    Lowetide: any thoughts on what the new faceoffs rules could do to Gordon’s effectiveness? As I understand it his faceoff technique is what the league is trying to get rid of with the new rules.

      • Serious Gord

        As I understand it, the step back rule (for lack of a better way to describe it) and the greater distance between the wing hash marks are meant to reduce the scrum-type face-offs. Gordon’s tactic of falling to his knees and sweeping the the puck isn’t going to work very well, especially if he is kicked back to the second footline. The more successful path would seem to me to be to try and pick the puck clean sending it to the wing or back to your defenseman – not to intentionally fall to ones knee(s) as Gordon almost always does.

        If you have different interpretation/expectation I would be interested to hear it.

    • BlazingSaitls

      Be careful what you wish for. Thorton is undoubtedly a great player but are you sure the Oilers are built at this time to make use of Jumbo Joe. Would he quickly become frustrated playing with a grp of kids? sulk around with his sunken, pasty, playoff face…

      I just dont know. Ive thought about it a lot. Especially after he got stripped of his Captaincy. Heres where Im at.

      The Oilers would have to pay to much for him at this state in their re-build. If Oilers were a playoff team or this was the trade deadline and Oilers were playoff bound, a trade for Jumbo would be much more enticing. Sadly Oilers are not in this situation. If Oilers paid too much for Jumbo and its a failed experiment how would Oilers ever be able to recover? How long did it take Vancouver purge the Messier era?

      • Sevenseven

        I see your point. But he would bump nuge off the top line. With the upgraded defense and playing with Hall and ebs, I dont think hed get frustrated. Only Nuge and Gordon are PROVEN in the Nhl. Gordon goes down we are in rough shape. Hopefully Mac t steals a guy outta a team in cap hell. Its tough, but I think Perron has to be the trade bait. Coming off a career year, great bang for the buck contract. Plus its still in my mind since he got here, the guy had a season ending concussion, and his next head injury could end his career. There is a small, but real risk of losing that guy to a career ending injury with no return. Maybe not perron, but use the added wing depth to make the trade for a centre over the defense.

        • BlazingSaitls

          I wish you picked better ways to sway my mind other than foreboding prophecies of one of my favorite players(Perron). Trading away a positional strength (wing) to fill a positional weakness (centre) seems like 1 step ahead 2 steps back. Im willing to re-consider Thorton being an Oiler. Not with the examples you’ve presented however.

          • toprightcorner

            Don’t understand your concern.

            Joe has an extra year on contract over Perron. Big heavy center, extremely durable and probably the playmaking center that could get skilled wingers going.

            Yes LW is strong, so trade from strength. Plus you’d be trading Perron at max valuation.

            This deal works well for both sides if its Perron and conditional first, something lower than top ten.

          • BlazingSaitls

            Perron is almost a full decade younger than Thorton. Thats 10 more years of, gritty, tenacious, driven, motivated, skilled, pestilent play. whereas Thorton will be 45 and retired for many years no doubt.

            Perron, a skilled, young forward, for a 35 year old proven playoff failure + 1st rounder?…No thanks. Oh yah. by the way Perron Wants to be an Oilers. Think about that in the equation also.

          • Serious Gord

            Okay, I thought about it.

            Obviously this wouldn’t be a plan that includes resigning Thornton. However, you’re talking like you’ve inked Perron to long term deal when you haven’t.

            When Thornton’s deal comes off table, I don’t have him on team. This means there is money for emerging #3 draft pick.

            I have Thornton’s contract covered w Perron and unused cap space.

            So, we fix depth at center for three years w close to point a game player (slight diminish w age) – 20 more pts, we get 20 lbs heavier, we get 60 minutes fewer pim, we get additional guaranteed contract year.

            And you are wanting to base this off Perron’s best career year? Or, if he keeps those numbers up what are you paying him in two years and trying to pay a 2nd line center? Have you compared average gamed played between these two?

            I see it much easier to fill in a checking line winger who has Perron’s tenacity but another three inches
            and another 20 pounds, thank you, than to find a number two center.

          • BlazingSaitls

            Iight. I do see your point. Im not saying I agree but you make points. I realize Perron is not locked up long term but I feel if Oilers made head-way this year (and theres every indication Oilers will be better) Perron would be willing to sign a long-term deal. Im a delusional Glass Half Full Oiler fan but its just how I feel. MacT found a gem in the rough as far as im concerned. Perron brings far more to the team than just points. than just being a big body. than just being a set-up guy.

            He has stated he is excited to be a part of the success in Edmonton. He is a fun player to watch and he clearly has fun playing. Even in the hellish year Oil just had Perron always fought. Always smiled.

          • Sevenseven

            Okay lets forget Thorton for a second. Centre is obviously an issue. To get a nhl centre, we will have to give up something. A defenseman? The first round pic in the mcdavid draft? Id argue its easier to find a winger than a defenseman or a center. I like Perron a lot too, but I see him as having the highest trade value he will ever have. Career year, still a long, steal of a deal contract. He could be an example of buy low, sell high.

            Any other ideas on how to get deeper at center without giving up anything? Any other wingers you would trade?

            And you are right, im probably over reacting to his concussion. He played great hockey last year, and because he was so good is the reason id dangle him as bait.

    • BlazingSaitls

      Sharks just ran him under the bus and embarrassed him league wide. To think GM’s aren’t inquiring about Jumbo would be foolish. Im not sure about any clauses in his contract though. So you’re right. If there is any kind of no-trade clause Jumbo would never come here.

      Lol, I have no idea why this subject hit a nerve with me over others. This is the most ive responded to one article/post. Leave Perron out of this! hehe

      • Spydyr

        I think he has a no trade clause but not 100% sure. I agree completely about Perron. I thinks it’s important to get a big center but I’d be much more willing to move Marincin, another prospect and a pick and get someone less proven than Joe.

  • Spydyr

    Are we certain RNH is a 1C?

    I think he is the smallest 1C in a division of big 1C.

    Last was the 27th highest scoring centre.

    Last was the 237th best plus minus for centres.

    Has not proven to be durable.

    Maybe he is a 2C?

    • Serious Gord

      Hard to say yet whether he’s a 1 or a 2. A bit more filling in and some more edge and grit in his game and he could be a # 1. Right now he’s a soft number 1. If he only plays as good as he did last season from here on he is a middling number 2 and would have be judged a bust at the salary he’s being paid. Many observers think he will have a great bounce back year this year.

      We shall see. I watched him I junior quite a bit and I am not confident he can take his game to the next level – he was neutralized by bigger players at that level.

      As for durability he played 80 out of 82 games last year coming back for an injury and playing against those big Centres in the west.

  • Mantis

    Hi all.

    I’ve been lurking daily for ages, and finally broke down and made an account.

    I’d be super nervous if we took a chance on trading Perron. While I agree with everything said about his value never being higher, our primary goal here is to bring NHL calibre players to the team – not send them away. I don’t see Thornton wanting to come here even if we could offer enough to make a trade viable.

    And as mentioned above, don’t underestimate the value of having a player that *wants* to be here, as opposed to one that *has* to be here…

    I don’t consider Perron to be untouchable, but I’d much prefer to wait and see what shakes loose in the next little while, than to make a move mostly for the sake of making a move.

    • Lofty

      Great first take.

      He’s exactly the type of nasty, emotional player the team needs. His points may go down but that doesn’t mean his contribution to the team is any less.

      People talk about role players on good teams, I believe Perron will be one of those role players for the Oil going forward as they improve.

  • The Last Big Bear

    And on that related note, if I were MacT, I absolutely would consider Perron an untouchable.

    He is worth vastly more to the Oilers than he is on the open market.

    • The Last Big Bear

      Jokinen can be lured by overpay, but Perron can’t?

      I’m not following the argument…

      You can’t have nine untouchable forwards, or eight while we search for ninth.

      You need some value contracts in top nine. That’s life. That’s world in salary cap era.

  • bazmagoo

    Even though the Oil have done bubkus to address their 2nd centre needs, I’m still coated with eternal optimism like I am every off season. We can’t finish bottom 5 right? Bottom 10?

    Really hoping we make the playoffs, would love to see how the young guys react to the post season. Goilers!