Here comes the BOOM!

There is no shortage of talented forwards for Eakins to run for the power play. The additions of Purcell, Pouliot and Draisaitl have really bolstered the pool of talent he can choose from. Fitting the pieces together, creating a dangerous, above average and momentum building power play is the challenge for Eakins.

So far this season the Oilers are at 21% on the power play. Last year, finishing with that number would have put them at fourth in the NHL. The season is very young, so that number will change. They finished 2013-14 at 21st position with a percentage of just over 17. With the talent on this team it needs to be better and it can be.
I have written before about the need for a good PP shot from the point. It does not have to be a bomb but that is a bonus. The shooter should be able to get it off quickly and get it through. A hard shot is nice as it makes the rebounds more unpredictable than a softer wrist or snap shot.
Nikitin has a big shot — a big slapper! If he can start to get that shot through traffic and to the net it will greatly improve the power play. The penalty killers will be forced to respect his shot more. They will move closer to him and open up the passing lanes through their box.
How often have we seen the Oilers look dangerous with a low play? With all their talent, there should be more low plays. The lack of a shooter from the point on the first unit is making it harder for Nuge, Eberle and Hall to create down low at all. Justin Schultz has improved his willingness to shoot but he must keep it up and shoot even more to open up the box.
I have a suggestion that will alter the power play line combos, but it’s a change I would like to see.

Put Nikitin on the first unit power play.

His big shot would compliment Schultz’s mobility on the blue line. Get the puck on to Schultz’s stick and let him set Nikitin up for a big blast. From there they could move the puck around to spread out the group of killers. Schultz could jump in all over the o zone to create more opportunities and read issues for the PKers. 
The wrinkle in this plan is one of Hall, Eberle, Nuge or Pouliot would fall to the second unit. There would also not be a another group of D available for the second. Petry could slide in there with Yak on the point. 
The Oilers have not had a real point shot threat since Souray was on the team. Nikitin must be encouraged and set up to let his go. The trickle down effect will be huge for the other members of the first unit.

Getting a read on Leon


The nine game try out is almost up for Leon and my stance has not changed on him from back in the summer. He is the big bodied, skilled center that the Oilers do really need but he is not ready for that role this season.
The tell tale sign is when he has the puck. When given time and space he can create and distribute the puck very well. When in tight spaces his quickness to pull off the same move just isn’t there. This doesn’t mean the skill isn’t there it means he hasn’t got that quickness — yet. It will come. 
He is only seven games through his first NHL season. Still fresh and feeling good. No injuries aside from the normal NHL bumps and bruises. It only gets harder from here. 
I always found it funny to see how excited the rookies were up to around game 10 or 20. Then reality hit them and….whoa.. we have how many games left? The pace of the NHL season never stops. Nearly every other night there is a game and you are expected to bring the energy and your best effort no matter how tired your legs are. 

After 20 games the rookie asses would have barely touched the seats of their team’s charter and they would be out LIKE A LIGHT! They were bagged! Morning, afternoon or post game flight they would catch some sleep. The veterans knew how to manage their energy, but for the young guys it is all new.
It is true that he could figure that all out this season so he would be more prepared for next year. It is a pretty good argument for him staying but if his quickness isn’t there at this point of the season where will it be after the NHL season grinds on him for the next four months? What will happen to his confidence? How will it affect his wingers and their production? How does that affect the team and its need for balanced scoring? 
Sean Monahan of the Flames scored 22 goals in his rookie season. Very good on a weak Flames team. He scored eight goals in his first 20 games. He scored four in his last 20 games of the season with roughly the same amount of ice time. It is a hard grind that takes a lot out of young players. 
There is a lot to consider with the future of Leon for rest of this season. It is obvious that he should be a big part of what we all hope is a brighter future for the Oilers, but the team must do what is right. Just because he is the best or only option available doesn’t mean keeping him is the best for his development.

  • I think all too often everyone is looking for the guy with the BIG shot on the PP from the back end………..I remember Eric Brewer being very effective with a weak wrister, that always seemed to get to the net.

    He just had a get the shot to the net mentality. He created more opportunities for the forwards than anyone I can remember not named Coffey.

    • camdog

      Pronger played one season as an Oiler and scored like 2-3 less powerplay points than Brewer did in 4 seasons with the Oiler. In fact Pronger was better on the powerplay than Coffey ever was.

      • camdog

        During the dynasty years the Oilers powerplay wasn’t very good. During the 2000 era Pronger was able to match Coffey in production, this given a different era is respect to offensive production. Pronger is far and away the best powerplay defencman this organisation has ever had.

  • mithaman

    Struds – while your articles are rare they are my favorite. I completely agree with sending down Leon, he just doesn’t look ready yet and it’s not surprising the Pouliot, Yak, and Perron have seen limited offensive output to date.

    If you are MacT, what do you do if you send down Leon? Call up Lander or Yakimov and buy time to trade for a #2C?

    Curious what moves the Oilers should take next because while Leon is not quite ready, unfortunately he’s the team’s best short term option right now.

    • Grant

      Draisaitl may be the Oilers best option right now, but is LD’s best option for his development to stay in Edmonton?
      As long as he is not overwhelmed in playing the #2 position. However they seem to be able to roll 4 lines right now and he may not be expected to play huge minutes.

  • It’s always been my opinion that if the Oilers are serious about winning games down the stretch they will send Draisaitl back to junior. He might be OK now (although personally I think he’s not), but he’ll be a liability when it counts at the back end of the season.

    Of course this means MacT has to pull the trigger on a legit 2LC. But if I’m an opposing GM I don’t give a rapidly improving team the last piece of the puzzle they need to make them competitive and make it harder for my team to qualify for the cup tournament.

    • Serious Gord

      They may think they are serious in trying to make the playoffs but they are really aren’t – i think they will keep draisaitl and they won’t get a veteran 2c.

  • bwar

    I don’t care who it is but the Oiler’s need a big shot on the 1st PP. From my eyes I think the first unit is Nuge’s unit. He is the playmaker, he is the distributor and he drives the PP. It doesn’t make sense to have Schultz and Nuge on the same PP unit.

  • Oilers Coffey

    As a fan the only thing I want is the option that will give this team wins. If the Oilers are more effective without Draisaitl send him to junior. The advanced stats tell us to send him back. Mac T needs to find a way to deal for a 2nd line centre. Schenn, Anisimov,or Cody Eakin. Those remain my fav 3.

  • Oilers Coffey

    One can only hope that the Oilers brain(?) trust does the right thing for the kid and send him back to P.A. He will get the WJC experience which will do him a world of good. Next year the Oilers get a much needed quality center without burning a year of his entry level. Win-win for everybody.

  • BlazingSaitls

    I too have been wondering where this Nikitin shot has been. I though that was one of the reasons he was brought here. Nice to see him score with it. If he keeps blasting away like that, good things will come.

    Also, did anyone see Yak in front of the net on that goal, it looked like he was really creating some havoc.

  • mithaman

    “Rookie asses”?

    What the what? You’re losing it, Струдс.

    I should be on the first-line powerplay unit, even now. I have moves Little Trockensattel’s father hasn’t even heard of.

    Him, two assists. Me, 51 career goals on the PP.


  • BlazingSaitls

    I really liked your take on the Oilers PP and I agree with you. I think having a bomb like that on a second unit PP goes against any conventional thinking. The kind of thinking that out thinks oneself. I hope Nikki finds his way to the 1st unit PP and drops bombs all year.

    I agree about your opinions on Draisaitl. I hoped he would be eased in the NHL slower but Ill support him and hope for the best.

    I also find it refreshing to have an ex NHLer’s view on these decisions and would like to read more Struds articles please.

  • BlazingSaitls

    With the type of minutes that Drasaitl is getting, it seems more likely we need a replacement third line center as opposed to a second. Either bring up someone like Lander or deal for a guy good for 30 points

  • bazmagoo

    Nikitin on the 1st unit, Schultz on the 2nd. We need to get some value out of Nikita, and that shot is a cannon. Schultz is still floating those wrist shots that worked in the AHL, but it’s not working in the bigs.

  • Oilers Coffey

    Speaking to us nation faithful in the way you’d speak to your team mates… awesome Struds!
    Asses hit the seats the best line yet!
    I just want them to do what’s right long term. He needs to develop that speed. One observation is that he is coasting like you can in Jr. But needs to shake that and keep the feet moving all the time,

    PS Finally have a guy who can shoot the puck on the PP!

  • A-Mc

    Jason: On the PP with Draisaitl up high and in the middle, is that on purpose? I don’t understand the positioning there. He’s not far enough away to make the Defenders move, he’s not providing a goalie screen, he’s not close enough to the net to make a move and he literally has to turn around in order to take a shot. The positioning there makes no sense to me: am i missing something?

  • 916oiler

    So he has to learn to be a rookie? all NHL players have to go through the process Leon will be no different. I see a kid who is catching on very fast his foot speed has improved 100% in only a short few weeks. He is physically and emotionally ready let him get pro experience now. How many goals does Monahan have so far this season?

  • Spoils

    I feel like MacT is not trading for a #2C because he doesn’t want to give up assets for a position he sees Leon filling in time. So tough it out for the year and we are that much better next year.

    I would argue that with Boyd aging we could really stand to get a #2C that can be a #3/4C in time.

    I think we can make justify moving considerable assets to get a #2C.

    I also think playoff experience this year or next is crucial to the growth of this young team.

    send down Leon and


  • Kevwan

    You’d know better than me Strudwick, but I always thought a big shot on the PP was overrated. I’d want a guy that could get a shot through accurately for tips and rebounds. My choice would be Petry with Schultz although Yak on the point with the 1st unit is intriguing.

  • Serious Gord

    Watching flames/canes game. The canes are godawful – no physical play, loafing skaters no pressure. If there is a worse team in the league I don’t want to see them.

    It will be scandalous if the oil lose to them tomorrow…

  • Burnward

    The rush to get a center here may not be urgent as most think .

    Draisaitl can play up to 39 games before a decision may have to be rendered on him . Above 39 games we burn a year of his free agency , but not before or on the 39th game . MacKenzie was talking about it today . Thus no early trade and we shall see how he develops up to mid season when a decision will have to be made .

    • oilerjed

      I wonder if part of the plan is to get Drais to the 39 game point to give YAK2.0 some experience in the ahl and bring him up for the rest of the year? That way both get NHL exoerience under their belt and Yak2.0 gets some seasoning in NHL style play.

  • Burnward

    I like the suggestion of sending Leon down and trading for Brodziak. Leon needs to improve quickness with his feet and decision making before he can be effective in the show. They way it has been with bottom 3 centers sharing about 13-14 min a game each would work well with Brodziak and at least he is a legitimate NHL center. Not a long term answer but would be a good bridge. Should only cost a mid to late round pick or low tier prospect with him being pushed in and out of MIN lineup. Get it done MacT

  • Mike Modano's Dog

    I would go after Brayden Schenn first.

    I know ON PAPER it appears we don’t need a #2C. We desperately need one this year, but I understand that doesn’t ‘appear’ to be the case going forward. However, I would say we DO.

    Why? Even counting on Draisaitl being ready to be here AND contribute next year he still would be better suited to a #3 role than throwing him to the wolves as our #2C, even then. Plus, the one thing never talked about which always should be taken into account is the injury factor. Injuries happen to every team. So, no matter your depth I believe you should always plan on having at least one extra important player at that position – to take the place of someone missing. Over the course of the season that seems to be the wiser course of action.

    I would get a GOOD centre. I still love Nuge and will love Draisaitl in time, and believe they both will be important pieces of this franchise moving forward. But, for now anyway, we need a second talented centre to get us where we need to be. Think Detroit and how they don’t force their rookies into situations they will be overmatched in. We need to learn to do the same thing.

    Trade what we must to make that happen…only, not this upcoming year’s draft picks. It’s too strong a draft year for that!!

  • oilerjed

    I always enjoy your perspectives Jason,they are incredibly insightfull and help flesh out how NHLers think,thank you again.

    Now that the formalities are out of the way lets get down to biscuits and bones OK Dog?

    The BOOM is a mirage,it is a dream,it is a stats catalysed false/positive of the highest degree,and one of my personal favorite examples of why stats are destroying your old profession from the inside out.

    BOOM = B.S

    Stats sales job….says…the BOOM gives you a two-fer-one…2 high speed shot opporunitys out of one playaction.

    Sounds great,sounds fantastic … but smells like pure B.S.

    The “Boom” gives you what all false marketing campaigns give you NOTHING WORTH BUYING….something with so many hidden costs you always lose more than you gain.

    Its like buying something from a door-to-door Vacume Cleaner Salesman or some other con-job.

    What does the Boom really give you?

    One hurried unsupported low grade Slapshot….and a “chance” at a fortuitous unsupported re-bound.

    You PAY with 100% secure and supported Possesion/Zone entry and you recieve half-measures of impact in return.

    You SURRENDER care and control and you willingly put your fate in the hands of Chaos.

    Jason, your choice of tactic is stats catalysed there-fore by PROXY it is flawed and inferior.

    If you used Intuitive Dynamic Management and Intuitive Dynamic Analysis to valuate and re-structure the playaction you could execute in an OPTIMAL manner, then Jason you would be doing what “some” Oilers have been doing since Pat Quinn was the Head Coach,because these philosophies and concepts were developed right here in Edmonton beginning at that time,they haad no names and they were in their infancy but they were born then.

    Ralph Kruegers Roster was creating OPTIMAL DYNAMICS and was “speeding up” the process on the PP by executing some of these NewAge Hockey System concepts and tactics via osmosis from online data content.They were using SUPERIOR and OPTIMAL tactics which CANNOT be developed from stats based or traditionally concieved catalysts.They did NOT use the “Boom”.

    The “Boom” is now only an “Echo” of what it once was,stats inputs are being flushed out of the systems of the most sucessfull NHL teams over the last 4 years.I will point out that Sutter STOPPED people from referring to his Team as a “Defensive” Team long ago,by succinctly pointing out that they are in fact a “Possesion” Team,well Jason the NewAge Hockey System or the NHS supports the Possesion/Transition game.The Kings began utilising these concepts from the beginning 4 years ago even before I named them.

    And Jason it all begins by changing your perspective and NOT even using traditional terminology,you must change your mindset to a superior and optimal one.

    The NHS does NOT surrender or waste Possesions/Transitions and the hard work and time put into them on inferior dynamics,there is no Boom required.

      • BlazingSaitls

        I am telling you that you are substituting a point shot…for a slap shot….o slap shot threat.

        You are “selling” the big slapshot as if it were somehow a top end needed tactic from the point on the PP.

        I disagree with you 100% in the way you are presenting it.

        I hard slapshot has its place on the PP but that must be a System choice,not a “my favorite” choice,and when you are using a possesion/transition System like the Oilers are using this shot does not fit.

        What do you define as “good” point shot Jason,please share that wisdom woth us.

        Because I dont think a hurried slap-shot is a “good one”….I dont think a slapshot that takes so long to get set and execute that the defense can collapse the lanes on is “good one”….I dont think the accuracy of the slapshot is in terms of a PP shot selection is a “good one”….i dont think any shot where our players get set and have static feet on the blueline is a “good one” considering how many shorthanded goals we give up.

        You just wanna scare the defenders,so save it for 5 on5 and keep these inferior tactics away from the PP.

        We dont have a lack of shooters from the point we have a lack of shots from the point and that is a clear tactical choice . Maybe there are other reasons,I can think of quite a few.You tell me why they dont use it, Jason you like the tactic so break it down for us all,why do YOU think the Oilers arent using the “Boom”?.Please dont say they dont have anyone who can shoot the puck hard enough that is silly…95 mph or 105 mph whats the difference when the accuracy is like inferior for a PP situation.

        “I have written before about the need for a good PP shot from the point. It does not have to be a bomb but that is a bonus. The shooter should be able to get it off quickly and get it through. A hard shot is nice as it makes the rebounds more unpredictable than a softer wrist or snap shot.”

        No bomb needed …nice…this meansno Slapper needed,no?….”bonus”..B.S it is….a Bomb is poor management.

        Get it off quickly huh Struds…why? to “speed up” the playaction and catch the defense in transition? Get it through Struds?…you mean “hurry it up” because there arent many ways you are getting time to get set for a slapper before the lanes are filled and once that happensyou need to TRANSITION the know Jason MOVE IT AROUND TO FIND HOLES….once this begins where do you find time to get set for the slapper again?

        Makes the rebounds more “unpredictable?”..why the hell would you want that?….you want them to BE predictable,you want to see “scrums” fighting for rebounds like Ice-Hogs huh? Well that is an inferior method especially on the PP.That is also the mentality that leads to mismanagement of smaller skilled players who arent playing to their strengths being Ice-Hogs.We all know this is what leads to pressure to “get bigger” which translates to lose skill and replace it with an Ice-Hog.

        Jason you dont respect”possesion” enough,and this is the type of game the Oilers are striving to play.You want to wast bullets trying to scare the enemy.

        There are better ways to “speed up” the PP playaction and to manage it than by simply firing as fast a shot on net as you can and as hard as you can,and the perfect moments you speak of when you say “get it through” dont last very long after the initial zone entry whenn the defense is in place and lanes ae closing.Once you begin to move the puck up high to force the defense into active transition to find holes you DONT have time for the “hard slapper” you have time for the wrister or the snap-shot.

        So just “drop the Bomb” why not,it isnt all its knocked up to be.

        I am telling you a good shot IS needed on the point but that it needs to be the RIGHT shot which is managed to suit the style the team is playing,in this case “possesion style”and on the PP the “hurry up” slapper is the least optimal choice,the “rebounds” you talk about are not a guaranteed 2nd shot opportunity,not at all,all you are sure of once you let that shot go is that you have SURRENDERED POSSESION when you have the puck in their zone with the man advantage in support of the lowest grade shot option available to you.

      • Mike Modano's Dog

        The Oilers are a skilled possesion style team now, maybe you could add your NHL caliber analysis to help find ways,aside from the point shot that this type of team SHOULD BE approaching on the PP to keep it in the NHL top ten over 82 games.

        Lets say just maybe by engineering basic n-zone transitions and o-zone entrys,why all the stop-and-pop stuff? Why all the slow-poke out of synch stuff we see which drops the PP teams pace and momentum nearly off the table Because it is SOP-Traditional? For lack of better tactics?

        The “setting up”we see with the traditional PP structures that are supported by the point shots you are stuck on are inferior tactics for the Oilers to be using.

        The usual reason you are on the PP in the first place is that your team was pushing the river,this means you have momentum on your side in every way,I watched many NHL teams scew up this dynamic for over 40 years,”slow it down” on the PP and try slow controlled zone transitions with an even slower o-zone entry,the most regressive tactics imaginable.You SHOULD be penetrating the o-zone on the PP with possesion tactics and doing it at high speeds with overwhelming numbers the same as you do 5 on 5,if you slow it down you screw up the momentum,team synergy and destroy the proper sense of urgency you NEED on the PP.

        Struds times change man,how long ago was it that you saw playes swimming around without lumber,after breaking their sticks,trying to stay in position and in the playaction,BUT actully creating more of a disconnect more damage than good,well that tactic was outdated and regressive,now you see smarter better managed teams with men sprinting for new sticks immediatly while their teammates seamlessly transition to cover for their short absence,things change when BETTER MANAGEMENT practices come into play,EVEN STRUDS if the majority of NHL Players and Managers “dont get it” at first.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    NewAgeSys, dude, you have an NHLer telling you that you have no idea what you’re talking about. Call Scotty Bowman up, I’m sure he’ll tell you the same thing.

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      Actually Struds asked me What the hell I was talking about,he didnt say I did not know what I was talking about.He doesnt understand what I am telling him.

      He said if I thought a good point shot wasnt needed on aPP I was “out to lunch”,this wasnt the case at all as I DO believe a good point shot is needed on the PP.I undersood what he was saying and disagreed in part.Still do.

      Players dont usually make good coaches,this same principal applies to Coaches being tactical analysts,most are not cut out for it,in fact most Players AND Coaches are not cut out to be Analysts,they MUST have developed tunnel vision to become pros,this is an unavoidable reality,this principal is what screws the stats-heads trying to use numbers to produce meaningfull dynamic analysis,it will never work out.

      As a Fan of NHL hockey for over 40 years with thousands of games watched,I consider myself to be professional hockey Analyst.I definately do not think Struds out-guns me in the Analysis Arena,not by a long shot NHLer or not.

      Scotty Bowman is a Legend,a Hockey God,no one talks to him but angels.