REPORT CARD DAY!

John F. Kennedy Riverdale Country School Report Card February 25, 1930 - NARA - 192826

Even the best students can have a down period and that is most certainly the case for several Edmonton Oilers in 2014-15. The season isn’t over, there is plenty that can be salvaged. It is All-Star weekend and that means a review of everything, from chemistry to, apparently Latin.

YOU GET AN A!

  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: The modern Dave Keon mimics the original so well the power-play points have dried up, but we’re sure that’ll come back soon. The Nuge is emerging as an equal-or-better talent than Taylor Hall in many circles. I’m always hesitant to pass the crown too quickly but if the young center can continue at this level for another year we may have a new King.
  • Boyd Gordon: Man what a hockey player. He starts most shifts under the ice in his own zone and still manages to survive. Honestly it’s kind of crazy how good he’s been for Edmonton since arriving here and  a damn shame so few notice.
  • Matt Hendricks: Along with Gordon one of the craziest set of numbers you can find. Punishing zone starts, varying degrees of opponents (with difficulty increasing) and he’s posting decent 5×5/60 numbers (0.86) as a scorer. Maybe they can have him skate around balancing plates too, he’s been able to accomplish everything else.
  • Jeff Petry: Harsh zone starts and a possession number over 50%
    tells me this defender is clearly the best in the group and is playing
    well this year. Injury in pre-season made the start wobbly but this is a
    guy Edmonton badly needs every night. 
  • Benoit Pouliot: Lordy he’s a fun player to have on the
    Oilers. Has some real offensive ability and a physical edge,  A real pleasure to have on the Oilers.

YOU GET A B!

  • Oscar Klefbom: Easily the best rookie on the team and considering his status as a freshman he’s earned this grade. He might get an A if they play Klef with Petry for the rest of the season.
  • Keith Aulie: Wildly better than he looked in training camp, Aulie is easily forgotten and hasn’t played a lot but there’s no doubt in my mind he had a good first half of the season.

YOU GET A C!

  • Taylor Hall: His 5×5/60 is off by a full point and that’s a big damn deal. After that, the numbers suggest he’s still among the team’s best players (1.80/60 5×5 according to HockeyAnalysis) and there’s every chance the fancy stats more closely match the boxcars by season’s end. Factoring injury and recovery, I’m content with a C for Hall.
  • Jordan Eberle: Marches is lock step with Hall, as Eberle had some injury issues that made it (apparently) impossible for him to lift the puck. He’s been cashing for more lately and the goals are starting to come. I think many fans underestimate his ability, probably a reflection of playing so long with two No. 1 overall selections.
  • Mark Fayne: A bit of a tough grade to make, he’s either here or a D. Consider this a C- because he should be better but then again there’s every chance he’s never seen this kind of chaos. I liked the signing, and still do, but he needs to be better.
  • Andrew Ference: Tough zone starts and some time against very good opponents, his possession stats aren’t terrible considering his opposition/situation. Far better this season.
  • Teddy Purcell: I love having veterans on the Oilers, wish they had more. Purcell has done well this season and has become a solid PK player (not a lot of history but he’s been good to my eye). I didn’t nick him for the foot speed—he is what he is—but a 1.26/60 at 5×5 is a little shy of the mark offensively. Still, no real complaints.
  • Steve Pinizzotto: Career minor leaguer who played well enough to earn this number. Chipped in a little on defense, had some tougher zone starts and played offensively better than expected.

IT’S A D FOR YOU!

  • Leon Draisaitl: Unfair to fail him and you can’t give him acceptable standard either, so D it is. He showed enough for us to get excited about his future but is absolutely in the right spot for his career in Kelowna.
  • Tyler Pitlick: May seem harsh and I do like him but Pitlick got some real nice looks on the top line and can’t piss a drop offensively. I’d like to see him for 40 healthy games but that appears unlikely.
  • Luke Gazdic: Tough to mark because of injury but he’s obviously a solid enforcer. The rest of his game needs to develop, even just a little. It hasn’t happened yet.

GIVE ME AN F!

  • Niki Nikitin: F&*!—!
  • Justin Schultz: His combination of lack of defensive awareness combined with extremely low panic threshold made the first half stunning in its epicness. There are no words.
  • Ben Scrivens: He had a terrible start and by the time he showed signs of recovery the season was over. I think he’s a good goalie but there’s no way to give any other grade.
  • Viktor Fasth: As with Scrivens, I think Fasth is a capable NHL goalie but he hit the skids and could not pull out of the dive. What a terrible set of starts for four goalies the last two seasons in our town.
  • Nail Yakupov: Rich zone starts but he doesn’t score and his possession numbers are bad. I know he’s a No. 1 overall and I’m cheering like hell but this is the correct grade.
  • Jesse Joensuu: They should have told him it was opening night every night. Backs are a bitch when they go south and that’s the story with JJ.

INCOMPLETE

  • Derek Roy: He’s looked good offensively (1.98/60 at 5×5) but isn’t pushing the river despite a solid zone start. Let’s see him awhile longer.
  • Anton Lander: His possession number is fine based on zone start and he’s delivering offense for the first time. I’d like to see another 30 games but Nelson’s timing may be perfect for Lander’s career.
  • Rob Klinkhammer: Yes! Lordy he’s perfect for that fourth line, can’t wait for the Oilers to sign him to a reasonable deal. Probably spells the end of the line for Pitlick, though. 
  • Martin Marincin: He was inconsistent at the beginning of the year and can’t make it back to the NHL, implying he’s been struggling there too. Bad teams have this happen, where prospects stop developing. It’s a damn shame — they could use another good defenseman.
  • Matt Fraser: He has 4 points in 10 Oilers games. That’s a
    decent level of production for his spot in the batting order. I worry
    about his speed but there’s an interesting player here. 
  • Brad Hunt: Say what you will, he helps the power play. Hunt is an odd duck in that he doesn’t skate well enough to play in the NHL but you can see why the Oilers like him. Suspect it won’t end well. 
  • Iiro Pakarinen: No idea why he didn’t get called up again. Liked him.
  • Brandon Davidson: Pleased he got to see NHL action, and he looked good doing it.
  • Will Acton: We didn’t see enough of him to know if he was any good.
  • Darnell Nurse: A nice look-see, can’t wait until he’s a regular. Look out Flambes!
  • Bogdan Yakimov: Big, wide body with some skill. Interesting player.

GONE

  • David Perron: I miss him terribly but am glad he’s in Pittsburgh playing with a good team. Good return on the deal.
  • Mark Arcobello: He absolutely got everything possible out of his ability and I hope he hangs around for years. Do NOT bet against him.

        • Oilers89

          With the amount of effort he puts in, and the utter apathy from other players on the team… that have the number 19… it’s a miracle he’s still blocking shots and generally giving a crap about the game. Honestly, there is no real reason for him to bother anymore – none of it will really matter – he will get neither fame, nor a cup, nor a playoff game. But he’s Boyd Gordon dammit and he can’t NOT do it. That’s as much a credit to his mental toughness as his physical toughness.

          The only complaint that should be made against him is that he’s only partly invincible.

      • The Last Big Bear

        @Lowetide

        if the young center can continue at this level for another year we may have a new King.

        If Nuge can continue on at this level for another year, that will mean he’ll be a 23 years old with 5 years of NHL experience, who has made no significant developmental progress since he was drafted.

        Rather like several other recent highly-drafted Oilers prospects.

        He was an undersized 20ish-goal and 50ish-point centre as a teenage rookie when he was drafted, and now he’s a slightly less undersized 20ish-goal and 50ish-point centre… rather like several other recent highly-drafted Oilers prospects.

        Players his age should be getting dramatically better season-on-season. And not just #visually.

        If he isn’t able to find another gear after 5 years in the NHL, then he probably isn’t going to, and what you see is what you get. Him playing next year like he played this year should be a worst-case scenario for a player who is still waiting for his break-out season.

        • CMG30

          You completely overlook the fact that the quality of competition that Nuge faces has steadily increased as the years went by.

          There is a tremendous difference between being a 50ish point center facing the soft parade (Renny/Kruger era) and (Today) being a 50ish point center matched up against the top players in the NHL.

          • The Last Big Bear

            2011 Corsi Rel Quality of Competition: 0.59

            2014 Corsi Rel Quality of Competition: 0.58

            2011 Corsi Rel: 5.6

            2014 Corsi Rel: 7.1

            I think you are overlooking what actual material progress looks like in a player.

            I hear the above argument all the time, and yet players for other teams are still somehow able to improve on their rookie and sophomore point production.

            Especially when they’re getting 20 mins/night.

            And for the record, Gordon faces significantly tougher minutes than Nuge.

            • Oilers89

              I would just like to point out that Nuge’s even strength pts/60 have improved a lot. His rookie season was inflated by the power play. The Oiler’s power play has gone south this year, and Nuge isn’t scoring very much on the power play.

              Translation: Nuge is scoring much better in terms of the hardest thing to do (even strength scoring) and is scoring less on the power play (the easy thing to do, but being on an actual good power play would help a lot).

              Just my interpretation.

            • The Last Big Bear

              Lets look at what a typical career arc for RNH’s non-Oiler peers looks like, in terms of 82 game scoring pace:

              Tavares: 24, 29, 31, and at about a 40 goal pace since then.

              Stamkos: 23, 51, 45, and 60.

              Kane: 21, 25, 30, 30, by which time he was established as a PPG elite offensive player.

              You’ll note that by their 4th NHL season, these guys were pretty much at their steady-state. And that by their 4th season they were on an entirely different level from their 18 year old selves.

              Now lets look at the Nuge.

              RNH: 23, 8, 19, and now 21. He is a bit heavier than he was at 18, and that’s about it.

              You can argue that Nuge isn’t primarily a goal scorer, and that’s true, but the same trends hold true for point totals, possession numbers, etc.

              Nuge should be making huge strides year-upon-year, but he just isn’t. He’s making small incremental improvements that only people following closely can see. That’s a really bad sign.

              P.S. He got a shiny new car for being picked last on his team at the All-Star Draft tonight.

            • TheBirdOfAnger

              I see your points but Nuge had a bad injury last season and it messed him up. He’s recovering from that. Also, as of right now he has 29 points. Already past that 21 point pace season and its only half the season.

            • bradleypi

              So it’s ok to use nuges injury from LAST YEAR as an excuse as to why he isn’t lights out this year, but when hallsy blew out his knee a few months ago, nobody on here gives him the same grace…. hmmm

            • pkam

              If your point is that RNH isn’t as good as some other 1st overalls, I think that is pretty obvious. If your point is that he doesn’t deserve a Lowetide “A”, well Lowetide always looks for the silver lining.

              Looking at the results of the 2011 draft it is hard to criticize RNH as the 1st pick. I think it is fair to say he hasn’t distanced himself from others in that draft year as being clearly the BPA, but he ranks with the top performers from that year. Forwards taken include Landeskog, Huderdeau, Strome, Zibanjad, Scheifele, Coutourier, and Saad (as an excellent 2nd round pick). D men of note include Larsson (who may turning out as a disappointment) Hamilton and Brodin. Only Landeskog has scored more goals and points than RNH but that is driven to some extent that RNH has lost more games to injuries. It is difficult to make a direct comparison between Dmen and forwards and it is possible than if we look back in 2 or 3 years when the Dmen are more mature either Hamilton or Brodin may look like the best result. The 2011 draft year is looking like one of the less productive (as it was suggested at the time). RNH is certainly amongst the best players taken that year, although he has not really distanced himself from the group.

              If you are implying the RNH was bad pick, I don’t think that can be supported.

        • northof51

          If Nuge can continue on at this level for another year, that will mean he’ll be a 23 years old with 5 years of NHL experience, who has made no significant developmental progress since he was drafted.

          Buh, buh, but… You sir, are wrong!

      • Coach Eakins . FAIL. Coach Nelson (too late too class to get a grade but a B on small sample size. Scott Howson FAIL (just for NN). Mac-T FAIL Too many mistakes(Would make a book about the size of war and peace). Kevin Lowe FAIL (Nothing need to be said) Amateur scouts FAIL. Professional Scouts (Monumental FAIL) Player development FAIL. CBA guru FAIL (League has to tell you who you can recall and when?) CBA guru again FAIL.(The rest of the world knew you couldn’t sign Tchakev) . Player deployment FAIL (under Eakins). Customer relations FAIL.Entertainment value FAIL.(Except for the comedic relief from one colossal blunder to the next) Biggest FAILURE? Ownership for not addressing all of the above.

    • pkam

      Jesse Joensuu got a ‘F’? He is not as good as Gordon and Hendrick, but I think he is better than a ‘F’. I think a ‘C’ is reasonable, and at least a ‘D’ for even a hard marker.

    • Jordan88

      “Taylor Hall: His 5×5/60 is off by a full point and that’s a big damn deal. After that, the numbers suggest he’s still among the team’s best players (1.80/60 5×5 according to HockeyAnalysis) and there’s every chance the fancy stats more closely match the boxcars by season’s end. Factoring injury and recovery, I’m content with a C for Hall.”

      “Nail Yakupov: Rich zone starts but he doesn’t score and his possession numbers are bad. I know he’s a No. 1 overall and I’m cheering like hell but this is the correct grade.”

      How about we take a look at the not so Fancy stats which after the “Eakins” era have left a bad taste of vomit in my mouth.

      Taylor Hall looks absolutely shell shocked out there. He scores he does not care, the team scores he does not care, he looks like he has a better place to be, by far my favorite player on the team it just saddens to see the total lack of passion on his apathetic face. I think 5 years in the cellar will do that to you.

      Yakupov has looked great ever since being paired with Pouliot and Roy and honestly the Perron trade could have been the best thing for his young career. The worst thing was Eakins. If Yakupov looked like Taylor Hall I would be concerned but he is starting to trend upward. He is a young player that was put out of position by a coach who quite frankly did not like him or know how to deal with him.

      I am more concerned about Taylor Hall than I am Yakupov.

      • Serious Gord

        Totally agree. Yakupov is starting to come alive after firing statistically the worst coach in Oiler history. Surround Yakupov, like Taylor Hall, and he will succeed. Lowetide is out to lunch about Yakupov.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        I agree, Hall and Eberle need a new team. If the team is to move forward its time for a new core group and players that have not been on this sinking ship for years. Trading both Hall and Eberle will get you a huge return if it’s done right. The fact that these 2 players get the most and best minutes no matter how porely they are playing needs to change. It’s time to re-build the re-build and start again. This time it needs to be done right. Buffalo is a team that in a few years will be a powerhouse while the Oilers will be, well the Oilers if they don’t fix this team at the draft and in the off season.

      • pkam

        Are you effing kidding me?!?! He’s gets paid millions to play a game. He should Never look disinterested no matter how long he plays in the worst city in the league and for the worst team in the league

    • northof51

      i agree with almost every grade on here except two. if this grading system is for individualism and importance to team,(which it should be) then mark fayne cannot be graded below aullie!! fayne plays agaisnt toughest competition every night, specially agaisnt the big boys of the west. hes reliable, steady and consistant every night, and hes also durable with vet experience. he is every bit important as the players graded with A’s. gordan, hendricks and fayne should be A+’s.

      • pkam

        I think these “grades” are based on expectation, which is a bias in itself, but that would explain why Aulie gets a better grade than Fayne because the expectation for both players are very different from an organizational standpoint.

        I will add though, that the few times that I have watched Oilers hockey this year (because it is painful and I do not want to support the current management regime), Fayne has looked more and more “soft”, “slow”, and “lost” out there. The apathy that surrounds this player group seems to spread to newcomers who join the team…or maybe there was a reason their former teams were willing to let them go and our management group is just terrible at assessing player value and ability accurately.

        Whatever the answer may be, kudos to those who seem incorruptible in player styles and are willing to battle every night for their roster spot. I am speaking of the Gordan’s and the Hendricks’ and the Klinkhammers. As for Hall, Eberle, and Schultz, their ship has sailed in an Oiler uniform for me because of the lack of passion and heart I see from them all too often. As a fan, seeing a fire and an inspired effort in a player’s game once or twice a season when you are paid royally to do so all season, makes me feel violently ill.

      • billythebullet

        I like the “c” for fayne. Why? Because he came to edmonton with a boat load of fan fare, labed as the next great shut down dmen that will finally fill that number 1 slot. However he has played less minutes and softer competition then petry. Not exactly an “a”. That being said he isn’t a fail, and is a part of the solution not the problem. You are bang on with aulie. No way he gets a mark higher then fayne imo either. How anyone that is a regular healthy scratch and takes retarded penalties when he isn’t gets anything above an “f” is an absolute mystery.

    • ubermiguel

      I think Lowetide is ranking against individual expectations and ability. Hendricks is not as good a player as the Nuge but they’ve both delivered as expected.

    • northof51

      I’ve always been a Nuge supporter and believe he is transforming into a true top line centre. And remember, this is not his ceiling!

      *** he writes, as he makes an appointment to get NUGENT-HOPKINS tattooed across his back***

    • The huge disappointment in the development of all the Oiler 1st overalls (including Eberle) is directly attributed to the Oiler ex jock GM’s and President of Hockey operations who skipped the ‘gap’ contract process and went directly to >$30M contracts. That in itself put undo pressure on the young stars combined with a poisionious team environment has resulted in failure and subsequent lost assets!

    • IIRC – Nuge is eating more icetime than any other forward in the entire league while playing against top competition. That is impressive. RNH appears to be modelling his game around Datsyuk. Who can possibly have an issue with that?

    • toprightcorner

      The only way Petry deserves an “A” is if you are marking on a curve. Petry has been playing better now but started the year a train wreck. Overall he has been fine-good which is a “B” at most. th get an “A” you have to play great consistently, something Petry hasn’t done.

      Pouliot has been on a tear the past 10 games but before that he was just fine, so a “B” at most.

      Fayne was slow the first 10 games but once he got acclimatized to his new team has been very solid and our second best dman, He should get a “B”

      Joenssuu only played 20 games, 10 which were great, 5 were poor and 5 were horrible. His first 10 games should get him to a “D”

    • Serious Gord

      The proper way to grade these guys from a GMs perspective – and thus grade the GM/management is to do so versus their salary.

      Doing it that way the only passing grades for regular players (aulie is not a regular) would be to Rnh and Gordon and some of the rookies because they are on rookie contracts.

      Mact gets a big fat F and should be fired.

    • Serious Gord

      Lowetide why not address management report card while at it??? MacTavish grade= F minus? Worst GM in Oiler and possible league history. Failure to address NHL-ready centres, goaltending, defenceman. Keep trading proven NHL players for unproven picks by the worst scouting staff hired by the worst management team in the NHL.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      A D for the third overall selection last summer. He played sheltered minutes and still failed miserably. No room for a lack of foot speed in this league and they still took him.

      Only thing left is to hang onto him for ten years before cutting their losses.

      What a bunch of pucking idiots running the show. 5 yrs into the rebuild and they’re still in last place……PUCK!

    • Rdubb

      Lowetide, were you smoking those THIN cigarettes when you decided to write this article?
      Petry an A…what the f@%^??? Have you been watching the same guy all year as i have? Yes, his game has come around since Nelson took over, but then again so has a almost every other player. Petry is week on the puck, he is week on the player, scared to take the body of darn near every opposition player he comes up against, his offence was dry almost the entire first as was his defensive play. That being said, the sad thing is that he has been our best D the entire year…
      Another question, where are your grades for the coaches? I’d have to give Nelson an A+ thus far and give Eakins an F- as he had no clue about the room, thought he knew too much and seemed to be an extremely arrogant person, and i think that turned off most of, if not all of his players.
      Then there is Scrivens grade, way too harsh!!! Am i a fan of Ben’s, yes, but i do think that he must stay on his skates far more than he does, i think that he slides around the crease on his knees way too much and because of this he has a hard time getting square and set to the shooters in time. I’d think that an NHL goalie coach could see this, but, i don’t know, maybe he has…
      But you did nail RNH, Gordon, Hendricks, Nikitan and Schultz squarely on the head…as well as Klinkhammer and Roy, two guys i hope the Oilers can manage to sign for smaller dollars and shorter term…

      • pkam

        You’re grammer is WEAK. And your ability to realize how important petry is to this team is WEAK. Also, Scriv, he recovered after the 40 game mark, like it was noted. When games have zero importance, and theres no pressure on him. What if its just the early pressure that gets to him? He and Fasth arguably lost the season for us, and thats why they don’t deserve better.
        And sorry can’t pull a F MINUS out of out a$$es. This is a legitimate report card k?

      • pkam

        You’re grammer is WEAK. And your ability to realize how important petry is to this team is WEAK. Also, Scriv, he recovered after the 40 game mark, like it was noted. When games have zero importance, and theres no pressure on him. What if its just the early pressure that gets to him? He and Fasth arguably lost the season for us, and thats why they don’t deserve better.
        And sorry can’t pull a F MINUS out of out a$$es. This is a legitimate report card k?

        • bradleypi

          Please elaborate on exactly what petrys value to the team is before you call anybody weak. If you consider 10 points and a -22 “value”, then your whole comment is in itself WEAK.

    • Spoils

      I trust we are grading on a curve here.

      RNH #s are a good deal lower than the fantasy projections, and he was basically picked last at the all-star draft.

      Not sure that warrants an A.

      How is everyone worse than I believe they should be…

      Damn you kool-aid

    • bradleypi

      Why do my comments keep getting deleted from this article? Is it because I call a spade a spade and that’s frowned on, on this site? Petry getting an A because of who he plays against is a complete joke. This “grading” system is obviously just a popularity contest with absolutely no thought as to what each player brings to the table.

      • Your comments keep getting deleted because you seem to have ignored being warned to tone it down already and you keep going after other people here. You can disagree with somebody without calling their side of the debate or what they’ve written “a complete joke.” That’s not debate.

        So back off a bit or you’re done.

    • If its me Pitlick gets another contract for AHL next year. There is a player there. I agree though that once the hammer gets signed Pitlicks time here his season and possibly next is done. His injuries have to stop don’t they?

      I like what we have seen from Derek Roy. But if he can bring back a 3-4 rd pick at the deadline thank you for coming we’ll see in September in training camp after we’ve resigned you for 1.5.millionish.

      The Sabres and Coyotes will be 30-29 and we’ll be 28th. We’ll have to win the lottery. Barring that I really think it comes down to 2 players for the Oilers. Dylan Strome and the Zacha kid. 6’3 and 6’4 center 187 and 204 respectively. Zacha’s first year in NA so we can push aside his boxcars and just look and drool at the talent that he brings. Is Strome the real deal or is it the McDavid effect?.

      I could easily see a lineup in the future where RNH,Draisatl,Yakimov and Zacha are our 1-4 centers.2018 here we come.Sweet

      • bradleypi

        So if I understand you correctly, you want to draft Zacha with the 3rd overall pick, then deploy him as a 4th line center in 3 years? Wow! That’s an interesting way to build a hockey team. Instead of taking a top pairing defenseman which this team desperately needs? Because by my eye the only dman in the organization that is top pairing quality is Nurse. I myself hope Mact packages that pick with a player or the “magic beans” he can get for petry, Hendricks or Gordon if he can find a taker for them and acquires a top flight dman.

        • bradleypi

          The timeline would fit if you draft a player like Zacha or Strome. He should come in after 3 years as the 4h line center in a limited role.

          Draft and develop. Noah Hanafin is 4 years away. Maybe. I like Zachas size speed and 2 way play.

          We’ll see on draft day where the magic beans fall.There are going to be a lot disappointed teams once again.

          The other factor in my head moving forward is expansion. By how many teams and when? Las Vegas. Sure why not someone has to be first in Vegas. Quebec City opens its arena door in 2016. Is there a team in Seattle?Maybe. Is Houston on the slate?

          Remember that expansion money only goes to the owners. Not he players. Plus Rogers TV will give its left arm to broadcsst exclusively out of Quebec City. And with the Islanders moving next year to Brooklyn and generating more money at the gate how long will it be before Bettman moves Florida a more traditional hockey market like Hartford.