Tracking Anders Nilsson

Anders Nilsson was drafted in the third round of the 2009 NHL draft. He played two more seasons in Sweden, before coming to North America to play in the New York Islanders organization. He played 75 games in the AHL and 25 in the NHL over three seasons with New York, but left of the KHL last year.

The Oilers acquired him from Chicago on Monday and promptly signed him to a $1 million, one-year, one-way contract.

I knew very little about him, other than watching him play for Sweden at the World Championships, so I asked goaltending guru, Kevin Woodley, for some insight on Nilsson.

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Gregor: What are his strengths and weaknesses?

Woodley: His size is his strength. He has a really good athletic
base, he moves very well for his size. That is the strength, the weakness, at
least early in his career in the NHL was that he moved too much. When you are
that big and that long and you move too much you are opening up holes. Pucks go
through you as opposed to using your size effectively, and you tend to open up and
create more holes than you need to.

It is a fine line for bigger goaltenders, in terms of how
long it takes them to realize how to use their size efficiently. When you move
as explosively as Anders does, sometimes the saying less is more is applicable, it can take a
while to figure it out and learn it at the NHL level.

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Gregor: Devan Dubnyk told me last summer he realized he needed to move less, so how will a
goalie coach go about teaching Nilsson to move less?

Woodley: There are a couple different parts here.

One is positioning. That is the tactical side of the game.
You have the technical side which is how you move, how you track pucks and how
you close up holes. The tactical side is where you play in certain situations
on the ice. For a guy with Anders size there really isn’t much need to play near
the edge or on top of the crease. You can play a more contained, controlled

In theory, that should allow you to move less and open up
fewer holes, because everything is shortened, all your movements are shortened.
Play inside the blue ice, shorten the movements, shorten the distances you have
to travel and minimize the holes you open up. The bigger the goalie is the more
that principle, in general, comes into effect. Unless of course you are Pekka
Rinne who is huge, and yet he is so explosive and can get away with playing a more
aggressive game.

Within the technical framework you have many different
elements. One of the elements is how you track the puck. It is interesting you
mention Devan Dubnyk, because I’ll be on the ice with him tomorrow. One of the
things that he changed in his game from being almost out of the league two
years ago to being a Vezina trophy finalist last year, and again I’m not saying
it is all of it, but it is part of it, is the new buzzword and a new way of
tracking the puck called head trajectory.

Anders has been exposed to it. In layman’s terms it is not
just following the puck, it is how you move your head when you follow the puck.
It affects all the physiology of a goaltender…whether we close down on the puck
and keep those holes closed, or whether we turn off of the puck, imagine
pulling away from it with our shoulders as we move to the left and open up

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Anders was exposed to this his last season with the New York
Islanders when he was in the American League with Steven Valiquette, who is one
of six coaches who has learned this technique. Anders learned it. I talked to
him about it and he really seemed to adopt it well and embrace it. He went on a
really good run using it and got called up to the Islanders, and unfortunately
the Islanders I don’t think they had anyone in the NHL level to teach him to
use his size. They really do have a
philosophy for their goaltenders to let them figure it out on their own. He
goes on this run, he is using this new technique and it is helping him in the
AHL, but he arrives in the NHL and he has no support for it, and is on his own
to figure it out. And the next year he is in the KHL.

A long winded story here.

I don’t know how much he followed
up with head trajectory in the KHL, but the interesting connection is…When I
said there is a half dozen goalie coaches who are on the inside of this
philosophy, one of them is Dustin Schwartz, the goaltending coach with
the Oilers. He would be aware of the work that Anders did with Valiquette and
the way he embraced it. It is a foundational piece for all goaltenders, but it
can really be a massive difference maker for big goaltenders. It teaches them
to move without opening their frame, track pucks better and use their size more
efficiently, both in terms of tracking the puck off the release and the way
they move around on the ice as the puck is passed.

I wonder how much of Schwartz knowing he had been exposed to
head trajectory played a part in the Oilers acquiring him.

Parting Shot…

A few things.

The Oilers haven’t officially announced anything, but I’m told Schwartz will be staying on as their goaltending coach. They are very high on him and believe he is an excellent young coach. Combined with Woodley telling us he is one of a few goalie coaches who specialize in head trajectory training it makes sense to have him on staff.

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It will be interesting to see Nilsson in training camp. If I was him, I’d come to Edmonton early and spend more time working with Schwartz. Cam Talbot is a student of the head trajectory philosophy as well, having learned it from Benoit Allaire in New York, so he too won’t have much of an adjustment working with Schwartz.

The best part of the Nilsson acquisition is it creates real competition for the both goaltending spots on the roster. Those two along with Ben Scrivens will come to camp knowing only two of them will stay in the NHL, and I believe competition makes players better.

For far too long the Oilers haven’t had much competition for roster spots, and Peter Chiarelli has added depth in goal, on the blueline and up front so players will compete, not only for a spot on the roster, but also for icetime.

For those going to the Eskimos game tomorrow, read this for a recap on rule changes, but also positioning changes for the officials.

Recently by Jason Gregor:     

  • Randaman

    Posts from Flames fans making fun of the Oilers are no worse than reading posts from homers. Set a modest goal; be in the playoff hunt at Christmas or Easter before you start crowing about Oiler greatness. It’s a flawed team that’s slowly getting better.

  • Yo yo yo. We got connor, but they say they beat us with Dougie the hammer, now gio wants a contract, that should legally put him in the slammer, but when alls said en done, frolik got gold instead of clam chowder, with sekera we don’t know, if the hype will show, but when we got reinhart, they too lafed but they don’t know, that nurse will be a top pair, and do they bash it? They won’t dare, keep your Dougie, low number contract makes them fuzzy, I’m a troll, bowl Lowell, coal, mole, toll, ect………..

    And this is why alberta farm boys do not get record deals

    Flames suck

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins


      “Those lines weren’t quite as sublime/as watching Hall chargin’ up the left side/in all alone on a breakaway in overtime…”

      It takes a real twisted person to try to write rap lines about the Oilers, I just can’t believe I’m not the only one. Infiniprops, dude.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    I’ll admit, I have a bit of a hate-on for Schultz. No one who makes that much money should look that disinterested and utterly incompetent at work. McLellan’s got his work cut out for him, but if we end up shipping Schultz out for an actual Chia Pet, I’d be OK with it.

    • Randaman

      I’m old enough to remember Coffey being looked at in the same light.

      No comparison talent wise but I think you see my point.

      McLellan does have a project on his hands but we could say that about 3/4 of the team.

      • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

        Coffey is an EXTREMELY rare case from a different era. If Schultz doesn’t have the talent, he needs the work ethic. Which, at this point, he sure as hell does not have.

        McLellan could be the real factor here, though. As much as the roster turnover will likely help, McLellan’s systems are perhaps going to be the biggest factor that doesn’t rhyme with ShmcShmavid.

        • Randaman

          Agreed. My point was that people thought Coffey had a lackadaisical attitude and was lazy.

          I am hoping for a big turnaround from Schultz. The good thing is that it has happened to players before.

          Like I said, we wait…

        • Randaman

          Yes, I agree wholeheartedly. I didn’t say Coffey was lazy at all.

          What I said was that early in his career some people saw him as non committed and lazy.

          Hope this is clear now

  • Randaman

    Trolls go with the package on sport blogs such as this one. I tend to ignore them, no trash/cheer. It took me a wee bit of time to ignore them though. I have always found the nuck and the leaf fans the worst. The flame fans mean very little to me, a necessary evil.

    With the Oil being the perpetual whipping team for these past years, we were an easy target. The nuck fan were the worst but I see they have really clawed back their attacks…….one only has to look at their team and realize that even the low-brow nuck fan are well aware that their team will be falling on hard times very soon.

    Flamers are just that, nothing more nor nothing less. They have been a better team than us for a period of time but that did not make them a good team in the overall picture. This is where the BOA heats up again and I am very happy to have the Mighty Oil whip your lame flamer a$$es like we did in the glory days!

    Go Oil Go!

  • Oilerz4life

    Schultz is still more valuable than Petry was here . Playing behind Markov and Subban made life easier for him. Look , if Schultz was to have been the one traded . i’ll bet he (Schultz) would have performed even better than Petry . Then you’d all be screaming why did we let Schultz go .

    Petry as an Oiler in 59 games – 4 goals 11 assists for 15 points and a -25 ,which I believe was worst on the defence at that time . Petry lucked out going to Habs and they paid him with a lucrative contract I doubt he can live up to . Schultz was 81 games ,6g,25A for 31 points but I believe he still finished with a -27 , so I must conclude he got better for him after Petry left

    Had we had two top defensemen like the Habs and Lemilin no slouch either , then we might have had them both here at a reasonable price.Petry was in the right place at the right time , so good for him .

  • Sticks and stones my friends. It’s just words. Don’t read the comment if you know who is posting it. Do we really need tattle tales on this site. Oh please mr Gregor ban this guy and delete that guy. Grow up put you big boy undies on and move on to the next comment. If you ignore these people who just come on here just to get a rise out of you, they will eventually realize it and go away. Whining about it to me is just as sad as trolling in itself.

    Have a McDavid day for crying out loud.

    • Oilerz4life

      I am more than capable of ignoring the trolls, but when other ON posters engage in childish slanging matches with them it derails the threads and is crushingly BORING to grown ups. You’ll have to take my word on that I guess.

    • Joe Mamma

      Please give me an example of apathy solving anything. Ever.

      “Just pretend it’s not there and it will go away” is just a gutless copout.

      Take a scroll through all the pages of comments here and tally up how many are actual hockey discussion, and how many are just schoolyard crap. And that margin is getting greater every day. This site is turning into a freaking joke.

      That’s cool with you? Good for you bud. But do the rest of us a favor and keep your bigmouth holier-than-thou comments to yourself.

      • Time Travelling Sean

        Wow! Big moth Holier than thou comments? A little on the harsh side bud. All I’m saying is skip past the trolling comments and read the actual hockey content. It’s not hard.

          • Joe Mamma

            Case in point, comments #138-147…. All just Internet bunfight bs. If you can’t see why garbage like this is bad for this forum, you’re a lost cause.

            I happened to enjoy coming to ON for informative articles and (mostly) intelligent discussion and debate. But those days are dying. Like I said, if that doesn’t bother you, that’s fine. But who elected you the Opinion Police exactly? I must have missed the vote.

            If you’re content to sift through reams of low-brow troll speak for a couple nuggets of hockey talk, that’s your business. But we’re all ON citizens, and many of us are tired of what this place is becoming. Take your own advice you hypocrite, and don’t read it if you don’t like it.

          • Joe Mamma

            You’d like that, wouldn’t ya ziggy? You’d like me to follow the advice of these dimwits, and just “ignore it and it will go away.”

            No. I don’t think I will. I think I’ll continue to draw attention to the fact that you and your ilk contribute absolutely nothing of value to this forum, and that your being allowed to continue your incessant trolling makes this forum look bush league. Any self respecting mod would have banned you a long time ago.

            If they banned DSF, there is no excuse for you being allowed to comment here. At least DSF contributed to the discussion some of the time. You are all troll, all the time. I cannot think of a single comment you have ever made that wasn’t designed to get a rise out of people. It’s funny the first few times. We’re all down for a little rivalry chirping once and a while.

            But not…

            On every.



            Ad nauseum.

            As Brownlee said to you the other day, your act is wearing thin. I look forward to the day that you dance on his last nerve and he smashes you with the banhammer. Until then, no, I think I’ll keep bringing your antics to the fore.

          • SSB1963

            You my friend are waaaaaay to sensitive. Water off a ducks back bud. Why do you let it bother you so much? I haven’t squashed one opinion I just happened to have a different one than you. As for post 138-147. I have this thing on the right side of my screen that allows me to scroll past the garbage and read the good stuff. Don’t sweat the small stuff man, and have yourself a good day!

  • Oilerz4life

    not an oilers fan so need your opinions here. not relevant to this article, but are you guys expecting Nurse and/or Draisatl to make the roster next year? serious question – don’t know if mgmt has let on what the plan is for them or not. cheers

    • Joe Mamma

      they haven’t said one way or another. Some would prefer they go to the AHL for a season, and get tons of icetime. Others would rather they make the team and get sheltered minutes.

      • freelancer

        For me it comes down to are they ready. If they can compete and perform better than others, and MacLellan feels they will make the team better than absolutely. Unlike last year when even though they said Draisaitl would have to prove himself, we all knew he would make the team because of the lack of NHL centres we had.

        • Joe Mamma

          I think what you mean is, we all knew he would make the team because of MacT and Lowe’s clever plot to tank by icing a sub-par/inferior roster. And there is the reason they still have jobs with the organization..

    • JackB

      Draisaitl certainly looked ready last year, but he was playing against juniors. And he looked ready in the recent development camp (but again, playing against juniors)

      I would bet that Chiarelli’s plan for him would be to gain further experience in the AHL, and be a first call up if there are any injuries. We currently have 14 forwards under contract and on the roster (including Pitlick who is subject to waivers) and 15 forwards if you include Pakarinen who is not subject to waivers. Pakarinen finished last year as a roster player, but is currently shown as “in the system”. Last year, by his play, he shot ahead of several prospects, and by all reports really impressed the scouting staff.

      I don’t think Draisaitl makes the team this year. He is only 19, and certainly might benefit from another year of development (the Red Wing philosophy). He didn’t do well last year “against men” and it was a mistake keeping him here, but thank God it doesn’t appear to have effected him negatively? (I wonder what kind of player Gagne might have turned out to be if he had been handled differently!!) We previously rushed our prospects. But that was because they were better than what we had . . . and we needed them! . . . (which was the fault of poor scouting, poor drafting and an inability to attract free agents to come here). Hopefully all that is now changing!

      And Draisaitl’s upside is HUMOUNGUS !!

      The same could probably be said for Nurse, who certainly looks ready. But he is only 20, has been dominant only against junior players, and has only played in 2 NHL games. Nurse has all the physical tools but needs to gain experience against men. (AND LEARN when to go and when to be defensive) Currently we have 8 defence on the roster, and one has to go! (The real reason Schultz is being taken to club requested arbitration)

      Two D would have to be moved (traded or bought out) for both Nurse and Reinhart to play. And then they would only be the 6-7 D. Nurse (and Reinhart) would certainly benefit more by being a 1-2 in the AHL than being a 6-7 in the NHL.

      If Nikitin is bought out, then the competition would be between Reinhart and Nurse for the 7th position, AND I DON’T THINK EITHER OF THEM WOULD DEVELOP MUCH IN THE PRESSBOX (so likely our Captain will spend a lot of time in the pressbox).

      I really think that Chiarelli will opt out for proper development, for both Nurse and Draisaitl (and maybe Reinhart) rather than rush them into the bigs.

      And to be truthful, I would rather see Reinhart have to develop as a 6-7 in the NHL (a poorer development path) . . . and see Nurse develop in the AHL (a better development path). THEN SEE NURSE come into the league next year as the next “Pronger-like” defenceman!!

      There is no question that now we have a team where there will be COMPETITION at every position; forward; defense; and goaltending. And while we may not have the BEST players in the NHL competing for jobs, Chiarelli has got it done without losing any of our young core (Hall, RNH, Eberle, Yakupov) and has stayed under the cap.

      AND, the final consideration . . . even though McLellan is one of the best coaches in the NHL, I think it is ABSOLUTE FOLLY to try to start the season with three rookies, McDavid, Draisaitl and Nurse. They would all require some “sheltering” (or we might ruin them like we did with Gagne).

      There is one thing for sure. If either Nurse or Draisaitl make the team out of camp, they are certainly going to have to EARN THEIR PLACE AT THE TABLE . . . and a roster player would have to be waived or traded.

      Camp should be VERY INTERESTING . . . AND . . . two years from now be REALLY INTERESTING (and full of promise)

      (Sorry this is such a long answer, but I really had to work through the logic.) Oilers fans are EXCITED . . . but really have to show just a bit more patience with the development of the team. I would not be surprised if the Oilers go deep into the playoffs two years from now.

      • JackB

        We rebuilt our squad the reverse of what conventional wisdom might have been expected . We kept going for the most dynamic forwards , rather than building from backend . Thus a terrible backend has kept our development well below normal getting to a decent stage in their development . Dynamic forwards are toughest to get , but they have to be surrounded by a good to very good backend . Flames are the reverse of us , and take care of having a very good defence and backend , that makes their forwards look and do better than what they are . We still have a long way to go to get a sound defence and goalie to be honest . Chiarelli has yet to deliver much in that regard so far , as previous GM’s have done . Look at Habs with Price , Markov and Subban , and compare that to what we have on backend and you see why we are not yet competitive .

        All our forwards will excel once we have a good to very good backend to compliment them . Talbot and Sekara are not in the realm of Price and Subban as an example .

  • BigMcD

    Flames fans are nothing more than immature insecure goofs.

    It’s is a proven fact that people hate on those that they perceive than them. No one would hate on someone that they’re better than, human nature rarely allows it.

  • Darkmanic

    If you look at advanced stats between Scrivens and Talbot you’ll see that even after last year’s horrendous season Scrivens has been a better goaltender then Talbot. Let’s not forget that Scrivens was told he was going to be part of a tandem then back-up and then starter and back to back-up then over to a starter again and that could not have been fun or positive for growth. I truly believe that if we had a good defense then Scrivens would have flourished. Also there is a curve from playing 15-20 games and 60-70 games so last year could have been that curve for Scrivens. I just hope our off season moves will be enough for Talbot to not get run out of town after 1 bad season

  • I miss checking ON one day and apparently miss all the fun. Personally, the trolls are a little irritating, but that is exactly the reaction they look for.

    Who cares, don’t respond. They add zero to the (ir)rational arguments posted here.

  • With the above being said, i don’t have too much interest in the article content. Yes, new ways of teaching are always interesting, but let’s see if the approach will work in the game. It’s also hard to know (as one other posted mentioned) how this was taught before, or if this was taught before, but just called something different.

    The bottom line is it’s all about performance and production, and about W’s…..ahem, i mean advanced stats?!

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Just wanna point out that ziggy hasn’t posted since page 2 and we’re still talking about him. That’s what trolls call a ‘rousing success.’

  • paul wodehouse

    …the 24 hour news/blog cycle is up…the natives …er… citizens are restless! this is officially a story drought…spare us this parchedness…labs rats attack one another when they don’t have anything to read right?

    I have ten questions about Connor McDavid…that’d make a story …

  • freelancer

    Something to muse over . EXPANSION DRAFT probable lists IF IT WAS THIS YEAR , as per hockey buzz column for all the teams . .

    PERAMATURES: You can protect 1 goalie , 5 defence and 9F . Secondly you could prefer to protect 2 goalies , but then be reduced to 3 defence and only 7 forwards . Obviously we would go the first route to protect our forwards . Injured players , NMC (No movement clause ) and NTC (no trade clauses) exempt unless player agrees to it . Defence must at least played in 40 games and 70 in last two seasons . 2 teams added in expansion would then take 1 maximum from each team – 1 each . Each new team must choose one from each team and get over the cap floor of 5.5M , I believe . Injured players can’t be taken .

    So here is the list of our players that likely would be available: Purcell ,Hendriks, Gazdik,, Klinkhammer ,Pitlick , A.Miller, Nikitin, Fayne , Gryba,Scrivens , Nilsson .

  • freelancer

    Hey Gregor, don’t you usually do a blog comparing the current Oilers roster to the teams that were in the Stanley Cup Final? Would be curious to see how we stack up now.

  • Joe Mamma

    Just watched Connor’s goals in scrimmage.. Is that the Oiler’s goal horn going off for every goal?…in a 3 on 3 scrimmage!?!

    Hahaha come on guys, doesn’t that strike you as, well..hilarious? Hillbilly?

    • Mike Krushelnyski

      Funny, I don’t think I’ve ever watched any highlights of a Flames development camp. Anyone else?

      It’s ok if you want to become an Oilers fan, dude. We won’t judge.

      • Randaman

        Ah slow day dude, will be hopping on the riding mower with some sailor jerrys shortly.

        Draisaitl was sure stripped handily I noticed in the montage. Also noticed Connor seemed to have a worried look on his face. A look that kind of said, Wow, this is the team I am on? I never expected to score on my NHL club at a much quicker rate than I ever scored in Junior..

      • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

        Watching a Flames development camp would be like injecting concentrated boredom straight into your eyes.

        I don’t blame ziggy for wanting a look at McDavid, though.

        • Mike Krushelnyski

          WEll Jordy we don’t feel the need to announce every 3 on 3 scrimmage goal with the regular season, big time goal horn so if that’s boring than yeah I guess it is.

          Figured I’d get a look at McDavid before he started falling to meet expectations

    • JackB

      We made the scrimmage something special. The fans needed something special, after 9 years of being TRUE FANS (regardless of the frustration)

      BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY . . . we made it special for a special family . . . for a special police officer.


  • Oilfan69

    I think that in the nation network re-write they should implement a quota posting system where trolls can be limited to a certain number of posts per day on a specific site. would be much more enjoyable if I only had to read through say 5 ultrathinzigzags posts per day 🙂

  • Oilfan69

    In regards to Petry and the playoffs:

    Petry averaged over 21 minutes a game through the playoffs. In the Tampa series, he was an even or plus player in every game except the last game. During the regular season with Montreal he eclipsed the 23 minute mark multiple times.

    Fact. Petry IS a top 4 defenseman on any playoff team. Worth the money he was paid? Who knows…

    End of discussion.


  • JackB

    “Mr. Gregor, please ban these trolls. My feelings are getting hurt.”

    I can’t believe all the crying by Oil fans.

    Now they’re just like their team, soft, soft, soft.


  • camdog

    The Edmonton Oilers have been intentionally losing for about 5-6 years and still they have more playoff series wins than the Calgary Flames over the past 10 years, but hey those are the facts.

    I hope that all Oiler fans would please stop worrying about any one particular team. I want the Oilers to be better than 29 teams in the league. If for a few fans all it takes to feel good about their team is being better than the Oilers, well good on them.

    • Oilfan69

      So typical, cherry picking stats to try and deny the Oilers stank. Hopefully it makes you feel better but the rest of the hockey world knows what team (on and off the ice) has been a complete embarrassment to the league. If you go back 1 more season (obviously excluding the lockout) the flames add the same amount of playoff wins as the Oil’s ’06 run. If you want to talk facts check the last 36 games Oilers vs Flames. Flames 28 wins, Oilers 8 wins. Not even in the same league. That includes the famous 8-1 thrashing in Edmonton plus current win streak is 7 in a row and counting for the Flames. Now thats a fact.
      Here’s the link to check for yourself, it’s hard to believe it could be that lopsided.

  • Joe Mamma

    What a bunch of immature idiots. That does it. I’m done with the comments section on this damn site. What an absolute joke this place has become. Have fun chucking poop at each other children. I’m off to lowetide’s blog to hang with the grownups.

  • Joe Mamma

    What a bunch of immature idiots. That does it. I’m done with the comments section on this damn site. What an absolute joke this place has become. Have fun chucking poop at each other children.