The Edmonton Oilers have three players making significant dollars heading into their walk year in 2015-16. Ben Scrivens, Nikitia Nikitin and Teddy Purcell all enter the year with something to prove and history tells us one of them is bound to recover, at least a little. Question: Who would you bet on to spike?
The best way I know to look at goalie performance is even-strength save percentage. It isn’t perfect (not all shots and scoring chances are created equal) but it gives us a nice look at the individual isolated:
- 2011-12: (TOR) 12GP, .910 (Gustavsson was the starter, .904)
- 2012-13: (TOR) 20GP, .920 (Reimer was the starter, .924)
- 2013-14 (LAK) 19GP, .937 (Quick was the starter, .929)
- 2013-14 (EDM) 21GP, .922 (Dubnyk was the starter, .897)
- 2014-15 (EDM) 57GP, .897 (Fasth was the backup, .896)
Scrivens was better than the starter (or backup) in four of these runs, and of course the only ghastly number is from 2014-15. Ben Scrivens is 28, in what should be the prime of his career and has no known injury or malady that would impact his future. History tells us goalies who have wonky seasons often regress to the mean, implying an improved save percentage is likely. I’d guess we can count on .910 or better from Scrivens in 2015-16.
Edmonton spent a lot of money on Nikitin, who was one of two major bets to shore up the blue line in the summer of 2014. Although he was injured for much of the season, the underlying numbers show some positives.
The Vollman Sledgehammer shows Nikitin in the “two way” sector with zone-starts that put him in the ‘average’ range compared to other Oilers defenders. They are fairly easy minutes for a veteran (second pairing) but his possession numbers were close to 50%—this isn’t a bad player although there’s no way Nikitin was worth $4.5M last season (even when healthy).
There isn’t a lot of offense there (although his points-per-60 at 5×4—2.54—is a good number) and the three-year glance suggests Nikitin is what he is. If he stayed healthy and posted (say) 20 points, would that make him worth $4.5 million? Unlike Ben Scrivens, none of the numbers above suggest he was a quality NHL defenseman in his final two seasons in Columbus.
Teddy Purcell has gone the Biosteel/Gary Roberts training route. Will skate with Taylor Hall and Connor McDavid mid’ August at Roberts’ camp
— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) July 26, 2015
Teddy Purcell is a veteran winger whose skills fit nicely with a young, emerging team like Edmonton. He can offer cover in case Nail Yakupov struggles as a 2line RW this winter and could play either wing on a third line (and that could become important depending on who makes the team). Purcell performed well on the power play last season but his even-strength offense has been eroding for some time.
Purcell’s training work is important for his professional survival. If he has a strong year with Edmonton in 2015-16, the club might re-sign him or there may be multiple offers elsewhere.
YOU MAKE THE CALL!
I’m leaning toward Scrivens as the most likely to recover, although Purcell’s training may mean marked improvement and he’s likely to get a major chance (no backup role there). Niki Nikitin battled injuries and ineffectiveness last season but if he can recover and post a strong year, the accolades and opportunities will be enormous, as they always are for effective defensemen.
Tough choice. Thoughts?