September a year ago, Dallas Eakins was talking about two centers and “had no idea who the other two are going to be” at the beginning of training camp. In a way, that’s still the case. Source
THE FUTURE IS SO BRIGHT…..
It is insane to argue against Edmonton’s future at center. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is a capable NHL center whose maturation over the last 12 months is obvious. The Nuge has been facing tough opponents for years, but the battle favors him more often these days, compared to the time he was a teenager and 20. ‘Baby Nuge’ is a capable NHL player and a fine two-way talent.
Connor McDavid is 13 games into his NHL career and the here and now is breathtaking, let alone the future. The mind boggles with the possibilities, and we did see fantastic hockey in those baker’s dozen contests with 97—I’d argue the current pall over Oilers Nation is mostly due to McDavid’s injury and is far more devastating than the team’s current 6-11-0 record.
The Vollman Sledgehammer isn’t aloft yet this season, but War-On-Ice runs a very similar item, and that Sledgehammer gives us some insight into the Oilers current situation at pivot.
The horizontal is defensive (left side most severe) zone starts, the vertical is quality of competition. The size of the bubble is TOI (big=good) and color reflects possession (deep, rich blue is the best, pink is not good). The graph shows in real terms how bright the future is—the blue bubbles of Nuge, Leon and McDavid are music! They’re playing tough opposition—as one expects—and getting a good possession number (blue bubble=good) with better zone starts.
McDavid’s injury combined with less than stellar performances from Anton Lander and Mark Letestu have us here. All of the offense from Edmonton’s centers has been delivered from the top two lines (we’re counting Leon as a center here although he plays wing currently).
War-On-Ice also runs some great stats that give us an indication about how many looks a player is getting individually and overall success while he’s on the ice.
INDIVIDUAL HIGH DANGER SCORING CHANCES
- Connor McDavid, 10 in 13 games
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 8 in 17 games
- Leon Draisaitl, 6 in 7 games
- Anton Lander, 3 in 17 games
- Mark Letestu, 3 in 17 games
- Andrew Miller, 2 in 5 games
I’m running Leon here because I think we may see him at center tomorrow on the left coast. We can see he’s absolutely kicking ass since his recall and delivering ridiculous results. McDavid was out of his mind in the discipline before his injury and the Nuge was also a substantial contributor.
Lander and Letestu trail, but they also spent much of the first 17 games with lesser linemates and are not the same offensive talents as the men above. Andrew Miller’s early results are encouraging.
ON-ICE HIGH DANGER SCORING CHANCES FOR, PER 60
Sexy name, I know, but for me I wanted to get a closer look at that Miller number—that’s a small little sample size but perhaps there’s a clue. If we run (again via War-on-Ice) the centers through the math machine, we come up with a number per 60 (all at 5×5).
- Leon Draisaitl 11.93
- Connor McDavid 11.83
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 10.02
- Mark Letestu 7.14
- Anton Lander 6.92
- Andrew Miller 5.22
I’m no math expert, but I think the Oilers may be wise to run Leon and Nuge on separate lines. If Draisaitl can find success with Hall and Eberle, the Nuge might be able to make music with Benoit Pouliot and Nail Yakupov.
We’ve seen Letestu and Lander for a few games now playing alongside true talent, but the needle isn’t moving despite some encouraging numbers. I think Miller is trying to tell us here that his high danger scoring chances for have been self-authored but it’s such a small sample size I’m sure experts would encourage us to disregard or keep it from the feature page.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
I think Leon is moving to center, Nuge will get two linemates not named Hall and Eberle, and we should expect the mudslide to continue on the bottom two lines.