Monday Musings: Goalie fitting chart, Lucic and more

FourthOverall

Only 19 days until the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Seeing the Oilers pick in the top four is nothing new, but the expectation of them to make a significant trade is heightened compared to previous years. The Oilers simply didn’t have the depth at forward to consider trading one of their scorers, but the arrival of Connor McDavid, and emergence of Leon Draisaitl, allows GM Peter Chiarelli to move a skilled forward in the hopes of landing a right-shot defenceman.

I’ll admit the anticipation of a move has me more intrigued by the Oilers than I have been in a decade.

The draft will provide some fireworks, but so could free agency.

Pierre Lebrun fired up Oilersnation with his comments about Milan Lucic being open to sign in Edmonton if he goes to free agency on July 1st. 

Would the Oilers sign him? It depends. I’d hope they’d only consider it after they’ve solidified their blueline, and even then it has to be at the right price.

Will Lucic command a six-year, $6 million/year contract? Most of us assume so, but after 2015’s “Summer of Sanity” among NHL GMs, I’m not convinced it is a certainty he gets the deal he wants. He will be coveted, as he should. He is a very unique player, and I would pay him $6 million for three of four years for sure. The final two would ideally be a bit less, but you will never make any moves if you are always worrying about the future. You can make more “educated guesses,” but ultimately none of us know for certain when Lucic’s production will fall off a cliff.

The Lucic statement got a lot of traction.

Does one stat tell real story?

The reality is any of us can use one stat to back up our argument. Willis is a huge believer in Pouliot, which is fine, but I believe using P/60 is very misleading in this case.

Since the start of 2012, Milan Lucic has played 288 games and produced 185 points. In the same time span, Benoit Pouliot dressed in 227 games and produced 126 points.

Lucic would dramatically improve the offence of the Oilers, because he plays more games and he produces more points. Offence is actual goals scored, not points/60. 

Pouliot has played fewer games, fewer minutes against easier competition before arriving in Edmonton when he was a third line player in Tampa Bay and New York. And regardless of competition or TOI/game, Lucic has outscored Pouliot 185-126 in the past four seasons. Suggesting he isn’t a better offensive player is simply untrue.

Even those within the fancy stats community don’t all agree. Darcy McLeod crunches numbers as often as anyone.

Lucic has also had better possession numbers (RelCor in the past five years, if you believe in those things), and while some of that is due to playing on better teams the past two seasons, the reality is Lucic’s size allows him to extend time in the offensive zone for him and his linemates. 

Take it a step further. Pouliot has been a $4 million cap hit for the past two seasons, while Lucic was a $6 million cap hit. Pouliot has played in only 69.7% (113 of 162) of the Oilers games. Lucic has dressed in 98.7% (160 of 162).

I see the concern in signing Lucic to a long-term deal. There is a good chance he could slow down, but he is two years younger than Pouliot, and if you are going to discuss the concerns of Lucic’s production drop off, how come no one mentions Pouliot is two years older and has missed significant time in three of the past four seasons (in 2013 Pouliot only played in 70.8% of Tampa’s games)?

For me, there is no debate Lucic is the more productive player, both in points and games played. I believe P/60 can be used when discussing players who play around the same amount of games and minutes, but when you compare one player who has played significantly fewer games it is easy to misread what the actual production value of the player is.

There is no guarantee that if Pouliot plays more games he would produce at the same P/60 rate. Fatigue, playing banged up, slumps and other factors must be accounted for.

Just look at Patrick Kane’s season. He had 46 points in his first 31 games. He was on pace to score 121 points. He was averaging 1.48 points/game. In his final 51 games he tallied 60 points (1.17 ppg). Many things can happen in a full season and fatigue or wear and tear can impact a player’s production.

If you are concerned about signing Lucic long-term, that is valid, but I’d be willing to bet a substantial amount that in the next three seasons Lucic will produce more points than Benoit Pouliot. Yes, he would cost more money, but his production, not to mention his ability to cycle the puck and add a physical element this team hasn’t had in the top-six for years, would be a major upgrade over Pouliot.

It isn’t a knock on Pouliot, just the simple facts about Lucic’s production and on-ice presence. 

The concern about Lucic’s production would likely occur in the final three years of a potential six-year contract. I would agree with those worries, but I don’t agree with any suggestion that Lucic would not add more offence to the Oilers. Their career numbers suggest otherwise.

In the past eight seasons Lucic has played 570 games and has 370 points. Pouliot has played in 470 games and has 227 points.

Lucic is worth $6 million a year for three years, but the length of the contract will cause some concern. I agree with that, but suggesting there isn’t much of a difference between Pouliot and Lucic offensively is incorrect.

For me, actual points trump P/60 all day any day, and Lucic dominates Pouliot in actual NHL production.

QUICK HITS

Ali

  • In Goal Magazine and NHL.com’s Kevin Woodley has discussed the reverse VH before, and he said it was a tendency that Matt Murray uses, and it cost him on the OT winner. “It is an exploitable tendency, but it isn’t an easy one to exploit. It was a tough bounce (deflected), but that position (reverse VH) leaves him exposed up high. It isn’t a bad goal, but I expect he will not use the reverse VH as often next year,” said Woodley. I love how Woodley breaks down the goaltending position.
  • “The goalies have been told they will have new equipment (new goalie fitting chart) to use in late June. It will impact goalies differently, and for sure the shorter goalies could be hit hard,” said Woodley. This is something to watch for. A free agent goalie like Jonas Enroth might not get signed until later in the summer after teams have seen him in the new equipment. The new goalie fitting chart will be one of the most talked about off-season moves.
  • I am rather surprised people believe Lucic will automatically slow down. There are many examples of players who had very good years in their late 20s and early 30s. Shane Doan is a good example. He had his most goals, 30, when he was 29 years old and his most productive NHL seasons occurred when he was 31 and 32 years young, scoring 78 and 73 points. 
  • If Lucic and Kyle Okposo both make it to free agency, I’m curious who gets a longer contract. Okposo has been more productive, and while he isn’t as big, he can play a heavy game. I think Okposo will be able to command more.

EDMONTON FIRST RESPONDERS DAY

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 10.33.38 AM

On June 9th, the City of Edmonton will be announcing the first annual First Responders Day in an effort to honour those that risk their lives to keep our city safe.

First Responders Day will be an official day where we to honour, celebrate, and support the first responders and their families, in addition to raising mental health awareness within the occupation. The event will showcase dozens of large fire vehicles, bomb squad display, canine dogs, jaws of life demonstration, raffles, live music, chili-cook off and much more.

If you would like to donate money to the cause there is a GoFundMe public campaign page for fundraising at www.gofundme.com/yegfirstresponders. Monies raised will be going to Legacy Place Society – as they wish to purchase a new house in Edmonton so they can better support all first responders and their families during times of crisis.

More information is available at www.facebook.com/yegfirstresponders

  • “Since the start of 2012, Milan Lucic has played 288 games and produced 185 points. In the same time span, Benoit Pouliot dressed in 227 games and produced 126 points.

    “Lucic would dramatically improve the offence of the Oilers, because he plays more games and he produces more points. Offence is actual goals scored, not points/60. ”

    This all damn day.

    Lucic has finished with 40-or-more points six times. Pouliot hasn’t reached 40 even once. Lucic’s best two seasons are 62 and 61 points. In Pouliot’s two best seasons he had 36 points.

    Not an offensive upgrade?

  • Calling Nurse McNuge!!!

    Can we please stop saying “the emergence of Leon Draisaitl”please. He fell off the planet in the second half. I love the guy but let’s be realistic here.

    I also agree with you on Pouliot vs Lucic. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to know which player is considerably more valuable. Shame on Mr. Willis for his skewed stats.

    • GK1980

      I was also dissapointed with drai’s second half but mark my words this kid is for real. If they trade him I’ll be disappointed but will understand. The team does need to make some moves in order to improve.

  • madjam

    RED FLAG DEALING HOPKINS : Colorado thought they had sufficient centerman in young MacKinnon and M.Duchenes to deal away another young very good centerman in R.O’Reilly .

    The trade was O’Reilly and McGinn from Colorado for Zadorov , Compher , Grigorenko and J.Roy ( the 2nd round pick) from Buffalo . Colorado fell out of playoff contention as a result .

    If Oilers do the same with Hopkins , that only leaves us with two one year rookies at center , and is a recipe for further disaster . At least Colorado got another young center but he was not near as good or near the value of O”Reilly . Now is not the time to be dealing Hopkins .

    • Jason Gregor

      O’Reilly was a salary dump/impasse.

      The Avs traded proven players for youth.

      No one has mentioned trading RNH for younger players, heck, he is only 22. If he is traded it will be for a proven NHL player, not prospects who might pan out.

        • Zarny

          Jones may be young but he’s a proven NHL player. He hasn’t proven how good he’ll actually be but there is no question as to whether he is an NHL player.

          Nobody Col got back for O’Reilly was a proven NHL player. It’s not apples to apples and Mr. Gregor is 100% correct in that isn’t the type of trade the Oilers are pursuing.

    • Bondo11

      We can move Nuge, but it would have to be a larger deal, so we get back a replacement 2nd line centre.

      Something like Nuge, Davidson, & the 4th pick for J.Staal & J. Faulk??

      • madjam

        Why would the Hurricanes even make that trade when our 4th pick is a player that likely will not even be in their lineup next year , and another player in trade that we won’t have . J.Stall’s contract to rich for us to begin with considering the player is not top line , nor I doubt he will bring us the points Hopkins should on the ice . Hopkins likely to improve with/during rebuild , while Stall is unlikely to get any better .

        It’s far simpler/smarter to maintain Hopkins and add to the weaker base that we have .

        If you do a straight Hopkins for Faulk the hole you fill will be in all likelihood not be any better than the new hole you created . Faulks acquisition is 4.5M , plus the 6M plus perhaps you need to adequately fill the hole left by Hopkins leaving . So in reality Faulk is costing us closer to 10.M or more cap space . You’d be better off going for Karlsson , at least you’d stand a better chance at winning that trade . The cost to obtain Faulk and an adequate replacement , if one could even be gotten for 6M , would leave us little room to upgrade rest of holes on club . Other options leave us far more options and wiggle room to make club better by holding onto our top 3 forwards for at least another two years . Not like any of them are looking to get worse over that time , and we should know how well McDavid , Draisaitl , Nurse and perhaps Davidson and Reinhart are trending .

        • Bondo11

          I gave an example of a trade which would involve getting a 2nd line centre back, in the event that Nuge were part of a package. That would be the only way I’d move Nuge.

          Staal will be 35 yrs old at the end of his current contract (7 yrs left @ $6mm AAV). He also has a no-trade clause.

          I don’t see PC making this deal due to Staal’s term, plus he has the NTC.

          That being said, I’d love to have Staal as our 2nd line centre, if he only had 4-5 yrs left on his contract. He has the experience and is a leader. He’d be a good mentor for all our centre’s.

    • Total Points

      Makes sense.

      Sign Lucic and become harder to play against.

      Trade 2 of 2016-#4, Eberle, drai, Nurse and RNH for 2 NHL defensemen (should get a #2 and #3, don’t think anyone is trading a #1 like Keith, Doughty, OSL, Subban, etc).

  • ubermiguel

    If you rely too much on “actual points” in player decisions you’d take Domi or Eichel over McDavid. Pouliot is exactly what Money Puck is about: under-valued players who actually perform on par or better than players judged better “by eye”. Now if we talk about Lucic’s heavy game that’s a different story. I like Lucic, but just don’t want to break the bank on a player who will decline during the span of his next contract, especially with a big ELC coming up in a couple of years.

    • Jason Gregor

      I think you missed the point my man. No one in their right mind takes Domi or Eichel over McDavid. It was one year, McDavid was hurt and he still only had four fewer points than Domi despite playing 36 fewer games.

      Pouliot hasn’t outscored Lucic ever, in any season.

      I used four years of Lucic vs. Pouliot to illustrate a pattern, not to mention over their entire careers the point totals aren’t close.

      And points are only one aspect. Of course you include everything the player does. Every evaluation should.

      Lucic’s ability might decline, but he might stay around 50-55 points, and he might only command $5.5 mill/year. If in the final two years he isn’t worth it, then they can worry about it then. Teams who are competitive and win always take a few risks along the way. If Chiarelli addresses his D first, it will be interesting to see if he’d take a chance on Lucic. I think the first three years of deal won’t be an issue based on his career to date.

  • camdog

    During the playoffs playing against San Jose I thought he looked slow,never mind if he slows down with age. For three years I’d make a good offer on him, but anything longer could be a bit of a problem.

  • Tim in Kelowna

    Excellent breakdown, Gregor. I agree Lucic is a substantial upgrade on Pouliot, but, more importantly, the addition of Lucic would completely transform the Oiler offence. Lucic can be vicious on the forecheck and would create turnovers. Think about what he could do to the powerplay, good luck moving him from in front of the net. His physical edge is would change the team identity, and I for one am sick of the Oilers losing games just by getting pushed around.

  • Hockey Buddha

    Interesting article, Jason. I don’t know how many times I’ve read over the past several years that the Oilers need “a player like Lucic.” $6M a season does sound like a reasonable overpay for him. If Lucic is acquired, he immediately makes the Oilers harder to play against, and his presence would create another trade asset to fill a hole on the blueline.