The first big star of the modern Edmonton Oil Kings was two-way defender Mark Pysyk. He patrolled the blue for the Oil Kings over parts of five seasons, and helped guide the organization to its first WHL championship in 2012. Could Pysyk be part of the solution for the Edmonton Oilers?
As it turns out, Mark Pysyk has turned into a pretty useful player. The quick fancy stat I use for defensemen across teams is CorsiFor RelTeam 5×5. Although there are all kinds of things it does not include, the idea is to have a really quick look at what a player has been up to over a season.
CORSI REL TEAM 5X5
This is via Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com, an insanely useful tool. As mentioned above, this isn’t telling us Mark Pysyk is as good as Drew Doughty, but it is saying he had a pretty darn good season compared to other Sabres defenders. Note: Brandon Davidson ranks No. 19 on this list and is the best Oiler blue from last season.
THE VOLLMAN SLEDGEHAMMER
This gives us some context. Pysyk is facing softer opposition (Gorges and Ristolainen are facing the difficult opposition, followed by McCabe-Bogosian). Pysyk was 23 last season and had played less than a full season in the NHL—Buffalo put him in the right spot.
So we know he didn’t face the tough opposition, and we know he didn’t play a lot with the four defenders mentioned above. Who did he play with?
WITH OR WITHOUT YOU
- Carlo Colaiacovo. 224 minutes together, 54.1 percent possession 5×5.
- Jake McCabe. 176 minutes, 48.5 percent possession 5×5.
- Mike Weber. 98 minutes, 60.7 percent possession 5×5.
- Zach Bogosian. 97 minutes, 48.6 percent possession 5×5.
A good guess would be that his minutes with McCabe were farther up the depth chart, playing more difficult opposition.
WHY IS HE A POSSIBLE SOLUTION?
Mark Pysyk is righthanded, and in hockey that is a big deal. We kind of know that, but the size of big may be bigger than expected (I know, I know, but you get the point).
Domenic Galamini wrote a brilliant article not long ago discussing handedness and the impact on pairings, with the results being basically mindblowing.
The money quote:
“It turns out that an unsuitably handed
defenseman must have a CorsiRel that is greater than or equal to 6.2
Corsi events / 60 better than a suitably handed alternative in order to
be the better option to pair with a partner-less defenseman on the
Mr. Galamini added a postscript that moved the number to 6.83. A whopping 6.83. Statistically speaking, this is King Kong in your driveway.
The Oilers are decidedly lefthanded. If you have followed the team for the last few years, you know this is a growing and concerning trend. I trust the math people in the organization to know this information that Mr. Galamini talks about above, and therefore suspect the team may be casting about looking for solutions.
Mark Pysyk should not be expected to come in and play top pairing for the Edmonton Oilers in the coming year. However, he would seem to be a solid option for the third pair—say, with Brandon Davidson—and that has importance, too.
HOW CAN THEY GET HIM?
Scott Cullen of TSN runs an excellent series on each NHL team called Off-Season Game Plan. It is a beautiful read for each team and also gives us a quick reference for team needs.
- Needs according to Cullen: One top-six forward, another forward, one top-pair defenceman, backup goaltender
If the Oilers can fill one of those needs at a reasonable asset cost, and grab Pysyk, there is some evidence they would be better off than running a third-pairing of Darnell Nurse with Brandon Davidson. Is it worth the investment? Can you overcome the fact he is a former Oil King, if it means the Oilers will be a better team?
THE DRAFT PARTY
There are few certainties in life – we can always count on the sun coming up in the morning, Edmonton winters being dreadful, and the Oilers missing the playoffs. As such, we present the annual OilersNation Draft Party! It’s time to honour the the anniversary of drafting our beloved Connor, celebrate the rewards of another failed season, and raise some money for charity.
Here’s what you need to know…
The party is happening at the Pint Downtown on Friday, June 24th. The goal is to raise as much money as possible for the Red Cross and their efforts to bring normalcy back to Fort McMurray, and have a little bit of fun while we’re at it. For $30 you get a Draft Party t-shirt, a $10 Pint GC, a $10 Oodle Noodle GC, a draft party collectors cup, and a chance for prizes and eternal glory.
All proceeds from tickets sold will be donated directly to the Red Cross so bring your friends, get involved, and help us support a community in need. Tickets are still available here.
One day, the Oilers will be a good hockey team and we’ll all be able to laugh about this. Until then, we party.