The lines on display this morning at Day One training camp have to be encouraging for the Edmonton Oilers and their fans. The idea of ‘strength down the middle’ takes on epic proportions at the center position with a depth chart boasting Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins at pivot.
The important numbers to keep in mind this season (aside from wins and losses, goals for and against) will be the gap between “McDavid ON ICE” and “McDavid OFF ICE”. Here are the totals from last season:
- Connor McDavid 5×5 goals for-against ON ICE: 77-47 (62.1 percent)
- Connor McDavid 5×5 goals for-against OFF ICE: 89-93 (48.9 percent)
- Oilers total 5×5 GF-GA: 166-140 (54.2 percent)
You may say “so what they posted over 100 points and if the refs called the game right this team could have been in the final four or better” and I hear you. That said, it’s important to improve every year, and along with the penalty kill this Connor McDavid OFF-ICE thingy is pretty damned important.
Let’s look at this another way. Corsi is a proxy for possession, adored the world over by all. I keep waiting for someone to criticize Corsi, but nary a word. I like Corsi because it confirms things (or not) with a larger sample size. The kids with the big calculators tell me that’s going to give you a better view.
- Connor McDavid 5×5 Corsi for-against ON ICE: 1,332-1178 (53.07 percent)
- Connor McDavid 5×5 goals for-against OFF ICE: 2,331-2,487 (48.38 percent)
- Oilers total 5×5 Corsi for-against ON ICE: 3,663-3,665 (49.986 percent)
According to Natural Stat Trick, the Oilers without McDavid scored at expected levels. When he was on the ice, 97 exceeded expectations because of course he did.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Today’s lines tell us the Edmonton Oilers are making a smart bet, and if it pays off we could be looking at two or more scoring lines. The centers are set, the wingers are at training camp getting the chance of a lifetime and we wait for the results. Today’s lines could be a harbinger of great things to come.