Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Trading Good Process for Shooting Talent

With the Oilers making an actual trade there will be lots of focus on the players as they leave and enter Edmonton. Surely there will be many different perspectives on both Jussi Jokinen and Mike Cammalleri as well as why they were traded for each other. To me, it comes down to the Oilers desperately needing some shooting talent in the bottom six.

To start, though, I want to make it clear that I did not consider Jussi Jokinen to be a disaster as an Oiler. Despite his inability to get on the score sheet, a bunch of other good things were going on when Jokinen was on the ice. The story of a player is not entirely measured in goals, assists, and points – However, I will grant that they are important too.

There has been a consistent message from a few highly regarded Oiler analysts for both major networks that Jokinen was too slow and the coaching staff couldn’t trust Jokinen out there on the ice — that McLellan was not comfortable with Jokinen. If that’s the case then I have even more questions, because when you look at results, he should be praised for his defensive acumen.

When Jokinen was on the ice the Oilers allowed just 51.5 shot attempts against per 60 minutes. That rates as the third-lowest on the team. Translated into actual shots against, that was just 21.4 shots against per 60 minutes. When Jussi Jokinen was on the ice, the opposition was stymied. Naturally, that translated into a very low goals against per 60 minutes as well, just 1.71 goals against per hour of play. Frankly, it should be even lower but Talbot’s save percentage was merely OK with Jokinen on the ice. It could have been better.

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As a defensive specialist, Jussi Jokinen was doing a fantastic job and anyone who claims otherwise or makes up an excuse that he was too slow to gain the trust of the coach is ignoring reality.

On the other side of the ledger, Jokinen’s on-ice numbers were middle of the road for the team. The now ex-Oiler winger was sixth among Oiler forwards in shot attempts for and shots for per 60 minutes. In terms of a percentage as a whole of what the team gave up vs what the team created when he was on the ice, he was a team leader.

Jokinen had a 58.4% shot attempt ratio. He had a 62.4% unblocked shot attempt ratio. He had a 63.2% shot ratio. When Jokinen was on the ice, the Oilers controlled the puck.

What they didn’t do was score.

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Oct 4, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Ottawa Senators defensemen Dion Phaneuf (2) tires to block a shot from Edmonton Oilers forward Jussi Jokinen (36) during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Despite out-shooting clubs 86-50 during 5v5 play, the Oilers scored just a single goal with Jokinen out there. You would expect at least five or six goals over that span. Jokinen himself was shooting the puck 7.27 times per 60 minutes (seventh among Oiler forwards) and yet he couldn’t squeeze a drop.

The low shooting percentages both personally and on-ice contributed to Jokinen’s PDO being a brutal .932 as an Oiler. When the narratives get spun, they do so around PDO more than they do around the other metrics that the player actually has some input into. When Jokinen is too slow and untrustworthy it’s because this number is below 1.000 and not because the team was getting beaten with Jokinen on the ice.

Mike Cammalleri is the opposite of Jokinen in a lot of ways. He shoots slightly less 5v5 at just 7.03 per hour. He was second last in shot attempt ratio (43.1%). He was second last in unblocked attempt ratio (42.8%). He was ninth of 11 in shots for ratio (46.4%). In all cases he was among the worst King forwards in the “against” metrics, meaning when he was on the ice, the opposition was feasting on the Kings.

Defensively, we should be concerned about his ability. However, offensively, Mike Cammalleri has been a consistently good shooter over the course of his career. He has a career 12.3 shooting percentage and has been shooting 12.5% on the year. He ought to find himself on the second PP unit and as a trigger man for Ryan Strome, presumably.

Given that the Oilers lost shooting talent in the Eberle deal last summer and never replaced it in the lineup, this trade tries to correct that by robbing the club of solid possession and replacing it with more potential to score. Long term, I have concerns about what Cammalleri adds compared to what he takes away. However, there’s no denying that the bottom six needed a boost in raw shooting talent.

The Kings have always been a process-first organization who have not shied away from a high possession, low scoring game. They managed to get on of Edmonton’s top possession forwards for one of their worst and they’re banking that the percentages will start to come around for Jokinen. That’s the gamble they’re making by trading a guy with seven points in 15 games for a guy with one point in 14.

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Edmonton just needs someone who can bury the puck and potentially give their PP a boost. If Cammalleri can stay healthy then that ought to be him.

  • Consultant

    I was waiting for this sort of analysis. Thanks, helps understand why LA made the move. Jokinen is a smart, strong defensive and possession forward but we needed a shooter, simple as that. Also Jokinen wasn’t doing much in terms of penalty kill so no loss there. Hopefully Cammi brings a good vet presence and a speed upgrade. Too bad he’s a left shot.

  • TKB2677

    This is why while I see advanced stats as a useful tool in a large tool box, I don’t see them as the end all be all like some do. Matt Henderson being one who buys too heavily into them. What good does possessing the puck all the time and whatever number you want to say do if it never goes in the net? I saw Matt’s tweet last night about how it is a desperate move to trade Jokinen. I personally think that is a foolish comment. The whole point of the players on your team is to score goals and win games. Jokinen was slow, did NOTHING offensively and wasn’t helping their team win. When he was scratched, the team was better. So why would you call it a desperate move to trade a guy who when signed, everyone thought was a good bet but wasn’t working out and wasn’t contributing to your team when the opportunity presented itself? If the Oilers had to take on salary or add in an additional asset to get rid of Jokinen, I can see some criticism but they swapped player for player. Cap wise it’s almost the same money and it cost them no additional assets. I see it as a smart move to try someone else.

    • Gravis82

      “What good does possessing the puck all the time and whatever number you want to say do if it never goes in the net?”

      Nothing was going in our net either btw, actually when he was on the ice more good things were happening than bad things. It was low event, but it was not losing. And the statistics tells us that over the remaining games the most likely result would have been an improvement over current data. Problem is that the Oilers traded Eberle and made unrealistic bets as to who, as a committee would replace his scoring, and as a surprise to no one, no one has stepped up. Jokinen was not living up to unrealistic expectation placed on him by management, but he was playing just fine for his contract. Actually, I’d say he was beating his contract.

      Looking at Cammilleri numbers, statistics say its more likely to get worse than it is to get better.

      LA looked at these two players and said, which one is likely to help us more in the future? They probably have an analytics team constantly looking for players who are short term underachievers and undervalued that can be traded for using one of their over achievers.

      • TKB2677

        Jokinen was brought in to add some scoring depth to the bottom 6. What exactly “unrealistic expectations” did management have on the guy? It’s not like Chia came out and said. “We expect 60 pts”. Expecting Jokinen to have a couple of goals and 5 or so pts in 14 games which by the way is about a 10-11 goal, 30 pts pace which is pretty average 3rd liner numbers is too much to expect? You can’t be serious.

        • Gravis82

          They obviously traded him because he wasn’t producing. Thing is, bottom six wingers are streakyAnd having the amount of points he did after at this time is not abnormal for that type of player. Things have a habit of evening out over the year. I don’t care if he doesn’t score, we were scoring more when he was on the ice then the opposing team was. That’s all that matters at any second of any game, are we doing better then the other team?. I just don’t understand what people don’t get about this, it’s straightforward . Purpose , to score more and shoot more when you’re on the ice than your opponent. Players who do that should be kept! I’m not trying to be snarky, but could someone please explain to me why that doesn’t make sense. Looking at the available data, I see no reason to trade him. The only Negative that I can see, is that what we expected him to do was not happening, but what WAS happening WASNT negative, so who is the problem here really ?

    • McRaj

      Excellent Post! I believe Matt puts less emphasis on actual results and more on advanced analytics, which is the case with a lot of people, specifically Hockeybuzz bloggers (James Tanner still thinks yotes are a great team and will be fine). Analytics can be useful but give me actual results over analytics any day of the week. By eye, Joke was not good for us. Happy with the trade.

    • Rusty

      I couldnt agree more. i knew when i checked the site today i would see a post from henderson Defending Jokinen, based on some derivative of a possession sat, and slighting Cammeleri. Henderson DESPISES the oilers and every move they make. Its brutal.

  • Masyker

    When Jussi was on the ice, the play just sort of died. It never seemed to go anywhere, especially offensively. He didn’t contribute anything nor did it look like he ever would. He was too slow and lacked a threatening shot to make up for it. As his advanced stats it indicated he was a ‘positive’ contributing player, you’d have to be blind to not see he barely had a pulse offensively. He was never a threat to contribute in the most important way to win a hockey game – goals, assists, points. It’d be sure nice to have the bottom 6 win you some games instead of just not losing you them – and IMO, that’s where Jokinen failed and where Cammellari could succeed. Oilers easily won that trade.

    • Gravis82

      If he would’ve scored three goals By ricocheting pucks off of people’s helmets and shin pads and opposing players completely by accident, I’m willing to bet you $100 that those plays you saw dying on his stick, well you wouldn’t of noticed them and you would think he’s a valuable part of the team. when they’re not scoring we make up narratives to explain why, but really nothing is changed just a string of bad luck that’s all it is. Most of the time there is no factor that is causing them to be in a slump, and it’s pointless to try and explain it, because it’s just random variation. if you make decisions based on random variation you’re going to get burned. Now I don’t think this is going to make or break anything, but decisions like this make me question our gym and the entire management group going because it doesn’t make sense.

  • hockey1099

    When one doesn’t understand the game, can’t follow it, but wants to be around it and needs to feel smart they rely on advanced analytics. Hendo for gm it’s not fair that he didn’t get the job in Phoenix

  • I know the numbers were decent and the PDO was out of whack, but Jokinen looked bad. I just can’t see any way that Cammalleri will be as useless as Jokinen was, especially if he gets some power play time.

  • Kurt

    “The story of a player is not entirely measured in goals, assists, and points.”

    The reason Matt still harps on the Hall/Larsson trade is because he views it purely on goals, assists and points.

  • Are there criticisms of the article that arent summed up with “I hate when this guy uses facts to support opinions”? I’d be happy to discuss things with people who are thrilled to see Jokinen go or really excited for Cammalleri coming in.

    • Kurt

      The fact of the matter is that everything is measurable but not everything is meaningful, so a debate with the “advanced stats only” bloggers is pointless because the whole picture is never seen. Jokinen wasn’t contributing. He was a low risk gamble that didn’t work out. Simple.

        • Kurt

          With the exception of playing against amateur goalies yesterday, the Oilers were last in goals for and mid pack for goals against. Is it your idea to win every game 1-0 or 2-1? Pick your battles.

          • Pick my battles? I wrote about the trade. I didnt set up a petition to Fire MacTavish on Facebook. There is literally no battle. It’s just some analysis into what the two players can bring and why one was traded for the other.

        • Kurt

          “I didnt set up a petition to Fire MacTavish on Facebook.” huh? what are you rambling on about?

          Pick your battles Matt. As in, do we fix the low scoring or do we fix the slightly above average goal prevention? Last in the league in scoring goals. Jokinen was part of that problem. This was a hockey trade to fix a need. Smart trade.

    • Jiri Dopita

      Challenge accepted (although I’m not sure this really qualifies as a criticism:

      Your take on Jokinen and Cammalleri is totally fair, particularly your concerns about the latter’s possession game (or lack thereof). That said, I think you can still make a case in favour of deal based on Oilers’ strengths and weaknesses so far this season. The possession number have been very good (with a caveat for score effects), but as you noted they seem to be lacking in shooters. In that sense, this can be seen as trading from a position of strength to address a position of weakness.

      Maybe a better strategy would have been just to wait for the Jokinen’s and the Oilers’ overall PDO to regress to the mean, but I can understand the pressure to make a move when a team with highest expectations in decades comes out of the gates as badly as the Oilers did.

    • Bp123

      Do you think that trading a low pdo player matters less when they are on an expiring deal? Jokinen’ s can only go up but it seems likely he will still end the season a fair bit below average.

    • The Dave

      I volunteer as tribute.

      You are indeed using facts to support your opinions, but for me the concern is that you talk as if you are carrying the divine truth, when really you are mostly spinning a narrative with it, just like the media did. They picked “Jokinen is slow and the coach doesn’t trust him” (which has some factual basis based on TOI, usage, and scratches), and you just picked some statlines and told the tale of a guy with same value who was maybe down on his luck and had a bad PDO and that’s not really his fault. I think both are at least partially true, but I also think there is a case to be made that he is a guy who lost the ability to beat goalies, and if a player’s offensive capabilities have tanked then their possession numbers should have an asterisk beside them.

      Here’s the problem with advanced stats in this situation: Connor McDavid and Jussi Jokinen have *very* similar CF%, FF%, SCF%, and HDSCF% when checking score-adjusted/venue adjusted 5v5 stats. As a matter of fact, the only real differences on paper between them are TOI, Quality of Comp/Teammates, and SCORING. So our boy Jokinen can beat up on 4th liners as effectively as McDavid beats up on 1st liners, and that could be a huge advantage. Great, that’s why we signed him. The only problem is that the other team doesn’t swap out goalies, and that’s the red flag in Jokinen’s game. It drives me crazy when advanced stats lovers latch onto good possession depth players like this and then chalk it up to bad luck (not saying you did this). Jokinen’s lost his scoring touch – gone are the days when he was a shootout wizard who could fake out every goalie in the league. I expect *some* of it might come back with confidence and a change of scenery, but the big thing is that his possession stats are not telling the whole story. Speaking of which, his PK numbers are mostly terrible.

      For the record I think your article was reasonable, but the “woe is me, no one likes my facts” comments you make are the stuff you should drop. This is hockey, not a math test. I actually like advanced stats, but within reason. You cited numbers that showed Jussi Jokinen had good possession (as good as McDavid, although you didn’t bring this up) and then seemed legitimately confused when other people didn’t like your facts. It’s because those facts are leading to stupid analysis. When you bring up how great Jokinen was at possession people remember how mediocre he was on the ice, and how we *know* he is not nearly as good as his statistical peers (McDavid), and *rightfully* conclude that the stats are garbage in this situation. We don’t debate the truth of the facts, we debate the simplicity of how they are interpreted.

  • TKB2677

    When the league starts awarding players goals and assists mid game for good possession numbers, please let me know. Until that time comes, going game after game having zero’s just doesn’t cut it. Even bottom 6 guys have to score the odd goal once in a while.

    • Rock11

      I have never understood this type of comment. Any good stat hating Canadian kid can probably quote you 42 lines from coaches and players past about how important it is to shoot the puck. Hell 12,000 jackasses yell it 4 seconds into the first PP of the night. But yet when we actually count how many times a player,more accurately a players team, shoots the puck when he is on the ice heads explode. Isn’t this just counting the instances of the first piece of coaching a player ever gets. I can’t for the life of me understand how analysis like this is so controversial. From the time I was 4 years old I instinctively knew that my team shooting at the other teams net was better than the reverse happening. Just baffling to me why some people get so bent outta shape about corsi/fenwick.

  • ScottV

    Captures the essence of why the trade was made. Well done.

    I think Jokinen was unduly snake bit, in his inability to generate a few more points. It would have turned around, particularly given some time, the right environment and the right tactics from the Coach. A few more points – was all that’s needed with that kind of defensive performance.

    I think there is a disconnect between PC and McL about the vision for where they want to go with the hockey club. PC picks up a reasonable guy – given what I think is his vision for the club. McL gets him, but doesn’t really buy into the kind of play that would best utilize his talents and it doesn’t work. Lucic – another prime example.

    Both Jokinen and Lucic fit in very well with the vision the Kings have.

    I think the answer lies in the middle and we would do well to adopt some of the possession philosophy that the Kings believe in.

    Possession for the sake of possession is to hockey – like a football team that can both run and pass the ball – keeping their offensive team on the field – longer than their opponents offensive team. Yes – you do have to generate some tangible offence, but – just enough to positively offset what goes into your own net. If you do it right – with the right kind of players and execution – it is a legit way to be very competitive. Not the only way to be a contender but there are more ways than one to skin a cat.

    In the cap world – where much of a players pay grade is based on the production of offence over defensive performance, I think a pretty smart way to approach things. You maybe have a scoring line that plays a little outside the teams o possession strategy and maybe 3 lines that are in graduated order – bound by it. That’s 9 forwards that go out, play stingy o zone possession hockey – where they don’t score much but – do score a little more than what they give up. You can win that way and keep your salary structure well in line. Jokinen – would be the kind of player that you would want to help man other than your top line.

    There are lots of benefits toward possession for the sake of possession, as long as you can generate more goals than you give up. Seeking middle ground for the Oilers – we ought to be running a scoring line, a scoring line with greater balanced awareness and a 3rd and 4th line that plays a lot like the Kings.

    • TKB2677

      So using your football analogy Scott. If you are a football team and you get the ball in your end. You take the ball and you slowly and methodically drive the ball up to mid field chewing up huge amounts of clock and in the process dominating the time of possession and not allowing the other team to touch the ball offensively much. But you don’t score a TD and you don’t even get close enough to kick a field goal. What good have you done if the other team is able to score 2 TD’s to your nothing while you have 3/4 of the possession but don’t score any points? You dominated possession but still lost the game. For hockey, you can possess for almost the entire game but if it doesn’t translate into goals, it’s meaningless.

          • Rock11

            Assinine is a big word for someone who lacks basic reading comprehension in English. Failing any other information means that the only thing you know about the game is one team had the ball all game and the other didn’t. You don’t know the team name, the players, who can score and who cant, only who had possession. Now, gun to your head, who are you going to bet on?

  • Hemmercules

    Didn’t Arizona hire a GM that specializes in advanced stats and plans to build a team around that?? Seems to be working out great for them.

    To me this is a minor trade involving two almost over the hill, lower line players. One can score a bit more frequently and thats what the Oil need right now. As good as JJ might have been defensively I can’t really say that he helped so much that they had a hard time trading him.

    • Gravis82

      Just because Arizona hired a GM that is supposedly good at advanced stats, doesn’t mean he is. Honestly, if you were a GM you have no time to properly propose, and test, and analyze, and validate your assumptions and suggestions for a player transfers. Having some like that in a GM role makes no sense, someone like that needs to stay doing what they’re good at

  • Svart kaffe

    I’ve seen my fair share of games this season (living in Sweden that’s not easy to do) and even with the high hopes I had for Jokinen when he was signed he has been utterly invisible at best.

    Even if Cammalleri sucks big time it doesn’t matter. That’s the level of this trade. I’m all for it. It can’t be worse.

    Of course Matt Henderson finds a way to praise Jokinen.

  • Slipknot 8

    I don’t understand why PDO is say….more important than scorning goals? specifically when Cammalleri SV% and SH% is way better? Given new line mates ( Laich was almost out of the NHL & Lewis best year is 24 points), Cammalleri should push say Strome & Caggiula into a legitimate 3rd line that can produce points. J.J may have possessed the puck more but he produced less than squat.

    • Gravis82

      Pdo suggest what the next 3/4 of the season is going to look like. Goals suggest what the season has looked like. Considering there’s more season to come then has passed, someone with low pdo is probably going to have a better next 60 games, then someone who is pdo is currently high. If someone has barely scored in 20 games, and their Pdo is through the roof high or 1, Get rid of them immediately because it’s not gonna get any better. If that same person with next to no production after 20 games, has an incredibly low Pdo, Chances are things are going to get better. It’s just stats, it’s just a bell curve, creepily enough bell curves are fantastic at predicting the future

  • ScottV

    I’ll leave the football side alone to keep the reply shorter. Possession for the sake of possession benefits –
    If you play in the o zone more than the d zone, the odds are you are going to have more gf’s than ga’s.
    Cycling, puck protection, use of points, working the puck utilizing all 5 guys – eats up time in the safest area of ice.
    Well executed the above process can stretch and pull the defensive alignment to open up a clear attempt at net.
    It’s also possible to tire the defensive alignment within the sequence and get a full line change in, while maintaining possession and thereby creating a huge opportunity to score.
    When you have possession in the o zone, you tire and frustrate defenders and increase chances for drawing penalties and decrease chances of taking penalties.
    If an average shift looks like 10 seconds of puck up for grabs, you get possession and drive it deep into the o zone 10 seconds, you work the puck as a 5 man unit – 20 seconds and it turns over deep in the o zone at 40 seconds. Your opponents are now thinking “how do we get a change in” and not “how do we mount an attack”
    Converse to above – 10 seconds puck up for grabs, you get the puck and enter the o zone 10 seconds, you make a low probability attack at net – 5 seconds, puck turns over at 25 seconds and the opposition has plenty of time to mount a counter attack and they will.
    The cumulative effect of a number of sequences where you can maintain o zone possession, will wear out opposition defenders and the low support defending centerman. As an old d man – you hate teams that can do this to you. Make my day and get in your one and done rush and let us get the puck and have fun going the other way, playing in your zone not mine.
    Anyway – I could go on. Would I want our team to play exclusively like this? Probably not, but – don’t underestimate the value of say – a 3rd and 4th line, executing along these lines. Getting the odd goal but very rarely – ever getting scored on. You don’t have to pay guys who can do this well – very much and it can be very effective.

  • Shameless Plugger

    Thank u Pi for crunching the numbers.

    Jokinen was painfully lugging his way through games. The need in the team was for scoring not defending. I believe Chia wins this trade. And I don’t think it’s close.