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Photo Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Yohann Auvitu targeting the KHL for next season

According to Finnish hockey site, MTV Sport (do they show Teen Mom too?), Yohann Auvitu’s NHL days are over as he will be returning to Europe next season after spending the past two years with the Devils and Oilers organization. 

Signed as a free agent to a one-year deal in July last year, Yohann Auvitu was a depth signing for the Oilers that added another body with some NHL experience to a roster that was more or less set it’s top six. I think we all knew that Auvitu would be used sparingly from the moment he signed his contract and that was pretty much exactly what happened. In 33 games played with the Oilers, Auvitu registered three goals and six assists for nine points while averaging only 13:33 when he did manage to crack the lineup.

According to the interview, Auvitu felt as though he had played well enough to be given a little bit more responsibility and, if that’s the case, it’s not overly surprising that he wanted to take his services elsewhere. Based on the article, Auvitu expected a better opportunity but that’s not what happened for him. At the end of the day, these guys want to play hockey and when you’re not doing that it can be tough to sit and watch. In his own words (maybe… the translation is a little rough):

I’ve seen how it operates world. In the first year, I played half the year up, half the farm. The second year I was in the NHL all season. I think I was playing well and I would have earned a little more responsibility.

Depending on how you look at the game, Auvitu was either a player you liked or one that you probably don’t care too much about. According to his fancy stats, Auvitu was a reasonably effective option on the back end, with the puck generally moving the right direction more often than not when he was on the ice. Actually, a couple of the boys here wrote about him not being used enough, including this look at his fancies by Matt Henderson and also a call from Cam Lewis for Auvitu to replace Eric Gryba on the roster (which he did).

But if you’re not on team fancy stats, chances are that Auvitu was just another bottom-pairing defenceman that has come and gone that should easily be replaced. He didn’t play much, he didn’t produce many points, and wasn’t all that physical which is something a lot of Oilers fans love in their defenceman. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but, according to Auvitu, there was more to it than eyeball tests or numbers:

Sometimes NHL does not control the situation itself. It’s a little over the street and because of that I do not want to lose more years there.

Alright, I have no idea what that means so I’m going to assume that there’s something being lost in translation, but I think he’s trying to say that there were some kind of politics or something like that at play here that limited his ability to succeed in the NHL. Does that seem fair? I don’t know, I’m guessing. Anybody speak Finnish that can clarify? No? Alright then.

THE WRAP…

At the end of the day, losing Yohann Auvitu is not going to break this franchise but it is interesting that he’s now the third semi-regular roster player from last year’s team to bolt for the KHL. First Pakarinen, then Slepyshev, and now Auvitu. So what does that mean? For me, that points to some kind of problem in the organization with either the pro-scouting or how the bench used its players because none of these guys even got close to July before bolting back overseas. That tells me that they knew their NHL options were close to non-existent and that the best option was to look elsewhere. If that’s the case, and again I’m just guessing, then wouldn’t this mini-exodus indicate that the Oilers gave out opportunities to too many guys that just weren’t good enough?

Whose fault is that? Management? Coaches? Players? All of the above? Am I wrong entirely?

I know we’re talking about depth players here but it’s not like you can really survive in this league if those guys aren’t able to pull their weight, and to lose three of them in quick succession is certainly interesting. When you combine the loss of three roster players to the KHL with the fact that Eric Gryba finished the year in the AHL after signing a two-year deal just last summer then you start to wonder who is evaluating the talent that’s being brought in. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the bottom third of the roster should be expected to have the impact that the high end guys do, that’s just crazy, but the fact remains that this team still needs to get more out of basically everyone not named Connor McDavid and having three regulars bolt to the KHL almost immediately after the season is over tells me that they probably weren’t likely to contribute in the NHL going forward. Then again, maybe I’m overreacting again.

What do you guys think?

AUVITU’S NHL CAREER

Season GP G A P +/- PIM PPG PPP SHG SHP GWG OTG S S%
2017-18 33 3 6 9 4 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 69 4.3
NHL Career 58 5 8 13 5 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 123 4.1

Source: MTV Sport, Posted by Kasperi Kunnas, 5/4/2018 – 9:00 am MST



  • ubermiguel

    Said it on the Slepyshev article, pro-athletes like to win and they want to improve…I might refine that to say they want an opportunity to improve and show what they can do. They’re doing neither with the Oilers. They’re not good enough to get other NHL jobs so off to the KHL they go. Were they scouted badly or developed badly, that’s the big question isn’t it?

  • vetinari

    Regarding the three bolting for the KHL– it is consistent with many of our European prospects. Very few seem to crack the NHL lineup or have meaningful roles. If you eliminate options from half the hockey planet you better be drafting, recruiting and developing a steady stream of CHL and university players. I view it as a loss when players bolt for the KHL because at least with a trade, you add something to the organization.

  • Imrighturwrong

    If management finds and signs these type of players, and coaching staff can’t/won’t get the potential out of these players, then it’s fair to say the problem is with brass, not players. It’s more then time to clean house of ALL management, scouts, coaching…. You name it. Here’s to never Winning another Stanley Cup. Thanks Katz

    • Glencontrolurstik

      Jussi needed to find his chemistry with a team…
      Since joining the Canucks he got 10 points in 14 games…
      He’s be a keeper on any team with those #’s.

    • Just like 06. Pronger got all the press, Peca we already knew he was leaving. Even Dick Tarnstrom could barely get out of town quickly enough along with Samsanov, etc. There has never been an explanation for that mass exodus, which leaves us to guess. My guess is that management was the issue and continues to be the issue and low and behold 12 years later they are still employed, and we have another cant get out of here quickly enough , only this time it is fringe (but useful) players. Organization is rotten from the top on down.

    • Just like 06. Pronger got all the press. Peca said he would be leaving for an eastern franchise, but Samsanov, Tarnstrom, etc could not get out of town quick enough. Now the fringe players are doing the same thing. The only constant that remains 12 years later , is the same 3 amigos are still employed by being rewarded for failure. I don’t think it is a coincidence that players still want nothing to do with this tire fire if they can find a job anywhere else. It continues to this day, the latest example being Woodcroft. You failed miserably, you can’t run a powerplay ,so we have determined you should be a head coach with the Condors. The players that end up down there next year, that were on the NHL roster, will not respond well to him.

      • Glencontrolurstik

        Get over yourself… What credentials do you hold to make that statement?
        Or are you just basing it on the fact that the Oilers have been bad for a long time & “those 3 amigos” as you say are the only constant….
        Woodcroft, as a Coach has a pretty good track record over all…
        Yes, he did (or something) screwed up Special Teams last year.
        But his track record alone deserves him a shot at Head Coach on a farm team. It might as well be the team that has his best buddy coaching the big league team… As I said, think logically & be smart about it…
        Conspiracy Theories are easy to come up with.

          • Glencontrolurstik

            Woodcroft had failure for one season… Other than that, he has a solid resumé.
            He deserves a shot. And the Oiler’s deserve better communication between the them & the farm than they’ve been getting. He’ll give them that.
            Paying attention allows all of us to make assessments & I certainly don’t agree with most of the decisions made with this club since Sather left… But being a fan, we have to have some semblance of hope that those qualified to make the right decisions will…
            When McDavid was signed & new Management took over initially we gave it a couple of years before we would make the post-season. Well, it has been a couple of years & we made the post season in the first full season, missing the next. That initial success made us all “bleary-eyed”… last season brought us back to reality. Yes, we all would have probably done things differently than the Management Team in hindsight. Absolutely,… However, I have to believe that we do have a core strength that can make this team successful. If we didn’t believe that we wouldn’t be Oiler Fans would we…?

    • Glencontrolurstik

      I read between the lines & I get this. I think it sounds about right. You?
      The regular season is over & the team is being evaluated…
      Free agency is coming up soon… The draft position is set & coming up soon, so you have to determine your needs and rank your picks. After management’s post season discussions about “needs & wants” some players on the edge are asked to leave. Making room for the new recruits… That is why it happens all at once, nothing more. Essentially these players were fired.

  • Bills Bills

    How many other teams have players in their system that leave for the KHL because they can’t make the NHL? Probably every single team in the league. I don’t consider this news. Bit players that couldn’t make the team regularly feel they are better than they are and decide to leave. What I want to know is where all the clowns are that signing Gryba to a 2 year deal was a good idea? Seems to me most of the regulars here loved Gryba and thought a million bucks was a great idea for a number 7 guy. I have issues with management. Player drafting and development has sucked for decades. But worrying about non drafted players that can barely crack the lineup for 30 games is something that does not concern me.

  • TKB2677

    Auvitu is a classic example of why all these “fancy stats” can be a somewhat useful tool to evaluate a player, they also have big time holes in them. When I saw Auvitu play I saw a guy that is a good skater, has the ability to rush the puck up the ice, can make a good pass and seems to have some offensive instincts but god help him in his own zone. In his own zone, he was reluctant to go anywhere near a corner, got out muscled a lot, lost all kinds of 1 on 1 battles, had difficulty with a handling anyone in front of the net and his defensive zone coverage seemed really spotty at best. I don’t expect every dman to be defensive wizards but to me, to be a NHL dman even as a 3rd pairing guy, you have to at least be capable to some degree to do what I would call basics for a dman. Like going hard into a corner to go after pucks is part of your job as a dman. You have to be able to win puck battles from time to time. You have to at least have a handle on basic d-zone coverage. You are a dman, part of the word that describes your position is to DEFEND.

    • belair

      He was the left handed Philip Larsen. Not shy to jump into the rush, but God help him in his own zone. One thing that really peeved me about his play was his muffin shot that he threw at the net literally every time he got the puck. Screw his advanced stats. This guy was a bum.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      Agreed, I just wonder why he was never tried at that wing that we so need?
      To my eye anyway, he had the speed, hands & shot power?
      I’d have tried him on the farm, as a winger?

  • Spaceman Spiff

    Everyone’s going blame this defection on the Oilers, but I’m sorry, but this is just a plain-old-boring case of a journeyman professional moving on. It’s not a case of “wasted development” or “not enough ice time” or “improper deployment.”

    He’s bolting for the KHL because he realizes he’s not likely to either get much of a contract offer here or, if he does, it’ll be for similar money and a similar role. That’s why he didn’t bother waiting around until July 1. He and his agent realize there won’t be anything overly palatable to wait for. And I reckon it’s the same thing with Slepyshev.

    Auvitu is an interesting guy. Speaks a bunch of languages and probably has, like, two or three passports. The KHL is the perfect option for guys like him who can move around the world to play hockey. Less culture shock for him over there than it would be for most North American-born professionals (I imagine some of the AHL and NHL markets were more of a culture shock than the KHL was for Auvitu).

    Honestly, people. One of these days we’ve gotta learn to stop sweating the small stuff. This week’s been a case-study in how much hand-wringing this fanbase and its accompanying blogosphere will conduct every time the outer edges of the roster move on.

    It’s a fringe player moving on. It’s not any more complicated than that.

    • Spydyr

      When most of your fringe players move on in a matter weeks it says something. If you want to ignore that fact that is up to you. Just more excuses for the Oilers Management Group.

      • TKB2677

        Your post doesn’t make any sense. You even said it yourself FRINGE guys. Fringe means these are players who are borderline NHLers meaning they could be in the NHL but could just as easily be in the minors because they aren’t quite good enough to be full timers. So you are piling on the Oilers management because players who aren’t good enough to be full time NHLers are leaving?

        I am not here to stick up for management because lord knows they have screwed some things up badly but shouldn’t the goal of the team be to eliminate AHLers from taking up spots on their NHL roster? I would like the Oilers to get to a point where their entire NHL roster is actually completely full of NHLERS. I would like the Oilers to get to the point like some teams are where their 13th forward and 7th dman, guys who are battling just to get in the line up once in a while, are the types of guys who if they go to another team, immediately are in their line up. Aberg is a good example. Nashville has so much depth they felt he wasn’t good enough to be in their top 12 forwards so they traded him to the Oilers for basically nothing and he is able to take up a full time spot with the Oilers. I don’t know if Aberg is actually any good long term but he was good enough at the time to make the Oilers top 12 immediately last season. In addition, it’s not like Slep and Auvitu are leaving the Oilers to sign on with another NHL team. They are leaving to go to a inferior league.

        I get that its the in thing to pile on Oilers management because they deserve it but piling on because they let non NHLers leave their team shouldn’t be a reason.

        • Spydyr

          The difference is the players are choosing to leave on their own accord.They would rather play in a lesser league for less money then stay an Oiler.

          The team is not cutting them and replacing them with better players

          • TKB2677

            There are 30 other NHL teams. If they are NHLers, why are they jumping ship in May? Why aren’t they sticking around and waiting to sign with another NHL team and show the Oilers how stupid they are for letting them go?

            The answer is they ARE NOT NHLers. They know they aren’t NHLers. They know that if they stick around and wait, at best they get a 2 way deal paying them jack squat to ride a bus in the minors because they aren’t good enough to make an NHL team. So they are jumping ship in May to sign a contract now to make some good money in Europe.

            Again, I am not here to stick up for the stupid Oilers management but getting ticked off because they let 2 AHLers leave to me is hating on management just to hate. If you want to be mad at Oilers management for these 2 guys, be mad at them that they couldn’t recognize that these 2 are flat out not good enough players to play in the NHL sooner. Be mad that they wasted 2 roster spots this past season and played these 2 guys as much as they did when they could have had better guys in their place.

          • Spydyr

            @TKB2677

            If “The answer is they ARE NOT NHLers. ”

            The question is why did the “Oiler Braintrust” believe they were last season?

            You might see the answer to the Oilers problems within.

          • Glencontrolurstik

            At least they’ll have a chance to make a real difference to a team before their abilities run completely out…
            Anyone would leave if that’s the motivation & now is the perfect time. If management is prompting it, then great on them for not carrying on the marriage…

      • Spaceman Spiff

        Most? Is two “most?”

        Turnover on the fringes of a roster should be a natural (and, indeed, encouraged) action on any team that misses the playoffs. The fact that Slepyshev and, now, Auvitu aren’t event bothering to wait until July 1 to hear offers from other NHL teams should tell you that the process of natural selection has taken place. The non-NHLers/fringe guys are moving on to (lesser) leagues where they can get more ice time or money or both. It’s the business. It’s not the “fault” of the Oilers.

      • Glencontrolurstik

        Yes Spydr, at the beginning of May it “means a number of things”
        1 The regular season is over & the team is being evaluated…
        2 Free agency is coming up soon…
        2 The draft position is set & coming up soon, so you have to determine your needs and rank your picks.
        3 After management post season discussions about “needs & wants” some players on the edge are asked to leave. Making room for the new recruits…
        Spyder, I really am losing respect for you, I thought that you had an idea how it all worked?
        It’s not as complicated as you are believing it to be.

      • Glencontrolurstik

        Yes Spydr, at the beginning of May it “means a number of things”
        1 The regular season is over & the team is being evaluated…
        2 Free agency is coming up soon…
        2 The draft position is set & coming up soon, so you have to determine your needs and rank your picks.
        3 After management post season discussions about “needs & wants” some players on the edge are asked to leave. Making room for the new recruits…
        Spyder, I really am losing respect for you, I thought that you had an idea how it all worked?
        It’s not as complicated as you are believing it to be.

      • Bills Bills

        It says they were fringe players on not a very good team. They likely had their exit interviews and were encouraged to look for work elsewhere. Seriously, get a clue.

  • A-co

    It means they had alot of non nhl talent on the team that is now going to play in a league that suits their capabilities better… nhl teams should have nhl players..wild concept

  • Oiler Al

    I could be wrong,but it seems to me a lot of these big,fast skating guys[usually straight line only], cannot seem to process the NHL game.They bang the puck up ice and bang the odd body, but don’t make plays!The game is more than just fast feet and size.
    Can these type of players be coached into something different?Coaches like Fleming and McLellan don’t help the cause,who basically want to run with under performing vets.

  • TKB2677

    If he was right handed, then I would maybe be a little upset he is gone because they don’t have a lot of right handed guys in general. But right now there is Nurse, Klefbom, Sekera and Russell all on the team, all left handed. He’s not better than any of those 4, he’s not even on par with any of those 4. So who’s spot does he take?

  • OilCan2

    Better vodka, nicer looking Ruskie babes, and a good chance of getting a coach who will want to see you improve as a player. Oh well at least we overpaid (again) for a KHL goalie.

    • Pak, good penalty killer, sorely lacking on this roster, Slep never got a real chance other than the playoffs, (Never saw the Looch, Drai, Slep combo again). Why use something that works? Auvitu was decent for a spare. Point being, even the fringe players are not interested in being employed by this dysfunctional franchise.

    • “At the end of the day, losing Yohann Auvitu is not going to break this franchise but it is interesting that he’s now the third semi-regular roster player from last year’s team to bolt for the KHL.”

      How is anything I said inaccurate?

      • LAKID

        Not inacurate at all. They were all on the trade block at the deadline and it’s obvious no one wanted them or Chia wouldn’t take any 4th round picks comming back, because Chia only ships out draft picks for nothing and doesn’t like to get too many back?

      • Glencontrolurstik

        The regular season is over & the team is being evaluated…
        Free agency is coming up soon… The draft position is set & coming up soon, so you have to determine your needs and rank your picks. After management’s post season discussions about “needs & wants” some players on the edge are asked to leave. Making room for the new recruits… That is why it happens all at once, nothing more. Essentially these players were fired.

  • LAKID

    That is three draft picks let go for nothing, does that remind you of the Montoya trade? This is unexcusable mismanagement of talent. I wonder who really makes the decisions because they should be fired.

  • Avenir

    Because I’m sure you want a Finnish lesson, I think what he’s saying is…

    “Sometimes in the NHL you can’t control your own situation. Its a bit of a shame, but for that reason I don’t want to lose more years there.”

    So… almost.

    Source: Let’s just say that at this point my Finnish is better than my Alberta high school French.

  • Lawndemon

    These are all players that would rather PLAY hockey than SIT in the NHL. Doesn’t matter if it’s the Oilers or another NHL team, none of them are starters. Moreover, they will make more guaranteed money in the KHL than splitting time between the AHL and NHL so why stay? These are their prime earning years so why waste them chasing a role as a fringe NHLer.

    On a related note, does anyone remember the last time ANY NHL team had a meaningful impact signing from the KHL? Trying to think of an example and struggling… so, yay Koskinen?

  • Glencontrolurstik

    Arrrrgh, that sucks. This guy had a lot of potential that wasn’t nurtured in my opinion. I think we didn’t find his best attributes. They just threw him in as a filler, without strengthening the potential. Something the Oilers seem to do alot.
    You’d have to be blind to not see potential in this guy.

  • camdog

    The problem isn’t the fringe players that have jumped ship, the problem is there are an equal number that are still on the roster. When fringe players equal over a third of your roster, you aren’t making the playoffs.

  • nbandito

    I believe it’s pretty straightforward about the politics: Sign a player to a high risk high salary/term contract. Player performs marginally to poor. GM wants to save face so continually puts said player in a position to succeed to save face instead of playing players that have been performing better. It could also be when a GM plays struggling favorites based upon their background (US college education perhaps).

  • Semenko27

    These guys are nothing but back-up dancers. who cares if they want to go. They think in the khl that they will be the star that they cannot be here. We need guys who are hungry and happy to get the minutes these shmucks had. There is plenty out there, we just have to find them.