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.
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?