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Fun With Numbers…

Another NHL season is just around the corner. The Edmonton Oilers rookies battle the Calgary Flames rookies on September 7th in Red Deer and then in Calgary on September 10th and with Tyler Benson and Cooper Marody attending rookie camp, and expected to compete for roster spots on the Oilers, we can say the season unofficially begins in 15 days.

With that in mind let’s look at some numbers, stats and random thoughts to get you thinking.

1. In the 14 seasons since the 2005 lockout, the Edmonton Oilers have made the playoffs twice. It has been a painful stretch. Captain Obvious points out the organization has had many weaknesses, so this number might not shock you, but in those 14 seasons, there have been 42 “periods” played. Three periods each season. Of those 42 periods, the Oilers have outscored the opposition a total of six times. They outscored the opposition in all three periods in 2017: They were +5, +14 and +15 from the first to third period that season.  In 2006, their magical run to the Cup, they were -15, +2 and +18 in the first to third frame. And in the lockout-shortened 2013 season, they were +8 in the first period. Captain Obvious points out that you want to outscore the opposition, and a good start to games can help, but where the Oilers have been dominated heavily has been in the second period. The long change has killed them.

2. Last year they were -22 in the second period, while being -6 and -16 in the first and third. The middle period has been a wasteland of destruction for many years. They have been -33 (2007), -27 (2011), -31 (2014), -22 (2015), -25 (2016) and -22 last year. They’ve had some ugly third periods as well, posting a -34 (2010) and -32 (2015), and some ugly first periods, going -31 (2011), -24 (2015) and -23 (2010), but the second period has been dominated more often. I’d like to dig into it a bit more, but I wonder how the long change impacts them and if it exposes weaker teams even more.

3. I can disagree with Jesse Puljujarvi’s decision on how he and his agent are handling things, but that doesn’t make him a spoiled brat or a horrible hockey player. Because we disagree with someone doesn’t mean they are suddenly awful. Puljujarvi clearly feels it is time to move on. He has his reasons. I won’t speculate on what they are, but it is obvious that he wants a fresh start. Regardless of what we do for a living, if you are not comfortable in your work environment it is difficult to perform to the best of your ability. I respect him for sticking to what he believes. I likely would have done it differently, but I also don’t know 100% the situation and how uncomfortable he truly is. It is okay to disagree with him, without name calling or degrading him.

4. Puljujarvi is 21 years old. Because he was rushed to the NHL and didn’t produce — not surprisingly because he wasn’t ready — now many feel he is a bust. While other 21 year olds who are coming off a good AHL rookie season are considered excellent prospects. Things change quickly in the NHL. Puljujarvi, has to shoulder some of the blame, sure, but I still believe the best path for his development might be one year in Finland to regain his confidence and reignite his passion for the game.

5. The term “bandaid” sometimes gets used when players are hurt. I hear it often in regards to Auston Matthews. I’m not suggesting he is at the same skill level as these next two players, although he is close, but through their first three NHL seasons Matthews played 212 games, Connor McDavid played 209 and Sidney Crosby played 213. He is an excellent player, and I see him and McDavid as the two players, who haven’t already done it, with the best chance to score 50 goals and 100 points in a season. I’d caution those thinking Matthews is a “bandaid.”

6. Darnell Nurse was 11th among NHL D-men in shots on goal last season with 196. He was 22nd in 2018 with 194 shots. His shot totals remained virtually the same, but half as many defenders had 194 shots last year compared in 2018. In 2017 only ten defenders had 194+ shots and eleven in 2016. So it would seem 2018 was a bit of an anomaly with 22 of them having 194. Nurse had 158 shots at 5×5 last year compared to 174 in 2018. His increased PP time didn’t increase his shot totals, likely because more teams are relying less on high volume shots from the point. It makes sense since they are low percentage shots. You should expect Nurse to be around 190-200 shots on goal this season.

7. Speaking of shots on goal. Can you name the three D-men in Oilers history who fired 200+ shots on goal in two or more seasons? **Answer below.**

8. It is likely Leon Draisaitl’s SH% will drop this season. He ripped his way to 50 goals scoring on 21.6% of his 231 shots. He was tied for 32nd among forwards in SOG, while McDavid was 22nd with 240. I won’t be surprised if Draisaitl is closer to 250 shots this season, and if he scores 40 goals on 250 shots he’ll have a S% of 16. If he scores 45 goals it would be 18%. It is interesting that only two of the 16 forwards who fired 250+ shots had a S% higher than 15. Alex Ovechkin was 15.1% (51 goals on 338 shots) and John Tavares with 16.4% (47 goals on 286 shots). Eleven of the remaining 14 were under 14%.

9. James Neal scored a career worst seven goals last season, and he averaged the fewest shots per game (2.2) since his rookie season. He’s only been under 2.69 shots/game one other time in his career. If Neal is playing well he will be close to three shots/game. His career SH% is 11.6. He was 5.1 last season, and considering he’s never been lower than 10.4% in any other season, I’d bet Neal comes in around 11-13%.

10. Could Joakim Nygard be Jussi Jokinen light? Since 2006 very few players have come directly from Europe (with no games in the AHL or CHL) and produced 50 points their first season in the NHL. Alex Ovechkin (106), Evgeni Malkin (85), Artemi Panarin (77), Nicklas Backstrom (69), Elias Pettersson (66), Patrik Laine (64), Anze Kopitar (61) and Jussi Jokinen (55). Jokinen was 22 when he debuted with the Dallas Stars in 2006. Jokinen had Mike Modano and Jason Arnott as the top-two centres in Dallas. Nygard will have McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. He might play on the third line, but his speed might earn him a shot with RNH and Neal to start the season. I think 55 points is unrealistic, but could he chip in 40 points? He is the biggest wildcard for me among all the new forwards. I’m intrigued to see what he does. Scouts I’ve spoke to in Sweden believe he will be a solid NHLer. They love his speed and tenacity, and believe he could be a decent complementary forward. He might be back in Sweden in early October, or he might score 20 points. Maybe 30, or maybe shocks us all and pots 40. I truly have no accurate sense of what he will bring, but admittedly I’m intrigued to watch him play.

11. I’ve been asked if there is any update on McDavid. I got a text from someone who skated with him this week. “He looks good.” I understand the concern regarding his leg, because he is the Oilers best player, but he has been skating for a month and feels good.

12. Who has the best pizza in Edmonton? If you have a favourite pizza place encourage them to enter our first annual Pizza Pigout as our distinguished judges will crown one “Best Pizza.” They can register at www.jasongregorpizzapigout.com and you can buy tickets there as well to join us. You will taste pizza from over 40 pizzerias and you will get to mingle with many local sporting athletes, current and former, and other sports personalities. It will be a fun night of great pizza and we will raise money for KidSport so kids can play sports. Thanks in advance and let’s find out who has the best pizza and.

***Trivia answer.. Paul Coffey (five times), while Oscar Klefbom and Dave Manson reached 200 SOG twice.**

Recently by Jason Gregor:



  • 1ncinawhile

    Jason, I fully agree with your take on JP. There is no need for the name calling, although I do understand the frustration of the average fan – we had high hopes for the lad. It makes it even more painful to trade him for next to nothing and then possibly watch him flourish for some other team. Oh well, such is life.

    • Hemmercules

      I think when he and his agent speak about it so often to the media he deserves a little clap back. He’s a big boy, he should be able to handle a little criticism. I’m not aware of everything thats being said about him but I think calling him “entitled” fits the bill. He expects 15 minutes a night on the top two lines, I laughed out loud when I read that. I honestly don’t think he has the drive to be a solid NHL player let alone a regular top 6.

      • Schmidt Head

        Except there’s good reason to believe that’s not what he said. A column on here the other day talked about that interview and how Google Translate was used to translate it into English.

        Two things;
        1) Finnish is a very unique language, not easily understood and which is not in any family of languages (French, Spanish, Italian etc are all related) and it is incredibly challenging to translate as many words and phrases have no equivalent in other languages. And Google Translate is a very poor tool for translating anything.

        2) Deciphering the correct meaning from written communication is notoriously ineffective and even more so when two different languages are involved. As much as 90% of meaning, context etc can be lost compared to face to face communication.

        What many people who are more familiar with the Finnish language have said is that his GOAL, his WISH, his HOPE is to play 15 min on the top 6; not that he deserves to or demands to.

        If we are to understand what people mean, we must allow for both the glaring inefficiencies of sloppy translation and the severe limitations of the written word versus the spoken word.

        • inverno76

          If the translation was way off, then it’s on the Finnish agent Lehto who speaks wonderful English to clarify the misquotes and help save face for his client.

      • wiseguy

        I agree that if JP and his agent are going to insinuate problems with the team but won’t clarify the statements with details, then he should expect the backlash he has received.

  • nvan97

    Matthews has missed stretches of 4, 6, 10 and 14 games due to leg, upper body and concussions. McDavid missed a single stretch of 37 games and then played 82 in his 2nd and 3rd season. In his 4th he 4 games, 2 with illness and 2 for his suspension. Suggesting that their games missed means that they are equally injury prone isn’t accurate.

    • Kepler62c

      Ya, I agree with Gregor that labeling Matthews as a band-aid is a bit premature seeing as he’s played 3 seasons — but the way he backed it up was not sound.

    • Redbird62

      I am not worried about McDavid’s health or consider him injury prone. But having said that in regards to comparisons with Matthews, McDavid missed a big chunk of his last year of junior due the broken thumb and he would probably have missed at least 2 months of the season if his latest injury had been earlier and had not occurred on the last game of year.

      • billsbills

        None of those guys are bandaids. If Matthews keeps getting hurt it may be a different story. Now if you want bandaids, Taylor Hall and Oscar Klefbom. It’s why I’m okay if Klefbom gets moved for top six forward. Nurse is going to pass him on the depth chart this season anyway. And it is also why I wouldn’t go near Taylor Hall in free agency. A team is going to pay $10 mill or more for a guy that will average 60 points a year over the contract term because he’s always hurt.

        • NoBuBlackOPS

          @billsbills nows not the right time to trade Klefbom. He’s got team friendly contract with multiple years left. Even if Nurse passes him on the depth chart we still need a top 4 Dmen to play on the left. Trade him when Jones Samorukov or Broberg are ready for top 4 minutes.

          • billsbills

            I agree it’s a team friendly contract. That’s not the issue. It’s the average of 60 games a year that’s the issue. Since that cap space is essentially dead when he’s not in the lineup, (available on the IR but what do you do with it when it’s a 20 game injury?) it’s not that team friendly.

  • mikeoes

    Jason, I am still worried about Connors leg. “Looks good” sounds like a pretty generic response. Wish we could see some videos if him zipping around like we usually see this time of year to ease our minds. Did he personally tell you he feels good? (asking based on last sentence re him feeling good)? Thanks

  • ed from edmonton

    We can only judge people by their actions. A reasonable conclusion about JP is that he has an unrealistic understanding of his hockey playing ability. Assuming his statement from earlier this week was accurately translated, his outlook that there is an NHL team that would slot him into a top 6 position suggests an unrealistic inflated understanding of his own ability. Does this make him a spoiled brat or does he have an entitled attitude? Hard to say, but it easy and not totally unjustified to come to that conclusion.

    Wanting out because of “not feeling comfortable” is not unreasonable. But on my experience people who are entering a profession who have trouble fitting in at their initial jb quickly find out that they are not suited to that profession. What they thought the job entailed and how it really works are different and they move on to something else. This may be where JP ends up in a few years.

    No-one has suggested that the Oil players (obviously JP’s problem is with the dynamic with the other players as new coach, new GM don’t make a difference) are a problematic bunch or function much differently in any other NHL team.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    Most hockey fans can never wait for the season to get going, As for Poolparty and his agent and their handling their tade demands it really doesnt reflect well on Jesse. We all get Jesse wants to go elsewhere, but Holland isnt going to give him away for nothing and with latest 15 minutes a night on one of the top two lines blurb, its just makes it appear that Jesse seems to believe he just think he deserves it but doesnt needs to earn it and lines 3 or 4 or a stint in the AHL is beneath him.

    Will Drai shotting rate drop off, I think it might but I wouldnt expect it to drop a lot, something got lit in Drai under Hitch that got him shooting more and its seemed at times like Drai was just on fire and it was something to see. I believe Drai will press to try and better his point totals. Nygard has some skill and wheels, seeing some of his play making abilities in game highlights gives you some idea of what he can do, it will be interesting to watch him in camp and the preseason

    • Lazarus

      Holland isn’t going to give him away for nothing? He’s not going to want too of course not but his problem is that The latest Oiler top draft dud has no value in the league. If any other GM valued him the way you still do; LMAO, sure Holland could get a return but they don’t….or that deal would have been made. What a mess. What a waste. What a joke.

      Keep on waiting for that big return for PoolParty Dilly Dally. I remember you saying that the Coil would get a decent return for Yakk too..you’ll be about as right on this..

      • Dallas Eakins Hair

        LMAO….Whoo you guy sin Value Village land are sure upset about that rebuild. You really should post a link to where I supposedly said this about a return for Yakupov, ought to be interesting since I didnt join ON till 2018 and Yak was traded in 2016….

        LOL oh man, what a clown show your trolling efforts have become

  • Goaltender Interference

    Gregor you’re far far too kind to JP. He IS a bust, he obviously does have a terrible self-entitlement complex and – at least at this point in his career – he is far from as good a hockey player as he thinks he is.

    What’s waste….