Random Thoughts: Arbitration Hearings, State of the Defence, Analytics, and Matthew Tkachuk

Photo credit:Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
1 year ago
One blogger, one brain, and a few occasional thoughts to share on the Internet.


Now that we know the dates for Jesse Puljujarvi (July 29th) and Kailer Yamamoto’s (August 7th) arbitration hearings, I can’t help but wonder how much pressure both Ken Holland and the players are feeling to avoid the process entirely if possible. As much as it’s one thing to sign up for arbitration, it’s another story to walk into that room and have your employer tell this third party all the reasons why you suck and why they shouldn’t pay you a bunch more money. How demoralizing. Would you want to hear that shit? I wouldn’t. That said, I understand why both players would want an arbitrator to chime in — both are due for a decent raise in my books — but what will be most interesting is to see if either actually goes through the exercise or not. If I was a betting man, and I certainly am, I would put Gregor’s money on Puljujarvi going through with his hearing and that Yamamoto will get signed before his meeting date. What say you?


Correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t be the only one that looks at the current defensive group and feels like there needs to be an addition or two. I refuse to believe that all of you can look at this group and not see the need for an upgrade on either side, or that we can truly be considered contenders without some kind of shutdown guy. It’s impossible. You know and I know it. As I write this, the Oilers’ defensive group looks like this:
  1. Nurse – Ceci
  2. Kulak – Bouchard
  3. Broberg – Barrie
I don’t care what your specific d-combos look like, there is no configuration of these six guys that makes me feel entirely comfortable in the Oilers’ ability to defend. I think they need a shutdown guy, and someone will probably have to go to even consider making that happen. Not that there’s anything wrong with him or that the Oilers should have a problem with his play, but would Tyson Barrie+ be enough to land a guy that specializes more on keeping pucks out than putting them in? Is there even a guy like that out there? Either way, until we find a new Adam Larsson to stick on either side of the defence, I don’t think I’m going to feel as good as I’d like to ahead of a new NHL season.


As much as I know why a lot of Oilers fans were making jokes about Brad Holland being hired as AGM, the reality is that I think he’s going to help modernize this hockey team. A vocal fan of analytics, Brad Holland has already talked about underlying numbers and why they’re important at least twice already by my count, and this latest peek into his future plans from DNB’s piece at The Athletic is another reason to be encouraged. More money invested into scouting and analytics? It can’t be. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those people that think an analytics department is the be-all and end-all of player evaluation — Gord knows there’s more to it than watching Moneyball and applying that same logic to a different sport — but I do think you’re shooting yourselves in the foot if you’re not incorporating all of the possible tools of evaluation that are available to you. Seeing as there’s no salary cap on management or office staff, why wouldn’t you put a team together that dives into the numbers and offers up some objective analysis on any given guy — it just makes sense to me. Thankfully, with Brad Holland in the mix, modernizing the back end of this operation could be coming at a time when we need to find value deals.


Last week, I wrote about how surprised I was that Johnny Gaudreau left upwards of $15 million on the table to sign in Columbus rather than sticking with the horrible Calgary Flames. For a normie like me, the idea of leaving that kind of money up for grabs to sign with a team that has very little chance of winning was as confusing as it gets, but I’ve already said my piece about it and thought it was time to move on. But then, only days later, we find out that the Flames will also be losing Matthew Tkachuk after the pending RFA told the club he had no interest in signing a long-term extension with the Flames. Then, late last night, the Flames traded Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers for a massive return in Jonathan Huberdeau, Mackenzie Weeger, a prospect, and 1st round pick in 2025. I mean, that’s a haul to the point of not knowing what the hell Florida is doing. Yeah, both guys are potentially UFAs at the end of the year, but to get a 100-point player AND Weeger AND a 1st given you were dealing a player that didn’t want to play for you anymore? That’s a wild bit of business, my friends. And needless to say, the Battle of Alberta is going to look a whole lot different in 2022-23.

Better Lait Than Never Free Agency Show

On the new episode of Better Lait Than Never, looked at the Oilers’ RFA situation along with what the hell is going on in Calgary. Should we be piling on Flames fans right now or should we show some empathy? That’s the question for this week, I suppose. Subscribe to Better Lait Than Never for FREE on SpotifyApple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, and wherever else you get your podcasts.

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