This week James Wisniewski signed a PTO agreement with the Tampa Bay Lightning and thus ended all chances the Edmonton Oilers had of making the playoffs in 2016/17. Or at least that was the sentiment I felt on Twitter and other online sources.
The Oilers failed to acquire that right-handed defenceman who could QB the power play when they dealt Hall for Adam Larsson. A deal that was compounded when PK Subban and Shea Weber were dealt for each other minutes later.
Chiarelli seemed to have missed the boat on Tyson Barrie as well as the Avs were demanding Nugent-Hopkins in return for the recently signed RFA.
IS THE OILERS POWER PLAY REALLY THAT BAD?
Last season it wasn’t. The Oilers finished the year 18th out of 30 teams with an 18.1% success rate with the man advantage. That was without Connor McDavid, Oscar Klefbom, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov, and Jordan Eberle for major portions of the year.
It was also sans a power play specialist of the right-handed variety. Schultz, Clendenning, Gryba, and Fayne all had a go at least once in 2015 to no avail. Of course, those aren’t really the droids you want on the PP.
But do the Oilers really need a right-handed power play specialist? I mean how much of the Oilers’ success is going to hinge upon acquiring a no.4-6 dman who has above average skills offensively from the point. I’m going to say not a whole lot.
“It’s their biggest problem on the power play. They don’t shoot it enough and when they do, they don’t have a howitzer from the point. But they too often don’t have sniper fire from the flanks either…” (National Post)
How many times did you throw a beer, a slipper, or a cat at the TV because the Oilers would just dick around on the PP looking for that perfect shot instead of just putting the bloody thing on the net and going for the dirty goals? We’re down to two cats by the way…
DANGEROUS PRIMARY SHOT CONTRIBUTIONS
There’s a recently published post over at NHLNumbers.com that Walter Foddis pointed me in the direction of. It has to do with which types of passing sequences are more likely to lead to goals than others. More specifically in this case, shots that follow passes from behind the net and shots that follow low to high passes.
Now given that those two specific types of passes are found quite frequently on the power play. The findings are quite interesting.
The Royal Road is right down main street aka the slot.
“For each team, players widely considered to be the best offensive player on the team frequently lead the team in DPSC, which is a good sign that DPSC is a reasonable measure of offensive play.”
- Connor McDavid ends up being 6th in the NHL in DPSC A1/60 (primary assists leading to dangerous primary shot contributions) AND DPSC/60.
- Nail Yakupov fairs pretty well under this new study as a shooter eh? He ranked 15th in DPSC shots/60. Maybe they should keep this kid around and just set up him with a centre and do the whole “Hull and Oates” routine…
- The Sedins were the ones to catch in the three categories and that’s no surprise to us Pacific Division fans… The Sedin Cycle am I right? Facking unstoppable in its heyday.
“The PP was 21% with Connor McDavid in the lineup and 14% without him last season. I’ll argue the PP success will be connected to #97. – Jason Gregor (ON)
Hard to argue with that stat line. I do agree with him though. That first power play unit will be stacked because we know that’s how T-Mac likes to roll, and we are hearing that Todd McLellan will be attempting to put up to three right-handers on it. So that means Jordan Eberle for sure and most likely on the left half-wall. I’d venture to say that Jesse Puljujarvi and possibly Adam Larsson would make appearances as well because I’m not sure if Mark Letestu or Zack Kassian would help the main power play unit more than a left-handed shooter.
My Guess as to who might be on the first unit to start the year IF McLellan does get his wish:
Sunil Agnihotri has this article up right now about Adam Larsson’s impact versus different levels of competition. Now, Larsson has no real history in the NHL of putting up offense and Agnihotri’s article supports that but his stats outside the NHL tell us a different story. Leading me to believe there’s still some hope in that regard because:
- The Oilers ARE NOT the New Jersey Devils or their #9th overall PP (Good Luck Taylor).
- The Oilers DO in fact have some of the best young forwards in the league, add to that Jesse Puljujarvi and generational power forward Milan Lucic.
A highly skilled two-way defenseman. Larsson has a big frame, skates very well and has impressive hockey sense. Furthermore, he passes the puck very well and has an edge to his game, although his physical game could use some fine tuning. He likes to initiate contact. Some slight consistency issues. Overall a very strong player with few weaknesses. Does a good job on the power play and is equally valuable in shorthanded situations. – See more at: http://www.eliteprospects.com/player.php?player=10713#sthash.Ubii76VG.dpuf
KLEFBOM, SEKERA, OR DAVIDSON
We could very well see Brandon Davidson and/or Andrej Sekera manning the point on the PP in 2016 because I have a little hunch that Todd McLellan might use Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson (OK-AL) as an outright shutdown pairing. I mean that is if the Larsson or Klefbom experiments on the PP don’t work.
The Shinpad Assassin (Sekera) was #10 in the entire NHL for Corsi For per 60 Relative to Teammates on the PP last season for dmen who played at least 100 minutes on the man advantage. #9 was Kevin Shattenkirk, whose Blues had the #6 PP in the league last year, and #11 was John Carlson, whose Capitals had the 5th best PP. So he may not be the ideal candidate for first unit power play but he’s a very acceptable option.
FIVE FORWARD DEATH PUNCH
My lazy memory tells me that the Oilers under Craig MacTavish would use a 5-man power play from time to time or maybe it was Todd Nelson’s OKC Barons. I can’t recall as a few too many Taiwanese Beers has wiped my memory pretty much clean but do the Oilers have the depth to attempt this tactic in 2016? Maybe it was both MacTavish and Nelson…
The Oil would have their size (Draisaitl), their playmakers (McDavid/Eberle), and their triggermen (Yak/Pulju). What’s not to love?
WHAT ACTUALLY NEEDS TO HAPPEN
The Oilers could have Erik Karlsson, Paul Coffey, or Bobby Orr manning the point on their PP but if they don’t put the rest of the players on the ice in optimal positions to get a shot off, then it’s all for nothing.
That means in a 1-3-1 formation (the set-up I think they’ll go with),
- Right-handed shooters like Jordan Eberle (and his shiny new one-timer) and Jesse Puljujarvi’s cannon need to be put on the left wall.
- Lefties like McDavid and Yakupov should set up on the right wall.
- Lucic, Pouliot, or Maroon should set up shop in the goalies grill.
- Nuge or Draisaitl would obviously be the high men in the slots.
- Then of course Larsson, Klefbom, Sekera, or Davidson would be dancing along the blue.
Thus giving us this:
Jordan Oesterle is a name not often mentioned but he was one of the better puck moving defenders for the Oilers last year. He’s smart, fast, and can rush the puck very well. One of the few prospect signings Craig MacTavish got right.
Tell me what you think the Oilers should do with their power play in the comments below. Should they sign James Wisniewski or Nikita.. Er, I mean Dennis Wideman? Play five forwards? Or just carry on with what they have?