• This time is different

    by  • February 9, 2012 • Uncategorized • 80 Comments

    With 24 goals and 30 assists to date and 28 games left in another pointless Oilers’ season, Jordan Eberle is almost certainly going to break the 70 point barrier. This is very good for Jordan Eberle. There’s a pretty good chance it will turn out to be bad for Oilers’ fans. As of July 1, the Oilers can sign Eberle to an extension. I think it’s fair to say that the consensus view amongst fans is basically aligned with that of authority figure fan Godot10, who has been spamming the comments here and at Lowetide’s with what appears to be the management line: Ales Hemsky needs to go. He justifies it by arguing that the Oilers can’t afford to pay him and their burgeoning young stars. He wants Hall and Eberle to wake up on July 1 to seven year offers worth $50MM each. I’m pretty sure, in Eberle’s case at least, that this is insane and, on his performance to date, you’d just be ensuring that you had an albatross contract to replace Shawn Horcoff’s.

    As you’re probably aware, Eberle has had an absolutely amazing season. He’s leading the NHL in 5v5 pts/60, at 3.69. He’s sixth in the league in ES points and seventh overall. It is an astonishingly good season. When you dig into it though, it looks like he’s benefited an awful lot from randomness.

    Eberle has currently been in on just over 90% of goals that the Oilers have scored at 5v5 with him on the ice. This, in Scott Reynolds’ terminology, is individual points percentage (IPP). If he manages to finish the season at greater than 90%, he’ll end up with the second highest IPP of any forward in the behindthenet.ca era (minimum of being on ice for 30 goals), with only Scottie Upshall managing to put up a bigger number. The thing is, that isn’t something that tends to repeat. I put together a chart laying out all of the guys who’ve managed an 85% IPP or better in the BTN era and then put up what they did the following year.


    So, uh, yikes. The average IPP of about 87% plunges to 72% the following season. The astute observer might note that, despite the decrease in IPP, the group actually posted a better GFON/60 the following season. So who cares, right? If Eberle’s numbers dip a bit and the Oilers up their goal production with him on the ice, who cares who gets the credit?

    Not exactly. Although I didn’t put it in the table, an awful lot of those guys had sub-8% on-ice shooting percentages, unusually low. The Oilers on-ice 5v5 S% with Eberle on the ice this year? An astonishing 14.5%. I put together a table of the guys who’ve managed to top 13% in the BTN era and what they did the following season.


    As you can see, the roof tends to fall in the following year although I found it interesting that the average was 9.6% or so – that’s about what Tom Awad found was the average on-ice S% for first line players. It’s as if they blip and then regress all the way back to regular first liners. What does this mean for Jordan Eberle? Well, taking his 27.7 SF/60 and multiplying it by 9.6%, you come up with 2.66 GFON/60, down from this year’s 3.99. Multiply that by 0.72 and you come up with Eberle scoring about 1.92 5v5 P/60. There’s no shame in that, although it’s not going to be the basis of a 70-80 point season.

    (I’ve highlighted the Sedins just because it was interesting to me – I remember Gabe Desjardins taking a beating for saying that they’d regress.)

    In short, even making assumptions favourable to Eberle as far as where the regression goes, he’s not really going to be the 70-80 point guy he’s going to look like at the end of the season until he starts playing on a line that’s generating a lot more shots. He’s going to look like it though – an observer unfamiliar with this stuff will look at hockey-reference, see that 70+ point line in his age 21 season and think “Hmm. My assessment has brought clarity and this is for real. The plan works!”

    Which leads to the real problem. The Oilers are selling a narrative, complete with slickly manufactured propaganda and Eberle’s part of the marketing plan. The narrative involves a bunch of young kids, who haven’t been jaded by exposure to life outside Edmonton and the loose women of places like St. Louis, coming to Edmonton, turning into hockey players and then committing to the city. I would suspect that there’s an organizational interest in locking up Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall for the long term, as soon as they possibly can.

    The problem: how much does Jordan Eberle get paid. Brian Burke has, amongst many, many other things, whined about the disappearance of the second contract under the current CBA. He’s right to an extent. I went back and grabbed the contract data for guys who signed their second contract during this CBA, after having at least one season of at least seventy points during their entry level contract. (I screened out Cheechoo and someone else, for being 25 when they had their seasons.)


    As you can see, there were two guys who signed second contracts of less than five years before the 2006-07 season. There’ve only been two deals since of less than five years. The bog standard second contract for a guy who has a seventy point season during his ELC is five years in length and starts at about $6MM a year. It’s kind of interesting to note how cheap Krejci and Semin were – if you say, for the sake of discussion, that the going rate for these guys on a two year deal is around $9MM in total, it implies that teams are paying an extra $21MM+ for the next three years, which doesn’t really seem like a great deal to me, considering how few guys make $7MM. George McPhee and Peter Chiarelli are two guys who seem like they know what they’re on about with business stuff too – interesting that they didn’t do the five year deals.

    ANYWAY – Eberle’s represented by Newport Sports, who also represented Steven Stamkos and Mike Richards (and Drew Doughty) when they did their second contracts. Five years plus for those guys. I think it’s sensible to expect that they’ll want the same for Eberle. The argument is going to be pretty simple: Eberle had a 35 goal, 40 assist season (or whatever) and he’s in their class. He deserves to be paid like them. He’s really excited by the work that Edmonton’s management is doing and wants to be part of something special. It’s always easier negotiating when you’re telling the other side what they want to hear and, in this case, the surface numbers are going to say it’s true.

    There’s no point getting worked up about stuff that hasn’t happened yet, but I thought that this was worth pointing out. About the only thing I can see something like this not coming off is if the Oilers decide they want to wait for the new CBA before doing these deals, which seems like the sensible thing to do anyway. Even then, assuming the players’ new share is 50%, it’d be pretty easy to do the new version of this deal, which probably has a baseline of five years and ($6MM)*(50/57). Either way, it’ll be paying for a season in which the hockey gods smiled on Eberle and the hope that he’ll somehow become a legitimate 70-80 point guy in the future.

    This is actually a sort of delicious test of whether or not management has learned anything from the past six years. It’s as if the hockey gods, having looked on Edmonton with distaste for so long are reconsidering whether we have management worthy of their blessing. Although it’s a bit hidden, Eberle presents them with basically the same situation that Shawn Horcoff did in the summer of 2008. Horcoff was signed coming off a season in which he had 50 points in 53 games, allegedly because he visited a Mexican stick factory, with a year left on his pact. He’d also had big years in on-ice shooting percentage (11.4%) and IPP (82%), although nowhere near what Eberle’s doing. The Oilers wanted to find a guy who’d commit to Edmonton, given the Smyth/Pronger fiascoes.

    Has management learned anything from the Horcoff contract? Have the fans? There’s no hubris like thinking that this time is different and the hockey gods have always tended to punish hubris severely.


    80 Responses to This time is different

    1. February 9, 2012 at

      I’ve always wondered how they’re going to handle the Hall and Eberle contracts. My impression is that they’ll sign them to exactly the same deal. Almost a Sedin-like special. I can imagine the press conference now. Ugh.

    2. speeds
      February 9, 2012 at

      If you’re the GM, do you talk to the coach this summer and say something like “OK, time to start throwing these guys in the deep end of the pool. They’ll learn what it’s like to play against the top players all the time, and we’ll see what we have here in those hard matchups.”

      While thinking to yourself that it’s kind of win/win. If they put up similar numbers playing harder minutes, great, you can then feel more comfortable throwing big money at them in the summer of 2013, in a new CBA. And if their production slips, well, the players see there’s still work for them to do plus perhaps you can get them signed a bit cheaper.

    3. RossCreekNation
      February 9, 2012 at

      Perry & Getzlaf signed identical deals — 5×5.325.
      Toews & Kane signed identical deal — 5×6.3.
      Both pairs won a Cup in their entry-level deal.
      John Tavares signed 6×5.5.

      I see these as comparison’s to watch in negotiations (rightly or wrongly). Not sure if they give Hall & Eberle get identical deals – I’ll call 6×5.25 for Eberle, more for Hall. But I expect both guys to be signed to extensions before next season begins. Still think Eberle is at least a 60-65 pt guy though.

      • Tyler Dellow
        February 9, 2012 at

        Perry and Getzlaf is a pretty old comp though – four years ago this summer. I’m not sure, if you adjust for cap inflation, there’d be a big difference between them and Toews/Kane.

        I missed Tavares – surprised he went so cheap. Of course, he also signed coming off a 53 point season, not a 70+ one like Eberle would be. Good deal for Isles relative to market.

      • Tyler Dellow
        February 9, 2012 at

        And Eberle might ultimately be a 60-65 point guy, sure. $5.5MM for a soft minutes, 70 pt guy when the percentages run his way outrageously is nuts though.

    4. speeds
      February 9, 2012 at

      The other thing is, there’s really not much reason for the Oilers to do anything with these guys this summer unless they can get what they think is a deal.They aren’t RFA’s until 2013, so what’s the harm in letting them play next season? If they put up the same numbers, you probably won’t have to pay them much, if any, more, but at least you’d be more sure of the production going forward. If they put up fewer points, you can probably get them signed for less.

      No one’s going to be able to sign them away from you until a new CBA, who knows what the RFA/UFA rules will be then?

      I guess I see the argument that, if they want to go really long term, that option may only be available this summer.

      To me, if I’m the Oilers, I would go to their representation and say something like “We’re willing to provide your client with an awful lot of money and the injury protection that goes with it, a year earlier than we have to, if we can get something done at a reasonable price that gives us cap flexibility going forward while still giving you client more than enough to comfortably retire after his career.”

      • Tyler Dellow
        February 9, 2012 at

        I don’t see any numbers at which it makes sense for them unless they’re getting the standard 5 yr/6MM deals.

        • godot10
          February 10, 2012 at

          Do you only want to sign away 1 UFA year with a second contract of only 5 years?

          You have a solid argument to wait till after next year, but I think if Hall and Eberle continue to perform, that you want to buy at least 3 UFA years in their second contract.

    5. Jonathan Willis
      February 9, 2012 at

      @ speeds

      I have to admit I was thinking exactly the same thing. Bury them against tough opposition, and if they handle it great, if not they become less expensive. Probably not bad for their development either, though it doesn’t fit with Steve Tambellini’s goal of not being in the draft lottery.

      • speeds
        February 9, 2012 at

        What do you think the goal was this year, really?

        Myself, I can’t say either way – I can see both arguments.

    6. February 9, 2012 at

      I’d like to see a one or two year extension worked out. Give Hall and Ebs the same offer of 8 mil for two years, 1st yr 5mil 2nd yr 3mil, cap hit of 4 mil each. Maybe write in a re-working clause based on new CBA optics (if you can do that?) and go from there.

      • godot10
        February 9, 2012 at

        A two-year extension is a bad idea, because the player can opt for arbitration in years 3 and 4 and be a UFA in the minimum 7 years. This only matters for players you deem core/critical/franchise players.

        Once you’ve decided that the player is a core player, you want to buy up as many UFA years as possible at a reasonable price. This upshot of this piece by Tyler is that the Oilers should wait till after next season, and he makes a good case. With Stamkos and Doughty, Newport waited till after the 3rd season. Tampa only got one UFA with Stamkos. I think LA got 4 with Doughty. So I doubt it will be a big deal. And when has Tambellini exactly been proactive anyways.

        But that said, you definitely want to try and buy up at least 3 UFA years in the second contracts of Hall and Eberle when you do them, and this does cost. And when this does get done for Hall, for Eberle, for Nugent-Hopkins, and when Gagner signs his next contract and you try buying 2 UFA years there, and when to want to leave room for signing a top 2 defenseman, there is no room for Hemsky under the cap, as I foresee it, which was the real point, I was trying to make.

        I think there is room for only one of Gagner and Hemsky, and I choose Gagner.

        • February 10, 2012 at

          So, why do you want to buy all these extra years now, anyway? If you just pay for the RFA years, it’s a gamble that they walk, but the dollar value should also be much less, which gives the Oilers more money to spend elsewhere to build a better team over the next four years. Should they succeed, you might get these guys re-signed at a discount.

    7. PDO
      February 9, 2012 at

      The good news is, I see no reason for the Oiler’s to offer anything to Eberle (or Hall, for that matter) until at least a year from now.

      The bad news is we are run by morons.

    8. February 9, 2012 at

      I forgot to mention that comparing Eberle to Horcoff is utterly rediculous. Horcoff’s situation was as different as you could possibly get. Horc was a 10 yr vet, Ebs is a 2nd year player. Horc toiled and plyed his craft in the minors then slow worked his way up the depth chart from 4th liner to over matched 1st liner. Ebs made it as difficult as possible to hold back from the NHL for all of one season, then straight to the 1st line he went. Eberle has clearly shown that he is head and shoulders better then Horcoff, offensively anyway. Apple and oranges dude.

      • Tyler Dellow
        February 9, 2012 at

        I suspect this is the first of what will be many times saying this over the next ten years.

        I did not say: Horcoff = Eberle.

        I did say: this situation is analogous, in that randomness resulted in both players having seasons that far exceeded their true talent levels.

        • February 9, 2012 at

          Thats your opinion and you are entitled to it. I am of the belief this may just the tip of the ice berg, when it comes to Eberle’s production. I won’t deny he is beinging sheltered but he has shown the maturity and skill set that is on the level of the elite in the NHL. Predicting the future is a fools business but I think he may prove to be a more consistant point producer then Hall and I’ll say it right now…When both are retired, Eberle has more points. Just my opinion.

          • Jonathan Willis
            February 10, 2012 at

            Hall > Eberle both now and over the long haul.

            • February 10, 2012 at

              Care to place a friendly wager, even if it will be near impossible to colect in say twenty years, give or take three? All in good fun. What do you say?

            • Jonathan Willis
              February 10, 2012 at

              Sure. If I’m wrong I’ll write a full column dedicated to the fact that I was so wrong, so very very wrong, and everyone should go follow @paqtwinn because his finely honed hockey sense was superior to everything I ever saw on a spreadsheet.

              Will that work?

            • Travis Dakin
              February 10, 2012 at

              Jonathan, what is it you see that makes Hall better? I’m really just curious. I’m not blessed with the gift of math so I can’t quite see. I really like Hall but aside from his obvious will to succeed and blazing speed, no particular skill seems to jump out at me. ie: A lethal shot that would make him a huge goal scorer like Stamkos.

              At this point, to the average (non-math or blog reading) fan, Eberle just looks like a better hockey player… minus the speed.

            • February 10, 2012 at

              I think I could easily produce an argument that would put such a black and white statement into shadow.

            • February 10, 2012 at

              A simple “no thanks” would have sufficed. Douche!

            • February 10, 2012 at

              If the stats anologies you use were so perfect……Why then do you become so gawd damn defensive and take everything as a direct challange. GROW UP! I wasn’t knocking you stuff just lookin for “friendly wager” and you come out spitting venom…….REALLY?!?!

            • February 10, 2012 at

              It has been brought to my attention, by the good people at Copper and Blue, that this was a legitimate offer by you Johnathan. If this is the case I apologize for being a douche and calling you one in the process. I felt it was insincere and that I was being mocked.

              I will accept your offer. If Hall wins I will concede and acknowledge my inability to derrive any accurate conclusions based on observations, that statistics tell the whole story and that following @JonathanWillis will be an eye opening experience.

            • Jonathan Willis
              February 10, 2012 at

              Glad to hear it. What should be the criteria for best player? Total points, major awards won, or should we just leave it open to joint determination?

            • February 10, 2012 at

              Because of so many varibles and the lenth of time involved…..lets go with ppg averages. It would seem to me to be the fairest comparison as even today I believe they are close, not sure what the exact numbers are but should be close.

            • February 10, 2012 at

              Just took a look and currently Eberle is averaging 0.81 ppg and Hall is at 0.75 ppg.

              So, is it a deal?

          • dawgbone
            February 10, 2012 at

            Tyler isn’t saying that Eberle will never be good.

            He’s just saying that a lot of his production this year isn’t sustainable, and that’s based on the fact that no one has been able to sustain the kind of percentages that he’s scoring with.

            Unless of course you think Eberle is the single rarest, most unique prospect over the last 30 years, in which case you might want to temper expectations.

            • February 10, 2012 at

              Yes those are unstainable percentages. They will drop some, who really knows how much, but his ice time will increase. Now call me crazy but 4×15=60 just the same as 3×20 and 2×30. I realize this a simplistic analogy. What Im getting at is Eberle has every chance to put up similar or better numbers, even with lower percentages. He just may need more chances and I don’t see anyone getting more ice time on the RW then Jordan.

            • dawgbone
              February 10, 2012 at

              Then you aren’t really arguing against Tyler then.

              By true talent level he doesn’t mean the ability to score 35 goals.

              He means that he doesn’t have the talent level to get points on 90% of the goals his line scores and be on a line that shoots over 14% as a group… and that’s based on the fact that no one has been able to sustain such a thing.

        • February 10, 2012 at

          You do say Eberle is a 50-60 point player, no? That is exactly what Horcoff was prior to cumulitive shoulder problems. Therefore it is impossible to believe you don’t think Eberle=Horcoff or Horcoff=Eberle.

    9. PDO
      February 10, 2012 at

      I think it is fair to say that you could do much, much worse things than invest in a 24 year old Jordan Eberle.

      I also think that if Hall and Eberle are both signed to 6 year $30,000,000 deals, the Oil end up winning on one of those deals, even if they only “break even” on the other one.

      Of course, if they both sign 7 year, $50,000,000 deals… both could be disastrous. That’s just way too much money for either.

    10. February 10, 2012 at

      The good news – and Tyler is totally missing this point somehow – is that forwards do not tend to peak when they are 21. Statistically we’ve seen the peak in the production mountain occurs around 25-27.

      There is no question Jordan’s on-ice Sh% is unsustainable, but I would also expect player improvements as he gains more experience and enters his prime years.

      Contracts are not just about where the player is *right now* but where he will end up.

      • Tyler Dellow
        February 10, 2012 at

        No, I get that. The implied ceiling on the guys who actually deserved 70+ points and were paid accordingly is higher than with Eberle. Not sure how you miss that point – it’s obvious.

        • February 10, 2012 at

          First of all, we don’t have to extend until after his third year. Because of this, Tambo (or hopefully someone else) is going to have a lot more data and player performance with which to make the offer with.

          Secondly, precisely because he’s having a season driven so strongly by percentages, we really don’t know two things:

          -Jordan Eberle’s true talent level (it’s top 6 clearly)
          -How his progress is really tracking (upwards from his rookie season, but how much?)

          Put it another way, even if he was a percentages-corrected 57 point player this year, I would look at that as an improvement over his rookie season and also expect underlying number improvement in his third year (regardless of what his percentages do next year).

          Deciding the true value of Eberle is still a story being written.

    11. February 10, 2012 at

      It doesn’t really affect your point, but just for accuracy’s sake: The 2008-09 Semin contract was not his second contract. Semin used the 2 final years of his ELC to play in Russia and fulfill his military obligations. The Caps filed a complaint against Semin and Gandler, a District Court Judge denied the Caps’ request for a preliminary injunction, and the parties settled the dispute by signing a two-year deal beginning in 2006. The 08-09 contract was actually his third. Semin’s first big year not only did not come in the ELC (he only played 52 NHL games under his ELC), it came in the first year of his 2-year deal, which helps explains why that 08-09 contract looks so good.

      • February 11, 2012 at

        How did Semin get out from under the “you signed for x years and then didn’t give those years” end of it? Similar to Nabokov in NYI, he signed for a year with DET, was picked up on entry waivers, got pissy and sat, and this year was faced with “hey, you still owe them a year, so man up or go home”. My understanding is that Semin (and Radulov, when he comes back) should’ve had to come back to finish the contract he was signed to.

        • February 11, 2012 at

          Semin’s first contract came in the previous CBA. I don’t know this, but it’s quite possible that there was no provision for “tolling” a contract in that CBA.

    12. Hambone
      February 10, 2012 at

      Lately I have been immersing myself in the work of certain public figures who take aim at organized religion, the “new atheists”: Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, the late Christopher Hitchens and the like. They come at it from different vantage points, but basically the message they all share is, “the time has come to end the taboo on criticism of religion and to critique it using the same standards we use for other areas of intellectual discussion”.

      I can easily draw a parallel here between religion and the Edmonton Oilers management. You can’t criticize religion. Why not? Because you can’t. God has a plan, don’t you know? Of course you can’t see God, but he is working in his mysterious ways. Why does God allow terrible things to happen? Because God is testing us. You can’t see or hear the evidence for God’s plan, but just trust that in the end, things will work out as they should.

      On the other hand, Tyler is analagous to skeptics of religion, by pointing out with evidence and reason the hypocrisies and falsehoods of religion. Of course, his opponents don’t have evidence on their side. But they do have hope. They preach that you must believe in something even in the complete absence of any worldly reason to believe in it.

      And those who believe in Edmonton Oilers’ management’s ability to build a winning team do so in the complete absence of any supporting evidence. Even the most cursory fan is aware of the 30th, 30th, and soon to be 28th place finishes. Yet many of them think that this pain is simply a necessary part of God’s, er, Tambellini and Lowe’s plan to lead us to the promised land.

    13. Jason Gregor
      February 10, 2012 at

      What about the pending CBA. Why wouldn’t the Oilers wait to re-sign them until after the CBA comes in. It might look different, thus the extensions of Eberle and Hall would be less. Also they don’t have arbitration rights, so why not wait until next March to see what kind of season they’ve had.

      If you are certain Eberle is a one-hit wonder, then why not wait.

      Also you highlighted the Sedins, but in 2009/2010 Daniel had 85 points, and the next year where you said his onice%, and GFON dipped he ended up with 104 points. Did I read something wrong, cause that doesn’t seem like a dip. If he scored less on EV, but more on the PP does it really matter? Maybe I misread something, and if so let me know.

      Looking at the history of top point-producers many of them can dip by 15-20 points one year, and come back the next and be solid. Henrik’s best year was in 2010 with 112 points, and he’ll likely never score that again, but he had 94 last year and was still one of the elite in the game.

      Jordan Eberle might regress based on your numbers, but suggesting he’ll only be a 60-point guy in the future seems a tad of a quick judgement. He’s only in his 2nd season, all those guys you compared him to, excluding Couture, were later in careers, and maybe that was their career year.

      I’m curious if you have comparables to players who had career years as sophomores, and never reached that level again. I’d find that interesting.

      • Tyler Dellow
        February 10, 2012 at

        What about the pending CBA. Why wouldn’t the Oilers wait to re-sign them until after the CBA comes in. It might look different, thus the extensions of Eberle and Hall would be less. Also they don’t have arbitration rights, so why not wait until next March to see what kind of season they’ve had.

        This is the easiest thing and the most sensible way to go about doing it. Oilers management is a bit sketchy with this stuff though (Horcoff, for example) and given the marketing push behind Eberle, it wouldn’t shock me if they went early. If Meehan’s smart, he’ll be pushing for early.

        Also you highlighted the Sedins, but in 2009/2010 Daniel had 85 points, and the next year where you said his onice%, and GFON dipped he ended up with 104 points. Did I read something wrong, cause that doesn’t seem like a dip.

        Daniel played only 63 games in 2008-09 – his pts/gm went down. The Canucks have also kind of been evolving how they use him and Henrik – they start almost exclusively in the offensive end now at 5v5. In 2008-09, Daniel started in OZone 52% of time. Next year: 62%. Year after: 75%. This year, 78%. This will result in him getting more chances, which covers off a lot of the regression.

        Jordan Eberle might regress based on your numbers, but suggesting he’ll only be a 60-point guy in the future seems a tad of a quick judgement. He’s only in his 2nd season, all those guys you compared him to, excluding Couture, were later in careers, and maybe that was their career year.

        When Eberle was drafted, everyone figured he was a complementary, 50-60 point guy. I’m not saying he can’t be more than that, only that I don’t take this 70+ point season as proof that he is or will be. I don’t think that he should be paid on a Kane level or anything; we’ll see what happens.

        • February 10, 2012 at

          Getting 60 points in the NHL means you’re a top 50 NHL forward, in terms of points, I don’t think you can call 60 point guys complimentary players anymore. They’re more like the teams 2nd best player. I seriously doubt Eberle tops out at 60 points though, or regresses towards 60 points next year and stagnates. If we signed him at 6 years-30 million, I think that would be very reasonable.


        • Jason Gregor
          February 10, 2012 at

          I agree that the Oilers do not need to rush into this signing. There is no reason they should sign him before knowing what is ahead with the new CBA. Now is not the time to rush into anything.

          • godot10
            February 10, 2012 at

            But by waiting to the third year to acquire more data, you also then leave yourself open to offer sheets on the players, where you then would not control the amount or the duration.

            So waiting gives you more information, but there is also some additional risk.

            • Mike
              February 10, 2012 at

              Because NHL GMs have shown such a willingness to use them in the past?

            • godot10
              February 10, 2012 at

              LA went after Kovalchuk. Went after Richards. Are reportedly hard for Parise, and have not been successful yet. Lombardi is mad about the Smyth deal. He has the cap room. And is desperate for a top line winger to challenge for the Cup now.

            • Triumph
              February 11, 2012 at

              Yeah, sign a guy coming off what’s almost certainly a fluke year to an enormous deal just to avoid an offer sheet. GMAFB. The Flyers signed James Van Riemsdyk for 7 additional years because of 11 great games and now I see his name in trade rumors all the time.

              Plus, the Oilers are the team who like the offer sheet – can you offer sheet your own player?

    14. February 10, 2012 at

      The issue with buying guys after such peaks is the mind’s anchoring effect – the high water mark anchors perceptions and projections going forward, even if people know there was a great deal of randomness involved (moreso if they don’t). The mind does this even with random, non-related numbers, so it’s hard to fight against.

      The best strategy, of course, would be to hold off on the extension to see how Eberle does next year. Like Tyler, I’m guessing Tambo and compnay jump the gun instead. Gotta sell hope somehow in the off-season.

    15. TigerUnderGlass
      February 10, 2012 at

      I don’t see how we ca possibly know what Eberle is yet. Calling him a 60 point player based entirely on percentages regression seems to be missing a lot of factors.

      It is easily plausible to assume that in the future they can improve their play in the possession battle, meaning more shots to make up for some of the % regression.

      It is plausible that as they improve he will get quite a bit more than 16:47 of playing time. The vast majority of the entry level players you compared him to above got significantly more ice time than Eberle. One of the Copper & Blue guys pretty strongly linked playing time to scoring totals (Ryan Batty I think)and I would suggest that TOI could also make up for some of the % regression.

      I don’t really have an opinion either way because his numbers this season are obviously percentage driven, but it’s hardly implausible that other improvements can’t lead to similar totals after regression kicks in.

      I do agree that this would be a terrible time to negotiate an extension though.

    16. TigerUnderGlass
      February 10, 2012 at

      Also – I can no longer think of you as mc79, just Che Tambo.

    17. Lee
      February 10, 2012 at

      Seems like a perfect time to invest in an Eberle jersey however.

    18. Jonathan Willis
      February 10, 2012 at

      @ paqtwinn:

      You’ve clearly misunderstood me. I was accepting your friendly wager and saying I’d write a long, fun column dedicated to your brilliance if I lost.

      I try not to be a dick without provocation :)

      • The Other John
        February 10, 2012 at


        Thats not what Spec says :-))

      • February 10, 2012 at

        Clearly, I did. Please accept my apologies that I posted *see above*. I accept the wager.

        • Jonathan Willis
          February 11, 2012 at

          Sounds good. February 2022, we’ll see if either of us remembers.

    19. February 10, 2012 at

      I agree with the premise that the Oilers should let Ebs’ deal run out before resigning him next summer. I also agree that the Oilers should have buried Hall and RNH in the minors for a year. Managing control of young talent on their first contract is critical to hitting that window with the flexible to make a push. The Oilers have butchered this.

      I take from the analysis that Ebs is a critical cog to the Oilers scoring and will likely still be critical in the future, albeit at a more reasonable level. He is going to be a guy the Oilers are going to want to tie up for awhile. I would generally prefer to overpay a forward in his actual prime (23 to 27) than overpay an established player in his “prime” (28-32).

      In this respect, Horcoff and Ebs are apples and oranges. Horcoff was already 30 when the Oilers signed him and it should have been clear he would struggle to provide good value. Ebs may not live up to $5M + per year, but that is the market rate. Either you pay it or you live off of draft picks and 34 year old free agents.

      The critical problem for the Oilers is they are going to have to push their chips in the pot with Hall, Ebs, RNH without the back end necessarily to make a push for a Cup. The Penguins, Blackhawks, Capitals and whoever else the Oilers are trying to emulate had the talent on defense to compliment the talent up front.

      My view then and my view now is that Seguin and Larsson would have been preferable picks the last two years. As good as Hall might be, a dominating winger has almost never been the centre piece to a Stanley Cup winner.

    20. Karen
      February 10, 2012 at

      This is an interesting analysis because these contracts (Hall, Eberle, and Gagner) are very important to the future. I completely agree with those who have said that they should not be signed early, nor should they be signed to more than 4 years. You don’t know what you have with any of these guys right now. To quote Glen Sather talking about Doug Weight and contract “is he a 100 point guy, or a guy who got 100 points?”. Is Eberle a top 20 scorer in the NHL, or is he a guy who is there now? All the kids – Hall, Eberle, RNH, Gagner have potential to be consistently good or even great players, but I don’t think we know what we have.
      The biggest challenge facing this organization is the need to re-think player development. I firmly believe that no player should enter the NHL until he has played at least 50 games in the minors learning the team system. I believe that the team should adopt a system and play it at both levels. Ideally everyone plays in the minors for a season or more and learns to play that system. Unfortunately the so-called ‘educated’ Edmonton fan base doesn’t agree that great teams do just that – they develop talent consciously with an eye on team. Instead we have the media and fans demanding more and more ice time for the kids which leads them to believe that they deserve it. Hockey is a team game and consistent winning comes from playing a system (whatever system is adopted). It is not won by playing as individuals. But I’m a minority of one for this belief. I was mocked on Twitter (I’m karenbdc on there if you care) for saying the RNH should go back to junior. It wasn’t that I didn’t think he was good – I just think he needed more development. And you can’t send him to the minors under the current CBA so back to junior was the only option. I know we aren’t going to see minors for the kids as an option in the new CBA, as much as I wish it would be there.
      I also really wish that the new CBA would say that the maximum term length of any contract was 4 years (actually I’d really prefer 3). Long term deals are a very bad idea for both sides.
      As far as whether or not the Oilers drafted the right players – I guess time will tell. I like Hall better than Seguin and always have. But I dearly wanted Landeskog. Maybe we’ll get Faksa this year who has similar on ice talents to Gabe just not the leadership potential. Don’t get me wrong – RNH is going to be great, but so is Landeskog. Different set of skills. And again – people mock me for saying that but it isn’t about who has more points in their rookie year – it is about long term potential.
      And that’s my ranting for the day – all done. Sorry about the length of the comment :)

      • godot10
        February 10, 2012 at

        4 years on the second contract is dumb, because that take them to UFA status. i.e. you minimize your control of the player completely.

        In the second contract, you either go 2 years (short) or long (5, 6 or 7 years). If the player is deemed a core franchise player, you go long. If their status is uncertain (95% of the cases) you go short, and reevaluate for the long term after two more years.

        • February 11, 2012 at

          If you’re talking about a cap hit of about $7M going long, I don’t see why it’s worth it. That values the three UFA years at something around $9M per year. It seems like you get the UFA years cheaper by signing the players to one contract during their RFA seasons and then a second before their UFA years. It’s not that I’m totally opposed to a long deal, but it really only makes sense for the club if you’re getting a much cheaper rate.

    21. February 10, 2012 at

      Here’s a consideration to toss into the fire.

      Is 14 our version of Vanek?

      Will his percentages misguidedly entice a rival to make a compoundedly inflated offer once he hits RFA territory ?

      Does management have the cahones to walk away?

      Are we sure it’s smart to wait and see on him, when the likely differential is within the 1-1.5M range?

      Sure 5 first round picks are nice, but not at this stage for the Oilers. And there’s the risk of the picks being in the 30-15 range.

      • Tyler Dellow
        February 10, 2012 at

        Sure 5 first round picks are nice, but not at this stage for the Oilers. And there’s the risk of the picks being in the 30-15 range.

        If I think Eberle is a 50-60 point guy, I take five (or four) first round draft picks for him in a heart beat. You can sign 50-60 point soft minute guys.

        • February 10, 2012 at

          If expectations are kept really low, you will never or at least rarely be dissapointed.

          • dawgbone
            February 10, 2012 at

            And if expectations are too high you get predictions of 300 goal seasons by terrible hockey teams.

            • February 11, 2012 at

              Really?! Now whos being realistic.

            • dawgbone
              February 11, 2012 at

              I’m being dead serious. There were talks of 300 goals for the 2007 Oilers including potentially 8 20 goal scorers.

            • Doogie2K
              February 12, 2012 at

              Was that 2007? I thought that was more recent. I remember there being a bet between Willis and Brownlee over something like that.

    22. February 10, 2012 at

      Regarding the IPP thing, it’s clear that Eberle is going to come down from 90% because no one sustains that, but there are some players in the league who can sustain a pretty big number. If you believe that Eberle is a guy that drives offense, he may well be able to sustain something between 75% and 80% over the long term. For what it’s worth, Eberle was in the 80% range last year too.

      • Woodguy
        February 11, 2012 at

        I noticed that the younger players on Tyler’s list had less of a falloff in IPP compared to the other players.

        I broke it down by age and came up with these averages:

        20-23 (6 players, Crosby twice) = -8.75
        24-27 (7 players) -18.3
        28-31 (6 players) -16.23
        32-40 (4 players) -19.425

        Stafford is a serious outlier in the 20-23 group, take him out and the average its -5.11

        Even with him in it, the median of that group is -3.7.

        Crosby in there twice and Malkin in there as well certainly helps the averages/median of that group.

        Perhaps Eberle can continue with a highish IPP as you mentioned he did it last year as a rookie as well.

        Kid has a pretty big brain.


        Does anyone know the era correction for SH%?

        Eberle reminds me of my hazy memories of Steve Shutt. Had a look and Shutt was a career 17.6% shooter.

        Kurri was a career 19.1% with seasons of 20.6, 26.8, 27.2, 28.8, 25.6, 20.8, and 20.6.


        If they won’t force the goalies to wear 80′s sized equipment, they should make the net bigger. That was fun hockey to watch.

    23. February 10, 2012 at

      I completely buy your argument on not paying Eberle based on his outlier percentages.

      However, I don’t think I’m taking a leap in recognizing the POSSIBILITY that Eberle may progress next season, and seasons thereafter, and sustain a 70 point plateau as the percentages work their variance. More importantly, i will express a doubt that theres an overwhelming consensus amongst rival GMs that concur with your expectations.

      Overall, I think we are talking about a +/- $1.5M variance between what your Eberle gets paid, versus what blue sky Eberle gets paid.

      If Eberle becomes a RFA, then possible (rough guess) outcomes are that:

      - Eberle regresses to norm levels, gets 55pts and gets paid $5M
      - Eberle signs a RFA contract and gets $6.5M+ per season via poaching or sustaining 70+ point results.

      Five first round picks are nice, but for a community that champions the importance of entry contract discounts, magic beans etc, it seems awfully weird to be supporting losing a player like Eberle at this stage of a rebuild.

    24. February 11, 2012 at

      I am out of the loop on RFA compensation, but is 5 1st rounders even possible? I would take that over almost any player in the league. As an opposing GM, no way I would pay that for Ebs.

      Flipside if that is true is that the Oilers need not worry about waiting a year. An offer sheet would not happen.

      • Doogie2K
        February 11, 2012 at

        I believe it’s $6M or more that produces that effect. We would have paid five first-rounders for Vanek in 2007, had Buffalo walked.

        • February 12, 2012 at

          Yikes, that is a tough pill to swallow. The risk of losing a RFA these days to an offer sheet doesn’t seem that high.

          • Doogie2K
            February 12, 2012 at

            It’s funny: the lower-level RFAs who only cost up to a 1st/2nd/3rd will just get matched, while the higher-level RFAs who cost more will likely cost more than they’re worth, because only a truly desperate team will fling an offer sheet at someone worth that much money, and truly desperate teams generally need their picks more.

            There are exceptions, but as a general rule, it seems like offer sheets really aren’t worth doing, except as a way to screw your rivals into paying a half-million more for someone than they wanted. Which has its uses but very indirectly so.

            • Doogie2K
              February 12, 2012 at

              (That exception being “someone doing something exceptionally dumb”: see Penner, Dustin.)

    25. Daniel
      February 11, 2012 at

      As Tyler mentioned, if the first two years can be bought for $9 million, a five year, $30 million contract values years 3-5 at $7 million/season. Because of this, I would much prefer signing both Hall and Eberle to short term contracts – say…two years, $9 million – and re-visiting the situation in two years from now as years 3-5 will end up costing less than $7 million/season almost regardless of how Eberle produces.

      Should Eberle regress to a 55-65 point level over the next couple of seasons, his next contract would be nowhere near $7 million in years 3-5. Depending on Eberle’s exact production and where if Tambellini plays it right – a big if, of course – Eberle’s third contract’s cap hit should land somewhere near Pavelski-land (4 years, $16M), Loui Eriksson-ville (6 years, $25.5M) or possibly Bergeron/Krecji territory (3 years, $15M and 3 years $15.75M) if Eberle’s defensive game reaches the level of Bergeron/Krecji. Even if the Oilers overpay they should still be nowhere near $7 million.

      Should Eberle progress as a player and his percentages return to a normal level (a scenario I consider quite likely), those two factors will cancel out somewhat and in two seasons from now Eberle very well may be a proven 70 or (potentially, although I don’t expect it) 80 point producer. In this case, a $7M per season cap hit still seems unlikely and a worst-case scenario. Tambellini can try to sign Eberle long-term for a reasonable cap hit (making the financial security argument) while negotiating from a position of power since Eberle will still be RFA. Tambellini can point to (presumably) better players with contracts well below a $7M cap hit such as the Sedins ($6.1M/season), Getzlaf/Perry ($5.325/season), Datsyuk ($6.7M/season), Toews ($6.3M/season) or even an older guy like Marty St. Louis ($5.625M/season). and should easily be able to make the argument that Eberle doesn’t deserve $7M/season. Eberle and his agent can just as easily bring up the Staal/Nash/Lecavalier counter-argument to try to get $7M+ and they’ll meet somewhere in the middle, but still well under $7 million per season.

      The way I see it, other than matching an overpriced offer sheet, regardless of how everything shakes down the only way the Oilers will spend $30 million on Eberle over those 5 years is if Tambellini shoots himself in the foot and offers it to Eberle himself. Therefore, the only reason for the Oilers to sign Eberle long-term right off the bat is if they can get him for a steep discount.

      • May 6, 2014 at

        Great. Thanks to get a fantastic post page. I’ll be conmig and reading for much more and read your other articles. If you’d like me to refer this to other individuals, please let me know as I’ve loads of persons who could be considering what this site has to share.

    26. realist
      February 11, 2012 at

      “The Oilers are selling a narrative, complete with slickly manufactured propaganda and Eberle’s part of the marketing plan…”

      Narrative…a spoken or written recital of connected events. The trouble with the present Oiler narrative is that none of the events connect. It is really a “counter-narrative” they are trying to spin, since the true narrative is the club’s dismal record over the last decade…in all aspects of the operation. The real Oiler narrative is a lost tradition, a lost transparency, a lost kingdom if you were around for Camelot. Yet the counter-narrative blasts on endlessly on the big screen, like a Kim Il Jong rally, all smoke and loud music and fist cams to remind us we are in Oil Country.

      Some nights as you sit in your seat, dumbfounded by the disconnect between reality and the manufactured fantasy, its sad to think that this is the building that once witnessed greatness, home not only to the Boys on the Bus but to a complex city and culture that didnt need to be sold something to appreciate it. A city that recognized an amazing chapter in sports history without it being shoved down their throats. That was real narrative …not the shill of a drug store chain.

      • Jeremy
        February 12, 2012 at

        Well put! As a long-time follower of this site and others like it, I really appreciate the insight provided here.

    27. February 12, 2012 at

      Why can’t we pause and think this in a diffeent way . We won’t make the playoffs this year so lets split ( what everyone thinks is ) our top line up . I would have Hall & Ebbs on different lines one with RNH ( assuming he returns ) one with Gags . Add Magnus , Smyth , Omark or whatever your choice is even Hemsky . If the thinking is Show Me wouldn’t this help . I would also play those 2 lines a ton of minutes against the top lines . This gives us a balanced approach and we find out just how good they both are let alone the 2 centers . Renney giving soft minutes needs to end and know . We may have a different $$$ opinion on both of them at year end

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *