I did a quickie post last summer on the ESS/60 of the Oilers’ forwards that I thought I’d update now.
For those who don’t know, this is an astoundingly repeatable metric. Drops in shot production like that suffered by Penner and Nilsson are not usual. I think that the chart kind of gives you a fair sense of it – you can see that this stuff generally operates within a pretty narrow realm. The fact that it’s Penner and Nilsson made me wonder a little bit if perhaps the coach was on to something about those two and their levels of conditioning (Penner) or effort (Nilsson). It’s intriguing to me that two of the guys who clearly aggravated him the most had significant drops in a number that repeats pretty readily…
It will be interesting to watch and see what kind of numbers these fellows put up this year. I’m not inclined to blame the coach for their failings – you get less leeway when you look out of shape and if Robert Nilsson really added 15 pounds this summer, hopefully some of that was in the form of balls – but some improvement from those guys would probably do wonders in terms of moving the team forward.
Sure enough, both Penner and Nilsson bubbled back up towards their established norms – as I mentioned in the original post, Anaheim is known for being a bit aggressive with the shot counting. Robert Nilsson isn’t a bad NHL forward, all things considered. I’m surprised a team like Chicago wouldn’t have taken a flyer on him at $500K, given that the bottom end of their team is going to suck and that Nilsson has been a positive Corsi guy for a while; it’s not his fault that the save percentage was horrific behind him last year and he’d probably be a decent bet to be in the black.
A few things leap out at me. That number for Horcoff is worrisome. While it’ll likely be seized on by some of the people who have no reason to get out of bed in the morning but the hope that they’ll get to complain about him, it’s a worrisome fall. In the case of Penner and Nilsson, there were some motivation problems in the year where they fell short, something that I don’t think was a problem with Horcoff. You might be able to pin some of the fall on the different people with whom Horcoff played last year; the fall-off from Hemsky as a winger to a collection of POS, Moreau and JFJ is pretty dramatic. With that said, that’s like a 30% fall-off in his established shot rate. If this is, by reason of injury, the new normal, it’s going to be a problem. It’ll be something to watch for in the early going.
If I was a poolie, Sam Gagner would be one of the guys I’d have as a darkhorse pick this year. The improvement in his underlying numbers over the past three years has been impressive, even if he hasn’t yet been rewarded with a jump in the boxcars. It will come. But for some nagging injuries, he probably would have topped fifty points last year. If there’s a long term deal to be had there, I’d probably swallow my doubts, take a little risk and make it, albeit as a frontloaded deal.
An interesting question to have answered would be when the typical player stops improving at this metric. Andrew Cogliano’s shot numbers are still pretty lousy for a winger. Now, he didn’t play with the Oilers’ best (such as they were) last year and the trend is still upward, but 7.3 ESS/60 isn’t really anything to write home about. I have a hard time seeing how he fits in the top six long term and I can’t really imagine him being an outshooting guy at any point in his career. Like Marc Pouliot, he strikes me as someone who might have to learn that the top six of a good NHL team is not the place for him by ending up somewhere else.
The continued pissing away of organizational resources in JFJ is one of the most amazing things of the past few years with the Oilers, sort of on the same level as the wasting of time and money on JDD. His ESS/60 is worse than Zack Stortini’s, he’s 25 years old this year and this was who he played with last year (by Corsi events) compared to who Stortini played with:
Stortini spends his time with established Corsi and offensive black holes like Cogliano and Moreau; JFJ is getting fed minutes with guys who at least have sort of a track record and does less with it than Stortini in less favourable circumstances. There’s an interesting question here, I suppose – the quality of competition that Stortini faced was presumably lower and I wonder how JFJ would do in Stortini’s spot but it’s hard to imagine a guy with fewer results getting the opportunities he’s had.
There’s a great interview with Norm MacDonald on Conan O’Brien where he decided to stay for the next segment, in which Courtney Thorne-Smith was promoting her new movie with Carrot Top. Conan asked her what the movie was called and Norm interjected with “Box Office Poison.” Norm was somewhat clairvoyant – the movie made about $2MM on a $10MM budget and is memorable solely for Norm trashing it in this interview.
I’m shocked that anyone would sink money into a movie headlined by Carrot Top but continued opportunties for JFJ are a mystery on about the same level. It doesn’t matter, because the Oilers won’t be competitive, but it’s a waste of a spot that could have been used for someone who actually has a shot at being an NHLer at some point. Strange that the stigma of being part of the Zach Parise deal attaches only to the far superior of the two players obtained in return.