Edmonton's Role Players & Bench Are A Significant Weakness

Once again, the Oilers have been bitten by the injury bug.  Shawn Horcoff is out for an extended period as he rehabs his torn MCL and Ales Hemsky is on the shelf with a bad Gaborik.  The injuries are frustrating for fans both because without the stars, the team is significantly worse on the ice, and at the same time those injuries give the organization an excuse for the poor on-ice performance.  Last season, the Oilers led the league in CHIP, and shortly after the season was over, Steve Tambellini began talking about how much of an impact losing the team's MVP had on the season.  Rather than talk about the team's depth or organization's depth or lack of a plan to address the depth, he blamed injuries and claimed it was time for change.  That speech, by the way has most of my favorite Tambellini quotes, including this beaut:

We saw this year, with the fact that I don't have to talk about injuries, and we can talk about that maybe a little bit later...

But the depth problem still hasn't been addressed.  Adding Steve MacIntyre, Colin Fraser and re-signing Jason Strudwick has done nothing but exacerbate the issues.

A look at the underlying defensive stats shows just how poor Strudwick's play has been thus far.

Legend:  TSC - Total Even Strength Scoring Chances On; TSCA - Total Even Strength Scoring Chances Against On; CH% - Chance Percentage; CF/15 - Chances For On per 15 minutes of Even Strength TOI; CA/15 - Chances Against On per 15 minutes of Even Strength TOI; DIFF/15 - Scoring Chance On Differential per 15 minutes; OZ% - Offensive zonestart percentage; Rel. Corsi - Relative Corsi; Adj. Corsi - Corsi adjusted for zonestart.

These tables are sortable.  Click the header row to sort by column.

Player  TSC TSCA CH% CF/15 CA/15 DIFF/15 OZ% Rel. Corsi Adj. Corsi
S. BELLE 11 12 0.478 2.942 3.210 -0.267 34.4 1.6 2.139
R. WHITNEY 144 169 0.460 4.203 4.933 -0.730 50.0 3.9 -10.740
T. GILBERT  129 158 0.449 3.848 4.713 -0.865 47.7 1.4 -11.145
J. VANDERMEER 87 114 0.433 4.030 5.280 -1.251 45.1 8.1 -5.408
L. SMID  90 124 0.421 3.571 4.921 -1.349 46.0 -4.2 -15.202
T. PECKHAM 101 142 0.416 3.563 5.009 -1.446 43.1 -3.3 -11.714
K. FOSTER 85 123 0.409 3.458 5.003 -1.546 45.2 -0.7 -11.517
J. STRUDWICK 34 52 0.395 3.204 4.900 -1.696 48.1 -12.7 -22.085

 

Strudwick is easily the worst defenseman on the team and it's not really close.  Curiously, Shawn Belle's short stint in the NHL demonstrated, at the very least, he's not going to drown against NHL competition.  At least he won't drown as quickly as Strudwick.  But look at Kurtis Foster and Ladislav Smid.  Both are NHL veterans, neither have been asked to play tough competition for any stretch and both are performing like the rookie Theo Peckham.  Beyond Ryan Whitney and Tom Gilbert, there is no depth at defense.

But Strudwick has competition for worst player on the team.  A look at the forwards shows who is in the running

Player  TSC TSCA CH% CF/15 CA/15 DIFF/15 OZ% Rel. Corsi Adj. Corsi
S. HORCOFF  97 94 0.508 4.621 4.478 0.143 47.9 14 -6.363
A. HEMSKY  82 81 0.503 4.576 4.520 0.056 47.4 6.6 -7.721
D. PENNER  105 105 0.500 4.213 4.213 0.000 44.5 6.7 -5.515
T. HALL 137 143 0.489 4.798 5.008 -0.210 49.5 16.4 -1.736
J. EBERLE 134 140 0.489 4.919 5.139 -0.220 47.9 14 -2.323
S. GAGNER  118 132 0.472 4.436 4.962 -0.526 47.1 8 -5.956
A. COGLIANO  90 128 0.413 3.620 5.148 -1.528 45.7 1.5 -10.139
G. BRULE  68 111 0.380 2.917 4.761 -1.844 46.3 -8.7 -18.050
Z. STORTINI  23 38 0.377 2.576 4.255 -1.680 37.2 -6.8 -10.763
M. PAAJARVI 77 135 0.363 3.158 5.538 -2.379 50 -8.9 -19.200
R. JONES 47 96 0.329 2.625 5.362 -2.737 44.7 -18.6 -25.280
J.F. JACQUES 11 25 0.306 1.770 4.022 -2.252 29.5 -13.6 -12.604
C. FRASER 30 70 0.300 2.028 4.733 -2.705 42.4 -14.3 -21.049
S. MACINTYRE 2 8 0.200 0.989 3.958 -2.968 47.1 -19.7 -30.047
L. OMARK 1 17 0.056 0.419 7.131 -6.711 64.7 -24.1 -50.331
R. O'MARRA 0 13 0.000 0.000 9.348 N/A 61.5 -44.9 -75.913

 

The entire bottom of the roster is, in a word, terrible. Colin Fraser was acquired to replace Kyle Brodziak a year after he should've been and Fraser is significantly worse-off than Brodziak ever was.  J.F. Jacques is, well, J.F. Jacques and Ryan Jones, for all of his hair and breakaways is taking it on the chin.  Gilbert Brule has regressed and Magnus Paajarvi has struggled in his rookie year.

The same depth problem that existed last season, the one Tambellini spent eighteen months assessing, is still there.  Though he's spent time paying lip service to change, he's not actually changed anything.

If you'd like some comparison data, check out Desjardins' Behindthenet.  Florida, for example has no one in struggling like the bottom of the Oilers roster. 

Horcoff is gone until well after it matters, and Hemsky will come back to a team in shambles, and just wait until there is a significant injury to Ryan Whitney, Tom Gilbert or Theo Peckham.  Another top five pick is waiting in the wings to excite the fans and allow the team to sell the future (BUY A MINI PACK), and maybe Steve Tambellini will pay additional lip service to depth and change, but don't expect change.  A team can't use the draft to find NHL veterans and role players able to handle NHL minutes and kill penalties.

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