Which Oilers Will Rebound?

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Managing a roster is much like managing investment assets in a way.  Buy low, sell high, hold onto the outperformers for the long term, cover your losses before they bust you, and don't let pride get in the way of sound decisions.  There are a couple of investment terms that apply to the value of roster assets as well.  I've taken a couple of definitions from Investopedia to make this all work, so indulge me for a bit and it will all come together.  The first term up is a "Dead cat bounce", a temporary recovery from a prolonged decline, after which the market continues to fall.  The second asset  category is "Oversold", or a condition in which the price of an asset has fallen sharply, and to a level below which its true value resides. The final term that I'll be using to categorize the Oilers' assets is "Reversion to the mean", or  the phenomenon that a variable that is extreme on its first measurement will tend to be closer to the centre of the distribution on a later measurement.

So which Oilers are oversold, which ones are ready to revert towards the mean and which ones may be in for a dead cat bounce?

First some definitions of the stats used in this post.  PDO, like an element on the periodic table, was discovered by and named for PDO, a frequent and bright commenter in the Oilogosphere  It was developed by Vic Ferrari at Irreverent Oiler Fans.  Behind The Net Hockey has a simple definition for PDO:

it is just Save Percentage plus Shooting Percentage [more precisely: PDO=1000*(G/SF+SV/SA)].  What's interesting about it is that it trends very heavily - at the individual level or the team level - to its mean of 1000.  But it is possible to assemble a team that plays above 1000.

MC79hockey did a wonderful job of breaking out the number in a series of posts, here.  PDO can be found on the Corsi report at www.behindthenet.ca.

On Ice Sh % is the even strength team shooting percentage while the player is on the ice.  On Ice Sh % can also be found on the Corsi report at www.behindthenet.ca.  On Ice Sv % is the even strength team save percentage while the player is on the ice.  On Ice Sv% can also be found on the Corsi report at www.behindthenet.ca

How is this information instructive? Tyler and Gabe showed us that, except for the very best, PDO will cluster around 1000.  We also know that over time shooters will shoot at their established rate and fall off as they age.  Like a simple stock trading program, I set the spreadsheet up so that the top five values of concern in each category are in red and the top five values of interest in each category are in green.  A bunch of red cells mean that it's likely that the player in question will see reversion and a bunch of green cells mean it's likely that the player in question will see improvement.

NAME On Ice Sh % On Ice Sv % PDO 09-10 Sh % Career Sh % Difference
Aaron Johnson 6.9 905 974 0.111 0.064 1.733
Andrew Cogliano 8.42 920 1005 0.072 0.168 0.428
Dustin Penner 10.1 909 1010 0.158 0.124 1.270
Ethan Moreau 5.94 923 983 0.063 0.102 0.615
Fernando Pisani 6.6 894 960 0.074 0.133 0.558
Gilbert Brule 9.62 897 993 0.14 0.071 1.967
Jason Strudwick 8.51 908 994 0 0.058 0.000
J.F. Jacques 9.28 889 982 0.082 0.028 2.939
Ladislav Smid 9.25 928 1021 0.028 0.023 1.213
Marc Pouliot 7.89 919 998 0.117 0.069 1.700
Mike Comrie 7.23 891 964 0.134 0.136 0.986
Patrick O'Sullivan 6.31 893 956 0.058 0.075 0.765
Robert Nilsson 7.01 894 965 0.106 0.101 1.045
Ryan Jones 7.81 939 1017 0.129 0.111 1.161
Ryan Potulny 6.63 893 959 0.099 0.100 0.987
Ryan Whitney 10.82 907 1015 0.046 0.079 0.589
Sam Gagner 7.94 901 980 0.088 0.100 0.885
Shawn Horcoff 6.82 891 960 0.106 0.128 0.824
Sheldon Souray 6.54 885 951 0.035 0.066 0.538
Taylor Chorney 6.15 912 974 0 0.000 0.000
Tom Gilbert 8.31 909 992 0.051 0.087 0.585
Zack Stortini 9.68 937 1034 0.087 0.128 0.678

 

 

Expected counting numbers increase

  • Andrew Cogliano - his 09-10 shooting percentage was less than half of his previous career average.  Whether his previous career average was sustainable was the subject of fierce debate on a number of different sites, but he's definitely better than a 7.2% shooter. 
  • Fernando Pisani - he might be on the downside of his career, but his 09-10 shooting percentage was only 7.4%, compared to his previous career average of 13.3%.  If he does leave Edmonton, he's leaving with his value lower than it's been since he left Providence.
  • Ryan Whitney - he scored a boatload of points after he was acquired in exchange for Lubomir Visnovsky, but on the season he was still below his career shooting percentage.
  • Sheldon Souray - everything about his game seemed to suffer last season, and his shooting percentage of 3.5% was about half of his career rate of 6.6%. 
  • Taylor Chorney - he shot zero percent, so there's nowhere to go but up, right?

Expected counting numbers decrease

  • Aaron Johnson scored four goals this year (a career high) on shooting percentage of 11.1%.  Don't expect him to match that again.
  • Dustin Penner scored 32 goals on 15.8% shooting, nearly 30% higher than his previous career average.  He did, however break 200 shots again and if he can do that again, the Oilers should expect 25 goals out of Penner.
  • Gilbert Brule - I touched on Brule's performance in December and hoped that the Oilers wouldn't open the vault for Brule during his upcoming contract negotiations.  Jonathan Willis did much the same thing recently and came to many of the same conclusions I did - Brule is worth a signing, but if they're going to have to spend big on him, they should look to trade him.  Why?  Well, for starters, Brule's shooting percentage is a red flag.  He doubled his career shooting percentage to get his 17 goals.

Underlying stats expected to improve

  • Fernando Pisani - Like his shooting percentage, his underlying numbers fell off sharply as well.  He was -17 in 40 games.  Even with an average PDO, Pisani would have been -7 in 40 games.  He's clearly not the tough-minutes beast of burden that Craig MacTavish used to throw over the wall in all situations, but if he can stay healthy, he should be able to bounce back, way back against second and third-level minutes.
  • Mike Comrie - Comrie's terrible PDO was sunk by the .891 save percentage and he was -9 at evens in only 43 games.  Get him back to an average PDO and Comrie was even at evens.
  • Patrick O'Sullivan - goat #2 for the Oilers in 09-10, O'Sullivan suffered through a brutal year by nearly every traditional and advanced measure.  He was -30 at even strength and didn't face the toughest comp, though he did for a portion of the year which was spent with Horcoff and the anchor of the S.S. Oilers, J.F. Jacques.  his PDO was an abysmal 956 and yes, his 5.8% shooting percentage had an effect on that, but both are bound to improve next year.  With a PDO of 1000, O'Sullivan would be -8 at even strength.
  • Ryan Potulny - Potulny had a breakout season, scoring 15 goals and adding 17 assists.  He was the only shooting threat the Oilers had other than Dustin Penner and found himself on the power play quite often.  However, he was also -19 at even strength.  Even though Potulny himself shot 9.9%, his team on ice shooting percentage was only 6.63% and he wasn't helped by the .891 save percentage behind him.  That 959 PDO did his numbers no favors.  Potulny won't get those power play minutes this coming season, so he'll be hard-pressed to duplicate his counting numbers, but with an average PDO last season, he would have been -3, rather than -19.
  • Shawn Horcoff - goat #1 for the Oilers in 09-10 and to a vociferous portion of the fan base every year since the Stanley Cup Finals run.  Horcoff played with a bum shoulder for a large portion of the year and it showed.  He was -28 at even strength this season and a look at the underlying numbers shows why.  His PDO was a brutal 960 on the back of his .891 save percentage.  Crank his PDO back up to 1000 and he would have been -6 at evens last year.  Considering the quality of competition that Horcoff faced and the linemates he was saddled with, -6 is a fantastic year.
  • Sheldon Souray - not only was his shooting percentage half of what it should have been, when he was healthy, his teammates weren't giving him much help.  His even strength save percentage was a team low .881.  Souray was -14 at evens, but with an average PDO, he would have been +2.  Whoever ends up taking Souray off of Edmonton's hands has a chance of landing a steal, if he can only stay healthy...

 

Underlying stats expected to decline

  • Ladislav Smid - Smid's PDO wasn't obscene at 1021, but his underlying numbers were built largely on the back of his partnership with Visnovsky playing against third minutes. He was +5 at even strength, but with an average PDO, he would have been -3.  If the Oilers can continue to protect Smid and get him a partner that can pass, Smid might not crash back to earth.  Throw him out against second minutes with a similarly-skilled defenseman and look out below.
  • Zack Stortini - Bruce will argue this point, but Stortini was +1 at evens with the highest even strength save percentage for any full-season Oiler at .937.  His PDO of 1034 is primed for a fall, and given an average PDO, he would have been -6. 

 

 

The Dead cat bouncers:

  • Mike Comrie
  • Fernando Pisani

 

Oversold:

  • Andrew Cogliano
  • Shawn Horcoff
  • Patrick O'Sullivan
  • Sheldon Souray

 

Heading for a reversion:

  • Ladislav Smid
  • Gilbert Brule

The Oilers should hold on to O'Sullivan through the recovery and look to move him during the season, once he's established himself again.  If Cogliano's terrible numbers were enough to knock a couple of million dollars off of the life of his next deal, that's good news for Oiler fans, but I fear that Brule's shooting percentage is going to have the Oilers giving him those extra millions.

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