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Are Any Of The Oilers Forwards Successful?

The long, slow march has passed the midpoint. Are there any bright spots amongst the forwards?

Derek Leung

Regular readers are familiar with the chart below - I've used it often to show on-ice deployment and results.  I've considered using red instead of white for negative values, but the chart would be a bloodbath, so white it is.

The horizontal axis shows qualcomp, the vertical axis shows percentage of percentage of faceoffs taken in the offensive zone, the bubbles are color-coded: blue means the player in the bubble has a positive zonestart-adjusted Corsi, white a negative. Finally, the size of the bubble indicates absolute value zonestart-adjusted Corsi.

*Click to enlarge or find the full-sized chart here.

  • Taylor Hall used to be a possession monster.  I don't know what specific changes Eakins and MacTavish have made to his game, but it's time to roll back the changes and get back to the dominant forward we were accustomed to.
  • Ryan Smyth and especially Boyd Gordon have been tasked with defensive zone faceoffs against third-level competition and have performed very well considering.  Smyth's free agent status has been the subject of a number of discussions, but my stance hasn't changed - bring him back for the 4th line LW.  He's far more effective than all of the other options the club has.
  • The top lines are being pushed around the ice by nearly everyone they face.  I've complained that Eakins has no power line (especially with New Coke's new "complete" game being a miserable bust) and that he should at the very least try Perron - Hopkins - Hemsky and Perron - Gordon - Hemsky as his top line heads up against other top lines. 
  • Diverging deployments, similar results: Mark Arcobello and Jordan Eberle had success against second and third-level competition early in the season, and other than Gordon, were the only forwards tilting the ice.  Arcobello has since faced easier competition with worse linemates and his numbers have fallen apart.  Eberle has been facing top competition with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and New Coke and his numbers have fallen apart.
  • Everything left of Arcobello has been a giant disaster, meaning anyone Eakins has tried on the bottom two lines has been in the league-worst realm.

Throughout the NHL, 394 forwards have played 20 games or more - 14 Oilers have played 20 or more games.  Ranked by ZS Adjusted Corsi, Edmonton has 9 forwards in the bottom 90:  #303 - Jordan Eberle, #336 - Ryan Jones, #347 - Sam Gagner, #357 - Nail Yakupov, #359 - Jesse Joensuu, #368 - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, #381 - Taylor Hall, #386 - Will Acton, #392 - Luke Gazdic.

The kids are not alright.

Even worse for Edmonton, their new acquisition, Matt Hendricks, ranks #356 based on his games with Nashville.  Boyd Gordon and Ryan Smyth rank in the top half of the league, and Mark Arcobello, Ales Hemsky, and David Perron rank between #225 and #233.

The Maple Leafs are the worst team in the league with 13 forwards in the bottom 90 and the Flames and Sabres each have have 9.