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The Pronger Index

Edmonton’s best all-short-tenure lineup

Los Angeles Kings v Edmonton Oilers

This morning, TSN dropped an all-time Oilers lineup, and I thought it was dogshit.

Maybe that was their intention. Do something like that to generate engagement. But it was probably just lazy thinking. Which is fine. We’re all quarantined. You’re working in your pajama pants. It’s understandable.

I’m not going to dwell on this, or go into much more detail, because I’ve already tweeted about this, and I don’t want to sound like a broken record.


I guess my biggest issue with the TSN list is the insistence that there has to be a ‘checking line’. I get that you’re never going to be able to pack 20 star players onto a real team, with salary cap considerations, and all, but I just feel that anyone who fetishizes grit over high-end skill on these kinds of lists is doing it wrong.

There were plenty of great players available for the TSN list, yet they were left off for worse players, it’s as simple as that.

I think that’s what made the idea so interesting, when my friend texted me later in the day, about making a list of All-Time greatest Oilers who played less than 82 games with the team.

With this list there’s definitely going to be some non-star players. So, I get the fun of including some role players on an All-Time list, without looking like a piss-pants for claiming they were more deserving than Doug “seven time team scoring leader” Weight, who should be a Hall of Famer, eventually, in my opinion.

Still, I’m not going to change my evaluation process, just because there are bound to be some lesser names on this list.

I give you: The Pronger Index, it’s the same methodology as the Gretzky Index series that I’m in the midst of writing, with the difference being that everyone else’s stats are compared to Chris Pronger’s from his time in Edmonton, as I’m fairly certain he will be the leader. But, if I find that someone else outdid Pronger’s 2005-06 regular season (I’m excluding playoffs, as Pronger actually played over 100 games for the Oilers if you include them), in their own short tenure with the team, no worries. They’ll just have a Pronger Index score of over 100.

Here’s the methodology, for those of you who haven’t read the other two entries in my series:

Point Shares (PS): (via hockey reference)

Points Above Threshold (PAT):

The Pronger Index:

I did set a ten-game minimum, which may be kind of a weird thing to do on a list that is specifically looking at brief tenures. But I didn’t want any two points in two game performances making the list.

Here are the top-35 players, according to the dubiously named Pronger Index:

It should be called the Damphousse Index!!!! That’s what you may be inclined to yell at me right now. And you would be right to do so. Although I should note that Gretzky/Pronger Indices are based largely on offensive contributions, and, as a result, tend to favour forwards over defensemen pretty strongly. I would recommend only using these stats to compare forwards against other forwards and defensemen against other defensemen.

They can also be a little more wonky in small samples, as many metrics that are based, in part, on rate stats can be, but that’s the fun of this list.

Going off this leaderboard, here are my 12 forwards and 6 defenders:

Top Line: Vinny Damphousse (LW), Petr Sykora (C), Scott Fraser (RW)

Second Line: Sergei Samsonov (LW), Don Ashby (C), Kailer Yamamoto (RW)

Third Line: Brent Grieve (LW), Tony Hrkac (C), Kent Nilsson (RW)

Fourth Line: James Neal (LW), Petr Nedved (C), Roman Oksiuta (RW)

You could argue that James Neal, and especially Kailer Yamamoto should be ineligible for the list, since their tenures with the team are not over. In Yamamoto’s case, I hope he plays 1000 games for the Oilers.

If you took them off the list, Curtis Glencross, and Jochen Hecht are the next two forwards. Or, if you wanted to be strict with natural positions, Ales Kotalik could play right wing over Hecht.

On the blue line we could have:

Chris Pronger & Reijo Ruotsalainen

Reed Larson & Jaroslav Spacek

Ilya Byakin & Norm MacIver

Not too many goals will be scored against those stallions, I tell ya what!

Between the pipes, I again looked at Adjusted Goals Allowed % to make my picks. The top two goalies in franchise history, to appear in no fewer than ten, but no more than 82 regular season games are:

Ron Low - 101 GA%- in 67 GP (1% worse than league average)

“Backup” Bob Essensa - 102 GA%- in 74 GP (2% worse than league average)

I hope you enjoyed my Gretzky Index spinoff. If you’d like to check out the other entries in the series, here are parts one and two:

Part One (Oilers)

Part Two (NHL)

For part three of the real series (spinoffs excluded), I’ll be writing about the all-time best lineup of players at age 23 or younger, as an homage to that weird, fun team, from that strange but cool World Cup of Hockey in 2016. Stay tuned.