Thursday, July 12, 2007

Oilers Sign Souray

Big news today regarding the Oilers defense - we have less of it now. The following is from an HF post I made a little while back:

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I have made a quick attempt to quantify the tradeoff between Souray's PP points and his god-awful defensive play.

Sheldon Souray absolutely dominated on the powerplay this season to the tune of 48 powerplay points in 394.2 minutes of powerlpay time. This gives him a massive 7.31 ppp/hr. He was also a spectacularly horrid -28 playing what I consider to be an average ES workload (behind Montreal's match-up pair of Markov and Komisarek).

Mudcrutch's website lists the 50th percentile for powerplay points per hour for a defenseman to be 3.9, which unfortunately is clear of any mark our current defense can claim. If Souray scored at this league average rate on the powerplay, he would have scored 3.9(394.2/60) ~= 26 points with the man advantage.

Basically what this shows is that if you take Souray's 22 points on the PP above average and smack them onto his ES numbers he still comes out -6 while playing very average minutes. This ignores powerplay goals scored while he was on the ice that he had no hand in points-wise but it's still pretty telling: Sheldon Souray's spectacular powerplay skills combined with his awful defensive skills equal one very average NHL defender. Would you pay an average defeseman $5.7M per season? I know I wouldn't.

And finally, while Souray has always been a very good powerplay player, he had a career year last season in terms of production. While he also careered in terms of his minus rating I would say the latter stat is the most likely to repeat itself.
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More to follow, including a gross trip into the world of rationalization that explains why this is a GOOD idea (from ONE perspective, at least).

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OK - here's the universe in which this signing could be a GOOD idea.

Edmonton is set up to be a very poor ES team. The club we saw last year was 26th in the NHL by the GF/GA metric according to NHL.com and we clearly can't say improvements have been made. Sure, Joffrey Zoolander's departure could have meant the rest of Edmonton's players could have come out of their magnum-induced trance and play some fucking hockey but Smith for Pitkanen doesn't help the team at even strength. Neither do the signings of Tarnstrom and Souray... and wait, there's 60 games of #94's positive net effect that we're going to be missing as well.

Based on this, the only possible, fathomable, "I might suggest such a thing if I were two drinks away from comatose"(-able) way that Edmonton gets into the playoffs is by being dynamite on special teams. I sincerely think that their only glimmer of hope rides in trapping like hell and dominating with the man advantage. Souray gives them a shot at this (whee, bad pun!)

Edmonton's forward corps on the PK remain largely unchanged from last season. In fact, all of Shawn Horcoff, Fernando Pisani, and Marty Reasoner played more minutes shorthanded last year than Ryan Smyth. Jarret Stoll wasn't far behind either and that includes the fact that he only played 51 games. We are definitely a man down defensively without Gator but it is at least conceivable that Edmonton doesn't slip too many spots from its surprising 8th place finish in NHL penalty killing. Thank God we still have Roli.

I think by now anyone reading this will have figured out my next point. By adding a dominant powerplay presence in Souray to a unit that already includes Hemsky, Pitkanen and Horcoff, Edmonton has taken a giant leap forward in terms of expected powerplay production. If Souray comes in and puts up a PPP/hr in the mid to high 6 range, Pitkanen and Hemsky do what they do, and Horcoff/Stoll/whoever else continue to be somewhat useful, Edmonton's powerplay could climb into the top half of the league.

I don't honestly think that the formula will end up a winning one. It's clearly a reach to suggest that Edmonton *will* finish in the top 10 for both PP and PK performance this season. I do think, however, that it's the only option Kevin Lowe had left to save face and leave a glimmer of hope for a winning season. I also think that it's a much more astute decision than most hockey fans with a clue re: Souray are going to think it is at first blush.

9 Comments:

Blogger Tyler said...

More to follow, including a gross trip into the world of rationalization that explains why this is a GOOD idea (from ONE perspective, at least).

This trip into the world of realization...does the journey involve huffing chemicals?

7/12/2007 4:55 pm  
Blogger Andy Grabia said...

Big news today regarding the Oilers defense - we have less of it now.

That was funny.

7/12/2007 5:15 pm  
Blogger Mike said...

Sure Souray was awful defensively last year, but that's not a trend extending back through his career. He's a far cry from Jason Smith, but you install him into a system that requires him taking care of his own end, I think you can reap the benefits of his heavy shot on the PP whilst minimizing his downside.

Montreal was still in the bottom half of the league in PP even with Souray's help. Maybe they implicitly or explicitly told him to forget about D, just get some points for the team. Guy Carbonneau is not Ken Hitchcock.

7/12/2007 5:52 pm  
Blogger Black Dog said...

I don't know mike, Carbonneau may not be Ken Hitchcock but I think he wants his D to play some d.

I hope to God you're right but I think showerhead's first sentence is right on the money.

And hilarious by the way.

7/12/2007 6:53 pm  
Blogger Devin said...

Let us all pray that Grebeshkov is Hejda vol. 2 this season. Souray signed does nothing to fill the void of someone to take on big minutes at ES. I'm amazed that MTL threw so many ES minutes at Souray last year -- I guess their bottom pair really really sucked.

Looking at their 06-07 results via behindthenet, I'd have to assume the PP minutes will go to Souray, Pitkanen, Tarnstrom in that order; the PK minutes to Staios, Pitkanen, Souray, Greene in roughly that order. Either that or one of these young guys makes major strides unexpectedly. I can't imagine they are stupid enough to think Greene can take on anything but bottom pairing minutes, so I imagine Smid will get a hefty ES workload too *gulp*. If the 21yr old Laddy is your third best option at ES, your team's defense sucks. I'm assuming Pitkanen and Staios take on the lion's share of challenging matchups 5-on-5...

Am I out to lunch, or would this team be vastly better having resigned Hejda, traded Greene + whatever young F for Kubina, and hung on to Sykora (or signed a Mike Johnson, or Radek Bonk, or similar matchup monster)? That would cost about 2mil more, but who are they spending that on anyway?

7/12/2007 7:00 pm  
Blogger Doogie said...

Mike, you wouldn't be referring to the Montreal team that finished first in power play efficiency with 22.8%, would you? I don't know how the rates turned out, but I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say, based on being 22nd in number of opportunities, that they're in the top five in that, too.

7/12/2007 10:09 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

An interesting way of looking at it, Showerhead. I have to think that Souray will come back to earth a bit in terms of powerplay production though. The hockey gods really set themselves on fire for the guy last year.

And the 60+ goals against that happened when he was on the ice at 5v5 ... I mean that's just stunning. And others have pointed out he wasn't exactly staring down Sundin or Jagr every night. Put another way, of the 95 goals that happened when Souray was on the ice at 5v5 ... only 12 of them happened with Bonk's old school shutdown line on the ice. And nine of that dozen went in the Habs net. Ouch! Surely nobody is quite that bad, must have been more than his share of bad bounces and goalposts at evens last season.

Also, it seems like a helluva stretch to pin this on Koivu, which seems popular amongst Oiler fans searching for hope. I mean according to this terrific bit of stuff at BTN Souray was -9 in penalties for/against when he was on the ice at 5v5. Saku was a whopping +34 by the same measure.

So if they played together a whole bunch, as is presumed ... then this just doesn't make sense, how could they possibly be so different by this metric? UNLESS Souray is even worse than we could ever imagine. And he couldn't possibly be this bad.

Poor Koivu, he's still a crafty little player, but he can't go toe to toe with Sundin and the like any more. Not without getting clobbered physically and on the scoresheet. But by my memory he WAS that kind of player not long ago, and I don't think he ever got the credit he was due.

Back to point, if Oiler fans didn't like Bergeron on a six figure salary ... they really aren't going to like Souray for several times that paycheck.

I'm not sure what Lowe is going for here, but I have a feeling that Horcoff is on his way out of Dodge soon. Just a hunch, mind.

7/14/2007 9:23 pm  
Blogger uni said...

Souray played large chunks of last year injured as well. Here's hoping that attributed mightily to his defensive woes, and that he's fully healthy for the next 5 years.

Blue skies and puppy dogs my friends.

7/14/2007 10:54 pm  
Blogger SweatyO said...

I'm not sure what Lowe is going for here, but I have a feeling that Horcoff is on his way out of Dodge soon. Just a hunch, mind.

If that happens (Horcoff getting dealt), I'll tell you what Lowe is likely going for:

Stamkos and Tavares.

7/14/2007 10:58 pm  

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