© 2013 Michael Parkatti Toronto Maple Leafs v New Jersey Devils

Which Centre Should the Oilers Target?

One of the media topics de jour is which band-aid Centre the Oilers need to sign or trade for in order to fill the voids left by Horcoff’s injury and the somewhat battered condition of RNH and Belanger.  With the latter two coming back this weekend, the need will not be as acute this time next week as it is today, but I can understand the worry — the Oilers employ staff members whose only jobs are to deliberately injure players.  I am, of course, inferring their presence, but do you have any better explanations?

So to figure out who they should target, I compiled a list of all centres who played at least 40 games in the NHL last year, and who have played none so far this year.  As follows:



A lot of these fellows are either a) injured players under contract, b) ELC or RFA type players getting conditioning in the minors, or c) career AHLers that got a solitary chance in the show.  The kind I’m after are players who are UFA or are easily attainable players with a track record.  I also added David Steckel, because his name is widely reported as one that’s available from the Maple Bleeps.  In all, I found 9 such players who are legitimate options — I then proceeded to compile their advanced stats at even strength from last season.



RelCorsi is a measure of their shot differential relative to their team’s performance.  QoC RelCorsi is a measure of how difficult their competition was when they were on the ice.  P/60 reflects simply their points scored every 60 minutes, while Rel +/- is their traditional +/- per 60 mins relative to their teams.  PDO is a measure of luck (the higher the luckier), and FO% is good ‘ol face off percentage.

We see that these player present very different profiles.  We’ve got the soft-minute, lucky outscorer in Jason Arnott.  We’ve got a low event, unlucky faceoff daemon in Steckel.  We’ve got a fairly useless pile of crap that had a ton of luck to rack up some points in Tim Stapleton.  And then we’ve got some pretty well rounded vets in Rolston and Langkow who posted decent numbers in tough minutes, but both are below-average face off men.  How do we tell this stuff apart?  Well, usually I would make up some weightings and average them that way, but I have no legitmate basis to weight these, so I’ll just take an average of their ranks, as follows:



From these numbers, the prime target the Oilers should be after is Tim Connolly.  He puts up the most points, he can play tough opposition and not get killed, and he was pretty unlucky last year, implying that his numbers could be even better.  He’s even been playing in the AHL this year, so is near game shape.  The only negative is that he’s a sub-par faceoff man.

The second best target is Brian Rolston, while Langkow and Steckel tie for being the third best targets.  They are mostly well rounded, veteran centremen who can likely be plugged into any situation and do just fine.


One Comment

  1. gcw_rocks
    Posted February 9, 2013 at 9:53 am | #

    Dominic Moore should rank higher, especially if you look at this historical zone starts and finishes. The puck generally moves in the right direction when he is on the ice. He has also had tough zone starts, weighted fairly heavily to d-zone starts over his career.

    Add in the fact that all it would cost to sign him would be money, and he could compete with Belanger and Lander for the Horcoff role, and Moore is the logical choice.

    Of course, that supposes he would be willing to play so soon after his wife’s passing.

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