The Edmonton Oilers, historically, are not a strong destination for veteran NHL players who miss out on the big money of free agency. If I asked you to recall the last actual NHL player who attended Oilers camp on a tryout offer, what would your answer be? My answer after the break.
I think that is the last major one. Men like Kevin Westgarth were also invited, but Anson Carter played over 670 NHL games before arriving at that Oilers camp—he was bona fide. There are similarities between Carter in 2007 and Versteeg today:
- Carter was 33, was about to play for Lugano (Swiss-A) and had posted NHL career numbers of 674gp, 202-219-421.
- Versteeg is 30, was about to play for Bern (Swiss-A) and has posted NHL career numbers of 550gp, 131-182-313.
We don’t know if Versteeg came back for his final 124 games, but he is going to get a look at training camp this fall—and there is an opening on RW.
KRIS VERSTEEG 15-16
- 5×5 points per 60: 1.60
- 5×4 points per 60: 3.23 (2-5-7 in 130 minutes)
- Corsi for 5×5 %: 56.8
- Qual Comp: second line
- Qual Team: second line
- Corsi for 5×5 % REL: 13.4
- Shots on goal/percentage: 156 shots/9.6%
- Boxcars: 77GP, 15-23-38
- Information via Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com, behindthenet.ca and hockey-reference.
I reached out tonight to Rob Vollman (the man behind the Vollman Sledgehammer) and asked him to place Kris Versteeg (and others) on a line. This is three years, so we get a very good idea about where players are being deployed and their overall performance in those roles. This is the Oilers plus the men acquired over the summer. A few notes:
- Versteeg has been getting some of the easier minutes among skill players, but has also been making good use of them (that is a good bubble).
- Milan Lucic is also in a good area, as are all of the skill players we would expect to be pushing results.
- Adam Larsson plays his minutes at Shawshank, in the laundry room. Lordy.
- Taylor Beck is a very interesting player, as this graph shows. He did not produce enormous positives, but he survived in a tough spot in the batting order.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Over the last three years (according to the Vollman), Kris Versteeg and Nail Yakupov have been performing in about the same spot in the batting order. Versteeg’s possession numbers are superior, and the offense looks like this:
- Nail Yakupov 23-32-55 in 2515 minutes over three years. Total: 1.31 points-per-60 at 5×5. 46.7 Corsi for 5×5 percentage.
- Kris Versteeg 31-45-76 in 2796 minutes over three years. Total: 1.63 points-per-60 at 5×5. 55.3 Corsi for 5×5 percentage.
That is a significant difference in offensive performance, although neither man is Jordan Eberle (1.91) during the last three seasons.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN, DAMMIT?
You know, hockey stats are difficult because there are all kinds of little details that color the story. In baseball, if you give a man 650 plate appearances, you can measure him with just a few categories. If your hitter walks 100 times, gets 200 hits, 40 doubles, 9 triples, 18 home runs and 35 stolen bases (cs: 4), he is going to get a plaque in the hall of fame.
Hockey? Well, we have to work a little harder. For instance, in getting those numbers above over the last three seasons, it is important to note who was zooming whom during the minutes Yak and Mr. Versteeg were being deployed.
- Nail Yakupov: with Derek Roy 534 minutes; Teddy Purcell 429 minutes; Benoit Pouliot 377 minutes.
- Kris Versteeg: with Patrick Kane 695 minutes; Eric Staal 594 minutes; Jonathan Toews 377 minutes.
Well. You may be reading this 10 minutes after I wrote this, and figure the quality of these linemates make a huge difference (and I agree). Maybe you are Wanye’s great grandson and reading this late in the century on an archive in the Edmonton Public Library and we will have new metrics to give us more details on these issues.
From here, at this time, Kris Versteeg looks like a pretty good NHL player –a 30 year old, gritty veteran who can deliver offense in a complementary role when playing with superior players.
Nail Yakupov? Shy on the offense, shy on the possession, shy on the linemates.
Would Nail score big with Patrick Kane, Eric Staal and Jonathan Toews? Two things:
- I think he might.
- I don’t know that he gets the chance.
Why? NHL coaches prefer players who make the right play by rote, who migrate to their proper position, who get pucks deep and know the value of safety first. I think Kris Versteeg gets an NHL job with the Oilers in the seconds after he passes the physical.
What does that mean for Nail? It is out among the stars.