Thursday, March 5, 2009

Deadline a success

Steve Tambellini and Kevin Lowe had a solid deadline yesterday. They made 2 trades moving Erik Cole for Patrick O'Sullivan and a 2nd rounder. Then they flipped the 2nd rounder for Ales Kotalik. The O'Sullivan deal was a steal. Picking up a player as skilled as O'Sullivan for a player in Cole who likely wasn't going to resign here is great value. The fact that O'Sullivan is signed for 2 more years at a million less per year can only be seen as a positive. For an interesting read on Patrick O'Sullivans troubled childhood read this article by Gare Joyce. It really makes you respect what O'Sullivan has battled through. The second trade was a move to get someone to play with Ales Hemsky. My guess is the Oilers are hoping the Czech connection will pan out as Hemsky and Kotalik are apparently good friends. We've seen Petr Sykora mesh well with Hemsky and we can only hope Kotalik, who has a good shot, can mesh as well. The 2nd rounder is a lot to give up but the Oilers see Kotalik as a player who can have chemistry with Hemsky. For perspective, the Reasoner for Samsonov trade also included a 2nd round Oilers pick that turned into Milan Lucic. I'd still make that trade because of the run but its worth pointing out that these picks can be valuable. If this works out, Kotalik will resign and otherwise as a UFA the Oilers can let him walk (and the trade will be a bust). My gut feeling is that this trade will work out.

Here us the nitty gritty O'Sullivan/Kotalik (courtesy behind the net):

Some more observations:

- The most promising stat for me is the improvement in O'Sullivans game from last season to this year. This year he is playing with lesser teamates but has managed to swing his corsi into the black. In addition, he is now a player who is on for more GF than GA on a Kings team that has scored 164 goals and let in 184. The Oilers have been outshot most of the season and adding a player like O'Sullivan will help out. O'Sullivan also has 200 shots which would put him 2nd on the Oilers behind Souray.

- Another bonus for O'Sullivan is his PK numbers. On LA he plays 2 minutes a game on the PK and his GAON/60 is 5.21. That would be 2nd best on the Oilers and twice as good as Shawn Horcoffs numbers. Hopefully O'Sullivan can help out Horcoff on the PK.

- Kotalik doesnt kill penalties but has good PP numbers. His PTS/60 of 4.19 would be 4th behind Hemsky, Nilsson and Gilbert.

- Both Kotalik and O'Sullivan are likely to get a shot with Horcoff/Hemsky before Penner does. Even though Penner has decent results statistically he hasnt scored enough goals playing with Hemsky. My guess is that if Kotalik does well with Hemsky the Oilers try to move him. At 4.25 million that will be hard to do though.

- Robert Nilsson and MA Pouliot are gonna have a hard time getting minutes for the rest of the season but the Oilers have some nice depth up front now. More moves will come in the offseason as they cant protect 16 forwards.

- The Oilers decided to stick with Cogliano as the hard minutes centre (although its debatable that Brodziak is that guy). But with Cogliano playing with Pisani, that's the way I see it. The Oilers have needed a veteran centre all year but the choice of Cogliano is gonna yield long term results. I think its best for Coglianos development and good on the Oilers for sticking with Gagner and Cogliano. This decision I'm ok with even though there could be some frustration in the short term.

Overall the Oilers added some valuable pieces without sacrificing in the short term and I'm happy with the trades. The youth core of Gagner, Cogliano, Gilbert and Grebeshkov would benefit nicely from some post season experience. These moves are a step in the right direction.

PS For an excellent read on applied statistics in sports, read this article from the New York Times about the Houston Rockets and Shane Battier. I'm not a basketball fan at all and the article was one of the most interesting things I've read in years. It will require you to sign up for a NY Times account but its free.
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