a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

Welcome to Oil Acumen. All Oilers, all the time... Occasionally other stuff.

Monday, 3 November 2014

11/03/14 Positioning Players To Succeed

Move over, Jeff Petry. If the Justin Schultz hate from the fans seems like it's getting louder all the time, just wait until Petry is out the door.

It's a tale as old as time. The fans are as divided as can be about Jeff Petry, just as they were about Tom Gilbert, and any number of good quality NHL players before that. The Oilers and their fans can't have nice things. And unless, for some reason, something changes, the cycle will keep repeating with Martin Marincin and beyond.


A young defenseman starts out by surprising you with how good he is. Then, because the Oilers are terrible, those players are asked to do way too much. It was true with Tom Gilbert, it's been true with Jeff Petry for some time, and it's increasingly true with Justin Schultz.

Schultz is not a bad player, he's just not a 22-minute-per-night defenseman. Give him the soft parade on the third pairing with plenty of powerplay time, and he'd be fine. Very smart people in the Oilogosphere have known this for a long time. Oh well. He'll keep playing over his head because Oilers, and the fans will grow to hate him.

Just like Jeff Petry! Number two shouldered a heavy load all of last season, and he's doing it again this year, which might have something to do with why fans often 'see him bad'. When you're facing the best that the NHL has to offer with little help, it's easy to look bad sometimes. Of course, Petry's burden might have been eased with the Oilers signing actual-top-pairing-defenseman Mark Fayne. Fayne faced the toughest zone starts and competition of Devils defenseman last season, and came out smelling like a rose. So naturally, the Oilers play him the least of all their defenders, including almost four minutes less than Schultz at even strength.

It'd be funny if it wasn't so nauseating.

People go on and on about the Detroit model and how you bring your prospects along slowly and insulate them with veterans so that when they get to the NHL they're ready and how that can make for decades of success. But the Oilers know better. Rush players to the NHL, then throw them head first into the deep end, then ship them out of town. The results of each method speak for themselves, and yet somehow, bafflingly, Oilers brass carries on.

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