We last left off with Olli Jokinen being part of a blockbuster deadline deal that sent him to the Calgary Flames. Jokinen was dealt from Phoenix to Calgary in exchange for fellow Center Matthew Lombardi, prospect and left winger Brandon Prust and a first round draft pick. While Calgary got the right player to catapulte the Flames into legitimite Stanley Cup contender status, the Coyotes came away with a less than steller return. Lombardi is 50 % the player Olli Jokinen is, though there is always the possibility of a breakout performance. Brandon Prust is more of a fighter and enforcer than a dexterous hockey player. He is the epitome of a league replacement player. This leads us to a second blockbuster deal that took place in Alberta, Canada as well.
The Oilers found themselves to be at the center of attention on the evening of March 4th. Steve Tambellini saw his team sitting on the cusp of a post-season birth knowing that something had to be done to get the 30 year old Oilers franchise to the playoffs. The “franchise that Glen Sather built” would require some drastic moves if they were to return to the glory days of Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier. Alright, so maybe returning to the days of possibly the greatest dynasty in all of sports is thinking too optimistically. However, the Oilers pulled off a multi-team and multi-player deal that has propelled them back into the Western Conference spotlight.
Buffalo Sabres acquire a second round draft pick from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for RW Ales Kotalik.[3/4]
Carolina Hurricanes acquire LW Erik Cole from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for LW Patrick O’Sullivan and a second round draft pick.[3/4]
The Hurricanes acquired O’Sullivan for Justin Williams in a deal with the Los Angeles Kings, only to ship the promising left winger to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for the struggling Erik Cole. There is hope to this deal: Cole excelled during his six seasons with Carolina. Returning him back to his original NHL team could help him find his lost magic that he had before being dealt to Edmonton. Arguably the fastest skater in the NHL, the New York native has posted a disappointing + 0.2 Corsi rating on the year. The Corsi rating is similar to the Plus/Minus rating, except it (i) takes into account shots directed towards the goal on both side of the ice rather than looking at goals scored and allowed for each team; and (ii)looks at even strength numbers instead of all situations combined; As described in the previous column, even strength statistics are better for the sake of standardization
Cole ranks 23rd among all 32 players on the Hurricanes roster in Corsi rating. What his nearly neutral number means is that, while Cole was on the ice at even strength, the number of shots directed towards his opponent’s net was essentially the same as the number of shots directed towards his own net. Erik had a very good junior career and an all around solid half-dozen seasons before falling apart this season. There may be precedent within Cole’s Similarity Score Index of an early decline phase or this could simply be an off year.
Year Player GP G A PTS PIM GP G A PTS PIM
2003-04 Ryan Smyth 75 36 30 66 58 201 86 85 171 160
1997-98 Martin Rucinsky 73 17 17 34 50 572 132 206 338 482
1999-00 Donald Audette 76 34 45 79 76 214 59 82 141 153
1982-83 Eddie Johnstone 46 12 11 23 54 55 13 11 24 56
1981-82 Ric Seiling 75 19 22 41 41 369 63 80 143 292
1992-93 Pat Elynuik 67 13 15 28 64 137 17 24 41 131
1974-75 Joey Johnston 32 0 5 5 6 32 0 5 5 6
1959-60 Dick Duff 67 16 17 33 54 687 165 187 352 414
1970-71 Jim Pappin 64 27 21 48 38 345 144 151 305 310
1983-84 Walt Poddubny 32 5 15 20 26 343 142 189 331 327
The players on this comparable list have had similar careers to Erik Cole up until the years listed above. The following seasons represent a range of possibilities that Cole could produce in his 2008-2009 season. Being that he has 17 Goals, 16 Assists and 33 Points in 66 Games Played, his two most likely comparable players going into next season will be Martin Rucinsky and Dick Duff. Interestingly enough, both players represent Erik’s long term upside in this player comparable list. Martin Rucinsky began declining after his age 28 season, where he peaked with 25 Goals, 24 Assists and 49 Points in 80 Games Played. The next year his numbers slightly declined, however his numbers were never poor. He was a shadow of his former self, but he was still an adequate player. He would later rebound during the downside of his career, but he was never the same player he was in his 20s with the Montreal Canadiens.
Dick Duff became a very good hockey player almost immediately. In his age 20 to 22 years with the Toronto Maple Leafts, he averaged 27 Goals, 20.3 Assists and 47.3 Points. Duff steadily declined after his early breakout seasons, but later reemerged as a force with the Montreal Canadiens in his late twenties and early thirties. After his age 32 season, he completely collapsed and moved around the league before retiring. Cole did not come into the NHL at the age of 18 like Dick Duff nor was he a first round pick like Martin Rucinsky. However, looking at these two comparables, Rucinsky’s career path appears to be the better bet. Expect 16 to 19 Goals, 19 to 23 Assists , 31 to 37 Points and 60 to 70 Penalites In Minutes in 70 Games Played over the next few years. He won’t be as good as Patrick O’Sullivan in the short or long term, but then again Cole has a few years on him to begin with.
Edmonton Oilers acquire LW Patrick O’Sullivan and a second round draft pick from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for LW Erik Cole.[3/4]
Well played, General Manager Steve Tambellini, well played. In a “where is Manny Ramirez going to be dealt” fashion, the media assumed that the Oilers stood pat seconds after the trade deadline passed. Then it was announced that two deals were completed minutes before the deadline expired in their quest for a playoff spot to honor the Oilers’ 30th anniversary season. The 5’11’, 190 pound 24 year old from North Carolina spent his season with the Los Angeles Kings before being dealt to the Carolina Hurricanes prior to this trade. O’Sullivan has posted a GVT of 6.5 on the season, meaning that he has contributed 6.5 goals beyond what a marginal hockey player would have contributed. He should help improve Ales Hemsky’s line immediately. Erik Cole on the other hand has posted a 0.9 GVT in the 2008-2009 campaign, which nearly puts him in the category of a marginal player. What’s even more impressive is the junior league track record of O’Sullivan. Take a look at his first four years in the OHL:
The left winger developed fairly quickly and posted PPG totals over 1 PPG for four consecutive seasons. He continued to learn and grow in his two seasons in the AHL. There are some comparative players to the 56th overall selection in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft:
Year Player GP G A PTS PIM GP G A PTS PIM
1976-77 Don Ashby 12 1 2 3 0 62 15 18 33 6
2006-07 Tomas Plekanec 81 29 40 69 42 81 29 40 69 42
1999-00 Marty Reasoner 41 4 9 13 14 411 51 91 142 231
1934-35 Carl Voss 46 3 9 12 10 103 6 19 25 14
1975-76 Dean Talafous 80 22 27 49 10 357 77 103 180 126
1995-96 Mike Sillinger 78 17 20 37 25 673 177 198 375 452
1999-00 Vaclav Prospal 74 5 24 29 22 560 136 287 423 298
2003-04 Mattias Weinhandl 68 4 7 11 24 80 5 8 12 34
1973-74 Lorne Henning 61 5 6 11 6 421 54 77 131 82
1960-61 Bill Hicke 70 20 31 51 42 616 147 197 344 347
The first five columns represents how each player did the following season after having O’Sullivan as a top comparable for prior years. The second group of columns represents how the player did for the rest of his career.
Based on his Similarity Score, Patrick’s upside is Mike Sillinger. “Suitcase Sillinger,” currently an Islander, has managed to play for 12 teams in 19 seasons. He has set the record for the number of teams played for by an NHL player. He has managed to put together two 20 goal seasons and one impressive 30 goal year, while making the occasional playoff appearance. O’Sullivan’s 14 Goals, 23 Assists and 37 Points is matching up very well with Mike Sillinger’s 1995 to 1996 season to this point. Tomas Plekanec will most likely find himself off of this comparable list as Patrick O’Sullivan has not lived up to the production of Plekanec during the 2006-2007 season. One other interesting player is Vaclav Prospal. Prospal, like Sillinger, posted 20 goals seasons with one 30 goal season during his career. It should be noted that O’Sullivan has already surpassed many of Prospal’s 1999-2000 statistics this year.
On top of the latest offensive acquisition, the Oilers managed to get a second round draft pick. This pick has a one in four chance of contributing to the Oilers at the NHL level sometime in the future. To the Oilers, this should be the icing on the cake on a fantastic deal.
Edmonton Oilers acquire RW Ales Kotalik from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a second round draft pick. [3/4]
Ales Kotalik was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft with the 164th overall pick. While Kotalik has posted a respectable 5.0 GVT on the season, he separates himself from the pack with his NHL league leading 2.3 shootout value among non-goaltenders. In other words, Kotalik has contributed 2.3 goals above what the marginal player has contributed in shootouts this year. The majority of NHL shooters would need several years to accrue shootout goals before they could match Kotalik’s feat in one season. Shootout value, a relatively new component, is considered in GVT along with offensive value and defensive value. For a team playing .492 hockey with a .461 Pythagorean winning percentage, this could be the sort of move that converts some future overtime losses into victories.
Note: The Pythagorean winning percentage is calculated using Bill James’ Pythagorean formula of 1 / (1 + (Runs Allowed / Runs Scored)²), with Goals Allowed substituted for Runs Allowed and Goals Scored substituted for Runs Scored.
Andrew Rothstein is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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