It’s Time to Bring Women into the NHL

With the tragic, although unsurprising, closing of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League this past week, some of the best talents in the sport are suddenly out of work. Despite the NHL’s internal conflict regarding the inclusion of women, now should be the time that we finally see female players join NHL teams.

Yes, Female Player Are Absolutely Good Enough To Make The NHL

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First off, one of the most common arguments against allowing women in the NHL is on-ice safety. Such an argument is a thinly veiled, misogynistic mask for saying that men are supposedly sooo-much stronger than women. This argument appeared often on Twitter and Instagram during the Women at the NHL All-Star Game controversy.

These thinly-masked arguments need to go, as most players whom played in the CWHL could very easily make an NHL lineup, and endure as much of a physically tasking game as those in the NHL.

Additionally, some of the best players to ever play the game are women, the most shining examples include Hayley Wickenheiser, Marie-Philip Poulin, and Natalie Spooner. All of whom are bigger than highly-touted Oilers prospect Kailer Yamamoto.

There is no longer a place for arrogance in hockey, so please just accept that women can be, and are, better than men in many regards.

Signing Female Players Is The Best Example Of Exploiting A Market Efficiency

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Toronto Maple Leafs’ General Manager Kyle Dubas is, and always has been, big on the idea of exploring market inefficiencies. European markets provide some very underrated talent, such markets have been dipped into by several NHL teams and Dubas. The same goes for staff signings as well. (i.e. Hayley Wickenheiser -> Leafs’ development staff, Jarmo Kekalainen->CBJ’s GM)

Although I’m a firm believer in signing European talent, many examples haven’t turned out (i.e. Vadim Shipachyov with Vegas, Jan Kovar with the Islanders). One of the most common, although a little effortless, knocks on Europeans is their inability to adapt to the North-American regulation ice. Such a knock cannot be used on female players, as the best players have played in the CWHL or NWHL, both NA leagues. Thus, there is little reason to not sign women to NHL contracts, even less when considering the pure quality of these players.

Who Would Go Where?

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Marie-Philip Poulin, whom is 28 years-old and in the prime of her career, has scored an absurd 184 points in just 93 total CWHL games and has captained Canada’s international teams for 4 years. Not to mention, she is considered by Sidney Crosby to be the best athlete outside of the NHL. Thus Marie has earned admiration from peers, exemplified great leadership, and has fantastic production while still being so young. Overall, Poulin is most comparable to the likes of Johnny Gaudreau. A small, speedy playmaking centre, Marie-Philip Poulin is a perfect fit for the New Jersey Devils. Although the Devils have some strong prospects down-the-middle, as pointed out numerous times by Kyle Pereira, they lack many solid NHL-quality centres. Poulin would fill a much needed role in the Devils’ top six forward group, and would add much prestige to the Devils organization.

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Natalie Spooner, also 28, is an excellent player. Strong on the puck and can play all forward positions, Spooner can provide a Ryan Getzlaf like presence. Spooner has also displayed leadership both internationally and in the CWHL respectively. Known more as a sniper, Natalie Spooner has a total of 69 goals and 117 points in 115 CWHL games. Spooner would be a good fit with teams like Edmonton (although the name ‘Spooner’ does not evoke good thoughts in Edmonton) and New Jersey, as both teams need useful depth on the wings.

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Erin Ambrose, a 24 year-old defender, was one of the best young players in the CWHL. Named the CWHL’s best defender in 2019, Ambrose is a right-handed, puck-moving defender. The best NHL comparable would be Samuel Girard, a small, offensively-minded pass-first defender. Ambrose would fit many teams’ needs, most notably the Toronto Maple Leafs, as I’m sure many Leaf fans would much prefer a player of her calibre over that of Nikita Zaitsev.

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Emerance Maschmeyer, whom is also 24, just finished the 2018-19 season as the best goaltender in the CWHL, with a .935 SV% in 20 games. Although, it’s not like Maschmeyer was a slouch the previous seasons of her young career, as she posted a .934 SV% in 51 career CWHL games. It’s difficult to determine an NHL comparable for goaltenders, although Maschmeyer has a reputation for being positionally sound and calm. Few teams are really begging for goaltending, although the Carolina Hurricanes could be in need of one this offseason (both McElhinny and Mrazek are UFA). Adding Maschmeyer could improve depth and add a solid NHL goaltender for many years to come.

Conclusion

With most arguments against female NHL players proven to be thinly veiled and some just plain incorrect, along with the increasing smaller skill gap between players of the two genders, there is little to no reason for women to not be signed by NHL teams. And the unfortunate closing of the CWHL opened a brand new opportunity to add these players.

Statistics retrieved from eliteprospects.com, lastwordonsports.com, and NHL.com

 

 

 

 

 

Edmonton Oilers

Edmonton Oilers: Thinking Outside the Box

The Edmonton Oilers have a big problem with Ryan Spooner.

That’s not news. The sky is blue, Connor McDavid is the most skilled player in the NHL, and you can still find me in the stands cheering on this team. Some things, unfortunately so in some cases, never change.

My weird love/hate relationship with this team aside the Edmonton Oilers find themselves trapped by one of Peter Chiarelli’s final moves (man does typing that feel good!). However now is the time to start correcting those mistakes and I think there’s an outside solution to the Spooner problem.

Buried in the AHL

It was announced on January 23, 2019 that both Kailer Yamamoto and Ryan Spooner were assigned to the AHL:

The former being there makes sense in the short term, as Yamamoto can play a few games in Bakersfield over the all star break or in the long-term. Personally I feel like Yamamoto should stay the rest of the season on the AHL so he can be a key cog in Bakersfield’s playoff push/run. The latter on the other hand is a different story. Spooner has failed so spectacularly in Edmonton that they no longer feel he is anything but a detriment to the team.

My first ever post on ThePuck77 was on Ryan Spooner and in it I stated that Edmonton needed to find a lineup spot for Spooner that works for him. I won’t go into too much detail on him here but my main points were:

  1. Ryan Spooner is not an offensive driver
  2. Ryan Spooner was, at his most successful, a good 3rd piece of a top 6 line.
  3. He benefited greatly from being on top power-play units
  4. He is a really ineffective possession player.

If you want more in depth analysis on Spooner check out my first piece on him here.

Someone Similar?

You would think this situation would be rare in the NHL. Not many teams employ 3+ million dollar men in the AHL…

But there is another…

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Yes that’s right I’m talking about Sam “8 points in one game” Gagner.

Gagner has been a very nice addition to the Toronto Marlies roster since being sent down. In 36 games thus far Gagner has 10 goals and 22 assists for 32 points. He definitely isn’t letting his demotion slow him down any. Even when he has played in the NHL he was not that poor. In 7 NHL games Gagner had 3 points, 1 goal, 2 assists. He has also been very good in terms of possession at the NHL level, posting a surprising 59.9% Corsi rating, and a 15.2 Corsi relative for rating. This, along with his 59.9% Fenwick for rating and 17.4 Fenwick relative for rating, paint a picture of a player who has more to give at the NHL level.

Gagner does a lot of things well that mesh with the Oilers needs right now. While he does have some warts to his game in regards to defending Edmonton at current needs a guy who is an offensive weapon. Gagner is a power-play, overtime, and shootout specialist. Put in the right situation; i.e on the left side of a Connor McDavid/Leon Draisaitl power-play, should result in increased success for Edmonton’s power-play.

Power-play Prowess

For example in 2016/17 he had 50 points, 18 of which came on the power-play. In 2017/2018, in his first year with Canucks (way lower teammate quality), he had 31 points, 11 of which were on the power-play.

In 2016/17 Gagner played on a unit with Zach Werenski, Nick Foglino, Cam Atkinson, and Alex Wennberg. on a much less successful Vancouver power-play Gagner played with a mix of Alex Edler, Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser, both Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Sven Baertschi, and Thomas Vanek. Vancouver struggled to find the right mix of players and eventually Gagner got lost in the shuffle. He ended up struggling to the point where he was demoted to the AHL at the beginning of this season.

Wherever Gagner goes he always finds a way on to that team’s power-play because that is where he excels. He is an extremely gifted offensive player who has a good shot and is extremely creative with the puck. The thing that he is the best at on the power-play is MOVING. The Edmonton Oilers power-play right now has stagnated. This is mainly due to the same issue that plagued them last year. They are too slow. they do not move the puck around enough to properly open up seams and lanes in an opposing team’s penalty kill. This kills them and they need a player like Gagner that can keep the puck moving on the power-play.

Is This Trade Realistic?

This is always the huge question with the hypothetical articles. It’s why I don’t enjoy making these speculation articles in general, do it wrong and you immediately can ruin your credibility as a writer. 

However in this case I think there’s a realistic possibility a trade like this could work. Right now at left-wing the Canucks employ Nikolai Goldobin, Sven Baertschi, Josh Leivo, Loui Eriksson, and Antoine Roussel. Goldobin has 23 points, Eriksson has 20, Leivo has 7, Baertschi has 13, and Roussel has 19. It’s safe to say they could use a boost. Edmonton currently employs Alex Chiasson, Milan Lucic, Jesse Puljujarvi, Jujhar Khaira, Tobias Reider, and I could go on at wing. Outside of Chiasson none of those players have 20 points, outside of Khaira, none have 15 points. Edmonton needs wingers bad.

So a swap of two players that both make almost exactly the same amount of money, that could potentially re-spark their careers makes a lot of sense. Gagner makes 50k more than Spooner at 3.15 million over the same amount of term. At current neither of Spooner or Gagner are going to see the light of day back in the NHL with their respective teams. It makes sense, at least to me to try to swap the two players in the hopes that they could re-find their offense elsewhere.

Wrap Up

The main reason this probably won’t happen is Vancouver and Edmonton are teams both currently in a dog fight for the last wildcard spot. While it would be an interesting trade as it would create a potential double rental situation if both Spooner and Gagner bounce back, the risk involved nixes that trade.

What do you think? is this trade realistic for both sides? leave a comment or find us on twitter at @ThePuck77 and me personally at @chayzdj.

All stats used in this article came from HockeyReference.com, Capfriendly.com, and HockeyDB.com.

 

 

Edmonton Oilers

31 in 31: Top Ten Prospects Vol. 12 – Edmonton Oilers

Welcome back to my 31 in 31 top ten prospect series.

Yesterday, we took a look at the Detroit Red Wings’ pipelines and did a little analysis on the rookies who will be representing them in the future, highlighted by Filip Zadina, Joe Veleno, and Filip Hronek. Today, we’re going to look at an Edmonton Oilers prospect system that’s seen many top ten picks in its day. Without further ado, let’s dive in.

1. Evan Bouchard (D, 1st Round, 10th Overall in 2018)

There are lots of factors as to why Bouchard is the Oilers’ top prospect in my opinion. Aside from the fact that he’s a 6’2 right handed defenseman who put up 87 points in 67 games in his draft year, he also fits the needs of the Edmonton Oilers more than any other prospect. He appeared in seven games for the Oilers this season where he notched his first NHL goal, but has since been sent back to the OHL for what will more than likely be his final season there where he currently has 18 points in his first 13 games.

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2. Kailer Yamamoto (RW, 1st Round, 22nd Overall in 2017)

Yamamoto is a model example of the “skill over-size” draft method. The 5’8 forward weighs in at only 154 pounds yet has been able to put up tons of points at every level he’s played at thus far (except the NHL). Despite having only put up five points in 21 NHL games, the Spokane native has lots of time to develop his game seeing that he’s only 20. He currently has four points in seven AHL games this year.

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3. Ethan Bear (D, 5th Round, 124th Overall in 2015)

Bear was drafted in the fifth round of the 2015 NHL Draft and he projects to be a top-four defenseman. That’s how deep that draft was. Bear got a small taste of NHL action last season with four points in 18 games, but has spent all of this season so far with the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL, totaling six points in 16 games.

4. Tyler Benson (LW, 2nd Round, 32nd Overall in 2016)

The Edmonton native experienced the joy of being drafted by his hometown team, and now it looks like he’s going to have a real chance to make the team within the next year or two. The former Vancouver Giant currently has 16 points through 21 games in his first full AHL season.

5. Cooper Marody (C, 6th Round, 158th Overall in 2015)

Marody wrapped up his third and final season with the University of Michigan last year where he put up 51 points in 40 games. The Brighton, Michigan native is currently in his first pro season where he’s lighting up the AHL with 14 points in 11 games thus far. With six NHL games under his belt, Marody could be on track to find more action in the NHL sooner rather than later.

6. Ryan McLeod (C, 2nd Round, 40th Overall in 2018)

Ever since McLeod’s junior career, he’s consistently been known as one thing. A safe pick. No matter what, you know exactly what you’re getting with him. He won’t blow you away with offense, but he also has a solid defensive game and a good amount of hustle. He currently has 31 points in 26 games and will more than likely end up being a middle six centre for the Oilers.

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7. Caleb Jones (D, 4th Round, 117th Overall in 2015)

You typically don’t find too many NHL players hailing from Texas, but that’s not the case for Caleb Jones and his brother Seth (you may have heard of him, some guy that plays for the Columbus Blue Jackets I think. I don’t know). Anyways, the 6’1 d-man is in his second full pro season and currently has 12 points in 21 games. While it’s unlikely that he finds the success that his brother did, he could very well pan out to be a solid NHLer nonetheless.

8. Kirill Maksimov (RW, 5th Round, 146th Overall in 2017)

A Russian forward who’s been playing hockey in Canada ever since his bantam days, Maksimov is no stranger to North American hockey, and it’s been showing on the ice. He’s consistently put up tons of points in the OHL and this season has 37 points in 26 games for the Niagara IceDogs of the OHL.

9. Cameron Hebig (C, Undrafted, Signed in 2017)

The Oilers signed Hebig in the middle of his final season with the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL, where he ended up finishing with 90 points in 66 games. He’s currently in his first season with the Bakersfield Condors, putting up 15 points in 21 games so far.

10. Ostap Safin (RW, 4th Round, 115th Overall in 2017)

Safin has solidified his name in the Oilers farm system more and more each year. The Praha, Czech native is an absolute monster on skates at 6’5 and 192 lbs and he’s been consistently putting up points in the QMJHL. Playing for the Halifax Mooseheads this season, he currently has nine points in 10 games and will more than likely represent the Czech Republic at the World Juniors.

Thanks for reading! Tune in tomorrow where we’ll take a look at the young guns the Florida Panthers have in their farm system.

stats from eliteprospects.com

featured image photo credit – Josh Tessler