Are The Edmonton Oilers Making An Important Tampa Bay Pivot?

The Ryan Spooner experiment is failing horribly. As Ryan Strome and Jordan Eberle are having a different modicum of success in New York, Spooner is struggling to find the form he once displayed in Boston two years ago. According to this website, the Edmonton Oilers already have their eyes on a replacement for the former Bruin.

Anthony Cirelli was the player that ended Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl‘s Memorial Cup dreams in 2015 as he scored the overtime winner for the Oshawa Generals to give them the championship. Ever since then his value has been trending up.

Drafted by Tampa Bay in the 3rd round, 72nd overall, Cirelli is not overly big (6 feet and 180lbs), but he has very quick feet, he’s positionally sound, and he’s very tenacious on the puck.

The Etobicoke, ON native is an essential piece to the Lightning’s 3rd line and their penalty kill. He centers two veterans in Alex Killorn and JT Miller. This is Tampa’s shut-down line, their “Identity Line” if you will.

The most recent game I watched of Tampa’s had them playing the Rangers in New York, and Cirelli’s line started both the first and second periods. That, to me, is a clear indication of how trusted he is by Lightning head coach Jon Cooper.

The Stats

At the time of writing, Cirelli has nine goals and five assists in 34 games played. He also has 12 minutes in penalties and is +12. Lastly, for the traditional statistics, he averages 14:15 minutes of ice-time per game played and his FO% is 51.4%.

Looking at his advanced analytics, we’re going to find a very talented player I believe.

I will be using stats derived from Cirelli’s even strength ice-time (5×5) and in their relative form (per 60) as to further narrow down his impact on the ice as an individual. In brackets is where he’d rank amongst the Oilers centers in those respective categories.

Goals/60 – 1.39 (#1)
Pts/60 – 1.26 (#5)
Shots/60 – 8.16 (#3)
Giveaways/60 – 0.78 (#3)
Takeaways/60 – 1.88 (#6)
Hits/60 – 6.59 (#3)

The puck possession numbers for Cirelli are as follows.

CF% rel – 6.62 (#2)
FF% rel – 6.08 (#3)
SF% rel – 6.24 (#3)
GF% rel – 8.28 (#3)
SCF% rel – 5.24 (#2)
HDCF% rel – 7.30 (#2)
HDGF% rel – 13.01 (#1)
Off. Zone FO% – 44.02 (#7)

The Tampa Bay pivot drives shots and goals his team’s way when he’s on the ice. Simple as that. What’s interesting to me is that he does it starting most of the plays off from his own end.

The Possibility

This player, I feel at least, is not one that Tampa looks likely to give up on. They’re deep at nearly every position and Cirelli is only on the second year of his entry-level contract. Meaning, he’s a very valuable player in today’s cap world. He’s played the fifth most minutes on the PK for centers in the entire NHL at a shade over 86.

I’d love to have a player so dedicated to the defensive side of the puck on the Oilers. It’s been a long time since that sort of player plied his trade in Edmonton but unless the Oilers are offering to take back a salary AND give Tampa a very lucrative group of players, I don’t see this player as a viable acquisition for the Oilers.

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