Wednesday, January 14, 2009

He might not be Tom-Tastic, but BDHS still gives him a "B" . . .

Black Dog Hates Skunks issued mid-season grades for Oilers after Game 41, and he gave Tom Gilbert a "B". Given that BDHS bases his grades on expectations, and that it seems almost impossible for Gilbert to perform up to his $24 MM contract, I'd say that Gilbert has earned a pretty good grade.
B Tom Gilbert - pressure from new contract weighed on him early I believe but after a slow start has played very well, on pace for 36 points, excellent first pass, plays a Lidstrom style, all angling and boxing his man out, not a banger though , plays like the one he made against the Blues last game (stole puck, spun away, reversed course and hit the man breaking out of the zone, all in a moment) show that the Oilers have a guy who is a keeper and still getting better
I'll be honest; I haven't had much time to follow the Oilers or Tom Gilbert much this year. But whenever I did stop by Oiler-related sites earlier in the season, the prevailing opinion did seem to be that Gilbert was off to a slow start -- not horrible, but perhaps struggling a bit. I'm glad to hear that his play seems to be picking up of late, at least judging by BDHS's review. And hey, I like any review that compares him to Lidstrom, gotta like that.

BDHS mentions that Gilbert is on pace for 36 points this season. After 41 games, he was 2-16-18, +2. By comparison, last season he was 7-7-14, +3 in the 1st 41 games and 6-13-19, -9 in the 2nd 41 games, with the prevailing opinion that he had a pretty good 1st half of the season and struggled a bit during the 2nd half. Now the goals and assists are different, but his total points and +/- from the 1st half of last season and the 1st half of this season aren't all that different, making me wonder if he's really struggling compared to this time last year or if expectations are just much higher. I know that you can't get all that much information from stats, and I haven't been able to watch any games (someone tell me again why I pay for NHL Center Ice but haven't had time to watch a game yet this year?); all I'm saying is that it makes me wonder a bit.

Coming into this season, Lowetide set "reasonable expections" for Gilbert of 7-15-22 in 82 gp. Looks like Lowetide might have picked the goals pretty close, but Gilbert already has 17 assists this season (he recorded another assist in game 42), so he's definitely on pace to outperform Lowetide's expectations.

Coming into the season, another Oilers' blog had a post (heck if I can find it now, apparently wasn't Lowetide) that discussed which players were likely to outperform, underperform, or play at the level of their contract. It was a pretty good read; I wish I could find it again. Gilbert was listed as likely to underperform -- and this wasn't as much a knock against Tom as it was a reflection of his $24 MM contract. The post also mentioned that Tom had a pretty good rookie season and that sometimes it's hard to repeat that the next year. (If I come across the post again, I'll stop back here and add in the link.)

Anyway, it's always nice to read nice things about Tom Gilbert, so thanks BDHS!