Joel Edmundson has been the latest hot trade topic of conversation linked to the Edmonton Oilers. Partially due to defensive deficiencies and partly due to Edmunson’s toughness, there is reasonability behind him being suggested as a targeted asset for Edmonton.
However, in the past 12 games, Edmonton has only given up 18 goals at even strength, raising the question and need for further assessment regarding Edmunson’s season and the potential impact he could exhibit as the Oilers push for the playoffs.
2022–23 season 5v5 play
The season could have gone better for Edmundson statistically. In 35 games played, Edmundson has only scored one goal and three points. A measure that puts Edmundson’s point-per-game rate of 0.085, well below his career average of 0.22. However, shooting below career average and a low PDO (a statistic that sums team shooting percentage and goalie save percentage with a PDO of one considered league average), implies he has been unlucky so far.
Edmundson does possess other quality assets, including physicality and shot-blocking. His hit total of 53 for the season would place him fifth on Edmonton’s roster, behind Cody Ceci, Darnell Nurse, Markus Niemelainen, and Evan Bouchard. Edmundson would place third on Edmonton in blocked shots, a category in which the Oilers require assistance, as only Nurse and Bouchard rank higher.
Diving into the underlying metrics, Edmundson is playing well below his career and league average. For his career, Edmundson has generally been about league average at controlling puck possession, whereas this season, Edmundson is 6% below league average.
Analyzing Edmundson’s 5v5 quality chance control is also below the NHL norm for the season. Both statistics for controlling total and high-danger chances are also well below league-average metrics. Additionally, Edmundson has been below league norm for his career in these categories, as he has been unable to defend sufficiently against opposition at 5v5.
Lastly, he has been outscored regarding the quality of expected shots and goals, though this may be due to the Montreal Canadiens being a rebuilding team. Edmundson’s goal-scoring rate when on the ice is for every one goal the Canadiens score, the opposing team scores two, hence the 33 GF% statistic—a category that Edmundson is generally league average in.
Defensive pairing impact
|Joel Edmundson-Kaiden Guhle||240:44||41.61%||39.02%||31.82%||38.73%||35.21%||25.00%||0.965|
|Joel Edmundson-David Savard||97:50||43.14%||41.96%||28.57%||41.20%||47.83%||20.00%||0.952|
|Joel Edmundson-Arber Xhekaj||95:53||43.24%||43.02%||50.00%||48.44%||48.72%||66.67%||1.000|
|Joel Edmundson-Justin Barron||51:48||40.87%||39.13%||30.00%||34.75%||38.89%||40.00%||0.895|
When paired with a variety of Montreal defenders, Edmundson’s play does not help his case for being a reliable defensive defenceman. Reviewing the potential partners required a benchmark, hence why only pairings with above 50 minutes Time-on-Ice (TOI) are highlighted in the above chart.
Puck possession is a quality the Oilers should desire at the trade deadline, as they are currently only slightly above league average at even strength as a team. Assessing Edmundson’s puck possession ability denotes that regardless of the defensive partner, his metrics are subpar between the four pairings. He currently retains four defencemen who achieve the 50% benchmark indicating average puck possession. Due to Edmonton’s need for a player in the top four, Edmundson would likely slot in alongside Tyson Barrie, one of Edmonton’s defensive members failing to achieve the NHL puck possession norm.
Until Christmas, the Oilers were plagued by giving up high-quality danger chances, attributing to subpar goaltending and lackluster defensive results. Edmundson does not fit the mold of the problem solver Edmonton requires. Due to the Philip Broberg-Evan Bouchard emergence, the Oilers have somewhat righted the ship in terms of limiting high-danger chances.
No Oiler defencemen is below the 50% HDCF threshold, implying above league average play as each player’s metrics prove they each out-chance the opposition’s slot opportunities. Reviewing Edmunson’s ability to control high-danger chances against (HDCF%), the statistics indicate that when paired with Kaiden Guhle, the player Edmunson has spent most of his season with, for every ten high-danger chances created, 6.5 are against the Canadiens when Edmunson is on the ice and only 3.5 are offensive. Additionally, the same statistical story holds for controlling all scoring chances.
The last measure to cover regards the goal and expected goal category. This category denotes a player’s ability to suppress and score total and expected goals while that player is on the ice for that player’s team. As noted beforehand, Edmundson gives up goals at a rate of two of every three goals scored. Assessing Edmundson’s expected goals metric indicates the quality of the shot taken or given by the opposition.
Whether individually or when paired with any of Montreal’s younger or experienced defencemen, Edmundson does not meet the league average benchmark, especially when his partner is Guhle. Edmonton’s defensive corps does have four defencemen eclipsing that threshold, but Nurse is the only one of the top four. Likely to be paired with Barrie, the result is less favourable than the current results of the Kulak-Barrie pairing.
Is the trade worthwhile?
Although trades between Edmonton and Montreal have occurred in the past, Edmundson does seem to meet the Oilers’ needs. Either by the individual statistics or when paired with any of Montreal’s defencemen, the trade does not seem more favourable than the return the Oilers are currently obtaining from the Kulak-Barrie pairing.
The acquisition of Edmundson would slide Kulak down the depth chart to the third pairing to play alongside either Broberg or Bouchard. However, splitting up this pairing may not seem ideal due to their recent play. Furthermore, the acquisition cost could be high as it appears to be a seller’s market for teams possessing assets potential contenders are interested in.
For Kulak, a solid defenceman unrestricted at last year’s end, Edmonton traded away a second and seventh-round pick and William Lagesson. For Edmundson, the cost is much higher due to possessing another year on his contract, as it is rumored to be Xavier Bourgault, a first-round pick plus additional assets.
For Edmonton, in the short and long term, even though Edmundson is having a below-average year on a rebuilding team, the assets given up are not worth the qualities Edmunson could bring to the Oilers. Overall, though the ultimate decision resides in the hands of Ken and Brad Holland, Edmundson does not seem to add to the Oilers’ defensive corps sufficiently to justify the trade as the defenceman have vastly improved their play and underlying metrics in the past month since the holiday break.
All stats courtesy of Hockey-Reference.com, MoneyPuck.com, and naturalstattrick.com