Putting Josh Archibald in the Edmonton Oilers squad is overrated

Josh Archibald is said to have obtained medical relief and is now able to travel, and be available to play, for Edmonton Oilers in the United States.

That was the case on Wednesday after the morning ski that saw Archibald slip on the Oilers’ third line alongside Ryan Nugent Hopkins and Derek Ryan, Jay Woodcroft said.

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The Oilers were so preoccupied with whether they could get Archibald into the games, they didn’t stop to think if they should.

It looks like before match three the Oilers are preparing to make him a regular in the squad, but you have to ask why. Archibald has played in just eight games for the team this year and the results have not, in any sense of the term, been favorable to him.

2021-2, forward >50 TOI at 5 x 5 CF% (CF% rel) GF% (GF% Rel) xGF%(xGF%rel) PDO
Archibald 39.33 (-14.55) 33.33 (-30.95) 31.66 (-24.15) 100.8

Of all the key stats mentioned above, Archibald is the Edmonton Oilers’ worst player. If you want to point out his limited game, you can do so, but Archibald’s base numbers were well below average over his three-year time in Edmonton.

During that time, he was among the comparatively worse off statistically for his teammates. When it comes to playing 5×5 throughout his time in Edmonton, nearly every player has had worse results on the ice with Archibald, than without him.

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It’s also important to note the amount of drag Archibald has had with Nugent Hopkins over the past three years as well.

RNH w/ Archibald 114:13 38.81 0-7 / 0% 34.85 90.07
RNH w/o Archibald 1419: 55 50.79 54.69 53.5

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has had some troubles in recent years, which is pretty obvious, but playing with Archibald has made him all the more impactful. So immediately on the jump, the Oilers didn’t put him on the ice expecting to win any of the stat battles with him on the ice, goals included.

“But Zach, Josh Archibald is a physical player! He puts on the body and is one of the best penalty shooters when he’s healthy!”

You can definitely use this combo. Among all the Oilers with over 50 TOIs at 5×5, the Oilers leads in hits/60 with 27.04. It is undoubtedly a physical presence on the ice.

In terms of his ability to kill, there was not much to write about. According to hockeyviz.com, the Oilers concede nine per cent of the expected goals against a penalty kick with Archibald on the ice, more than without him.

Now that we’ve defined what Archibald is and what it isn’t, we need to take a look at the first game against the Los Angeles Kings. While there were an amazing 78 scores scored in the game I think the number is pretty high compared to the game itself, the Oilers put 40 against 38 Kings. There haven’t been big moments where physical play has rocked the game either. Sure, Zack Kassian did a few big hits along the boards, but that was it. So Archibald won’t do much in terms of swaying the game’s physicality, since there isn’t much in the first place.

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Second, if you’re in the camp feeling Archibald is a great penalty shooter, there’s really nothing to fix as Oilers BK was perfect Monday night 4/4 against the Kings. They did not allow a single goal and while they allowed 10 shots against them, only four shot attempts came from high-risk areas. Edmonton has done a tremendous job of limiting things to the outside.

Last year in the playoffs in Game Three against the Winnipeg Jets, a low kick on Logan Stanley landed him in the penalty area, and he was suspended in Game Four. The Oilers were up 4-1 in that match, and Gates scored in the subsequent power play opportunity and ended up coming back to win that match.

Overall, I find it hard to see the value Archibald could add to tonight’s squad for game two, and I can’t help but feel the Oilers coaching staff overthinking things by making him play any game at all. It doesn’t address any of the issues the Oilers had in the first game, and quite frankly, it’s a liability on the ice.

If you want him to play, just put him in fourth row with Zach Cassian. Have them limit it to six or seven easy minutes each night as it can be a physical burden. Anything else is meaningless.

Let’s hope you prove me wrong.

Zach Ling is the news director and columnist for the Nation Network. He can be followed on Twitter at Tweet embedor via email at [email protected]

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