Edmonton Oilers hire analytics expert Tyler Dellow

Jonathan Willis
August 05 2014 11:07AM

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If you’re like me, Tyler Dellow’s website mc79hockey.com is a must-read. Or, at least, it was a must-read. The site went down last night, and this morning TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported that Dellow had been hired by an NHL team.

That NHL team? Apparently the Edmonton Oilers.

McKenzie

Smart

This is an awfully smart move for the Oilers, both in the general and specific sense.

In the general sense, this shows that Edmonton is open to seriously embracing analytics. What I wrote about the New Jersey Devils when they hired Sunny Mehta back in June applies just as fully now to the Oilers:

In a league where teams are constantly looking for a competitive advantage, this is a good gamble by the Devils. The money involved in hiring Mehta is certainly only a drop in the bucket for an organization like New Jersey, and he’ll provide them with something that to date no other NHL team has. Many NHL teams pay lip service to analytics. The Devils have paid money.

There is no downside to adding a full-time employee in this role. The cost is negligible, and the data can be awfully useful.

In the specific sense, the Oilers landed one of the true pioneers in this field, a man who was not only there at the very beginning when it was just half a dozen people trading ideas in a dimly lit corner of the internet, but also one of the very few still doing high-level, original work.

Dellow combined analytics with video in a way that nobody else I know did, and parsed the NHL’s play-by-play data to find things that were going underneath the radar of even sites like BehindtheNet.ca and ExtraSkater.com.

Brilliant and original, Dellow was (particularly with the hiring of Eric Tulsky earlier this summer) the best analytics guy with work in the public domain. He’s a fantastic hire for Edmonton.

Update:

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including the Edmonton Journal, Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.