If You Weren’t Feeling Bad Enough…

Jonathan Willis
December 29 2009 04:52PM

One of the few North American professional teams performing worse than the Edmonton Oilers right now are the Springfield Falcons, Edmonton’s AHL affiliate. Mired in a 15-game losing streak, they’re only two games away from going winless in December.

For folks looking for a positive take, skip to the end.

Injuries and recalls haven’t helped matters. Since Devan Dubnyk joined the Oilers, the team has alternated between backup Aaron Sorochan (.871 SV%, fail), ECHL goaltender Andrew Perugini (.874 SV%, fail) and 2005 Ducks’ draftee J-P Levasseur (.878 SV%, fail). With Dubnyk in Springfield, the Falcons are one game over .500. With Dubnyk gone, the Falcons are 1-15.

Other players who have missed significant time one way or the other include Chris Minard, Liam Reddox, Taylor Chorney, Theo Peckham, and Dean Arsene. That’s a pretty significant list of veterans.

Still, this isn’t something that can be pegged on missing players. The goaltending has certainly been the biggest problem, but other issues abound. For example:

  • Liam Reddox, who played 46 NHL games last year, has eight points and a minus-14 rating through 27 games. The latter number is the worst of any Springfield forward.
  • One player on the team is in double digits in goals, and Colton Fretter has 9 of his 14 on the power play. Nobody on the team can score at even-strength.
  • Ryan Potulny, who played all of 14 games with the Falcons, sits ninth among forwards in goals (3) and seventh in points (8); the latter number is as many as Ryan O’Marra has managed all season.
  • There isn’t a single forward on the team who could accurately be labeled a prospect.

That’s just the forwards. On defence, there’s one bright spot: Theo Peckham. Aside from that, it’s a mess. Just for fun, let’s look at the Springfield defense corps by plus/minus. For further laughs, we’ll project those numbers over 82 games.

  • Theo Peckham: +4
  • Johan Motin: -6
  • Jake Taylor: -17
  • Dean Arsene: -21
  • Alex Plante: -23
  • Chris Armstrong: -24
  • Cody Wild: -30
  • Matt Nickerson: -30
  • Taylor Chorney: -103

Johan Motin’s been an occasional healthy scratch and is probably being worked in slowly. Aside from him, the list includes good (Peckham), bad (Taylor) to worse (Nickerson) and simply awful (Chorney). In fairness to Chorney, he’s only played a dozen games and he’s probably playing tough opponents, but I see no reason to believe that last year’s team-worst minus-29 was a fluke. In 95 professional games, Taylor Chorney now has a minus-54 rating.

THE END: Devan Dubnyk and Theo Peckham have promising NHL careers, based on their AHL performance this season.

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Jonathan Willis is Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
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#1 Chris.
December 29 2009, 04:54PM
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Is it time to read Old Mother Hubbard?

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#2 Jodes
December 29 2009, 05:14PM
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Geez.. it just gets better and better doesn't it?

Jon, how much do you think NOT having a farm team for those 3-4 seasons (or was it longer) have impacted Springfield today?

If there's no glimmer of hope in even the farm kids? What's that to say for the Oilers future?

Looking bleak gotta say..

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#3 Woogie
December 29 2009, 05:14PM
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Great signs to come. I can't wait for next season already and this one has not ended yet.

Bangs head on desk and yells "why must the Oilers be my favorite team.... WHY!"

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#4 Original Ogden Brother
December 29 2009, 05:15PM
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Sounds like a carbon copy of the big team. Take away the best couple of players from a very average team and you've got a cealler dweller.

On the bright side, I don't think the AHL is quiete the development league it used to be. Players seem to be hitting the NHL sooner (ie guys that would have 1-2 years in the AHL and then move to the NHL at age 21/22 are now starting in the NHL at 20(ish) and with the emergence of NCAA, Europe and Russia, you are seeing more high end prospects elsewhere.

The AHL is more of a developmental league for your 3rd/4th liners (which you can easily pick up in the summer or even on waivers), and without any reaserch put into it, I'd bet even the strongest AHL teams don't have more then 2-3 guys that will ever have an NHL career (more then 200-300 games anways)

Sucks that they suck, but I doubt it will have much affect on the big team.

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#5 Original Ogden Brother
December 29 2009, 05:34PM
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Lets bump that up to more then 3-4 guys.

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#6 Harlie
December 29 2009, 05:43PM
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it really looks like Coaching doesn't mean a damn thing. They put Daum in Springfield last year because we couldn't buy a win and we stunk out the joint most nights and that's exactly what is going down this year. And the big club everyone knows the story on but the same sheet applies. So what is the value of a Coach anyways? And yes, I know the Pittsburgh story.

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#7 Racki
December 29 2009, 05:44PM
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JW:

You might want to recheck your record with/wo Doobie. The Falcons have yet to win one yet, since Dubnyk was recalled (unless you're crediting a win to a game played while he was there, but with another goalie in net.. if that happened). They've got a few OTL and SOL since his recall but zero wins. Pretty scary stuff.. the fate of the Oiler universe rests on your shoulders, Olivier!

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#10 Harlie
December 29 2009, 05:51PM
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@Jonathan Willis

haha you and I would be both fighting for last spot. But it does make a guy wonder. It's not the trainer so much as it's the horse he rides.

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#11 Sandra
December 29 2009, 05:53PM
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Way to go Kevin Lowe.

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#12 Racki
December 29 2009, 06:28PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Racki:

I was looking at the combined record of the other goalies. Sorochan has the lone win.

Ahh I see. Either way, pretty sad state of affairs, our goaltending situation. I actually was hoping the Oilers would have drafted Jacob Markstrom a couple of years ago. It turned out, we drafted Jordan Eberle instead, and that is looking to be a good choice obviously (although Markstrom could possibly still have been an awesome choice, I'm definitely happy they picked Eberle).

Here's to hoping that Olivier Roy is all that and a bag of chips.

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#13 Archaeologuy
December 29 2009, 06:31PM
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The highest touted prospects for the Oilers are outside of the AHL, it's no surprise the Falcons are in such a state. Not to mention the Top Goalie and top forward are out (with the Oil). They almost exactly mirror the big club's problems on an AHL level.

The Oilers have done a pretty terrible job convincing their draft picks that a NHL position is only 1 shoulder injury away. It's really a shame that the Oilers have failed so completely at selling the value of the AHL to their top tier talent.

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#14 RossCreekNation
December 29 2009, 06:33PM
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@Racki

Here's to hoping that Olivier Roy is all that and a bag of chips.

Jeez, I hope you didn't bet the farm on it.

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#15 RossCreekNation
December 29 2009, 06:35PM
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@Jonathan Willis

Where do you stand on Dubnyk? I know you think he's the more promising of the two, but wouldn't it be beneficial to keep him in Springfield to continue his development (and obviously help out the farm team in the process)? Should they not be looking at any veteran journeyman netminder to back up Deslauriers?

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#17 Sandra
December 29 2009, 07:23PM
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What ever happened to the Josh Harding rumour?

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#18 RossCreekNation
December 29 2009, 07:30PM
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@Jonathan Willis

I was thinking more like a cheap journeyman a la Johan Hedberg. Might make OK'n'PT happy?

And its not so much the winning of games (up here or down on the farm, although the latter would be nice), but making sure Dubnyk sees a lot of rubber on a daily basis (on a crappy farm team).

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#19 OilBaron
December 29 2009, 07:48PM
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Goaltending is the biggest problem when this team can't score? But, who can't defend and is giving up a ton of shots? You have a defensive core who's plus/minus is Armstrong -7, Wild -8, Chorney -16 (13 games), Peckham +1 (20 games), Taylor -7, Plante -9, Motin -2, and Arsene -6 that is -54. But it's biggest problem is goaltending?

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#22 Jay
December 29 2009, 08:32PM
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Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse... Rob Schremp scores the game-winning shoot-out goal for the Islanders!

Rob Schremp Hockey Lives!!! lol. :)

cheer up everyone!

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#23 Jay
December 29 2009, 08:36PM
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Even Dan Tencer's already talking about a top-five pick on his radio show tonight being the best thing for this franchise. I'm not sure how connected he actually is, but it may indicated that management's on-board with the dive 4 five too.

We're half way through this season already almost. It's still going to be a long wait to watch decent Oilers hockey again.

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#24 RossCreekNation
December 29 2009, 08:53PM
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Jay wrote:

Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse... Rob Schremp scores the game-winning shoot-out goal for the Islanders!

Rob Schremp Hockey Lives!!! lol. :)

cheer up everyone!

Well Robbie Schremp, congratulations on scoring the final goal of the decade in the Nassau Coliseum.

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#25 OilBaron
December 29 2009, 09:34PM
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You mean the team was winning games with Potulny and Minard scoring and a full line up. Your agenda is clear.

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#26 Senator Theo
December 29 2009, 10:16PM
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Harlie wrote:

haha you and I would be both fighting for last spot. But it does make a guy wonder. It's not the trainer so much as it's the horse he rides.

...and the jockey, right? ;)

On another note, Hall looked pretty sweet tonight. >Df5

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#27 dunciano
December 29 2009, 10:31PM
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Harlie wrote:

it really looks like Coaching doesn't mean a damn thing. They put Daum in Springfield last year because we couldn't buy a win and we stunk out the joint most nights and that's exactly what is going down this year. And the big club everyone knows the story on but the same sheet applies. So what is the value of a Coach anyways? And yes, I know the Pittsburgh story.

As long as he develops prospects.

That's what really matters.

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#29 Librarian Mike
December 29 2009, 11:00PM
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@Jonathan Willis

Don't forget about your agenda to get Moreau stripped of his captaincy, which puts you in cahoots with...oh...everybody else.

What a depressing season.

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#30 RossCreekNation
December 29 2009, 11:11PM
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@Librarian Mike

How was The Pint last night? I think you're the only one to make it on to the net today.

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#32 Chad
December 29 2009, 11:21PM
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On a positive note - can anybody guess which two players are tied for the tournament scoring lead at the world juniors?

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#33 srbuhr
December 29 2009, 11:28PM
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So two of the oilers top prospects are leading scorers at World Juniors - really so what. Its a big jump from junior to the NHL and dont expect Eberle and Svenson to save the team. Springfield is the sorry mess of poor drafts for ever, not the depletion of talent to the big team. It will be a long time I fear before the Oilers will be a top tier team.

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#34 Crash
December 29 2009, 11:45PM
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Chad wrote:

On a positive note - can anybody guess which two players are tied for the tournament scoring lead at the world juniors?

I've watched all the games and what I don't understand is whoever keeps track of the stats is making mistakes....in Canada's first game Eberle assisted on a goal by Kadri but wasn't given credit originally...the scoring change did happen sometime during the second period and was announced in the building giving Eberle the assist he earned yet after the game and since that assist wasn't credited to him....so in actual fact he really has 9 points and is the outright leader....

but who knows there may be other mistakes..lol

No big deal but I thought it was food for thought

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#35 Librarian Mike
December 29 2009, 11:52PM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

How was The Pint last night? I think you're the only one to make it on to the net today.

I didn't go too hardcore like the rest of them, but it was lots of fun. You should come out for one of those things. I'd back you up even though you're a stinkin' Flames fan. ;)

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#36 RossCreekNation
December 30 2009, 12:09AM
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@Librarian Mike

Who's a bigger degenerate - Dakin or jeanshorts? (I mean that in a good way, if that's possible)

Who was the 4th? (Hoodlum, right?) Or was their more?

I may yet come out to one of these events. I'm sure it'd be a blast.

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#37 Librarian Mike
December 30 2009, 12:42AM
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@RossCreekNation

I'm pretty sure Dakin and Hoodlum could close down any bar they chose. That said, Jeanshorts did have a small naked manservant following him around with a tray of beer balanced on his head so I'd call it about even.

Seriously though, real nice guys. There were a bunch of others but for the life of me I can't remember their names. They were cool too, and one of them was even cheering for the Flames (although that might have been a DFF move).

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#38 Wanye
December 30 2009, 02:23AM
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"There isn’t a single forward on the team who could accurately be labeled a prospect." - JW

That's twice in a week your words have almost left me in tears. Honestly Willis what ARE we going to do with you?

*wonders if there is ever going to be any joy again in Mudville*

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#39 Wanye
December 30 2009, 02:25AM
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Jodes wrote:

Geez.. it just gets better and better doesn't it?

Jon, how much do you think NOT having a farm team for those 3-4 seasons (or was it longer) have impacted Springfield today?

If there's no glimmer of hope in even the farm kids? What's that to say for the Oilers future?

Looking bleak gotta say..

You have hit the nail on the head Jodes. Not having a farm team for that length of time is inexcusable and we now see the reprecussions.

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#40 fatso
December 30 2009, 02:34AM
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so does Springfield get a first overall pick if their last?, like the NHL

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#41 Matt.N
December 30 2009, 07:58AM
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On the bright side, the other Oilers professional affiliated team in the ECHL (Stockton Thunder) is not the worst team in the league. They are in a 3 way tie for 3rd worst with Trenton and Las Vegas.

So, we have that going for us.

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#42 madjam
December 30 2009, 09:25AM
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Oilers have Svensson and Riley Nash that might be capable of handling the size and rigors of NHL next season . Most of others are a long ways away or dimimutive once again !! Oilers have got to draft some size and grit with at least some skillset much better than the sized players they have already in system . If they don't replace upper management (the major problem ), i doubt we will see any improvement for years to come .

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#43 Ambassador humantorch
December 30 2009, 09:54AM
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Please, someone in Edmonton do me a favor and drive over to the Oilers office, find Kevin Lowe, and kick him in the junk.

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#44 Clarkenstein
December 30 2009, 10:57AM
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Lowe is in Saskatoon with the Oly group trying to look important. Can you imagine those other guys...Yzerman, Holland, Ruff etc. saying "what the hell is this douche doing here"? Hopefully he will be the end of the F.O.G. group!! Phoenix gets a coach and is 2 pts. out of first place overall in the NHL!! 2 Points!!!

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#45 JonnyOil
December 30 2009, 11:00AM
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Ambassador humantorch wrote:

Please, someone in Edmonton do me a favor and drive over to the Oilers office, find Kevin Lowe, and kick him in the junk.

He's in Saskatoon.

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#46 Canadian Maniac
December 30 2009, 11:13AM
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Ambassador humantorch wrote:

Please, someone in Edmonton do me a favor and drive over to the Oilers office, find Kevin Lowe, and kick him in the junk.

I'm in Regina, let me get on some heavy boots and hop in the car, it would be so cathartic.

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#47 Bucknuck
December 30 2009, 11:56AM
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Springfield is awfully thin, but that is largely because many of the prospects went directly to the big club or are in other leagues: Dubnyk, Stone, Potulny, Gagner, MPS, Ladner, Eberle, Omark, Nash. I think the draft has been largely successful since the year they drafted Hemsky. there are some pretty exciting young players coming up the ranks.

Look at all the NHL calibre players they have drafted since 2001: Hemsky, Markkanen, Stoll, Greene, Deslauriers, Stortini, Brodziak, JF Jacques, Pouliot, Gagner and Cogliano. Even much maligned Schremp is now full time on an NHL roster.

The scouting isn't the problem IMO, it's asset management and team balancing that has been the issue since Ryan Smyth and Chris Pronger left town. Stoll and Greene for Visnovsky was a great trade, but now you have two holes in the lineup that need to be plugged: faceoffs and grit. A soon to be FA Cole for young up and comer Osullivan looked like a good trade, but where is Cole's hitting going to come from? Those weaknesses were never filled, and there were plenty of young skilled wingers that could have been traded to fill those holes.

The inability of management to fill glaring holes in the roster is inexcusable, and I don't blame Lowe for that since he showed us in 2006 he knows how to fill holes, and now that the Dustin Penner offer sheet is looking like a good replacement for Smytty.

I blame Tambellini.

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#48 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
December 30 2009, 12:04PM
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Bucknuck wrote:

Springfield is awfully thin, but that is largely because many of the prospects went directly to the big club or are in other leagues: Dubnyk, Stone, Potulny, Gagner, MPS, Ladner, Eberle, Omark, Nash. I think the draft has been largely successful since the year they drafted Hemsky. there are some pretty exciting young players coming up the ranks.

Look at all the NHL calibre players they have drafted since 2001: Hemsky, Markkanen, Stoll, Greene, Deslauriers, Stortini, Brodziak, JF Jacques, Pouliot, Gagner and Cogliano. Even much maligned Schremp is now full time on an NHL roster.

The scouting isn't the problem IMO, it's asset management and team balancing that has been the issue since Ryan Smyth and Chris Pronger left town. Stoll and Greene for Visnovsky was a great trade, but now you have two holes in the lineup that need to be plugged: faceoffs and grit. A soon to be FA Cole for young up and comer Osullivan looked like a good trade, but where is Cole's hitting going to come from? Those weaknesses were never filled, and there were plenty of young skilled wingers that could have been traded to fill those holes.

The inability of management to fill glaring holes in the roster is inexcusable, and I don't blame Lowe for that since he showed us in 2006 he knows how to fill holes, and now that the Dustin Penner offer sheet is looking like a good replacement for Smytty.

I blame Tambellini.

Amen

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#49 SquidRx
December 30 2009, 12:34PM
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Bucknuck beat me to the same thought process. I think the Falcon's record is indicitive of the fact that the best prospects in the system are not playing there. Eberle and MPS as the best two examples. I think there is still some deciding to complete on Nash, Wild, Petry, Lander, etc. Are the Falcon's a better team with any of these players on the roster? Maybe Eberle and MPS never end up playing there anyway. I don't have the answers I am just throwing my thoughts into the collective bucket.

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#50 Pajamah
December 30 2009, 01:34PM
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SquidRx wrote:

Bucknuck beat me to the same thought process. I think the Falcon's record is indicitive of the fact that the best prospects in the system are not playing there. Eberle and MPS as the best two examples. I think there is still some deciding to complete on Nash, Wild, Petry, Lander, etc. Are the Falcon's a better team with any of these players on the roster? Maybe Eberle and MPS never end up playing there anyway. I don't have the answers I am just throwing my thoughts into the collective bucket.

That's like saying our record is indicative of Heatley, Hossa, Jagr not being here

A teams record can't be indicative of pieces they don't / have never had

their record is indicative of their talent level, based on the team they ice on any given night. Now if you want to say it's indicative of not having Dubnyk,Potulny etc. I'd give you that

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