First Line Forwards

Jonathan Willis
April 12 2009 01:46AM

first line

There are thirty teams in the NHL. Each team has one first line, with three forwards on it; ergo there have been ninety first-line players since the lockout. Defining a first-line player is difficult, but the most obvious requirement is offense. With that in mind, I went and researched the top ninety players by points per game since the lockout at Hockey-Reference.com.

I’ve bolded all players in the Northwest Division:

1.    Sidney Crosby: 1.37 PTS/GM T2.  Alexander Ovechkin: 1.29 PTS/GM         Joe Thornton: 1.29 PTS/GM 4.    Evgeni Malkin: 1.26 PTS/GM T5.  Daniel Alfredsson: 1.17 PTS/GM          Pavel Datsyuk: 1.17 PTS/GM          Jason Spezza: 1.17 PTS/GM 8.      Dany Heatley: 1.15 PTS/GM 9.      Marc Savard: 1.12 PTS/GM 10.   Ilya Kovalchuk: 1.11 PTS/GM T11. Marian Gaborik: 1.10 PTS/GM           Jarome Iginla: 1.10 PTS/GM           Henrik Zetterberg: 1.10 PTS/GM T14. Marian Hossa: 1.07 PTS/GM           Vincent Lecavalier: 1.07 PTS/GM           Joe Sakic: 1.07 PTS/GM 17.   Daniel Briere: 1.05 PTS/GM 18.   Teemu Selanne: 1.03 PTS/GM T19. Martin St. Louis: 1.00 PTS/GM           Eric Staal: 1.00 PTS/GM           Mats Sundin: 1.00 PTS/GM T22. Olli Jokinen: 0.96 PTS/GM           Henrik Sedin: 0.96 PTS/GM           Paul Stastny: 0.96 PTS/GM           Steve Sullivan: 0.96 PTS/GM T26. Nicklas Backstrom: 0.95 PTS/GM           Simon Gagne: 0.95 PTS/GM           Daniel Sedin: 0.95 PTS/GM           Alexander Semin: 0.95 PTS/GM T30. Patrik Elias: 0.94 PTS/GM            Paul Kariya: 0.94 PTS/GM           Ray Whitney: 0.94 PTS/GM 33.   Martin Havlat: 0.93 PTS/GM T34. Ales Hemsky: 0.92 PTS/GM           Brad Richards: 0.92 PTS/GM           Alex Tanguay: 0.92 PTS/GM 37.   Ryan Getzlaf: 0.91 PTS/GM T38. Patrick Marleau: 0.90 PTS/GM           Rick Nash: 0.90 PTS/GM 40.   Andy McDonald: 0.89 PTS/GM T41. Jason Arnott: 0.88 PTS/GM           Tim Connolly: 0.88 PTS/GM           Pavol Demitra: 0.88 PTS/GM           Patrick Kane: 0.88 PTS/GM T45. Scott Gomez: 0.87 PTS/GM           Anze Kopitar: 0.87 PTS/GM           Alexei Kovalev: 0.87 PTS/GM T48. Rod Brind’Amour: 0.86 PTS/GM           Mike Cammalleri: 0.86 PTS/GM           Michael Nylander: 0.86 PTS/GM           Derek Roy: 0.86 PTS/GM T52. Shane Doan: 0.85 PTS/GM           Mike Ribeiro: 0.85 PTS/GM           Cory Stillman: 0.85 PTS/GM            Jonathan Toews: 0.85 PTS/GM T56. Alexander Frolov: 0.84 PTS/GM           Brendan Morrow: 0.84 PTS/GM T58. Saku Koivu: 0.83 PTS/GM           Ryan Smyth: 0.83 PTS/GM T60. J.P Dumont: 0.82 PTS/GM            Slava Kozlov: 0.82 PTS/GM T62. Patrice Bergeron: 0.81 PTS/GM           Thomas Vanek: 0.81 PTS/GM T64. Brian Gionta: 0.80 PTS/GM           Jason Pominville: 0.80 PTS/GM           Brendan Shanahan: 0.80 PTS/GM 67.   Daymond Langkow: 0.79 PTS/GM T68. Andrew Brunette: 0.78 PTS/GM           Jonathan Cheechoo: 0.78 PTS/GM          Chris Drury: 0.78 PTS/GM          Shawn Horcoff: 0.78 PTS/GM          Kristian Huselius: 0.78 PTS/GM           Zach Parise: 0.78 PTS/GM T74. Maxim Afinogenov: 0.77 PTS/GM          Brad Boyes: 0.77 PTS/GM          Milan Hejduk: 0.77 PTS/GM          Vaclav Prospal: 0.77 PTS/GM          Bobby Ryan: 0.77 PTS/GM T79. Jason Blake: 0.76 PTS/GM          Mark Recchi: 0.76 PTS/GM           Mike Richards: 0.76 PTS/GM           Brian Rolston: 0.76 PTS/GM           Justin Williams: 0.76 PTS/GM T84. Erik Cole: 0.75 PTS/GM           Mike Modano: 0.75 PTS/GM 86.    Robert Lang: 0.74 PTS/GM T87. Jamie Langenbrunner: 0.73 PTS/GM            Markus Naslund: 0.73 PTS/GM T89. Keith Tkachuk: 0.72 PTS/GM           Todd Bertuzzi: 0.72 PTS/GM

This of course, is a strictly offensive metric; certain players with defensive shortcomings should be knocked down the list while players with a stronger game are correspondingly elevated. Still, everyone will have their own opinion on these guys, but one thing is for sure: since the lockout, these 90 players have been the ones most effective at putting up points.

Calgary Flames 11. Jarome Iginla: 1.10 PTS/GM 22. Olli Jokinen: 0.96 PTS/GM 48. Michael Cammalleri: 0.86 PTS/GM 67. Daymond Langkow: 0.79 PTS/GM 89. Todd Bertuzzi: 0.72 PTS/GM

Edmonton Oilers 34. Ales Hemsky: 0.92 PTS/GM 68. Shawn Horcoff: 0.78 PTS/GM

Vancouver Canucks 19. Mats Sundin: 1.00 PTS/GM 22. Henrik Sedin: 0.96 PTS/GM 26. Daniel Sedin: 0.95 PTS/GM 41. Pavol Demitra: 0.88 PTS/GM

A couple of points of interest jump out here. Starting in Calgary, the Flames are obviously very well represented with offensive firepower; they actually have two players in the top-thirty, and five players who would qualify as first-liners (based solely on offensive production).

The Oilers are a little short; their younger players haven’t shown an ability to jump up to the top line yet. Hemsky’s right on the cusp of being a top-thirty forward offensively, but the real surprise here is how Shawn Horcoff ranks. Often ridiculed as a third-line forward with little offense, his offensive production alone puts him on a first-line pace since the lockout. The clear missing piece is a scoring left winger to play with the two of them.

Vancouver looks the strongest by this measure; they have fewer players in the top-90 than Calgary, but they have three in the top-thirty. The Sedin twins are perpetually underrated, even by Canucks fans, and if Mats Sundin can recapture his form from the past few seasons they’ll be in excellent shape for a deep playoff run.

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Antony Ta
April 12 2009, 02:59AM
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Ryan Smyth is ranked higher than Horcoff. Too bad about that. :P

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#2 Ogden Brother
April 12 2009, 03:08AM
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Theirs a strange hate on for Horcoff... skewed expectations I guess, everyting thinks you need 30 goals/80 points to be a "first liner"

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#3 David S
April 12 2009, 03:32AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Theirs a strange hate on for Horcoff… skewed expectations I guess, everyting thinks you need 30 goals/80 points to be a “first liner”

That's not an unreasonable expectation for 7 >MILLION< dollars.

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#4 Ogden Brother
April 12 2009, 03:59AM
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David S wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: Theirs a strange hate on for Horcoff… skewed expectations I guess, everyting thinks you need 30 goals/80 points to be a “first liner” That’s not an unreasonable expectation for 7 >MILLION< dollars.

@ David S:

That's true, now if only his actual paycheck was relavant for the fans sake.

Why don't people get that front loading is good for the orginization? It would have been better if it was 11 for the first couple of years and 1 for the last couple of years.

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#5 Chris
April 12 2009, 08:23AM
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@ David S: I don't hate Horcoff for taking the money... I'm angry at Lowe for offering it. Horcoff: 5.5 cap hit Staios: 2.7 etc... Why don't OUR guys ever give a hometown discount?

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#6 Dan
April 12 2009, 08:37AM
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I had a problem with the money, but now Ive moved and accepted it. But if your trying to tell me that,

73 pts - 79 gms 51 pts - 80 gms 50 pts - 53 gms 53 pts - 80 gms

is first line production and its accepted, thats a bit much for me to take.

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#7 Jonathan Willis
April 12 2009, 08:55AM
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@ Dan:

It is, at least on the NHL level. This list measures offensive production only - and Horcoff's easily in the top 90.

Whetehr I did this list by points per game, total points, goals per game or total goals, Shawn Horcoff is in the top-ninety regardless.

He's a first-line player, based strictly on offensive production.

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#8 Jonathan Willis
April 12 2009, 08:55AM
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David S wrote:

That’s not an unreasonable expectation for 7 >MILLION< dollars.

5.5-million dollars. It wasn't exactly a one-year contract, David.

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#9 Jonathan Willis
April 12 2009, 08:58AM
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For example, I know the Redden contract is awful, but I don't call him an 8-million dollar player (though that was his salary this season).

He's a 6.5 million dollar player. Cap hit is the only thing that really matters.

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#10 jdrevenge
April 12 2009, 09:01AM
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@ Chris:

Considering the player Horc is 5.5 is not unreasonable at all. He was overworked bigtime this year and he even said so himself. He'll make the contract look good next year. It doesnt make sense how people keep throwing out the 7 million mark.... its going to be played up by the media but it is 5.5 over the term....

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#11 Jonathan Willis
April 12 2009, 09:06AM
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@ jdrevenge:

I'm not 100% convinced that Horcoff can cover the 5.5-million over the length of his contract, but it's nowhere near as unreasonable as some people make it out to be.

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#12 Chris
April 12 2009, 09:10AM
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@ jdrevenge: I said I don't blame Horcoff for taking the money... but he didn't exactly give the team a big discount. As for Lowe's culpability in the matter, I take issue with the 6 year term. The cap fluxuates and Horcoffs abilities will decline over the years... Who wants to spend what could be 10% (or more) of their total cap dollars on a 36 year old non-superstar player?

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#13 Chris
April 12 2009, 09:10AM
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@ Jonathan Willis: Ha! Jinx!

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#14 Taylor
April 12 2009, 09:22AM
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Jonathan.

Your efforts her to cast Horcoff as a first line player seem a little strained. Of course, he's a first line player for the obvious reason that's the role the Oilers have cast him in and given him the minutes that go with the position including a ton of PP time where he should be piling up points.

The real question is can the Oilers be successful when their top 2 offensive players rank 34th and 68th out of 90?

I think that can be answered by looking at the Oilers record while Horcoff has been playing that role.

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#15 Chris
April 12 2009, 09:24AM
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I don't want to sound like DeepOil but, does anyone else find it odd that shortly after Katz took over- big contracts were offered to players who spend quality time with Katz personally? (For example: Horcoff and Laraque) Seems to me that it's unliklely that Lowe was solely reponsible for offering Georges a four year deal; specially condidering that Lowe didn't even offer Georges the league minimum after the 06 cup run... Do we really want Laraque's gymn buddy intervening in player contract negotiations or player procurement decisions? Does Katz possess a finer hockey mind than most of the fans who post here? If Tambellini is a puppet: Are we really sure who is pulling the strings?

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#16 Milli
April 12 2009, 09:26AM
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I sure hope he can, remember last year, prior to injury, how he would slide into the soft spot and nail the one timer. He just never seemed to find his rythm. Also, I don't think he should be used as a shut down guy as much as he has been. WE need help at center.

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#17 Archaeologuy
April 12 2009, 09:34AM
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I cant question the numbers you've provided, they do not lie. My only problem with the numbers is that I think a comparison of point production by centres only and point production per salary would be more helpful for Oiler fans to judge just where horc stands. Plus, now that Horc has had shoulder surgery I think it's fair to question if he can even get back to his "good" seasons. His ppg this season would have put him right out of the top 90 players.

And the guy's salary does matter to the average fan now. In the old NHL it really didnt matter to the fan aside from giving us something to roll our eyes at. However, now the devoted fan (redundant) looks at the cap and salaries and wonders, "how will we re-sign X player if the Cap goes down?", "who will take on that salary in a trade?" Now more than ever Horc cant pull that BS excuse that he has intagibles which qualify him to be paid like a 40 goal scorer.

Also. He makes 7 million next season. When he files his taxes he doesnt list his salary as 5.5 million. As a pro athlete in a small market in a cap era he will be judged against whichever number is highest, either his actual paycheck or his Cap hit. Fair or not, it doesnt matter.

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#18 Jonathan Willis
April 12 2009, 09:42AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Also. He makes 7 million next season. When he files his taxes he doesnt list his salary as 5.5 million. As a pro athlete in a small market in a cap era he will be judged against whichever number is highest, either his actual paycheck or his Cap hit. Fair or not, it doesnt matter.

Which is garbage. His actual salary doesn't matter to Daryl Katz - the Oilers are still going to make money. His cap hit is what does matter; looking at the one year figure is just an excuse for people who want to be as negative as possible, regardless of whether their pessimism is based in reality.

It shows somebody has an axe to grind, which is fine, but it makes it more difficult to take them seriously because they've got their conclusion and the facts be damned.

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#19 Jonathan Willis
April 12 2009, 09:44AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

My only problem with the numbers is that I think a comparison of point production by centres only and point production per salary would be more helpful for Oiler fans to judge just where horc stands.

As far as point production vs. salary goes, Horcoff's rating actually improves. He was only making about 1MM in 2005-06, and he's made 3.6MM/season in the years since.

He's been one of the best bargains in the National Hockey League over the past four seasons.

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#20 RobTheGeek
April 12 2009, 09:44AM
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The issue I have with PPG is not that it is a "strictly offensive metric" - that SHOULD define first line players. No, the issue I have is that the denominator is "games played".

I think a players points should always be divided by 82. A player that only plays 70 games at .91 PPG is not as valuable as player scoring .89 but for the whole season.

The oilers struggle not just in enough first line scorers. Neither Hemsky or Horcoff have EVER played an 82 game season. And whats worse, this year our "#2" was outscored by a defense man!

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#21 Jonathan Willis
April 12 2009, 09:46AM
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Taylor wrote:

Your efforts her to cast Horcoff as a first line player seem a little strained. Of course, he’s a first line player for the obvious reason that’s the role the Oilers have cast him in and given him the minutes that go with the position including a ton of PP time where he should be piling up points. The real question is can the Oilers be successful when their top 2 offensive players rank 34th and 68th out of 90? I think that can be answered by looking at the Oilers record while Horcoff has been playing that role.

I actually wasn't looking to cast Horcoff as anything; I gloated a little when I saw his name there but this was an effort to figure out what sort of offensive production a first-line forward is supposed to provide in general - it wasn't specific to Horcoff.

Secondly, if time and opportunity are all it takes, why isn't Dustin Penner on the list?

Thirdly, I think the real question isn't the one you've asked. The real question is: can the Oilers be successful with only two second-line players?

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#22 Jonathan Willis
April 12 2009, 09:50AM
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@ RobTheGeek:

Shawn Horcoff ranks 67th in total points since the lockout; that's one spot higher than where he placed on this list.

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#23 Archaeologuy
April 12 2009, 09:52AM
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@ Jonathan Willis: I agree. Based on his previous salary that was true. Only time will tell if his can "live up" to his next salary, but I have VERY strong doubts.

As far as his Paycheck/Cap hit, well it's just a reality of being a high profile individual with full discloser regarding pay. We're in the midst of a global recession where people cant find jobs or arent getting paid like they used to. Horc signed on the dotted line at the perfect time and now his public image will suffer. I have no doubt that before the end of his Contract he will have been run out of town harsher than Tom Poti.

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#24 Jonathan Willis
April 12 2009, 09:52AM
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Switching to total points rather than points per game, not only does Horcoff move up one spot, but Ales Hemsky moves up 6, to #28 overall.

I use points-per-game because I think it is a fairer measure, but if you guys would prefer total points, it just reinforces the fact that both Hemsky and Horcoff are first-line players.

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#25 Jonathan Willis
April 12 2009, 09:53AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Thirdly, I think the real question isn’t the one you’ve asked. The real question is: can the Oilers be successful with only two second-line players?

That should be "only two first-line players".

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#26 Jonathan Willis
April 12 2009, 09:54AM
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@ Archaeologuy:

So despite the fact that judging by cap hit is more reasonable, it's OK to judge by salary because people are feeling bad due to the recession?

I understand that certain folks are going to be unreasonable due to circumstances having little/nothing to do with hockey, but that doesn't make it right, it just makes them unreasonable.

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#27 Archaeologuy
April 12 2009, 09:55AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

can the Oilers be successful with only two second-line players?

Freud would have something to say here, but i dont speak German so...

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#28 Archaeologuy
April 12 2009, 10:01AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

So despite the fact that judging by cap hit is more reasonable, it’s OK to judge by salary because people are feeling bad due to the recession?

If I've learnt anything it's that people are NOT reasonable. Being a Fan by definition suggests being reasonable is not an option. I wasnt saying it's OK, I'm just saying that's how it is.

If Horc had NEVER been offered the contract we wouldnt be talking about this at all. The club gambled on Horc being much closer to a point per game player as he was last season and it didnt pay off. Not surprising given he had significant shoulder surgery and had never been a point per game before.

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#29 Archaeologuy
April 12 2009, 10:01AM
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Why does it I say I wrote that quote?

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#30 Taylor
April 12 2009, 10:06AM
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@ Jonathan

To compensate for the relatively low production of the Oilers first line, the second line would have to virtually outperform the first line.

You've pulled out the numbers for Vancouver and Calgary and each team has 4 players with better scoring rates than Horcoff. Pretty hard to come up with a second line that can make that up.

Dustin Penner was only considered a first line forward by one Kevin Lowe and I'm sure I don't need to tell you he didn't spend much time on the first line or PP this season,

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#31 Jonathan Willis
April 12 2009, 10:09AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

If I’ve learnt anything it’s that people are NOT reasonable. Being a Fan by definition suggests being reasonable is not an option. I wasnt saying it’s OK, I’m just saying that’s how it is.

I know - I didn't mean to pick on you. But when I write here, I (and I don't succeed all the time) need to be reasonable, because that's part of writing about and analyzing hockey. So when people are being demonstrably unreasonable, I don't place much stock in what they're saying.

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#32 Jonathan Willis
April 12 2009, 10:13AM
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Taylor wrote:

You’ve pulled out the numbers for Vancouver and Calgary and each team has 4 players with better scoring rates than Horcoff. Pretty hard to come up with a second line that can make that up.

And the Canucks have three guys with better scoring rates than Hemsky. Pretty tough to make that up too.

Still, it would be much, much easier to make up for where Horcoff and Hemsky slot in on this list if the team had a first-line LW, wouldn't it?

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#33 albundy
April 12 2009, 10:18AM
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George L. was a #1 kind of guy. He was great for the team and the community. I witnessed with my own eyes how he was at Rona to buy supplies and he stopped and signed every request. I just happen to be in the same place on another day when Ryan Smyth was at a store. He would NOT take the time to sign autographs for kids. This made me sick.

Bob Stauffer was right, there is lots that folks like us don't know about Ryan Smyth. He is very selfish

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#34 GSC
April 12 2009, 10:18AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Theirs a strange hate on for Horcoff… skewed expectations I guess, everyting thinks you need 30 goals/80 points to be a “first liner”

Uh...for $7 MIL next year, yes you do.

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#35 Jonathan Willis
April 12 2009, 10:23AM
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albundy wrote:

George L. was a #1 kind of guy. He was great for the team and the community. I witnessed with my own eyes how he was at Rona to buy supplies and he stopped and signed every request. I just happen to be in the same place on another day when Ryan Smyth was at a store. He would NOT take the time to sign autographs for kids. This made me sick. Bob Stauffer was right, there is lots that folks like us don’t know about Ryan Smyth. He is very selfish

And there you are folks. If you have a career in the NHL, you too can have your entire life evaluated by one time that "albundy" saw you at RONA.

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#36 Dan
April 12 2009, 10:23AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Taylor wrote: You’ve pulled out the numbers for Vancouver and Calgary and each team has 4 players with better scoring rates than Horcoff. Pretty hard to come up with a second line that can make that up. And the Canucks have three guys with better scoring rates than Hemsky. Pretty tough to make that up too. Still, it would be much, much easier to make up for where Horcoff and Hemsky slot in on this list if the team had a first-line LW, wouldn’t it?

The only problem with that is the first line LW that we'd need is Kovalchuk to make up all those points we are losing out on. If the Oilers decide that want Kotalik back then its Horcoff we will need to improve on the first line.

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#37 Archaeologuy
April 12 2009, 10:24AM
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@ Jonathan Willis: No Problem, I dont consider these back and forths "picking on me". I understand your plight. Being reasonable in an unreasonable land is a difficult task. I took my logic class, Ive had to do some advanced thinkery before, thats why I like your perspective.

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#38 albundy
April 12 2009, 10:28AM
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Hey dude, why not you share your stories with us little people. At least I'm not afraid to call it the way it is. Please ask Bob Stauffer about Ryan Smyth, bet ya he will tell you same sort of info. @ Jonathan Willis:

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#39 Jonathan Willis
April 12 2009, 10:30AM
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Dan wrote:

If the Oilers decide that want Kotalik back then its Horcoff we will need to improve on the first line.

Did you see Kotalik on that list? He's never been a first line LW except in a few people's minds.

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#40 Dan
April 12 2009, 10:32AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Dan wrote: If the Oilers decide that want Kotalik back then its Horcoff we will need to improve on the first line. Did you see Kotalik on that list? He’s never been a first line LW except in a few people’s minds.

Kotalik is a very realistic option to come back whether you like it or not.

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#41 Jonathan Willis
April 12 2009, 10:32AM
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albundy wrote:

Hey dude, why not you share your stories with us little people. At least I’m not afraid to call it the way it is.

I didn't say don't share your stories (although they aren't exactly on topic and you tend to bring up the same sort of muck-raking every time you post, no matter what the discussion's about), but do you see the humour in summing up a person's life from one encounter at RONA?

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#42 Rick
April 12 2009, 10:33AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

And the Canucks have three guys with better scoring rates than Hemsky. Pretty tough to make that up too.

That's the rub though, isn't it?

I don't think there are many fans that don't see that Horcoff is a good hockey player. That is not the issue.

The argument is if he is a good 1st line center.

He may slot into the rankings, in this case for PPG, as a 1st line center league wide but having the worst first line center in the NW is just that...the worst.

Where the argument becomes even more frustrating is that his contract pretty much demands he is going to be in that role for the forseeable future. That's why there is so much angst over the contract. It's less about what it means to Horcoff specifically and more about how it will handcuff the team going forward, particularily with the cap uncertainty.

It makes it difficult to see how the Oilers can get marketably better in the next few years when they are willing to settle for a middle of the pack top line player as opposed to moving heaven and earth to find a truly top center. First line center is the most important position in your group of forwards. Settling for a middle of the road player at that position is setting your team up as a middle of the road performer.

If Horcoff is your 2nd line center then your team is likely very very good. But he isn't at their not.

And it isn't all on his shoulders, he is just such an obvious example of why this organization has ended up in the weeds.

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#43 Jonathan Willis
April 12 2009, 10:33AM
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Dan wrote:

Kotalik is a very realistic option to come back whether you like it or not.

He's a realistic option to come back, sure. But he's also unlikely to be the answer at LW on the first line whether you like it or not.

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#44 Jonathan Willis
April 12 2009, 10:35AM
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Rick wrote:

He may slot into the rankings, in this case for PPG, as a 1st line center league wide but having the worst first line center in the NW is just that…the worst.

2nd worst - Minnesota doesn't have a better one on this list (although Koivu may eventually show up).

You'll get no argument from me that this would be a better team with more scoring; for example, if Sam Gagner got to the point where he could score a bunch. I do find it amusing that seeing two names in the the top-90 scorers in the NHL, Oilers fans chose to attack the second name rather than wonder why there isn't a third.

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#45 Dan
April 12 2009, 10:40AM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

Sure he is, as long as Horcoff isn't the center.

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#46 Jonathan Willis
April 12 2009, 10:42AM
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Dan wrote:

Sure he is, as long as Horcoff isn’t the center.

Than why wasn't he in Buffalo?

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#47 Jonathan Willis
April 12 2009, 10:44AM
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Or, to borrow from my favourite sitcom, this is how Sheldon would say it:

[Ales Kotalik]'s inability to successfully [be a first-line player] long predates his acquisition of [Shawn Horcoff as his centre]. No, that failure clearly stands on its own.

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#48 Dan
April 12 2009, 10:50AM
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It's all about players fitting. All they gave him was his PP shot from the point and that was about it. Right now, unless we are getting Kovalchuk, Kotalik is as good an option as any. It gives Hemsky an off wing shooter, big body and some versatility as well. Now all that line would need is a net crasher, someone who skates from goal to goal, and I'm not sure Horcoff is the right guy for that since he does play a ton, and that role would require a ton of skating. Cogliano this year would have done well in a pinch but ultimately I'd be hoping we could get someone bigger, say a Nathan Horton type.

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#49 Archaeologuy
April 12 2009, 10:53AM
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@ Jonathan Willis: Big Bang Theory?

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#50 Jonathan Willis
April 12 2009, 10:54AM
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Dan wrote:

Right now, unless we are getting Kovalchuk, Kotalik is as good an option as any. It gives Hemsky an off wing shooter, big body and some versatility as well.

It gives Hemsky a guy who has a) never played tough opposition and b) has topped 45 points once since the lockout.

Unless you assume that Lindy Ruff is an idiot, it seems pretty clear that Ales Kotalik can't generate enough offense to hang on to a first-line centre spot. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Penner and Kotalik got virtually the same even-strength ice-time, and Penner was miles better. Their point production at even-strength, relative to ice-time, isn't even close.

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