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 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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#51 Jonathan Willis
April 12 2009, 10:54AM
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@ Archaeologuy:

It's a great show.

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#52 me
April 12 2009, 10:59AM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

Also are those same people going to adjust their stance when his salary goes down.

No, they will use the cap hit.

Using the 7 million dollar mark is just wrong as you said. The only number that matters is the 5.5 million.

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#53 Archaeologuy
April 12 2009, 11:01AM
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@ Jonathan Willis: Best episode ever...when Leonard's mom came to visit. I almost wet my pants that episode. Good Times.

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#54 Jonathan Willis
April 12 2009, 11:03AM
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@ Archaeologuy:

The bit where she tells Wolowitz and Raj that they're in an "ersatz homosexual relationship" was pure gold.

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#55 Taylor
April 12 2009, 11:03AM
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@ Jonathan Willis: Perhaps it's because the fans would like their team to be successful.

Relying on a 19 year old to lead you out of the wilderness is a bit of a stretch and the results can clearly be seen by checking the standings.

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#56 Rick
April 12 2009, 11:04AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

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.

Speaking for myself, there are three reasons;

1) A top 1st line center is the most critical position to fill. As I already mentioned.

2) Based on how this team is currently put together, it should be easier to move parts in and out to get another top winger.

3) In a cap world, it may be more realistic to match up pairs than put together trio's.

He is being paid as Hemsky's go to guy so looking at the LW position is as much about Horcoff's lack of production and a need to get it from somewhere else as it is the hole that exists there.

They are hancuffed at center because of the contract. The Oilers made their committment and until (I say it's impossible, but we will see) Horcoff provides full value for that contract, his position will continue to be scrutinized regardless of who is in that third spot on the top line.

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#57 Archaeologuy
April 12 2009, 11:08AM
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@ Jonathan Willis: When Leonard told the story about building a hug machine that him and his dad used my sides hurt.

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#58 Dan
April 12 2009, 11:09AM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

I don't think Ruff is an idiot, some players fit and some players don't. Its a team that already has Vanek, so what could they possibly do with Kotalik? Just like I think we underutilize O'Sullivan, he would be a perfect fit to play in Calgary to take place of Cammalleri. You can only play 12 forwards at a time but you need the right blend. We have a gaping hole on LW, and no Penner is not the answer. He's had 2 years to get his stuff together, Kotalik has had 19 games, some on the 2nd line, I think he's worth another look, if barring a significant upgrade.

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#59 Jonathan Willis
April 12 2009, 11:19AM
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Shawn Horcoff's cap hit for next year ranks 25th among forwards right now. Free agency will undoubtedly bump that further down (at a guess, Cammalleri, Havlat, Hossa, Gaborik, Koivu, Sundin, Sedin, and Sedin will all eclipse his contract) probably into the 30-35 range. So he is being overpaid relative to offensive production.

But I would argue, rather forcefully, that the issue isn't Horcoff's production - if there is an issue it's how much cap space Horcoff takes up. And it's fine to argue that he's being overpaid, because that's plausible.

But he's also clearly a first-line forward by league standards, based solely on his offensive production, and I'd say he's a top-fifty forward when you add in defensive ability (i.e. there's no way in hell Daniel Briere is a top-twenty forward).

You can argue that having Horcoff isn't enough, and you'd be right. But to argue that the Oilers are in trouble because Horcoff shouldn't be used in an offensive role, period, is inaccurate IMO.

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#60 Jonathan Willis
April 12 2009, 11:23AM
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@ Dan:

~Well then, why not try Liam Reddox?~

Off of the powerplay, where I gladly admit that Ales Kotalik is a dynamite player, he isn't a difference maker. Over the last two years, he's scored at even-strength like a third/fourth liner. Vanek or no, those aren't the kinds of numbers that instill confidence.

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#61 Rick
April 12 2009, 11:27AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

But to argue that the Oilers are in trouble because Horcoff shouldn’t be used in an offensive role, period, is inaccurate IMO.

I consider the 2nd line to still be an offensive role so I am not discounting that Horcoff can contribute in that regard, I just don't think he is the guy for THE offensive role.

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#62 Archaeologuy
April 12 2009, 11:30AM
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Perhaps the question isnt, "Does Horc produce on a 1st line level?" Maybe the question should be, "Does Horc produce on a playoff bound 1st line level?"

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#63 Dan
April 12 2009, 11:39AM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

I guess we could try Reddox, hell we could try anybody really, but Kotalik possesses a very good shot and likes to use it, thats a start. To me it sounds like you want Kovalchuk, I do too, but until then, Kotalik is here and available.

Try not to get too wrapped up in the numbers, just because one player doesn't produce for one team, doesn't mean he won't produce for another.

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#64 Jonathan Willis
April 12 2009, 11:44AM
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Dan wrote:

Try not to get too wrapped up in the numbers, just because one player doesn’t produce for one team, doesn’t mean he won’t produce for another.

That's true. But when he doesn't produce for one team over the last four seasons, it's hardly a given that he'll produce for his new team.

Past production isn't a sure-fire indicator of future production, but it is the best indication that we have. And Kotalik doesn't rate well in that light.

Yes, he's got a great shot. But it seems to me that his skating isn't great, and his awareness in all three zones could be better. He hasn't looked great on the cycle either, and while he has some size I do wonder about his grit/puck retrieval over an 82-game schedule.

All things being equal, I'd only bring him back if one of the powerplay defensemen is getting dealt, and then I'd slot him in on the second line. Otherwise I'd prefer someone like Tanguay or Kovalev, or even just running Penner/O'Sullivan one-two on left wing.

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#65 SkinnyD
April 12 2009, 11:51AM
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I love that the numbers don't lie - thanks for the enlightenment Jonathan. Bring on the LW sniper for Ales and Shawn, and not just another converted RW buddy of Ales'!

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#66 Dan
April 12 2009, 11:51AM
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@ Jonathan Willis: i wouldn't give him any more than a one year deal. Keep him hungry. We could get Tanguay or Kovalev, but I'm thinking they are looking for multi year deal and are a little too flaky for my liking and have already tasted big money. At least with Kotalik, I sense some loyalty from him, at least we have a read on him and he seems like he's really licking his chops at the thought of playing with Hemsky.

Kotalik is like Sykora, but with less flash and more grit.

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#67 Jonathan Willis
April 12 2009, 11:59AM
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Dan wrote:

Kotalik is like Sykora, but with less flash and more grit.

And also because he's actually a RW ;)

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#68 Ogden Brother
April 12 2009, 12:03PM
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Rick wrote:

Jonathan Willis wrote: 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. Speaking for myself, there are three reasons; 1) A top 1st line center is the most critical position to fill. As I already mentioned. 2) Based on how this team is currently put together, it should be easier to move parts in and out to get another top winger. 3) In a cap world, it may be more realistic to match up pairs than put together trio’s. He is being paid as Hemsky’s go to guy so looking at the LW position is as much about Horcoff’s lack of production and a need to get it from somewhere else as it is the hole that exists there. They are hancuffed at center because of the contract. The Oilers made their committment and until (I say it’s impossible, but we will see) Horcoff provides full value for that contract, his position will continue to be scrutinized regardless of who is in that third spot on the top line.

I seriously don't get this, expectations are so out of whack for 5.5 million "if he provides full value for that contract" based on scoring #'s vs where he lines up in the centers cap hit, he likly wont even need 70 points/year over the next couple of years to provide "full value".

These are not unrealistic expectations for him.

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#69 rickithebear
April 12 2009, 12:07PM
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Dan wrote:

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.

Interpretation of Dan's Response:

"I know the facts show he is in the top 30 of points producing centers. But Damn you I like to live in a Fanatasy world. like most who can't accept the truth.

Puts his fingers in his ears. LAH la la la la la la la!

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#70 Ogden Brother
April 12 2009, 12:12PM
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If you insist on complaining about the contract, you should be complaining that they didn't take advantage of the cap loop hole that TB and Det have used and given Horc an extra three years at 1 million per (with no intentions of playing them) bringing his hit down to 4 million.

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#71 rickithebear
April 12 2009, 12:14PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Perhaps the question isnt, “Does Horc produce on a 1st line level?” Maybe the question should be, “Does Horc produce on a playoff bound 1st line level?”

I am sure you Know that the oilers were one of four teams ho had there first three lines outscore the other teams players at even. We actually had 10 players.

Winning at even was not our problem. We missed because of special teams.

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#72 SkinnyD
April 12 2009, 12:23PM
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@ Ogden Brother: How do they do that? Are they 'option' years or something like that?

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#73 Ogden Brother
April 12 2009, 12:26PM
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SkinnyD wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: How do they do that? Are they ‘option’ years or something like that?

If they retire (and I'm assuming thiers a handshack agreement that they will, the hit (and salary) comes off the team payroll. If they refuse to retire, you've salary to hid in the AHL (only being paid one million) or to trade to a team with an internal cap far lower then the actual salary cap.

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#74 Dan
April 12 2009, 12:40PM
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@ rickithebear:

Our #1 center is in the top 30 centers in a 30 team league. Whoop-de-freakin-do.

When are you planning the parade?

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#75 David S
April 12 2009, 12:58PM
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All I know is that I'm watching the Springfield Falcons play the Flames last night and Cammalleri puts his 38th and 39th past us.

Cammalleri plays on the Flames second line and he's got almost as many goals as both Horcoff and Hemsky. That in my mind is the real problem. We don't actually have a first line.

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#76 Jonathan Willis
April 12 2009, 01:27PM
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@ David S:

I think Cammalleri's spent most of the season on the first line.

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#77 David S
April 12 2009, 01:35PM
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Jonathan - I had to look up the lines so you're probably right (not much of a Flames follower). Still, myself and the rest of the guys in the bar couldn't help but wonder that we could sure use a guy like that on our first line.

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#78 David S
April 12 2009, 01:36PM
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Cammalleri - 39 goals

Horcoff + Hemsky - 40 goals

*thumbsup*

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#79 Rick
April 12 2009, 01:37PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

I seriously don’t get this, expectations are so out of whack for 5.5 million “if he provides full value for that contract” based on scoring #’s vs where he lines up in the centers cap hit, he likly wont even need 70 points/year over the next couple of years to provide “full value”. These are not unrealistic expectations for him.

The point I am making is that the Oilers have spent their 1st line center budget on a player that is at best a bottom end first liner/top end 2nd liner.

Because they have that money tied up in Horcoff it is unlikley they can improve on the 1st line center position with him on the roster.

So even if you target 70 pts as full value for his contract (I think it's a little conservative), surely you have to admit that a 70 pt 1st line center isn't going to be good enough in terms of the quality of the overall team.

And the biggest, most frustrating part of this, is that if Horcoff paid an amount that allows him to play on the second line and allows for an upgrade on the 1st line, the Oilers would be killer down the middle and set up very very well. But as it is I just can't see it happening the way things are.

After all, Horcoff IS a good player. There is no denying it and it is no insult to say he just isn't good enough as a 1st line center.

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#80 GSC
April 12 2009, 02:05PM
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I love how Horcoff's 53 points is somehow considered enough for 1st line standards...

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#81 GSC
April 12 2009, 02:05PM
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I love how Horcoff’s 53 points are somehow considered enough for 1st line standards…

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#82 Ogden Brother
April 12 2009, 02:11PM
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Rick wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: I seriously don’t get this, expectations are so out of whack for 5.5 million “if he provides full value for that contract” based on scoring #’s vs where he lines up in the centers cap hit, he likly wont even need 70 points/year over the next couple of years to provide “full value”. These are not unrealistic expectations for him. The point I am making is that the Oilers have spent their 1st line center budget on a player that is at best a bottom end first liner/top end 2nd liner. Because they have that money tied up in Horcoff it is unlikley they can improve on the 1st line center position with him on the roster. So even if you target 70 pts as full value for his contract (I think it’s a little conservative), surely you have to admit that a 70 pt 1st line center isn’t going to be good enough in terms of the quality of the overall team. And the biggest, most frustrating part of this, is that if Horcoff paid an amount that allows him to play on the second line and allows for an upgrade on the 1st line, the Oilers would be killer down the middle and set up very very well. But as it is I just can’t see it happening the way things are. After all, Horcoff IS a good player. There is no denying it and it is no insult to say he just isn’t good enough as a 1st line center.

Couple of points: The odds of us landing a true "first line center" (without selling the farm in a trade) are slim to nill. Giving up a border line 1st line center in hopes of getting a real first line center is far worse planning then giving Horcoff 33 million over 6 years.

70 points would put you 17th for scoring amoungst centers and 38th amoungst forwards. If Horc is 17th amoungst centers and 38th amoungs forwards he's given more then enough.

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#83 Jonathan Willis
April 12 2009, 02:12PM
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@ GSC:

Do you have an issue with the methodology? (Oh, and fun side point - 53 points still fits into the top 90 over the last season, albeit not so highly).

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#84 rickithebear
April 12 2009, 02:15PM
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Dan wrote:

@ rickithebear: Our #1 center is in the top 30 centers in a 30 team league. Whoop-de-freakin-do. When are you planning the parade?

When we get a Physical RW to play with Horcoff, and two more PK guys.

IT is not that he is in the top 30. Its that he is in the top 15 of Centers that face the other teams best and out scores them. Do you understand that he beats the other teams best. So all the rest to the team has to do is be just under break even. Did not happen this year. Is that his fault. He faced the 10th toughest set of players in the league. Outscored them plus was asked to get on the ice to help with defencsive draws. On top of playing for his own line.

Guys who do not get this are an embarrasment to hockey fans.

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#85 SkinnyD
April 12 2009, 02:30PM
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David S wrote:

Cammalleri - 39 goals Horcoff + Hemsky - 40 goals *thumbsup*

Cammalleri - contract year, being fed by Iginla, not wasting energy killing penalties. Won't be this hot next year.

Horcoff + Hemsky - off years on a poorly coached team with a lot of fellow under-achievers. Horcoff was also leaned on too much in many other situations, which didn't serve him well to finish off Hemmer's feeds.

I think we kinda hit the Perfect Storm for under-achieving this year (ie - everyone but Rolli). I say even if we stand pat with players this team could make the playoffs next year with a different system.

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#86 Dan
April 12 2009, 02:49PM
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@ rickithebear:

rickithebear wrote:

Dan wrote: @ rickithebear: When we get a Physical RW to play with Horcoff, and two more PK guys. IT is not that he is in the top 30. Its that he is in the top 15 of Centers that face the other teams best and out scores them. Do you understand that he beats the other teams best. So all the rest to the team has to do is be just under break even. Did not happen this year. Is that his fault. He faced the 10th toughest set of players in the league. Outscored them plus was asked to get on the ice to help with defencsive draws. On top of playing for his own line. Guys who do not get this are an embarrasment to hockey fans.

OH I get it. But it doesn't make any sense. So we had awesome even-strength, but our special teams sucked, well Horcoff attributed to both. Horcoff is suffering from burnout, we need to take some pressure off of him by either making him an offensive player or a defensive one. Right now we are asking him to be both at the high end, thats too much to ask, especially when he doesn't get enough backing from the other centers. He even said it himself, he gets burnedout when he's done with a PK and then 2 shifts later has to go out with Hemsky, those are extremely hard minutes.

The only embarassment is quote, stop with internet tough guy He-Man.

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#87 rickithebear
April 12 2009, 02:58PM
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Dan wrote:

OH I get it. But it doesn’t make any sense. So we had awesome even-strength, but our special teams sucked, well Horcoff attributed to both. Horcoff is suffering from burnout, we need to take some pressure off of him by either making him an offensive player or a defensive one. Right now we are asking him to be both at the high end, thats too much to ask, especially when he doesn’t get enough backing from the other centers. He even said it himself, he gets burnedout when he’s done with a PK and then 2 shifts later has to go out with Hemsky, those are extremely hard minutes. The only embarassment is quote, stop with internet tough guy He-Man.

The flu since Thursday. Kind of dinky response. I see you get it. Stand by angst towards the dips that don't.

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#88 David S
April 12 2009, 05:30PM
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SkinnyD wrote:

Horcoff + Hemsky - off years on a poorly coached team with a lot of fellow under-achievers. Horcoff was also leaned on too much in many other situations, which didn’t serve him well to finish off Hemmer’s feeds. I think we kinda hit the Perfect Storm for under-achieving this year (ie - everyone but Rolli). I say even if we stand pat with players this team could make the playoffs next year with a different system.

I don't doubt that Horcoff was overworked, but that wasn't a coaching deficiency as much as compensating for a player deficiency (thanks to Lowe). Still, I think the thing we all have to accept is that the whole team just wasn't that good this year. Staples seems to think we need a superstar. I tend to agree, along with a bunch of guys playing way better than they did this year. Is that possible?

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#89 PaperDesigner
April 12 2009, 06:50PM
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A good first line should include two high end players who are capable of putting up a lot of points, and a third player who shores up the weaknesses of those other two players (usually defence) and has enough skill to play with them.

In Horcoff and Hemsky, the Oilers have two out of three of those pieces. The question remains where they are going to get the third.

And I don't think the solution is simply Gagner succeeding Horcoff on the top line; who would play the role of babysitter on the top line then?

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#90 Archaeologuy
April 12 2009, 08:29PM
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rickithebear wrote:

Archaeologuy wrote: Perhaps the question isnt, “Does Horc produce on a 1st line level?” Maybe the question should be, “Does Horc produce on a playoff bound 1st line level?” I am sure you Know that the oilers were one of four teams ho had there first three lines outscore the other teams players at even. We actually had 10 players. Winning at even was not our problem. We missed because of special teams.

Your "response" has absolutely nothing to do with what i wrote.

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#91 RossCreek
April 13 2009, 10:26AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

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.

Agreed Willis. Why can't people get that through their thick skulls. When The Hockey News puts out their annual payroll issue, they always have the cap hit. That's all that matters in the "new" NHL. If the Oil (or any other team for that matter) wants to buy a player out after year 4 of a 6 year deal, then it is optimal to pay that player less actual $'s in those last couple years to lessen the buyout dollars. I don't understand why everyone calls Horcoff a "$7 Million player". He's a $5.5 Million player. Is that still too much? Perhaps. But if you're gonna argue that he's overpaid, then at least consider all of the facts, and say "at 5.5, he is overpaid" and not "he's not worth 7".

As for 1st line players, I think it may be fair to state that in actuality, there are not 90 1st line players in the league (by typical definition of a 1st liner). Everyone has already argued how expansion watered the league down, and that would prove my above statement to be accurate. But, the fact of the matter is, there are 90 guys (at least) that play on the 1st line. And by that definition, it is hard to argue that Horcoff isn't a 1st liner (regardless of what Oil fan thinks). Is he the typical 1st liner - no. But this league is not typical anymore.

If Shawn Horcoff were playing in between Hemsky and Kovalchuk, I'd argue that he's a really good fit as the 1st line center, as he could be the defensive/responsible presence of the line.

His contract is what it is. Move on. Find a 1st line LW.

P.S. Horcoff does see too much time on the 1st PP unit.

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#92 RossCreek
April 13 2009, 10:31AM
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Oh ya. I forgot to say -

On a championship calibre team, obviously Horcoff isn't a 1st line center. Ideally he would be a 2nd line center. (like Brad Richards was to Vinny Lecavalier was when they won the Cup).

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#93 RossCreek
April 13 2009, 10:39AM
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Dan wrote:

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.

If the Oil get duped into resigning Kotalik, then get ready for more of the same next year. Point. Blank. Period.

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#94 Jonathan Willis
April 13 2009, 10:43AM
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@ RossCreek:

Although Richards won the Conn Smythe that year ;)

But yes, for the Oilers to be a championship team, they need a scorer who can take advantage of Horcoff handling the tough minutes.

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#95 RossCreek
April 13 2009, 10:50AM
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Well I think PaperDesigner said it best. PaperDesigner wrote:

A good first line should include two high end players who are capable of putting up a lot of points, and a third player who shores up the weaknesses of those other two players (usually defence) and has enough skill to play with them. In Horcoff and Hemsky, the Oilers have two out of three of those pieces. The question remains where they are going to get the third. And I don’t think the solution is simply Gagner succeeding Horcoff on the top line; who would play the role of babysitter on the top line then?
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#96 Rick
April 13 2009, 11:22AM
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RossCreek wrote:

Well I think PaperDesigner said it best.

Is there a successful example in the league where the two scorers were both wingers though?

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#97 Ogden Brother
April 13 2009, 11:45AM
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Rick wrote:

RossCreek wrote: Well I think PaperDesigner said it best. Is there a successful example in the league where the two scorers were both wingers though?

Hemmer/Horc/Smyth were fairly successful.

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#98 SkinnyD
April 13 2009, 12:37PM
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David S wrote:

SkinnyD wrote: Horcoff + Hemsky - off years on a poorly coached team with a lot of fellow under-achievers. Horcoff was also leaned on too much in many other situations, which didn’t serve him well to finish off Hemmer’s feeds. I think we kinda hit the Perfect Storm for under-achieving this year (ie - everyone but Rolli). I say even if we stand pat with players this team could make the playoffs next year with a different system. I don’t doubt that Horcoff was overworked, but that wasn’t a coaching deficiency as much as compensating for a player deficiency (thanks to Lowe). Still, I think the thing we all have to accept is that the whole team just wasn’t that good this year. Staples seems to think we need a superstar. I tend to agree, along with a bunch of guys playing way better than they did this year. Is that possible?

Also, I believe Horcoff's shoulder injury is the type that takes a full year to recover. But yes, agreed - the team as a whole just wasn't that good, although I do believe they'll be better next year. It's up to the conductor to make all the different parts of a symphony perform well together - same goes for the coach. Our coach has issues with the violin section... :)

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#99 Ogden Brother
April 13 2009, 12:46PM
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SkinnyD wrote:

David S wrote: SkinnyD wrote: Horcoff + Hemsky - off years on a poorly coached team with a lot of fellow under-achievers. Horcoff was also leaned on too much in many other situations, which didn’t serve him well to finish off Hemmer’s feeds. I think we kinda hit the Perfect Storm for under-achieving this year (ie - everyone but Rolli). I say even if we stand pat with players this team could make the playoffs next year with a different system. I don’t doubt that Horcoff was overworked, but that wasn’t a coaching deficiency as much as compensating for a player deficiency (thanks to Lowe). Still, I think the thing we all have to accept is that the whole team just wasn’t that good this year. Staples seems to think we need a superstar. I tend to agree, along with a bunch of guys playing way better than they did this year. Is that possible? Also, I believe Horcoff’s shoulder injury is the type that takes a full year to recover. But yes, agreed - the team as a whole just wasn’t that good, although I do believe they’ll be better next year. It’s up to the conductor to make all the different parts of a symphony perform well together - same goes for the coach. Our coach has issues with the violin section…

Vinny had a similar reduction in proction after having the same shoulder surgery.

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#100 Rick
April 13 2009, 01:11PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Hemmer/Horc/Smyth were fairly successful.

I don't know if I would say that. It was still an 8th place team and even the most ardent Oiler fan would have to see the cup run as lightning in a bottle more than anything else.

I am talking in terms of a wire to wire strong team. After all these years of scraping by or falling short I don't know why anyone would want to settle for anything less.

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