Just Because

Jonathan Willis
April 13 2009 12:40PM

And we continue to wait for the other shoe to drop.

Craig MacTavish had his season-ending press conference today, but didn't answer key questions, refusing to comment on his future or that of Dustin Penner. The Oilers have the tenth worst record in the NHL this season, but we have to wait for the lottery to see where they end up exactly. The rumours of a massive shakeup in the front office are everywhere, and Robin Brownlee has as good a take as anybody on them in the post below this one.

There's a sense that the changes this summer will define the Oilers for the coming years, either for good or for bad, but there's still no concrete idea what those changes will be, so we wait. This seemed like a safe video for the interim, given that neither Coffey or McSorley is in contention for the Oilers' head coaching job, so we can safely enjoy their connection to the glory years without the distaste many feel for the occasional nepotism of the current club. Dave Hodge also has a cameo.

On a completely different note, with the draft coming up I've been thinking about the way picks are made. I realize that having the worst teams pick first helps ensure parity and prevent laughing stocks in the league, and also that the lottery is supposed to discourage tanking for the number one overall spot. But my question would be why the NHL doesn't do a zig-zag style draft.

If, as expected, the Islanders win the lottery, they'll get the rights not only to the first pick of the first round, but also of the second round, third round, and so on. Wouldn't it be fairer to good teams as a whole if the second round were conducted in reverse order of the first round? Bad teams would still get their superstars to build around, but it wouldn't be so difficult for good teams to restock on the run, and would minimize the advantages of holding a firesale and tanking the season. Just something to keep in mind while we wait,

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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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#51 Ogden Brother
April 13 2009, 02:30PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: I hope you’re wrong. I wish I could say that you’re wrong, but at this point I can’t. But he does care enough to go into traffic, and into the corners, so I’m not ready to write him off just yet.

As do I.

Starting to remind me a little of Alex Kovalev :(

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#52 Boundz
April 13 2009, 02:30PM
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Thoughts on Penner going forward, and no Souray interview?

I, too, thought Hemmer should have provided a little more insight.. he seemed totally emotionally drained and frustrated.

All I can say, I hope this year serves as motivation for next.

B

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#53 West Coast Oil, $Version=1
April 13 2009, 02:31PM
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Im in agreement with Willis regarding the Oilers I too do not think they need to make sweeping player changes. This team needs to play a system that suites their makeup and a coach that can coach to the players strengths and not impose a noneffective format. Regarding the draft until the oilers are at the top or bottom no drafting change will help them.

@JW are any professional leagues currently using the zig zag method and how has it effected team building?

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#54 Chris
April 13 2009, 02:31PM
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This city always respects will over skill. Lets not run Hemsky out of town just yet...

*re-hanging old Arnott jersey with misty eyes*

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#55 David S
April 13 2009, 02:31PM
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socaldave wrote:

just listened to Lubo, and it was exactly what I was hoping for. Loves the team, loves his mates, etc. Nice to see he’s got a sense of humour - he said he hasn’t been able to do anything for the last two months, and is a little overweight, but his summer training program starts this Thursday! good stuff - I still think we woulda made the playoffs if he stayed healthy all year.

LOVED Lubo this year. And his interview was another reason why. Great guy with a great good attitude. We need him for a boatload of reasons. Agree with you that with him we would not be having these conversations right now.

Sam and Robert had good interviews as well. Sounds like Robert is making his case to stay on the team, promising he'll be there for 82 games next year. More telling was there being no Penner interview. I bet he got one, but the Oil MIB's censored it.

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#56 David S
April 13 2009, 02:33PM
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Yeah. No Souray interview too. Strange because he's usually one of the best quotes. My guess is that he was pretty bummed at this year's outcome. Maybe there's nothing he can add.

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#57 topshelf
April 13 2009, 02:34PM
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David S wrote:

Sounds like Robert is making his case to stay on the team, promising he’ll be there for 82 games next year

Could it be a case of too little too late for Bobby?

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#58 Jonathan Willis
April 13 2009, 02:39PM
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@ West Coast Oil, $Version=1:

No idea, sorry.

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#59 David S
April 13 2009, 02:40PM
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topshelf wrote:

David S wrote: Sounds like Robert is making his case to stay on the team, promising he’ll be there for 82 games next year Could it be a case of too little too late for Bobby?

Hard to say. You have to admit that Gagner and Nilsson were pretty great the last part of the year. The exclamation point on that was during the last two games when Pouliot was subbed in for Nilsson. If it were me, I'd take him at his word and put him on a short leash next year. The potential upside for both Gagner and Nilsson playing well together is too obvious to ignore.

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#60 Jonathan Willis
April 13 2009, 02:41PM
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No Souray, Penner, Pouliot, Peckham or Deslauriers. Anyone else missing?

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#61 Jonathan Willis
April 13 2009, 02:43PM
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@ David S:

Nilsson, Pouliot and Gagner were good together. Wasn't it O'Sullivan who was subbed in for Nilsson on the left side?

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#62 Rob
April 13 2009, 02:44PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

Roli?? Where was he?? I guess if I were on the team I would have left town already too.

I'm going to go ahead and call it right now that MacT retuns next year and the team will look much different again.

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#63 Rick
April 13 2009, 02:46PM
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David S wrote:

topshelf wrote: I’d take him at his word and put him on a short leash next year. The potential upside for both Gagner and Nilsson playing well together is too obvious to ignore.

So who goes then?

Clearly they need to get bigger and that means atleast 1 if not 2 of the small guys get moved out so out of Gagner, Cogliano, Nilsson and O'Sullivan who draws the short straw?

I am thinking Nilsson has to be a slam dunk at this point.

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#64 topshelf
April 13 2009, 02:47PM
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@ David S: Nilsson is good when he's on but he takes too many nights off for a team that needs his secondary scoring.

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#65 West Coast Oil, $Version=1
April 13 2009, 02:47PM
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I give Hemsky a wash this year and write off the attitude to high team expectations that werent filled, a team that sounds like it was divided in the locker room and a coach and upper management team that did nothing. If i had the weight of being the star player in this mess i would feel the same

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#66 Rob
April 13 2009, 02:51PM
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Rob wrote:

@ Jonathan Willis: Roli?? Where was he?? I guess if I were on the team I would have left town already too. I’m going to go ahead and call it right now that MacT retuns next year and the team will look much different again.

Nevermind, I guess almost the whole team spoke, thought they had only those first three.

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#67 Ogden Brother
April 13 2009, 02:53PM
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Rick wrote:

David S wrote: topshelf wrote: I’d take him at his word and put him on a short leash next year. The potential upside for both Gagner and Nilsson playing well together is too obvious to ignore. So who goes then? Clearly they need to get bigger and that means atleast 1 if not 2 of the small guys get moved out so out of Gagner, Cogliano, Nilsson and O’Sullivan who draws the short straw? I am thinking Nilsson has to be a slam dunk at this point.

Might come down to who will bring back what. Nilsson wont net you much in a trade while O'Sullivan or Cogs could be a key piece in getting a J Staal or a N Horton.

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#68 Jonathan Willis
April 13 2009, 02:59PM
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It all depends if MacTavish stays.

If a new coach comes, I see no reason to move Penner, and it would be neccessary (although perhaps still advisable, depending on the deal) to move Pouliot and Nilsson.

If MacTavish stays, on the other hand, I'd guess those three all get new addresses.

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#69 David S
April 13 2009, 02:59PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ David S: Nilsson, Pouliot and Gagner were good together. Wasn’t it O’Sullivan who was subbed in for Nilsson on the left side?

Jonathan - I thought Nilsson and Gagner were good. Maybe their combo fit with Pouliot. But Pouliot, Gagner and O'Sullivan didn't seem to work so well on last two games. That's just my opinion though and they were games with nothing on the line.

@Topshelf @Rick

No doubt something has to give. Myself, I just can't ignore the potential of Sam and Robert together when both are on. In fact, I'd love to see Cogliano back with these two. The thing of it is - can Robert play 82 games? That's the question.

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#70 Jonathan Willis
April 13 2009, 03:00PM
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Horcoff and Roloson named to Team Canada for the worlds. No Souray or Gagner.

I've got a list of who else might be going at my new other site.

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#71 Jonathan Willis
April 13 2009, 03:01PM
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David S wrote:

But Pouliot, Gagner and O’Sullivan didn’t seem to work so well on last two games.

IIRC, Pouliot didn't play much down the stretch at all - he was out of the lineup before Nilsson even got moved off of Gagner's line.

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#72 David S
April 13 2009, 03:03PM
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Jonathan - hxxp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUm5LvvZyWQ&feature=related

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#73 David S
April 13 2009, 03:06PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Horcoff and Roloson named to Team Canada for the worlds. No Souray or Gagner. I’ve got a list of who else might be going at my new other site.

Looks like Mr Willis has gone pro! Nice job Jonathan.

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#74 Rick
April 13 2009, 03:08PM
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David S wrote:

@Rick No doubt something has to give. Myself, I just can’t ignore the potential of Sam and Robert together when both are on. In fact, I’d love to see Cogliano back with these two. The thing of it is - can Robert play 82 games? That’s the question.

I don't know, 4 years as a pro and that question still hangs around like a big white elephant.

A big part of the problems this year was that they spent the whole season waiting on the younger guys. I'm not sure it makes sense to enter next year with the possibility that you could be waiting again.

But Ogden Brother has a point in that it may depend on what deal brings the most back.

Personally I think both Nilsson and O'Sullivan can be shipped out despite that I think they are both very talented. If the return is available to significantly shake up the dynamic of the team though, it would be fine with me.

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#75 Jonathan Willis
April 13 2009, 03:10PM
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@ David S:

Thanks for that video. I'm going to use that somewhere.

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#76 Harlie
April 13 2009, 03:14PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

No Souray, Penner, Pouliot, Peckham or Deslauriers. Anyone else missing?

Souray was already quoted as saying that he would politely turn down the Canada offer to spend time with his kids. I read that a few days ago. Sorry I don't have a link handy.

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#77 Jonathan Willis
April 13 2009, 03:17PM
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@ Harlie:

Thanks, I missed that somewhere.

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#78 RossCreek
April 13 2009, 03:29PM
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I think you hold on to O'Sullivan. I know he didn't exactly do a lot since coming over, but he has a bit more bite than some of the other smaller guys on the team. Give him a fresh start next season, and I'm guessing you'll see a legitimate top 6 forward in every sense.

It seems highly unlikely that Sam Gagner will be going anywhere, no matter how good a trade offer (within reason obviously).

Robert "Softy, I mean call me Bobby" Nilsson could have all the skill in the world, but I wouldn't bring him back. I'm guessing he has little to no trade value. It wouldn't suprise me if he were in Europe next year (I know he's still under contract in Edmonton).

Andrew Cogliano would have some significant trade value IMO. With too many small forwards, he could be moved (although I have my doubts as to whether or not that would happen). Obviously it would take a significant deal (ie: Simon Gagne, Jordan Staal, etc.)

I wouldn't bring back Kotalik or Pouliot.

As much as they've loved Edmonton and been consumate professionals, I think its time for Ethan Moreau & Steve Staios to move on.

Tom Gilbert would likely have some decent value in a trade, and if Denis Grebeshkov is to be resigned, I would all but assume Gilbert is moved for a scoring forward.

Dwayne Roloson could be brought back on a 1 year deal, however, if he's looking for much more than that, I'd say thanks, but no thanks. Josh Harding, Kari Lehtonen, Antero Nittymaki, Jonas Hiller, Jaroslav Halak, Ilya Bryzgalov and perhaps even Marty Turco are guys that could be available, suitable possibilities (I like Harding & Hiller). I'm not sold on Deslauriers, even as a backup.

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#79 Jonathan Willis
April 13 2009, 03:45PM
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O'Sullivan goes nowhere. I'd move a lot of players before I'd move him.

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#80 topshelf
April 13 2009, 03:48PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

No Souray, Penner, Pouliot, Peckham or Deslauriers. Anyone else missing?

Cogliano?

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#81 Jack "FMNF" Bauer
April 13 2009, 04:07PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Anybody wanting to depress themselves should listen to the Ales Hemsky season ending interview.

Wow.

"What do you think you should do more as an individual?"

How about you score some more goals Hemsky

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#82 EMAC
April 13 2009, 04:43PM
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Heading into next year I have two questions.

Will Penner be over weight and out of shape when he shows up to camp? And, which newly acquired Oiler is going to suffer the shoulder injury?

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#83 Rob
April 14 2009, 09:17AM
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@ EMAC:

I have only 1 question: What will the fans do to embarass the city when they announce Mact will finish his contract with the oil???

Seriously, The more I read and listen about the Mact situation the more I feel like he isnt going anywhere. He's dicussing his "future" with the team over the next two days. Look forward to many open mouth looks from behind the bench again next year people. Deep down you all know he'll be back and many players won't, again.

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