Deep Thoughts X: Cold showers and moving up on draft day

Robin Brownlee
June 04 2009 01:25PM

[caption id="attachment_9812" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="What will Tambellini try and swing on draft day?"]tambellini[/caption]

When it comes to moving up in the Entry Draft, the Edmonton Oilers have had less luck than Wanye Gretz trying to convince the hottest girl -- any girl -- in high school to give him her phone number. In other words, no sniff.

As desperate and sad as that is, chances are the Oilers will be pitching to move up from the 10th pick in Montreal. Of course, that's an obligatory angle with this outfit.

-- In 2003, GM Kevin Lowe tried to move up from the 17th pick with an eye to getting a shot at one of a trio of defencemen: Ryan Suter, Braydon Coburn or Dion Phaneuf. No cigar. He ended up moving down to 22nd and taking Marc Pouliot.

-- In 2002, Lowe offered Mike Grier and a swap of picks to move into the top four because he wanted Joni Pitkanen. Again, no dice. Lowe ended up picking 15th and calling the name of the immortal Jesse Niinimaki, who is now running a hair-dressing salon in Amsterdam.

-- Perhaps the Oilers biggest push came back in 1988, when Glen Sather did everything he could to make a deal with St. Louis to get the ninth pick and take Teemu Selanne. No sale. The Blues kept the pick and took Rod Brind 'Amour. Winnipeg took The Finnish Flash 10th.

The Oilers ended up with towering but utterly immobile defenceman Francois (Two Left Feet) Leroux, who played 11 games in Edmonton silks. Talk about the difference between bagging the math class hottie and ending up with Mrs. Palmer and her five daughters.

But I digress . . .

This time around

The consensus -- if you can call it that considering the amount of variation between team lists and rankings by NHL Central Scouting and other outlets -- is there's three tiers in the top 10 picks at this year's picking of pimply faced talent.

The first tier is John Tavares, Victor Hedman, Matt Duchene and Evander Kane. The second includes Brayden Schenn, Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, Scott Glennie and, arguably, Jared Cowan. The third tier begins with the likes of Zack Kassian, Jordan Schroeder and John Moore.

While the Oilers, it goes without saying, would love to move into a top-four spot, it's more realistic to think they might land a pick in spots five through eight if they can find a trading partner willing to swap, say, fifth or sixth spot for 10th and a roster player.

The Oilers would be happy to get Schenn, Paajarvi-Svensson, Glennie or Cowan. The question is, what would moving four or five spots cost? Depends on the team on the other end of the conversation with GM Steve Tambellini.

If the Oilers can't move up, don't be surprised if they take Kassian at 10th or even move down and take a long look at Ryan Ellis.

Hey, tough guy

I don't know what it is about tough guys, but Zack Stortini has taken over where Georges Laraque left off as the Oilers unofficial good will ambassador in the community.

If there's an event around Edmonton, be it a golf tournament, a visit to a school or any manner of charity function, you're likely to see Stortini at it, shaking hands, signing autographs and posing for pictures.

Just as Gentleman Georges was and is famous for, Stortini has the heaviest calendar of any Oiler, by a long shot, when it comes to public appearances in town. He's the epitome of the tough guy with a heart of gold.

I had a good, long chat with Stortini at TEAM 1260's golf tournament at The Ranch Tuesday, a talk that was interrupted by him posing for pictures, including a grip-and-grin with guys from my foursome, at least five times in 20 minutes.

What fans, and I, admire about Stortini is he's likely the most down-to-earth NHL athlete you'll ever meet. No pretence. No "look at me." A lot of NHLers who think they're a big deal could learn a thing or two from Zack.

Same goes for Steve MacIntyre.

At random

-- Dwayne Roloson repeated his belief he can play another four or five years in an interview he did with Jim Matheson of The Journal this week, and maybe that's true, but it won't be in Edmonton.

As much as I admire Roloson's compete level, and it's ridiculously high, the Oilers will be making a huge mistake if they sign him to more than a one-year deal. Do you think Tambellini really wants to be locked into two years 20 games into next season if Jeff Deslauriers has shown he can carry the mail? Or if he can acquire a Josh Harding or Scott Clemmensen? Well, no, and that's why talks on a new contract haven't begun.

With Ray Emery reportedly destined for Philadelphia -- speaking of "look at me" and dickishness in general -- Roloson doesn't have a lot of options for a multi-year deal. If I'm Tambellini, it's one-or-done for Roli.

-- Ran into former Oiler Sean Brown Tuesday. He's heading back to Europe for a fifth straight season.

While Brown is good enough and more than tough enough to play in the NHL somewhere, the combination of a car, an apartment, a good salary and a 52-game schedule has him on his way back to Austria.

Just saying

-- Could Marc Crawford end up back behind the bench in Colorado? I can only hope. There's a heaping helping of humble pie waiting to be jammed down Crow's gullet. Go for it, Marc, and take Dan Cloutier with you. The over-under is 34 wins.

-- Mats Sundin? Please. For the love of God, common sense and salary cap space, let's not start thinking about the Big Swede in Edmonton silks just because he has ties to Pat Quinn. Sundin's in my NCFOM File with Jaromir Jagr. With the salary cap likely to be in the high-40s in 2010-11, find a pay day someplace else, gents.

-- Scott Hartnell? Ryane Clowe? That's money better spent.

-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 Ogden Brother
June 04 2009, 01:33PM
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O'sully and the 10th get us to 5/6/7?

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#2 Leopard
June 04 2009, 01:34PM
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Joe Sacco, sorry Marc, looks like we will still hear his whiny voice for another season.

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#3 scorcoff hemmercules
June 04 2009, 01:44PM
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If Sundin gets anywhere close to signing with the oilers, things will get smashed.

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#4 RossCreek
June 04 2009, 01:46PM
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After yesterdays moves, I was thinking the Avs may look to Marc Crawford as well. The Joe Sacco hiring, along with the no-name assistant gm promotion reeks of cheaping out until St. Patrick decides that he's ready to rule Denver again. There's some good coaches out there that continue to be out of work.

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#5 Tod
June 04 2009, 01:48PM
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Thanks for the info Robin. The Clemmensen/Harding hints I believe you and other guys have dropped before and I'm hoping the Oilers go to the Detroit Red Wings model of goaltending and cap management.

Hartnell and Clowe would also seem to fit Tambellini's vision, or atleast the small part of it he's talked about in the media.

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#6 Wanye Gretz
June 04 2009, 01:53PM
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"The Edmonton Oilers have had less luck than Wanye Gretz trying to convince the hottest girl — any girl — in high school to give him her phone number. In other words, no sniff."

If we were comparing Oilers drafting to my record with the ladies in HS they would not only have drafted first overall the past 8 years in a row, but would have somehow also picked second through tenth every year, despite having won the Cup each of those years.

Isn't that right blow up doll with picture of Britney Spears taped to head?

*doll is made to nod in agreement*

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#7 Jon K
June 04 2009, 01:57PM
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Your prospect tiers are pretty off. Kassian in particular is a player who won't get into the discussion until at least 15th overall.

Other than that, I fail to see why everyone is always clamouring to throw 3.5 million or more at Clowe. He's a 35 point player on Edmonton without Thornton or Marleau. We're currently paying Moreau 2 million and they're essentially the same player, just at different periods in their careers.

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#8 Trav
June 04 2009, 02:01PM
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Robin (and everyone else...) - I've read some rumours Tambo is taking a serious look at Biron, thoughts?

Used to be a big fan of him, especially after he fought Mr. Dickishness, but he seems to have struggled a bit in Philly and may now, as you mentioned, be replaced by Emery.

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#9 Curious
June 04 2009, 02:04PM
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I say forget about moving up in this years draft - unless you are going to get one of the top three there is not much difference in what you will get at 10 then at 5.

I have always liked that van Riemsdyk kid that Philly drafted a few years ago. Big, strong left winger. I would try and go young with an upside then old with an attitude (like Jagr or Sundin)

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#10 Souby
June 04 2009, 02:04PM
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"Scott Hartnell? Ryane Clowe? That’s money better spent."

I agree RB. I would love to see Hartnell in Oiler silks. Big body, physical and can score goals.

It has been batted around that the Oil could probably get a top 6 forward for Gilbert. Do you think the Oil could instead package Gilbert with their 10th overall pick to get to #1 or #2?

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#11 DK0
June 04 2009, 02:05PM
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Sundin's COSI rating is off the charts! (Can officially suck it)

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#12 Robin Brownlee
June 04 2009, 02:08PM
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Jon K wrote:

Your prospect tiers are pretty off. Kassian in particular is a player who won’t get into the discussion until at least 15th overall.

Says who? You? And your information is based on what?

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#13 Cam
June 04 2009, 02:14PM
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Souby wrote:

“Scott Hartnell? Ryane Clowe? That’s money better spent.” I agree RB. I would love to see Hartnell in Oiler silks. Big body, physical and can score goals. It has been batted around that the Oil could probably get a top 6 forward for Gilbert. Do you think the Oil could instead package Gilbert with their 10th overall pick to get to #1 or #2?

I don't think that one or two is up for grabs unless you put someone like Hemsky or Gagner+ into the deal and even then it doesn't sound hopeful.

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#14 Librarian Mike
June 04 2009, 02:18PM
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I used to love Sean Brown. He was super tough, and not too bad of a defenseman. I can't blame the guy for wanting to play in Europe. Personally, I'd rather live there than in some steelbelt graveyard where the pollution blocks out the sun 300 days of the year.

As for Sundin, I might actually have to start cheering for another team if the Oilers pick up Frankenswede.

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#15 dyckster
June 04 2009, 02:22PM
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Personally, I'd rather see the Oiler's move DOWN in the draft and get some proven talent, not future talent. I know all successful franchises need prospects, but wouldn't it be nice if we could forge ahead like Detroit and pick all these super human players in the later rounds? Zetterberg (210th), Datsyuk (171st), Franzen (97th), Lidstrom (53rd). Sighhhhhhhhh

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#16 Robin Brownlee
June 04 2009, 02:23PM
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@ Librarian Mike: Brown was a gamer and had enough toughness to stay in the NHL as a sixth or seventh defenceman, but his career was punctuated and defined by the big mistake. A bonehead play or a bad penalty always put him in the doghouse with MacT.

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#17 Librarian Mike
June 04 2009, 02:27PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

A bonehead play or a bad penalty always put him in the doghouse with MacT.

Sounds exactly like Moreau last year, doesn't it? Funny how that works out.

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#18 DK0
June 04 2009, 02:31PM
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@ Librarian Mike: Wait, when was Moreau ever in the doghouse? Or did i read that wrong?

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#19 Robin Brownlee
June 04 2009, 02:37PM
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@ Librarian Mike: Still with MacT, expect some news on him being in the running for a coaching job. Jim Matheson will have something at The Journal today or tomorrow.

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#20 Librarian Mike
June 04 2009, 02:38PM
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@ DK0: Sorry, what I was getting at was the part about making bonehead plays and taking bad penalties, but that he never got called on it.

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#21 Robin Brownlee
June 04 2009, 02:40PM
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@ Librarian Mike: Matty's item is up now at The Journal site. He's in the running for the Minnesota job (beat man Mike Russo mentioned this a week or so ago as well).

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#22 Sandra Blood
June 04 2009, 02:44PM
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What about goaltender Ziggy Mroczek out of Poland? his save percentage was .941, and a goals against averge of 1.87. Might be a find.

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#23 RossCreek
June 04 2009, 02:57PM
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RE: MacT. Interesting. I figured they were going to go with Paul MacLean (they may still) since he's still working and they haven't named a coach yet. Of course, MacLean (under Babcokc) was an assistant coach with the Ducks while Fletcher was the assistant GM there a number of years ago. I know Todd Richards was mentioned as well. MacT in the division? Uh oh.

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#24 Archaeologuy
June 04 2009, 02:58PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

O’sully and the 10th get us to 5/6/7?

Throw in Gilbert and can they crack 3-4?

Is Charles Wang crazy enough to deal away the 1st overall? I say yes. I'm cheering for bat-sh*t crazy to peek its head out before the draft.

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#25 Robin Brownlee
June 04 2009, 02:58PM
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Sandra Blood wrote:

What about goaltender Ziggy Mroczek out of Poland? his save percentage was .941, and a goals against averge of 1.87. Might be a find.

What about him? You've just repeated the Jesse Niinimaki pick, only in goal. You shouldn't be looking for "finds" until late rounds. The Oilers have a longshot list and I don't even know if he's on it.

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#26 Ogden Brother
June 04 2009, 03:05PM
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RossCreek wrote:

RE: MacT. Interesting. I figured they were going to go with Paul MacLean (they may still) since he’s still working and they haven’t named a coach yet. Of course, MacLean (under Babcokc) was an assistant coach with the Ducks while Fletcher was the assistant GM there a number of years ago. I know Todd Richards was mentioned as well. MacT in the division? Uh oh.

haha, I hope the Wild do grab him and then win the division. The drama here would be amazing.

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#27 dubya
June 04 2009, 03:13PM
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Wasn't me that said it, but most agencies seem to rate it:

Tavares, Hedman, Duchene

Kane, Schenn, MSP, Cowen

Schroeder, Kulikov, OEL, Kadri, Ellis...

ISS, for example, has Glennie and Kassian at 19 and 20

CSB and TSN have them higher, though (TSN has Glennie 11 and Kassian 15, CSB has them 7 and 10 among North Americans).

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#28 esa tikkanen
June 04 2009, 03:14PM
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Robin

- Is niinimaki really running a hair salon? and

- More importantly, do you think the Oilers will or should go after Lecavalier? Could the oil get him without having to give up Hemsky or Gagner by offering up two or three good young players? (Coglano, O'Sullivan, and Gilbert)

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#29 Rusty Shackleford
June 04 2009, 03:14PM
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@ Wanye Gretz: Only 8 years to finish HS? High-five!

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#30 Jonathan Willis
June 04 2009, 03:15PM
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The first tier is John Tavares, Victor Hedman, Matt Duchene and Evander Kane. The second includes Brayden Schenn, Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, Scott Glennie and, arguably, Jared Cowan. The third tier begins with the likes of Zack Kassian, Jordan Schroeder and John Moore.

Here's where TSN ranked those players in their last draft preview:

1. Tavares 2. Hedman 3. Duchene 4. Kane -- 5. Paajarvi-Svensson 6. Schenn 7. Cowen -- 8. Ekman-Larsson 9. Kulikov 10. Kadri 11. Glennie 12. Ellis 13. Schroeder 14. Despres T-15. Kassian T-15. Moores

McKenzie's list is generally pretty close to bang-on; and he's got a few guys (8-10, 12, 14) ranked a little higher than you do, Robin. This is an older work, so my question is, have you heard that the players you didn't list dropped off a bit, been passed by guys like Kassian and Moore? I'm guessing that your list comes from scouts you know; is the list you presented how you think the Oilers see things, or NHL teams in general?

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#31 Archaeologuy
June 04 2009, 03:44PM
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esa tikkanen wrote:

Could the oil get him without having to give up Hemsky or Gagner by offering up two or three good young players? (Coglano, O’Sullivan, and Gilbert)

It would take ALL of those 3 just to cover Vinny's Cap hit.

In return for 3 good young players (including an extremely valuable commodity in Gilbert) the Oilers would receive 1 player who just barely outscored Hemsky this past season while playing in the SE division with Martin St Louis on his wing. That Lecavalier contract would decimate the Oiler's tenuous hold on Cap flexibility and saddle the team with not just 2 terrible contracts (Penner and Horcoff) but add an even bigger albatross.

Just my 2 cents.

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#32 Jon
June 04 2009, 03:51PM
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"don’t be surprised if they take Kassian at 10th"

Robin, is that your opinion or something you heard? I'm just asking because if you read Gregor's article with Stu MacGregor, Kassian does not sound like someone they want to pick.

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#33 Ogden Brother
June 04 2009, 04:05PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

esa tikkanen wrote: Could the oil get him without having to give up Hemsky or Gagner by offering up two or three good young players? (Coglano, O’Sullivan, and Gilbert) It would take ALL of those 3 just to cover Vinny’s Cap hit. In return for 3 good young players (including an extremely valuable commodity in Gilbert) the Oilers would receive 1 player who just barely outscored Hemsky this past season while playing in the SE division with Martin St Louis on his wing. That Lecavalier contract would decimate the Oiler’s tenuous hold on Cap flexibility and saddle the team with not just 2 terrible contracts (Penner and Horcoff) but add an even bigger albatross. Just my 2 cents.

Not to mention that the price for one "star" (when the seller has lost leverage) doesn't seem to be 3 good young roster players:

Re Pronger

I'd think O'sully+Gilbert alone should be enough.

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#34 The Menace
June 04 2009, 04:14PM
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Wanye Gretz wrote:

“The Edmonton Oilers have had less luck than Wanye Gretz trying to convince the hottest girl — any girl — in high school to give him her phone number. In other words, no sniff.”

Should Wayne still be hanging out at high schools trying to pick up girls? I'm surprised the teachers let him get away with that. I'm picturing Adam Sandler pulling up at high school in Billy Madison with the REO t-shirt and kick-ass trans-am. is this close Wayne?

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#35 Milli
June 04 2009, 04:16PM
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wait, wayne finished highschool?

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#36 Robin Brownlee
June 04 2009, 04:25PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

If you want to dissect players 9-15 or even down to 20 you could gets lots of variety with the same names only in different spots. Depends who you talk to.

Jon wrote:

“don’t be surprised if they take Kassian at 10th” Robin, is that your opinion or something you heard? I’m just asking because if you read Gregor’s article with Stu MacGregor, Kassian does not sound like someone they want to pick.

Scouts are masters of mis-direction right now, and it's always that way. There are players they'd rather have at 10 -- they'd love to see a team or two go off the board and, essentially, move up without making a trade, but they'll look at Kassian at 10.

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#37 The Menace
June 04 2009, 04:35PM
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Jon wrote:

“don’t be surprised if they take Kassian at 10th” Robin, is that your opinion or something you heard? I’m just asking because if you read Gregor’s article with Stu MacGregor, Kassian does not sound like someone they want to pick.

Just an idea - if they really are high on Kassian, would it be a great idea to tip your hand and go all over a top-rated radio show and tell everyone how great you think he is?

I may want to play poker with you one day!

*thinks back to college when everyone was high on Kassian

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#38 Jack Bauer
June 04 2009, 04:43PM
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Al Strachan just said that Minnesota is probably going to go with Richards for coach but Mactavish has been talked to.

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#39 Chris
June 04 2009, 05:15PM
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@ Archaeologuy:

You spend all year lamenting the fact that Hemsky has no-one to play with... but diss Tikanen's proposal to bring proven first line talent in. So you don't like Vinny... Who do you like? Who is this magic player who is more talented than Vinny; puts up better numbers, costs less, and is rumored to be available?

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#40 speeds
June 04 2009, 05:16PM
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One other guy I seem to remember reading that EDM tried to trade up for in his draft was Marion Gaborik.

Gaborik is a UFA this summer, if EDM wants to make a splash in the UFA market maybe he's a guy EDM goes after?

As for misdirection, I'm kinda with Robin. I will say that, some years, you could have guessed who EDM would pick from having read the local papers in the week or so leading up to the draft. Other years, you'd have been wrong.

Honest question for Robin: How sure can we be that Gregor's interview was more likely to be misdirection than your source at this point? Is it much more likely that the radio interview would be misdirection vs. however you came about hearing EDM will entertain Kassian at #10?

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#41 Jon
June 04 2009, 05:27PM
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The Menace wrote:

Just an idea - if they really are high on Kassian, would it be a great idea to tip your hand and go all over a top-rated radio show and tell everyone how great you think he is? I may want to play poker with you one day!

Well there's a difference between telling everyone how great you think he is, and trying to be even-keeled about it. If you heard the rest of the interview, he sounded that he liked Schroeder, Glennie, Kadri etc. but still pointed out a drawback for each one of them. Kassian's, at least from my interpretation, was a lot more negative.

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#42 Robin Brownlee
June 04 2009, 05:29PM
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@ speeds: We all get vague generalities at this point, at least on the record, so it's no more likely I'm going to get the straight goods than Jason is in any one interview.

And, for the record, no member of the Oilers scouting staff has told me, "We'll take Kassian at 10 no matter what."

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#43 Chris
June 04 2009, 05:31PM
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Jon wrote:

Kassian’s, at least from my interpretation, was a lot more negative

Unless the Oilers plan to misdirect the opposition, trade away the 10th pick, and still try to grab Kassian at 13 or 14...

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#44 Chris
June 04 2009, 05:31PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

the Oilers scouting staff has told me, “We’ll take Kassian at 10 no matter what.”

BREAKING NEWS!

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#45 Robin Brownlee
June 04 2009, 06:58PM
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esa tikkanen wrote:

Robin - Is niinimaki really running a hair salon? and - More importantly, do you think the Oilers will or should go after Lecavalier? Could the oil get him without having to give up Hemsky or Gagner by offering up two or three good young players? (Coglano, O’Sullivan, and Gilbert)

No, but he should. The Oilers have inquired in the past about Lecavalier, so there's no reason to think they won't be kicking tires if TB decides to move him. Better him than Jagr or Sundin, but pie-in-the-sky if you're asking me.

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#46 Ogden Brother
June 04 2009, 07:05PM
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Chris wrote:

@ Archaeologuy: You spend all year lamenting the fact that Hemsky has no-one to play with… but diss Tikanen’s proposal to bring proven first line talent in. So you don’t like Vinny… Who do you like? Who is this magic player who is more talented than Vinny; puts up better numbers, costs less, and is rumored to be available?

Spezza?

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#47 RossCreek
June 04 2009, 07:27PM
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Speaking of donairs *(what, nobody said anything about them... sooo?) I've been bouncing back and forth between home and Airdrie lately, and I discovered a pretty good place - EXTREME DONAIR. Pretty good stuff. Barely finished. I still say SubJoint in Ft. Sask. takes the cake. Mmmm... cake. Oh. Back to hockey.

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#48 Archaeologuy
June 04 2009, 07:58PM
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Chris wrote:

Who is this magic player who is more talented than Vinny; puts up better numbers, costs less, and is rumored to be available?

I wouldnt have a problem with Lecavalier if there was no Cap or if he was signed for less money at less term. I dont just look at how "good" players are, i try to look at what their contract would do in the Oilers' situation. I also agree with Ogden Bro who noted that 3 good young guys is probably an overpay. Even Gilbert, Osull, and a prospect would be less painfull value wise. However, Vinny's contract HAS to be a huge deterent that cant be overlooked. It is a monster of an overpay and the Cap will be coming down over the next 2 years. It will be Capageddon and Whoever is saddled with Vinny's contract will be screwed.

And for the record it isnt that hard to find better players at less money than Lecavalier.

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#49 Austin Ayala
June 04 2009, 08:57PM
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Oilers & Islanders have trading history under Garth Snow's tenure. A relationship is already built there...

So I can see the Oilers feverishly trying to convince (ok... coerce) Snow into a trade that will cripple them for the next 2 generations. Cogliano + Gilbert + 10th for #1. Lol oh wow.

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#50 Robin Brownlee
June 04 2009, 08:58PM
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Jon wrote:

Well there’s a difference between telling everyone how great you think he is, and trying to be even-keeled about it. If you heard the rest of the interview, he sounded that he liked Schroeder, Glennie, Kadri etc. but still pointed out a drawback for each one of them. Kassian’s, at least from my interpretation, was a lot more negative.

I didn't read that into it at all. Stu's biggest concern with Kassian was his consistency. That's a common concern with players. That's kind of like saying, "Well, so-and-so has to get bigger and stronger." Of course so-and-so does, we're talking about 18-year-olds moving up to play against men. It's not a knock, it's an obvious fact of the process.

Stu's been around a long time and, as has been pointed out, he's not going to give anything up on the record. Put it this way -- did you ever hear the name Jesse Niinimaki before the Oilers called his name on draft day? I didn't, and I was pretty tied into the team then.

Until you see a team's actual draft list -- and I never have despite having good ties with scouts over the years -- you have to piece together tidbits from many conversations to get some semblance of who they rate where. In the end, it doesn't matter a squirt what I say or Bob MacKenzie says or Jim Matheson says or Central Scouting says -- it's what that final list looks like.

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