Mid-August Bric-a-Brac

Jonathan Willis
August 11 2009 01:02PM

It turns out that there are a few things to talk about with respect to hockey – even without looking at Patrick Kane’s off-ice adventures (or worse, writing article #9954 about Sidney Crosby’s birthday party). The Leafs have made some moves, Nikolai Zherdev has bolted for Russia, Theo Fleury plans a comeback, and the Sabres have signed Mike Grier.

Ye Olde Switcheroo: Pogge and MacDonald

I have to hand it to Brian Burke: he’s got a pretty good idea of what he’s doing. Not only did he manage to land a decent return for a fringe prospect in Justin Pogge, but he upgraded his goaltending at the same time. I realize that I just said three things that might raise eyebrows, so let’s look at them one at a time:

1. Decent Return: According to the Orange County Register, the Leafs will receive at least a 6th round pick in 2011 – a pick that will be upgraded to a third-rounder if Pogge makes 30 starts over the next two seasons. When a far superior player like Alex Auld (with an established NHL track record and on a reasonable contract) only lands a 6th round pick, this trade looks like larceny.

2. Fringe Prospect: Let’s take a quick look at Pogge’s numbers.

  • AHL: 71W-56L-11OTL, 2.71 GAA, .899 SV%
  • NHL: 1W-4L-0OTL, 4.35 GAA, .841 SV%

In three AHL seasons, Pogge’s season high save percentage is .908; not only that, but in three seasons the only time he’s legitimately outplayed his backup was in 2006-07. That backup, Jean-Francois Racine, has since moved over to play in the LNAH. Last year, his numbers were far inferior to minor-league journeyman Adam Munro (.913 vs. 895) and at this point I’d put him well back of Jeff Deslauriers. Leafs blog Sports and the City summed it up nicely:

I can't recall another young goaltender so big - six-foot-three, over 200 pounds - who couldn't cover more of the net.

3. Goaltending Upgrade

Joey MacDonald isn’t exactly the first name that comes to mind when I think of exceptional goaltending, but last year he wasn’t bad (these things being relative, of course). A quick comparison between him and the incumbent starter:

  • Vesa Toskala: 22-17-11, 3.26 GAA, .891 SV%
  • Joey MacDonald: 14-26-6, 3.37 GAA, .901 SV%

MacDonald played for the Islanders, so you’ll have to excuse his win/loss totals. My money says that Jonas Gustavsson is Toronto’s starter next year, and MacDonald plays the role of #3, but even so he’s a nice insurance policy to have. Or, as Pension Plan Puppets put it:

To reiterate, MacDonald is probably a better goaltender than Vesa Toskala at this point in time. Assuming Toskala gets hurt or plays like he usually does, or if both Gustavsson and Toskala play well making Vesa expendable then MacDonald would be a more than capable backup.

Meanwhile, in the Motherland…

Nikolai Zherdev, spurned by the Rangers (and apparently every other NHL team) has reportedly decided to return to Russia, signing a contract with the KHL’s Salavatovo Yuleav Ufa. Ufa doesn’t normally grab UFA’s; they’re the same team that signed Alexander Radulov out of Nashville.

Zherdev isn’t a player I saw fitting in Edmonton, but he has scored 23+ goals and 54+ points three of the last four years, so it’s a little surprising not to see him get enough interest to stay in North America. Playoff meltdown or not, there’s more than one team that could have used his offense. I suspect we’ll see more of this as too many teams are bunched around the salary cap ceiling.

Which takes me to a (mostly) unrelated point. Given that it’s August, Theoren Fleury’s comeback bid has generated quite a bit of attention (Jean Lefebvre has been covering it admirably for FlamesNation) but it remains highly unlikely that he’ll set foot on NHL ice this fall. So why doesn’t he try the KHL? The money should be comparable, since Fleury isn’t going to get big money from anyone (and it seems he needs it), and the chance of success is much greater.

Mike Grier Goes Back to Buffalo

I’ve already said most of what I think about the signing, but it deserves a mention here to. I don’t know what Grier was like off the ice, but he never gave less than his best in Edmonton and along with players like Todd Marchant, Ryan Smyth, Rem Murray and Ethan Moreau made it easy to cheer for the Oilers – even though they weren’t overly successful.

It seems that Sabres’ fans have similar feelings for the forward; a poll at Die By The Blade was 74% in favour of the move and only 7% opposed.

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, 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 ronaldo
August 11 2009, 01:24PM
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Thanks for the hockey article JW, but I think we're all looking for some Kane opinion. Thoughts?

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#2 Ogden Brother
August 11 2009, 01:45PM
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Any idea what $$$ Zherdev got in Russia?

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#3 The Fish
August 11 2009, 01:49PM
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@ ronaldo: Go to the next stories comments. There is plenty of opinion there.

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#4 Woogie
August 11 2009, 01:56PM
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What kind of $$$ is Grier getting?

As much as I'm in favour for him to come back he is not the 3 line center we crave!

Zherdev, could easily be an 80 point guy based on talent but is just lazy and was passed up on every team he has been on in North America.

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#5 ronaldo
August 11 2009, 02:13PM
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@ The Fish Should have used (~) but I figured I was laying it on thick enough as it was.

As a side note and completely off anyones topic: I just drove by the new Pro Hockey Life in Mayfield Common and they have a huge picture of Eric Stall in his Hurricane's uni adorning their front door. Does this company know what city they're opening in. Do they have Lecavier's poster on their new Calgary locations. Weird.

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#6 Jodes
August 11 2009, 02:30PM
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Woogie wrote:

What kind of $$$ is Grier getting? As much as I’m in favour for him to come back he is not the 3 line center we crave!

Well of course he isn't.. he's a winger!

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#7 99thoilerfan
August 11 2009, 02:50PM
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Thanks for the update...

I think Kane story, is uber-hyped. Overdone already. Enough of Young Rich Player does bad, stories.

I, like others, still hope for some movement, with our line up, before game 1. Really! There was talk of Heatley again on Lowetides site. And always talk of the Oil, as part of a three way.

I thinking is some fresh faces in the lockers, might shake the status up with new attitudes. That with the new coaching approach..

Is this our Team game 1, or is there still a chance of any of our wish lists coming true? Ufa Signing?

I have high hopes, the is still time, right?

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#8 Woogie
August 11 2009, 02:54PM
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@ Jodes:

Thanks tips

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#9 Chris.
August 11 2009, 03:02PM
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99thoilerfan wrote:

There was talk of Heatley again on Lowetides site

Talk won't die until either a) Heatley is traded somewhere else, or b) Tambo pulls the trigger on another high profile deal.

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#10 Tayranchula
August 11 2009, 03:08PM
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The oilers should trade for Andre Kostitsyn Has a wicked shot and with Hemsky setting him up it will be golden 35 goals for him while Hemsky still gets 25 Im probably just dreaming but that would be sexy

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#11 Tayranchula
August 11 2009, 03:09PM
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The Oilers should trade Smid for Andre Kostitsyn He has a wicked shot and with Hemsky setting him up he will pot 35 goals while Hemsky still gets 25 goals Im probably just dreaming but I would like that very much

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#12 Gunner
August 11 2009, 03:13PM
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@ Tayranchula: do you think we should trade for Andre Kostitsyn?

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#13 Ogden Brother
August 11 2009, 03:14PM
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Tayranchula wrote:

The Oilers should trade Smid for Andre Kostitsyn He has a wicked shot and with Hemsky setting him up he will pot 35 goals while Hemsky still gets 25 goals Im probably just dreaming but I would like that very much

Why do people keep saying stuff like this? Hemsky's been in the league what 5? 6? Years? Who's goal totals shot way up playing with him (or shot way down when traded away) to make people think this?

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#14 Librarian Mike
August 11 2009, 03:16PM
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Jonathan, not only did Sidney Crosby have a birthday last week (in case you didn't hear) but there are rumours he's having another one next year. If I were you, I'd get started on the article now. haha.

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#15 Ender the Dragon
August 11 2009, 03:22PM
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Rosie was a good soldier, but what I remember most about him was that it seemed like they needed to stop a game at least once a week to let him get off the ice and try to pop his shoulder back into place. I haven't followed how that's healed for him, but typically those turn into chronic injuries. In addition, Rosie's knee and groin really bothered him last year and he missed more than 20 games because of them.

I know he's only 34 years old, but this is a guy with some hard miles on his body. I'll be shocked if he plays 60 games this season.

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#16 Wanye Gretz
August 11 2009, 03:26PM
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Librarian Mike wrote:

there are rumours he’s having another one next year.

I can't wait for the Eklund Tweet:

Hearing something with Crosby on the horizon in 365 days.... (e4)

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#17 Chris.
August 11 2009, 03:33PM
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It's well documented that MacT had some input in personnel decisions under Lowe. Given Quinn's background, I wonder what (if any) inpact he will have on the management side of things. I know Quinn is on the record saying that these matters are not his department... but I wonder nonetheless. I'd bet hard dollars that Quinn is unimpressed with the current Oiler crop of centers.

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#18 Alex87
August 11 2009, 03:35PM
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Would Fleury consider signing a minor league deal? If he wanted to stay in North America, that is.

He's obviously broke and hurting for cash. Some of the higher end AHL deals pay six figures which is good cash for anyone, let alone a schmuck who's in some serious financial trouble. Any chance a team would be willing to sign Fleury to give the farm a boost?

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#19 SportLife » Mid-August Bric-a-Brac
August 11 2009, 03:36PM
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[...] MacDonaldI have to hand it to Brian Burke: he’s got a pretty good idea of what he’s doing. N Go to Source Leave a comment Related PostsAugust 7, 2009 -- The REAL Story Behind the Phoenix Coyotes [...]

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#20 NBOilerFan
August 11 2009, 03:36PM
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I suspect Zherdev's conract in the KHL will have an "out" clause should he garner significant interest in the next few weeks from an NHL team.

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#21 Ogden Brother
August 11 2009, 03:41PM
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Chris. wrote:

It’s well documented that MacT had some input in personnel decisions under Lowe. Given Quinn’s background, I wonder what (if any) inpact he will have on the management side of things. I know Quinn is on the record saying that these matters are not his department… but I wonder nonetheless. I’d bet hard dollars that Quinn is unimpressed with the current Oiler crop of centers.

I would agree.... which makes it extra frustrating that they haven't brought in an experienced 3C.

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#22 Joey Moss
August 11 2009, 03:49PM
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I am glad there is a place losers like Zherdev can go after they finish robbing the NHL.

I could give a Shiite if players like that want to stay in the NHL or not - these guys are typical 90s/00s era Ruskies that are lazy and too full of themselves to be of any real value to a team.

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#23 OvenChicken8
August 11 2009, 04:06PM
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Alex87 wrote:

He’s obviously broke and hurting for cash. Some of the higher end AHL deals pay six figures which is good cash for anyone, let alone a schmuck who’s in some serious financial trouble. Any chance a team would be willing to sign Fleury to give the farm a boost?

I'd bet he isn't broke, he has his own cement/concrete company in the Calgary area and from what I understand it is doing alright. Just because a guy wants to play hockey again doesn't mean he is broke. Ever think that maybe he doesn't want peoples last memories of Theo Fleury to be "oh, that alky/addict that got kicked out of the show"

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#24 Chris.
August 11 2009, 04:08PM
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@ Johnathan Willis:

Apparently, the Hockey News ranked the Khabibulin contract as the number one WORST UFA contract this offseason. You're own position is well known: I'm proud of you for not taking the time to gloat.

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#25 Chris.
August 11 2009, 04:15PM
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OvenChicken8 wrote:

I’d bet he isn’t broke, he has his own cement/concrete company in the Calgary area and from what I understand it is doing alright.

According to Eric Francis last night on Tencer's show; Fleury IS financially motivated. Fleury's business is bankrupt, divorce settlements and general money mismanagement has left Fleury in serious financial trouble.

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#26 joe
August 11 2009, 04:17PM
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Joey Moss wrote:

I am glad there is a place losers like Zherdev can go after they finish robbing the NHL. I could give a Shiite if players like that want to stay in the NHL or not - these guys are typical 90s/00s era Ruskies that are lazy and too full of themselves to be of any real value to a team.

What did Zherdev really rob? He never really made that much money considered what he put up on the scoresheet.

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#27 OvenChicken8
August 11 2009, 04:24PM
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@ Chris.: I stand corrected. Thank you my good sir.

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#28 Ogden Brother
August 11 2009, 04:55PM
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Chris. wrote:

@ Johnathan Willis: Apparently, the Hockey News ranked the Khabibulin contract as the number one WORST UFA contract this offseason. You’re own position is well known: I’m proud of you for not taking the time to gloat.

Haha, hopefully people can start putting 2 and 2 together here.

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#29 Jonathan Willis
August 11 2009, 05:23PM
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@ OvenChicken8: @ Chris.:

Check out the link to Mirtle's site above (the "and it seems he needs it" one). He's got the goods.

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#30 Jonathan Willis
August 11 2009, 05:24PM
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@ Chris.:

I've said my piece on Khabibulin, at least until the season starts. Besides, I don't place much stock in THN's opinion any more.

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#31 Tayranchula
August 11 2009, 05:57PM
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@ Ogden Brother: ooo i dunno maybe cause on the powerplay he always looks for a one timer to Horcoff or a Dman or on 2 on 1 usually makes passes to get the goalie moving across So typically with that style of play he is usually going to be a set up man for assists not a sniper and everybody who watches the Oilers knows this

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#32 BigE57
August 11 2009, 06:43PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Check out the link to Mirtle’s site above (the “and it seems he needs it” one). He’s got the goods.

The financial numbers illustrate a pretty bleak picture but the fact that Fleury's 2007 and 2008 incomes aren't included is somewhat misleading as child suport payments are based on the previous years income (as a divorced friend has described for me many times over beers) Also we have no idea where Fleury had his money invested for his assets to take such a huge dive, if it was in the markets than last years financial crash may have as much to do with the dramatic drop as his spending habits.

Maybe Fleury does need the cash but if he cracks a line up somewhere who is going to spend more than the league minumum on such a risk when cap space is seemingly becoming the most valuable commodity in the NHL.

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#33 viss.99
August 11 2009, 06:47PM
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Chris. wrote:

It’s well documented that MacT had some input in personnel decisions under Lowe. Given Quinn’s background, I wonder what (if any) inpact he will have on the management side of things. I know Quinn is on the record saying that these matters are not his department… but I wonder nonetheless. I’d bet hard dollars that Quinn is unimpressed with the current Oiler crop of centers.

But what else in Quinn supposed to do? Tambi thinks this team is playoff bound.

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#34 viss.99
August 11 2009, 06:58PM
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Does anybody have any theories on why Tambi has not gone after some of the others free-agents since Heatly flipped us off? The team needs grit,size, and someone to play with #83. I hear there is nothing on the table as in trades, besides the goalie spot, is he serious or does he have something up his sleeve before training camp?

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#35 Ogden Brother
August 11 2009, 07:43PM
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Tayranchula wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: ooo i dunno maybe cause on the powerplay he always looks for a one timer to Horcoff or a Dman or on 2 on 1 usually makes passes to get the goalie moving across So typically with that style of play he is usually going to be a set up man for assists not a sniper and everybody who watches the Oilers knows this

That's great, still doesn't mean he's increased anyones goal totals, nor that he will in the future.

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#36 Lofty
August 11 2009, 08:44PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Haha, hopefully people can start putting 2 and 2 together here.

@ Tayranchula: You will notice that Ogden Brother thinks he is smarter than everyone else the longer that you are on the nation...

This just in (E4) Tambo is going to hire Ogden Brother to be his personel advisor. Should happen in the next two days

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#37 Chris
August 11 2009, 09:21PM
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@ Lofty:

Whoooa. Bring the heat!

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#38 Tayranchula
August 12 2009, 12:08AM
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@ Lofty: well seeing as I am a rookie to the nation (not the oilers though), Im glad you gave me a few pointers and to Ogden Brother who would you rather have playing top LW with Hemsky,(realistically) cause Hemmer is easily the best player on the team and will make other players (most likely Snipers) better. Look what he has done to Horcoff. He got him a fat contract.

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#39 Gunner
August 12 2009, 07:33AM
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@ Tayranchula: ~Hemsky is nothing without Horcoff~ Right Ogden..?

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#40 Woodguy
August 12 2009, 08:25AM
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viss.99 wrote:

Does anybody have any theories on why Tambi has not gone after some of the others free-agents since Heatly flipped us off?

No cap space. Need to trade players out to bring some in.

Heatley is not a free agent.

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#41 Ogden Brother
August 12 2009, 08:29AM
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Lofty wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: Haha, hopefully people can start putting 2 and 2 together here. @ Tayranchula: You will notice that Ogden Brother thinks he is smarter than everyone else the longer that you are on the nation… This just in (E4) Tambo is going to hire Ogden Brother to be his personel advisor. Should happen in the next two days

Ya, unsubstantiated/unsupported posts/theory’s bug me.

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#42 Ogden Brother
August 12 2009, 08:34AM
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Gunner wrote:

@ Tayranchula: ~Hemsky is nothing without Horcoff~ Right Ogden..?

Considering the team has been out scored roughly 2-1 the past 2 years (5 on 5) when Hemsky is on the ice without Horc, ya I'd say Horc is pretty important to Hemsky's/the teams success.

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#43 jt in Oilertown
August 12 2009, 09:34AM
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I loved Grier during his time with the Oil...he brought it every night, even when he was banged up (the one year that he has shoulder troubles, it seemed like every shift it woud pop out, he'd get it popped back in at the bench, and never miss a shift.

That said, he wouldn't be the answer. A younger player of his ilk, though...

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#44 Tull
August 12 2009, 09:49AM
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Oilers sign Smid to a 2 year deal and Brule to a 1 year. Does this pave the way for Tambo to trade one of our 7 NHL ready dmen? Especially with guys like Peckham, Petry, and Chorney waiting for a chance?

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#45 Mike Sciarpelletti
August 12 2009, 10:29AM
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In terms of Mike Grier, I used to get my skates sharpened at the same place as him. He was the nicest guy, a real professional.

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#46 Lofty
August 12 2009, 10:35AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Ya, unsubstantiated/unsupported posts/theory’s bug me.

Just because you dont agree with a post does not make it unsubstantiated/unsupported.

Ogden Brother wrote:

That’s great, still doesn’t mean he’s increased anyones goal totals, nor that he will in the future.

How can you prove that Hemsky has not increased anyones goal totals? It is just as plausable that Horc, Cole, Penner or anyone else would have scored even less points without him. Does the fact that Smyth had 96 points over 132 games without him vs. 119 points over 128 with him prove that Hemsky does increase players totals?

Tayranchula's theory is that he does, how can you say it is unsubstantiated/unsupported?

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#47 Librarian Mike
August 12 2009, 10:36AM
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@ jt in Oilertown:

I feel the same way about Grier. I try to do my part for the environment, but I'm not convinced that recycling works when it comes to the Oilers.

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#48 OvenChicken8
August 12 2009, 10:40AM
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Tull wrote:

Oilers sign Smid to a 2 year deal and Brule to a 1 year. Does this pave the way for Tambo to trade one of our 7 NHL ready dmen? Especially with guys like Peckham, Petry, and Chorney waiting for a chance?

Yes it does. ~Gilbert for Malkin (E3)~ LOL!

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#49 Librarian Mike
August 12 2009, 10:42AM
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OvenChicken8 wrote:

Yes it does. ~Gilbert for Malkin (E3)~ LOL!

No way. ~For us to even consider that, they'd have to throw in Staal as well. Get real.~ (G7?)

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#50 Cam
August 12 2009, 10:52AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Considering the team has been out scored roughly 2-1 the past 2 years (5 on 5) when Hemsky is on the ice without Horc, ya I’d say Horc is pretty important to Hemsky’s/the teams success.

I concur. Hemsky needs Horc's responsibility in order for his "creativeness" not to backfire into our own net.

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