Deep thoughts XI: Making due

Robin Brownlee
August 05 2009 11:45PM

the-gambler

Making the best of a bad situation is usually easier said than done, but when it's the only option, you can either play the cards you're dealt and suck it up or fold your hand, pee your pants and curl up in a corner sobbing at the injustice of it all.

That's pretty much where Steve Tambellini sits today after failing to get Dany Heatley to stop sucking his thumb long enough to agree to a trade that would make him an Edmonton Oiler during a summer in which he's managed exactly one notable player personnel move -- the overpayment that is the four-year contract inked by Nikolai Khabibulin.

Tambellini still hasn't addressed the need for a first-line left-winger, hasn't added a checking centre who can kill penalties and win face-offs and he hasn't done anything to replace the production lost when Ales Kotalik was allowed to walk as an unrestricted free agent.

That said, and with the challenges obvious to anybody with a functioning brain stem, I don't see any need for fans make like Mr. Leahy and assume a prone position with a big pee stain on the front of their pants.

Call me naïve, or a rights holder even, but there's got to be a way to turn a fistful of jokers into a decent hand, or at least something to bluff with. What could possibly go wrong?

THE PDP SOLUTION

The way I see it, Dustin Penner remains the best option from the personnel under contract now as this team's first-line left-winger.

I don't think being included in the Ottawa package for Heatley with Andrew Cogliano and Ladislav Smid is going to bother Penner a bit -- at least not as much as the subtraction of Craig MacTavish behind the bench is going to help him.

If I'm Pat Quinn and Tom Renney, I've already made a call to Penner that he better arrive for training camp in the best shape of his life because I'm going to play his ass off in the first 20 games of the season and see what happens. First-line time. First-unit power play time. The works.

Will Penner score 40-50 goals even under optimum circumstances? Not a chance. Could he manage 35? If PDP has any spine and even one shred of pride under that spare tire, I think so. How better to shove it to MacT than succeed in his absence?

If Penner can't succeed here this year after cashing cheques he hasn't earned for two seasons, he can't succeed here at all.

What's the option? Sit him out? Bury him on the fourth line? Bury him in the minors? That's cutting off your nose to spite your face.

OUTSIDE THE BOX

-- I never got caught up in the YouTube ga-ga over the offensive wizardry of Rob Schremp, but if I'm Quinn and Renney I'm giving the kid a real look this pre-season in a position where he can succeed.

Schremp was never going to get a sniff here under MacTavish. If he isn't too far gone, if he isn't sulking at how he's been treated and if he wasn't wrecked by the horrid season he just had in Springfield, maybe there's a chance he can show something.

While I'm not betting the house on it, Schremp might surprise his critics if he's encouraged for being what he is, a creator of offence, instead of being criticized for what he's not. Nothing to lose. It's time.

-- Gilbert Brule has a job to lose at training camp. He's faster, more skilled and grittier than Kyle Brodziak. Is there any reason he shouldn't be able to fill his spot and role on this roster?

-- If J.F. Jacques and a draft pick or prospect won't get it done, offer the Washington Capitals Cogliano for David Steckel.

-- Let teams know Ethan Moreau and Steve Staios are available, cheap. Let a handful of teams know that Tom Gilbert or Denis Grebeshkov are available, not cheap.

AND...

-- So Michael Nylander, on the outs in Washington, thinks Edmonton might be a good place to play? Really? Is that so? Is that right? Nothing personal about the way you flipped off the Oilers the first time and pulled a fast one on Kevin Lowe, eh? No chance.

-- Charlie Huddy should still be employed here.

-- 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 442Junkie
August 06 2009, 12:00AM
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Really Nylander? you have to be pulling my leg. I know I'm only 5 foot 9 but I'm used to it now, I don't need to be any taller.

I say go PDP! and not to the donair shop...

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#2 Ogden Brother
August 06 2009, 12:03AM
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Cogs for Steckel? Yikes!

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#3 Ogden Brother
August 06 2009, 12:04AM
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Oh and 25-30 for PDP with 1/4 of the mean streak that Hartnell has (or his Atl game played 20 games over) and we're good to go on line #1.

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#4 Robin Brownlee
August 06 2009, 12:25AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Cogs for Steckel? Yikes!

Better Nilsson, of course, but I don't know if the Caps would take on the extra money.

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#5 Cam
August 06 2009, 12:34AM
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I never watned Nylander...a nd was happy when he went to Washington. I thought he was good, but not better than Horcoff. Jagr padded his numbers. Sit and stew... I hope he is never an Oiler.

I think Penner is Arnott on Left wing. Back off and let him mature. We will be happy soon... if the Oilers coach him correctly. I am glad that we don't have MacTavish this year.

thi si J.F> Jacques year to show he wasn't a waste of a draft pick. I am hoping he proves the naysayers wrong this year. I think he is more likely than Nilsson to win Quinn to his side.

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#6 Dustin F*ckin T
August 06 2009, 12:40AM
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Penner under the new coaches and perhaps a new excercise program that doesnt include the daily donair should have him playing alot better. I would love steckel on this team and would almost let cogliano go for him if they wouldnt take nilsson. Only reason is because its hard to find cogliano a spot where he should play cuz his skill level and play is above the third line and I think it's stunting his growth constantly playing those third line minutes. Nylander can kiss my as* Ya it is a nice play to play but apparently you didnt think so. So you ain't coming to us now. As for Huddy I think he should have been kept on but I don't mind a completely overturned coaching staff as it means they can start completely from scratch.

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#7 HAZER
August 06 2009, 01:21AM
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Penner = 25+ goals this year.

Yes or No ?

I think he does.

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#8 nullterm
August 06 2009, 01:26AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Cogliano for David Steckel

Yeah, as much as the team needs a face off guy, not for that poker chip.

Tambellini would elevate himself to Pocklington status with a deal like that over night.

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#9 Jeff
August 06 2009, 01:27AM
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Agreed on the Schremp bit. I want to see him get an honest shot so we can put the debate over him to rest once and for all. I never understood why he only got four games last year. He played well and produced in the first two, but then played poorly in a game in which the entire team (save for Roli) was completely dominated (against SJ), and all of a sudden he was back in the doghouse. He now has a fresh start with a new coach who hasn't publicly berated him. Give him his chance, and if he doesn't take full advantage of it, release him.

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#10 Andrew W
August 06 2009, 01:36AM
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@ Robin Brownlee: Robin Brownlee wrote:

– If J.F. Jacques and a draft pick or prospect won’t get it done, offer the Washington Capitals Cogliano for David Steckel.

Thank you for writing this. I have been torn apart by a few contributors on this site for this very suggestion, including Mr. Willis, if I remember right.

I like Cogliano, and I understand that it's a risk that he'll blossom into a regular 30 goal scorer, but Steckel suits this team's needs to a tee: a big, tough penalty killer who wins faceoffs and is young. From what I saw of him in the playoffs this year, he might become the favourite player in town within a month of donning the copper and blue, too. I'm also convinced that while Cogliano has the potential to develop a higher ceiling offensively, Steckel is a much safer bet for a successful career in the NHL - it'll just be in a different role. It's hard to imagine why Washington would trade him, though, even for a highly touted player like Cogs.

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#11 Hemmertime
August 06 2009, 04:25AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

If J.F. Jacques and a draft pick or prospect won’t get it done, offer the Washington Capitals Cogliano for David Steckel.

Mortgaging our future to pick up an asset when many other comparable options on UFA to fill our need. I think this would be a bad deal. Why not do whatever is needed to get rid of Staios, Moreau, or Nilsson and just sign Maltholtra? Steckel has 31 pts over the last 2 years. Malholtra had 35 last year alone. Coupled with the fact Steckel is UFA at the end of next year and it makes this move foolish. What if, like Glencross, he just up and leaves over a few hundred k difference or - god forbid - doesn't like Edmonton and has no intentions of resigning? We are worse off next year than this. Nevermind I think Cogliano vs Steckel we would still be worse off with Steckel this year but that is debatable, moving one of our top 5 assets for a 3-4 line possible rental doesn't make a lick of sense.

@ Andrew W: Just because Brownlee said it doesn't make it a good move, RB will be the first to cop to the fact he has written some things that seem completely stupid in hindsight. That being said it does give you ammunition to fire back at them now lol.

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#12 Dallas
August 06 2009, 04:40AM
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Hi my name is Dallas and I'm an oilerholic

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#13 Dallas
August 06 2009, 04:50AM
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Nice peice Robin but I also disagree with cogliano for steckel if we are going to trade him why wouldn't we package him up for a guy like Jordan Stall over there in pit at least he is still young or someone that would at least be an even trade.Don't get me wrong I like steckel and we need someone like him but I feel a 27-28 year old 3or4th liner for a 22 year old player who isn't that bad and hasn't even reached his potential yet and Is at least a second liner is a bit of a rip off for us don't you think.

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#14 DizzyD
August 06 2009, 06:15AM
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I say lets start already!!!! even if we're stuck with what we have. New coaches won't magically get us the cup but should keep it very interesting and hopefully exciting...then MAYBE next year we can dump some contracts and maybe land a big goal scorer (not even our biggest problem). Plus theres still lots of time till training camp anything could still happen.........is it October yet?...is it October yet?.....is it October yet?......

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#15 Gord
August 06 2009, 06:52AM
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Loved the "rights holder" reference/jab.

That does suck about Huddy not being here. I still want to know what pictures of Lowe he has stuffed in a safety deposit box as I can't imagine how he kept a job over Charlie.

Cogliano for a 1-year-left-then-UFA Steckel? Wow.

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#16 MattN
August 06 2009, 06:56AM
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To: Steve Tambellini RE: Nylander

OK. Here is the plan. Call his agent and tell Capitals that you are willing to pick him up, but only on re- entry waivers. Nylander waives his No Movement Clause and the caps send him down to the minors. The second his name appears on the Hersey Bears AHL roster you call his agent up and say " My wife has changed her mind on you coming here. She says your too cold and boring. Sorry about that. "

Lets see how Mrs. Nylander likes spending the winter in Hershey. Or alternatively, the Caps could recall him and he gets a %50 pay cut. Win, Win IMO.

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#17 MattN
August 06 2009, 06:58AM
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edit button

you're....not your

grammer nit, ftw

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#18 viss.99
August 06 2009, 06:58AM
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I would love to hear ScubaSteve's delusional take on this topic.

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#19 Musica Latina
August 06 2009, 07:16AM
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My son told me to check out your blog and I must say I'm impressed, very helpful.

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#20 Lofty
August 06 2009, 07:22AM
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HAZER wrote:

Penner = 25+ goals this year. Yes or No ? I think he does

I'd be happy is Hemsky got 25

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#21 Robin Brownlee
August 06 2009, 07:25AM
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nullterm wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: Cogliano for David Steckel Yeah, as much as the team needs a face off guy, not for that poker chip. Tambellini would elevate himself to Pocklington status with a deal like that over night.

Hemmertime wrote:

Mortgaging our future to pick up an asset when many other comparable options on UFA to fill our need. I think this would be a bad deal.

Dallas wrote:

Nice peice Robin but I also disagree with cogliano for steckel

That's why the subhead says OUTSIDE THE BOX, men. I don't know if the Caps have any interest in Cogliano or in moving Steckel, but he's somebody (not named Hemsky or Gagner) who would at least get their attention. I originally brought up Steckel in another item not because the Caps want to part with him, but because they are asking around about toughness and if I was the Oilers, I'd target Steckel as the return I'd want. Is Cogliano too much? Maybe. Depends on how the logjam up front sorts itself out. But don't even mention Steckel's offensive numbers as a reason not to do it -- he is exactly what the Oilers need on the PK and face-off fronts and is vastly underrated compared to similar players with bigger names but lesser abilities.

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#22 Dave
August 06 2009, 07:52AM
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Where are Nylander's comments saying that now he thinks its not a bad idea playing in Edmonton?

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#23 OvenChicken8
August 06 2009, 08:17AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Could he manage 35? If PDP has any spine and even one shred of pride under that spare tire, I think so.

From what I've heard Penner has been training with Simon Bennett and if that is the case that spare tire will be out of here come September.

My Dustin Penner prediction for next season is 31g 22a... You heard it here first.

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#24 Lofty
August 06 2009, 08:20AM
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Dave wrote:

Where are Nylander’s comments saying that now he thinks its not a bad idea playing in Edmonton?

There is an article in the journal that references a quote he made in Europe.

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#25 scorecoff hemmercules
August 06 2009, 08:26AM
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@ Dave:

Cult of hockey, David Staples has a write up on it.

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#26 Jonathan Willis
August 06 2009, 08:28AM
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Here's a translated version of the European article, courtesy of Japer's Rink.

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#27 Librarian Mike
August 06 2009, 08:30AM
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Considering how much plastic surgery he's had, Kenny Rogers appears to be the 'face off' king (BA-ZING).

As for Nylander talking about playing here; what balls on the guy. If the Oilers do anything but tell him to piss off I will be very depressed.

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#28 common sense
August 06 2009, 08:34AM
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Of course some of the best decisions are those that never came to fruition. We are so lucky we didn't get Nylander or Hossa or Gomez or any of those overpaid UFAs. Browner is right that Tambo overpaid for Khabi. I think Tambo panicked a little bit after Roli signed on the Island. After the Tambo signing, the market for UFA goalies tanked. Biron would've been nice at one year for 1.3mil....

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#29 scorecoff hemmercules
August 06 2009, 08:38AM
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@ Librarian Mike:

33 points last year at 4.9 mil cap hit, I wouldn't think Tambo would even consider that guy at the moment. Maybe if Jagr was on the team and the cap ceiling was 60 mil. Can you really blame the guy for choosing the Caps over us at the time??

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#30 Zamboni Driver
August 06 2009, 08:40AM
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The root of 'fan' is fanatic, I suppose. Meaning also irrational nonsense is part of the ticket.....

I cannot for the life of me understand the blind-faithers thinking the heartless lug that is Penner will ever be a player. I am not a MacT fan, but he was entirely right - the big contract was the POINT for Penner, the end point, not the motivator.

The dude can't skate, doesn't hit, stands in front of the net but can't deflect a puck.....what the hell is the point of 17 goals at holymotherofgodwe'repayinghimthatmuch?

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#31 scorecoff hemmercules
August 06 2009, 08:42AM
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common sense wrote:

Biron would’ve been nice at one year for 1.3mil….

That wasn't an option for us. Why don't people understand that??? We would have had to wait, sans starting goaltender for a month, and even then he may have been gone.

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#32 Colin
August 06 2009, 08:44AM
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scorecoff hemmercules wrote:

@ Librarian Mike: 33 points last year at 4.9 mil cap hit, I wouldn’t think Tambo would even consider that guy at the moment. Maybe if Jagr was on the team and the cap ceiling was 60 mil. Can you really blame the guy for choosing the Caps over us at the time??

No but you can blame a guy for agreeing to a contract and then saying no at the last minute.

As to the actual article I think Robin has the right of a lot of things here, I'm not convinced the Caps will part with Steckel, and Cogs might be a bit of an overpay, but it's hard to see how Cogs fits right now unless some pieces are moved. Not my first choice on who to trade, but I wouldn't be terribly upset.

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#33 Cam
August 06 2009, 08:51AM
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@ Zamboni Driver: Penner wasn't getting much ice time for the last half of the year and still wasn't very far from being the top goal scorer on the team. He has a long stride that makes him look slower than he is, and when he is on his game makes lot of room for Hemmer and Horc.

Obviously he had issues last year, but he has a LOT of upside. He is capable of getting 30 goals... it's just whether or not he has the drive to make it happen. We will see.

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#34 Robin Brownlee
August 06 2009, 08:53AM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

I cannot for the life of me understand the blind-faithers thinking the heartless lug that is Penner will ever be a player

Apparently, my point zipped right over your head. It's not about blind faith. If you've read what I've written about Penner here, you know that's not the case. Who do you think coined the name PDP? I'm not for giving players like Penner free passes, but . . .

Penner is here and there's no undoing that until you can unload him in a trade, which is less than likely, so you either bitch about how badly Lowe screwed up or you try to put Penner into a situation in which he's most likely to succeed. And, yes, MacTavish was right about Penner's lack of motivation, but he has to wear some of the failure as well. He lost patience, got frustrated and handled Penner very badly at several points last season.

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#35 Ogden Brother
August 06 2009, 08:58AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Here’s a translated version of the European article, courtesy of Japer’s Rink.

Hey Willis, what site was it that you use to find games missed/player? (not total, but specific game)

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#36 Ogden Brother
August 06 2009, 08:59AM
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Robin, have you heard if the Oil have shown any interest in Malhotra yet?

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#37 Jonathan Willis
August 06 2009, 09:01AM
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@ Ogden Brother:

Sportsnet's player pages.

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#38 The Fish
August 06 2009, 09:02AM
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scorecoff hemmercules wrote:

Can you really blame the guy for choosing the Caps over us at the time??

Not at all. Most players would give their right nut to play with Ovechkin.

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#39 Jonathan Willis
August 06 2009, 09:04AM
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@ Robin Brownlee:

Two questions:

1) Who do you bump out of the top-six for Schremp? Nilsson? O'Sullivan? 2) Would you regard Cogliano for Steckel as a significant overpay by the Oilers?

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#40 Jonathan Willis
August 06 2009, 09:06AM
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Speaking of translated interviews, Lubomir Visnovsky told a Slovak player that he thinks the Oilers are 'one, maybe two forwards' away from being complete.

He's also about 80% recovered from injury at this point.

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#41 Jonathan Willis
August 06 2009, 09:07AM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

That should read "Slovak paper" not "player".

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#42 Bob Cob
August 06 2009, 09:08AM
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Michelle Nylander is a Homo, nobody else want you so know Edmonton is alright, get lost. This is where the Oilers get some respect back, by not pandering to the needs of washed up players like Nylander who flipped us off in the first place.

Don't trade Andrew Cogliano, that will come back to bite the Oilers in the ass, its all part of building a team. I know the Oilers want that 3rd line center, but Cogliano is to much of an over payment. There has to be a cheaper option out there still on the ufa market.

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#43 Archaeologuy
August 06 2009, 09:09AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

He’s also about 80% recovered from injury at this point.

only 80%? Ugh. Maybe 2 full months will do some good.

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#44 oilersseasonticketholdersince99
August 06 2009, 09:13AM
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If MacTavish was such a great coach how come no one has signed him to coach? If This team surprises everyone and has a great year with the same players as last year it will many years before Mac T finds himself behind the bench.

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#45 The Fish
August 06 2009, 09:22AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Two questions: 1) Who do you bump out of the top-six for Schremp? Nilsson? O’Sullivan? 2) Would you regard Cogliano for Steckel as a significant overpay by the Oilers?

1)I think you bump Nilsson. He is a lost cause. He has been given every opportunity to succeed, but continues to p!ss away his chances. I have it on good authority that he is the laziest person on earth. 2)Based on our needs right now, I would not consider Cogliano for Steckel a huge overpay, but it would be real tough to part with a guy like Cogs. Great wheels and will probably be at least a 20 goal scorer for his entire career going forward.

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#46 forsoothed
August 06 2009, 09:23AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Penner is here and there’s no undoing that until you can unload him in a trade, which is less than likely, so you either bitch about how badly Lowe screwed up or you try to put Penner into a situation in which he’s most likely to succeed. And, yes, MacTavish was right about Penner’s lack of motivation, but he has to wear some of the failure as well. He lost patience, got frustrated and handled Penner very badly at several points last season.

This.

One problem is that the Oil are full of question marks at this point. How will Penner/ Nilsson respond to new coaches? If they perform up to their potential (Penner specifically) our #1 LW problem is solved. Will the West Edm Wall get injured 5 games into the season? Can someone besides Horcoff win a faceoff?

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#47 Archaeologuy
August 06 2009, 09:28AM
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oilersseasonticketholdersince99 wrote:

If MacTavish was such a great coach how come no one has signed him to coach? If This team surprises everyone and has a great year with the same players as last year it will many years before Mac T finds himself behind the bench.

The way i see it it will take 3-4 coaches getting fired all around the same time before someone takes a gamble on MacT. He's done. Coaches from the AHL or assistants from winning teams look safer than MacTavish. Why would anyone look at his record and say "that's what i want for my team"?

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#48 The Fish
August 06 2009, 09:32AM
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@ Archaeologuy: I think the fact that he took a rag tag bunch of mutts to game 7 of the stanley cup finals will probably hold some water with some desperate franchises. I still maintain that Mac T was a good coach.

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#49 Wanye Gretz
August 06 2009, 09:35AM
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The fact that the article about Nylander starts with "Boudreau said I wasn't good enough" and ends with "It would be fun to try in Edmonton" makes me laugh, then cry, then laugh again. The Oil should tell Nylander they will bring him aboard provided he go to Kelowna and burn all Heatley's rental furniture. That should provide an excellent way to exercise some demons. Ah Nylander. Finally we get to laugh at you.

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#50 Robin Brownlee
August 06 2009, 09:37AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Robin Brownlee: Two questions: 1) Who do you bump out of the top-six for Schremp? Nilsson? O’Sullivan? 2) Would you regard Cogliano for Steckel as a significant overpay by the Oilers?

Giving Schremp a chance in pre-season to show there's a reason to keep him doesn't require that anybody be bumped. If he plays in four or five or six of the pre-season games, he plays in the top six in situations (power play) where he can succeed. Maybe he forces a decision, maybe not. If you give him a real shot, there's no excuses about not being used properly etc etc. Like I said, I wouldn't count on it, but I want to know for sure before writing him off.

Yes, Cogliano is likely a marginal overpayment and there are other players (Nilsson, for example) I'd rather move first, but money and fit comes into it. I'll overpay using one of a raft of smallish forwards if that's what it takes. I'd love to get Steckel for Jacques and a pick/prospect, but if that's not enough and Steckel is your target -- and he should be -- then do what it takes within reason.

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