The Big Picture View of the Small Forwards

Jonathan Willis
September 25 2009 05:00AM

Small hockey player

The Oilers, as of right now, have nine forwards under 6’ tall on their roster. Four of those forwards are locks for the team, and two more are likely.

Locks

  • Sam Gagner: 5’11”
  • Patrick O’Sullivan: 5’11”
  • Andrew Cogliano: 5’10”
  • Mike Comrie: 5’10”

Likely

  • Robert Nilsson: 5’11”
  • Gilbert Brule: 5’10”

Possible

  • Rob Schremp: 5’11”
  • Jordan Eberle: 5’10”
  • Liam Reddox: 5’10”

Of that group four of those guys (Gagner, Cogliano, Comrie, Nilsson) are not a fit anywhere but on a scoring line, although Gagner and Cogliano might be able to grow into two-way players.

Additionally, Patrick O’Sullivan is probably best utilized in a scoring role against less than stellar opposition, and Gilbert Brule hasn’t shown that he’s capable of playing a defensive role; in other words, everyone but O’Sullivan needs to be put in a position to succeed – not too many own-zone starts, and not too many shifts against the Getzlafs and Iginlas of the league.

This is all relatively common knowledge, and has been discussed ad nauseum on message boards, radio, TV, and this site.

Let’s Step One Year Forward

Does anyone here believe that Jordan Eberle isn’t going to get a push next season, or that he’ll be anywhere other than on the Oilers’ roster? He should go back to junior this year, but the fact that he’s pushed his way into the conversation at this camp, combined with his draft pedigree means that he’ll almost certainly be an Oiler in 2010-11.

Let’s not forget 5’9” Linus Omark. Omark is coming off a tremendous season in Sweden, and so far has apparently had some issues with his KHL team. Maybe he makes the team, maybe he doesn’t; either way, it seems very likely that he’s going to challenge for a spot on the roster next season.

Next, we consider Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson. Paajarvi isn’t in the same range size-wise (6’1”, 201lbs) as the other players we’re considering, but his skill-set certainly is: he’s a young player with offensive talent who needs to round out his defensive game and probably needs some shelter from his coaching staff when he comes to North America. Maybe he starts next season in the AHL, but it’s easily within the realm of possibility that he pushes for a roster spot.

The Oilers are going to need to make decisions on all three of these guys, and it’s very difficult to imagine that either Eberle or Paajarvi are going to be tossed aside. Based on what he did in Sweden, it also seems like it would be a shame to send out Omark without taking a look at him.

In Other Words…

The Oilers are over-stocked with small players with a largely offense-only mindset. They have three remarkable prospects coming in next season, all of whom are going to be (at least initially) of much the same skill-set.

Individually, there’s an argument to be made for every one of these players. Gagner and Cogliano are obviously valuable players. Robert Nilsson, coming off a bad season, continues to show flashes of brilliance and is a guy who would be nice to keep. Mike Comrie’s had a strong preseason, and brings some experience and edge that the other players don’t. Patrick O’Sullivan has a few skills (shooter, penalty-killer) in short supply on the Oilers, and on top of that has put up better totals in the NHL than any of the other young guys. Gilbert Brule was a 6th overall pick in 2005 and has untapped offensive ability and a physical edge.

The fact of the matter though, is that however valuable these players are individually, there isn’t room for all of them. Certainly one, probably two and possibly as many as three are going to be shipped out by the start of next season.

Barring an outstanding return, Gagner, Cogliano and O’Sullivan are the three currently on the roster that I would keep.

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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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#151 Oilchange45
September 25 2009, 01:33PM
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Eddie, I had a couple of great responses, but out of respect, maybe you haven't caught on to the general tone of comments here. Discussion and ideas are good. Making up rumours not so much.

And to all, I have found the best way to get to a troll is to totally ignore him(her).

That sound you hear is me banging my head against my desk for ignoring my own rule.

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#152 Jimmy
September 25 2009, 01:56PM
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If Edmonton and Nashville are kicking tires, could Goc be back on the table?

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#153 Jonathan Willis
September 25 2009, 01:57PM
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@ Jimmy:

Pretty rare to see a freshly signed UFA swap teams in a trade. Too bad really, Goc's an interesting player.

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#154 Jimmy
September 25 2009, 02:01PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

Pretty rare as in... 'doesn't happen'?

If we've basically failed in filling our PK/Faceoff hole in the 4th line with developing prospects, he seems like a reasonable target if Nashville's depth is suffering.

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#155 Jeff
September 25 2009, 02:21PM
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If the Oilers are kicking tires it would most likely be a two for on or 1 for pick. Something has to give. Based on what I have seen so far in the pre-season this is the best lineup the Oilers can ice.

Penner Horc Hemmer Sully Comrie Jacques Cogs Gags Nilsson Moreau Brule Storts

Leaving Pisani, Pouliot and Big Mac.

If I were a betting man I'd say something drastic happens before sunday and I'm not talking about Schremp and Stone getting sent down.

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#156 Ender the Dragon
September 25 2009, 02:37PM
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@ Jeff: I'd guess MAP, Smacintyre, Eberle, Schremp and Stone are gone this weekend. I'd also guess Pisani is given a bye from the coaching staff and finds his way into the starting line-up. By my way of thinking, then, that leaves Reddox, Nilsson, and Brule fighting over the last roster spot with the two losers getting consolation seats in the press box.

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#157 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 25 2009, 02:37PM
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@ Jeff: Come on Jeff. According to Mcguire O'Sullivan has to be on a line with Horcoff and Hemmer. Who cares about breaking up the two guys with chemistry.

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#158 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 25 2009, 02:38PM
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@ Ender the Dragon: Reddox goes down because he can without having to go on waivers.

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#159 Jay
September 25 2009, 02:40PM
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Jeff wrote:

Penner Horc Hemmer Sully Comrie Jacques Cogs Gags Nilsson Moreau Brule Storts

Not a bad looking lineup. I also lean towards having D-Pens or JFJ on the first line LW. However, I think it might benefit total team scoring to spread out the size across 3 lines. This means keeping Pisani isntead of Nilsson. Penner Horcoff Hemsky Cogliano Gagne Pisani Jacques Comrie O'Sullivan Moreau Brule Stortini

This way, we've got at least one big man/grinder on each line who can dig the puck out. Also, I don't know how interchangeable Jacques and Pisani are for what wing they can play. If they are interchangeable, I think Switching Pisani and Jacques in this lineup would be solid as well. Any thoughts on this potential lineup?

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#160 King Mob
September 25 2009, 02:40PM
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but I love Pisani :(

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#161 Jason Gregor
September 25 2009, 02:43PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Snoodles: I’d expected it to be today, but I haven’t heard anything.

The cuts won't happen until Monday, Quinn said today...althought his exact words were "I shouldn't speculate, but I think we will make some moves on Monday".

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#162 swany
September 25 2009, 02:59PM
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I bet the starting line up for the Nucks will be 1st line of JFJ, Horc, Hemmer, 2nd line Penner, Comrie, PattyO 3rd line of Nilsson, Gagner, Cogs 4th line of Moreau, Brule, Storts. and the D will be all the starters with Habbi in net. This is the lineup I (hope) we start to see if JFJ has something with Horc and Hemmer he was the best player on that line against Calgary, if Horc and Hemmer can find a way to use JFJ skill set it would be a great lineup. The kids can play against the weekest competition this way as well 3 scoreing lines with one line that will play in your face hockey. Plus our 2 top lines have a big body to help out.

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#163 Ender the Dragon
September 25 2009, 03:07PM
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RV 12v electric blanket wrote:

Isn’t it amazing what people will do?

You mean, spam a popular discussion site in order to peddle crap? Yeah, it's amazing. Flake off.

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#164 Prop Jay
September 25 2009, 03:17PM
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What I dont understand is why penner is not playing with horc and hemmer. They were productive last year and have obviously chemistry. Penner, so far, has played like a changed man

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#165 swany
September 25 2009, 03:20PM
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Prop Jay wrote:

What I dont understand is why penner is not playing with horc and hemmer. They were productive last year and have obviously chemistry. Penner, so far, has played like a changed man

I think they like what JFJ can offer, they think he can get his scoring back from the AHL, and if anyone messes with Hemmer JFJ doesn't need a invitation to pound on them. Watch the amount of room JFJ creates for Hemmer when they are out there, he uses his BODY alot better than Penner plus he's a better skater

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#166 EddieEdmonton
September 25 2009, 03:23PM
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Jay wrote:

Jeff wrote: Penner Horc Hemmer Sully Comrie Jacques Cogs Gags Nilsson Moreau Brule Storts Penner Horcoff Hemsky Cogliano Gagne Pisani Jacques Comrie O’Sullivan Moreau Brule Stortini blockquote> Gagner Horcoff Hemsky Penner Comrie O'Sullivan Jacques Cogliano Nillson Moreau Brule Stortini
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#167 EddieEdmonton
September 25 2009, 03:26PM
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snhit i wanted to put Cogliano on the second and Comrie on the third

Penner Cogliano O'Sullivan Jacques Comrie Nillson

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#168 Jaime
September 25 2009, 03:29PM
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It depends on how expensive it will be to re-sign Cogliano. I think the Oilers will make it a priority to re-sign Gagner, but with Eberle, Omark and Paajarvi-Svensson coming down the pipe, you have to wonder if it wouldn't be more cost-effective to just promote one of those guys instead of trying to re-sign a very similar but more expensive player in Cogliano.

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#169 swany
September 25 2009, 03:30PM
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swany wrote:

I bet the starting line up for the Nucks will be 1st line of JFJ, Horc, Hemmer, 2nd line Penner, Comrie, PattyO 3rd line of Nilsson, Gagner, Cogs 4th line of Moreau, Brule, Storts. and the D will be all the starters with Habbi in net. This is the lineup I (hope) we start to see if JFJ has something with Horc and Hemmer he was the best player on that line against Calgary, if Horc and Hemmer can find a way to use JFJ skill set it would be a great lineup. The kids can play against the weekest competition this way as well 3 scoreing lines with one line that will play in your face hockey. Plus our 2 top lines have a big body to help out.

Same lines as at practise today boys, except Nilsson and Moreau were switched but that will change before puck drops on Sunday. that's a GOOD lineup

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#170 tlbest
September 25 2009, 03:31PM
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Can anybody explain wtf we didn't try and sign Rob "Nerdmeyer" for a song like the devils just did....oww wait thats right, he's not 5'8" and useless defensively !!! Have you seen our pentalty kill lately and our face off % is brutal. Why are we holding on to Pasani and his 2.5 million again ??? going to be a long year in oilerville this year........

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#171 Jaime
September 25 2009, 03:31PM
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Chances are at least one of those prospects will put up similar numbers to Cogliano in his first two seasons. The question is who?

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#172 swany
September 25 2009, 03:34PM
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tlbest wrote:

Can anybody explain wtf we didn’t try and sign Rob “Nerdmeyer” for a song like the devils just did….oww wait thats right, he’s not 5′8″ and useless defensively !!! Have you seen our pentalty kill lately and our face off % is brutal. Why are we holding on to Pasani and his 2.5 million again ??? going to be a long year in oilerville this year……..

WE ARE OVER THE CAP RIGHT NOW........NO MONEY

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#173 EddieEdmonton
September 25 2009, 03:36PM
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swany if you are taking penner of the first line why would you replace him with jacques penner is not bad and he has looked good this preseason he has chemistry already with hemmer and horcoff why put jacques there penner was the whipping boy last year because of mact and cole i really dont believe jacques starts the season in the top two lines maybe even three

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#174 Joey Moss
September 25 2009, 03:38PM
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TYPING IN CAPS MAKES IT TRUE

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#175 swany
September 25 2009, 03:42PM
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EddieEdmonton wrote:

swany if you are taking penner of the first line why would you replace him with jacques penner is not bad and he has looked good this preseason he has chemistry already with hemmer and horcoff why put jacques there penner was the whipping boy last year because of mact and cole i really dont believe jacques starts the season in the top two lines maybe even three

This will be JFJ 4th game on the 1st line, the reason is he was a scorer at the AHL level, maybe playing with Horc and Hemmer can revive that, plus he skates way better than Penner hits more and drops the gloves fast (if he has to just ask RR). Penner is a good player but you need some size with Comrie and PattyO if you go this way the Kids can play the softest minutes and really succeed. With Moreau, Brule and Storts that's a line that can cycle the puck, hit has speed and a scoring presents in Brule plus Moreau is good for 15. it's the most balanced lineup, you keep Mac and Pies in the press box until needed. P.S. watch JFJ is our Lucic, give him a shot.

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#176 swany
September 25 2009, 03:45PM
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Joey Moss wrote:

TYPING IN CAPS MAKES IT TRUE

NO IT DOESN'T, BUT EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW WE HAVE NO MONEY.

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#177 EddieEdmonton
September 25 2009, 03:45PM
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ok fair enough i agree i just dont want people to lose faith in penner he was everyones favorite goat for everything organization and team did wrong last year

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#178 Jimmy
September 25 2009, 03:47PM
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@ EddieEdmonton:

He also did nothing to prove anyone wrong.

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#179 ChiliChunk
September 25 2009, 03:49PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. wrote:

Reddox goes down because he can without having to go on waivers.

I don't see anyone claiming him even if he does have to clear.

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#180 swany
September 25 2009, 03:51PM
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EddieEdmonton wrote:

ok fair enough i agree i just dont want people to lose faith in penner he was everyones favorite goat for everything organization and team did wrong last year

He's played great so far and playing with Comrie and PattyO shouldn't effect him at all, he even said beening on the 1st line was alot of pressure so this way he's in the top six plus playing with 2 very offensive guys.

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#181 Jimmy
September 25 2009, 03:53PM
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I really like the idea of a Penner, Patty O, and Comrie line. If Comrie and O'Sullivan can keep the offense up, they could really benefit from Penner's presence in front of the net.

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#182 The Menace
September 25 2009, 03:55PM
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Jimmy wrote:

If Edmonton and Nashville are kicking tires, could Goc be back on the table?

it's too bad. we could have "Goc" that guy for next to nothing! ;) (recycled joke alert)

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#183 tlbest
September 25 2009, 03:56PM
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swany... we got lots of cap space if we would just make hockey descisions !!! Pisani 2.5 ( brutal ) Pouloite .95, Brule .8 Schremp .7 Staios 2.8. Totals 7.7 million, all could be buried in the minors and would free up a ton of space, or heaven forbid we find a sucker to take some of those contracts of our hands, even better......Robbie N. would of been a perfect, cheap pick up from a penatily kill and special teams point, where we desperatly need some size and defensive abilities, both we are sorrily lacking right now......

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#184 swany
September 25 2009, 04:43PM
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tlbest wrote:

swany… we got lots of cap space if we would just make hockey descisions !!! Pisani 2.5 ( brutal ) Pouloite .95, Brule .8 Schremp .7 Staios 2.8. Totals 7.7 million, all could be buried in the minors and would free up a ton of space, or heaven forbid we find a sucker to take some of those contracts of our hands, even better……Robbie N. would of been a perfect, cheap pick up from a penatily kill and special teams point, where we desperatly need some size and defensive abilities, both we are sorrily lacking right now……

Brule will stay up here, Schremp won't count against the cap because he won't make the team MAP will be waived (hopefully) no way do they do anything with Steve or Pies sorry Pies is a local boy who they won't waive or put in the minors

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#185 Jonathan Willis
September 25 2009, 05:00PM
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RE: Pisani

How many RW's on this team can get sent out against Ryan Getzlaf's (or Datsyuk, or whoever) line?

Maybe Hemsky?

That's Pisani's value. He can play against the other team's best players. Now, he might be a little overpaid, but the Oilers can't just send out Ryan Stone and hope for the best.

This team needs more veterans, not less, and that means Moreau and Pisani stay where they are.

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#186 Jonathan Willis
September 25 2009, 05:02PM
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Pouliot actually makes .825, which is part of where his value comes in: he's one of the few players on the roster with a good shot at outperforming his contract.

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#187 Chris
September 25 2009, 06:35PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

RE: Pisani How many RW’s on this team can get sent out against Ryan Getzlaf’s (or Datsyuk, or whoever) line? Maybe Hemsky? That’s Pisani’s value. He can play against the other team’s best players. Now, he might be a little overpaid, but the Oilers can’t just send out Ryan Stone and hope for the best. This team needs more veterans, not less, and that means Moreau and Pisani stay where they are.

Where were you last night when I battled trolls, newbies and a few plain old haters for hours on this very issue?

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#188 Jonathan Willis
September 25 2009, 07:49PM
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@ Chris:

Watching the game ;)

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#189 EddieEdmonton
September 25 2009, 08:54PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: no i attacked him after the game

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#190 xyavtrftxy
October 10 2009, 06:37AM
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