The Nineteen

Jonathan Willis
September 26 2009 01:41PM

19

Interesting quote from Pat Quinn in his post-practice press conference today. Fielding a question about whether Fernando Pisani would be able to play on Sunday, he answered:

“I don’t know. [Pisani] ended up feeling good enough to practice, but we’re still cautious with him. Injuries at camp always make the process harder, because you know that he plays here. As far as the 19 that was articulated at the start by our management that could play on this team, he’s in that 19. We know he’s played here with great success, certainly three years ago great success.”

A little later in the interview, Edmonton Journal reporter Joanne Ireland mentioned Kip Brennan’s name in connection with the 19, and Quinn was noncommittal. Still, she certainly took the 19 reference to mean players on the bubble.

Given that Quinn named Pisani in connection to that group, I interpreted it a little differently; assuming that Quinn was referring to 19 players who management had decided were all but locks to make the team. I think the fact that Quinn used the word “could” instead of “would” reflected a desire to soft-peddle the fact that certain jobs were not up for grabs, because that reality is certainly at odds with Quinn’s obvious desire that every player compete like his job is not assured.

That makes my first question to the comments section: what did Quinn mean when he talked about this group of 19?

Assuming that my interpretation is correct, let’s try and guess who those players would be:

  1. F – Ales Hemsky
  2. F – Shawn Horcoff
  3. F – Dustin Penner
  4. F – Sam Gagner
  5. F – Andrew Cogliano
  6. F – Patrick O’Sullivan
  7. F – Ethan Moreau
  8. F – Fernando Pisani
  9. F – Mike Comrie
  10. F – Zack Stortini
  11. D – Sheldon Souray
  12. D – Lubomir Visnovsky
  13. D – Tom Gilbert
  14. D – Denis Grebeshkov
  15. D – Ladislav Smid
  16. D – Steve Staios
  17. D – Jason Strudwick
  18. G - Nikolai Khabibulin
  19. G – Jeff Deslauriers

Assuming too that the organization wanted to get Devan Dubnyk some more development time in the minors, that left four spots open for some combination of the following:

  • F – Kip Brennan
  • F – Gilbert Brule
  • F – Jordan Eberle
  • F – J-F Jacques
  • F – Steve MacIntyre
  • F – Robert Nilsson
  • F – Marc Pouliot
  • F – Liam Reddox
  • F – Rob Schremp
  • F – Ryan Stone
  • D – Taylor Chorney
  • D – Theo Peckham

At this point it seems safe to assume that the defenseman (Chorney and Peckham) are out of it, that Jordan Eberle will be returned to junior, and probably also that Rob Schremp and Kip Brennan (whose contract is an AHL-only deal) are out of the running – which leaves four spots for seven players. To the best of my knowledge, everyone in that group of seven is waiver eligible, but based on what the organization has invested in these players, Quinn’s comments, and the likelihood of each being claimed, I still think that the Oilers will go with the group I listed on September 17th (barring trade or injury).

In any case, my second question is this: assuming the first question was answered yes, does that group of 19 seem logical?

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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 Chris
September 26 2009, 01:49PM
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Yes. Despite all this fresh slate talk, one training camp is an awful short stretch by which to completely throw out the depth chart. Players can move up a few slots, or down a few slots, a new face or two may appear, the callup order in Sprinfield may be reshuffled a bit... But guys like Pisani aren't just placed on waivers due to a poor showing in camp.

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#2 Joey Moss
September 26 2009, 01:56PM
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so Tambo had pre-ordained who was going to be on the roster? i can understand that to a certain extent but wasn't behind the new coach and new management to start somewhat fresh? so much for the idea of assembling the best team based on performance, eh? what a joke. this bunch of pissants are operating under the same rules Lowe had. all this talk of veterans better watch out and better work hard is nonsense - we're back to the vets being so comfortable they don't give a shit and aspiring players basically not giving a shit because they don't have a chance to make the team. just great, f-ing wonderful.

god dammit i hate this team.

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#3 RossCreek
September 26 2009, 02:04PM
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I took it as a group of 19 forwards competing for 14 spot.

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#4 heavyd
September 26 2009, 02:06PM
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@ Chris: Of course players like pisani are placed on waivers. If they can't trade him, and they don't think he can do anything for the team I can see them placing him on waivers.

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#5 RossCreek
September 26 2009, 02:13PM
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RossCreek wrote:

I took it as a group of 19 forwards competing for 14 spot.

I'm sure I've seen it referred in this context in the last day or 3, but can't find (remember) when?

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#6 Chris
September 26 2009, 02:18PM
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@ heavyd:

heavyd wrote:

Of course players like pisani are placed on waivers

Not just based on one camp; Not when you look at the depth on right wing. This team has enough glaring holes on it as is without creating another. Of course Pisani could be traded (If it's for a faceoff winning PKing centerman I'll even be happy about it)... But if you want to shed salary without further damaging the balance of the roster: Nilsson is the man most likely to go.

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#7 Jonathan Willis
September 26 2009, 02:25PM
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@ Chris:

Exactly.

A training camp has what - seven games, and nobody plays in every game? It's too small a sample to throw away a guy with an NHL career.

Odd stuff happens over short periods of time - like that year Brian Boucher pitched five consecutive shutouts in Phoenix.

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#8 Jonathan Willis
September 26 2009, 02:26PM
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@ RossCreek:

That makes good sense, given that the defense was mostly set going into camp.

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#9 D B
September 26 2009, 02:33PM
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I think your list of 19 is pretty accurate. The 4 guys I think will be added are Brule, Jacques, Stone, and MacIntyre.

Quinn has talked alot about liking guys that are tough to play against and are willing to go into the tough areas, the first 3 fit that bill while MacIntyre is needed as the nuclear deterent and probably won't play more than 25 games.

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#10 Jonathan Willis
September 26 2009, 02:34PM
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@ D B:

Except that Quinn has repeatedly said he won't give a guy whose only skill is fighting a job.

And MacIntyre fits the bill.

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#11 Jonathan Willis
September 26 2009, 02:35PM
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Looking at RossCreek's interpretation, I'm a little stumped. We've got 20 forwards left in camp (so let's exclude Brennan, on the AHL deal) and on top of that you have to wonder if Potulny or Minard had a shot (though they got sent down early).

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#12 Chris
September 26 2009, 02:37PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

Of course Pisani may be dumped unceremoniously... The depth of stupidity in Oilers management no longer surprises me...

That may sound harsh...but... I'm disappointed Tambellini did nothing to adress the many glaring holes in the lineup, paid too much for Khabibulin, created another hole by moving Brodziak, and added to the confusion up front with the Comrie signing. If this doesn't come together quickly Quinn may have his job by spring.

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#13 D B
September 26 2009, 02:45PM
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@ JW

Quinn did mention that but I still think MacIntyre will make the cut based on the fact we need someone to take care of guys like McGrattan and Boogaard.

Quinn has also said he wants to be able to play any way the opponents want to play, if their going to send out goons we need one to counter.

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#14 Joey Moss
September 26 2009, 02:46PM
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@ Chris: as much as the Oilers claim hockey people make hockey decisions and Kevin Lowe has stepped away I don't believe a word of it. Katz and Lowe have their fingerprints all over this mess of a roster. Tambellini is an ineffectual GM who never had the power to change anything to begin with.

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#15 Dr. Unk
September 26 2009, 03:00PM
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I seem to remember that Quinn was talking about forwards for the 19 competing. And looking at the current roster on the Oilers website, these are the 19 listed...

1 Horcoff 2 Hemsky 3 Penner 4 Comrie 5 O'Sullivan 6 JFJ 7 Gagner 8 Cogliano 9 Nilsson 10 Moreau 11 Brule 12 Stortini 13 Pisani 14 Pouliot 15 Eberle 16 Stone 17 Reddox 18 Schremp 19 SMac

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#16 RossCreek
September 26 2009, 03:01PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

To me Brennan, Reddox, Eberle, Schremp, Chorney and Dubnyk are obvious cuts. That would leave two more forwards to get cut, of course Peckham and Rajala will be re-assigned once they are healthy as well.

Robin Brownlee wrote:

Jason, if I’m reading things correctly, you can add Nilsson and MacIntyre to that list.

Robin Brownlee wrote:

I don’t know if anybody will puck up Nilsson with two years at $2M each year. Maybe a bottom-feeder with cap space. Somebody will take MacIntyre.
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#17 RossCreek
September 26 2009, 03:02PM
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@ Dr. Unk: That makes at least 2 of us.

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#18 Ogden Brother
September 26 2009, 03:06PM
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Joey Moss wrote:

so Tambo had pre-ordained who was going to be on the roster? i can understand that to a certain extent but wasn’t behind the new coach and new management to start somewhat fresh? so much for the idea of assembling the best team based on performance, eh? what a joke. this bunch of pissants are operating under the same rules Lowe had. all this talk of veterans better watch out and better work hard is nonsense – we’re back to the vets being so comfortable they don’t give a shit and aspiring players basically not giving a shit because they don’t have a chance to make the team. just great, f-ing wonderful. god dammit i hate this team.

If teams actually opperated like that you'd see superstars cut every fall. Lets get real here.

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#19 David S
September 26 2009, 03:13PM
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D B wrote:

The 4 guys I think will be added are Brule, Jacques, Stone, and MacIntyre.

Brule, Jacques and Stone are meh. Why do people waste so much time talking about borderline roster players? If one of the three makes it, good for them but honestly, who cares? Until the NHL starts giving bonus points for "bang" and "try", we really need guys who can contribute to the scoreboard. Guys who can support the skilled group with a certain amount of skill and tenacity of their own. From what I've seen, Brule is the only one that fits the bill. And he hasn't exactly been lighting it up.

Keep Mac in the PB for the occasional great white shark impression.

I don't think we need more coke machines. We need the guys we have to show up and give a crap. Sounds like that's what Quinn is saying at those after-practice mid-ice talks.

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#20 Pajamah
September 26 2009, 04:20PM
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Whatever happened to the Nashville rumors.....is Nillson's name still being thrown around for a pick/Joel Ward??

Nillson may show something not many guys in the top 9 show, but one shift a game makes him expendable, although borderline useful to established teams that need a guy who can pot 15-20 goals.

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#21 MattL
September 26 2009, 06:57PM
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RossCreek wrote:

I took it as a group of 19 forwards competing for 14 spot.

Yeah, I third that. He said 19 that "could" play. Gotta be the forwards.

@ Dr. Unk: yeah, that's the 19.

Pretty damning though if he didn't go out of his way to call Pisani a lock. When you say something's in the top 19, usually you don't mean it's 2nd or 3rd. Usually you mean 18th or 19th.

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#22 Racki
September 26 2009, 11:00PM
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Agreed with RossCreek. Can't be certain, but I took it as him meaning the top 19 forwards competing for 14 spots. Basically 19 guys that all have great potential to be on the starting roster. Meaning, 5 difficult decisions; 5 difficult cuts.

And really, I don't see why Pisani should be considered a lock. Don't get me wrong, I have much respect for him, but for our forwards, I think the only locks are:

Horcoff, Hemsky, Penner, Cogliano, Gagner, O'Sullivan, and perhaps Stortini (just because he is the best on our team at his role.. although JFJ sure as hell is giving him a run for his money now).

I can see one or more of Moreau, Pouliot, Pisani, Nilsson being cut in favor of a player who fits into Quinn's gameplan better.

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October 10 2009, 06:05AM
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