The real deal

Jason Gregor
September 28 2009 11:59AM

salt-mines-regular-season

The pre-season is done, and outside of JF Jacques and Mike Comrie there haven’t been any major surprises. The most pressing question still hasn’t been answered: Will the Oilers send a proven vet to the minors?

Last night’s re-assignment of Rob Schremp, Taylor Chorney, Kip Brennan, Devan Dubnyk and Jordan Eberle wasn’t a surprise to anyone who has been watching. The Oilers have the day off today, before they start working on their PP, PK and deciding who will be on the opening-day 23-man roster.

The final cuts have to be made by 1:00pm MST on Wednesday, and the Oilers could easily take every last second to decide who stays and who goes. We’ve debated for weeks who should be here, and shockingly, up until last night some actually thought Jacques shouldn’t be in the top 12.

Well, he’ll be in the top three come Saturday.

Jacques will start the season with Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff, while Dustin Penner, Comrie and Patrick O’Sullivan will be the 2nd line. The defence has been set since the start of camp, and the only minor surprise is that Lubomir Visnovsky and Sheldon Souray won’t be paired up together. It looks like the pairings will be 44/24, 77/37 and 71/5 with Jason Strudwick the extra guy.

Andrew Cogliano will start on the wing with Sam Gagner, but who skates with them will be decided this week. Ethan Moreau is the leading candidate, and he practiced yesterday so his health isn’t a question mark. Ryan Stone, Fernando Pisani and Robert Nilsson are the other options, and Pat Quinn’s comments about Stone last night lead you to believe that Stone will be one of the 14 forwards come Saturday.

Gilbert Brule and Zack Stortini will be on the 4th line, while their left winger will be Pisani, Nilsson or Stone.

I still don’t see Stone as a long-term solution in Edmonton, but I give him credit for working his way into the conversation. I think Reddox will be re-assigned for sure, and while Quinn hinted last week that Marc Pouliot and Pisani might get the “veteran-benefit-of-the-doubt” stay of execution, he can’t keep to that if Stone makes this team. The numbers just don’t add up then.

That leaves Steve MacIntyre, Liam Reddox, Nilsson, Pisani, and Pouliot to battle for the final two spots. Steve Tambellini will be working the phones in the next 48 hours to try to get something for one, or possibly two of these four players. If he finds a taker, he’ll jump at it. The Oilers love Reddox’s versatility and his compete level, and while he is a long shot, if they can get a deal for Pouliot, Nilsson or Pisani they’d keep Reddox. Some in the organization think he is a cheaper version of Pisani.

What did we learn?

I can’t get a clear read on what the Oilers will do with their final two cuts, so let’s turn our focus to some things that have been overlooked.

Comrie had 10 points, in five games. Pre-season points mean nothing now, but it showed his offensive instincts are still there. Many wondered why the Oilers needed another small forward, but so far Comrie has shown he is much different than Gagner, Cogliano, and Nilsson. He can produce, which is the most important factor. Comrie and O’Sullivan had instant chemistry and if they can get off to a decent start that should take some pressure of the first line.

After only scoring five goals last year, Tom Gilbert vowed he’d shoot the puck more and he did scoring three times in five games. Tom Renney wants his defence to be more aggressive in the defensive zone and he has been pushing Gilbert to jump into the rush a bit more. Two of his goals came when he was the late guy into the offensive zone, and he skates well enough that he should do that more often.

Jacques was given an opportunity and so far he has taken advantage of it. Tambellini said he wanted this team to get bigger, and they did by promoting Jacques. If he continues to play tough, and shows the soft hands (pass to Horcoff last night) he’ll become a fan favourite very quickly.

Anyone who thought Hemsky wasn’t about the system should have watched last night. I sat in the crowd, row nine, and saw up close how sick this guy is. His vision, foot and hand speed is incredible. He didn’t get an assist on Jacques’ goal, but he started the play with a great pass back to Souray. He was dangerous all night, and he might be a better skater than Cogliano. This system demands more skating, so Hemsky should flourish.

I like Penner better with 91 and 19. They play a bit more a cycling game than 10 and 83 and that plays more into Penner’s game. Plus Jacques skates better and is more aggressive, so he’ll protect Hemsky more.

They still haven’t improved in the dot, so that will be a work in progress, but moving Cogliano to the wing automatically makes them better in the draw.

What needs to improve

Their special teams.

Last year the Oilers were competitive five-on-five. They scored 152 goals five-on-five and gave up 150, but they lost the battle on special teams.

They gave up 76 PP goals, and scored 60. The Oilers had the 11th most PP opportunities last year with 354 chances. They finished 22nd on the PP at 17%.

On the PK they were way worse. They were shorthanded the 16th most, 338 times, but only four teams gave up more PP goals than the Oilers’ 76 and they were a woeful 77.5%.

If they improve their special teams by a combined 6% and get to a 100 between the PP and PK then they should be in the playoffs.

Practice on both units will intensify this week, and it will go a long way in deciding if the Oilers end their three-year drought of not getting an invite to the post-season dance.

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#101 ronaldo
September 28 2009, 03:00PM
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@ rimjob: I think you either have to be optimistic or butt out of the conversation. If you don't feel the Oilers have a chance, I don't give a lick what you think.

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#102 Ogden Brother
September 28 2009, 03:03PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. wrote:

Jimmy wrote: @ rimjob: I don’t think anyone’s expecting a cup run. Most people seem to be cautiously optimistic in thinking we’ll end up as 8th seed and get knocked out early. x2

i'm with jr

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#103 Wanye Gretz
September 28 2009, 03:04PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Ogden Brother Jr. wrote: Jimmy wrote: @ rimjob: I don’t think anyone’s expecting a cup run. Most people seem to be cautiously optimistic in thinking we’ll end up as 8th seed and get knocked out early. x2 i’m with jr

Are the two of you really father and son?

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#104 BarryS
September 28 2009, 03:06PM
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Wanye Gretz wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: Ogden Brother Jr. wrote: Jimmy wrote: @ rimjob: I don’t think anyone’s expecting a cup run. Most people seem to be cautiously optimistic in thinking we’ll end up as 8th seed and get knocked out early. x2 i’m with jr Are the two of you really father and son?

Or the stars of that move what was it? Dumb and something

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#105 rimjob
September 28 2009, 03:07PM
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No I am not expecting it, at all i jsut dont see them making psot season, and I dont see anything for along time good coming until we become a winning team that has a chance, like the flames are a great example(though i hate them)they sucked for so long drated good (not ala KLowe) and signed some big names... Why cant we do that?

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#106 BarryS
September 28 2009, 03:07PM
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I take that back, wrong couple.

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#107 Jimmy
September 28 2009, 03:08PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. wrote:

@ rimjob: From the east? Must be all those buses that went back to Sask, all that hot air and exhaust is giving us those winds you speak of.

That's where chinooks come from, you know - Saskatchewan sucks and BC blows.

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#108 swany
September 28 2009, 03:08PM
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No cup run but if everything falls into place the second round is not out of reach, is this the year WE finally have a surpise forward score 35 goals it has to happen to us one year JFJ won't get 35 but I bet he gets 20-25 he's the next Lucic just watch.

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#109 swany
September 28 2009, 03:09PM
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Jimmy wrote:

Ogden Brother Jr. wrote: @ rimjob: From the east? Must be all those buses that went back to Sask, all that hot air and exhaust is giving us those winds you speak of. That’s where chinooks come from, you know – Saskatchewan sucks and BC blows.

That's a classic.

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#110 BarryS
September 28 2009, 03:10PM
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rimjob wrote:

No I am not expecting it, at all i jsut dont see them making psot season, and I dont see anything for along time good coming until we become a winning team that has a chance, like the flames are a great example(though i hate them)they sucked for so long drated good (not ala KLowe) and signed some big names… Why cant we do that?

Seeing as we don't know how all the other teams in the division have done with new coaches, players, lost players, etc, any sort of picking of spots is good or bad wishful thinking or axe grinding. Here we tend to grant everyone else has done better than us without seeing them play.

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#111 rimjob
September 28 2009, 03:16PM
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I jsut dont get how time and time again we draft so horribly, and not get all that good, or trade the ggod away

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#112 rimjob
September 28 2009, 03:17PM
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i.e pouliot before parise

i.e steve kelly ahead of iggy and doan

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#113 Quicksilver ballet
September 28 2009, 03:18PM
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With the most significant player moves still yet to come over last years roster we should be easily entertained with even the modest amount of success this year.

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#114 I'm a Scientist!
September 28 2009, 03:19PM
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@ rimjob: Eberle? Seems like a solid pick to me... and he was picked up 22nd!

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#115 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 28 2009, 03:20PM
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Wanye Gretz wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: Ogden Brother Jr. wrote: Jimmy wrote: @ rimjob: I don’t think anyone’s expecting a cup run. Most people seem to be cautiously optimistic in thinking we’ll end up as 8th seed and get knocked out early. x2 i’m with jr Are the two of you really father and son?

I think we are the same age so probably not. I told him that being jeff was a pain in the arse and he said something about using weird names. I told him I would be junior, he said go for it. And here we are.

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#116 Travis Dakin
September 28 2009, 03:24PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. wrote:

I told him that being jeff was a pain in the arse and he said something about using weird names. I told him I would be junior, he said go for it. And here we are.

You know, people could try using their real names. Or are we too afraid of being busted peeking at the Nation. Twice now I've mentioned my name in a social setting or whatever and I've been asked "The Travis Dakin that posts on Oilersnation?"

The closest I will ever come to being a real celebrity. ha.

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#117 Ogden Brother
September 28 2009, 03:26PM
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Wanye Gretz wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: Ogden Brother Jr. wrote: Jimmy wrote: @ rimjob: I don’t think anyone’s expecting a cup run. Most people seem to be cautiously optimistic in thinking we’ll end up as 8th seed and get knocked out early. x2 i’m with jr Are the two of you really father and son?

We are related in only our love for the Oilers.

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#118 Bombstradamus
September 28 2009, 03:27PM
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Wow. I just looked over Pouliots draft and the oilers got killed. A spectacular draft that is still hurting us today. Any decent players we have from that draft the Oilers had to trade for, unless of course JFJ comes through this year.

15 Robert Nilsson (NYI) 22 Marc-Antoine Pouliot 23 Ryan Kesler 24 Mike Richards 27 Jeff Tambellini 28 Corey Perry 29 Patrick Eaves 32 Ryan Stone (PIT) 45 Patrice Bergeron 49 Shea Weber 56 Patrick O'sullivan (MIN) 62 David Backes 68 JF Jacque 87 Ryan Potulny (PHI) 94 Zach Stortini

@ I'm a Scientist!: Your right though. They do seem to be getting better.

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#119 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 28 2009, 03:28PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Wanye Gretz wrote: Ogden Brother wrote: Ogden Brother Jr. wrote: Jimmy wrote: @ rimjob: I don’t think anyone’s expecting a cup run. Most people seem to be cautiously optimistic in thinking we’ll end up as 8th seed and get knocked out early. x2 i’m with jr Are the two of you really father and son? We are related in only our love for the Oilers.

Way to gay it up

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#120 Ogden Brother
September 28 2009, 03:28PM
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rimjob wrote:

I jsut dont get how time and time again we draft so horribly, and not get all that good, or trade the ggod away

The drafting really hasn't been that bad over the past 5 years or so.

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#121 Smokin' Ray
September 28 2009, 03:29PM
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Travis Dakin wrote:

Ogden Brother Jr. wrote: I told him that being jeff was a pain in the arse and he said something about using weird names. I told him I would be junior, he said go for it. And here we are. You know, people could try using their real names. Or are we too afraid of being busted peeking at the Nation. Twice now I’ve mentioned my name in a social setting or whatever and I’ve been asked “The Travis Dakin that posts on Oilersnation?” The closest I will ever come to being a real celebrity. ha.

Seriously? That's freaking awesome! *high five*

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#122 bingofuel
September 28 2009, 03:29PM
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@ Travis Dakin:

That reminds me!

I was at a friend's birthday party on Friday, and her BF and I were chatting about the hockey season. He was telling me about well-written articles and hilarious photos on this Oilers website he reads. I asked him which site, and he said "OilersNation." So I told him I know the guy who runs it. I just neglected to mention who that guy is.

Then I clapped once so loudly that the LRT in Edmonton stopped working.

*squeals like a little girl*

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#123 Gunner
September 28 2009, 03:30PM
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Bombstradamus wrote:

Wow. I just looked over Pouliots draft and the oilers got killed. A spectacular draft that is still hurting us today. Any decent players we have from that draft the Oilers had to trade for, unless of course JFJ comes through this year.

People need to get over it! What's done is done. Move on.

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#124 rimjob
September 28 2009, 03:30PM
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See what did i tell you about that draft............

They suck at drafting

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#125 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 28 2009, 03:30PM
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@ Bombstradamus: Do you remember about a month ago when Willis(i think) did a right up on that draft. Quite a few media people thought Edmonton ended up doing well. Ended up with Pouilot and Jacques.

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#126 Ogden Brother
September 28 2009, 03:30PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: Wanye Gretz wrote: Ogden Brother wrote: Ogden Brother Jr. wrote: Jimmy wrote: @ rimjob: I don’t think anyone’s expecting a cup run. Most people seem to be cautiously optimistic in thinking we’ll end up as 8th seed and get knocked out early. x2 i’m with jr Are the two of you really father and son? We are related in only our love for the Oilers. Way to gay it up

Oiler Nation deserves full disclosure.

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#127 Gunner
September 28 2009, 03:32PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. wrote:

Way to gay it up

..Not that there's anything wrong with that ;)

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#128 freeze
September 28 2009, 03:37PM
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On a completely unrelated note: the Dallas Ice Girls on the lake: hccp://stars.nhl.tv/team/console.jsp?catid=711&id=47463

Possibly NSFW

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#129 DK0
September 28 2009, 03:40PM
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bingofuel wrote:

@ Travis Dakin: That reminds me! I was at a friend’s birthday party on Friday, and her BF and I were chatting about the hockey season. He was telling me about well-written articles and hilarious photos on this Oilers website he reads. I asked him which site, and he said “OilersNation.” So I told him I know the guy who runs it. I just neglected to mention who that guy is. Then I clapped once so loudly that the LRT in Edmonton stopped working. *squeals like a little girl*

You son of a bitch! I was at Hudsons on Campus for a bit and then tried to take the LRT to swing by Druid to meet up with some other friends and I was greeted by an announcement that northbound LRTs would be delayed 30 minutes due to a train malfunction. Thanks a lot jerk.

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#130 Bombstradamus
September 28 2009, 03:41PM
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@ Ogden Brother Jr.:

I missed that article. I know the draft is a crapshoot, and other teams have poor looking records as well, but we missed out on a lot of talent that year. That draft separated a lot of teams. I also believe the 08 draft will have similar implications

@ Gunner:

Your right. Im over it. The oilers are drafting better anyway

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#131 Chris.
September 28 2009, 03:47PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

The drafting really hasn’t been that bad over the past 5 years or so.

Less time for them to disappoint us *wink*

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#132 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 28 2009, 03:49PM
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hxxp://www.oilersnation.com/2009/08/hindsight-marc-pouliot-and-zach-parise/

The Pouilot article.

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#133 Chris.
September 28 2009, 03:51PM
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@ freeze: nice.

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#134 I'm a Scientist!
September 28 2009, 03:58PM
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rimjob wrote:

They suck at drafting

~Actually, now that i think of it, Ales Hemsky totally sucks. You're right.~

I bet you could find a bunch of bombs on all teams draft picks. It happens.

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#135 rimjob
September 28 2009, 04:02PM
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okay,he is an exception, look at the stratch colapse a cuople years back, if they would have said we are going to throw this game instead of winning 1 of the last how amny ever it was they would have been in the top 5 for drafting and would have had a chance at first overall

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#136 Jimmy
September 28 2009, 04:07PM
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@ rimjob:

Do you really want to sit in a position like NYI or the Leafs? Sure you get top draft pick, but at what cost?

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#137 rimjob
September 28 2009, 04:18PM
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Thats true, but they also used those draft picks to obtain kessel

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#138 Gunner
September 28 2009, 04:19PM
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@ rimjob: How bad is your typing? Honestly. Slow down, take a minute and read what you type before you post it.

No sports team will "throw" a game. They may reduce their odds of winning but professional athletes are as competitive as they are human. You don't throw games away to maybe get a better draft pick.

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#139 Gunner
September 28 2009, 04:20PM
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@ rimjob: I don't mean to be rude to you, that isn't my intention.

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#140 Jimmy
September 28 2009, 04:21PM
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rimjob wrote:

Thats true, but they also used those draft picks to obtain kessel

They can have Kessel. At the end of the day, they're still the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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#141 Ogden Brother
September 28 2009, 04:21PM
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rimjob wrote:

okay,he is an exception, look at the stratch colapse a cuople years back, if they would have said we are going to throw this game instead of winning 1 of the last how amny ever it was they would have been in the top 5 for drafting and would have had a chance at first overall

So that means they are bad at drafting?

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#142 rimjob
September 28 2009, 04:22PM
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ha ha ya thats so true stupid leafs

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#143 I'm a Scientist!
September 28 2009, 04:26PM
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@ rimjob: The draft is a crap shoot... Mark 'Lays Chips' Messier was drafted 48th overall... how many teams would have been kicking themselves for passing THAT one up? Jari Kurri - 69th... Buchberger - 188th... you just never know who will shine in the NHL. Don't give up on Robby Dee from the 2005 Entry draft just yet...

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#144 I'm a Scientist!
September 28 2009, 04:29PM
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I should have written 'The draft is an educated crap shoot'...

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#145 Jimmy
September 28 2009, 04:30PM
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I'm a Scientist! wrote:

@ rimjob: The draft is a crap shoot… Mark ‘Lays Chips’ Messier was drafted 48th overall… how many teams would have been kicking themselves for passing THAT one up? Jari Kurri – 69th… Buchberger – 188th… you just never know who will shine in the NHL. Don’t give up on Robby Dee from the 2005 Entry draft just yet…

Zetterberg, 210th overall.

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#146 I'm a Scientist!
September 28 2009, 04:33PM
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@ Jimmy: YES! Good one!

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#147 Shapeman
September 28 2009, 04:37PM
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@ Gunner: they way he types you would think it was me hehe

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#148 Travis Dakin
September 28 2009, 05:02PM
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@ Smokin' Ray: I tell no lies. One time it was when I was buying some tickets to a game last year from a guy and he recognized the name and then I was making a product order at the home depot and the kid recognized the name. Good times.

@ bingofuel: I know you are a little more forthcoming with your identity but why did you not tell him? And Why won't Wanye be as open? haha Man I'd be telling EVERYBODY around if I was in some way responsibly for this awesomeness. It's gotta be second only to actually being on the team with regards to getting some of that sweet E-town trouser heat.

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#149 bingofuel
September 28 2009, 05:04PM
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@ Travis Dakin:

Despite my bluster on this site, I'm not the kind of guy to just throw that out there. I do my best to not come across as a total douche... except here.

Wanye's just trying (and failing) to hide his expensive Faberge Egg habit.

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#150 Gunner
September 28 2009, 05:08PM
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bingofuel wrote:

I do my best to not come across as a total douche

It just comes naturally to you?

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