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.

Ddf3e2ba09069c465299f3c416e43eae
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
Avatar
#1 Chris.
September 28 2009, 12:04PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I wonder if Quinn plans on spreading the minutes equally through all three sets of D, or if Lubo is playing bottom pairing minutes untill he gets his wind back coming off an injury... First game will tell.

Avatar
#2 Ogden Brother
September 28 2009, 12:06PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Lets go JF! If he can stick through the season, the team really isn't that small any more.... god I hope he works out.

Avatar
#3 Colin
September 28 2009, 12:07PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Anything floating around about our waiver wire?

Avatar
#4 Ogden Brother
September 28 2009, 12:08PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Also, glad to see Comrie playing at a high level. He Penner and O'sully could easily pot 60 - 75 goals, giving us nice depth up front.

Avatar
#5 Bar Qu
September 28 2009, 12:08PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Any comments on the rumour mill to Nashville? Are we looking at losing Pisani too, or just Nilsson? And are players in the mix for a return or just picks?

BTW, I like the top 9 a whole lot more than I did even 2 weeks ago. If there is compete in all the players, then it will hopefully overcome size and history.

Well done JFJ, you earned the spot. Now prove you deserve it.

Avatar
#6 RossCreek
September 28 2009, 12:09PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

What were Quinn's comments on Stone?

Reddox > Pouliot > Nilsson

What's the PP units gonna look like?

Who's likeliest to be traded? MacIntyre?

Avatar
#7 BingBong
September 28 2009, 12:10PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I'm somewhat surprised to see Moreau as the leading candidate for the 3rd line...I see him playing with Brule and Stortini, with either Nilsson/Pisani/Stone playind with Gagner and Cogs. I like Moreau, but I think at this point is his career he's a 4th liner.

The way I see it, Mac and Reddox get cut, Nilsson and Pisani get the final two spots, and Pouliot goes on IR. Players on IR don't take up a roster spot do they??

Avatar
#8 Chris.
September 28 2009, 12:12PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Gregor:

I totally agree with you about Hemsky's skating. In an interview last year, Steve Serdachny said that Hemsky was the Oilers "best" skater. Glad to see him finally turn on the jets a bit.

Avatar
#9 RossCreek
September 28 2009, 12:12PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Avx-Y9MMm3c&feature=player_embedded Wow! Check out dudes hair!

Avatar
#10 R Kenny
September 28 2009, 12:15PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ BingBong: Agreed, I think Moreau-Brule-Stortini would be a really effective banger line that can score a few.

I could see Pisani working out well on Gagner's wing since he's actually got a pretty good shot.

Avatar
#11 Mat-E
September 28 2009, 12:16PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Okay I was rw=eading the comments form the last "stoyry" post. Which one of you is snoodle? That is very disturbing..

Avatar
#12 Mat-E
September 28 2009, 12:17PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

sorry I cant spell...

Avatar
#13 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 28 2009, 12:17PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I read on TSN that Pouiot, Pisani and Peckham will most likely go on the IR. Now for how long I don't know, but that gives the team some more time to give certain guys a look. I really would like to see Stone play a few NHL games and see what he brings when it counts.

Is Reddox a gimme to the AHL because he doesn't have to clear waivers?

Avatar
#14 venue
September 28 2009, 12:18PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

R Kenny wrote:

@ BingBong: Agreed, I think Moreau-Brule-Stortini would be a really effective banger line that can score a few. I could see Pisani working out well on Gagner’s wing since he’s actually got a pretty good shot.

I agree with everything you said. Those would be my bottom two lines.

Nice article Gregor and I couldn't agree with you more. I really think our PP will be much improved this year as we will have two legitimate lines that can move the puck around and hopefully bury a few.

Avatar
#15 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 28 2009, 12:19PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Ogden Brother: I feel sorry for JFJ. Can I change my goat pick? Mind ya I did say whoever ends up on the 1 LW spot would be the goat.

Avatar
#16 roadrunner
September 28 2009, 12:19PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I've been saying it all along that J.F.J would be here. He's been a force out there so I'm hoping he can bring it game in, game out. My thoughts are they'll send down Peckham, Reddox, Pouliot and MacIntyre. Peckham, like MacIntyre are guys caught up with the numbers while Reddox and Pouliot clearly don't deserve to be with the big club. Reddox should be thankful he isn't being shipped out of here all together based on his snub of a contract offer earlier.

Brule finally gets his shot to play in the NHL on a more consistant basis after years of being thrown under the bus with Columbus. Stone and MacIntyre will be the rotating forwards in the lineup I'm thinking. It just makes sense to keep Big Mac in the loop while developing Stone as an NHL'er

Avatar
#17 Mat-E
September 28 2009, 12:21PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Gregor,

is it just me or is the goaltending situation kind of iffy. I mean #35 gave up some pretty weaks shots. As well as JDD doesn't seem to have quite that edge to compete at this level, whats your thought?

Avatar
#18 Lofty
September 28 2009, 12:21PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Gregor,

If the oil bury Nilson and Pisani in the minors could that open up enough cash to make a deal with Philly should they go after Forsberg?

Avatar
#19 LBH
September 28 2009, 12:21PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Gregor

Is there a way where we can start pumping fans to start going to games in Oiler blue? I love how some of the opposing teams in the league @ their home games are all showing up in unified colours. It almost looks somewhat intimidating seeing that kind of fan support. It'd be nice this year to maybe pump up the oiler blue as the colour of choice for home games.

just some food for thought for everyone who attends the games

Avatar
#20 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 28 2009, 12:23PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ roadrunner: Were you saying JFJ on the first line this year? I had him pegged as a solid 4th liner with potential to move up to line 2.

Avatar
#21 ScubaSteve
September 28 2009, 12:24PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

roadrunner wrote:

It just makes sense to keep Big Mac in the loop while developing Stone as an NHL’er

How does that make any sense? Stone is not Big Mac's replacement. If anything, Stone could be (in the future) a poor man's Pisani.

I think Mac gets cut, this team will be tough enough between Strudwick, JFJ, Stortini, Moreau, and maybe Peckham later this year. No need for a player who only does 1 thing to take up a roster spot.

Avatar
#22 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 28 2009, 12:25PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Ogden Brother Jr.: Line 2

Avatar
#23 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 28 2009, 12:26PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Ogden Brother Jr.: Bah Line 3

Avatar
#24 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 28 2009, 12:28PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ ScubaSteve: I rather have Macintyre someone that is what he is, sitting in the pressbox instead of rookie or prospect that could be developing in the AHL.

Avatar
#25 Archaeologuy
September 28 2009, 12:29PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Staios on the 1st pairing? I give that no more than 1 month before that crashes into a fiery death.

Avatar
#26 ScubaSteve
September 28 2009, 12:29PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Ogden Brother Jr.:

I'd rather have a player (pressbox or not) that will help the Oilers win games, and Mac doesn't do that. As much as I don't like him, MAP is probably a good choice for the 14th forward.

Avatar
#27 venue
September 28 2009, 12:31PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Archaeologuy wrote:

Staios on the 1st pairing?

Where did you see that? I agree that won't last.

Avatar
#28 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 28 2009, 12:31PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Archaeologuy: Don't worry they take enough stupid penalties that they won't be playing that much together. Lubo as 3rd pairing better just be because of his injury status to start the season.

Avatar
#29 Archaeologuy
September 28 2009, 12:32PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ venue: its in the body of the post.

@ Ogden Brother Jr.: completely agree

Avatar
#30 venue
September 28 2009, 12:33PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I can't believe I'm saying this but here it goes...

I'd rather have Reddox than Pouliot as my 13th forward. Pisani on the 3rd line and Moreau on the 4th. Wave goodbye to Nilsson, MacIntyre, Pouliot. Stone as the 14th forward.

Avatar
#31 RossCreek
September 28 2009, 12:35PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ venue: Agreed

Avatar
#32 Chris.
September 28 2009, 12:36PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Archaeologuy wrote:

Staios on the 1st pairing? I give that no more than 1 month before that crashes into a fiery death.

Unless Staios is being showcased for a trade... Quinn hasn't seen Peckham play though.

Avatar
#33 ScubaSteve
September 28 2009, 12:36PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

venue wrote:

I’d rather have Reddox than Pouliot as my 13th forward.

Ugh, that sentence makes me feel dirty all over. Reddox does not fill a need on the team, while MAP could if Brule struggles.

Avatar
#34 venue
September 28 2009, 12:37PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Chris.: I would love to have him replace Staios.

Avatar
#35 ScubaSteve
September 28 2009, 12:38PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

venue wrote:

@ Chris.: I would love to have him replace Staios.

I think you'll get your wish at or before the Trade deadline.

Avatar
#36 venue
September 28 2009, 12:38PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ ScubaSteve: Get passed your personal bias about Reddox and you will see he is more aggresive, faster and more reliable than Pouliot. I think anyway.

Avatar
#37 Mat-E
September 28 2009, 12:38PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Lets get real Staios isnt going anywhere, Lowe has a hard on for him

Avatar
#38 BingBong
September 28 2009, 12:38PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Archaeologuy wrote:

Staios on the 1st pairing? I give that no more than 1 month before that crashes into a fiery death.

Agreed, I don't see how Staios can play the same minutes Souray can. He can handle 3rd pairing minutes; anything after that is diminishing returns at his age.

Avatar
#39 venue
September 28 2009, 12:39PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Is it passed? Or past? Hmm...

Avatar
#40 Bill Rizer
September 28 2009, 12:39PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Lofty: Forsberg? Really Forsberg? Wow I hope I am not alone in terror that an Oilers fan actually wants Forsberg on this team.

Avatar
#41 venue
September 28 2009, 12:40PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Bill Rizer: I think he meant Philly would have to make room for Forsberg. Thus, moving out Gagne or Hartnell? I'm hoping that's what he meant.

Avatar
#42 Chris.
September 28 2009, 12:41PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

venue wrote:

I can’t believe I’m saying this but here it goes… I’d rather have Reddox than Pouliot as my 13th forward. Pisani on the 3rd line and Moreau on the 4th. Wave goodbye to Nilsson, MacIntyre, Pouliot. Stone as the 14th forward.

Agreed. Quinn should use Pouliot's IR time to take a longer and more critical look at Stone. According to Stauffer, Stone (whose a fitness freak) always looks great early; and then tails off a bit as others get into game shape. This kind of coincides with what I've seen from Stone. I'm not convinced he's a true NHLer... of course, neither is Pouliot really...

Avatar
#43 ScubaSteve
September 28 2009, 12:41PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ venue:

It's not a personal bias, I dislike both these guys, but from what I've seen from them, MAP could have a place on the team, while Reddox just doesn't have a fit here. We need a guy that can play center, which MAP can.

I know Reddox tries hard, and that's great, but he just doesn't have the tools, he's a career AHL'er.

Avatar
#44 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 28 2009, 12:42PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I like how Quinn has made it know that our d needs work on their positioning and stickwork. I have been saying this for a couple years now. I think the fact that they are working on the little things it will make us a better team.

Avatar
#45 LBH
September 28 2009, 12:43PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Chris. wrote:

venue wrote: I can’t believe I’m saying this but here it goes… I’d rather have Reddox than Pouliot as my 13th forward. Pisani on the 3rd line and Moreau on the 4th. Wave goodbye to Nilsson, MacIntyre, Pouliot. Stone as the 14th forward. Agreed. Quinn should use Pouliot’s IR time to take a longer and more critical look at Stone. According to Stauffer, Stone (whose a fitness freak) always looks great early; and then tails off a bit as others get into game shape. This kind of coincides with what I’ve seen from Stone. I’m not convinced he’s a true NHLer… of course, neither is Pouliot really…

and if it came down between stone and MAP, i'd rather take whomever is going to play gritty and tough day in and day out

Avatar
#46 venue
September 28 2009, 12:43PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ ScubaSteve: Having both Brule and Pouliot is redundant. They are both our 4th line centre. That makes Pouliot expendable and puts Reddox in on the wing. In my eyes.

Avatar
#47 Hamburgler
September 28 2009, 12:43PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

As much as I like Pisani, I think he and Nilsson get traded to provide some cap relief and they get someone who can win a faceoff and kill penalties.

Avatar
#48 freeze
September 28 2009, 12:44PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

MacIntyre needs to go. He is too one-dimensional to take up a roster spot. Let Storts do the heavy lifting.

Avatar
#49 LBH
September 28 2009, 12:45PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ venue

plus reddox is an available 1st line LW when called upon, lol

Avatar
#50 venue
September 28 2009, 12:46PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ LBH: I don't know if I'd go that far...

Comments are closed for this article.