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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#151 charlieangels
September 28 2009, 05:08PM
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I'm down here in Tepec Mexico and ran into a Flames fan. He stated that Dion P will not end the season with the Flames. He said Jay B will take over with Robyn and Dion has too big an ego to play third fiddle. Something to watch ouyt for.

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#152 Jimmy
September 28 2009, 05:12PM
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@ bingofuel:

"Don't you know who I am?"

"Yes, yes. THE bingofuel of http://www.oilersnation.com"

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#153 Dennis
September 28 2009, 05:18PM
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I;m really not sure why anyone would expect the PK to improve given that 34's out best PKer and he's likely to be dealt or injured so either way, he's not liable to be much help.

Plus, we've only got one guy who can win a faceoff and that's more important than ever on the PK given the new rules enacted last season.

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#154 cableguy
September 28 2009, 05:18PM
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bingofuel wrote:

@ 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.

until some "gifted" playmate proclaims: "i will let whoever runs that oilersnation website do whatever he wants to me, for as long as he wants"

you will "throw that out there" all right

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#155 Jason Gregor
September 28 2009, 05:19PM
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Mat-E wrote:

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?

I didn't think JDD was that bad. Last night, the Wall let in one weak one I thought. Yes, he does need to be better, but too early to be concerned.Lofty wrote:

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?

I hope not. Forsberg is good for about 12 games and then he will get hurt. Until he plays 30 games consecutively in Sweden I wouldn't even consider him, and I bet Edmonton is not on his stopping list. And I can't see how Philly lands him, since they have no cap space. LBH wrote:

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.

Call the show and mention it...780.426.8326

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#156 Travis Dakin
September 28 2009, 05:21PM
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@ bingofuel: This is one thing that you should take pride in. Douche away man. Either that or let me be Bingofuel and take all the glorious credit that should be coming your way. It's a shame to waste. haha

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#157 Jimmy
September 28 2009, 05:24PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

LBH wrote: 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. Call the show and mention it…780.426.8326

PS I really like watching that, too. It's pretty impressive to see every single Flames fan show up in a home jersey.

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#158 Travis Dakin
September 28 2009, 05:26PM
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@ cableguy: He did say he was talking to a Dude and didn't tell who he was but I guarantee if it had been a chick that he was talking to he would have busted out the business cards.

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#159 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 28 2009, 05:30PM
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Hmmm Forsberg to Edmonton, so he would probably want 5mil at the very least to play in Edmonton. He is over 35 so he counts when he gets hurt. Not worth the risk. Maybe if he were available at the trade deadline and we were in a position to make a push in the playoffs, then maybe.

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#160 TDSM31
September 28 2009, 05:32PM
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Gregor,

If you can't answer this maybe you can throw it to one of your techies at the station...how the hell can I pick up Team 1260 clearly on my car radio from Calgary?? Will I have to hook up one of those 10 foot monster antennas to my precious '97 Cavalier? I know a better solution would be to move the eff out of Calgary but unfortunately that's not an option at the moment. Please help....I can't listen to another minute of Rob Kerr on 960.

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#161 Travis Dakin
September 28 2009, 05:32PM
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Jimmy wrote:

PS I really like watching that, too. It’s pretty impressive to see every single Flames fan show up in a home jersey.

The problem is this. Calgary fans all show up in the same jersey because for the first time in their entire history they actually have a decent jersey, so all the fans finally bought one. The Oilers have always had great jerseys so fans actually own all the different ones. It's funny to be in Calgary and see all the same exact jersey on everyone and in Edmonton you will actually find someone wearing the old WHA jersey with pride. Therefore, getting that uniform look in the crowd is quite difficult.

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#162 Word
September 28 2009, 06:10PM
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Travis Dakin wrote:

Jimmy wrote: PS I really like watching that, too. It’s pretty impressive to see every single Flames fan show up in a home jersey. The problem is this. Calgary fans all show up in the same jersey because for the first time in their entire history they actually have a decent jersey, so all the fans finally bought one. The Oilers have always had great jerseys so fans actually own all the different ones. It’s funny to be in Calgary and see all the same exact jersey on everyone and in Edmonton you will actually find someone wearing the old WHA jersey with pride. Therefore, getting that uniform look in the crowd is quite difficult.

I can't remember who wrote this a couple of years back, but Calgary can brag all it wants about the sea of red. You walk into the Saddledome and the whole building reeks of Sport Chek and the ass end of a bandwagon.

In Edmonton, we've had our Oil gear for life.

We've all been Bill Ranford in our friends' basement with an Oilers mini goalie stick. Hell, we probably broke that mini-stick slashing a friend from Calgary.

We own the white cordouroy 1990 Stanley Cup Champions baseball caps that sat so high on your head it made you look like Elmer Fudd.

We have a poster in our room of the 1996 team - it was signed by Andrei Kovalenko and we stood in line outside of a Zellers to get it that way.

I say take your Sea of Red. I'd rather sit by a fan wearing a mustard stained Glass Tiger t-shirt who used to party with the boys on the bus at Barry T's than a cowboy hat yuppie who's only contribution to the game is his understanding of colour-coordination.

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#163 RossCreek
September 28 2009, 06:13PM
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TDSM31 wrote:

I can’t listen to another minute of Rob Kerr on 960.

As a Flames fan, I prefer Gregor to Kerr.

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#164 cableguy
September 28 2009, 06:49PM
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@ Travis Dakin:

it could all be a cover.

not that there is anything wrong with that

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#165 esa tikkanen
September 28 2009, 07:08PM
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does anyone know if Reddox needs to clear waivers or not?

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#166 Jonathan Willis
September 28 2009, 07:11PM
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@ esa tikkanen:

Reddox needs to clear waivers.

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#167 Reggie
September 28 2009, 07:14PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ esa tikkanen: Reddox needs to clear waivers.

are you sure Jonathan ? i thought he did not have to clear.

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#168 RossCreek
September 28 2009, 07:15PM
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@ esa tikkanen: As fas as I know, he does not have to clear, however I did hear Bob Stauffer say something about the final cut being easy - just put Reddox on waivers (or something along those lines). I think he meant to say send him down because I thought he was the easy cut because he didn't have to clear waivers. I could very well be wrong, but I suspect Bobby just slipped the wrong word in there. I'm sure Robin or Gregor or even Stauffer himself will clear this up better.

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#169 RossCreek
September 28 2009, 07:17PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ esa tikkanen: Reddox needs to clear waivers.

If that is indeed correct, I stand corrected.

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#170 vern
September 28 2009, 07:20PM
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I may be wrong but I don't think Reddox has to clear waivers.

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#171 BarryS
September 28 2009, 07:29PM
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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. 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.

Seems a good draft for us, we have five of them in our system.

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#172 Lofty
September 28 2009, 08:27PM
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@ Bill Rizer:

NO, NO, NO...

If Philly goes after Forsberg they will need to clear space is what I meant

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#173 RossCreek
September 28 2009, 08:30PM
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@ Lofty: Forsberg's goin to Washington or Chicago

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#174 Lofty
September 28 2009, 08:35PM
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@ Wanye Gretz:

No Ogden Brother just uses Ogden Brother Jr. to reaffirm his points.

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#175 Tedley
September 28 2009, 08:38PM
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Word wrote:

I can’t remember who wrote this a couple of years back, but Calgary can brag all it wants about the sea of red. You walk into the Saddledome and the whole building reeks of Sport Chek and the ass end of a bandwagon. In Edmonton, we’ve had our Oil gear for life. We’ve all been Bill Ranford in our friends’ basement with an Oilers mini goalie stick. Hell, we probably broke that mini-stick slashing a friend from Calgary. We own the white cordouroy 1990 Stanley Cup Champions baseball caps that sat so high on your head it made you look like Elmer Fudd. We have a poster in our room of the 1996 team – it was signed by Andrei Kovalenko and we stood in line outside of a Zellers to get it that way. I say take your Sea of Red. I’d rather sit by a fan wearing a mustard stained Glass Tiger t-shirt who used to party with the boys on the bus at Barry T’s than a cowboy hat yuppie who’s only contribution to the game is his understanding of colour-coordination.

Well done, sir

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#176 Lofty
September 28 2009, 08:40PM
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@ Jason Gregor: Jason Gregor wrote:

I hope not. Forsberg is good for about 12 games and then he will get hurt. Until he plays 30 games consecutively in Sweden I wouldn’t even consider him, and I bet Edmonton is not on his stopping list. And I can’t see how Philly lands him, since they have no cap space.

I didn't mean go after Forsberg... his eyes scare me, he looks like a wolf. I meant someone like Gagner. I would love to see any big center flanked my Gagner and Hemmer.

It makes my panties wet

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#177 BarryS
September 28 2009, 08:57PM
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Tedley wrote:

Word wrote: I can’t remember who wrote this a couple of years back, but Calgary can brag all it wants about the sea of red. You walk into the Saddledome and the whole building reeks of Sport Chek and the ass end of a bandwagon. In Edmonton, we’ve had our Oil gear for life. We’ve all been Bill Ranford in our friends’ basement with an Oilers mini goalie stick. Hell, we probably broke that mini-stick slashing a friend from Calgary. We own the white cordouroy 1990 Stanley Cup Champions baseball caps that sat so high on your head it made you look like Elmer Fudd. We have a poster in our room of the 1996 team – it was signed by Andrei Kovalenko and we stood in line outside of a Zellers to get it that way. I say take your Sea of Red. I’d rather sit by a fan wearing a mustard stained Glass Tiger t-shirt who used to party with the boys on the bus at Barry T’s than a cowboy hat yuppie who’s only contribution to the game is his understanding of colour-coordination. Well done, sir

For myself, though I have had nearly a dozen oiler jerseys in my life, dating back to a wha oiler replica jersey, the only name and number I ever had on one was Bill Ranford and 30. It's still around somewhere but I think the 0 wore off.

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#178 cableguy
September 28 2009, 09:06PM
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Lofty wrote:

It makes my panties wet

is it weird that my mental image of this has a fat, greasy, un-shaven bald guy in a mustard stained shirt and skid mark stained "wet" panties?

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#179 Travis Dakin
September 28 2009, 09:32PM
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Word wrote:

you walk into the Saddledome and the whole building reeks of Sport Chek and the ass end of a bandwagon.

Now that is a money quote! Well done.

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#180 esa tikkanen
September 28 2009, 10:08PM
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after reading Jason's original article and listening to Stauffer on Oilers lunch today, I disagree with the premise in Jason's article that the Oilers need to waive any players anytime soon. Moreau will not go on the injured list, Reddox will be sent down ( I think he will not have to clear waivers, and doubt anyone would pick him up anyway)...that will leave Nilson or Stone as the extra forward with SMAc and Strudwick the 7thd.

Pouliot and Pisani will start the season on the IR. When Pou is ready to play he could be sent to the minors for a 2 week conditioning stint, and his return may not be for 3-4 weeks from now. Same with Pisani. This gives the Oilers 10 games to evaluate the current roster and see what they should do then. I am willing to bet no trades and other than Schremp no players at risk being given away for a few weeks.

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#181 Jason Gregor
September 28 2009, 10:54PM
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esa tikkanen wrote:

Pouliot and Pisani will start the season on the IR. When Pou is ready to play he could be sent to the minors for a 2 week conditioning stint, and his return may not be for 3-4 weeks from now. Same with Pisani. This gives the Oilers 10 games to evaluate the current roster and see what they should do then. I am willing to bet no trades and other than Schremp no players at risk being given away for a few weeks.

You are incorrect fine sir. The Oilers can put Pisani and Pouliot on the IR, but their salary still counts against the cap until they miss ten games. Neither is that hurt.

The Oilers can't get 25 players contacts under the $56.8 million salary cap, if Nilsson or Pisani are one of the bubble guys. They could put one of Pisani and Pouliot on the IR, but only if they send Nilsson to the minors. They don't have room to send Reddox to minors(and he does NEED to clear waivers) and put Pisani and Pouliot on roster.

Guys on IR don't count against the roster, but their salary counts against the cap.

And where did I say that Moreau would go on the IR??? Never wrote that.

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#182 Jason Gregor
September 28 2009, 10:55PM
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esa tikkanen wrote:

I am willing to bet no trades and other than Schremp no players at risk being given away for a few weeks.

Just curious what you are willing to bet??

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#183 Ogden Brother
September 28 2009, 11:26PM
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He Jason, anybode ever use your head like a dildo?

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#184 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 28 2009, 11:53PM
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His earings would hurt the butt.

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#185 Dustin Terpstra
September 29 2009, 02:20AM
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BarryS wrote:

sulliv

Actually I believe you mean 7 of them.

Nilsson Pouliot Stone O'Sullivan Jacques Potulny Stortini

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#186 Dustin Terpstra
September 29 2009, 02:21AM
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BarryS wrote:

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. 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. Seems a good draft for us, we have five of them in our system.

Actually I believe you mean 7 of them.

Nilsson Pouliot Stone O’Sullivan Jacques Potulny Stortini

Read more: http://www.oilersnation.com/2009/09/the-real-deal/comment-page-4/#comment-86191#ixzz0STvyjpPP

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#187 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 29 2009, 07:57AM
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@ Lofty: Not really we have been posting on other boards for a couple of years and we have simil@ Ogden Brother Jr.:Theif

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#188 Ogden Brother
September 29 2009, 08:16AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

He Jason, anybode ever use your head like a dildo?

That deffinitly wasn't me.

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#189 RossCreek
September 29 2009, 08:42AM
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@ Ogden Brother: I was gonna say! Something made me think sabotage the moment I saw that post. People have nuthin better to do Rwhat? WTF

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#190 Ogden Brother
September 29 2009, 08:43AM
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RossCreek wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: I was gonna say! Something made me think sabotage the moment I saw that post. People have nuthin better to do Rwhat? WTF

Pretty sad isn't it.

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#191 pvehnyufjn
October 10 2009, 06:45AM
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