Multi-tasking: bang for the buck

Robin Brownlee
April 19 2010 10:50PM

Colorado Avalanche at Edmonton Oilers

As much as people like scribbling out line-ups and trying to figure out what the Edmonton Oilers will look like next season, I've never had much interest in doing it myself, at least not in April.

Jason Gregor of TEAM 1260 and Oilersnation and Jim Matheson of The Journal have given us their takes on what might unfold and who might move over the summer in the last couple of days. Both were good reads and sparked plenty of discussion.

For me, though, I can't possibly project with any accuracy what might happen until after the draft and before the opening of free agency, when things start to take shape.

I've always found that it's then, after the picks are made and some deals have been made, GMs like Steve Tambellini start to show their cards one way or another.

Until then, I find the range of possibilities too broad to narrow down with any certainty. If the Oilers draft Tyler Seguin and not Taylor Hall, does it make a difference to Andrew Cogliano or Gilbert Brule or even Robert Nilsson? I think so. If Tambellini unloads Sheldon Souray, does who he gets back impact Jason Strudwick, Ladislav Smid, Theo Peckham or Aaron Johnson? Yes.

Or maybe I'm just dim.

Is there a fit here?

Given the many holes Tambellini has to fill, there are two unrestricted free agents I think might address some needs and do it at a bargain basement price -- Zenon Konopka and John Scott.

Before anybody accuses me of stealing from Matheson -- he mentioned Konopka as a possibility in the last couple of days -- those following along know I've talked about both before. In the case of Konopka, over a year ago. I stole Konopka from Bob Stauffer then, so there's no need to steal it from Matty now (although I've done that, too).

Now, I know the mention of Konopka and Scott won't sit well with those who don't value toughness -- knuckle-draggers, the nerds call them -- but I think both could fit here, beyond their fistic prowess.

First, obviously, is the toughness factor. And is there really any debate it's a good idea for the Oilers to add toughness, given the size of their forwards and the kids they might have in the line-up next season? Uh, no.

Konopka, 29, is a ruffian to be sure. He led the NHL in fighting majors with 33 while toiling for Tampa Bay this season.

Scott, 27, who plays with the Minnesota Wild, is a beast. At six-foot-eight and 250 pounds, we know that after watching him slap around Dean Arsene for fun.

Two birds with one stone

Bloody knuckles aside, what I like about Konopka and Scott is they can fill more than one need and do it on the cheap.

Aside from his 265 penalty minutes, Konopka is a centre who won 62.3 per cent of his face-offs this season. That's Manny Malhotra and David Steckel numbers. Better than Steckel this season, actually. Aside from providing toughness that can play as coach Pat Quinn demands, wouldn't Konopka fit on the fourth line alongside Zack Stortini and come in handy on the dot? I think so.

As for Scott, he's less of a player, but he's not the kind of can't-play hammer Quinn has no use for. He'd bring toughness to the back end, and that might come in handy because I can't see adding two tough guys up front with room needed for kids like Jordan Eberle.

Scott could slot in as a sixth or seventh defenceman. He averaged just over eight minutes a night in 51 games with the Wild this season. He's a spot player who could play in the third pairing and take turns in the press box. The question is if Scott will be available. If Minnesota opts not to re-sign Derek Boogaard, they will almost certainly try to keep Scott.

Konopka made $500,000 this season, while Scott made $550,000. Both are cheap and both fill a need -- two needs, actually. If Tambellini doesn't inquire about both, he isn't doing his job.

Head games

From Team Hall at Oilersnation, today.

"Hey Robin, You and Stauff broke the news the Oilers like Seguin. Did you get any sense as to the reason why? I hope its not just because Seguin is a centre, because a responsible scout picks the BPA at all times. So how is they have become convinced that Seguin is the better player? What is it I'm not seeing here? How does one "project" a player to be available without a crystal ball? Is it the fact he had no help on his team? How do they explain Seguin getting completely shut down in that series with Windsor?"

Signed,  Concerned Oil Citizen

The job of NHL scouting departments is, and always has been, about projecting who will be the best player three, four, five years after draft day, not who's the best on draft day. In that sense, BPA is a bit of a misnomer.

Based on conversations I've had with scouts, I can tell you this: in the minds of many, Seguin projects as the better player down the road. That's not stop the presses stuff because other people have suggested that before. It's why some see Seguin that way that's of interest to me.

Essentially, I get the sense some scouts believe Seguin thinks the game better and they think that will translate better five years down the road than the physical game Taylor Hall relies on.

While Hall and Seguin are listed as about the same size, Hall is actually playing at 202 pounds. He's dynamic for many reasons, and one of them is the physical edge he has over players at the OHL level.

There is some question, and rightfully so, how that physical aspect of Hall's game will play out in the NHL against bigger, stronger opponents who are seasoned pros. I'm not saying Hall is a knucklehead who can't think the game and relies too heavily on physicality, but it's more of an element with him than with Seguin.

Whitney recovering

Forgive me if this has already been reported, but, as expected, defenceman Ryan Whitney had surgery to repair his right foot last Friday after seeing a specialist in Carolina.

Whitney, 27, had a procedure called an osteotomy, which helps re-align the bones in his foot. He was born with abnormally high arches and had the same procedure on his left foot while with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Oilers PR man J.J. Hebert tells me the procedure was a success. The recovery time is about three months, so Whitney should be ready to resume off-season training well before camp opens.

While I'm at it

-- I see the MSM is aboard the Ales Hemsky speculation train, as is the possibility he might not re-sign here after his contract is up in two seasons and whether or not the Oilers should trade him while they can still get something for him. Better late than never, I suppose.

Matheson talked about it today in a live-chat thing with Dan Barnes put on by The Journal. Matty's seen and heard many of the same things I have, so I was a bit surprised it took him so long to come to the same conclusion.

That's not meant as a shot at Matty because he's a friend, but I'm surprised we haven't read something from the full-time beat people before now. Jim spends as much time covering the rest of the NHL for his must-read Hockey World as he does covering the Oilers.

-- Still on Hemsky, why is it some people immediately revert to denial and play shoot-the-messenger when a reporter raises questions about Hemsky, as Matheson did today?

As was the case when speculation about Souray surfaced a year ago, knuckleheads with ZERO inside information would rather rip the reporter -- in this case Matheson -- as being irresponsible for speculating based on what they've seen and heard rather than asking themselves if what's being said is possible or even likely.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#201 Matt Henderson
April 20 2010, 06:03PM
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Nash was ranked 64th by NHL Central Scouting. Perron was ranked 10th.*

I'll give the win to NHL CS on that one.

*And I think that's just North American players

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#203 Crash
April 20 2010, 06:10PM
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Matt Henderson wrote:

Nash was ranked 64th by NHL Central Scouting. Perron was ranked 10th.*

I'll give the win to NHL CS on that one.

*And I think that's just North American players

Nice quick research but don't be so quick with declaring CS as winners...

Keaton Ellerby was ranked 4th and Angelo Esposito was ranked 8th and there are some real household names ranked by CS in the top 30 such as Tommy Cross 12th, Stefan Legein 13th, Nick Ross 18th, Nicholas Petrecki 21st, Mike Hoeffel 22nd, Patrick White 23rd, Nick Spaling, etc...just a few and all of them ranked ahead of Brandon Sutter.

Does NHL CS get the win there too?

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#204 Eddie Shore
April 20 2010, 06:16PM
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@Crash

@ Archaeologuy

Agree to disagree already...

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#205 Crash
April 20 2010, 06:18PM
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Eddie Shore wrote:

@ Archaeologuy

Agree to disagree already...

Sorry sweet...but we're not alone

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#207 TigerUnderGlass
April 20 2010, 08:46PM
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Crash wrote:

The same place that you said that I'm comparing Thornton and Seguin....Where did I compare Seguin and Thornton? Thornton was used as an illustration that players are looked at by fans, media and other players based on more than just regular season stats and accomplishments and that playoffs and other hockey tournaments (ie Olympics are also looked at)...just to show that it isn't so laughable to look at world jr tourneys and playoff performances when judging overall talent.

There was no comparison of Seguin and Thornton as players.

In what world does using Thornton to make a point about a potentially similar trait in Seguin NOT equate to making a comparison?

That is EXACTLY a comparison. You don't have to do an in depth analysis of the two before it qualifies.

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#208 TigerUnderGlass
April 20 2010, 08:49PM
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@Robin Brownlee

I've seen both players regularly listed at around 185, but CSS has Hall still at 185 but they Have Seguin at 172, making him one of the lightest players at the upper end of the draft.

Given that Hall is playing at 202 have you been given any indication what sort of weight Seguin was actually carrying? 172 seems quite light on his frame.

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#209 Mitch
April 20 2010, 09:04PM
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I think for Hemsky, it's only a matter of when he's trade and for who, the sooner the better. Edmonton has so much change that will happen it don't make sense to try and resign Hemsky. Hemsky will also command huge money which will not make sense to the roster at that time.

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#211 Crash
April 20 2010, 09:49PM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

In what world does using Thornton to make a point about a potentially similar trait in Seguin NOT equate to making a comparison?

That is EXACTLY a comparison. You don't have to do an in depth analysis of the two before it qualifies.

WRONG again TIG....

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#212 mowgli
April 20 2010, 10:45PM
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When Hemmer was hurt the oilers played boring hockey.

WE NEED HIM!!!!! for the fans.

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#213 TigerUnderGlass
April 20 2010, 11:34PM
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Crash wrote:

WRONG again TIG....

How so? How is that not a comparison? Your absurd denials of simple truth make me feel sorry for you.

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#214 Cory Dakin
April 20 2010, 11:51PM
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@Robin Brownlee

How dare you reporters make speculation about players? What makes you have any right to believe that you know anything more than the average fan, who has Internet access? How dare you? I say.***

Now, maybe if, one of you pencil pushers had raised questions about Souray's desire to be an oiler before the season even started. Or if maybe you had mentioned something about Whitney requiring surgery in the off-season to correct a foot problem he's had since birth, I would be able to believe you.

Oh yeah, that's right, you did.

So what I'm getting at is....

I, for one, appreciate the information you bring to us. Whether it pans out to be true or not remains to be seen. Anything can happen between now and next season, and obviously you know that more than anyone.

So.....

From what you're hearing. Do you belive the oilers think they can be contenders in the next year or two, or do you get the feeling that they'll actually commit to a true rebuild?

*** I hope the blatant sarcasm was picked up

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#216 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
April 21 2010, 10:50AM
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madjam wrote:

You take Hall with first choice because he is a proven commodity and you know you can't go possibly wrong by doing so now ,or down the line . If Sequin somewhere down the line pans out to be the player some predict and somehow be better overall than Hall , big deal ! You still made the right choice at the right time, and you know you'll always be happy with Hall even if somewhere down the line Sequin rises above him . It's not a hard choice to make - you take the proven commodity over the crystal ball approach . Lets remeber Hall will be improving over the years as well , as he is very unlikely to have reached his maximum limits as well !!

did i sleep through the last 3 years and miss Hall playing in the NHL?

how the **** can anyone coming out of junior be considered a "proven commodity"? WTF have they proven? that they can dominate other kids?

yes, a very select few (lindros, crosby etc) are the exception to the rule. Is Hall considered to be that good? i dont think so. Do we honestly have to start listing the trail of bodies that indicate the amount of junior players who light it up in junior and end up amounting to SFA in the NHL?

proven commodity? be better.

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#217 THEBIGD
April 21 2010, 11:06PM
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@Mitch

AMEN FINALLY SOME ONE AGREES WITH ME.I BEEN SAYING THIS FOR OVER 2 YEARS NOW.GOOD BY ALES PLEASE GET SOMEONE WHILE WE STILL CAN.DRAFT PICKS OR WHATEVER

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#218 Cory Dakin
April 21 2010, 11:25PM
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WHAT'S WITH THE YELLING!!?!!

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#219 Mitch
April 24 2010, 06:06PM
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@Robin Brownlee

@ Robin Brownlee

Robin I'm just watching the playoffs here, I have a thought when it comes to Hemsky. I would call Pittsburgh and offer Hemsky plus any other player in the organization for Staal. Or is Hemsky enough, just as long as we don't deal any draft picks.

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#220 Mitch
April 24 2010, 08:18PM
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I would also consider moving one of Hemsky/Penner along with Gagner or Cogliano, for Spezza it's after all the summer of Steve.

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