Value Added

Lowetide
July 02 2010 06:56AM

Former Oiler Jason Smith taking care of business

This is Jason Smith. He's a good example of the time if takes for NHL defensemen to develop. New Jersey dealt him for immediate help one trade deadline, old-timey-coach didn't like the cut of his jib in Toronto and sent him away one other time.

When Jason Smith arrived in Edmonton he was battle-hardened, had leadership qualities, had learned to deal with injury, had a boatload of defensive talent and was willing to do damn near anything to establish himself in Edmonton. It takes time to learn NHL defense. A lot of good ones slip away to other teams in their mid-20's.

Steve Tambellini and the Edmonton Oilers are having a nice summer. The entry draft went very well, with Stu (Magnificent Bastard) MacGregor delivering a strong draft list that includes potential Calder candidate Taylor Hall.

The club placed three veterans on waivers (Moreau, Nilsson, O'Sullivan) for the purpose of buying out their contracts only to see the Hockey Gods bless them twice (Moreau claimed by the Jackets and a solid return in exchange for O'Sullivan).

The club entered free agency with a reasonable shopping list and some walking around money.

In the early hours of free agency we heard the Oilers were "in the mix" for Derek Boogaard and Manny Malhotra. These players address specific needs but the eventual pricetag was way too high, indicating Steve Tambellini backed off when the bidding got crazy.

His signing of defenseman Kurtis Foster--at a price of 1.8M times 2 years--has an excellent chance of being a value contract. He's big, has good footspeed and can play the position. He also possesses one outstanding skill--a monster shot from the point. The Oilers are likely to send Sheldon Souray away in trade sometime this summer, so the cannon from the point from Foster means one more need is covered with this free agent signing.

Foster has a nice range of skills, has proven he can help a powerplay and be successful against softer NHL opposition; if there's another gear there this could be a very good acquisition. We should also remember that long list of defensemen who developed late (Jason Smith, Steve Staios, others) and were available to the Oilers at less than 100 cents on the dollar. Foster could find a home in Edmonton, it's happened before. 

No matter the outcome, it's a solid bet.

The items remaining on the Oilers shopping list--a veteran center who can win faceoffs; an enforcer who can protect the small and inexperienced forwards; possibly a veteran 2-way winger to mentor the kids ala Fernando Pisani--are all out there and available. Some of the candidates the team might be looking at include Chris Higgins,  Eric Belanger and Zenon Konopka.

Steve Tambellini has money in his pocket for free agents, he has the lessons learned from the Phoenix Coyotes and their late summer value contracts a year ago, and he has veteran defenseman Sheldon Souray.

This is turning into a very nice summer.

UPDATE: Oilers have signed Jason Strudwick along with AHL veteran defender Richard Petiot this morning. Also, Ryan Rishaug is reporting that Sheldon Souray has been placed on waivers.

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on Team 1260.
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#1 Scott in Grande Prairie
July 02 2010, 09:11AM
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Question to no one and everyone in particular:

Can someone tell me why Pierre McGuire was insisting that the Oilers overpaid to get Foster?

Two years at 1.8M-per seemed pretty reasonable, especially on Frenzy Day, when hardly anybody signs for less than $2M.

I realize that McGuire is an excitable chap who often goes overboard on just about everything, but he must be able to count to 10, can't he?

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#2 madjam
July 02 2010, 10:05AM
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Curious wrote:

Happy? He really sounded happy last year.

Sure Souray is a decent defenseman. When you change the culture and attitude in the room, you need to rid the discontent out of the room. Even if you do not receive full value for that asset. Souray's sense of entitlement does not fit here anymore and he needs to go.

Why risk Souray souring one of the 'kids' or recreating the old boys club. If you are going to rebuild, rebuild. Souray has no place on a rebuilding team.

Don't be laying all the inner problems on the players . Management was equally , if not more so , than the players for that eventual toxic blowup . Both need to make up in that regard ! Even if Souray was to be let go, we still have managerial team running the show that created it and let it fester . It's a lot deeper than just entitlement . With Souray gone it still does not adequately address or make the problem go away , in other words .

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#3 jeanshorts
July 02 2010, 10:13AM
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Jodes wrote:

Something big must be going on.. Maybe Holland defeating Brazil? Twitter is over capacity..

Clearly it's because people have learned the Oilers re-signed Strudwick.

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#5 Dominoiler
July 02 2010, 03:44PM
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Man.. I cant believe this...

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=326387

I hope he is the official Oil Baron Enforcer...

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#6 RT
July 02 2010, 07:00AM
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Lowetide,

Welcome to ON! I am a huge fan of your blog and can't wait to get more of your insight.

Bon chance.

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#7 Matt.N
July 02 2010, 07:01AM
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This is weird.

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#8 Andrew MK20
July 02 2010, 07:04AM
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what do you think the chances are of Belanger landing here, also are there any actual offers for Souray yet or is it too early?

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#9 lowetide
July 02 2010, 07:07AM
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RT: Thanks.

Matt.N: It'll be fine.

Andrew: Tambellini said he couldn't say there was progress re:Souray but did indicate his name was brought up in conversation.

As for Belanger, he would be a nice contract for a lot of teams. If a contending team wants him, chances are the Oilers won't win that contest.

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Never meet you before, but enjoy your articles. Welcome.

One poster mentioned Mike Weaver to help out backend out on another thread. He is a small guy, but played top PK minutes on the best PK. Would he be a fit?

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#11 lowetide
July 02 2010, 07:18AM
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Ogden: The problem with adding another defender is that you might end up risking waivers on Peckham. He's the one young blueliner who can't be sent out without risking waivers. The depth chart right now looks like this:

Whitney-Gilbert Smid-Foster Vandermeer-(Souray trade) Peckham

If the Oilers deal Souray for a forward, then adding a defenseman is a solid option. But if they bring back another defenseman, the Oilers may lose Peckham. I don't think he'd clear waivers, PLUS he's exactly the player-type EDM needs.

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#12 Psyche
July 02 2010, 07:19AM
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Yesterday was long and exciting with free agency and a classic CFL game to kick-off the season. Today starts with LT with ON! What else can a sports fan request.

The Oilers are becoming more balanced with each move. It appears the time assessing is paying off. If Tambo can find a rugged, stay-at-home, #4-5 type d-man that would be nice. That 3rd line centre spot is vacant and needs an experienced player with some grit and PK ability. Onward and upward.

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@lowetide

So Peckham does have to clear waivers? There was some confusion on that.

I think Mike Gillis made and excellent point yesterday when he said that last year they thought they had enough d-men going into the year and then they ended up being a few short.

I guess it comes down to what Tambo has up his sleeve with Souray.

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#14 Next Year Country
July 02 2010, 07:24AM
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Good to see you on ON Lowetide!

I really like Tambi's moves. Fraser, Foster, and Vandermeer should be solid acquisitions, and the good thing is that they all seem very positive about playing here.

I am disappointed that we didn't get Scott, but I hope we go hard for Knopka.

As for Souray, I expect that we will trade him, but if we can't, I don't want him back polluting the atmosphere in the room. A new leadership group will emerge and evolve, and it would be best done without him. I hope Kevin was serious about letting him sit if we can't move him.

I have no problem with this team being well below the cap, and I am willing to be patient with the young guys, as long as I see hard work and a competitive attitude.

Oh, and I really love Calgary's moves ... they are now really on the down escalator. We'll wave to them as we pass them going the other way.

Have a good one.

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#15 Jon K
July 02 2010, 07:27AM
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Good luck in the new venture LT.

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#16 Jeff
July 02 2010, 07:28AM
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Welcome LT. This is a great day for Oilers fans who are reading one of your articles for the first time today, and for the rest of us too.

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#17 Oilchange64
July 02 2010, 07:34AM
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Another writer who provides reasonable analysis & commentary? Did someone hack my bookmarks?

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#18 Marc
July 02 2010, 07:37AM
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LT

One of the Dreger tweeted yesterday that there was a ton of interest in Higgins so I suspect he'll end up in the too expensive category.

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#19 magisterrex
July 02 2010, 07:37AM
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So we're left with Souray as the last remaining, "I don't want to be here" folks, but what about Smid? Is he still with the program here or is he next to be packaged up and shipped out?

And don't forget Cogliano, who really doesn't have a spot now in the lineup that fits his skillset...

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#20 Death Metal Nightmare
July 02 2010, 07:39AM
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if they go hard for Konopka the better have a fourth line LWer who can skate or Stortini is getting dropped. thats just too slow/retarded for an energy line at the NHL level. thats AHL/bush speed.

Higgins has some nice speed but Cogliano and Souray are probably going to get traded... so for what type of player. is Higgins really worth investing in if established players come back for those two in return. Cogliano may not get moved but it just seems practical instead of stunting him further because he will not get top 6 minutes anymore ahead of Hall, Eberle and MPS, or even possibly Omark eventually...

time for Tambo to trade Souray and/or Cogs for a SICK swiss-army-knife type third liner or a solid D-man.

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@magisterrex

Wasn't Smid's biggest issue with him not get NHL playing time? The guy is living here during the summer now, so I have to think he is happy.

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#22 Robin Brownlee
July 02 2010, 07:45AM
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@magisterrex

Laddy is happy here. There were some rumblings three seasons ago he wasn't, but that came during a time when he was buried on the depth chart and being used as a forward by MacTavish. His discontent, essentially, came down to anxiety he wouldn't get a chance to be more than a third-pairing defenceman here. I talked to him at a golf tournament this summer and he's eager to get going. He should be 100 per cent recovered from his neck surgery by the start of training camp.

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#23 markmac
July 02 2010, 07:45AM
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I visited lowetide.blogspot.com five times this morning before I remembered to come here.

Sort of like getting off a bus in a daze at the stop near your old house, only to remember too late that you don't live there anymore.

For those of you who never drifted over to Mr. Mitchell's old black-and-blue home on blogger, I offer the following snapshot of his topic list as explanation why some of us spent a few minutes of each morning there:

expos (3) grace kelley (4) gretzky (2) pouliot (35) weir (1)

The last one is most definitely a miscount. Stan, er, Mr. Weir damn near won us the whole thing back in 06.

Thanks LT. As you said, this too will be fine. But a few of us are still going to miss the way things used to be.

All the best,

Mark MacKinnon

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#24 SirFozz
July 02 2010, 07:48AM
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Great to have you here LT! I've been a long-time reader of yours despite not joining in on the conversation.

As for Peckham, it's a shame he can't be sent down for developments sake. Do you think he's ready for a 6 spot? If not, does being 7 help him in the long run? I suppose he'd always be one injury away from drawing in.

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#25 madjam
July 02 2010, 07:57AM
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A happy , healthy and productive player like Souray is just what we need to round out our defensive core . I for one, prefer all measures to keep him here and on roster during our rebuild . Sitting him out seems out of the question now that he is wavering on staying here . Who else in marketplace can replace him at equal or more talent and value value - no one i forsee thats available now .

Pencil Souray back in and our defensive core looks pretty good . Peckhams defensive liabilities beyond toughness are still not at NHL acceptable level sorry to say - strictly a call up at this stage . Chorney is far better , but size and toughness not his fortay . Plante should emerge over those two in the near future , perhaps even this year .

I'd like to see Tams address the smallish forward dilemma we still have at forward position with trades etc . , far more than trying to move Souray at this time !! There's always time to move Souray at next years trade deadline if he still prefers to be traded , but now is not good timing . I prefer to see how things pan out with him in lineup , and some of our diminutive players weeded out for upgrades in size and toughness .

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#26 magisterrex
July 02 2010, 08:02AM
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@Robin Brownlee @Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Lynda Steele

There's been so many curveballs lately that I guess I'm starting to get a bit paranoid, I suppose. Thanks for clearing that up.

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#27 BadSeed
July 02 2010, 08:05AM
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Lowetide has just escalated this logsite into readable.

re: Markmac - I believe Diane Lane would be right behind Expos - or maybe in front of.

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#28 OvenChicken8 - Team JSBM
July 02 2010, 08:06AM
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This is fantastic, another excellent writer for ON. I've been reading your blog for a long time now but like most others rarely have I ever joined in the conversation.

How did Foster's 42 points breakdown? Does he have a heavy shot from the point that the Oilers can utilize with the inevitable loss of Souray?

Being that he is 6'5 220lbs, is he fairly physical? I noticed that he doesn't take too many penalties which means he knows the line, but if he could find the right edge we could have ourselves a great 3-4 guy.

As for the Centre, I can't see Tambellini spending over 1.5m/season on the 3rd/4th line man which essentially takes Higgins out of the running. I would love to see Konopka here but we may have that guy already since Fraser signed yesterday.

It should be a grittier team next year that plays with a lot more heart.

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#29 10k
July 02 2010, 08:09AM
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Strange forces are at play - I've been reading Lowetide for about 2yrs but could never log in. Your first day here and I finally get to thank you for all of your insight and entertainment - that and the Oil actually seem to be making prudent moves and those other guys down the road have me scratching my head.

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@OvenChicken8 - Team JSBM

http://www.nhl.com/ice/playerstats.htm?fetchKey=20102TAMDADAll&sort=gamesPlayed&viewName=rtssPlayerStats

60 hits, 70 blocked shots.

http://www.nhl.com/ice/playerstats.htm?fetchKey=20102TAMDADAll&sort=points&viewName=points

26PP points, 16 ES points

http://www.nhl.com/ice/playerstats.htm?fetchKey=20102TAMDADAll&sort=timeOnIce&viewName=timeOnIce Minimal PK time, Maximum PP time.

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#31 jake
July 02 2010, 08:13AM
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Welcome LT.

Foster - I like the signing. Not too long a term.

Souray - The problem I see with him sticking around is that after he got back from his concussion (thanks Jarome), he looked atrocious out there at times. Was it disinterest, resentment at management, lingering concussion sypmtoms?? Not sure but he looked pylonish many a night.

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#32 MrCondor
July 02 2010, 08:23AM
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In addition to the quality of players that we are getting, I'm love the short term contracts that are being handed out.

In 2-3 years the Oilers are setting themselves up to have a near clear slate salary wise. We will be able sign our core to the contracts they deserve and also pick up some quality UFA's so we can make a run at the cup.

Fantastic time to be an Oilers fan!!!

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#33 OvenChicken8 - Team JSBM
July 02 2010, 08:28AM
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@Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

Thanks

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#34 Racki
July 02 2010, 08:32AM
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Ahhh you are a sight for sore eyes here, Lowetide. Glad to see you posting here. Will you still be maintaining your own blogspot site as well?

As far as signings I'd like to see.. basically 2.

1) Zenon Konopka. This guy is amazing on draws (over 60%). Plus, he can fight, AND defend in his own zone? Geez, sign me up. If the Rags paid $1.5M for the Boogey man, surely Konopka is worth at least that much (however reality tells me neither are). I wonder what his asking price is.

2) A shutdown defenseman. Our blue line is near perfection (sans-injuries, and once Souray is shipped off). The only thing missing is that guy who can stifle opposition forwards. Smid might be that one day, but it's unrealistic to expect that now. Shaone Morrison is a guy who is still available. I'd say he'd be worth giving a large chunk of change to. Anywhere in the 3-4M ballpark. Volchenkov is getting $4.25M per, so that should be a comparison point in contract dealings where we would keep it under.

Edit: Actually I just read back and see that Peckham has to clear waivers to go down.. this was something I didn't know or even consider (he's only played 31 NHL games though, so I don't believe he does have to clear waivers). Changes things a bit if he is waiver eligible, but we could still have him up here and alternate with Vandermeer as #7 (and thus not re-signing Johnson/Strudwick).

Anyways, good to see you here LT.

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#35 Curious
July 02 2010, 08:39AM
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@madjam

Happy? He really sounded happy last year.

Sure Souray is a decent defenseman. When you change the culture and attitude in the room, you need to rid the discontent out of the room. Even if you do not receive full value for that asset. Souray's sense of entitlement does not fit here anymore and he needs to go.

Why risk Souray souring one of the 'kids' or recreating the old boys club. If you are going to rebuild, rebuild. Souray has no place on a rebuilding team.

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#36 cambosmash
July 02 2010, 08:40AM
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This prose looks nice on a white background. The black has always kind of made me sleepy.

The way Quinn talked about Souray at the end of the season there's no way he plays here. The 'I don't want guys here poisoning the dressing room if they don't want to be here' type quote seemed pretty telling. He'll be traded, or assigned all the way down to Stockton.

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#37 speeds
July 02 2010, 08:47AM
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I kinda like the idea of running with 8D next year LT, not sure how you look at it.

That might allow one of the waiver ineligible forwards to get more ice time in the AHL, and cover the NHL team with an extra defenceman, which for depth purposes I think might make some sense given that many of the Oilers D have injury issues, and that the Oilers are likely to have better replacement F's in the minors than D, so might as well use that 23rd roster spot on an extra D over F.

But maybe EDM can add one of the remaining depth guys, like a Johnsson, Coliacovo, Eaton, Coliacovo, Mottau, Clark, etc, for a depth chart something like:

Whitney Gilbert Souray/Brewer/other D in Souray trade Smid Vandermeer Foster new guy Peckham

or, if you end up trading Souray for an overpriced but useable F, pick up two of those depth types for your 8 D?

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#38 fuzzy muppet
July 02 2010, 08:52AM
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In Peckham's second stint with the club towards the end of the year(before injury), he looked like he was starting to get it.

I think he can handle the #6 role, problem is if he's paired with Vandermeer they will have very limited mobility and neither is gonna be confused as a "puck-mover".

The good thing is Renney has a nice track record in dealing with defensemen, so who knows...

BTW Sign Konopka and stortini can be the 13th forward.

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#39 Dave Niven
July 02 2010, 08:54AM
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What is going to happen to Pisani ... Gene Principe will be heartbroken. I think oilers should sign him to a one year deal.

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#40 Smytty777
July 02 2010, 08:58AM
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@speeds

I really like the idea of running 8D. Omark, Eberle, Paajarvi can all bounce up and down from the minors so there should be adequate replacements for forwards. The Oilers are thin on D and it seems like a position where more injuries occur.

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#41 lowetide
July 02 2010, 08:59AM
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speeds: I'd be fine with that, but sure as hell they'll sign Strudwick for that role if that's their direction. I think Strudwick is done, no disrespect to him the guy is clearly loved by Oiler players.

I'd rather have Pisani.

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#42 Oilchange64
July 02 2010, 09:12AM
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Over 3 days & I believe not one mention of Schremp. I am liking this team better all the time.

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#43 Clay
July 02 2010, 09:15AM
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Congrats, LT! Like The Joker said, "If you're good at something, never do it for free".

@MarkMac: Here, here. I think that my morning routine will start out as usual (go to LT's blog), then click on the ON link to get here.

Kwirky fact: The Flames drafted two players in the second round of the 2000 draft - Foster and Jarret Stoll. It's somewhat ironic how bad the Oilers could use Stoll right now.

How about Andreas Lilja for a shutdown/pk type? Big, gritty, and blocks shots. If he's good enough to kill penalties for Detroit... I guess the concern would be his concussion issues, but according to his camp, he's 100% now.

His cap hit was $1.25M last year, and he's 35 years old. On a MAX two year deal, for Foster money or less, I'd be pretty ok with that.

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#44 MaximusBaggus
July 02 2010, 09:21AM
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Congrats LT!

speeds,

I agree with carrying 8D. If memory serves me right, Vandermeer can play the swing role like Strudwick did last year. Vandermeer was played at forward at times in Calgary if I'm not mistaken. Also, Tocchet on Oilers Lunch said he occasionally used Foster up front last year. Both of these guys add flexibility and also allow us to carry 8D while only having one spare F (or 3rd Goalie since I'm not convinced Tambo will/can dump one off the young goalies for a pick/tangible asset due to the saturated goalie market).

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#45 Ssseth
July 02 2010, 09:23AM
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I normally don't comment, but had to today.

Welcome to ON Lowetide! Better late than never :)

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#46 MaximusBaggus
July 02 2010, 09:23AM
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Clay wrote:

Congrats, LT! Like The Joker said, "If you're good at something, never do it for free".

@MarkMac: Here, here. I think that my morning routine will start out as usual (go to LT's blog), then click on the ON link to get here.

Kwirky fact: The Flames drafted two players in the second round of the 2000 draft - Foster and Jarret Stoll. It's somewhat ironic how bad the Oilers could use Stoll right now.

How about Andreas Lilja for a shutdown/pk type? Big, gritty, and blocks shots. If he's good enough to kill penalties for Detroit... I guess the concern would be his concussion issues, but according to his camp, he's 100% now.

His cap hit was $1.25M last year, and he's 35 years old. On a MAX two year deal, for Foster money or less, I'd be pretty ok with that.

The Lilja idea is one I've championing with my friends and coworkers. He'd bring some of that Detroit mystique and work ethic. Pair him with Laddie and we have a potentially good shutdown pairing.

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#47 Dan the Man
July 02 2010, 09:25AM
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Is it just me that was really slow to realize that the 1st round pick that the Flames traded to Phoenix for Jokinen ended up being Gormley?

Also welcome aboard Lowetide, you've made an already excellent site even better.

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#48 Jordan
July 02 2010, 09:25AM
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I've been thinking a great deal about Pisani and Strudwick and where they are going. I know there have been public statements about Pisani not being part of the future, but I think writing them out of the Oilers organization is folly.

Neither of them are going to command top dollar on the FA market (to be honest, I doubt either is signed by another NHL team period), but both are slod role players (pisani more so, but health issues limit efectiveness).

Why not offer them both 2-way contracts for OKC. Maybe something like 1M/300k for Pisani to mentor the kids in defensive play on the 2RW, and 750k/250K to Strudds to play a solid physical game and be a locker room presence. Both could be called up for depth, and both have a place in the org still.

It's the kind of move that would go a long way to shoring things up in OKC, and provide real depth for the Oilers this coming season.

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#49 Wanye
July 02 2010, 09:26AM
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Welcome aboard Lowetide. This truly is a wonderful day.

And fear not, we are trolling your commentary with a rockey launcher looking for trolls*

*shakes fist at trolls*

*All trolls welcome on my articles

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#50 Next Year Country
July 02 2010, 09:35AM
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@Racki

1) Zenon Konopka. This guy is amazing on draws (over 60%). Plus, he can fight, AND defend in his own zone? Geez, sign me up. If the Rags paid $1.5M for the Boogey man, surely Konopka is worth at least that much (however reality tells me neither are). I wonder what his asking price is.

EXACTLY !

@cambomash The way Quinn talked about Souray at the end of the season there's no way he plays here. The 'I don't want guys here poisoning the dressing room if they don't want to be here' type quote seemed pretty telling. He'll be traded, or assigned all the way down to Stockton.

EXACTLY !

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