Tom Renney in a Box (Part 1)

Lowetide
July 03 2010 09:50AM

In his first full season as coach of the New York Rangers, Tom Renney was the toast of the town. The NHL was coming out of the lockout--meaning two seasons worth of rookies--and the Rangers weren't picked to win squat. The Rangers topped 100 points, Jaromir Jagr set team records for goals and points and Renney was lauded as a major coaching talent. His reputation as a tactician and handler of difficult personalities gave NHL observers the impression he was going to be around awhile.

In the post below, I'll look at Renney's roster makeup and usage in NYC, and see if we can apply it to the current Oilers roster and make sense of things. I'd love your input, especially those who remember Renney's time in Manhattan.

  1. Does he like playing kids? Well he watched over a truckload of rookie seasons in New York. All kinds of players too, from quality 2-way defensemen to skilled wingers to enforcers. The Ranger procurement department was overflowing when he arrived, owing in part to Renney's efforts there (he started his Ranger career as director of player personnel).
  2. What kinds of prospects flourished under him? All kinds. I don't know how much credit to give the procurement department, but looking strictly at results the Rangers developed a lot of young players who displayed a wide range of skills. Talented 2-way players who reached the show during this time would include defensemen Mark Staal, Fedor Tyutin, Dan Girardi along with forwards Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist also arrived fall 2005 and had a major impact on the franchise immediately.
  3. How much of this was blind luck? We'll never know. I can say that these Ranger prospects weren't lottery picks and the Oilers forward prospects have much better pedigree than the Ranger kids.
  4. Did he do weird stuff like MacTavish did with Jani Rita and Rob Schremp? First of all, MacTavish didn't do weird stuff with either of those players. They didn't make the grade. But if you're looking for a comparable, Petr Prucha faded after two quality seasons under Renney (30 and 22 goals). His career has not recovered since leaving New York, so there's no real evidence the coach was punishing a performing player.
  5. Anything else about the prospects? Renney found two enforcers right away. Colton Orr came over via waivers and Hollweg would have been known to Renney through the minor league system. And he played them enough to have an impact (in 06-07 Orr played 5:19 a night and was in 16 fights, Hollweg played 8:14 a night and was in 15 fights). He also had a plethora of agitator-types, led by Sean Avery who (along with Dubinsky) found a role on the Ranger team that fit his skill set.
  6. Which Oiler AHL prospects will benefit from Renney's presence? I believe Theo Peckham and Alex Plante will benefit the most. They are willing fighters and have some secondary skills (Plante's shot, Peckham's nasty streak) that should impress the coach. If Liam Reddox or Ryan O'Marra were a little more the agitator, they could be rewarded as well.
  7. How did he handle his top 6F in NYC? Played the hell out of them. In 05-06, Jagr (who loves Renney) played 22 minutes a night, including 6 on the PP. Other forwards who were above 4.5 minutes per night with the man advantage were Michael Nylander, Martin Straka and Martin Rucinsky. Looking at the TOI totals for that season it is very easy to see how he handled the forwards. Top line (Nylander-Straka-Jagr) 19 or more minutes; 2nd line (Rucchin-Rucinsky-Sykora) 15+ minutes; 3rd line (Moore-Prucha-Ward-Nieminen) 11 or more; 4th line (Betts-Hossa-Ortmeyer) about the same as the 3line.  The PK men (Rucchin, Moore, Betts, Ortmeyer, Ward) were exactly the men who weren't on the PP. I suspect we'll have something similar here, a distinct skill 6 plus powerplay and a flat 6 for checking and the penalty-kill.
  8. Who will be in his top 6F? Dustin Penner, Ales Hemsky, Sam Gagner, Shawn Horcoff, Taylor Hall. Candidates for the 6th F slot would include Gilbert Brule, Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson, Jordan Eberle, Linus Omark, Andrew Cogliano. I'd guess that Brule gets the first spin, he's coming off a 17-goal season and is more proven than the others listed here.
  9. Who will be in his bottom 6F? Colin Fraser, Ryan Jones, Zack Stortini, that 3line C we're hearing about, plus any or all of Jacques, Strudwick (when he's playing F), MacIntyre. Liam Reddox, Ryan O'Marra, the dog's breakfast that is what is left of the bottom part of last season's roster. Colin McDonald, if they sign him.
  10. Will those who fail to break into the top 6 play on the bottom 6? I don't think so. Among the skilled men listed above, only Horcoff has the complete game to play a checking role. There aren't a lot of complete skill sets here, and those who have a wide range (like Gagner) are projected to be top 6 types for a decade or more. Not a lot of crossover here (which is again similar to the Rangers under Renney).
  11. How many of the gifted kids make the team out of camp? MPS and Eberle may be headed to Oklahoma City based on the roster setup as it now stands. The Oilers clogged up the wings when they retained Jacques and signed MacIntyre. If they do (as an example) run Eberle as 4line RW, that would require Zack Stortini to play big minutes against very tough opposition. The RW depth chart with Eberle (Hemsky, Brule, Stortini, Eberle) doesn't appear to be a reasonable option.
  12. Cogliano can play a checking role. No. No he can't. I like Cogliano, but he hasn't developed as a guy who can be counted on to be in the right spot in a defensive role (even on the wing). He plays the defensive game like Guy Lafleur (rover-ish) which is dandy if you're Guy Lalfeur. Cogliano is in a spot of bother with this hockey club; coming out of college I would have thought Cogs had the toolkit for a 2-way role but he never developed.

Next: Defense, goaltending and the galling powerplay.

C2a6955161684b5e3189319acfa5ebe4
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 RossCreekNation
July 03 2010, 10:03AM
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Souray clears waivers, as per Ryan Rishaug.

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#2 Glasgow Oil
July 03 2010, 10:04AM
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LT - Would Renney have got more in the win column with last year's Oilers than OTC?

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#4 Rogue
July 03 2010, 10:07AM
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I hope that Horcoff can regain some scoring touch if he is in the role as second line center. I am not sure if he can make the players around him better. I realize he was injured last year, but putting 2 kids with him and Horc not producing will only frustrate the rookies more. Time will tell.

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#7 Rogue
July 03 2010, 10:18AM
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Lowetide wrote:

Rogue: I hope they pair Gagner with Penner and Horcoff with Hemsky. That way, the Oilers have two liines who can post some offense.

You are probably right. I guess the Oil have nothing to lose. Renney will have his hands full with all the new pieces at his disposal. It will be Fun, Frustrating, Exciting and a I wonder what the Hell is going type of season. For certain, the most interesting season in years!!

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#8 Arby
July 03 2010, 10:18AM
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Couple of Renney questions for you LT:

Will Brule's new salary be the only thing preventing him from centering an energy line (ie. Gags in 09/10)?

Is Gagner far enough along that he can center Penner and Hemsky going power vs power?

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#9 Shapeman
July 03 2010, 10:22AM
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LT i can't believe i was too lazy to read your stuff before. This is almost like JW 2.0 with all the posts being cranked out. Good work i'm liking it.

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#10 Henry
July 03 2010, 10:23AM
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A nice analysis LT. I hope you are wrong about point 12 though. Cogliano didn't develop under Quinn's system last year. That might have been his fault, or simply having a young player shifting roles with different (and frequently poor) linemates every 8 games. I'd like to see what sort of player Andrew Cogliano becomes over a couple of seasons with Renney running things. We probably won't get the opportunity though if the trade rumors are true.

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#13 madjam
July 03 2010, 10:29AM
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Lowetide wrote:

Souray clearing waivers isn't a surprise imo. There are other names still available. The Oilers are going to have to take back some contract in exchange.

I eat crow on the Souray call , probably won't be the last time either . Looks like Souray eats humble pie and Tams comes out smelling like a rose for such a risky move . Good for Tams making the right call on Souray .

How effective will Oilers toughness be on defence if they spend as much time in the penalty box as they do on ice ? Well it shouldn't be quite that bad , but it's liable to cost us none the less. We're still not a great goaltending or penalty killing team . We still have an abundance of small soft forwards . I see many teams running our diminutive forwards to have us take many penalties required to try and protect them.

Our defence is not overly mobile to ward off many nights of penalties against us .

Gagner a talent and his 4-5th year should be a major breakthru one way or the other . Will he top 6 or top 9 ?

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#14 Archaeologuy
July 03 2010, 10:31AM
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The only checking centre on the team is Horcoff. He hasnt been good enough offensively to be a 2nd line player for the course of an entire season since he wrecked his shoulder.

I think the Oilers might play him there, or inexplicably as the 1st line centre, at the beginning of the year; but I have my doubts that he stays there all year.

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#15 Bendelson
July 03 2010, 10:33AM
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I just don't see a role for Cogliano on this team. Brule? Same position. You can't be a 'borderline' top 6 and play NO defence. The way I figure, one of these two will be out of town in an effort to convince another team to take on take ugly Souray's contract. And it's a good move if its happens.

The question remains: where and who's coming back?

If Tambo continues to impress, it should be a stay at home Dman and/or responsible 3rd line player.

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#17 Nate Full of Hate
July 03 2010, 10:34AM
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With so many new players it will take awhile for them to develop chemistry and consistency.

The Oilers PP will finally have some options other teams need to adjust to.

It's gonna be hard hating on a group of players who really don't know each other. Not having a ligitimate #1 center has created a cluster puck for line combinations.

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#18 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
July 03 2010, 10:35AM
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madjam wrote:

I eat crow on the Souray call , probably won't be the last time either . Looks like Souray eats humble pie and Tams comes out smelling like a rose for such a risky move . Good for Tams making the right call on Souray .

How effective will Oilers toughness be on defence if they spend as much time in the penalty box as they do on ice ? Well it shouldn't be quite that bad , but it's liable to cost us none the less. We're still not a great goaltending or penalty killing team . We still have an abundance of small soft forwards . I see many teams running our diminutive forwards to have us take many penalties required to try and protect them.

Our defence is not overly mobile to ward off many nights of penalties against us .

Gagner a talent and his 4-5th year should be a major breakthru one way or the other . Will he top 6 or top 9 ?

Toughness doesn't always mean penalties. Souray would actually be a decent example of that if he didn't get his hands up in people's face on the pinch.

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#19 Nate Full of Hate
July 03 2010, 10:37AM
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Souray's gonna cost Edmonton around 4 million no matter what they do...

buy out, take on bad contract, or injury...

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#20 Shapeman
July 03 2010, 10:38AM
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No comment on the Alexandre Giroux signing yet? I thought it was a pretty good ahl depth signing

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#21 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
July 03 2010, 10:40AM
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Shapeman wrote:

No comment on the Alexandre Giroux signing yet? I thought it was a pretty good ahl depth signing

Absolutely it is. I've seen this guy play a few times. He lit up the Moose season-before-last in the Calder Cup Finals. He's a force.

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#23 Nate Full of Hate
July 03 2010, 10:40AM
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Shapeman wrote:

No comment on the Alexandre Giroux signing yet? I thought it was a pretty good ahl depth signing

Out with Ryan Potulny insert Alex Giroux

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#24 Rob Bogdan
July 03 2010, 10:42AM
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I am also curious how the Giroux signing impacts the bottom 6. Not a lot of room for Cogs.

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#25 Bendelson
July 03 2010, 10:46AM
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I'll provide one slightly ridiculous example of a trade I can imagine (as per my earlier post):

Salvador and Henrique for Souray and Brule

Too much salary going to NJ?

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#26 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
July 03 2010, 10:51AM
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Lowetide wrote:

Shapeman: Yeah, I haven't said too much because I don't know where to slot him. Renney had him in New York and he has ridiculous skills in the AHL.

But where on earth do you put him?

I slot him firmly in the AHL. He's an extremely high-quality call-up.

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#27 pboy
July 03 2010, 10:54AM
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Souray coming back to play isn't all that unthinkable. The Bo Sox threw Manny Ramirez on the waiver wire in 2004 and after no one claimed him, he re-joined the team and lead them to the World Series. Without knowing how Souray's teammates feel about him, you can't really handicap how realistic this would be but it wouldn't be unprecedented.

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#28 RossCreekNation
July 03 2010, 10:58AM
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Some more updates from Rishaug...

RE: Giroux

Good get for the Oilers in Alex Giroux, 6-3 200 lbs 103 pts 50 goals in Hershey. Then another 27 pts in 21 games in the playoffs. He's 29

Oil really wanted Giroux badly.. Though he likely plays in AHL, they gave him a one way deal at 500k. Will be given a good NHL look first

...AND...

Another guy they may consider, Corey Locke. 85pts with Hartford last season, smaller, but a gamer. AHL depth is a major priority.

Eric Belanger's camp has had no offers from Oilers... Probably not gonna happen at this point.

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#29 Crackenbury
July 03 2010, 11:00AM
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Cogliano is being underrated. He started to show what kind of player he can be the last 15-20 games of the season. Coincidently, that is the time Quinn was given marching orders to play him top 6 minutes instead of burying him in the lineup. Whoever gets him is going to wonder why Edmonton gave up on him.

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#30 Sandra Blood
July 03 2010, 11:00AM
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If Hall can play center than Cogs is a gonner. Lets just hope that the players are used correctly and no one regresses under Renney. This is a different team than last year with a lot of talent on paper. They should compete for a playoff spot. Hemsky should be named captain and let him lead offensivly with the kids. He'll excell and like being an Oiler and will sign the extension.

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#31 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
July 03 2010, 11:01AM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

Some more updates from Rishaug...

RE: Giroux

Good get for the Oilers in Alex Giroux, 6-3 200 lbs 103 pts 50 goals in Hershey. Then another 27 pts in 21 games in the playoffs. He's 29

Oil really wanted Giroux badly.. Though he likely plays in AHL, they gave him a one way deal at 500k. Will be given a good NHL look first

...AND...

Another guy they may consider, Corey Locke. 85pts with Hartford last season, smaller, but a gamer. AHL depth is a major priority.

Eric Belanger's camp has had no offers from Oilers... Probably not gonna happen at this point.

Side note, he wouldn't be the only 08/09 Hershey Bear playing in OKC. Mean Dean Arsene is a former teammate.

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#32 RossCreekNation
July 03 2010, 11:03AM
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Bendelson wrote:

I'll provide one slightly ridiculous example of a trade I can imagine (as per my earlier post):

Salvador and Henrique for Souray and Brule

Too much salary going to NJ?

BUF may be looking for a D-man yet. Perhaps they'd dangle injury-prone Tim Connolly ($4.5M, 1yr) or Jochen Hecht ($3.525M, 2yrs) to make it happen. Maybe even throw some other names in to the mix (Stafford & Cogliano, for instance).

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#33 RossCreekNation
July 03 2010, 11:04AM
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Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things wrote:

Side note, he wouldn't be the only 08/09 Hershey Bear playing in OKC. Mean Dean Arsene is a former teammate.

Mean Dean Arsene is currently a UFA. Not sure if they'll re-sign him or not. The Petiot signing may mean not.

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#34 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
July 03 2010, 11:09AM
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Right right. I hadn't thought of that. I wouldn't mind if they signed that entire roster, though. It was a hell of a year for Hershey. They overtook a really deep Moose team that basically bulldozed their way to the finals, and it wasn't really close.

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#35 KenMcC
July 03 2010, 11:20AM
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Lowetide wrote:

Rogue: I hope they pair Gagner with Penner and Horcoff with Hemsky. That way, the Oilers have two liines who can post some offense.

I sincerely hope they give Shawn Horcoff the 13/14 spot, behind Smac. He gets caught flat-footed as often as Smac does, but does not contain grit or fear. (I doubt many will agree).

I think it's time to disassociate playing time from salary. (Maybe Horc plays 3rd line, realistically Perhaps some will agree to more moderate view)?

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#36 fuck off
July 03 2010, 11:21AM
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Here's what my lines would be:

Hemsky - Brule - Penner
Hall - Gagner - Eberle
Reddox - Horcoff - JFJ/O'marra
MPS - Fraser - Stort/SMac

Omark plays in the A all year, baring injury. Cogs gets traded and hopefully fills out some teams 2nd line wing position. Third line RW position is really up for grabs depending on who really steps up. I'd hate to see the clueless JFJ there but Stortini isn't much of an upgrade. There really is no other option than to have Horcs your 3rd line center IMO. Brule although is definitely not a 1st line center he deserves the chance with last years efforts and the chemistry he built with Sour Patch. MPS would be my benefactor to receive any available extra ice time on PP/PK or injury/coincidental lost time of a winger from the top 2 lines. I'd like to flip flop MPS and Reddox but would hate for him to change his game just to earn more ice time. That kid drives the net with speed and skill which he should never be distracted from having that game as his main focus; I just hope Fraser has some set-up skills to help him out.

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#37 Crackenbury
July 03 2010, 11:22AM
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Sandra Blood wrote:

If Hall can play center than Cogs is a gonner. Lets just hope that the players are used correctly and no one regresses under Renney. This is a different team than last year with a lot of talent on paper. They should compete for a playoff spot. Hemsky should be named captain and let him lead offensivly with the kids. He'll excell and like being an Oiler and will sign the extension.

Hemsky may be an offensive threat, but he will never be captain. Players that are the first off the ice every practice rarely become captains. Last year when injured and asked what he thought of the game the night before on TV he replied he didn't know they were playing and didn't see the game.

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#38 madjam
July 03 2010, 11:24AM
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Nate Full of Hate wrote:

Souray's gonna cost Edmonton around 4 million no matter what they do...

buy out, take on bad contract, or injury...

After Souray ingests his humble pie , best for him to come back and try to improve his worth on ice , fellow players and organization alike , with renewed vigor and mouth closed . A Souray playing with that in mind might be of benefit to all concerned . I still like the idea of Souray on defence over most that we currently have . If Souray a man of his word , i expect he'll do just that .

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#39 Heavyd
July 03 2010, 11:26AM
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@fuck off

Reddox will be hard pressed to make this team. And where is Ryan Jones? And I have heard that they don't know if Jacques will be ready for the start of the season.

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#40 Dominoiler
July 03 2010, 11:27AM
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Positivism KenMcC..

Look for the worst in horcoff, or retain hope that he can still be the player he was 'signed' to be.. Wait for training camp to see where his level of play is.. it is much better for the oilers if he can contribute to a decent first line, freeing up gagner and penner to take shots at the softs.. w eberle to boot... it is time to see if brule's numbers are more a complement to penner, or if he can do it on his own (ie. 3rd/4th line C)..

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#41 KenMcC
July 03 2010, 11:29AM
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@Sandra Blood

Please, no Captain this year. 3 A's

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#42 Heavyd
July 03 2010, 11:29AM
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@Crackenbury

Who cares if he didn't wacth a game on tv. I guess he shouldn't have the "A" on his chest either this year. We should put him on waivers for not wacthing that game last year. What a Douche. Hemsky is a bum for not seeing that game.

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#43 fuck off
July 03 2010, 11:31AM
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@Heavyd

Jones can be a toss up for that 3rd line RW slot as well.

I think the greatest challenge for the Oil this year will be finding out who on the team has the skill set or will to be a 3rd line grinder. Hopefully training camp sorts that out rather than the first 10-20 games of the season.

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#44 Nate Full of Hate
July 03 2010, 11:34AM
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Hall Horcoff Hemsky (Hcubed) Penner Gagner Brule MPS Cogliano Eberle Macintyre Fraser Stortini

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#45 Joe strong
July 03 2010, 11:34AM
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@Lowetide

put him in the ahl on a line with whatever kids don't make the club(omark for sure & maybe eberle & mps).we could use one more minor league scorer...potulny wouldve been nice but he might get another shot elsewhere.keith aucoin I don't think is available so why not potulny? I'm sure he will exhaust all options first...chris minard would be okay as well.

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#46 Nate Full of Hate
July 03 2010, 11:37AM
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Souray to Calgary for their 1st in 2011...

He's gotta go!

In TSN's top 10 goals of the decade Souray was the defender in 3 of them...

He stares at the puck...

Sami Salo thinks Souray's a human bandaid

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#47 Jodes
July 03 2010, 11:40AM
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Ryan Rishaug's saying Eric belangers camp has had no offers from oilers... Probly not gonna happen at this point.

Too bad, this could have been the guy we needed.

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#48 fuck off
July 03 2010, 11:40AM
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Nate Full of Hate wrote:

Hall Horcoff Hemsky (Hcubed) Penner Gagner Brule MPS Cogliano Eberle Macintyre Fraser Stortini

You think MPS-Cogs-Ebe should be a checking line?!?
Also SMac won't be given a constant roster slot. I thought that would be common knowledge...

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#49 KenMcC
July 03 2010, 11:40AM
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@Dominoiler

Absolutely it's best if Horcoff has a breakout year, offensively or defensively - I don't care which.

As far as him doing what he was actually signed to do -- Horcoff was often heard saying that he brings a lot of intangibles . . . For instance he probably works out harder even than Tyler Seguin before the combine. That's worth something.

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#50 joe strong
July 03 2010, 11:46AM
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fuck off wrote:

Jones can be a toss up for that 3rd line RW slot as well.

I think the greatest challenge for the Oil this year will be finding out who on the team has the skill set or will to be a 3rd line grinder. Hopefully training camp sorts that out rather than the first 10-20 games of the season.

horcoff has had 4 50point seasons.2 interupted by injury where he was almost a point/game but I think horcoff could be dropped down the lineup to the 3rdline/special team faceoff guy & still be effective.if hall,eberle,mps make the team I'd make my 3rd line horcoff/mps/jones.mps started in the Swedish league playing vs men & on a checking role.that's one thing good about euro players.they learn defence first as 18 year olds playing in a mens pro league.his speed & forecheck would actually be a plus with a 2 way guy like horcoff.jones can be physical & has some scoring touch(7 goals,11points in Nashville playing 7-10 minutes/game.cogliano is in limbo.younger better skilled players ahead of him in top 6 & he can't win a faceoff & doesn't play with an edge.he's got blazing speed like Todd marchant but Todd won 50-60% of his faceoffs.I think cogliano is gone by training camp.

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