September 07 2010 06:08PM
During his transition from the coaching ranks to that of senior advisor, Pat Quinn saw fit to make Sam Gagner his fourth-line centre to start the 2009-10 season. I, and a lot of people, are guessing successor Tom Renney sees Gagner as his first-line centre when the 2010-11 season begins.
It doesn't take a vast intellect to deduce Gagner, the ink still damp on his two-year contract worth $4.55 million, will likely be the Edmonton Oilers top centre when the season begins. That it's crossed my mind is proof of that. Sam slots there a lot when Oilers fans scrawl their line-up and line combinations. What are the other options?
I could have asked about that obvious possibility when I spoke to Renney today for an NHL.com feature I'm doing on Taylor Hall, but it slipped right through the sieve I call my mind as I was scribbling superlatives about the two-time Memorial Cup MVP.
Not long after I whiffed with Renney, Bob Stauffer became the 7,097th person to toss out the possibility Gagner will start at pivot on the top line on today's edition of Oilers Lunch on TEAM 1260. It wasn't so much that as the accompanying tidbits that grabbed my attention. We best follow along . . .
DRAWING IT UP
Those who haven't figured out that when Bombastic Bob suggests something it's likely because he knows something, haven't been paying attention.
So, while saying Gagner could (will) start the season as Renney's top centre is no revelation, I'm guessing the make-up of the first three lines Stauffer suggested might be.
-- The way Stauffer sees it, 19-year-old Swedish rookie Magnus Paajarvi, taken 10th overall in the 2009 Entry Draft, slots in on the first line alongside Gagner as his left winger, with Ales Hemsky on the right wing.
-- Hall, who played both left wing and centre with the Windsor Spitfires before the Oilers ran to the podium and called his name in Los Angeles this summer, will line up as the left winger on the second line with Shawn Horcoff at centre and Jordan Eberle on the right side.
-- Dustin Penner, who led the Oilers with 32 goals and 63 points last season, begins 2010-11 on left wing with Gilbert Brule at centre and yet-to-be-signed (soon-to-be-traded?) Andrew Cogliano on right wing.
WHAT SAY YOU?
Has Stauffer taken a peek at the white board in Renney's office? Is he simply making an educated guess? I don't know because I haven't asked him. Interesting take, though.
Is Paajarvi seen as a better complement to a puck-handler like Hemsky than Penner? Might not Renney at least take a look at Hall in the middle during the pre-season? Likewise, might he not do the same with Penner?
And, if we're scratching out our line-ups, isn't the speedy Brule a better fit between Hall and Eberle on the attack than Horcoff? Likewise, wouldn't Horcoff be more effective with Penner, and vice-versa?
One thing is certain: any line-up that keeps Cogliano away from the face-off circle is a good thing, so putting him on the right side makes sense from that point of view.
I want to get a peek at that white board . . . stay tuned.
-- Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.