Strong Debut Seasons

Lowetide
January 29 2011 08:32AM

I love old time photos. This one features the great Gordie Howe in the middle, a young Bryan "Bugsy" Watson (who would one day coach our beloved Oilers) on the right and young Ray Cullen on the left. This photo is from 1966-68. One of the best things about following a team is watching the young players develop; Cullen had the better pedigree and was a better offensive prospect but it was Watson who had the longer NHL career. On the current Oilers roster, who are the keepers? The throwaways? The career minor leaguers? It's always been tough to say.
 

According to hockey-reference, 103 young men have made their NHL debuts this season. Last year it was 137, so there are more kids to come as the season rolls along. In terms of playing their first NHL games, here are the Oilers on that list of 103:

  • Taylor Hall 49gp, 16-15-31
  • Magnus Pääjärvi 46gp, 6-13-19
  • Jordan Eberle 37gp, 9-14-23
  • Linus Omark 20gp, 3-6-9
  • Jeff Petry 14gp, 1-2-3

That's a helluva list, it really is. Five kids making their debuts in the same season, 4 of them with enough potential to be at least considered for the top 6 on a contending team and the other looking like a lock for top 4D duty for years to come. Things don't always work out as planned, but you'd have to give this group a solid chance at making it five for five when it comes to establishing themselves as NHL players.

There are no seasons that really compare to this group in recent Oiler history. In the last decade, the best season for the Oilers in terms of NHL debuts were:

  • 02-03 (Ales Hemsky, Jarret Stoll, Fernando Pisani, MA Bergeron, Alexei Semenov all played 200 or more NHL games and Alex Henry got close).
  • 06-07 (Jan Hejda, Tom Gilbert, Ladislav Smid, Zack Stortini and some kids who may make that marker like Rob Schremp).
  • 07-08 (Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano plus guys like Theo Peckham and Liam Reddox who may make the 200 game marker in the future).

I think the current group will trump the three seasons mentioned here. The 02-03 group had a very nice variety of skill, grit and checking ability, the 06-07 group had three NHL defensemen and the 07-08 group brought the club two everyday forwards.

The strength of this season's group--and what puts them over the top compared to the three seasons we're discussing currently--is that they all appear to have a wider range of skills than the average rookie. Hall has balls, speed, shooting ability and a brain; Pääjärvi has much the same in lesser doses but also brings a strong defensive aptitude and is a little bigger; Eberle is so smart he could have played for the 70s Habs, plus he has this ridiculous ability to slightly change his shooting angle in close that should garner him buckets of NHL goals; Omark is a buzzsaw, strong on the puck and has sick puck skills and Petry is everything you look for in a defenseman save for the killer instinct physically.

We have to go back into the 1990's for an Oiler debut that rivals the current group.

  • 93-94 (Jason Arnott, Kirk Maltby, Peter White, Boris Mironov, Todd Marchant, Fred Brathwaite)

This was a tremendous group of NHL debuts. Arnott and Marchant are both past 1,100 NHL games now, Mironov was a quality player over an extended period and Maltby found a role and filled it forever. That's 4 very useful NHL players plus a couple of other guys who played over 200 games. Oilers traded for Marchant and Mironov during their debut seasons, something Steve Tambellini might want to explore (picking up a Michael Grabner mid-season could help this team).

I think the 2010-11 group may one day be stronger than the 1993-94 group, but that's a strong list. Any other candidates?

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 TSN 1260.
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#2 Rob...
January 29 2011, 09:28AM
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@mayorpoop

"someone will need to explain the success of the detriot red wings to me in last few years":

A killer power play that severely punished teams stupid enough to try to goon their stars. Teams that score 1 power play goal on 40 chances doesn't have that type of protection as an option.

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#3 VK63
January 29 2011, 09:48AM
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Lowetide wrote:

Yeah, that's an excellent point. I think the NHL has moved away from some of the rules they placed after the lockout (you can hook a little more) but speed and creativity are rewarded heavily.

I often wonder what a current fan would say about the olden days when opposition forwards would hook their sticks into the puck carrier and hold them all the way through the neutral zone without penalty.

God it was awful hockey.

Not that olden of days. The flames 04 cup run and numerous version of lemaire hockey have yielded the exact same pig with just a shade of lipstick. Awful hockey

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#6 grantload
January 29 2011, 06:29PM
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Man am I ever sick of people pitching the Hemsky for Schenn trade in the Oilogosphere.

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#7 mayorpoop
January 29 2011, 08:38AM
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FIRST! (maybe?)

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#8 Oilcruzer
January 29 2011, 08:38AM
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One of the reasons kids are now coming in (that I see) is the crackdown on headshots and hooking. The smaller have more (not full) ability to move through the offensive zone without fearing for their life or being held up.

It's also a reason why Martin St. Louis and Patrick Kane are starting to thrive.

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#10 mayorpoop
January 29 2011, 08:48AM
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although i am plenty old enough to remember the 1993-94 group this current crop of talented rookies has the potential to be much more exciting. i suppose it isn't even potential but reality.

great description of eberle, this kid amazes me...smart!

hall is kamakaze of the group and it is about time we have a loose wheel, no guts no glory!

petry is our best defenceman in my eyes (i know its early).

omark is slick and stronger on the 'd' side than given credit for.

mps is fast and learning. that learning will pay off and be special very soon.

good read LT!

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#11 Death Metal Nightmare
January 29 2011, 09:06AM
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Oilcruzer wrote:

One of the reasons kids are now coming in (that I see) is the crackdown on headshots and hooking. The smaller have more (not full) ability to move through the offensive zone without fearing for their life or being held up.

It's also a reason why Martin St. Louis and Patrick Kane are starting to thrive.

nah, St. Louis had an MVP season before the rule changes. hes just good. and as much as i hate Kane, he avoids physicality well with his speed (until he got caught). something Sam Gagner cant do at his size because hes too slow footed, which is why you rarely see Gagner trying anything gutsy with the puck - he cant. he waits for chaos to occur from other players or situations and takes advantage of it. rarely is he "creating the chaos" (defensive breakdowns, etc) himself.

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#12 DBO
January 29 2011, 09:13AM
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What will add to the fun is the next wave. Next year you can expect to see 2 or 3 more rookies make their debut. That would make it 7 o 8 relative rookies, added to Gagner/Cogliano and Peckham, and that is a young group. Penner, Horcoff and Hemsky may be our only over 25 forwards starting the year and I think you can do ok with that if you have exceptional kids, but the back end is where you then have to shore up with solid vets. I believe we end up with Larsson in the draft, and he would most likely play right away, along with Lander and most likely Hamilton (who fills a desperate need of a physical two way player for the bottom six).

We are really shaping up nicely, but a vet or two with complementary skills would make a lot of sense, the question becomes does management actually make a deal to round out the roster.

Whitney-Larsson Gilbert-Peckham Smid-Petry Plante-Foster

Young, but solid and a balanced skill set if Smid progresses and Plante can step up and be a physical shut down option.

Hall-Horcoff-Eberle Penner-Gagner-Hemsky MPS-Lander-Omark (all swede would be fun) Hamilton-Cogliano?-Reddox/Jones

A vet as our 3rd or 4th line centre would be solid, but Cogliano is getting better. However more size and a better faceoff man is needed. And some more size and physical nature is important. If we re-sign Hemsky and Penner, I hope they consider moving one of the kids. If Omark nets you a solid, physical two way winger then you may have to pull the trigger on that deal since its that kind of player is missing from this roster.

Many have mentioned Brayden Schenn as a target if we move Hemsky, and while he woudl be a great fit I think another player from LA would be just as useful. Wayne Simmonds would balance our roster just as much and if there was some way to get both then I would be more excited about the next 2 years. Especially since I just don't see management signing anyone to fill those roles.

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#13 mayorpoop
January 29 2011, 09:14AM
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there really hasn't been much of a crackdown on head shots, has there really? with seemingly more frequency there are more players with more concussions than ever.

granted media exposure, better diagnosis of symptoms etc. are reasons we can attribute what we know hear and know now buti belive the reality the league has NOT done what they need to do to curb concussions.

side note...i hear stauffer preaching vigoroulsy for big mac ,more physicality basically a meaner tougher brand of hockey, but someone will need to explain the success of the detriot red wings to me in last few years....complete disconnect.

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#14 book¡e
January 29 2011, 09:19AM
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It's off topic, but did Wanye's grand announcement/event occur?

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#15 book¡e
January 29 2011, 09:20AM
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Edit - somehow my post above double posted - so this is an 'edit' to tell you that so you don't have to spend your time reading it twice. I would hate to waste your time reading something repetitive or useless on a Saturday morning. It would be unfortunate if you did happen to read something repetitive or useless on a Saturday morning. That would make me feel bad.

Note - ON needs a delete button!

Well damn it all to Oodle Noodle - LT replied to my duplicated post, so now the quote on his post makes no sense, so, here let me repost my original post here for you to read so that everything makes sense.

It's off topic, but did Wanye's grand announcement/event occur?

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#17 mayorpoop
January 29 2011, 09:38AM
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@Rob...

perfect!

now isn't that exactly what the oilers should be aiming for, beating teams on the points column of the score sheet rather than penaly minutes. we are skilled and we can punish, just let's punish with speed and skill rather than intimidation and scare tactics....team toughness, cool, i'm down with that. i'd rather have detriot as my idol than anyother team. NO MORE FISTS (literally and figuratively)JUST MORE WINS!

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#18 Rob...
January 29 2011, 09:53AM
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@mayorpoop

I think that it's a hell of a lot easier to hire a goon than get the right mix of talent for perfect power play chemistry. That doesn't mean they aren't trying to improve the power play, or haven't thought 'Damn... maybe our guys wouldn't get elbowed so much if we could score on the power play'.

I also think that someone like Stauffer has his finger on the pulse regarding players playing 'bigger' when someone like MacIntyre is in the lineup.

Some argue that it takes a seat on the bench and is mostly a waste. Really? Ask Hall or Paajarvi if they'd like to pick up a couple extra shifts per game and see what they think about MacIntyre's 4 minutes of ice time.

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#19 DBO
January 29 2011, 09:53AM
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LT: forgot about Haartikanen. We could always use a solid Finn! does he play the PK? Because if he did then that would be exactly what we need. Makes Omark even more tradeable, or I guess if you are looking for a top return you consider moving Hemsky. Omark is Hemsky lite, so maybe based on dollars you move Hemsky at the height of his value. Hopefully he comes back healthy for the run to the deadline, and a team like LA who needs to make a splash may pay dearly. I don't want to move him, but due to his injury history he scares me on a long term contract. If LA offered Schenn and another solid prospect, or we added a Brule to the deal and got back a high pick then we would have to seriously consider it.

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#21 DBO
January 29 2011, 10:10AM
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LT: the number of roster players is high. Haartikanen does go to the hard areas, and I think that is something we lack.

As for who to move, I hope everyone realizes most of our guys don't have a lot of value. However one who does is Ryan Jones. his shooting percentage is crazy high, and he's not as big or physical as i would hope for the role he plays. so trade him while his value is high, especially since goals seem to inflate value when he has been (to my eye) more lucky then good.

As for Jacques, he plays no role that can't be replaced. So i hope to see some waivers on some guys, some dumps for picks/prospects and one or two solid hockey moves.

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#22 mayorpoop
January 29 2011, 10:11AM
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@Rob...

sure it is easier but does it make it the best plan?

mac provide the other players the opportunity to play like with some abandon and freedom, understood. i'm ok with him in the line up eating 5 minutes a night, fine. the theory that we NEED this is overplayed tho. what we NEED is a better pp, pk, to win face-offs, to come out and play a consistent 60 minutes, not to intimidate/beat-up other teams.

persuade me that olympic hockey is a lesser grade than what we see everyday in the nhl, and i will subscribe to the ifhgt first ask later theory.

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#23 book¡e
January 29 2011, 10:28AM
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Lowetide wrote:

Not yet. I was looking forward to it. I think it might be gift certificates to Oodle Noodle, but am worried he just wants help moving.

What's Oodle Noodle - I have never heard of it?¡

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#24 Rogue
January 29 2011, 10:44AM
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Lowtide;

Great article! The future looks promising. My concern is the lack of physical players in the top 6 or 9. Hopefully some of the prospects can fill that role. None of our top 9 have that Dustin Brown, Mike Richards or Corey Perry bash and crash ability. Hall, Eberle, Magnus- Hemmer,Penner,Gagner- Omark,Cogs,Brule,Horcoff, are the top 10 players we have. In my opinion, we need at least 1 banger on the first 2 lines, and 1 or 2 on the third line. Take a look at Chicagos team from last year. Lots of grit. There will have to be a lot of change in the top 9 before this team becomes a serious contender.

And that is not even talking about the fourth line, which I see will be completely blown up sooner than later.

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#25 a lg dubl dubl
January 29 2011, 11:01AM
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After watching Brayden Schenn in the WJC it would shock the hell out of me if ST managed to pry him away from LA, but uber cool if he did.

Ryan Jones IMO should be a keeper and be re-signed to at least a 2yr contract, sure he might not repeat his goals he's been putting in the back of the net this year but with his energy and a real team player the Oilers can't miss with this guy.

I agree with a previous post that big MAC should see more ice time(even more so after huggy bears embarassment of a fight last time)even if he plays 4 min a game that might give the other rookies a little more ice time when hes not on the ice. GET RID OF STORTINI.

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#26 Horcsky
January 29 2011, 11:03AM
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Oilcruzer wrote:

One of the reasons kids are now coming in (that I see) is the crackdown on headshots and hooking. The smaller have more (not full) ability to move through the offensive zone without fearing for their life or being held up.

It's also a reason why Martin St. Louis and Patrick Kane are starting to thrive.

Were you the same guy who in the last post that suggested that Omark will be a St. Louis? Regardless, St. Louis is just awesome, period. Hooking or no hooking.

Also, if it was you making the Omark comparison, if Omark could be half the player St. Louis is, I would be thrilled.

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#27 The Beaker
January 29 2011, 11:10AM
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@mayorpoop

If it was possible for every team to have a PP that was awesome all the time dont you think they'd have all done it? Even Lowe couldnt miss that. Should they be building towards that? Absolutely! In the meantime (because it isnt going to happen tomorrow, this season, or likely the next few seasons) we need to have some system in place....

Or are you advocating we do nothing until we are good? In which case, we never will be good.

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#28 The Beaker
January 29 2011, 11:11AM
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@mayorpoop

If it was possible for every team to have a PP that was awesome all the time dont you think they'd have all done it? Even Lowe couldnt miss that. Should they be building towards that? Absolutely! In the meantime (because it isnt going to happen tomorrow, this season, or likely the next few seasons) we need to have some system in place....

Or are you advocating we do nothing until we are good? In which case, we never will be good.

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#29 mayorpoop
January 29 2011, 11:19AM
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@The Beaker

not advocating we doing nothing at all and i never said we shouldn't have mac there or be team tough. what i am saying tho is that we need to focus on other aspects of the re-build, or re-growth of the franchise, rather that simply laying the blame at feet of fear.

this team in a very short period will play whomever, big team/small team, the same....with speed, skill, and talent, and they won't let their greatness be defined by stortini's fighting ability and jfj lack thereof.

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#30 DBO
January 29 2011, 11:20AM
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So have been looking at the depth chart in the org,and what is crazy is how many solid left wingers we have. Hartikanen and Hamilton are two way LW with size who could all conceivably make the jump next year to the NHL roster. With that in mind, it makes sense the org is considering moving Penner. I think that would be a huge mistake. We need vets more then just rookies. I wonder if anyone would consider moving MPS? yes he's a rookie and has huge potential, but the return could be huge.

So with that in mind, what could you get for him? We have cap space and a huge need for a top dman or centre. So which teams with possible money issues would move a top player for MPS. I would target a team like Nashville and go after Weber. He's going to make around $6 million next year and Nashville is hurting for money. Would MPS and say Smid (Nasville has plenty of offensive dmen in their system, but lack stay at home types) along with a prospect get that deal done?

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#32 DBO
January 29 2011, 12:06PM
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LT: agreed on the depth. Which is why I wondered if we would move MPS instead. You've mentioned before a contending team needs a mix of vets, players on ELC and players playing hard for new deals. My fear with the scorched earth policy right now is that if we move all of our vets, then we may never reach a point where we have the necessary balance to compete for a cup.

I would look to move Cogs, MPS or Omark, and probably Smid and see what kind of top level vet we can get that still is in his late 20's and has 5 or 6 great years left, allowing him to be a major part of our cup runs (in 2 years when we should be ready if our management is smart).

Org Depth the next 2 years:

LW: Hall, Penner, MPS (can play rw), Hartikanen, Hamilton, Jacques

RW: Hemsky, Eberle, Omark, Jones, Reddox, Martindale, Stortini

C: Horcoff, Gagner, Cogliano, Lander, Fraser, Pitlik, O'marra, Vande velde

That is a lot of youth, and if we were smart we would move youth for mid 20's vets. We can afford a big contract for a Weber, and still re-sign Hemsky, Penner and the kids in 3 years.

Make a hockey move Tambellini. This off season you may see major moves, but at the deadline this year I expect only minor dumps that stockpile picks and prospects. When you have a full cupboard like we currently seem to have, then you make a hockey move. Add a vet or two, the kids are a year older and we add a few rookies next year to round out the roster. i expect they could make a run at the playoffs next year and contend the following year if management plays it's cards right.

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#34 spOILer
January 29 2011, 12:32PM
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I think the situation at LW is why we'll see Hall embedded at C sooner rather than later.

I'd also rather trade any of Hamilton, Hartikainen and Lander before Pääjarvi.

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#35 Golden Moment
January 29 2011, 12:42PM
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Lowetide:

I relish your articles and insight and therefore want to put this to you. Are we missing the boat with MPS? Given his skill set, speed, size, two-way play and excellent passing ability should he not be offered the opportunity to play centre? I believe MPS is the centre (1st or 2nd line) we have been looking for; it is just that the decision makers have failed to recognize a possible future role for him.

I appreciate that it will take time for MPS to develop in that role but if it works one of the designated centres becomes expendable - and we keep a player that I would be loathe to let go.

Keep up the excellent work. We need more such as you.

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#37 DBO
January 29 2011, 12:45PM
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Too much time on my hands right now. So played with Capgeek.com and came up with a roster based on two NHL trades and some dumps.

trades: 1. MPS and Smid with a prospect for Shea Weber. Sign Weber to an extension of $6.5 mill 2. Trade Sam Gagner and a pick/prospect to Florida for Stephen Weiss

- Dump Brule, Cogliano, Jones, Vandermeer, Foster and Fraser if possible

- Re-sign Penner for $5.1 mill and Hemsky for $5.25 mill.

- Draft Couturier ($3.75 mill entry level deal like Hall)

Lineup next 2 years

Hall-Weiss-Eberle

Penner-Couturier-Hemsky

Hamilton-Horcoff-Omark

Hartikanen-Lander-Reddox

Fraser-Stortini

(Pitlik, Martindale, Vande velde in minors)

Whitney-Weber

Peckham-Gilbert

Petry-Plante

Foster or a vet if Foster is moved

Dubnyk-Bulin

Total cap hit = $58,289,000

That balances our team, has a core of players between 25-29, along with old man Horcoff at 33 and youth between 19-22. Our defense is solid top to bottom and there is cap space to make moves and add a vet or two if needed. Our PK is better with Weiss and Weber (not to mention Hamilton and Lander) and our PP is better with Weber at back, another growth year for Petry and a healthy Whitney. Yes we move out MPS, Cogliano and Gagner from our young potential stars, but add a solid vet or two between 25-28 and we move from potential to contender.

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#39 The Beaker
January 29 2011, 12:52PM
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@DBO

So you want to be "buyers" at the deadline? That severly limits who we can buy from then... Playoff teams are not going to ship contributing peices for picks and prospects the deadline.

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#40 Dave in Victoria
January 29 2011, 12:56PM
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Other candidates? Hmmm, let me look. Try 80-81

Glenn Anderson 80-81 58 30 23 53 NHL TOTALS 1,129 498 601 1,099

Jarri Kurri 80-81 75 32 43 75 NHL TOTALS 1,251 601 797 1,398

Paul Coffeey 80-81 74 9 23 32 NHL TOTALS 1,409 396 1,135 1,531

(Calder that year Peter Stasny)

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#41 Dave in Victoria
January 29 2011, 12:56PM
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Other candidates? Hmmm, let me look. Try 80-81

Glenn Anderson 80-81 58 30 23 53 NHL TOTALS 1,129 498 601 1,099

Jarri Kurri 80-81 75 32 43 75 NHL TOTALS 1,251 601 797 1,398

Paul Coffeey 80-81 74 9 23 32 NHL TOTALS 1,409 396 1,135 1,531

(Calder that year Peter Stasny)

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#42 Dave in Victoria
January 29 2011, 12:56PM
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Other candidates? Hmmm, let me look. Try 80-81

Glenn Anderson 80-81 58 30 23 53 NHL TOTALS 1,129 498 601 1,099

Jarri Kurri 80-81 75 32 43 75 NHL TOTALS 1,251 601 797 1,398

Paul Coffeey 80-81 74 9 23 32 NHL TOTALS 1,409 396 1,135 1,531

(Calder that year Peter Stasny)

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#44 MattL
January 29 2011, 01:31PM
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Lowetide wrote:

Yeah, that's an excellent point. I think the NHL has moved away from some of the rules they placed after the lockout (you can hook a little more) but speed and creativity are rewarded heavily.

I often wonder what a current fan would say about the olden days when opposition forwards would hook their sticks into the puck carrier and hold them all the way through the neutral zone without penalty.

God it was awful hockey.

I dunno, I watched the 10 best games DVDs, and I'll be damned if the Marchant OT game wasn't WAYYYY more exciting the than the Pisani OT game. Agreed, the regular season is probably better now, but the playoffs were something else.

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#45 DBO
January 29 2011, 01:47PM
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DRock: not at the deadline, but in the off season. a lot of deals happen at the draft or around July 1st. I would make the moves in the off season when we could get full value. Nashville will try to make a playoff run this year, so no moves for them in regular season. Florida may look to dump salary, so if that's the case the Gagner for Weiss swap could happen at the deadline, but also more likely in off season.

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#46 The Beaker
January 29 2011, 01:56PM
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@DBO

Agreed. Like those deals. I've said before, if it is possible to get Weber here and keep him for a number of years, this should be done.

Also, this summer is going to be what defines Tambo's tenure here. Like him or dont like him opinions will be made/changed this summer.

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#47 hark65
January 29 2011, 02:09PM
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@Oilcruzer

I'd say that the crackdown on holding and hooking has contributed much more to the small player's success in the league. Head shots are a small player's nightmare! (ie. Savard, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Crosby).

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#48 hark65
January 29 2011, 02:13PM
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@DBO

So please tell me......why would Nashville be looking to move their #1 defencman in Weber. Upon their recent west coast swing, he's obviously NOT a player they're going to trade for anything you've offered here. He's worth far more to Nashville than what you've proposed. Sorry, back to the drawing board!

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#49 stevezie
January 29 2011, 02:32PM
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Lowetide wrote:

I wonder why they didn't continue the experiment with #4 at C. I thought he was doing well. I'd love to hear why coach Renney made the move.

I thought the two main purposes behind trying Hall at C were playing him with Hemsky and replacing Horcoff. Since those are both moot points now i prefer him on the wing, I think it fits his skill set better.
If he becomes a faceoff ace over the summer I will revisit that opinion.

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