A WEEK OF WAITING

Jason Gregor
October 03 2011 11:07AM

If you thought the off-season was long, then this week might kill most Oiler fans. The Oilers don't open their season until Sunday, they will be the last team to play a regular season game, with the Jets opening their season a few hours earlier.

The only positive is that it gives Ryan Whitney more time to get healthy. Whitney was on the ice this morning wearing a regular jersey and he was paired with Tom Gilbert. He didn't wince when he pivoted, which is the motion that causes him the most discomfort, but I won't know until after practice if he thinks he might be ready for Sunday.

The Oilers only had six D-men on the ice this morning. Andy Sutton, Gilbert's regular partner, didn't skate and that is likely why Whitney was so involved in practice. Ladislav Smid is out with a separated shoulder, Taylor Chorney has a wonky knee and Taylor Fedun is still in a Minnesota hospital.

 

Ben Eager was on the ice this morning, but he was wearing a baby blue jersey and didn't take part in all the drills. He looked good wheeling by few D-men during one-on-one drills, and  when I spoke to hinm last he was certain he'd be cleared for contact later this week.

QUICK HITS

  • I was pleasantly surprised that the Oilers sent Gilbert Brule to OKC yesterday. Based on his play in preseason he deserved the demotion, but that isn't always the case in the NHL. Numerous teams will keep guys on one-way deals over a newcomer who has a two-way deal. Brule is a good guy, who has much more important issues in his life to deal with other than getting demoted, but the Oilers had to send him down.

    They've had too many "wildcard" players the past few seasons. Players that they couldn't rely on game-to-game. Brule wasn't the only one, and I'm curious to see if they continue getting rid of other "wildcards" in the coming season.
     
  • Even though Lennart Petrell was my surprise pick to make the roster, I'm not certain how much of an impact, if any, he has this year. He needs to do more than just be a solid penalty killer for three minutes a game, and I'm not sure Renney has him pencilled in as one of his top-four PK forwards at this time. Horcoff, Smyth, Paajarvi, Belanger and Eberle might all still be ahead of him.
     
  • I still think that Anton Lander is here until Sam Gagner is healthy. I have no doubt Lander will be a solid player in the future, I just think he'd be better served playing 1st or 2nd line minutes in the AHL than 4th line minutes in Edmonton. The most encouraging part of Lander's game is his desire and work ethic. He also thinks the game very well, but his best attribute is his competitive drive. In the past few seasons, the Oilers have had too many guys who didn't match the intensity level of the opposition. Lander won't be one of those guys once he becomes a regular NHLer. 
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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#51 David S
October 03 2011, 02:18PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

C'mon David, it's been 4 yrs and he still hasn't grabbed that role as the Oilers 3rd or 4th line center. How much longer shall they wait. He's clearly 4th line material as this club sits right now. Even if he wasn't injured he has to be sitting behind 93,10,57 and 20.

You might be right there. He's effectively our #1C and miles away from your "3rd or 4th line center". But if he keeps sitting beside Ryan Jones on the bench, he has a solid chance.

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#52 David S
October 03 2011, 02:19PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

C'mon David, it's been 4 yrs and he still hasn't grabbed that role as the Oilers 3rd or 4th line center. How much longer shall they wait. He's clearly 4th line material as this club sits right now. Even if he wasn't injured he has to be sitting behind 93,10,57 and 20.

Seriously man. Do you even read the stuff you write before clicking the hallowed "Post Comment" button? It is a button not to be taken lightly.

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#53 Quicksliver Bullet
October 03 2011, 02:28PM
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I would like to see Lander given a solid chance with the big club in regular season action. He looked great to me . . . Gagner's injury will make a difference for him.

Bucknuck, good point. Perceptions are quite different outside of the market area as to who our real threats are.

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#54 Quicksliver Bullet
October 03 2011, 02:28PM
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I would like to see Lander given a solid chance with the big club in regular season action. He looked great to me . . . Gagner's injury will make a difference for him.

Bucknuck, good point. Perceptions are quite different outside of the market area as to who our real threats are.

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#55 oilersOne
October 03 2011, 02:33PM
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As much as I'm excited for the season to start and as much as this week is painful, I have a few reservations about this season. Firstly, Defence-need I say more. Seconly, I am very excited to see the likes of Hall-Eberle-PRV-Omark and RNH in the line-up going forward but I think we all saw how the kids were thrown around like rag-dolls in the Vancouver game on Saturday. Lastly, I'm hopeful that Dubnyk will excel this season but if not I'm quite certain Khabibulin is not up for it even though he and PRV were the two best players on Saturday night. I remain excited for the season to start but based on these few things I think we will again be hearing ST saying "The Edmonton Oilers are proud to select another small, skilled forward first overall" for the 2012 NHL entry draft.

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#56 Archaeologuy
October 03 2011, 02:33PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

C'mon David, it's been 4 yrs and he still hasn't grabbed that role as the Oilers 3rd or 4th line center. How much longer shall they wait. He's clearly 4th line material as this club sits right now. Even if he wasn't injured he has to be sitting behind 93,10,57 and 20.

The Head coach had him slated between Hall and Hemsky. Gagner is no more a 4th liner than Eberle or Smyth.

You are huffing some potent glue if you honestly believe what you just wrote

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#57 Dman09
October 03 2011, 02:56PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

The Head coach had him slated between Hall and Hemsky. Gagner is no more a 4th liner than Eberle or Smyth.

You are huffing some potent glue if you honestly believe what you just wrote

My question is where can I get some?

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#58 Quicksilver ballet
October 03 2011, 02:58PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

The Head coach had him slated between Hall and Hemsky. Gagner is no more a 4th liner than Eberle or Smyth.

You are huffing some potent glue if you honestly believe what you just wrote

Got me some Lepages white glue happ'nin, smells like Latex paint.

Many here have promised me Gagner would live up to that role and be the undisputed 2nd line center by this time, to that, i say bullship, enough is enough. By the end of the season we'll certainly see my 93,10,57 and 20 as the rulers of that domain. Resistance is futile Archie.

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#59 Archaeologuy
October 03 2011, 03:04PM
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@Quicksilver ballet

That certainly would be excellent if both Lander and RNH could transplant Hocoff and Gagner from the 1 and 2 positions.

Let's wait and see if it happens.

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#60 Archaeologuy
October 03 2011, 03:04PM
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@Quicksilver ballet

doubles!!

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#61 Wanyes bastard child
October 03 2011, 03:06PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

That certainly would be excellent if both Lander and RNH could transplant Hocoff and Gagner from the 1 and 2 positions.

Let's wait and see if it happens.

You should make a bet with him, it's one i'd take :)

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#62 book¡e
October 03 2011, 03:07PM
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Dman09 wrote:

I don't think so, I'd almost say they might be weaker than last year. I say watch out for LA in the west. I think they may have one of the best defensive teams and they will likely trade for someone like Hemsky to get that extra offense for a playoff run. It will likely come down to Van and LA in the west and I think PHI and WSH in the east.

You're correct, it will probably come down to a western team vs an eastern team, and most likely it will be one of the better teams in the league.

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#63 Wanyes bastard child
October 03 2011, 03:10PM
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@book¡e

I don't think he see's what you are doing ;)

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#64 Oilcruzer
October 03 2011, 03:11PM
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Off topic but...

With Team radio in Mtl and Sports Radio in Winnipeg now becoming TSN radio, is Team 1260 soon to follow suit?

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#65 Oilers4ever
October 03 2011, 03:15PM
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Seriously.. how old is Gagner? 21? Cut the kid some slack... I believe one of the age ole veterans here posted stats before on Gagner vs the rest of his draft class and he's right up there with the 5 above him... He'll be fine... he's never played wit REAL talent for an entire season... if he plays with Hemmer and Hall once healthy.. he'll get that chance... put RNH with Smyth and Ebs... Horc should be playing 3rd or 4th line mins.. there's where your issue is... because they have him playing top two center minutes and he's not.. never has been...

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#66 mayorpoop
October 03 2011, 03:16PM
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Oilcruzer wrote:

Off topic but...

With Team radio in Mtl and Sports Radio in Winnipeg now becoming TSN radio, is Team 1260 soon to follow suit?

holy baloney i did not know this was happening. well it is either TSN or Buffalo Bills radio as per their new branding.

meh...i prefer TSN but would like it to stay the TEAM1260.

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#67 mayorpoop
October 03 2011, 03:16PM
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Oilcruzer wrote:

Off topic but...

With Team radio in Mtl and Sports Radio in Winnipeg now becoming TSN radio, is Team 1260 soon to follow suit?

holy baloney i did not know this was happening. well it is either TSN or Buffalo Bills radio as per their new branding.

meh...i prefer TSN but would like it to stay the TEAM1260.

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#68 David S
October 03 2011, 03:17PM
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book¡e wrote:

You're correct, it will probably come down to a western team vs an eastern team, and most likely it will be one of the better teams in the league.

THAT was awesome.

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#69 David S
October 03 2011, 03:20PM
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Oilers4ever wrote:

Seriously.. how old is Gagner? 21? Cut the kid some slack... I believe one of the age ole veterans here posted stats before on Gagner vs the rest of his draft class and he's right up there with the 5 above him... He'll be fine... he's never played wit REAL talent for an entire season... if he plays with Hemmer and Hall once healthy.. he'll get that chance... put RNH with Smyth and Ebs... Horc should be playing 3rd or 4th line mins.. there's where your issue is... because they have him playing top two center minutes and he's not.. never has been...

Oh man. You just haaaaaad to open up that can of worms, didn't you?

*Grabs six-pack of energy drink out of fridge and rips open a fresh bag of Doritos*

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#70 Wax Man Riley
October 03 2011, 03:30PM
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.....and what about that Horcoff contract

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#71 Wax Man Riley
October 03 2011, 03:31PM
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Gagner is too slow and small but is our most offensively gifted center.....

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#72 Wax Man Riley
October 03 2011, 03:32PM
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Khabibulin drinks. can we void his contract?

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#73 Wax Man Riley
October 03 2011, 03:32PM
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David S wrote:

Oh man. You just haaaaaad to open up that can of worms, didn't you?

*Grabs six-pack of energy drink out of fridge and rips open a fresh bag of Doritos*

Talk about opening cans of worms!!

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#74 Wax Man Riley
October 03 2011, 03:33PM
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fire MacTavish!!

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#75 oilersOne
October 03 2011, 03:38PM
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My opening night line-up based on probable injury status:

Hall-Horcoff-Hemsky Smyth-RNH-Eberle PRV-Lander-Omark Hordichuk-Belanger-Jones

Sutton-Gilbert Peckham-Barker Potter-Petry

Dubnyk Khabibulin (riding the pine)

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#76 longbottom/P.Biglow
October 03 2011, 03:43PM
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@The Saint

I guess you didn't read the part of Whitney haveing no pain when turning? As someone that has had an operation in the past its not the injury itself that causes pain and suffering its the scar tissue. When Whitney say it hurts when turning and cutting its not his original injury hurting its the scar tissue around the nerves its inflexible and has to be broken up with his normal movement. Struds is ok as a partime fill in if there is the understanding that when the injuries come back he moves to a coaching role.

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#77 Quicksilver ballet
October 03 2011, 03:44PM
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Wax Man Riley wrote:

fire MacTavish!!

Speaking of MacTavish. What are we going to do with all these left wingers once Yakubov gets here?

Maybe Paajarvi could play 20 mins a night on right side D instead of 10 mins a night on the third line.

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#78 longbottom/P.Biglow
October 03 2011, 03:56PM
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Travis Dakin wrote:

Well you must be confident that this team will compete for the playoffs then? Remember, the playoff race always comes down to pretty much one point now. The few games that this team of AHL defenders loses due to man games lost in October will very much matter in April.

But that's not reallly going to be a concern by January anyway. One more year.

I donot believe they will get to the playoffs this year but I do know one thing that our goals against last year wasn't all on the goaltenders and defencemen it's overall team play. Lets take a peek at something. we can agree that Sutton and Barker are an upgrade over Vandermeere and Foster? Whitney returning is an upgrade over no Whitney. Now lets look at forward Belanger is an upgrade over Cogliano in the defensive style of play and Eager and Hordichuk are defensive upgrades over Stortini, Mac, And JFJ. Smyth is an upgrade overall. These players have 1 more year exp under what Tom Renny wants. I figure this defenceive system is good for 10-12 in the west which is an huge upgrade over last year. Lets have a little hope. Why people watch a team so they can dump on certains players and coaches and the G.M. no matter how good or bad they do are pretty lousy fans.(I didn't mean you spefically). But you have guys still complaining what the Oilers did ten twelve years ago???? Every team gets injuries, and pre season is notorious for High goal scoring well we did well defensively with guys who couldn't make the team..... Depth.

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#79 David S
October 03 2011, 03:57PM
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I wonder what the over/under is on how many games Tom Gilbert can play +30 minutes/game before something gives out?

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#80 Dman09
October 03 2011, 04:03PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Got me some Lepages white glue happ'nin, smells like Latex paint.

Many here have promised me Gagner would live up to that role and be the undisputed 2nd line center by this time, to that, i say bullship, enough is enough. By the end of the season we'll certainly see my 93,10,57 and 20 as the rulers of that domain. Resistance is futile Archie.

Well based on last year before Lander and Belanger were with the team how would you rate the Centers Edm had. I think some would argue that Gagner was the #1 center for the team last year. Having said that, on the majority of other teams it is likely he would be either a 2nd or 3rd depending on the team. Maybe even a few he wouldn't make the team based on defesive ability. But offense wise he is on par with other 2nd centers around the league.

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#81 jr_christ
October 03 2011, 04:05PM
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Is there anyway we can start the Hall vs. Seguin debate and Markanen vs. Conklin debate again while we are at it?

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#82 longbottom/P.Biglow
October 03 2011, 04:05PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Gagners one way contract is what's holding Lander back. If both players were on the same sortof deals, it would surely be Gagner going to the AHL and not Lander. Lander has more to offer this club now than Gagner.

Really, Really??? I love these fans that think a person that has scorede ZERO points in the NHL has done more to earn a job than a second line center who has averaged 40+ points thru his first four years. Did you know that Gagner sits second in career points from players in his draft year? Probably doesn't matter to you. If you expect Lander to step in and play on every line First to the Fourth and still get points doing it Then your crazy, remember this in four years of being here he has never had a consistent set of line mates even last year he bounced from the first to the third line, under Quinn he was third and fourth line center most of the year, under Mactavish he was never more than third line center.

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#83 vetinari
October 03 2011, 04:08PM
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I think that for the first time in years, we actually have a well defined group of top 6 (Smyth, Hemsky, Horcoff, RNH, Eberle & Hall) and bottom 6 (everyone else) forwards who can play those roles, and that we are not asking players to be something that they are not (Hemsky... checking forward??? Jones... first liner???).

Unfortunately, when it comes to defencemen and goalies, we may be in for a bit of an adventure. Our top 6 defencemen are more like a case of "Survivor: Edmonton", and we have a goalie (Khabibulin) who looks like "Jekyl and Hyde" within the same game.

I think the plan is to ride the forward corps for as long as possible to hopefully cover some of the blemishes on the back end and if the opportunity presents between New Year's and the deadline, move some of the excess forwards to get help with the problem areas on the back end.

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#84 Bob Cobb
October 03 2011, 04:10PM
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One of these team won't make the playoffs:

Edmonton, Dallas, Calgary, Phoenix

Winnipeg, Florida, Carolina, and NY Islanders.

Just thought I would take the time out to point out the blatantly obvious.

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#85 I'm Batman
October 03 2011, 04:19PM
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Wax Man Riley wrote:

Gagner is too slow and small but is our most offensively gifted center.....

Gagner used to be our most offensively gifted center. That title now belongs to RNH.

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#86 Dman09
October 03 2011, 04:21PM
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vetinari wrote:

I think that for the first time in years, we actually have a well defined group of top 6 (Smyth, Hemsky, Horcoff, RNH, Eberle & Hall) and bottom 6 (everyone else) forwards who can play those roles, and that we are not asking players to be something that they are not (Hemsky... checking forward??? Jones... first liner???).

Unfortunately, when it comes to defencemen and goalies, we may be in for a bit of an adventure. Our top 6 defencemen are more like a case of "Survivor: Edmonton", and we have a goalie (Khabibulin) who looks like "Jekyl and Hyde" within the same game.

I think the plan is to ride the forward corps for as long as possible to hopefully cover some of the blemishes on the back end and if the opportunity presents between New Year's and the deadline, move some of the excess forwards to get help with the problem areas on the back end.

Well I wouldn't go so far as to say that RNH is a top 6 yet. He hasn't played a single regular season game but he definately has the potential and I sure hope he just takes off and runs with it.

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#87 Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate
October 03 2011, 04:29PM
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Bob Cobb wrote:

One of these team won't make the playoffs:

Edmonton, Dallas, Calgary, Phoenix

Winnipeg, Florida, Carolina, and NY Islanders.

Just thought I would take the time out to point out the blatantly obvious.

Ummm,only one there?

I can count at least seven

Carolina's in.

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#88 vetinari
October 03 2011, 04:34PM
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@Dman09

@Dman09 - I take your point about RNH, but really, what are the other options available to the Oil? He's led the team in the pre-season and who would you replace him with on a 1st or 2nd line pairing? Gagner? Lander?

The Oil surely won't be able to trade for someone or pick someone up on waivers to fill that role, especially when they have bigger problems to fix on d and in goal.

I think RNH is here to stay and it's his job to lose. I think the team will simply surround him with better physical deterrents (Hordichuk, Eager) so that opposing teams will think twice before trying to run him.

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#89 Quicksilver ballet
October 03 2011, 04:42PM
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longbottom/P.Biglow wrote:

Really, Really??? I love these fans that think a person that has scorede ZERO points in the NHL has done more to earn a job than a second line center who has averaged 40+ points thru his first four years. Did you know that Gagner sits second in career points from players in his draft year? Probably doesn't matter to you. If you expect Lander to step in and play on every line First to the Fourth and still get points doing it Then your crazy, remember this in four years of being here he has never had a consistent set of line mates even last year he bounced from the first to the third line, under Quinn he was third and fourth line center most of the year, under Mactavish he was never more than third line center.

Yes sir, really.

That 5th yr NHL'er will be put in his place by an 18 yr old raw rookie in his first year. Hopkins will have more points this season than Gagner plays games. 89 is fools gold. Feel free to try and change my mind if you like.

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#91 Dman09
October 03 2011, 04:48PM
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vetinari wrote:

@Dman09 - I take your point about RNH, but really, what are the other options available to the Oil? He's led the team in the pre-season and who would you replace him with on a 1st or 2nd line pairing? Gagner? Lander?

The Oil surely won't be able to trade for someone or pick someone up on waivers to fill that role, especially when they have bigger problems to fix on d and in goal.

I think RNH is here to stay and it's his job to lose. I think the team will simply surround him with better physical deterrents (Hordichuk, Eager) so that opposing teams will think twice before trying to run him.

If it were up to me RNH would be a lock right now. but lets face it, how much faith do you have in Oilers Managment. It would be just like them to do something stupid and send him down. I suppose they could go back to the Horcoff-Gagner-Lander-Belanger setup up but really we've seem similar setups before and its not good enough.

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#92 Quicksilver ballet
October 03 2011, 04:48PM
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@longbottom/P.Biglow

Rick Rypien (GRHS) entered the NHL at 5'10" and 170lbs. Just imagine the damage that will insue with Hopkins at almost 6'1" and 180lbs. Ryan will be the player we hoped Gagner would be.

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#93 Smokey
October 03 2011, 04:56PM
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This whole Gagner/ RNH / Lander debate is the stupidest debate Ive ever heard on here. One guys job doesn`t hinge on another. And all Lander and RNH has done has played well in preseason, and people want to ship out a 22 year old player with a good contract.

The impatience on some fans in this town is laughable, its one thing to be passioante about your team, but let your passion cloud your judgement.

Gagner is going to be here, he`s a better option then either Lander and RNH right now, in time that may change. Landers being projected to be a third liner and my hope one day is we see RNH, Gagner, Lander down the middle. To me that makes sence.

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#94 Snokey
October 03 2011, 04:57PM
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Goodness I can`t spell

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#96 Saytalk
October 03 2011, 05:25PM
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Stating that Gagner has the second highest career point total from his draft year as a point in his favour is really deceptive. There are much better players who started at 19 or 20 so they haven't had 4 seasons to rack up Gagner's point totals. For example, van Riemsdyk, Couture, Voracek, Sutter and Perron are all better players. It may not show in their point totals, but they are nearly as, if not more, productive moving forward and offer much more defensively and/or physically. If anything, Gagner's totals only prove that he was brought up too early. Watch this year as more and more of the players from that weak draft start surpassing Sam's career totals.

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#97 Yonsy
October 03 2011, 05:33PM
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When I first looked at this article about an hour ago I read the author of the article was 'Teflon Toque'. Now I see it's Jason Gregor. Wow I must be under the weather.

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#98 Romulus' Apotheosis
October 03 2011, 05:36PM
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Yonsy wrote:

When I first looked at this article about an hour ago I read the author of the article was 'Teflon Toque'. Now I see it's Jason Gregor. Wow I must be under the weather.

I saw the same thing. don't forget nucks are tricky.

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