WHAT ABOUT LANDER?

Jason Gregor
December 21 2011 12:38PM

The Oilers drafted Anton Lander 40th overall in 2009, and he spent the next two season playing for Timra in the SEL before making his NHL debut this past October. Lander has played 29 games and during the 10:43 TOI/game he's tallied one goal (shorthanded) and three points, is -2 and is 40.9% in the dot.

Not bad numbers, but if the Oilers are serious about the future they need to make a decision quickly regarding what is best for his development.

Yesterday I wrote  how excited Magnus Paajarvi was to be playing lots of minutes in the AHL, and he realized the imporantace of developing his game, and I feel the Oilers have two easy choices to make regarding Lander.

Move him up to the 3rd line and play him 13-15 minutes a game or send him to OKC where he can play even more minutes, and replace him with Ryan O'Marra.

If the Oilers are serious about developing and winning, then wouldn't Lander in OKC and O'Marra up here make sense? Look at Lander's numbers; is he making that much of an impact on the outcome of most games? It's not a knock on him, but he's a 4th line guy right now, and I doubt very few 4th line centres change the outcome of many games.

In three games this year O'Marra tallied one assist was an even player (+/-) and was 71.4% in the dot. I know he wouldn't be that dominant over 29 games in the dot, but he can kill penalties and win some draws, while Lander plays 17-18 minutes a night in the AHL.

I understand that they want to have kids: Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins playing meaningful and intense games down the stretch, but they have to look at the big picture as well. Many believe Lander will be a solid 3rd liner in the future, and maybe even a low-end 2nd line centre, and if that is the case then he needs to be playing in all situations in the AHL.

He hasn't been able to work on his offensive game at all this year in his role. He's been pretty decent as a checker, but if they want him to be a two-way player then he has to play in some offensive situations, and right now that will only happen in OKC.

WHAT ABOUT THE 3RD LINE?

The other option would be to move him to the 3rd line in place of the struggling Eric Belanger. I've talked about this for weeks, and today at practice the Oilers had Lander on the third line with Sam Gagner and Ryan Jones. If the Oilers are committed to playing him there for an extended period then that's the only reason he should still be here.

I'm stunned at how many people feel that developing your game and earning your keep in the AHL is somehow a major a slap in the face to young players. Numerous players spent a year, two or even three before becoming a regular in the best league in the world.

At times I sense the Oilers even feel a bit of trepidation about sending young players who are on cusp of making the team down to the minors. I don't understand why Lander wasn't there from the start of the year. Sure, he played okay, but would he be that much better than O'Marra. Maybe O'Marra is the big, strong 4th line centre who can win draws this team will need moving forward?

He might not be, but considering how high they are on Lander, then why didn't they look at the big picture and have him develop in OKC? Too often this organization sends mixed messages. They want to win to gain experience for their young players, and also to reward their incredibly loyal fans, but has Lander really helped in achieving the former?

If Tom Renney is going to use him in a 3rd line role for an extended period of time moving forward, then I can understand why they keep him here, but if it is only a short stint, they should make the right long-term decision and exchange Lander with O'Marra and see what they have in both players.

It is easy to keep top-end players like RNH, Hall and Eberle in the NHL, and they be the key pieces moving forward, but the development of their complimentary and role players is vital if they plan on being a consistent contending team.

DAY 14

It seems music and tattoos go hand-in-hand and for day 14 of "Helping Others" we've come up an awesome 
Rock N' Roll package.

Today up for auction for the Christmas Bureau will be:

  • $2,500 in tattoo work at Atomic Zombie. The GCs are in $100 denominations so you can use them between friends or family. AZ has been voted the top Tattoo place in Edmonton for the 2nd straight year in See Magazine.
     
  • $1,000 gift card at Long and McQuade. An incredible music store.
     
  • And an awesome 2 days (16 hours) of studio recording time at The AUDIO Department including an Engineer and an assistant. And you can use any of their equipment. Unreal.

A huge thank you to Kerry at the Audio Department for the studio and for generously donating the gift card and some of the GCs at Atomic Zombie.

To bid you can call 780.426.8326 or email gregor@theteam1260.com. Bidding starts at 2 p.m and ends at 5:45 MST with 100% of the money going to the Christmas Bureau.

Over 60,000 people need help from the Christmas Bureau so if you can't bid on this package, but you want help you can donate here or you can make a quick donation on your phone. Just text: "Christmas" to 45678  for a $10 donation or "Hamper" to 45678 for $5.

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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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#1 borisnikov
December 21 2011, 12:42PM
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knytnäve!

is what they say in sweden

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#2 Dan the Man
December 21 2011, 12:50PM
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Glad to hear that Renney is finally going to give Lander a shot on the 3rd line, hopefully he can put up some points with Gagner and Jones.

Bruce McCurdy mentioned at Lowetides site that he would like to see Paajarvi-Lander-Hartikainen (once healthy)as a 1st line in OKC and I have to admit that I really like that idea. They would have the potential to dominate at the AHL level.

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#5 justDOit
December 21 2011, 11:19PM
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Steele wrote:

Has anyone noticed that Lander has dropped about 15 - 20 LBS since training camp? His face is thinner than in camp and I am wondering if the rigors of the NHL are too much for his young frame right now.

Maybe it's the lack of smorgasbords? Someone should tell him what buffet means.

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#6 Stocc
December 21 2011, 12:59PM
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@borisnikov

Well done!

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#7 OilFan
December 21 2011, 01:02PM
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Sorry I can't bid at this time but I made my cell phone donation for 10$. I didn't get a text back or anything, how do I know it went through ?

I like Gagner Lander and Jones but who is playing center ? If Lander takes the draws what message will that send to Gagner ? edit: I did get a reply

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#8 Oilerbill
December 21 2011, 01:03PM
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Agreed! I think this is especially true for players coming from the SEL and even the NCAA. First the NA game is different in many ways second the NHL schedule is a marathon with a 5 mile sprint at the end if you go anywhere in the playoffs. I don't think many Europeans are prepared for it. Not when you are used to playing between 40-60 games a season.

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#9 Rama Lama
December 21 2011, 01:04PM
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Lander deserves some additional time on the third or perhaps on the second line, as a part of his development.

Jason you are not alone in wondering what the plan is for Lander. He has more potential than Horcoff and is not developing on the fourth line so moving him up makes sense.

I feel that he has grasped the North Amreican game rather quickly and since we have not had any luck with any of our other centers, I say play him and fast track his development in either league.

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#10 Steele
December 21 2011, 01:26PM
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Has anyone noticed that Lander has dropped about 15 - 20 LBS since training camp? His face is thinner than in camp and I am wondering if the rigors of the NHL are too much for his young frame right now.

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#11 Team Hall
December 21 2011, 01:29PM
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Great article JG, once again picking up on an issue we hadnt thought of. I agree. I was at a game when Omarra was up against the Wild, and he looked intense when he went into that dot, and he won most of the ones I saw against some good players. Give him a shot, he's big, can chip in a bit of offense, and has a few pro years under his belt.

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#12 Oilers78
December 21 2011, 01:29PM
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Gregor,

I agree with the development piece, but it is very obvious O'Marra skates at a less than AHL level. Why have better players playing in the AHL than the NHL? We haven't succeeded in more than 6 weeks playing the veterans like Belanger, it's once again time to put development over trying to patch a competitive team together.

It is time to start cheering for a lottery pick VS. hoping to get 9th overall.

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#13 Talbot17
December 21 2011, 01:29PM
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Gregor, while I agreee you are clearly getting ahead of yourself - took long enough to send Magnus down,dont forsee them sending Lander anytime soon. If they give him more then a game on our 3rd line to let him 'gel' a bit with Jones and Gagner or whoever lines up with him, I think he will be very effective here.

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#14 Romulus' Apotheosis
December 21 2011, 01:30PM
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@Gregor

Great article as usual.

I asked this before, but I'm still curious. How did O'Marra hop Brule on the depth chart?

Is that the settled opinion? Just curious, because I haven't heard much from the team or the media about Brule and I'm wondering if they've basically given up on him or if he is legitimately still on the radar but below O'Marra?

I was surprised earlier when O'Marra got the call up over Brule and I'm just wondering how I missed the discussion that placed O'Marra in the clear over Brule... it still seems debatable to me.

ps. Any chance Pitlick gets a cup of coffee this year? I imagine he gets a spin next year and that barring some beautiful catastrophe of injuries he stays down this year, but I'm curious where the team/media place him right now.

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#15 freeze
December 21 2011, 01:33PM
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The timing is perfect to have Lander play with Paajarvi in OKC!

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#16 thepeetso
December 21 2011, 01:38PM
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I'm guessing they don't want to lose Brule on re-entry waivers.

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#17 Oilerbill
December 21 2011, 01:47PM
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@Romulus' Apotheosis

Brule will finish the season in OKC. He will likely be claimed if they bring him up.

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#18 Romulus' Apotheosis
December 21 2011, 01:55PM
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@thepeetso

and @Oilerbill

Oh. Forgot about waivers. He must be over his NHL game limit, eh? O'Marra's still got a way to go?

thanks guys.

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#19 They're $hittie
December 21 2011, 02:20PM
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despite draft pedigree omarra does not have the upside lander does. If we want to see lander bacome this player he needs to play more (unless he is 4th line on the red wings). As a fourth Line guy Omarra is better and does not have all the time in the world like Lander. Odds are he adapts to the NHL game now or he doesnt. Lander still has years to get to where he needs to.

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#20 Woogie
December 21 2011, 02:36PM
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Gregor, I can't agree more with you.

now how can we get the Oilers to do what we want?

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#21 Dave
December 21 2011, 02:42PM
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I have a better idea, after the roster freeze,move hall to 2c,horcof 3c,belanger 4c.Lander back to the AHL. MPS 1L,Smyth 2L.Hordi and Eager with Belanger on a regular basis. The rest is kinda obvious, and this will set things up for next year. Trading Gagner is trading depth that might be needed for the top six in a year or two, which you have to have in the playoffs when somebody goes down.

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#22 Oiler AL
December 21 2011, 02:45PM
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First time on this site. Great article., sure makes a ton sense. The Wings, have had this practice for years... they hone their guys int he minors for at least two years in most cases before they even get a sniff of the NHL. I feel the same way about Petrell, young guy sitting on the bench, I dont think its the way to break guys in at certain levels.. [ high picks are a different situation].If you played these three guys for year @ OKC, they could come up a year later and challenge for the 2 nd line even.

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#23 keilan
December 21 2011, 02:58PM
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Would really like to see Lander and Paajarvi develop, I think both have a huge upside!

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#24 Oilerbill
December 21 2011, 03:16PM
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@Romulus' Apotheosis

O'marra is on his last year of being able to go up down without having to clear waivers. He is also a RFA at the end of the year.

Really when you look at those two factors doesn't it make more sense to get O'marra some time up on the 4th line so next year you can decide on his long term future with your organization?

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#25 RexLibris
December 21 2011, 03:27PM
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I'd like to see Lander down in the AHL too. I'm not picking on the Swedes, but as I see it, sending down Lander and having him play a more important role in that league and bringing up O'Marra or Vande Velde to play on the 4th line makes more sense. What do we lose by limiting O'Marra's or VV's ice time? Nothing. Their development curve is well past that point, while Lander's is only beginning. Having Lander and Paajarvi in OKC and bringing up some veteran players who can fill in the roster spots, contribute to the team, keep their heads "above water" against the competition and still give the coach the flexibility to sit players who aren't going is where I was hoping the organization was going to go this year. Ideally, I would have liked to have seen Lander and Paajarvi in OKC and O'Marra or VV and Josh Green or Ryan Keller up here.

I know many people always say you need to ice the best team possible, but that is too simplistic sometimes. I think you need to ice the best team that you can manage while balancing the development and health of your younger players at the same time. I'm not saying I want to see a Flames-like obsession with veteran players, but I wish the team would occasionally leave some players, specifically forwards, in the system longer to mature. They seem to exercise this patience with defencemen, why not forwards?

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#26 Dave
December 21 2011, 03:44PM
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Oilerbill wrote:

O'marra is on his last year of being able to go up down without having to clear waivers. He is also a RFA at the end of the year.

Really when you look at those two factors doesn't it make more sense to get O'marra some time up on the 4th line so next year you can decide on his long term future with your organization?

With the younger unsigned draftee's,I dought Omarra has any future with the organization. Considering there pushed right against the wall with team contract limit.

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#27 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
December 21 2011, 03:47PM
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Maybe the Oilers are better off without all these Euros. Most, if not all of them are soft players and need protecting to a certain extent.

I expect Lander to struggle with his fellow Swedes in Oklahoma. Opposites attract, put Anton between Eager and Hordichuk. After 55 and 16 knock da goalie over, 57 can pick up the loose puck and score.....eh?

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#28 Romulus' Apotheosis
December 21 2011, 03:58PM
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@Oiler AL

welcome!

I think you'll find that Petrell isn't that young. At 27 he's been playing at the pro-level in Finland for years.

Considering he's only here for the PK really, I don't think they'll send him down... more interesting to me is whether they re-sign him in the offseason.

@Oilerbill

I don't have any problem with O'Marra... but he wasn't on my radar at C. After our core group (RNH, Horc, Gags, Belanger and Lander) I had my eye on Brule as a big Barker type question-mark (although for completely different reasons)... here's a guy with a great draft pedigree, who works hard, is good with the community and for whatever reason (still unclear to me what really happened and what really ails him) fell out of favor and began to let his performance slide... it's hard not to root for a guy like that and hope for a Smythmas Miracle that sees him turn around and be an Oiler superstar...

anyway after him... i've had my eye on Pitlick as the next guy to make me dream about the future...

for whatever reason I've never seen O'Marra as anything but a solid AHL call-up option... but I'd love for him to prove me wrong... maybe his career trajectory will match Jones' as much as his flow!

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#29 Milli
December 21 2011, 04:03PM
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How long did Spezza play in the minors to develop? It nevers hurts to get players ready in the A playing a ton.

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#30 striker777
December 21 2011, 04:19PM
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Eric Belangier is our 3rd line center. They need to stop playing him on PP and leave the guy alone to do his job, which is to win face-offs and PK. Secondary scoring will come, once he gets regular wingers to play with.

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#31 Dennis
December 21 2011, 04:36PM
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It looks pretty stupid to have 91 down in the A - in his second season in the league - while a guy with less caps continues to toil away with shag all icetime.

He's not a PK and/or FO wizard and he isn't getting top nine time so why exactly is he here? I don't think anyone can come up with a decent defense.

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#32 Oilerbill
December 21 2011, 04:43PM
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Dave wrote:

With the younger unsigned draftee's,I dought Omarra has any future with the organization. Considering there pushed right against the wall with team contract limit.

That is probably bang on. I could see him being passed by quickly. Having said that though.....

This is more about asset management and developing the team right? Manage the asset wisely. Bring in O'marra, let him play on the fourth line and see if he develops more. If he does and you can see him as a future NHL regular then great, resign him and it buys more time for Lander, Petrell, Pitlick to develop. You can decide to trade him as those players develop or maybe they don't and you end up with O'marra sticking. Or O'marra shows us nothing on the big club. You decide to cut, trade or sign him to an AHL contract next year and that's where he remains for his career. The fact is he is 24 years old and has played less than 30 NHL games. Manage the asset.

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#33 Oilerbill
December 21 2011, 04:46PM
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Jason: You play double duty? Interview on air and answer blog posts. Multi-talented multi-tasker.

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#34 Dave
December 21 2011, 05:11PM
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@Oilerbill

If Omarra gets a AHL contract next year, that would be a good signing for developing entry level players in the minors. There is nothing that he will ever bring to the table this year or in the future that benefits the development of young players in the NHL that a Horcof or Belanger can't do better. Neither of which will be here two years from now.

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#35 Oilerbill
December 21 2011, 07:01PM
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@Dave

You got that from 27 pro games? Maybe you should be working at the pro level. But I think you're being a little short sighted. Also I dont think you actually comprehend my post. If O'marra is on the big club then that allows other players a chance to play in the minors developing their skill.

I will make it simple for you to understand.

See how this works is like going to school. You start at grade one and as you progress you graduate to the next level. If you are not passing you get put back a grade. Very few are able to jump grades and like having a degree from another country you still have to pass the tests in this country to practice your trade.

Simple enough for you?

Yes I know I'm an a**

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#36 Reach Advantage
December 21 2011, 07:50PM
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How about bringing up Vande Velde instead. I thought he was a pretty smart player last year.

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#37 Dennis
December 21 2011, 08:18PM
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@Jason Gregor

I meant to say it looks stupid to have 91 down in the minors for seasoning while a guy who gets even less TOI and has less NHL GP in Lander gets to stick around with the big club.

Meaning, if 91 can be sent to the AHL then why is 57 still here?

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#38 kevin
December 21 2011, 08:28PM
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good read Jason, makes too much sense in this case with current management will never happen. like i have said a million times "Asset management and lack there of" On a side note I notice Marcus Foligno stepped into the Sabres line up. With both he and Zack Cassian offering similar attributes might one be attainable. Both with youthfull size and gritt and just might hit somebody. How refreshing would that be ? Alas, dare to dream. Tillman for GM

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#39 Fresh Mess
December 21 2011, 09:03PM
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Why would the Oilers care if Brule is claimed off re entry waivers? He is a free agent at seasons end.

Why pay him 1.7 large to play out the season in the A? Why not let another team possibly give him an NHL opportunity and pay half of his ticket?

Cap room is not an issue, and if mgmt doesn't bring him back up he is done with this organization anyway.

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#40 Oilerbill
December 21 2011, 09:30PM
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@Fresh Mess

He's a RFA. Why let the asset go for nothing?

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#41 Dave
December 21 2011, 09:53PM
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Oilerbill wrote:

You got that from 27 pro games? Maybe you should be working at the pro level. But I think you're being a little short sighted. Also I dont think you actually comprehend my post. If O'marra is on the big club then that allows other players a chance to play in the minors developing their skill.

I will make it simple for you to understand.

See how this works is like going to school. You start at grade one and as you progress you graduate to the next level. If you are not passing you get put back a grade. Very few are able to jump grades and like having a degree from another country you still have to pass the tests in this country to practice your trade.

Simple enough for you?

Yes I know I'm an a**

Thanks for the compliment in reference to working at the pro level(GIGLING). If your going to bring young guy's up,you should start them on the wing,less pressure in there own end until they adjust/absorb the speed of the NHL.If Omarra was a D,I would consider him still young.I believe he's been in org. for five years now with a big club that hasn't made the play-offs once,and finnished 30th the last to seasons.Point is;If he was going to make it,he would have by now. And a degree is given to professionals who went to college or university. Not a tradesman, like myself,and yes,you are an asset.LOLOLOLOL

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#42 Gazmort
December 21 2011, 11:00PM
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@Next up, is Connor McJesus.

I can never figure out if you're saying things like this tongue-in-cheek, or if you actually mean it.

But that is a horrible point you've attempted to make. As a quick rebuttal, about 2/3 of the Detroit Redwings are non-North American. That's just one of the top teams in the league. Thanks for coming out.

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#43 knobby
December 21 2011, 11:56PM
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Never mind Lander. What about all of the veteran players who are doing a very convincing impression of NOTHING! How does an organization sign so many duds and have the nerve to show its face in pro-hocke circles.

I have heard the Oiler brain trust talk about the Detroit model being something to aspire to. The fact of the matter is I would like to see what this organization would look like if Ken Holland managed it.

The Oil have the tendency to rush drafts into the NHL line-up with this childish outlook that 18 yr olds develop best in the 'show'. I heartily doubt that Detroit would be doing that. RNH, Hall and Eberle nothwithstanding, I would like to know how Holland would handle it.

That may go a long way to explain the relative dirth of success in E-town for the last 21 years.

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#44 DSF
December 21 2011, 11:57PM
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The problem with creating an all Swede line is that Detroit and Vancouver already have all the good ones.

Sad.

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#45 lenny
December 22 2011, 12:53AM
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So let me get it strait, who gives a sh!t how the player plays but if he is from Europe, in Gregor's opinion, he should start in AHL even if he plays on the NHL level. Is't Omark enough for you? For a whole year you demanded to send him down and they finally did. What happened to him!? Are you happy he ended up like a lot of good players in AHL injured and his year is wasted and development stopped? Isn't Paayarvi enough for you ? Now you want Lender down too! Let's see who else is from Europe? Habibulin. Didn't you scream for his scalp? Probably louder then anybody else! Who is next Smid? Now everybody is wishing for a puck moving defenseman, but not so long ago we had a lot of them but the problem was there name was Wishnevski and that was not good so everywhere in the press they said that he is suddenly no good and Oilers has to trade him because he is 'too old'. Wouldn't you like him back now or should we send him to AHL? I think the problem is not with european players but with you Gregor.

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#46 lenny
December 22 2011, 01:10AM
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Oh, and one other thing i forgot. According to you WE MUST TRADE HEMSKY. Why? Because he is from Europe and even if he is still Oilers best player, who cares! We spent so much money, so many years developing him, paying him much less then he deserves but now you want him traded for 2nd round and prospect, and who cares that it will take another 5 years to develop him but he would be Canadian and god forbid they trade him for another European because he will have to go to AHL for 1, 2 or 3 years and he would have to prove to Tambellini and Gregor that he is good enough to be here even if he was traded for Hemsky.

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#47 DaveChamp
December 22 2011, 01:37AM
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Look at the top guys on the Ducks - Getzlaf, Perry, Ryan... They all developed in the AHL and it obviously benefited them greatly. Except for the super rookies, young players need to develop there. Great read, Jason.

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#48 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
December 22 2011, 08:15AM
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Most overated prospect I've seen in a long time, though it was entertaining watching the hype morph from good bottom 6/PK/FO prospect to a guy that was supposed to outscore Horcoff.

I think he's still got a decent shot at being a solid 3C, but the Oiler fan overhype/overate prospect machine was in full force with this guy.

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#49 Oilerbill
December 22 2011, 08:29AM
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@lenny

That's funny!

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#50 raretomediumrare
December 22 2011, 08:38AM
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cheers

An AHL team with Paajarvi, Lander, Omark and Hartikainen? I'm feeling a trip to Oklahoma coming in the near future.

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