Key to the Highway

Lowetide
March 05 2011 08:00AM

This has been a tumultuous week for Edmonton Oiler fans. Dustin Penner dealt for futures, Hemsky down again and the Golden boy out for the season courtesy the one thing he can't do (fight) leaves Oilers Nation with the Bell Bottom Blues. Fortunately, the Oilers website has an article up that offers the Key to the Highway.

Ryan Dittrick has an article up at the Oilers website called The Progress Report: A New Identity (it is here). Dittrick gives readers a nice glance into the mindset of the organization at this time. I'm not going to quote all of the pertinent items but did want to highlight two areas of interest. First, discussing the callup of defender Alex Plante:

  • Plante’s game is driven to achieve a targeted model. He brings an overwhelming physical presence that features a nasty edge unrivaled among his peers. It’s another stone in the wall to help Edmonton establish its new brand. 

The article discusses speed, skill and high overall talent up front, then spends a lot of time pointing out the size, strength and grit of the new blue (Tom Gilbert is not mentioned in the article). I think it gives us an indication about the future of the Oilers defense from now on, and it's clear the MA Bergeron's of the world need not apply. The Oilers backline is going to be big, tough, strong and willing to compete physically every shift:

  1. Ryan Whitney 6.03, 210 and 1 major in 35 games
  2. Tom Gilbert 6.03, 206 and 0 majors in 65 games
  3. Ladislav Smid 6.03, 226 and 2 majors in 61 games
  4. Kurtis Foster 6.05, 226 and 1 major in 61 games
  5. Theo Peckham 6.02, 234 and 7 majors in 60 games
  6. Jim Vandermeer 6.01, 214 and 3 majors in 45 games
  7. Jason Strudwick 6.04, 226 and 3 majors in 27 games
  8. Jeff Petry 6.03, 196 and 0 majors in 21 games

Alex Plante is 6.03, 225 and has 10 majors in Oklahoma City. I expect he's auditioning for the 6-7D position next season and with the organization loading up on willing fighters it's his chance to show the organization he's ready to bend it like Peckham. If he can be a thorn tree in the garden, Plante might have an NHL future.

In regard to the draft, big defender Dougie Hamitlon would fit the more complete player profile (Whitney, possibly Petry) and a kid named Jamie Oleksiak is a perfect fit for the tougher Oilers. He's 6.07, 220 and is durable. He's tough, big and has some skill. If I were to guess the name of the player Edmonton chooses with the recently acquired (from LAK) first round pick it would be Oleksiak. Redline report says this about him:

  • Jamie Oleksiak (Northeastern University) — Biggest man in the entire draft, and plays a solid brand of defense, too. Even developing some puckhandling skills. What's not to like?

The other item in the article from Dittrick is this one:

  • With balance in mind, the Oilers are looking to develop a championship-caliber squad that features explosive offensive talent, along with the studded defensive style to complement the creative side.

If this is indeed how the organization plans to keep on growing, then any Oilers who could be described as little wing should know it's too late. Candidates might include Linus Omark and Liam Reddox.

Based on this article, I think we should add Gabriel Landeskog to the list as a consideration for #1 overall. With Dustin Penner leaving the organization, Landeskog's hard-nosed style and skill might be what the club is looking for at the draft. I remain convinced it'll come down to Adam Larsson versus Sean Couturier for the Oilers at #1, but Landeskog's resume fits Dittirck's future like a glove.

--

Another edition of Nation Radio goes today. Among the guests "scheduled to appear" are Tyler Dellow from MC79 hockey, Jason Gregor from Oilers Nation and Kent Simpson from the Oil Kings hockey broadcasts on Team 1260. You can email questions and comments (I got about 25 last week, sweet! and thank you!) to nationradio@theteam1260.com this morning. Show goes noon to 2pm today.

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on Team 1260.
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#51 freeze
March 05 2011, 11:05AM
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Giroux is on his way to COL for the game. I'm a little surprised that it wasn't Teemu. Rewarding Giroux I suppose? I wonder if he will resign.

I think the Helmer contract is a good one. It seems like he will be a good mentor for the kids coming up through the system.

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#52 sailorjerry66
March 05 2011, 11:08AM
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If you were Steve Tambo and had to pick up one free agent d-man and one forward to help this team next year...who would you pick up?

Under $2 Million per guy...

http://www.sportscity.com/nhl/2011-nhl-free-agents-by-position-unrestricted/

Go for anton babchuk.. and glencross

or John Madden at center. great for faceoffs, and can teach the kids how

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#53 chet
March 05 2011, 11:14AM
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I don't believe RNH and Couturier are our answer, i'm thinking of a 5 to 10 range, Huberdeau or Strome are a better fit.

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#54 Hands McDangles
March 05 2011, 11:14AM
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@Kaiser Wilhelm

Weber is not going anywhere...although it would be awesome.

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#55 Hands McDangles
March 05 2011, 11:20AM
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@sailorjerry66

Madden is about 53% in faceoffs. That would definitely be a nice asset on the 3rd line and an improvement on Cogliano's 12%.

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#56 Henry
March 05 2011, 11:22AM
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Good article LT. I like Plante and hope he has a good 10 games to show what he can bring.

Martin Marincin looks like a terrific prospect from a numbers standpoint. I don't know much about him other than the stats. Does he bring some rough sandpaper or is he finishing? How would he fit in the Oilers plan?

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#57 Rogue
March 05 2011, 11:36AM
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Hands McDangles wrote:

I agree...here is Landeskog's TSN feature...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01XymQDXh04

Thanks Hands..........I think this would be a great pick for the Oil.

Toughness and skill on the first 2 lines. Which we so desperately lack. I know we need a Center also, but this guy is the total package.

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#58 Peterborough
March 05 2011, 11:58AM
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Landeskog is 6'0" is that big??? He is sturdy and has a man's body but he's not big power forward. Just good player with okay size and grit in a fully developed body playing against boys. He's not the best just the most NHL ready of the draft class and would be a huge mistake in my opinion as #1 overall.

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#59 Peterborough
March 05 2011, 12:00PM
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Did you not see that HUGE elbow that got him kicked out of the WJC??? He's got everything.

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#60 sailorjerry66
March 05 2011, 12:00PM
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i dunno how to do quotes...

but yeah man madden would be good for the 3rd line. comes with stanley cup experience, vet experience in general and could do what Oates did for Stoll and the other centers a few years ago. sign him to a year contract

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#61 shanetrain
March 05 2011, 12:04PM
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@sailorjerry66

Whoever you are trying to quote just hit the reply button on their comment box.

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#62 freeze
March 05 2011, 12:07PM
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@sailorjerry66

I think they looked into Madden the last time he was UFA and he didn't have any interest in coming to a rebuild.

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#63 JACKPOT
March 05 2011, 12:47PM
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LANDESKOG GETS MY VOTE AND THAT HUMAN TREE OLEKSIAK OR WHATEVER HIS NAME HIS WITH A LATE ROUND PICK IF AVAILABLE.

WHENS TRAINING CAMP ? ESKIES-YOU BETTER ROCK THIS SUMMER. NUFF SAID.

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#64 David S
March 05 2011, 12:59PM
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Hands McDangles wrote:

Chris, I completely disagree with you. When this team is ready to contend, management will not hold them back because the new building isn't ready. Regardless of the status on a new building, the Oil would love the extra revenue from a playoff run (even in Rexall).

@Chris - You might notice that "when the team is ready to contend" and "new arena completion date" seem to intersect at roughly the same point in time.

That being said, there's a whack of space between 30th and contention. I find it incomprehensible that "making the playoffs" wasn't on the schedule for next year. Its almost like there's some mysterious point in this rebuild map code named "lightbulb". That being the projected time when this team goes from basement dweller to SC contender.

It stuns me that progression does not seem to be part of the equation, either for management or fans. Hey man, most realists would be happy with a couple of rounds in the playoffs on a regular basis, knowing full well that only two teams get to duke it out in the end.

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#65 DSG
March 05 2011, 01:28PM
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Lowetide - I was just about to write on your blog about Jamie Oleksiak. That is whole lot of human... If there is any guy the Oilers should be targeting in the middle of the draft he looks like a great candidate. MVP of the Beanpot if I am not mistaken.

Also can we please start being realistic about Couturier? The guy is falling... He was always touted as a two way player and not the second coming of Mario. 2 way centers are available elsewhere in the draft. I just think he is going to end up falling down the draft like Angelo Esposito.

Lets start focusing on the real top candidates. Landeskog, RNH, Larsson... Maybe Strome?

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#66 chet
March 05 2011, 02:00PM
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@Peterborough

Hey Peterborough, i respect your opinion that Landeskog may not be a good fit for the Oilers but when a kid is 17 years old 6 foot 207lbs. Wow the kid can only go up in size. By the time he hits 22 to 23 yrs old, he'll be playing at 215lbs to 220lbs. Google this kid and you'll be on board. Larsson is not a bad option or try to trade for a defenseman

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#67 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
March 05 2011, 02:30PM
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DSG wrote:

Lowetide - I was just about to write on your blog about Jamie Oleksiak. That is whole lot of human... If there is any guy the Oilers should be targeting in the middle of the draft he looks like a great candidate. MVP of the Beanpot if I am not mistaken.

Also can we please start being realistic about Couturier? The guy is falling... He was always touted as a two way player and not the second coming of Mario. 2 way centers are available elsewhere in the draft. I just think he is going to end up falling down the draft like Angelo Esposito.

Lets start focusing on the real top candidates. Landeskog, RNH, Larsson... Maybe Strome?

I can't believe how many people are overlooking Couturier's offense.

He's blowing the other top draft eligible players away offensively people.

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#68 DSG
March 05 2011, 02:37PM
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Yes he has offense but I think everyone realizes he is scoring at that pace in the Q.

Strome is ranked lower but has similar stats in the OHL.

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#69 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
March 05 2011, 03:04PM
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DSG wrote:

Yes he has offense but I think everyone realizes he is scoring at that pace in the Q.

Strome is ranked lower but has similar stats in the OHL.

I'd like to see something more conclusive then "but it's in the Q" before I start dropping him down the rankings.

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#70 Peterborough
March 05 2011, 05:26PM
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chet wrote:

Hey Peterborough, i respect your opinion that Landeskog may not be a good fit for the Oilers but when a kid is 17 years old 6 foot 207lbs. Wow the kid can only go up in size. By the time he hits 22 to 23 yrs old, he'll be playing at 215lbs to 220lbs. Google this kid and you'll be on board. Larsson is not a bad option or try to trade for a defenseman

True, he is a beast; however, he's not going to get any taller. We need top 6 (and bottom 6 for that matter) that are 6'2"+ With Penner gone we need more reach up there. I like him he's going to be a great player. Its a crap shoot this year with several players that each have unique abilities that would benefit the Oil.

I trust Stu to make the right choice.

(Who could doubt him after last years draft?)

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#71 chet
March 05 2011, 07:46PM
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@Peterborough

Your right, stu has done a great job in the last three years but having Hall Eberle RNH on your topline with MPS Hemsky Gagner on your second. Wow a lot of dynamic, creative, very skilled players but no size and whos going to win the puck along the boards. We will get manhandled. Worse than it is now. I think with Hemskys latest injury, maybe we look to trade him for a prospect and a top pick cuz are we willing to take a chance by signing Hemsky to a 4-5yr contract at 5 million. I wouldn't. Three first round picks, we must hit a home run with two out of the three picks. Think positive people.

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#72 Peterborough
March 06 2011, 05:27AM
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@chet

I don't like RNH. He is a good player but not a need ditto a winger. We need a vet in the top 6 (Hemsky) its too expensive to trade for a good one and no top 6 is signing with us. Gotta keep Hemmer (at least till next trade deadline. All this trade for a centre talk . . . it ain't gonna happen. Every team is looking for a top two centreman (except maybe Pittsburg but this year who knows) We need a #1 centre and a #1 D-man. Yes We could use tough physical big body wingers, but its not nearly as pressing. And again I want mine to 6'3" or bigger.

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#73 chet
March 06 2011, 09:55AM
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We have to realize that Kovalchuk set the bar on his trade value at the trade deadline when he was going to be a potincial UFA at the end of the season. We're talking about a multi 40 goal player at the time and what did Atlanta getfor him. Nothing, so if we wait til nexts seasons trade deadline to trade Hemsky, we will get less value then we would at the draft. I was one of those homers that wanted to keep either Hemsky or penner but now its bitten us on the ass. Get something for him ASAP. In the last 20 games Gagner and cogs have been testing our emotions with there play ie last nights game against the aves. Topline centermans and d man don't grow on trees especially 6 '3' 200 something pounders. Note to Tambo from us the arm chair quarterbacks and presidents, make a tough decision, package Hemsky, Cogs, Gagner, Burle, Gilbert, Omark, Foster, Fraser or Jacques together and find us that top center or d-man. I feel if were still spinning our wheels next year at this time and we haven't seen an improvement in the standing, YOU MUST GO AND TAKE LOWE WITH YOU

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#74 wiseguy
March 06 2011, 02:47PM
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Hands McDangles wrote:

If you were Steve Tambo and had to pick up one free agent d-man and one forward to help this team next year...who would you pick up?

Under $2 Million per guy...

http://www.sportscity.com/nhl/2011-nhl-free-agents-by-position-unrestricted/

Not a UFA, but with the amount of cap space the Oilers have, I'd look an an overpay RFA offer for Doughty if he doesn't sign before the deadline.

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#75 Team Hall
March 06 2011, 03:23PM
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Well written again LT, however, I don't see anything in your quote which would preclude Omark and Brule being here. Explosive offensive talent would surely include them.

Studded defense would seem to indicate a dissatisfaction with Gilberts game however.

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#76 Team Couturier
March 06 2011, 03:25PM
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I would like to cast my ballot for Couturier. Larsson could be Lidstrom, but could be Pitkanen or Gilbert as well. Hard to say, however, I believe the term "studded defense" would preclude Larsson. Couturier it is. Size and skill, that is combination we have none of.

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