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:
- Ryan Whitney 6.03, 210 and 1 major in 35 games
- Tom Gilbert 6.03, 206 and 0 majors in 65 games
- Ladislav Smid 6.03, 226 and 2 majors in 61 games
- Kurtis Foster 6.05, 226 and 1 major in 61 games
- Theo Peckham 6.02, 234 and 7 majors in 60 games
- Jim Vandermeer 6.01, 214 and 3 majors in 45 games
- Jason Strudwick 6.04, 226 and 3 majors in 27 games
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org this morning. Show goes noon to 2pm today.