Vande Velde Van Gogh In the FO Circle

Lowetide
April 03 2011 07:30AM

EdmontonOilers2

Chris Vande Velde arrived in pro hockey with a reputation for being a quality performer in the faceoff circle. He's performed well in the discipline in college, the American League and now in a small NHL sample. How valuable is the skill? Will it secure the Dutchman NHL employment?

When he was a junior and then college player, Vande Velde was a go-to guy in the faceoff circle and played the center position with aplomb. His draft day scouting report implied quality, and the earliest glimpse of the type of player we've seen recently in Edmonton:

  • Redline report: He has an incredibly long reach and is uncanny playing in traffic. When he got his skating legs going, he was nearly impossible to push off the puck, in an almost Keith Primeau–like fashion. Like Oshie, North Dakota has VandeVelde slated for the fall of 2006, and until then, he'll skate for the Lincoln Stars.

When Vande Velde turned pro last fall, I felt he'd be the first of the new pro's to emerge (based on age). However, Vande Velde's numbers (62gp, 12-4-16 -17) are not good and the number of minor leaguers recalled ahead of him (Reddox, Omark, O'Marra) suggested there was much to learn.

Doritogrande will be a well known name to Oilogosphere readers and he offered some exceptional insight into Vande Velde in OKC here. Quoting a portion of the post:

  • Chris VandeVelde was pegged as the de-facto checking center tonight, and was given the linemates befitting a player that the coaching staff wants in a defined role. He was able to saw-off the Moose top line of Hodgson-Volpatti-Shirokov with a little help from his friends. He showed good hustle, average speed and good skills in the faceoff dot.

This fits with Todd Nelson's (OKC's coach) viewpoint on the player:

  • His adjustment was learning the pro game. Up until Christmas, he was okay for us. But after Christmas he took it upon himself to play well in his D zone. Along with that, with the more responsibility he got, he began to improve offensively. He's been good for us, he's been excellent in the faceoff circle. He's 1-2 every night, it's either him or O'Marra.  

The entire interview is here. Vande Velde's rookie AHL season has him tied for 105th among rookies in that league, so he's going to have to bring other elements to his game. And that's where we can talk about his size (6.02, 204) and his ability in the faceoff circle.

In a very small sample size (8 games), Vande Velde is 56.7% on the dot (in 97 sorties). He's also gaining the confidence of the coach.

  • Tom Renney: “He’s very reliable. To a point, you expect what he delivers and he does. He’s a little bit predictable in that way, which is a good thing. I’m just tying to give him an opportunity to play in a number of different circumstances and he’s done well.”

The Renney quote (along with more on Vande Velde) is here.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Vande Velde is building enough of a resume to be "in the mix" for NHL employment in 11-12. A good bet would be more AHL time but perhaps an earlier recall when injuries or slumps force roster moves. I'd estimate he fits this way into the center depth chart at the pro level:

  1. Shawn Horcoff
  2. Sam Gagner
  3. Andrew Cogliano
  4. Colin Fraser
  5. Chris Vande Velde
  6. Ryan O'Marra
  7. Anton Lander (unsigned)
  8. Milan Kytnar

There are all kinds of things that could change (drafting RNH, moving Hall to center) but as it stands that 4line job should be an interesting contest during TC in the fall. Vande Velde's spring audition puts him in the mix, and his faceoff ability--in a small sample size--may make him a favorite.

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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#1 Steve Smith
April 03 2011, 03:56PM
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@Wes Mantooth

This isn't a good place for knowledge; I find that it's a much better one for slamming others' opinions, because there's a high concentration of slamworthy opinions here.

Don't believe me that this isn't a great place for knowledge? I just sorted the comments in this thread by props: the top one is "i SECOND that!", followed by one whose main point is "I'm so happy we beat the Canucks last night." A couple of mine are up next, but mostly because I propped them myself.

Now's the part where you ask me why I bother coming around at all: it's to read Willis and Lowetide (and very occasionally Brownlee or Gregor, if they appear to be imparting knowledge obtained from their press passes). I usually manage to resist the comments sections, but they're right there so sometimes it's hard, especially when procrastinating from papers. Besides that, I figure it's incumbent on all of us to take the occasional shift making fun of the "Do you even watch the games" types in Willis's threads; we've all gotta do our parts.

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#3 DSF
April 03 2011, 08:25PM
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Steve Smith wrote:

In fairness, Van Gogh was terrible in his own end.

Apparently he was good in Gaugin's end though :)

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#4 Starving Student
April 03 2011, 07:53AM
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Spartacus wrote:

I'm so happy we beat the Canucks last night.

I'm also sad that that's the highlight of the season at this point, but hey, take what you can get, right?

i SECOND that!

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#5 Steve Smith
April 03 2011, 10:45AM
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@Team Hall

Well, if that's what we need to do to make sure that we have room for Jones, Cogliano, Vande Velde, Reddox, MacIntyre, Fraser, and O'Marra, then I guess that's the price you need to pay. Though I'm a little concerned that you seem to have left Jacques off of your roster - maybe we should trade Eberle so we have room for him too.

(Also, is your roster going to have six defensemen, or just one goalie?)

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#6 Steve Smith
April 04 2011, 06:05PM
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The Oilers pursued Manny Malhotra, which is exactly the kind of thing that they should have done. The trouble is that their plan B was Colin Fraser, which is sort of like finding out that you can't afford the filet mignon, and in response going out back to gnaw on something from the dumpster.

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#7 Spartacus
April 03 2011, 07:44AM
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I'm so happy we beat the Canucks last night.

I'm also sad that that's the highlight of the season at this point, but hey, take what you can get, right?

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#8 Steve Smith
April 03 2011, 10:06AM
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@Smokey

Reserving NHL spots for two centres who have never played a professional hockey game in North America, neither of whom is under contract to the Oilers, and one of whom isn't even Oilers' property, is a truly excellent idea.

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#9 Steve Smith
April 03 2011, 02:30PM
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Biowolf wrote:

The Oilers are playing better now than they played all season. Does that tell you something about the guys you are ranking above VV.

Um, until last night they had lost ten straight.

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#10 Steve Smith
April 03 2011, 04:11PM
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@Wes Mantooth

The little dots are periods, intended to indicate the end of a sentence.

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#11 Steve Smith
April 03 2011, 04:59PM
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@magisterrex

See, Magister Rex and I, despite getting off on very much the wrong foot, are now tight. Maybe you and I can be friends someday, Wes.

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#12 Steve Smith
April 03 2011, 07:34PM
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@DSF

In fairness, Van Gogh was terrible in his own end.

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#13 Steve Smith
April 03 2011, 07:58PM
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@TigerUnderGlass

And sometimes in a clutch situation he'd...die of a single self-inflicted gunshot...?

I've got nothing.

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#14 Woodguy
April 03 2011, 08:04PM
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Steve Smith wrote:

And sometimes in a clutch situation he'd...die of a single self-inflicted gunshot...?

I've got nothing.

I don't think Van Gogh and any game played with blades mix well.

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#15 TigerUnderGlass
April 04 2011, 02:31PM
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Why do people keep saying that patience = using the draft as our one and only source of player procurement?

Why does trading a pick for a 22 year old player who is 4 years further along the development path and has proven he can play equal "giving up on the rebuild?" It doesn't.

Why does signing a veteran to a 2 year deal to show all the kids the ropes equate to abandoning the plan? It doesn't.

There are more ways to build a team than "draft and pray." Good teams figure that out.

You all want to be Chicago and Pittsburgh, well guess what...both of those teams had vets to play with their kids. Both of those teams signed players to free agent contracts. Both of those teams made trades to try and improve.

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#16 Steve Smith
April 04 2011, 04:00PM
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@Wax Man Riley

Tampa's doing it this year. Toronto has an outside chance of doing it in one year, just as Colorado and L.A. did last year.

(Though you could always disqualify the Leafs on the basis that they didn't actually have a lottery pick.)

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#17 magisterrex
April 03 2011, 08:13AM
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If VandeVelde spends another year with the Barons, that would not be a bad outcome for him. On the other hand, if he's better than Fraser in training camp, there's no point in sending him back down.

I enjoyed watching the Oilers school the Canucks last night. Hopefully that's a portent of their two futures.

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#18 Steve Smith
April 03 2011, 02:29PM
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@Team Hall

Age, injury, and (the big one, which you didn't mention for some reason) contract status are all considerations in whether to trade Hemsky. Roster space is absolutely not a reason - we are nowhere near being so stacked that we can't make room for Hemsky. He's our best player until further notice.

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#19 Dennis
April 03 2011, 02:56PM
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I don't see him having a job with the big club if young Lander's ready right out of the box.

but if Lander's gonna start next year in the A then I think 54 will be the fourth line centre for sure.

Him and 56 will be the genesis of the fourth line though 56 likely will find his way up the lineup.

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#20 Woodguy
April 03 2011, 05:48PM
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Steve Smith wrote:

This isn't a good place for knowledge; I find that it's a much better one for slamming others' opinions, because there's a high concentration of slamworthy opinions here.

Don't believe me that this isn't a great place for knowledge? I just sorted the comments in this thread by props: the top one is "i SECOND that!", followed by one whose main point is "I'm so happy we beat the Canucks last night." A couple of mine are up next, but mostly because I propped them myself.

Now's the part where you ask me why I bother coming around at all: it's to read Willis and Lowetide (and very occasionally Brownlee or Gregor, if they appear to be imparting knowledge obtained from their press passes). I usually manage to resist the comments sections, but they're right there so sometimes it's hard, especially when procrastinating from papers. Besides that, I figure it's incumbent on all of us to take the occasional shift making fun of the "Do you even watch the games" types in Willis's threads; we've all gotta do our parts.

I usually manage to resist the comments sections

No you don't.

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#21 Steve Smith
April 03 2011, 06:04PM
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Lowetide wrote:

My eyebrow went askew upon reading that too. :-)

Of course, you should have had a comma after "no."

The comma's optional, at least according to any style guide I've read. And I actually *am* pretty good at resisting ON's comments sections; with yours, I don't try.

Edit: Now I see that my comment's tied with "i SECOND" for most propped. I attribute this to a shady band of proppers trying to discredit me.

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#22 Steve Smith
April 03 2011, 06:32PM
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@Robin Brownlee

I see that you have trouble with the subtler forms of self-deprecation.

(How's *that* for dripping?)

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#23 TigerUnderGlass
April 03 2011, 06:48PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

You start counting at the same place everybody else does.

You've graced us with a half-dozen or so comments dripping with "I'm so smart" and you whiffed on a simple fact. Then, you shrug that off. One of those guys, eh? Never saw that coming.

When someone claims the Oilers are playing their best hockey of the season and someone responds with "they have lost 10 in a row" the important part to take away is that the number 10 was off by 1.

That will show you SS...the Oilers ARE playing their best hockey of the season after all.

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#24 Steve Smith
April 03 2011, 06:52PM
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@TigerUnderGlass

Well, you're right that my original point stands. But Robin Brownlee's right that calling me out on comparatively minor errors is fair game, given my charming personality. What he's wrong about is his characterization of my reaction to being called out.

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#25 Woodguy
April 03 2011, 07:54PM
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Steve Smith wrote:

In fairness, Van Gogh was terrible in his own end.

He was ok on the right side, but terrible on the left.

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#26 magisterrex
April 03 2011, 08:23PM
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As long as VandeVelde stays away from the lead-based paint, he should avoid having ear problems.

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#27 Peterborough
April 04 2011, 11:43AM
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madjam wrote:

Calgary remains competitive every season despite the draft and one cannot count them out just yet for this season . Their chances are slim , but like most veteran squads need little to get them back in contention for next season . Oilers on the other hand have a huge gap in player imbalance and quality between good NHL veterans and youngsters . Erixon -teammate of Larsson , looks like he'll be a good one for Flames as early as next season . Flames shouldn't have to worry about gutting their team to remain competitive in other words . The quality of our veterans is also not very high or even acceptable by last two seasons finishes .

I wouldn't be worried about the veteran squads as they have far less to worry about the draft than we do . There comes a point where we have to many youngsters and little space left for veteran balance . I am beginning to wonder if we are to oversaturated with youth already ? Veteran AHL talent is not helping an awful lot in comparison to clubs with a solid NHL caliber squad core .

We found more what doesn't work , but when are we headed toward a balance that seems to be working every where else ?

Remember when we started this tear down and everybody said we had to rebuild the farm first and get a stock of prospects??? Well after this draft we will have the deepest propect pool and Well stocked AHL club. Thats phaze one and its almost done.

IE WORKING

We have never tried to build though the draft before, now you want to give up after one year???

Do me a favour sell me your Oilers gear and go buy some flames stuff. You sound like a flames fan already!!!

Or be patient and build a winner like Chicago did like Pittburge did like. . . or we could say $%#* it and be Columbus. . .

Thank God its not up to you!!!!

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#28 Peterborough
April 04 2011, 11:51AM
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ricky p wrote:

The draft is only on component. Trades were always important to the Oilers in the past and still remain so. (Roulston, etc.) Adding veterans from free agency are also good moves. If building a team from the draft was so easy we would have 30 stanley cup winning teams every year.

We fail to forget that Klowe has been terrible (Perry, etc.) and I doubt he will become a remarkable manager any time soon. Tambelli has duffed more than he has won (Habbi, etc.) and I doubt he is going to become a good GM anytime soon.

So while you all drool over Stu, you still have to have a clue how to build a winner. Klowe and Tambo will fail to manage, and as always our future stars will be traded away for more draft choices.

We are screwed until we get some hockey sense running this show. We are even back to unsettled times with a new arena and the threat to get it done yesterday or trouble is coming. What a sad state of affairs the leadership has created.

and mantain a team going forward.

No one had Perry becoming what he became with his kating comming out of Junior. Do you feel the same way about the Pronger trade with ST. Louis???

You tweak with trades you don't build with them. And you lose again next year and get another stud. Thats how you build a winner.

It not about next year. This isn't the NFL its about the year after and going forward from there.

If your too old and can't wait that long hurry up and die.

. . .

no one loves you anyways

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#29 Peterborough
April 04 2011, 02:45PM
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dawgbone wrote:

All kids look good until they are 5 years older. Hell, Sam Gagner is already trade bait because half the fans think he's no good, and he's what, 21?

The problem with the build through the draft philosophy is that for Every Chicago there is an Atlanta. For every Pittsburgh there is a Florida.

The problem with building through the draft is that you are picking an 18 year old to play in a league dominated by 27 year olds. The best 18 year old isn't always the best player 7 or 8 years down the road.

Part of "the plan" should include adding players to make the team better in the short term. There's enough decent NHL players floating around every summer that you should be able to go from a lottery team to playoff team in a season or two.

Providing the Oilers only look at the draft option, they are going to miss out big time.

Are you really comapring the programs they have in Atlata and Florida to those in Pitt and Chitown??? Thats just plain irresponsible and surface skimming. Why has Atanta failed repeatedly??? Trading away prospect like Coburn for vets like Zhitnik in a "win now mentality"

Show me were Chicago or Pitt did that or traded away they're top picks like Florida did. To build by the draft right you need a good system to develope the kids we have that now. Those successful draft builders did too. The failures did not. Get where this is going?

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#30 Steve Smith
April 04 2011, 03:52PM
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Peterborough wrote:

Remember when we started this tear down and everybody said we had to rebuild the farm first and get a stock of prospects??? Well after this draft we will have the deepest propect pool and Well stocked AHL club. Thats phaze one and its almost done.

IE WORKING

We have never tried to build though the draft before, now you want to give up after one year???

Do me a favour sell me your Oilers gear and go buy some flames stuff. You sound like a flames fan already!!!

Or be patient and build a winner like Chicago did like Pittburge did like. . . or we could say $%#* it and be Columbus. . .

Thank God its not up to you!!!!

By what measure is the plan working? We're going to get a high pick this year, yes, but if that's your goal it's a pretty difficult thing to mess up.

I've got no objection to the rebuild, but there's a joke about the '93 provincial election. The voters, frustrated as all hell with the deficits the P.C. government ran up, fumed up the ballot box and said "Those bastards got us into this mess, it's their job to get us out."

If you're laughing and you support the Lowe/Tambellini regime, I feel some cognitive dissonance coming on.

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#31 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
April 04 2011, 03:58PM
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Wax Man Riley wrote:

What was the last team to go from a lottery pick to a playoff berth in 2 seasons?

Colorado - Last year.

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#32 TigerUnderGlass
April 04 2011, 06:21PM
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@Wax Man Riley

Losing to pick high is not a plan, it's failure. Chicago missed the playoff 9 of the 10 years before they drafted Kane. It took 10 years for enough draft picks to pan out to contend. Do you believe thus was their plan?

Pittsburgh needed to win the Crosby lottery to turn it around.

"Hey, you know, I want to go to an inexperienced team that is in a rebuild and is going to lose for the 2 years that I sign. The poor performance of the team could possibly hurt my chances at another good contract since my stats will suffer."

or

"Hey, you know my role and playing time were partially limited on that really deep team I played for last season. Maybe a rebuilding team will give me a good chance to get more ice time in a more prominent role so I can demonstrate my value, increase my numbers, and get myself a better contract."

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#33 dougtheslug
April 04 2011, 07:19PM
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The goal is to win the Cup, not beat your brains out down the stretch to finish ninth, get a middling draft, and do it all over again year after year while your team gets older and slower. The Oilers are paying for the sins of their past, like trying to get by without a farm team or a comprehensive scouting system. They now have an AHL farm team that is stocked with enough talent to possibly make the playoffs, a far cry from last years embarrassment. They have competent scouts. They have a core of potentially elite players that they will add to this year. Come on, boys, have a little faith. Rome wasn't built in a day.

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#34 Peterborough
April 04 2011, 08:07PM
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dawgbone wrote:

Atlanta is failing repeatedly because they traded Coburn for Zhitnik?

Florida picked in the top four 3 years in a row and didn't trade one of them away for 7 years and still never made the playoffs once.

And what on earth do you mean that we have a good system to develop kids? What on earth gives you that impression? Has there been anything done that suggests this system is Chicago/Pitt style rather than Florida/Atlanta?

You mean like have a real AHL affiliate and a comprehensive developement programs that are expensive and cutting edge. the Cats and Birds down South have been using the same cost cutting measures we did as a franchise for years to our our doom. Developement. Patience. Like Detroit was and now look at them. Build a system that works and go from there. This isn't about next year or the year after. Its not about 6-7 years away either. Its about a legacy of sustained excellence. Like Detroit.

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#35 Dave
April 03 2011, 08:21AM
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Always look forward to your Sunday morning pieces LT.

I don't know if there will be room for Vandevelde next year. Here's how I see the middle in 11-12:

Horcoff Gagner Lander Cogliano

On a side note, Hartikainen is here to stay. He's going to be a fan favorite for years.

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#36 Dan the Man
April 03 2011, 08:33AM
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I thought last night was Vande Valde's best game as an Oiler, he seems to get more comfortable every game.

I thought he had a pretty nice training camp this year as well but obviously he struggled a bit after not making the team, really glad to see he was able to turn it around.

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#37 DonDon
April 03 2011, 09:10AM
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Interesting segment on HNIC last night, Canucks' faceoff training. Surely this is something the Oilers can replicate. Losing faceoffs have been a problem for the Oilers for years. If the Oil can afford a goalie coach, surely they can add this element of training to their mix of coaches. By the way, what roles do the assistant coaches fill on the Oil? Is this another one of the team's many deficiencies?

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#38 OIL2CORE
April 03 2011, 09:11AM
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Who dat Teemu guy ! What to go Oil, you did me proud last night and shut up many people. I wear my Oiler hoodie proud today as always, but with a slight Swagger...i almost forgot how. Omark, you dazzling little man, love ya..Make the boys watch this game before 11-12 starts , remember that feeling. Take RNH or Landeskog please.

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#39 Henry
April 03 2011, 09:58AM
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LT - A nice article, VV was good last night though I was more impressed with his work in the corners and positioning relative to his linemates than his job on the dot. In previous games he was very good on the draw.

I'm curious about your opinion of a Paajarvi experiment at centre. His skating and responsible nature seem good for the position, perhaps better than Hall. Do you think he'll be able to read the plays at both ends to do the job?

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#40 Team Hall
April 03 2011, 11:14AM
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@ Steve Smith,

That was a depth chart, not a list of the roster for starting day. Omarra and Fraser can start in the minors if need be, imo. If you draft RNH you are running out of top six spots, was my point. I'm all for keeping Hemmer, but for various reasons, I'm not sure where he fits going forward. Age, injury, roster room. I think you keep him up till the TD next year, and evaluate at that time. You could still get a good package for him at the deadline I believe. PS - I think Jacques is a keeper too, just forgot to add him. Can always start Hartik in the minors, Omarra too, Reddox is a part.

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#41 Deeg
April 03 2011, 11:30AM
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9. House? I know he's older - maybe a stop-gap/long shot, but good way to up the competition down the middle.

It seems like something has do give out at center both with the Oilers and Barons, especially if RNH is drafted and Lander is signed.

Are Martindale and Pitlick going to turn pro up the middle too?

It would be interesting to see a Hamilton- Martindale - Pitlick line down the road in Oklahoma and to see Lander center the Swedes in training camp.

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#42 Smokey
April 03 2011, 12:04PM
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What the fascination with Cogliano. If you are going to draft a smaller center such as RNH then replace his roster spot with someone with size and grit.

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#43 rds
April 03 2011, 12:57PM
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I see Cogliano's role shifting from a top two line centre (as was orignally hoped when he was brought in) to a penalty kill specialist. If he can improve on faceoffs that is.

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#44 JDP
April 03 2011, 03:23PM
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http://www.thefourthperiod.com/news/ana110403.html

go figure klowe!!!!

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#45 Steve Smith
April 03 2011, 06:21PM
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@Robin Brownlee

Depends from when you start counting.

(I know that the "rule" against ending sentences with prepositions is figmentary and the bane of good writing, but I happen to like it.)

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#46 TigerUnderGlass
April 03 2011, 07:55PM
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@Steve Smith

Agreed, but his scoring numbers were affected by bad luck...but what else would you expect from a post-Impressionist?

I regret nothing.

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#47 TigerUnderGlass
April 03 2011, 08:01PM
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Steve Smith wrote:

And sometimes in a clutch situation he'd...die of a single self-inflicted gunshot...?

I've got nothing.

I briefly considered trying to do something with that but quickly gave up.

If only he shot himself in the foot instead...

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#48 Peterborough
April 03 2011, 09:01PM
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Mitch wrote:

Forward lines next yr could look something like this 1.Hall Horcoff Hemsky 2.Pajarrvi Lander Omark 3.Hartikienen Cogliano Eberle 4.Jacques Vande Velde Jones Defence 1.Whitney Trade 2.Vandermeer Petry 3.Peckham UFA I see 3 centres that are very good in the faceoff circle. I see more balance in the 3 and 4th lines. Gagner is not there because I would use him to acquire a dman. Maybe I'm crazy but I would also move Gilbert and Smid out on the backend.

I like Smid and Gilby way more in the second slot. They were excellent at containing the Sedins, who in no way took a night off. You think Lander steps into a 2C role? I like the kid but that would be a miracle. Gagner at 2C Larrson with Whitney. Petry with Peckham.

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#49 Peterborough
April 03 2011, 09:52PM
Trash it!
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trashes
Cheers
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cheers

@DSF

"If Lander is your second line centre, he can deal with Kesler."

what do you mean by that? Deal with him like a rape victim deals with a 6'4" 260 bls escaped convict?

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#50 ricky p
April 04 2011, 11:29AM
Trash it!
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trashes
Cheers
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cheers

The draft is only on component. Trades were always important to the Oilers in the past and still remain so. (Roulston, etc.) Adding veterans from free agency are also good moves. If building a team from the draft was so easy we would have 30 stanley cup winning teams every year.

We fail to forget that Klowe has been terrible (Perry, etc.) and I doubt he will become a remarkable manager any time soon. Tambelli has duffed more than he has won (Habbi, etc.) and I doubt he is going to become a good GM anytime soon.

So while you all drool over Stu, you still have to have a clue how to build a winner. Klowe and Tambo will fail to manage, and as always our future stars will be traded away for more draft choices.

We are screwed until we get some hockey sense running this show. We are even back to unsettled times with a new arena and the threat to get it done yesterday or trouble is coming. What a sad state of affairs the leadership has created.

and mantain a team going forward.

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