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.

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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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#1 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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#2 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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#3 OilBomber
April 03 2011, 08:01AM
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Great article as always, LT.

It seems that Fraser is a player that has a skill set that can be replaced over the summer - particularly considering his underwhelming performance this year. His inability to have a consistent, positive presence in the faceoff circle is a damning statistic. Any chance he finds another home for next season?

What do you think the chances are that the Oil fast track VV to the show next year to replace Fraser? Watching him play the last couple of games makes me think that he may be playing a little out of his depth, but he's not too far off. What he offers is exactly what this team needs - a big body with physical presence and (seemingly) a clue in the faceoff circle.

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#5 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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#6 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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#7 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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#8 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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#9 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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#10 Oilcruzer
April 03 2011, 09:26AM
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"When he gets his legs going" is a big when. The Primeau analogy is pretty good, I compare his skating to a diesel powered engine. Sort of Mike Grierish.

Assuming Oil chose Larsson, I figure LT's list is close but maybe...

Shawn Horcoff

Sam Gagner

Andrew Cogliano

Chris Vande Velde

Colin Fraser

Anton Lander (unsigned)

Milan Kytnar

Ryan O'Marra

(O'Marra has shown zero NHL-ready talent, the JFJ of centres)

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#11 Smokey
April 03 2011, 09:32AM
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Oilers Centers next season are Horcoff, Gagne, RNH, and Lander, and VDV. Some of you got to look beyond Cogliano.

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#12 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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#13 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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#14 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
April 03 2011, 10:16AM
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Oilcruzer wrote:

"When he gets his legs going" is a big when. The Primeau analogy is pretty good, I compare his skating to a diesel powered engine. Sort of Mike Grierish.

Assuming Oil chose Larsson, I figure LT's list is close but maybe...

Shawn Horcoff

Sam Gagner

Andrew Cogliano

Chris Vande Velde

Colin Fraser

Anton Lander (unsigned)

Milan Kytnar

Ryan O'Marra

(O'Marra has shown zero NHL-ready talent, the JFJ of centres)

Yes!

No reason for neither O'Marra nor Fraser to take up even a second of others' ice time. #bothuseless

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#15 misfit
April 03 2011, 10:16AM
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I think he'll be a lot like Washington's David Steckel, not only in the type of player he projects to be, but the fact that he'll likely spend 2-3 years in the minors before making the jump to the NHL.

I'd like to see him get at least one more year shutting down the best in the AHL before expecting him to do the same in the NHL.

More than anything, I just want to see the Oilers actually adress the tough minutes/PK/shutdown center with a player who's actually proven they can do it at the NHL level rather than just crossing their fingers and hoping Fraser/Brodziak/Cogliano/Pouliot are going to be able to handle the role.

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#16 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
April 03 2011, 10:18AM
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Steve Smith wrote:

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.

~OMG, look at, he misspelled Gagner too!~

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#18 Team Hall
April 03 2011, 10:34AM
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What a game LT! I was clamouring for signing an NHL vet to help in the FO circle, but maybe we have found our man internally. Personally, I would be for moving Fraser and/or Cogs to the wing and let VV win some faceoffs. What a difference a few faceoff wins makes. When you start with the puck you get more chances, more chances means more confidence. Nextyeartown: Hall RNH Eberle MP Gags Omark Jones Horc Cogs Hartik VV Reddox Mac Fraser Omarra

Time to trade Hemmer?

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#19 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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#20 Mike Modano's Dog
April 03 2011, 11:00AM
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I was watching O'Marra last night and noticed something that I wanted to mention. He had a couple chances to really lay out a big hit, any hit, on the play, and begged off of it.

For a guy who has a future in the N.H.L. not yet secured I would think he would take every opportunity given to him to make the play. He doesn't necessarily shine in any one area, but he has the size that any team would like to add to their roster. If he became a devestating hitter I believe he would make the N.H.L. and stay there for good. You need to be really good at something and shine in one area to get noticed unless you're really good in every area.

I hope he starts the hitting for us very soon because our team, and his career could use that quality.

I'm not here to trash him as a player, because I wish him the best for his career, and for the Oilers. I'm curious if any others have noticed the same. Did I just see a few missed opportunities and make an overgeneralization about his play? Does he usually finish his checks - or is this something he needs to improve?

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#21 magisterrex
April 03 2011, 11:12AM
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Did I just see a few missed opportunities and make an overgeneralization about his play? Does he usually finish his checks - or is this something he needs to improve?

Or worse yet, I didn't even notice him on the ice...

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#22 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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#23 dougtheslug
April 03 2011, 11:29AM
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With all due respect, a team with Cogs 3 or 4 on the depth chart is a team gunning for a lottery pick, not a playoff spot. He seems to have really stalled in his development here and even with second line and power play time his production is woeful. The Oilers have twice tried to trade him so I think they know the score. But his value certainly has dropped because of his past two years. Omark needs a legitimate sniper to dish to - Maybe RNH?

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#24 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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#25 Biowolf
April 03 2011, 11:31AM
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The Oilers are playing better now than they played all season. Does that tell you something about the guys you are ranking above VV.

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#26 The Real Scuba Steve
April 03 2011, 11:34AM
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@ Lowetide

Do think the Oilers might bid on some URFAs this summer? Filling the holes we need through the draft doesn't seem to be working.

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#27 a lg dubl dubl
April 03 2011, 11:50AM
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Dave wrote:

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.

Im just curious mr Dave why would you put a dude like Lander whos hasnt played a lick in north america over VV? IMO if Lander does sign id put him in the minors to start the year then if injuries come up(and lord knows they will) id look at bringing him up for sure.

Heres how I see the line up down the middle next yr:

Gagner,Horcoff,Cogs,VV

if the MIGHTY OIL draft the Nuge and RNH makes the team then i see the line up down the middle like this:

Gagner,Horcoff,VV,RNH(Cogs to the wing)

but thats just my opinion that is all

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#28 positivebrontefan
April 03 2011, 12:02PM
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The Real Scuba Steve wrote:

@ Lowetide

Do think the Oilers might bid on some URFAs this summer? Filling the holes we need through the draft doesn't seem to be working.

I disagree, it is working but the draft route takes time. All I know is we better get a number one center soon because if we don't we will have to get a URFA to fill the void.

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#29 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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#30 @NateInVegas
April 03 2011, 12:30PM
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Yanic Perreault

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#31 Senator Theo
April 03 2011, 12:42PM
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In my opinion, RNH will be playing back in Red Deer next year - regardless of who drafts him.

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#32 Quicksilver ballet
April 03 2011, 12:47PM
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What a dogs breakfast that depth chart at center is. If the Oilers grab Hopkins, combined with the usual rash of injuries Vandy may find himself centering our 1st line for a good portion of next season.

Are there any early favorites for the 2012 entry draft yet, with no Taylor Halls we must all bored by this years crop of eligibles by now.

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#33 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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#34 misfit
April 03 2011, 01:10PM
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@rds

That shift has already taken place from what I can tell. The only reason Cogliano has spent any time in the top 6 is because of injuries.

And he's greatly improved on the PK from what I can tell. I've been really impressed with his development in that area most of the year.

The faceoff thing is an issue, but if a center can do all the other things well, not being a dynamo on the FO dot isn't such a big deal.

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#35 Wax Man Riley
April 03 2011, 01:19PM
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Senator Theo wrote:

In my opinion, RNH will be playing back in Red Deer next year - regardless of who drafts him.

I think so too. If he can be in junior for another year, I would keep him there to dominate. No need to rush him up here a la Cogs or Gagner. He will get his chance.

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#36 Dave
April 03 2011, 01:19PM
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a lg dubl dubl wrote:

Im just curious mr Dave why would you put a dude like Lander whos hasnt played a lick in north america over VV? IMO if Lander does sign id put him in the minors to start the year then if injuries come up(and lord knows they will) id look at bringing him up for sure.

Heres how I see the line up down the middle next yr:

Gagner,Horcoff,Cogs,VV

if the MIGHTY OIL draft the Nuge and RNH makes the team then i see the line up down the middle like this:

Gagner,Horcoff,VV,RNH(Cogs to the wing)

but thats just my opinion that is all

I think Lander's game affords him an opportunity because it fills that gritty, tenacious, face-off winning centre hole the oilers have been trying to fill.

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#37 Wax Man Riley
April 03 2011, 01:21PM
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I do believe the Oil will draft Larson though. I'm not a fan of drafting a D with the first overall, but I just have that feeling....

I would like to see RNH drafted and kept in junior, then a couple of D with the later picks.

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#38 Woodguy
April 03 2011, 01:29PM
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misfit wrote:

I think he'll be a lot like Washington's David Steckel, not only in the type of player he projects to be, but the fact that he'll likely spend 2-3 years in the minors before making the jump to the NHL.

I'd like to see him get at least one more year shutting down the best in the AHL before expecting him to do the same in the NHL.

More than anything, I just want to see the Oilers actually adress the tough minutes/PK/shutdown center with a player who's actually proven they can do it at the NHL level rather than just crossing their fingers and hoping Fraser/Brodziak/Cogliano/Pouliot are going to be able to handle the role.

In Edmonton the act of giving players a role well above their established NHL level and hoping for the best is known as "Managing"

Lowe did it often and Tambellini is turning it into an art.

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#39 Oilfan14
April 03 2011, 01:43PM
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Can you imagine if the Oil draft RNH, send him back to junior and he has the chance to dominate at the world junior tournament in Edmonton!! The best part is that Calgary will get the chance to see him in person as well. Sweetness!!!

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#40 TheseColoursDon'tRun
April 03 2011, 01:53PM
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I thought Lander decided he wasn't going to come over next year and didn't want to sign with the oilers just yet when Tambellini was in Sweden a couple weeks ago checking out Larsson. Did anybody else read that or have I been smoking the carpet?

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#41 TigerUnderGlass
April 03 2011, 02:21PM
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Wax Man Riley wrote:

I think so too. If he can be in junior for another year, I would keep him there to dominate. No need to rush him up here a la Cogs or Gagner. He will get his chance.

What is everyone's obsession with "we rushed Gagner and Cogliano?"

Nobody has any idea if they would have developed differently or not. Why don't people rant about rushing Hall?

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#42 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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#43 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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#44 Butters
April 03 2011, 02:50PM
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I don't understand all the love for VV. He looked OK against a Canucks team that didn't give a crap about Saturday's game.

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#45 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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#46 JDP
April 03 2011, 03:23PM
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http://www.thefourthperiod.com/news/ana110403.html

go figure klowe!!!!

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#48 Wes Mantooth
April 03 2011, 03:47PM
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Do you have an original thought of your own? Do you just come on and read someone’s post and slam there opinions is that your deal? Why don’t you astonish us with your hockey knowledge then?

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#49 Wes Mantooth
April 03 2011, 03:50PM
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The above post was meant for Steve Smith

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#50 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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